There's Something In The Air (but is it Spring?)
The days are longer and lighter, the birds are chirruping and my husband's hay fever is already making his life a misery. Sure signs that Spring is on the way?
Not so fast. Officially, Spring doesn't start until March 20th, while the new asparagus shoots and tender lettuce leaves won't appear until late May (the agricultural term for the period from March till April isn't known as the Hungry Gap for nothing).
Right now, UK farms will have an abundance of seasonal cabbage, carrots & kale, potatoes, watercress and winter leaves- all of which appear proudly in our bags next week.Season's Best
Citrus- it may not be grown here, but it's citrus season in the southern mediterranean where we get most of ours from. For me, it's like a little bright light in a dark season and I eat a blood orange every single day from mid Jan to March. Small pleasures. Natoora do them via Ocado if you can't get them locally. Oranges and lemons are at their best.
And don't save it for dessert- the people at Delicious mag have thoughtfully put together54 sweet and savoury recipeszinging with lemon, orange and lime and here's a classic- Nigella's Linguine with lemon, an easy weekend plate.
Lemons also work their magic on winter greens, who need little more than a drag around a pan in olive oil, lemon zest and maybe a bit of chili until glossy.Forcing the issue
Yorkshire forced rhubarb makes a fleeting neon pink appearance at this time of year, and I'm disproportionately excited about cooking up this Rhubarb and Custard Tart by Georgia Levy I saw on the 'gram this weekend.
Nigel Slater's recipe for Duck and Rhubarb Chutney is is divine, as are his other, less meaty recipes here.
Full disclosure- most of the time, I roast it, sprinkled with sugar, in a foil covered tray till soft and the juices sweet and caramelised. It's then ready for spooning onto Greek yoghurt for breakfast, or siphoning off the syrup to make a Rosemary + Rhubarb Fizz.
Something for the Weekend
On the subject of cocktails, citrus is your friend. Most are based on the perfect balance of sweet and sour, the sour most frequently coming from the acidic notes in lemons, limes and grapefruit. If life is giving me lemons, you'll find me in the kitchen knocking up a French 75- a sophiscticated glass of lemon juice, gin and champagne.
Love limes? Move away from the Mojitos and Mules to the more subtle Cosmopolitan and if you thought your tequila days were over, I implore you to try a Paloma. Grapefruit is tequila's perfect partner, rounding out the harsher notes and delivering a bit of bitter sweetness.
See, cocktails are really quite good for you.