June is a time when many wild foods are at their best; combine these with some of the cultivated foods in season now and you can create some wonderful dishes. Here are a few seasonal suggestions from our friend Peter Sibley…
Sea Trout with Samphire
Sea Trout is in season now, but if you cannot get any, Brown or Rainbow Trout may be substituted in this recipe, though they lack the flavour of Sea Trout.
1. Wash the trout inside and out. One Sea Trout will usually feed four as a main course or more as a starter. If you are using Brown or Rainbow trout you will probably need two for a main course for four.
2. Grease a sheet of cooking foil and place the trout on it. Fill the body cavity with chopped spring onion, watercress and some slices of lemon and a knob of butter. Smear a bit more butter on the top skin and seal the foil around the trout.
3.Place on a baking tray or roasting tin and cook at 180°C for 45 minutes or 12 minutes per pound or half kilogram. When finished, take out of the oven and leave in the foil for 20 minutes or so.
4. Wash the samphire and place in a steamer, you will need about 75 grams per portion. Steam for a few minutes until it softens; steam it for too long and it will break up, so watch it carefully.
5. Stir some chopped watercress leaves into mayonnaise to serve with the trout.
6. When the trout is ready, open the foil carefully so that you do not lose the juices. Strip off the skin from the visible side of the fish, slide a knife into the mid line of the back and ease the fillet away, starting at the head end just behind the gills. The backbone should then be easy to lift away, leaving the lower fillet to be lifted away from the skin.
7. Spoon the juices, spring onion, watercress and lemon onto the fillets and serve with the steamed samphire and watercress mayonnaise.
8. If using as a main course, couscous makes a good accompaniment to this dish, as do new potatoes with mint.
Lamb and wild green vegetables
June is when salt marsh lamb becomes available. Lamb raised on the sea-washed turf of sea marshes has a special succulence and the fat has a unique flavour which comes from the animal’s diet, made up of seashore herbs and salt-tolerant grasses. It is more expensive than ordinary lamb but worth it for a special meal. For this recipe you can use either a leg or a shoulder of lamb. If using shoulder it is best to cook it on a trivet to let some of the fat drip out. For the wild leaves there is a considerable choice. If you can get to the coast, Sea Beet Alexanders and Sea Purslane are all available. Use the leaves of Sea Beet, add the young shoots of Alexanders and use the Purslane as a flavouring. Inland, Garlic Mustard, Hog Weed and the Chenopods, (Common Orache, Fat Hen, Good King Henry and Red Goosefoot), are all in season.
1. Peel three or four cloves of garlic, according to size, and cut into slivers. Using a sharp, thin knife make holes in the surface of the lamb and insert the slivers of garlic, one to each hole.
2. Cut a pocket in the joint, next to the bone, and insert some chopped spring onion, wild leaves, oregano and mint. Close the pocket with a cocktail stick.
3. Cook at 220°C for 20 minutes per pound or half kilogram and 20 minutes extra, less if you like it rare.
4. Let the lamb rest for ten minutes before carving.
5. Serve the lamb with any of the greens mentioned above, boiled or steamed, as you would spinach, plus some roast vegetables and gravy made with the meat juices.
Frozen Elderflower Posset
A posset was originally a warm drink made from milk and wine or cider. The acid in the wine or cider curdled the milk. These days a posset is a cream or milk based pudding, usually chilled or frozen. Our medieval ancestors wouldn’t recognise it! This recipe is like a granita. The ingredients are very simple and so is the recipe.
1. You will need 150ml or ¼ pint of double cream, ¼ pint of Elderflower cordial, (either home-made or bought) and some berries and sugar to serve.
2. Whisk the cream in until it forms soft peaks, then add the cordial, a bit at a time, until it is all combined.
3. Freeze this in a plastic container.
4. When required, spoon the frozen mixture into a blender or food processor and blend, which will break up any ice crystals, then transfer to dessert dishes and leave in the freezer for several hours.
5. Before serving, put in the fridge for twenty minutes or so, add some berries to each dish and sprinkle on some icing sugar. Enjoy!