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Peter Sidwell – Spring zing

This month, Yorkshire foodie, Peter Sidwell, encourages us to ‘keep on cooking’ as we head towards the new season…

This month I wanted to encourage you to keep on cooking now spring is edging closer with its hint of lighter nights and a new season’s produce. It’s important to keep on pushing through the dampness and dark evenings and keep a fresh approach to cooking and baking as much as possible.

Citrus fruits are bang in season and nowadays offer a lovely variety of flavours. Lemon and limes are staples in the fruit bowl but why not try some blood orange and pink grapefruit winter salsa? Segment them and mix with a squeeze of lime and clementine, fresh mint and stir through some pomegranate seeds.

Passion fruit will add a hint of summer – why not drizzle with maple syrup for a slightly sweeter version? When I was home for Christmas in Yorkshire I tried my first pink grapefruit spiked gin and tonic and…wow! What a difference a squeeze and slice makes to what has now become one of the UK’s favourite drinks.

We recently worked with some Ugli fruit in the cookery school, a little-known citrus fruit with origins in Jamaica – it’s a hybrid of tangerine, grapefruit and orange. I would urge you to root some out and make some into marmalade – a lovely, light alternative to more traditional orange marmalades. So many citrus options!

Have you tried preserved lemons? If you have a spare Kilner jar at home, why not have a go? Juice a dozen lemons and cut the rind into quarters. Pack them tightly in between layers of table salt and toasted mixed spices such as coriander seed, nigella seed and cumin seeds. Leave them in the fridge for a good month then they can be used to pep up a roasted chicken, Moroccan tagine or cous cous salad. I think they add a wonderful north African note to tomato soup –  make up your favourite tomato soup recipe and use them instead of basil leaves. Garnish with roughly chopped black olives, crumbled feta and a few coriander leaves.

The first of this season’s rhubarb is hitting the grocers and supermarkets now and it’s vital to make the most of this fabulous fruit whilst it is at its best. With Yorkshire being famous for its rhubarb triangle, we are perfectly placed to benefit from low food miles and easy access to the best the UK can grow. It’s not just for crumble, why not make a simple chutney with shallots, red wine vinegar and brown sugar and serve with sausages or a fillet of mackerel? If you leave it to mature it will be beautiful with the new spring lamb that will be hitting the shops soon too.

A couple of tender slim sticks of rhubarb put into a bottle of elderflower cordial will infuse a new flavour profile which can be enjoyed right through the summer with sparkling water and plenty of ice.

Keep your eyes peeled for the start of new wild garlic growth in your local woodland and verges. The fresh young growth can be used in the kitchen a number of ways – more to follow next month.

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