April seasonal update

The Staff Canteen

From seasonal vegetables, to game and seasonal fruits, read our monthly market report to find out which ingredients are perfect for your April dishes.

What to cook with Spring Lamb

April is the time when Spring lamb is at its best. Whether you choose to cook a leg, a shoulder - or prime cuts, like tenderloin or the hindsaddle, lamb delivers on the promise of rich yet subtle flavour and, if you cook it the right way, tenderness. 

Why not try Michel Roux Jr.'s braised shoulder of spring lamb, or Aktar Islam's ossobucco of spring lamb with garden peas, shallots and spiced pomme mousseline? 

When is asparagus in season in the uk?

Asparagus is only in season in the UK for six or so weeks - any found outside of this timeframe is likely imported from as far as Peru, Mexico, or at best, Italy. It is, however, a king among the vegetables - and, incidentally, pairs perfectly with spring lamb. 

Steve Groves takes a no-frills approach to asparagus, serving it with a simple sunflower seed mayonnaise, while Nathan Outlaw, who gets his from St Enodoc, plates them up as a mousse and shaved with fresh white crab meat.

Another good use of asparagus is shown off by John Freeman's recipe of mushrooms and asparagus textures

St George’s Mushrooms- Asparagus Textures by John Freeman

How to cook cockles 

Though not always painted in as glamorous a light as oysters or scallops, cockles are a delicious and versatile shellfish, of which there are many sustainable fisheries across the UK. 

Cockles are often served to complement a dish as opposed to being the central ingredient - like in Tomas Lidakevicius' recipe for beetroot cured salmon, wasabi and pickled cockles or Angela Hartnett's Brill with tenderstem broccoli, Roscoff onions, cockles and pork crackling breadcrumbs. Give them a try and let us know what you think!

How to spot fresh Plaice? 

This flat speckled fish used to be a staple for the British working class and was often left out from fine dining menus. It is the most used commercial flatfish in Europe, and provides a great alternative for common white fish.

A good way of telling how fresh a plaice is how vibrant its speckles are – the brighter, the better.

What is the best way of cooking sea trout?

Sea trout is a type of brown trout found in salted waters which resembles salmon – with similarly speckled skin - but tastes like fresh water trout. Due to high restaurant demand, sea trout is most often farmed as opposed to being caught in the wild.

Its blood line, which runs close to the back bone, must be removed to avoid instilling a bitter flavour and fillets must be pin boned.  

When are bananas in season?

Because they are always imported and can be grown in many areas  - in South Asia, South East Asia and the Caribbean, bananas are technically in season year-round.

Watch Nick Beardshaw from The Coach in Marlow cook roast quail, sea bream and banana custard:

Beyond the health benefits they are often touted for, bananas are an all-time favourite because they are so comforting: sweet, creamy, and reminiscent of childhood favourites. But this doesn’t mean they can’t be sophisticated, too:

Which is the most commonly eaten crab in the UK?

The brown crab is the most commonly eaten type of crab in the UK and is generally yielded from April to November, with the winter months being their breeding period. Crab is most often prepared with linguine or other pastas, or used in salads. This recipe for chilli crab has good instructions on how to prepare the crab if you are unsure.

Watch Jeff Galvin preparing a lasagna of Dorset crab below:

Where do Jersey Royal potatoes come from?

Harvesting of Jersey Royal potatoes starts at the end of March normally so expect to see them properly on the market in April. It is a trademarked name, so only those from the island of Jersey can carry the title. Since potatoes are usually a side dish to a main meal, why not try something unconventional and serve them with wood pigeon which are also in season from April.

jersey royals
Braised breast of wood pigeon, cauliflower, whisky & redcurrant

How to prep radishes

Season begins in April and although the leaves are edible, most recipes use the reddish root part of the vegetable and include them in salads. This dish from Paul Hood used pickled radishes to go with Angus beef.

Watch chef Andy McFadden create a dish of scallops with radish here:

Planning on making Easter treats?

If you have any plans to give your menu a bit of Easter flare with some chocolate-based confectionary then watch this video on how to temper chocolate, or this one to learn how to make the perfect ganache. This recipe from the late Andrew Fairlie is truly perfect for Easter time.

chocolate Hedgehog and Chocolate and
Yuzu Sorbet

Can you eat raw Rhubarb?

It's safe to eat rhubarb raw.

Rhubarb is a member of the family Polygonaceae and is related to sorrel. It grows best in cool climates and the effect of forcing was discovered by accident at the Chelsea Physic Garden early in the 19th century.

Whether thinly sliced, diced, or accompanied with a little sugar to mellow out its tart bite, rhubarb is a fantastic seasonal ingredient that can add a serious crunch and a sharp tangy flavor to a wide range of dishes.

Watch chef Steve Groves create a white chocolate delice with rhubarb here:

Are you using any of these ingredients in your menus? Upload your pics and recipes to our Chef+ mobile app!


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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 3rd April 2023

April seasonal update