• In season now: May

    New this month: Asparagus! The food of gods... and carrots are back.

    Still in season from last month: cauliflower, chard, green cabbage, salad leaves, main-crop potatoes (from store), salad leaves, sea kale, spring greens, rhubarb

    Goodbye till next year to: Purple sprouting broccoli (sniff, sniff), leeks, stored parsnips, forced rhubarb

  • What I’m doing here

    This all started when I picked the first strawberries from my new allotment.

    I'd never been so enraptured or so excited by food. It was a shock to find that anything could taste so good.

    So what - I'd never had strawberries before?

    No - all the strawberries I'd had were shop-bought, like as not flown in from intensive growers in Spain or Chile, and eaten in winter when strawberries should be a distant summer memory.

    It revolutionised my thinking about the fresh food we eat every day. I started to wonder if you got the same amazing taste from all types of food grown and eaten in season. And then I decided to do something about it.

    The Year of Eating Seasonally is my little experiment to find out what it's really like not to have it all. The only fruit and veg I and my family are going to eat in 2008 will be what's growing in the ground at the time (or, in winter, what I can get out of store).

    I want to find out if the hungry gap is really as hungry as everyone says it is: whether you're really eating nothing but cabbage all winter; and whether you miss strawberries in December.

    Along the way I hope I'll save a few tons of carbon being released into the atmosphere on my behalf, as I won't be requiring those French beans flown from Chile, thanks very much. And I hope I'll be rediscovering what food can really taste like.

    If you have any comments, please feel free to post them anywhere you like - or you can email me at sallywhite@hotmail.com.

Chicken paper pie

This is another great way of using purple sprouting broccoli, and makes a rich, filling dish that the kids will love too.

2 free range chicken breasts

8oz (250g) gammon steak

1 chicken stock cube

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

7oz (200g) purple sprouting broccoli

1 tbsp cornflour

7oz (200g) creme fraiche

4oz (115g) filo pastry

olive oil

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 (190C, 375F).

Put the chicken and gammon into a wide-based pan (don’t chop them up yet) and crumble over the stock cube. Add the herbs and pour in about 1pt (500ml) water – just enough to cover the meat.

Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, partially covered. Add the broccoli and simmer for another 4 minutes.

Using a slatted spoon, lift out the meat and broccoli and put them on a plate to cool for a while. Turn up the heat under the stock and boil it fast to reduce it by half – it should take about 10-15 minutes.

Cut the gammon and chicken into chunks and put it into a pie dish along with the broccoli. Mix the cornflour with 2 fl oz (30ml) water to make a paste, and add it to the reduced stock along with the creme fraiche. Heat the mixture, stirring continuously, until it just starts to simmer – it should thicken up by this time – and then pour it over the meat and broccoli mixture.

Cut the sheets of filo pastry into quarters and scrumple them up loosely. Cover the top of the pie with them, brushing them lightly all over with the olive oil as you go. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until lovely and crisp and brown on top. 

 

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