Serves As A Starter

6-8 tbsp olive oil

450g/1lb(16) asparagus spears, trimmed juice 1 lemon sea salt and ground black pepper parmesan shavings (optional)

1 Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6 and lightly oil a large shallow ovenproof dish or roasting tin in which the asparagus can fit in a single layer.

2 Place the asparagus in the dish and drizzle over the olive oil and lemon juice. Shake the tin or roll the spears over to coat with the oil. Roast in the oven for about 10-15min until tender (the cooking time will depend on the thickness of the stems) and just turning golden. Shake the dish once during cooking. Allow to cool to room temperature.

3 Season and toss lightly. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan shavings if liked.

Apple and blueberry pie

This rustic-looking pie is a real favourite of mine. And, as we have done a piece on blueberries this month (page 40), I thought I would indulge you and myself. One of the 'superfoods', blueberries add a contrasting sweetness to the tart cooking apples making for a delicious combination.


125g/4.2oz blueberries 70-100g/2J2-3J2oz soft brown sugar 2 tbsp cornflour grated zest and juice .K orange pinch of cinnamon 375g pack ready-rolled shortcrust pastry 450g/1lb Bramley 1 apples, peeled, cored and thickly sliced beaten egg, to glaze custard or cream, to serve

1 Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7 and lightly grease a large baking sheet. Mix together the blueberries, sugar, cornflour, orange zest and juice and cinnamon.

2 Unravel the pastry, lay on the baking sheet. Pile the apples and blueberry mixture into the centre of the pastry sheet.

oughly gather up the sides to enclose the fruit. Brush the pastry edges with the beaten egg.

3 Bake the pie for 25-30min until the pastry is golden and the apples and blueberries are tender. Transfer to a serving plate and allow to cool slightly.

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Seasonal recipes

Pizza Florentine

You can always use a dough hook, if your processor has one, or a breadmaker to make the pizza base. Both will take the hard work out of kneading the dough! This is a good opportunity to use up some of those sun-dried tomatoes you made last year. The original pizza is said to have been 'invented' by a backstreet Neapolitan baker, although sadly his name has long since been forgotten. The topping is a twist on a traditional British dish.

MAKES 2 LARGE PIZZAS FOR HARDWORKING GARDENERS 225g/8oz strong plain bread flour, sifted large pinch salt tsp dried yeast #tsp caster sugar 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for sprinkling

1 egg, beaten

5 tbsp lukewarm water FOR THE TOPPING 225g/8oz fresh spinach 190g jar red pesto 150g pack fresh mozzarella, thickly sliced 8-10 sun-dried tomatoes 115g/4oz grated mozzarella

2 eggs salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Put the flour, salt, yeast and caster sugar into a bowl, and then add the 2 tbsp oil. Stir in the egg and water and mix together well using a knife until it comes together. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead (10-15min) until the dough is no longer sticky and is starting to spring back. Form into a ball and smear with olive oil (to stop a crust forming) and leave in a warm place to double in size. Cover with a tea towel wrung out in warm water.

2 Meanwhile, rinse the spinach and cook gently in a covered pan with just the water that clings to its leaves until it wilts. Drain well and roughly chop.

3 Preheat your oven to its highest setting. Smear two baking sheets with olive oil. Dust the pizza dough lightly with flour, knock back, and then divide into two. Reserve two small strips of dough. Use a rolling pin dusted with flour to roll out the dough. Or if you want to be really authentic, flatten the dough on to the oiled sheet. Lightly oil your hands and use to stretch the dough as thinly as possible. It will shrink and spring back but persevere.

4 Spread the pesto (put a good covering) over the pizza bases, leaving a 2.5cm/1in space around the edges. Using your hands, roll the reserved dough strips into long thin sausages and squeeze the ends together to form a large circle - big enough into which to drop an egg. Lay in the centre of your pizza bases. Leaving the centres clear, scatter over the spinach, fresh mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes and grated mozzarella, and then sprinkle with olive oil and seasoning.

5 Just before putting the pizzas in the oven, crack an egg into a mug and pour into the centre of each dough circle on the base. Bake for 8-10min, or until the crust is crisp and the egg cooked through.

Prawn wraps

New crop rocket and watercress add a peppery zing to these spicy prawns. Quick to assemble, they are ideal for a light lunch or supper. Ring the changes by using shredded smoked chicken or ham instead of the prawns.


6-8 tbsp mayonnaise

1-2 large red chillies, finely sliced

2 tbsp finely chopped coriander grated zest and juice 1 lime

1-2 tsp crushed garlic

350g/12oz large cooked and peeled prawns, defrosted if frozen

6 large flour tortillas large handful rocket leaves large handful watercress salt and freshly ground black pepper lime wedges and whole king prawns in their shells, to garnish (optional)

1 In a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, chillies, coriander, lime zest and juice and garlic. Stir in the prawns and season to taste. If you have time, leave in the fridge for 30min-1hr for the flavours to develop.

2 Pop all the tortillas in a microwave for 45sec to just warm through. Lay them on a flat surface and top each one with rocket leaves and watercress, then spoon over the prawn mixture. Roll up the tortillas to enclose the filling. Serve with a lime wedge, king prawn and more watercress and rocket leaves if liked.

The heat in chillies is in the seeds and their size - the smaller they are the more punch they pack. Scrape out the seeds before slicing for a milder tasting mayonnaise. And remember to either wear rubber gloves when handling and slicing or wash your hands immediately afterwards. If you touch your eyes or mouth without doing so you won't forget it!

What's cooking?


Have you ever wondered where your favourite food and drink comes from? Then wonder no more. In Food Plants of the World, Ben-Erik van Wyk offers a photographic guide of more than 350 plants that provide us with food, beverages, spices and flavours. Bursting with information - the author is professor of Botany at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa - you can dip in and out of this book and quickly discover the origins of a particular plant, its history, cultivation and harvesting and how to put it to good culinary use. Keep it to hand in the kitchen. The cover is sure to become dog-eared before long. Published by Timber Press, it costs £25. ISBN 0-88192-743-0

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