Some of our finest seasonal produce is now starting. Whilst running the risk of being fined for not using such great resources, (why wouldn't we?) I am looking forward to the arrival of English asparagus.
It is also celebrated in the various regions around the country where it is grown.There will be an Asparagus Festival from May 24 in the heart of Worcestershire's Vale of Evesham - the traditional home of English asparagus - at the historic Fleece Inn, in Bretforton.
Here, for many generations, there has been an annual auction, where the biggest and best spears can be bought.
Notoriously difficult to grow, I was astounded at the weekend when one of my friends told me he had just picked ninety spears from his allotment. I made a mental note to get there before him next year!
Hard to grow, but easy to prepare. Pick when fresh, peel the skin from the very ends, trim the base and steam for a few minutes until tender.
(*Chefs had had their wrists slapped this week for not using enough home grown produce.)
Here is a little recipe from my first book: Asparagus, wrapped in smoked salmon and baked in wafer-thin pastry. You can also find this recipe on my website, www.friendsrestaurant.co.uk.
Asparagus and smoked salmon filo parcels:
Ingredients Serves 4 [
12 cooked asparagus spears
4 slices of smoked salmon, about 50g each
4 sheets of filo pastry
50ml sunflower oil
175ml natural yoghurt
1 tsp finely cut chives
few drops of lemon juice
freshly milled black pepper
Method 1) Lay the filo pastry leaves out flat and brush with the oil. Place a slice of smoked salmon in the centre of each one. 2) Lay three pieces of asparagus on each one, add a twist of the pepper mill and roll up, leaving the tips exposed at one end. 3) Bake in a moderate oven, gas mark 6/200ºC, for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. 4) Mix the yoghurt, chives and lemon juice, and adjust to the consistency of double cream, adding a little warm water if necessary. 5) Divide this sauce evenly on to four plates, place the filo parcels on top and serve at once.