Broad Bean – Karmazyn

I’m always a bit sceptical about novelty vegetables. So many times you might get an unusual colour or shape but insipid taste. There are a couple of novelty broad beans including the crimson flowered, dating back to the 1800’s and recently saved from extinction, there are some purple seeded beans too, all of which seem to be as good as the more normal green beans. Therefore when I saw Karmazyn and its unusual antique pink colour, I thought I would give it a go.

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Strawberry – Mara Des Bois

If you want to watch a pastry chef drool just mention the strawberry Mara Des Bois. This French variety bred by Jacques Marionnet in 1991 was bred specifically to have the flavour and scent of wild strawberries but with much greater productivity, especially in spring.

Potato – Casablanca

Here’s looking at you spud! Of all the allotments in all the world, you had to walk in to this one! Cook it Sam, if you can cook it for her, you can cook it for me!

I spent some time trying to find a little about this darling modern variety of potato including how it got its exotic name. Is it named in honour of the film, the city? Does it originate from Casablanca (unlikely)? If anyone finds out then do let me know.

Grow Your Own – Lemongrass

If you’ve ever spent any time in southeast Asia or if not at least visited your local Thai or Vietnamese restaurant you would almost certainly have tasted the perfumed taste of lemongrass. You might not realised it but it is an actual grass, but one with a fragrant citrus and slightly coriander taste and scent.

Chargrilled Asparagus with Parmesan

It’s time to put my asparagus to bed for the year but there is still time for one last meal and to take advantage of the box of free range eggs given to me by a friend from his own chickens so what could be better than asparagus dipped in to a a freshly boiled Legbar or Plymouth brown rock egg?

Crispy “Fried Seaweed”

When is crispy fried seaweed not crispy fried seaweed?

Go to any Chinese restaurant in the UK and you will find crispy fried seaweed on the menu but in my travels around China where we ate many weird and wonderful things, including hot pots, Beijing duck, tofu shaped to look like tripe, apples grown in the shape of Buddha, shrimp paste fermenting in vats and dumplings that looked like goldfish but not once did we see crispy seaweed.

Super Breakfast Porridge

Late winter to early spring can be a funny time for weather in the UK. In February we enjoyed record temperatures in the UK and for one day were hotter than the Caribbean. The same time last year we were under blankets of snow and had a howling storm nicknamed “The Beast from the East”….

Tomato San Marzano

What do you think of when you think of Italy? For me it is holiday memories, fields and fields of sunflowers, sitting on the edge of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pompeii and Herculaneum and the most memorable part of the whole day (I’m almost embarrassed to say) was eating lunch in what I think was little more than a small garage with a wood fired pizza oven in the back which served the most amazing pizza Napolitano

Falafels

Falafel can easily be bought from the supermarket and you seem to be able to buy them in an increasing array of flavours from sweet potato to beetroot. Interesting as they may be, nothing beat the taste of freshly cooked hand-made falafel.

Slow cooked BBQ pork belly

Kung Hei Fat Choi everybody! Today is Chinese New Year. This year is the year of the pig so it is an ideal time to do a BBQ pork recipe.

Traveling around China and Vietnam we’ve eaten many pork related dishes. One of my favourites in Char Sui Bao which are a sweet steamed bun filled with char Sui pork. In Suzhou outside the “Humble Administrators” Garden we found some piggy shaped buns (helpful when you don’t speak the language) alongside some apples grown in the shape of Buddha.