Each month I'll share one of my favourite recipes to this page, focusing on the ingredients that are ready to pick that month.
Be sure to share and tag your triumphs @homewoodbath
Darren Stephens, Chef-Gardener
As I only have hundreds of seedlings so far, I've looked to the rest of the hotel grounds for inspiration. Coming into bloom right now is a magnificent Magnolia tree that reminds me of a slightly unusual recipe and one of my favourite things to pickle.
Pickled Magnolia Flowers
The Magnolia is a beautiful tree and all varieties have edible flowers that can be eaten raw. They have a mild ginger flavour so they work great with Indian dishes or can be used as a replacement for the pink pickled ginger you get with sushi. Use the raw petals to decorate desserts or dress them in a salad. I love them pickled and sliced on toasted sourdough with soft goat's cheese... because everything is great on sourdough. You can use the young buds whole or pick the petals from the open flowers.
What you'll need: 150g magnolia petals or buds, 250g rice wine vinegar, 80g sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, chilli flakes or peppercorns (optional)
Method: Wash the flowers removing any furry sepals and pat dry, trying not to bruise them. Add them to a sterilised Kilner jar. Bring the vinegar, sugar chilli or peppercorns (if using) and salt to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour the hot liquid directly over the flowers, use a utensil to push them under the liquid as they will float up. Leave to cool at room temperature, then refrigerate.
You can eat the flowers straight away or, if you can resist them for a few months, I find the flavour continues to improve. Chilli flakes or pink peppercorns work well in the pickling liquor and also look very cool!
A serious contender for the heavyweight champion of best British seasonal veg is asparagus. It has a tantalisingly brief season but frequently exceptional quality. It deteriorates relatively quickly after picking, which is why freshly picked English asparagus does not compare to the jet-lagged imported spears.
Here’s an alternative to the traditional accompaniment of a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce.
British asparagus, goats curd and yuzu
Yuzu is a citrus fruit grown mainly in east Asia, with a distinctly fragrant taste that sets it apart from lemons and limes. Its juice can be found bottled in most good supermarkets.
It pairs exceptionally well with a smooth fresh goat’s curd and crisp asparagus.
What you'll need: 1 bunch British asparagus, 120g goats curd, mixed baby leaves
For the dressing: 20ml yuzu juice, 20ml rice vinegar, 20ml mirin, 100ml olive oil, 2g salt, pinch of black pepper
Method: Whisk all ingredients for the dressing until emulsified. Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and drop into boiling heavily salted water for no more than 1 minute and refresh under cold water. In a bowl, dress the spears with the yuzu dressing, leaves, curd and a pinch of flaky salt.
Serve in a large sharing bowl or individually.
Turnip, the most humble of all vegetables, underrated, under used and one of my favourites. We’ve grown three varieties, two with creamy coloured skin and a purple crown (where the turnip grew above the surface of the ground and was exposed to sunlight) and ‘Tokyo’ turnips that are pure white. They have a rounded flavour - sweet and slightly peppery - the tops are delicious too!
Turnip and Gruyere gratin
What you'll need: 6 medium turnips with tops, 1 small onion thinly sliced, 150g double cream, 150g milk, 20g grated parmesan, 20g grated Gruyere, salt and pepper
Method: Preheat the oven to 180°C. Begin by gently frying the onion in a little oil until soft without colour. Peel the turnips and using a mandolin or a sharp knife, slice the turnips into discs roughly 3mm thick. Place the turnips into a small saucepan with the cream, milk and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid, and set aside. Pour the liquid back into the pan and simmer until slightly reduced and thickened. Neatly layer the turnip discs into a 20cm ovenproof dish. Pour over the milk and cream, then cover with the grated cheese Bake in the oven for 25–35 minutes until golden and bubbling and serve with the turnip tops briefly blanched in salted water.
Courgettes. An endlessly versatile vegetable and in abundance in our no-dig garden and many others right now. So often over cooked in a poor excuse for ratatouille, when fresh and tender they are amazing raw, like many other home-grown veggies.
Courgettes, English mustard dressing, rosemary and garlic sourdough croutons
What you'll need: 4 courgettes thinly sliced length ways on a mandolin (watch your fingers!) or just into rounds, sourdough, clove of garlic, sprig of rosemary, knob of butter
For the dressing: 1 teaspoon English mustard, 2 teaspoons honey, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 6 teaspoon virgin rapeseed oil, salt and pepper
Method: Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing vigorously to emulsify. Slice the sourdough into neat cubes and sauté in a little rapeseed oil until toasted on the outside. With the pan hot, add the butter along with the whole clove of garlic and chopped rosemary. Let the butter foam until the croutons are golden and drain them off. In a bowl, gently mix the dressing with the courgettes, it should be thick enough to coat them. Assemble into a bowl and top with the crotons and some basil and oregano tips.