Thursday, 27 May 2010

Karen's seasonal treat: Sea bass, Jersey Royals and asparagus followed by Rhubarb crunch

May is a great month for English asparagus. 6 weeks to gorge on the finest asparagus in the world, infinitely better than that cr@p imported from Peru all year round. It infuriates me that supermarkets have created this public acceptance that all food should be available all year round. I can't think of a single redeeming feature of being able to have all produce available all year round. Eating with the seasons couldn't be more natural. It's exciting when the asparagus season gets here and you know that only for a few short weeks can you have this delicacy (each shoot takes about 3 years to grow). It's your duty to enjoy as much of it as possible, to support the English farmers and fight back against the globalisation of the food chain.

It was with this in mind, that I realised I really hadn't eaten enough asparagus or Jersey Royals or rhubarb (still available this late in the year due to the harsh winter), so I had to have K round to indulge in the season's best with me.

Unearthed selection
Sea bass with a crushed Jersey Royals, asparagus and a mustard sauce
Rhubarb crunch

Unearthed selection
We had an incredibly rich Breton duck mousse and a meaty Breton coarse pate with duck liver on some melba toasts. Then a pot of posh cheesey beans! Very tasty.

Sea bass with a crushed Jersey Royals, asparagus and a mustard sauce
A sea bass fillet (skin replaced with a crispy slice of Parma ham), sitting on Jersey Royals and asparagus in plenty of butter.

Rhubarb crunch
A spring version of rhubarb crumble. The rhubarb was roasted to keep its shape and topped with a nutty "crumble".

Sea bass with a crushed Jersey Royals, asparagus and a mustard sauce (serve 2)

Bunch of English asparagus (~250g), woody ends removed and peeled
300g Jersey Royal new potatoes
2 light fish fillets, such as Dover sole, skinned
2dsp crème fraîche
2tsp whole grain mustard
2 slices Parma ham

1. Season the fish and fry on each side for about 2/3mins. Then remove from the heat and allow to rest.
2. In the fish pan fry the Parma ham slices until crisp.
3. Cook the potatoes either in the microwave (~7mins) or in a pan of salted water (~20mins) until tender.
4. Once cooked, lightly crush and add 2oz of butter and season. Leave to one side to allow the potatoes to cool and soak up the butter.
5. Cook the asparagus in a shallow pan of salted boiling water until tender (~4mins). Once cooked refresh and slice obliquely into 1" batons and gently mix into the potato.
6. For the mustard sauce heat the mustard and the crème fraîche gently. Add milk until the desired consistency is achieved.
7. To plate, put the potato and asparagus in the middle of the plate. Top with the fish and ham. To finish drizzle the mustard sauce around the plate.

Rhubarb crunch (serves 2)

400g rhubarb, cut into 2" batons
Juice of an orange
4tbsp demerara sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
For the topping:
1oz ground almonds
1½oz chopped pecans
1½oz butter
1½oz demerara sugar
1¾oz plain flour
Crème fraîche, to serve

1. To make the crunch topping, mix all the dry ingredients then rub in the butter to create breadcrumbs. Spread over a baking tray and bake at 180°C for 20mins. Toss halfway through to ensure ensure even cooking and maximum crunch.
2. Mix all the ingredients for the rhubarb in a bowl. Transfer to a baking tray and bake at 180°C for about 10mins, or until just tender.
3. Once both elements have cooked, turn off the oven and leave in the oven until ready to serve.
4. To serve, remove the rhubarb from the cooking liquor (it should have a thick syrup consistency) and stack in a bowl. Top with a the crunch. Spoon over some of the cooking liquor and finish with crème fraîche.

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