Asparagus is a true seasonal luxury. It has a subtle but distinct taste and delicate texture. Asparagus may be served as an appetiser with melted butter, vinaigrette or hollandaise sauce, as a topping for canap├ęs or as a side dish or garnish. It can also be added to risottos, tarts,
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Avocados are native to Mexico and aren’t really pears, merely pear-shaped. They are eaten as vegetables not fruit. Appearance varies according to variety, of which there are four. Hass which has the best flavour, has a rough, knobbly, purple-black skin and yellowish flesh. Fuerte and Ettinger are a longer pear-shape,
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Pearl barley is the most commonly used type of barley. This is where the grains have been husked, steamed and polished. Pot barley which had less of the husk removed can be used in the same way as pearl barley but needs a longer cooking time. Barley is a great
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A brilliant everyday fragrant rice that is easy to cook and relatively cheap to buy. There are many different ways of cooking with Basmati and even the most common, boiling, has widely differing options. Fried rice First boil the rice (see quick guide). If you’ve recently cleaned the wok with
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There are many varieties of bean sprouts, the most common being mung been sprouts used in Chinese and Asian cooking. Use them raw in salads or toss into stir-fries or Asian style soups. Other common bean sprouts include alfalfa sprouts which are great in salads and sandwiches, and aduki, chickpea
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Broad beans are large, flat and pale green. The beans grow inside velvety cushioned pods. Young beans have a fine sweet flavour and can be eaten raw. Older beans have a stronger flavour and are better eaten skinned. Broad beans can be boiled or steamed and served as an accompaniment
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Green calabrese broccoli is available all year round. Cape broccoli is available from February to March. Purple and white sprouting broccoli is available from February to March. Buy calabrese and cape broccoli with a closely packed head and purple and white sprouting broccoli with strong stalks and heads. All varieties
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Brussels sprouts have a sweet nutty flavour. They are in season from August to March and are at their best during cold weather. Choose small, firm, evenly sized sprouts that have tightly wrapped leaves. Avoid any with wilted leaves or that are yellowing. Wash thouroughly in cold water. Trim off
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Green cabbage is available home grown all year round. Red cabbage is available home grown from October to February and imported from September to June. Spring greens are available home grown throughout the year. White cabbage is available from September to June. The most common types of cabbage are spring
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Capers are widely used for flavouring across the Mediterranean. These brown green buds have a very distinctive herby mustard flavour and can be used to perk up both meat and sea-food dishes. They add a splash of fresh, briny flavour that works particularly well with fish. Capers come preserved in
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Celeriac is a variety of celery grown for its edible roots and shoots. In the Mediterranean Basin and in Northern Europe celeriac grows wild and is widely cultivated. It is also cultivated in North Africa, Siberia, Southwest Asia, and North America. Celeriac is edible raw or cooked. The flesh is
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Celery is available all year round. Look for crisp whole heads with small inner stalks and heart. Avoid over large heads as they may be stringy. Winter celery has a sweet flavour and tender stalks. quick guide Preparation Trim leaves and roots. Separate stalks and scrub well. Cut into 2.5cm
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Sweet dried chilli and pork come together in this popular Spanish sausage. Chorizo has a rather course texture with large chunks of fat embedded, a distinctive red colour and a picante (hot and spicy) flavour. Although according to the strength of pimiento used to flavour, chorizo also comes dulce (sweet/mild)
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Ginger is a perennial root mainly produced in China and India. Fresh ginger (also know as green ginger) is used in cuisine from around the world in curries, spicy stews and stir-fries. It can also be used raw in salads, dressings and marinades and in sweet treats such as ginger
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Millet is a gluten-free grain. The most widely grown millet is pearl millet, which is mainly grown in India and parts of Africa. Millets are a staple food source in many arid and semi arid regions of the world and feature in the traditional cuisine of many others. In Western
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Mint is extremely versatile and can be used in sweet and savoury dishes. There’s many different varieties but the most common and popular mints for cultivation are peppermint, spearmint, and (more recently) apple mint. You can use whole leaves, chopped leaves or sprigs. Just rinse in cold water and dry
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These bright orange winter squashes are known more for their decorative qualities rather than their cooking properties, but they are good to eat. The sweet orange flesh can be steamed or roasted or used to fill the sweet, spicy dessert pumpkin pie. It can also be added to soups and
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Raspberries are usually a deep pink colour although there are other varieties (yellow, white and black). Raspberries are soft and delicate in texture, extremely juicy with an intense sharp flavour. Best eaten unwashed and raw with fresh cream or used to top and decorate cakes. Raspberries can be crushed, sieved
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Cold smoked haddock fillets may be pale or dyed a bright yellow colour. Smoked haddock has a tender succulent texture and a smokey, slightly salty taste. This is a classic fish to use for cullen skink, kedgeree and fish pie, or just grill with a little butter or poach and
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