Thursday, June 23, 2011

Winkle on...

Tucked behind the ferry port in Poole is, quite possibly, one of last remaining local fishmongers - one that has been running for over 100 years.

Frank Greenslades sells a wide range of fish, mainly caught in the local waters around Bournemouth and Poole, including lobsters, crabs, scallops, sprats, oysters and winkles.

Winkles and I go back a long way; when I was just knee high my dad taught me how to winkle out the meat from these tiny black lustrous shells with a pin. Armed with pins and a large bowl of fresh winkles we would happily wile away several hours on a Saturday afternoon. My pops would pile them on a thin piece of finely buttered white bread making himself a winkle sandwich.

Growing up the last of eight children for my dad treats were far and few between; every morsel of food was protected and devoured as quickly as possible. After her weekly shop in Tunbridge Wells their weary mum would arrive home laden with food and if they were lucky four pints of winkles for the children to winkle out all Saturday evening and eat with fresh bread from the local bakery.

Today winkles are protected around the UK with many local councils regulating a closed season from mid-May to mid-September.

A few week ago we enjoyed a large bowel of fresh winkles curtesy of Frank Greenslades. My dad was transported back to his childhood, as was I, and my children got to enjoy them for the first time. We briefly boiled the winkles - for literally minutes, just to kill them - then ate them fresh and briny straight from their shells - divine.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Stilton & Broccoli Soup

It's mid-summers day and its drizziling I can see a patch of blue peering through the grey clouds; summer in Blighty.

For a taste sensation, to warm us up and for a deep and rich soup; stilton and broccoli rocks, it is always a winner and the children adore it.

A good English stilton has a cheeky edge to it, a creamy depth that is set off perfectly with its tangy mouth-watering blue veins. As it is crumbly and creamy it is great for cooking - and melts easily into a dish.

My perfect Stilton and Broccoli soup begins by gently cooking and softening an onion, one leek and two garlic cloves with a glug of olive oil. Leave it to sweat gently for a good five minutes. Add a good handful of diced and un-peeled new potatoes or one large spud - stir into the dish and let the spuds sweat gently for a moment before adding a good litre of bouillion. Let the dish simmer until the potatoes are cooked - about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile wash and chop up fairly small a good fresh head of broccoli - add to the soup when the spuds are cooked and simmer for a few mintues. Crumble in a good hunk of stilton - maybe 100grams - let it melt in. Take the soup off the heat and whizz it up with a blender until it is an even rich green. Serve hot with salt and pepper and my home-made olive-oil croutons.

Grab some stale sourdough - cut it up into even cubes - turn the oven on, in a oven-tray add a glug of olive oil and a smattering of sea-salt. Throw in your bread cubes and with your hands roll them around in the oil and salt. Put into the oven shaking the pan and checking at regular five minute intervals - you do not want them to burn, just toast evenly. Serve in a bowl for everyone to help themselves.


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