With other fruits often taking the limelight, we should not forget the delights of the versatile and delicious plum. There are wonderful varieties with colours varying from yellows and greens through to deep rich purples. Victoria plums are a real North Yorkshire favourite, with lots of trees in personal orchards around the County. It’s hard to resist a fully laden plum tree in your own garden – get to them before the wasps do though!
Nutrition – A tasty source of vitamin C and dietary fibre.
Tips – Whatever the shape or size of the plum, always choose firm, plump, unwrinkled fruits with a luscious bloom on them.
Preparation – Plums will keep at room temperature for up a couple of days if you buy them when they are firm. They will continue to ripen, so don’t leave them too long! Plums are delicious to eat raw, or cooked and are best unpeeled.
Wild rabbit meat, which is leaner and tastier than the farmed variety, has a fabulous subtle, gamey flavour. It is available throughout the year but you're more likely to find the best sized rabbits from July to December.
Today rabbit meat is not very popular in Britain, perhaps in part because of its association with food shortages during WWII. It is appreciated much more elsewhere in Europe and appears regularly on the dinner table in Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, and Cyprus. Malta and Crete compete for highest rabbit consumption per head of population.
Nutrition - Rabbit meat is relatively low in fat and high in protein. It is a good source of niacin, iron, phosphorus, and vitamin B12.
Tips - Unlike much of Europe, rabbit is rarely seen in UK supermarkets, but is available from many butchers and farmers markets.
Select rabbits by size; they should be large enough to yield a decent amount of meat, but not too large. Wild rabbits much larger than 1kg are prone to be tough. Younger, smaller animals will be more tender and better suited to quick cook methods such as roasting or barbecuing. Larger, older rabbits will have more flavour but may be less tender and so better suited to slower cooking.
Storing - Fresh rabbit will keep in the fridge for several days (or longer if vacuum packed). Freezing is not recommended as this can make the meat too dry.
Wild boar is lean meat that should, as a rule, be cooked at lower temperatures than other meats. Avoid overcooking. Wild boar, raised like beef, is range fed and therefore can be served on the rare side. A rule of thumb for cooking wild boar is "low and slow". The temperature for cooking roasts for example, is 250-275 degrees Fahrenheit. The amount of time depends on your personal preference as to how well done you would like to cook your meat. For chops, bake with a sauce for best results or if you prefer, pan-fry at a medium heat. Always check frequently so as not to overcook.
Wild boar is excellent barbecued. When prepared properly it is flavorful and very tender. Wild boar also makes tasty sausage, jerky and ground meat products.
Tips - When preparing wild boar for cooking remember, never thaw or cook this meat in a microwave, as it will become very tough and dry. Slowly thaw meat the day before and marinate overnight for best results. Pineapple juice or wine is a particularly good choice for marinade because it contains an enzyme that actively breaks down muscle fibre. Therefore it is highly effective as a meat tenderiser.
The wild boar’s light fat layer can be easily trimmed. But many cooks believe the fat layer provides a "self-basting" element and helps retain succulence.
Trout is a relative of the freshwater salmon and is native to Britain. Although its appearance varies, it's typically brownish with rusty red and black spots. It lives in brooks, rivers and lakes, and the saltwater variety, the sea trout, is found in coastal waters throughout northern Europe.
Good brown trout needs little flavouring and is ideal poached, grilled or barbecued.
Nutrition - Trout is an oil-rich fish and is a valuable source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help prevent heart disease. It's also a good source of protein.
Preparation - Look for trout that are glistening and clean smelling - they should not smell of fish at all. If you're after whole trout, look for bright red gills and shiny skin. Ask your fishmonger to bone the fish; trout don't need scaling.
Tips - Don't overcook trout - it tastes far better if slightly underdone. If you leave the head on, then when its eyes turn white you know it's done to perfection.
Tomatoes are a delicious and a sure sign that summer is here! And they crop right through until the first frosts of autumn!!
Anyone who has tried home-grown/veg box tomatoes will know their flavour and texture is vastly superior to standard supermarket tomatoes, and this is because the home-grown/veg box variety are left to ripen on the plant, rather than being picked too early, ripened artificially and then transported for days or even weeks, in cold storage.
Nutrition - A fresh tomato is a great source of vitamin C and vitamin A and tomatoes are also one of the best sources of lycopene, which has cancer-fighting properties. Lycopene is more easily absorbed by the body in a lightly cooked form, so fresh tomato sauces are a great way to eat this. If you prefer raw tomatoes, include a little olive oil in the recipe, which will also help with absoption.
Tips - Choose firm (gives slightly under light pressure), bright red tomatoes to eat first, as these are the most ripe. A soft "squidgy" tomato won't keep well, so if you've got some of these in your box, use them first.
If your tomatoes seem a bit hard and under-ripe, it only takes a couple of days and a banana to ripen them!
This distinctive vegetable that thinks it’s a fruit, has become a culinary media star over the last few years, as top-named celebrity chefs put rhubarb on the menu. Traditionally grown by candlelight in darkened sheds, the slender, tender stems of champagne rhubarb provide a brilliant splash of colour during the dark winter days of January and February. Outdoor rhubarb appears around April.
Nutrition – rhubarb is a good source of fibre with moderate levels of vitamin C and calcium.
Tips – always choose plump, firm stalks with a good colour. Fresh rhubarb will keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. Raw and cooked rhubarb freezes well. Vanilla and ginger are both perfect flavours to compliment rhubarb.
Preparation – trim both ends of the stalks and make sure to discard the poisonous leaves. Forced rhubarb requires only very gentle cooking – add a splash of water or orange juice, and cook gently in a covered pan, or in the oven. Outdoor rhubarb is very tart and will need plenty of sugar.
These shiny little berries grow low on bushes, hanging from branches like rows of miniature gems. Their flavour is a little tart but they are still sweet enough to be eaten raw, if sprinkled with plenty of sugar! They go well with raspberries, strawberries and melon, as well as goose, venison and lamb (hence the familiar lamb accompaniment, redcurrant jelly). They can also be frosted with egg white and caster sugar and used as a decoration for puddings or cocktails.
Nutrition - Rich in Vitamin C, and are useful source of soluble fibre. They contain a modest amount of iron, potassium and copper.
Tips - Go for glossy, plump, firm currants, avoid those that are squashed. To prepare, wash, then, holding the stalk over a bowl, grip at one end and sweep a fork down its length, making sure that the stalk runs between the fork's tines - all the berries should pop off. They will store in the fridge, for up to three days. Do not wash before storing or they will go soggy. Poach (4 minutes, or until just starting to burst). Use to make sauces, syrups and jams. Add to fruit mix for summer pudding; use to make mousse or sorbets.
There are two types of broccoli: calabrese and purple sprouting broccoli. Calabrese has large densely packed, blue green heads and not many outer leaves, whereas the sprouting variety is more leafy and has smaller, looser purple or white heads. They have different seasons, with calabrese available from June to November and sprouting from February to May, so fresh broccoli is available nearly all year round in local farm shops and Farmers Markets.
Nutrition – Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C – even more than oranges! It is also rich in iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium.
Tips – Always choose firm, healthy looking broccoli – we don’t want any wrinkly stalks!
Preparation – Steaming or stir frying is the best way to cook broccoli – if it is overcooked you will lose much of the nutritional value. Always use it straightaway, and even in cool dark conditions, broccoli does not store well.
There are several varieties of cucumber from smooh to knobbly, but the most common is a long, slim, straight vegetable with a smooth, dark green slightly glossy skin. They tend to be homegrown mainly under glass. Cucumbers have often been associated with being cool and refreshing, which probably accounts for the fact that they are 96% water.
Nutrition – If possible do not remove the skin, as it is thought that this aids digestion, however, a lot of people find that cucumbers ‘repeat’ on them! Nutritionally, they contain a good portion of fibre, vitamin C and mineral salts. Cucumbers are a good source of Vitamins A, C & K, and are also very high in potassium.
Tips – Choose firm, stiff cucumbers – if it wobbles, walk away! It will be bitter and rubbery. A good cucumber will be moist, juicy and have a good proportion of flesh to seed.
Preparation – Obviously, the cucumber is best known sliced and diced in a lovely, fresh salad, but they can also be a delicious accompaniment to fish when sliced thinly and fried quickly in butter. Another popular recipe for all you Indian food lovers, is to combine the cucumber with natural yoghurt, garlic and freshly chopped mint to create a ‘raita’.
The Tayberry is a very successful hybrid of the raspberry and blackberry. A deep reddish-purple, they have an elongated shape with the consistency of a blackberry and a tart, intense flavour. Although they are delicious served raw with ice cream, they are often preferred cooked in pies, puddings fruit sauces. They make excellent jam and freeze very well.
Nutrition - Berries contain high levels of compounds which are thought to be protective against disease. They fit in well with the requirements of a healthy diet because they have a low fat content, low levels of sodium and are high in vitamins, minerals and various phenolic compounds.Research shows that many types of berries consistently contain some of the highest antioxidant levels of any fruit.
Tips - Once picked, you should either eat them straight away, or keep in the fridge for no longer than a day or so.
The sight of blackberries unfortunately marks the end of the summer season for us, and the onset of Autumn. However, they can serve two purposes – they can be enjoyed in summer served cold with cream, or dropped into a cool, refreshing martini. In Autumn, they are delicious baked in a warming pie. Why not combine a walk in the lovely North Yorkshire countryside with a blackberry picking trip.
Nutrition - A juicy source of vitamin C
Tips - Look for firm, glossy berries that are black all over. (Avoid any that have green or red patches or any sign of mould). Blackberries are excellent in jam and are perfect with apple in pies or crumbles but they also match perfectly with rich or gamey meat such as venison, lamb or pheasant.
Preparation - Wild blackberries are generally smaller and firmer than their cultivated cousins and have a sweet but tart flavour. The cultivated berries taste almost as good but are more fleshy and juicy. Never keep blackberries for more than a day, and always hull them (pull out any remaining stalk and the pithy hull will come out with it).
The quintessential sign that summer has arrived in North Yorkshire - the strawberry plant is a member of the rose family. Good quality strawberries should be bright red in colour, not too firm but not too soft either. If you can buy organic strawberries, do so, as they will only need wiping with kitchen roll. If you do need to wash the strawberries, wash them and dry them thoroughly on kitchen roll before serving.
Nutrition - Strawberries are rich in vitamin C, manganese and folic acid. They are a good source of ellagic acid (a phytochemical thought to combat carcinogens) and contain antioxidant flavonoids (linked with protecting against heart disease, stroke and cancers).
Tips – Strawberries are highly perishable and really should be eaten within 24 hours. They can be frozen, but freeze them individually on a tray or similar, before placing them into a freezer bag for storage. The scent is an indicator of quality and smaller strawberries often have more flavour. Look for berries that are unblemished and bright red with fresh-looking green leafy caps.
Preparation – Always remove the caps and white hulls from strawberries. They are at their best served simply with sugar and cream, or you can really bring out their flavour by macerating them with a little sugar in fruit juice, orange liqueur, sweet wine, sparkling wine or balsamic vinegar. Strawberries can be used as fillings for pies, shortcake, sponges and flans. They also make delicious ice creams, sorbets and mousses.
The peppery flavour gives away the fact that watercress is a member of the mustard family. It is a wonderfully traditional salad ingredient and is a nice change from Mustard and Cress in an egg sandwich. If you pick you own wild watercress make sure it is growing in clean fast flowing water – if there is a chance the water might contain sheep droppings, leave the cress where it is!
Nutrition – Watercress is rich in vitamins A, C and K and also in calcium. It also contains iron, but you would have to eat loads of it to get your daily iron ration.
Tips – Eat within 24 hours to enjoy watercress at its best. Steer clear of wilting, yellowing cress – it’s past its best.
Preparation – Try chopping the watercress finely and mix it with butter to serve with grilled fish of your favourite meat. You can even puree it and use it as a sauce. Hot or cold watercress soup is a winner all year round.
The North Yorkshire asparagus season is sadly very brief, lasting approximately six weeks from the official start of the season on 1st May , The asparagus seasons leads us very gently from spring into summer. Asparagus is a member of the Lily family and unusually has no leaves. White asparagus can also be grown by keeping the growing shoots hidden from light under the soil. The green variety which is popular in North Yorkshire has a delicious flavour.
Nutrition – Good news for all mums to be - asparagus contains more folic acid than any other vegetable available. It is also a good source of fibre, potassium and vitamins A & C.
Tips – The buds should be tight, the spears a good even colour with a firm appearance. Asparagus is best served neither hot nor cold, but tepid and dressed with vinaigrette. It is best eaten on the day of purchase, but store it in the fridge with a damp paper towel wrapped around it, and it will keep for a couple more days.
Preparation – Wash in cold water and snap off the bottom ends – they will break at a natural point. Cook the asparagus with its feet in water and its head in steam, or alternatively you can griddle the spears with butter.
The modern garden pea was rare until the eighteenth century, and they were considered gourmet fare in the late 1700s, at times fetching exorbitant prices. If you've ever tasted peas fresh from the garden, you'll know why: fresh peas, like fresh sweet corn, taste little like their store-bought counterparts.
Peas can either be shelling peas (which are removed from the pod, or shelled) or edible pod peas (which are eaten pod and all). So for a great day out why not take yourself and your family off to one of North Yorkshire's many Pick Your Own farms!
The glorious game bird. The red grouse feeds on the young heather shoots on the North Yorkshire Moors, from which it gets its deliciously distinctive flavour. The grouse season runs from the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ (August) to the tenth of December, but young birds shot at the first half of the season are generally the better tasting. The meat is dark red, rich and gamey, yet at the same time delicate in flavour. Grouse is available from farmers markets, good independent butchers and game dealers, if shooting them yourself is not your bag.
Nutrition – Grouse is a rich source of iron, niacin, vitamin B1 and B2 and it a very low fat protein provider.
Tips – It is best to roast young birds. These are birds that are shot in their first year. They can be eaten within 24 hours, but if you prefer they can be hung for a short time – typically between 2 and 4 days, depending on the age of the bird and the weather. A plump bird (undressed weight of 700g) will feed one person – unless they are very hungry!
Preparation – Grouse has such a lovely flavour it is best not to hide it with strong flavoured sauces. It should be roasted quickly and allowed to rest briefly before serving. Traditionally Grouse is served on the rare side, but can be roasted for a little longer if that’s how you like it. Liberal basting is required to keep the meat moist or you can cover the bird with bacon. Older birds are tougher and not so good for roasting but make delicious casseroles, game stews or a fabulous ingredient in a mixed game pie.
The globe artichoke is related to the thistle. Its leaves are eaten, along with the bottom part of the flower, called the heart. It makes a delicious starter simply boiled whole and served with melted butter, mayonnaise, hollandaise or vinaigrette for dipping the leaves into. Break off each leaf and draw the soft fleshy base through your teeth.
Once you've removed all the leaves you can pull or slice off the hairy 'choke' and eat the heart and the meaty bottom with the remaining sauce.
Preparation - First remove about four of the toughest outer leaves, then place the artichoke at the edge of a table so that the stalk overlaps the edge. Grasp the stalk and snap away the stem, removing also some of the tough fibres running up into the base. Now remove the inedible choke: carefully spread the leaves apart until you come to the central cone of thinner, lightly coloured leaves. Then pull this cone out in one piece and underneath it you’ll find the hairy ‘choke’ –scrape this all out of the heart with a teaspoon, and add a little lemon juice to stop the inside discolouring. Now rinse out the artichokes and leave them upside down in some cold water to which some more lemon juice has been added (about 1 tablespoon to 2 pints /1.2 litres of water) until you are ready to cook them.
Don’t boil artichokes in iron or aluminium pans, as this can discolour them. Have your chosen pan ready filled with salted boiling water with a tablespoon of lemon juice or white wine vinegar added. Gently boil the artichokes, uncovered, for about 30-40 minutes or until one of the outer leaves pulls away easily and the bases feel tender when tested with a skewer. Then drain the artichokes upside down in a colander, shaking them to get rid of the excess water.
The first green gooseberries are available from Late May to Early August, they are quite tart in their flavour and so are rarely eaten raw. The dessert gooseberries (often red in colour) arrive later in the season and as they are sweeter, can be eaten raw or in fruit salads. The Yorkshire-based Egton Bridge Old Gooseberry Society, near Whitby, and founded in 1801, hold an annual Gooseberry Contest on the first Tuesday in August to find the biggest and tastiest gooseberry.
Nutrition - Gooseberries are a good source of fibre and vitamins A and C.
Tips – Always make sure gooseberries are firm and undamaged. Firm cooking gooseberries will keep (unwashed) in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, and they also freeze well. However, the softer dessert gooseberries are less durable and will only keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. Gooseberries are rich in pectin which makes them ideal for making jams, chutneys and jellies. Gooseberry sauce is a great accompaniment to mackerel and also deep-fried camembert wedges.
Preparation – For any dish that requires the whole berry, the gooseberry will have to be top and tailed using a sharp knife. If they are being used for jellies, there is no need to trim them. Gooseberries can be used in a wide variety of ways – but gooseberry pies and tarts are a traditional favourite, especially if served with good thick custard.
Summer squashes are generally small, quick growing and have soft seeds, pale flesh and thin skins. Winter squashes are darker, and have tough skins and hard seeds.
Nutrition - Marrow is 90% water but does deliver a little dietary fibre. The squashes with yellow or orange skin contain beta carotene which the body can convert to vitamin A.
Tips – There’s more to a marrow than just stuffing it. Choose a young tender specimen as a light, delicate accompaniment to a meal. Spiced squash soups look fantastic too, if served up in their own skins.
Preparation – Young, tender summer squashes don’t need peeling and should be cooked quickly. They go well with light summery ingredients such as tomatoes and basil. Winter squashes usually require peeling and cutting into chunks before cooking
Spring onions are simply white onions harvested at a young age. They belong to the same family as garlic, leeks, shallots and chives, but are less likely to make you cry!
Nutrition - Good source of vitamins B and C, folate and fibre. Onions are relatively high in flavonoids, an antioxidant that is thought to protect against cancer and heart disease.
Tips – Choose clean steams with firm white bases, any sliminess indicates they are not fresh. The thinner the spring onion, the milder it will be. Young spring onion tops are an excellent alternative to chives.
Preparation – Chop off the roots and remove the topmost part of the green, then use whole or sliced in salads. They can also be used in stir-fried dishes and are the perfect partner to ginger in many oriental style sauces.
Recent years have brought a remarkable surge in the popularity of peppers. With literally hundreds of varieties to select from, there is a pepper to suit everyone's taste.
Sweet green bell shaped peppers are the most popular garden variety and left to ripen they turn red, purple, orange, yellow and gain various levels of sweetness depending on the variety. They are crisp and refreshing raw and pleasantly assertive when cooked to tenderness.
Chilli peppers are famous throughout the world from the fiery cuisines of Mexico, India, Thailand and Africa to the subtle flavor enhancement of the most delicate dishes. The hot varieties can be picked at any color stage but are hottest if allowed to fully ripen.
Radishes are in season from April to September, but are often available outside of this period.
In the UK, radishes are usually red and smaller than a golf ball but in Japan they can also be black or white and up to 18 inches long.
Radishes are well known for their peppery taste and are traditionally considered as a salad ingredient or garnish.
Nutrition - Radishes are rich in vitamin C and folic acid, whilst being very low in calories.
If you've got radishes complete with leaves, then handle them carefully as some people's skin is sensitive to radish leaves and it can cause a slight irritation.
Tips - Choose radishes that are firm, not wrinkled. If possible, choose them before the leaves go limp. Keep them in the fridge for 3-5 days. If growing them at home, it's better not to pick them until you need them and unless you're going to use them the same day, don't store them with the leaves on. The leaves take moisture from the radish roots and will dry them out, as well as going limp themselves.
Potato varieties are classified according to their growing season, and new potatoes are taken out of the ground earlier in the year than the other in the crop (which are known as ‘maincrop’ potatoes). New potatoes are planted from January to March and can be harvested as early as mid April. All the varieties vary in texture, taste and flavour.
Nutrition – Potatoes are an excellent source of low fat energy for your brain and body. However, they also provide substantial proportions of a whole range of important nutrients: Fibre, Vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin B1, B6, Niacin and Folate.
Tips – Freshly dug new potatoes are the best. The skins should rub away easily if they are fresh revealing a ‘tight’ skin underneath. Do not buy if the skins feel dry and wrinkly, or if they are beginning to sprout or turn green as toxins may have formed under the skin due to their exposure to light. New potatoes are best eaten fresh, but they can be stored in a cool, dark, airy place for a few days.
Preparation – Only just cover new potatoes with water when boiling, and drain as soon as they are ready. Add mint towards the end of boiling new potatoes for a delicious healthy alternative to butter. They can also be steamed, and are delicious eaten hot or cold, served as an accompaniment to any main meal, or added to salads.
One of the most versatile (and cheapest) vegetables around. They have a fabulous crunchy texture and are available most of the year. There are several varieties of carrots including Parisienne which is a short, stumpy carrot that has a lovely, sweet flavour and Chantenay which is more conical in shape but has a very concentrated flavour.
Nutrition - Raw carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A and potassium; they contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamine, folic acid, and magnesium. Cooked carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, a good source of potassium, and contain vitamin B6, copper, folic acid, and magnesium.
Tips – Carrot soups can be flavoured with orange or mint. They are also very well complimented by herbs – in salads use mint, chives, parsley, coriander or basil, or add an oil and lemon vinaigrette dressing to grated carrot for a delicious side salad. Sweet main-crop carrots make a lovely moist carrot cake, and can also be used in pies with lots of spices (similar to pumpkin). They can be stored in a cool, dark, dry place for up to a week.
Preparation – New carrots just need scrubbing before cooking, but main crop carrots will need peeling properly. Both new and maincrop carrots are delicious raw, with maincrop being especially sweet. They can be boiled, steamed or braised in stock or butter and served as an accompaniment to any main meal. They are also perfect for adding to stews, casseroles, soups etc.
North Yorkshire Lamb is hard to beat. From the Dales to the Moors, lamb fed on the sweet, succulent grass is particularly delicious. The majority of lamb sold is aged between four months and one year old. After it reaches the ripe old age of one, the meat is referred to as mutton which is a darker meat and has a stronger flavour. Mutton has recently undergone a bit of a renaissance, and is now a sought after meat. In springtime, lamb is at its most tender and is fantastic for roasting.
Nutrition – lamb is a good source of zinc, iron and B vitamins. However, for those of you counting the calories, beware! It is also high in both saturated and unsaturated fats.
Tips – Buy your lamb from one of the excellent North Yorkshire butchers,local farm shops or farmers’ markets so you can ask where the meat originated from. If you like it, you will then know where to buy the same quality produce again. Look for firm, pinkish meat with creamy white fat. Lamb can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days.
Preparation – Cooking lamb depends greatly on the cut. As a general rule, lamb prefers slower cooking which then gives it that fantastic tender texture, but if you do choose a dry heat method, always serve it slightly pink for more moisture and flavour. As lamb can be quite fatty, always trim before cooking.
North Yorkshire has lots of pig farms and many are producing free range, rare breed pork. What better sight is there than a plump porker rooting around the fields! The Great Yorkshire Show is a wonderful place to see the county’s finest pigs.
Nutrition – A great source of protein and vitamins B6 and B12.
Tips – Avoid any meat that looks damp, clammy or with oily, waxy looking fat.
Preparation – You can eat everything apart from the squeak, so pork is amazingly versatile. Chose a method of cooking to suit the cut. Pork is traditionally eaten with apple sauce, but other fruits are wonderful too. Try it with plumped up dried apricots or pears.
North Yorkshire has hives all around the region and the different honeys all have a distinctive flavour of their own, depending on the flowers that grow around their hives. There are blended or single flower varieties. Lavender honey is produced in North Yorkshire and has a lovely perfumed quality. Some honeys are runny and others are thick and ‘buttery’
Nutrition - Honey has no fat, no cholesterol and is a healthy source of carbohydrate.
Tips – Some honeys are great for cooking and others work better as spreads. Visit your local Farm shop to discover some of the delicious local honey available.
Preparation - Honey is a wonderful ingredient to add to a marinade or to use as a glaze. It delivers sweetness so is a great substitute for sugar, but it also brings with it a wide range of distinctive flavours too.
North Yorkshire can boast some wonderful beef herds and you only need to visit The Great Yorkshire Show to see the fine specimens we breed here. Dexter Beef is a particular speciality. Its dark red / brown meat has the traditional taste of ‘how beef used to taste in the good old days’. The fine grained meat is well marbled with creamy yellow fat, that disappears in cooking, leaving a tender moist joint. Farm reared Dexter beef can be found at Farmers Markets and farm gate sales. Look out for it, it is well worth searching out.
Nutrition – Beef is high in protein and also delivers vitamins B6 and B12.
Tips – Beef is better if it has been given time to mature, so don’t buy the bright red stuff!
Preparation – There are as many ways to cook beef as there are different cuts. But as long as you have chosen good quality meat, you can’t go wrong. Recipes vary from the traditional Sunday roast through to many exotic dishes, so go on, be brave and try something new today.
North Yorkshire can boast some wonderful beef herds and you only need to visit The Great Yorkshire Show to see the fine specimens we breed here.
And if you're looking for something different then why not try some of this countries traditional native breeds, such as the Dexter, Galloway, Hereford, Highland, Shorthorn ....
Nutrition – Beef is high in protein and also delivers vitamins B6 and B12.
Tips – Beef is better if it has been given time to mature, so don’t buy the bright red stuff!
Preparation – There are as many ways to cook beef as there are different cuts. But as long as you have chosen good quality meat, you can’t go wrong. Recipes vary from the traditional Sunday roast through to many exotic dishes, so go on, be brave and try something new today.
Mushrooms, the plant of immortality? That’s what ancient Egyptians believed according to the hieroglyphics of 4600 years ago. The delicious flavour of mushrooms intrigued the pharaohs of Egypt so much that they decreed mushrooms were food for royalty and that no commoner could ever touch them. This assured themselves the entire supply of mushrooms!
Fresh mushrooms are truly a cook's best friend. Whether you need just a little something to dress things up or add a whole new dimension of flavor, your answer is mushrooms.
Nutrition - Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium, yet they provide several nutrients, including riboflavin, niacin and selenium.
Tips - Mushrooms are very similar to meats and other vegetables. Virtually any and all seasonings go well with mushrooms. If serving as a side dish, use seasonings compatible with the main dish.
Preparation - Brush off any dirt with a damp paper towel or fingers. Rinse fresh mushrooms only briefly under running water and pat dry with a paper towel. Never soak them, as they absorb moisture. Trim the end of the stem before using.
Like onions, leeks and chives, garlic is a member of the lily (or allium) family. The head is comprised of 12-15 cloves, each encased in papery skin.
It's practical health benefits include lowering blood cholesterol and antiseptic properties.
There are several recipes in which garlic takes centre stage rather than a supporting flavouring role - perhaps most famously French chicken roast with 40 cloves of garlic. Garlic soup has a surprisingly soft sweet-savoury flavour yet uses around half a head per person.
Varieties - What most people think of as fresh garlic is actually a dried bulb. There are hundreds of varieties varying in degree of pungency, skin colour (pink, white, purple), and clove size. Fresh, 'spring' or 'wet' garlic is lifted from ground before the bulb matures and looks like a curvaceous leek. The green portion rising above the ground is also edible. Look for it in speciality greengrocers and farm shops in June. Elephant garlic is very large but milder than regular garlic.
Preparation - Remember that the more garlic is crushed or chopped, the stronger it will taste.
Many people find garlic presses or crushers convenient, however some claim they alter the flavour of garlic; they are also difficult to clean.
For recipes that require whole garlic cloves, you can either cut away the dry nub of the clove and peel off the skin, or (if you need many cloves) blanch the garlic in hot water, after which the skin comes off easily.
If you are serving the garlic raw, cut the clove in half and remove any central green germ as they have a powerful taste and can cause digestive problems. If green shoots are sprouting from the whole head, throw it out.
Lavender can now be found on several farms all over the county. The lavender plant has been used for centuries for its healing and antiseptic properties, and herbalists believed that most ailments could be helped by the use of lavender, often steeped in hot water. The plant's name itself is testimony to this - the name Lavandula comes from the Latin 'lavare' to wash. The scent that we all know and love doesn’t just come from the flowers, but is also contained in the stalks and leaves. Many people aren’t aware that lavender is now available to use as a culinary ingredient.
Preparation - Use lavender sparingly in cooking, similar to rosemary. Use a sprig of leaves to scent the steam whilst cooking rabbit or chicken. Adding lavender around a joint of lamb before roasting will give the meat a delicious flavour. Lavender has become a popular ingredient for cooking for both sweet and savory dishes. Desserts can also be scented with lavender, such as creme brulee. It can also be used to flavour biscuits, herb jellies and vinegars.
Late summer is the time to go picking wild bilberries on the North Yorkshire Moors – mind your fingers though, the distinctive dark purple juice, will stain your fingers badly! Bilberries are from the same family as blueberries but have a sharper flavour. They have a very short season but can be put to a variety of uses. Dried bilberries have traditionally been used as a remedy for a variety of conditions, including scurvy, diarrhoea, urinary tract infections and diabetes. Modern research has found that these berries are particularly beneficial for preserving vision.
Nutrition – Bilberries are high in Dietary Fibre, Vitamins A, C & K and are also a good source of potassium. They are also one of the richest sources of antioxidants.
Tips – Bilberries make wonderful fillings for pies and tarts, and can be added to apple if you don’t have enough berries. They are also great for making jams and jellies, particularly when mixed with a fruit richer in pectin. They do not keep well, so eat them fairly soon after picking.
Preparation – Simply wash and go! They make a great flavouring to muffins, scones and pancakes and bilberry ice cream has a fabulous flavour as well as a stunning colour.
Late summer and early autumn are the classic "runner bean season". The season starts with fresh, young beans, with delicious, soft pods. And it ends with rather tough, stringy pods and oversized beans.
Chances are you'll love your runner beans early in the season but might not be quite so keen by the end.
Runner Beans are a traditional British vegetable and brighten up your garden with orange flowers preceding the long green beans. They're easy to grow and have been cultivated for thousands of years.
The main season for runner beans is from June to September - depending on the weather...
Nutrition - They're a good source of viyamin C, protein and also folic acid, yet 100g of steamed beans contain less than 20 calories!
Tips - Choose pods that feel firm and are undamaged. Store the pods in a cool, dry place for 3-4 days.
Runner beans are usually "topped and tailed" (cut off the ends) and then either cut into chunks (1 to 2 inches long) or sliced finely.
If you slice them finely, cooking them is as simple as boiling in water for 3-4 minutes until tender.
If they have got to the tough and stringy stage, you can remove the strings by topping and tailing each bean and then slicing off the long edges. It's a bit more work, but makes them infinitely more edible! Even so, they might take up to 10 minutes to cook.
Hare is not widely available but you should be able to find it ready to cook from game butchers or on menus at more adventurous restaurants. It's similar to rabbit in texture, but not in flavour: hare has dark brown, strong gamey flesh, which is very different from the pale, mild flesh of rabbit. Best cooked when young for tender meat, it's hung for a few days and skinned; the legs and saddle make the choicest cuts. Hare is popular throughout Europe and is often domestically bred. Traditional British recipes include jugged hare and roast leg or saddle of hare. If you don't fancy cooking it at home, let a professional chef cook it for you
Grown in North Yorkshire, There are five main types of wholehead salad grown in the UK. Varieties include, Iceberg, Romaine (otherwise known as Cos), Gem, Batavia, Speciality lettuce (e.g. lollo rosso, oak leaf). In addition there are loose leaves such as rocket, spinach and red chard. Leafy salads are a delicious way to boost your 5 a day intake – and being so adaptable and wide ranging are suitable for main meals, side dishes, perfect for entertaining and great for everyday family meals.
Nutrition – Lettuce is extremely low in Saturated Fat and Sodium, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Folate, Iron, Potassium and Manganese.
Tips – Whatever variety you buy, always look for firm, crisp leaves with no signs of browning. Most lettuces need eating within a couple of days but some varieties eg. iceberg, little gem will keep up to a week.
Preparation – Always discard any wilted outer leaves, and wash the remaining leaves thoroughly, drying them on kitchen paper or in a salad spinner. As there is such a huge variety available, they can be mixed in a salad to give a more attractive range of colours and flavours.
French Beans, sometimes known as green beans, fresh beans or haricots verts, also come in white and purple.
When eaten young, with small inner beans, they are crunchy, sweet and delicious. When more mature, they provide dried beans, a valuable source of protein.
It is believed that "French Beans" originated in Peru and didn't reach Europe until the 16th Century.
Nutrition - All colours are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese.
Tips - Choose beans while they're still firm, rather than limp and rubbery. Thinner beans are more popular for eating with the pod than larger beans.
If your pods are too large, you might not want to eat them as they can be tough and stringy. In this case, just cook the beans instead.
Cooking - Top and tail the beans and then boil for 5-8 minutes, until tender. Serve as they are as a side dish or toss in a little butter or olive oil and sprinkle with flaked almonds!
Free range chickens can be found at Farmers Markets throughout North Yorkshire and are truly delicious.
Nutrition – A good source of protein. Chicken also has some vitamin A, B6 and B12.
Tips – Don’t get stuck in a roasting rut! There is no shortage of ideas and types of chicken so let your imagination go wild.
Preparation – Chicken can be roasted whole or cooked in portions, or cut up and used in stews or casseroles. Let’s not forget the heart warming and nutritious chicken soup! Because of the mild flavour of chicken almost any ingredients complement it, so choose your favourite flavours.
For many years the humble turnip was grown primarily by farmers for cattle fodder, which is why it hasn't enjoyed much reverence. The turnip's poor culinary reputation hasn't been helped by its being frequently overcooked and pulped or puréed. But help is at hand, and the vegetable is now becoming as popular as other root vegetables. When young, turnips have a delicate nutty sweetness, but if they are allowed to grow much bigger than a tennis ball, they lose some of their sweetness and become much more coarse.
Nutrition – A good source of vitamin A and K with plenty of fibre too.
Tips –The turnip tops when young and tender have a lovely peppery taste and can be cooked just like any other greens. Always choose good looking turnips with smooth undamaged skins of delicate pale purple or white shading into green. Never go for one that is spongy or has worm holes.
Preparation - Try cooking them whole and roasted, pan-fried or baked. Another delicious way to cook them is to slice them very thinly, and pan fry in some butter and a little fruit juice – an ideal accompaniment for any winter dish.
Elegant and tasty. North Yorkshire rural shows are a great place to look for competitions to find the longest leeks in the county. However, normal sized leeks are best for cooking. Leeks can be used in soups, salads and stir fries. Home-grown or organically farmed leeks have a beautiful flavour, but will need cleaning more carefully as soil can get lodged between the leaves.
Nutrition - A flavoursome source of vitamins A, C and iron.
Tips – Watch out for the woody cores that can sometimes develop in older leeks!
Preparation – Leeks go so well with any meat but especially poultry and fish. They are delicious in cream, cheese or butter sauces.
Easy to grow and widely available throughout North Yorkshire, onions have a great history and give flavour to so many dishes. Onion juice is reputed to be a good cold cure, it will certainly make people keep their distance!
Nutrition – High in vitamin C.
Tips – When you are frying onions, don’t chop them in a food processor – this releases too much moisture and the onions steam rather than fry. Also when adding onions to the stock pot, drop in a piece of the inner brown skin because this will give a lovely warm golden colour, (but beware, if you overdo it you could get a bitter taste).
Preparation – Try cooking onions slowly with red wine, raisins and herbs such as thyme or marjoram, they are delicious with a slow pot roast.
Know your onions, as the cliché goes — and it’s valuable advice. Did you know, for instance, not to add salt to onions if you want them crisp and brown, as it draws out their water and prevents them from browning? For soft, white translucent onions, add salt when you begin cooking.
To know your onions is to know that these members of the lily family also vary greatly in strength of flavour and purpose.
Red onions have a discernibly milder flavour than the papery-skinned white or brown globe onion, and so can be used for salads or antipasti and for dishes in which onions are briefly cooked. There are also sweet yellow onions with a slightly flattened bulb and a more delicate flavour, and small, white pickling onions, picked early in the season.
The russet-coloured shallot has a lovely onion-garlic flavour with more sweetness and less sting, so is ideal for vinaigrettes, salads and fast-cooked dishes.
Drivers can be forgiven for being distracted - herds of buffalo are not what motorists expect to see in rural North Yorkshire. And yet more and more farmers are diversifying into unusual and rare breeds.
Buffalo meat is similar in taste to high quality beef, having a fuller flavour than conventional modern beef.
Nutrition - It is between 40-60% lower in cholesterol and has half the calories and a third less saturated fat than beef. It contains higher levels of protein and minerals and is a rich source of B vitamins and iron.
Preparation - Generally speaking Buffalo meat can be treated like beef but especially when cooking steaks it needs to be treated gently. Cook the steaks slowly on half to two thirds full heat, or the meat will toughen up. This is due to the meat's natural leanness and lack of intramuscular fat. Joints should be cooked until done, which generally means around 170 degrees centigrade for around 30 minutes per half kilo and another half hour for the joint.
Damsons are a small oval-shaped variety of plum with dark blue or purple skin and yellow flesh. The taste is usually quite sour, so they are best when cooked, which brings out their deep tangy flavour. You will find them in shops from the end of August to the end of October.
The fruits' high pectin content makes them extremely good for jellies, jams and fruit cheese; they are also used to make chutneys and a variation of sloe gin. However, damsons are not just for preserving. They can be stewed to make compotes, or pie and crumble fillings. (If you find the taste of damsons is too strong, combine them with apples or blackberries.)
Damsons produce wonderful ice cream when puréed and churned with an equal volume of crème fraiche or mascarpone. Alternatively, make a sweet-sour damson sauce with sherry, sugar, and fresh spices such as root ginger to serve with fatty meats such as duck, lamb or pork.
Cultivated damsons are sweeter and more versatile than the smaller wild damsons you may find growing in some hedgerows. Varieties are rarely specified in greengrocers, however there are ten listed in the National Fruit Collection, including Farleigh and Bradley's King, Blue Violet and Merryweather.
Preparation - Avoid fruit with bruised or damaged skins. Like other stone fruits, damsons can be slit in half around the middle and twisted sharply to make the stone accessible. Ease the stone out with your fingers or a knife. The stones can be discarded, or cracked with a hammer and added to the pot as an almond-like flavouring.
However, it's not essential to stone damsons before turning them into jam or purée. Once the sugar is added and the mixture is brought to a full boil, the stones will rise to the surface, seemingly by magic, to be skimmed off with a slotted spoon.
Courgettes are members of the squash family and range in size from approx 6-15 cm. As well as the familiar green type which are readily available, you may also find bright yellow courgettes.
Nutrition - Courgettes have a high water content and are low in calories. They are a source of folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Do not peel them as this removes some of the vitamin content.
Tips - When buying either type, look for small firm courgettes with smooth unblemished skins and a bright colour. Keep refrigerated and eat within 3-4 days. Very small, finger-like courgettes are available and these can be eaten uncooked.
Preparation – A favourite way to prepare courgettes is to top and tail them, thinly slice and pan fry them in olive oil and butter and then add a little sea salt and put 2-3 tbsp tomato puree. However, they are also delicious dipped in batter and deep-fried. As they get bigger, they lose their flavour, so if you are preparing larger courgettes, they may be best in a ratatouille or hollowed out, stuffed and baked.
Chard goes by many names - Swiss chard, leaf beet, seakettle beet, and spinach beet to name a few. It is a beautiful large leaf vegetable with wide flat stems resembling celery. The ruby variety is especially charming with its vidid rem stem with broad dark green leaves. If you like spinach then you will adore chard. The flavour is mild yet earthy and sweet with slightly bitter undertones.
Nutrition - Chard packs a huge amount of vitamin A and it is naturally high in sodium. One cup contains 313mg of sodium, which is very high for vegetables. Chard is also surprisingly high in other minerals as well, i.e. calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and potassium.
Preparation - Young tender chard leaves can be eaten raw adding a beet like flavor to salads and sandwiches. Chard can be used in place of spinach in any recipe, although chard will need to be cooked a bit longer. When cooking older chard, the stems require longer cooking than the leaves.
Tips - chard leaves freeze well after blanching, but the stems become soggy and rather unappealing. Canned chard does not fare as well producing a product similar to canned spinach!
Broad beans are the oldest of all our beans, dating back to stone age times. Mystical beliefs were that broad beans, when offered in marriage ensured the birth of a baby son. And these kidney shaped beans were important enough to warrant the death sentence for their theft from open fields.
In the past the broad bean was a staple food of the poor and often roasted and ground to make flour, but equally enjoyed by the rich, who served it with sumptuous rich sauces. With no class distinction food like this can be used as frugal or as fancy as one prefers.
Nutrition - Sadly they are a neglected vegetable, as this wonderful hard little bean offers such a robust flavour and is highly nutritious; full of phosphorous, vitamin A and C and is notably rich in protein.
tips - The time to enjoy home grown broad beans is during the months of May, June and early July. The pods should be pale green and feel soft and tender. The beans need to be eaten within a couple of days of purchase and stored in the refrigerator, otherwise the carbohydrates in the beans turn to sugar which in turn changes the flavour of the bean. They do however freeze very successfully if frozen soon after gathering, then shelled and placed flat on a tray.
Young beans can be cooked whole, rinsed and boiled for no more than 5 minutes. As the beans become older they develop quite a tough outer skin. The easiest way to tackle this is to boil the beans lightly, then remove the skin when cool. The beans can then be added back to boiling water or steamed, whatever cooking method is preferred.
Serving - The classic accompaniment to the broad bean is parsley sauce or mixed with a salad with the summer savory herb. There are many other ways in which to use the beans, try adding them to soups, pasta or rice dishes.
Blackcurrants have grown in the British Isles for over five hundred years and been used by herbalists since the middle ages to treat bladder stones, liver disorders, and blended into syrups for coughs and lung ailments amongst other illnesses.
Nutrition - It may be small, but the mighty blackcurrant is bursting with more health promoting antioxidants than most other fruit and vegetables, including blueberries! Varieties grown in the British Isles are particularly rich and dark in colour, so possessing a high content of anthocyanins, which in turn promote antioxidant activity. Blackcurrants also contain more Vitamin C than any other natural food source as well as containing high concentrations of the beneficial nutrients of Potassium, Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, Vitamins A and B amongst others.
Tips - Blackcurrants can be used fresh from the field, (see our Pick Your Own producers) frozen for later use, in jams, toppings or fillings, in numerous mouthwatering recipes or in juice.
Belonging to the lily family – which has more than 500 sub species – the shallot is a member of the Allium genus and closely related to onion, garlic, leek and chive. Its Latin name, Allium cepa aggregatum refers to its origins in Ashkalon in the Middle East. It is believed that shallots were first introduced to Europe by the crusaders back in the 11th century.
Shallots are multi-centred and have several, rather than a single, growing point. There are many different varieties of shallot grown around the world producing variation in colour, shape, size and flavour.
Here in the UK, the crop gets plenty of hours of daylight during the summer. Our farmers can therefore grow high quality ‘longer day’ varieties. These produce firm brown or red skinned round or oval shaped bulbs. These varieties have excellent storage properties.
Nutrition - With a high nutritional value, shallots are also a rich source of vitamin A, B, C and E. Low in fat, they contain just 50-60 calories per 100g. Shallots contain the flavanoid compound quercetin. Research indicates that flavanoids act as anti-oxidants. Oxidants are the most common toxic agent we encounter in our food and their effects include ageing, heart disease and cancer. Produced by complex pathways, anti-oxidants neutralise oxidants. Research suggests that quercetin could help reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease.
Tips - When buying shallots, be sure to select firm bulbs. If a shallot feels soft, or is sprouting, it is probably not all that fresh! A good quality shallot has a dry crisp outer skin which when removed reveals an inner skin lightly tinged pink.
Shallots, like onions, can bring tears to the eyes when they are chopped! The tears are caused by volatile compounds, which are released when the bulb is cut.
The following can help prevent tears: place the shallots in the fridge or freezer for 30 minutes before chopping, peel the shallots under running water, use a wet chopping board and a sharp knife.
Beetroot is a very distinctive looking vegetable with its ruby-red colour and is often overlooked, as many people have only ever experienced the crinkle-cut variety which is steeped in overpowering vinegar. However, beetroot can be served raw or cooked and is very versatile.
Nutrition - Beetroot has a higher sugar content than most vegetables. It is rich in vitamin C, fibre, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and folic acid and the leafy tops are an excellent source of beta-carotene, iron and calcium.
Tips – Young beetroot tops can be cooked and eaten as a green leaf vegetable. Beetroot is often sold ready boiled, but you can also buy them raw and cook them yourself. Cooked beetroot should last 3-4 days in a fridge, and uncooked beetroot should be stored in a cool, dark place. Raw beetroot can be peeled and grated and mixed with salad dressing and leaves to create a colourful winter salad.
Preparation – Ensure the beetroot roots are not damaged and the skin is intact. Cut off the leaves about 2in from the root – this will ensure the beetroot doesn’t ‘bleed’ whilst cooking and will help retain its colour. Boil them in salted water for 30-40 mins, then allow to cool before rubbing off the skins.
Beautiful rainbow trout is farmed in fisheries across North Yorkshire, and for the sporting fishermen and women amongst you, it can also be caught in some of the County’s meandering rivers and reservoirs. For brown trout you may have to take up fly-fishing, but what a wonderful way to enjoy the countryside -and catch your supper too. The tender pink flesh has a mild and slightly nutty flavour.
Nutrition – Trout is a really healthy choice. It is rich in omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids as well as full of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and B12. It also is supplies a healthy amount of iron, calcium and selenium.
Tips - Trout is best cooked simply in a little water and wine, with a few herbs, so as not to mask its lovely flavour. If you are cooking brown trout then the simplest cooking methods are best.
Preparation – Trout can be baked whole or filleted or smoked. Smoked trout pate is especially tasty.
Although there are several varieties of raspberry including yellow and white ones, the traditional vivid pink variety which we all know and love is the most readily available in this country. Homegrown raspberries come into season in June and July, and sometimes it is possible to follow on with another crop as late as October.
Tips – If you have a large crop of raspberries, it can be made into delicious jam, but otherwise, it really is a shame to cook such a fabulous fruit. Like strawberries, they are highly perishable and are best eaten on the day of purchase. Always choose plump, dry raspberries – if they still have their hulls intact, they are not ripe enough. They do freeze well, but for the best results freeze them individually on a try before putting them into freezer bags to enjoy over the winter months.
Preparation - If you are serving raspberries whole, it is best not to wash them, as they can become quite mushy and are very fragile. As well as being served along with cream, they can be used in a wide range of desserts, but as they have a certain degree of acidity, they are also ideal as an accompaniment to some meat dishes, such as lamb and duck and also used in sauces and marinades.
Also known as eggplant and brinjal, aubergines are at their best from mid-July to September. Choose from oval, round or sausage-shaped aubergines. They also come in a range of colours - dark purple, through to violet, stripy purple, white, and yellow.
Look for smooth, unblemished, and glossy skins. The flesh should also feel firm and the aubergine weighty to the touch. They'll keep for around 4-6 days in the fridge.
Although it has taken a while for them to catch on in British cooking aubergines have long been key ingredients in Asian and Mediterranean cooking.
Aubergines pair well with rich, full-bodied ingredients such as ripe tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and peppers. Toasted fennel seeds add an intriguing flourish to casseroles. They also work well with cheese, pulses and meats.
Aubergine flesh becomes pretty squishy and watery when boiled. For a soft whole-cooked aubergine, rub with oil and pop in a pre-heated oven, 200C/gas 6 for about 25 minutes - until soft when pierced with a sharp knife. Remove from the oven, and cut in half along its length, and scoop out the flesh out.
A popular member of the Brassica (cabbage) family which is increasing in popularity. The cauliflower is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean regions. In addition to the white cauliflower, green and purple types are now also available. Cauliflower is normally boiled. However, it can also be served raw or lightly cooked in salads. It is low in fat and calories. There is also Romanesco, which has a yellow-green pyramid-shaped curd with a milder, sweeter flavour than the white. They are eaten when the heads are small.
Picking the best: buy heads that are firm -not quite fully developed - with clean white stalks. Avoid 'blown' woolly heads, speckled patches on the curd or limp leaves. Yellow curds are caused by to much sun, rain or frost - but the flavour should still be fine - disguise the colour with a sauce. Green or purple cauliflowers should always be bright in colour.
Nutrition - High in fibre, more nutritious raw, especially high in Vitamin C, also rich in potassium and a source of protein, phosphorus and calcium.
Preparation - Trim outer leaves and stalk, wash well. If cooking whole, cut a cross in the base of the stalk. Or separate into even size-florets. All colours can be served raw. The spiky turrets of Romanesco and the purple heads look stunning with dips, in a salad or as a garnish.