Jane Baxter Kitchen Confidential

With artichokes, peas and salad leaves in abundance, Jane Baxter celebrates the joys of summer vegetables.

Cooking With

We’re officially at the end of what I call ‘the hungry gap’ as we now have all of the new season vegetables at our fingertips. Even in May, we’re quite desperate still as none of the spring vegetables come through in any great quantity except for asparagus. But now we’re rejoicing as the first globe artichokes and new potatoes arrive along with a good supply of broad beans, peas, spinach, Swiss chard and little gems: basically all of the gorgeous greens that signal summer. Being based on Riverford Farm, we mainly use the produce that is in season, so I breathe a sigh of relief as we can move away from brassicas to a lighter, more Mediterranean, style of cooking. I’m genuinely excited about the new vegetables, especially artichokes. Our dishes are predominantly vegetable-based – we serve one meat and several vegetable dishes on our no-choice menu – so it is important for us to be imaginative. I’ve always thought the Italians have the right idea – using vegetables in creative but simplistic ways that celebrate their natural textures and flavours. I love to serve lightly cooked globe artichokes and broad beans with mint and olive oil (see below), or I might make a torte with spinach and Swiss chard leaves. New potatoes pair brilliantly with lovage, or cook them in baking parchment with a drizzle of oil, slices of the last of the wet garlic, some thyme and olive oil. Little gems are lovely in salads, of course, but try braising them with peas and bacon for something more substantial. This works really well as an accompaniment to duck. We’ll also use spring leaves as a salad base and add cooked beetroot, lentils and feta along with herbs. Basil, marjoram and oregano are starting in our herb garden, but mainly we’re using mint and tarragon this month. For puddings, we have gooseberries, apricots, cherries and strawberries in a welcome change to rhubarb, and towards the end of June the raspberry season will start. On the meat side we’ll mainly be using lamb, wild rabbit or British rose veal. We use the cheaper cuts, like the shoulder and breast, which I’m currently enjoying cooking in milk, very slowly, with sage and lemon. I used to do that with pork when I worked at the River Café but it works really well with veal too. Or we stuff it with porcini mushrooms, parsley and lemon and then roast. We don’t tend to serve fish, but I love to eat sea trout in June. It’s at its absolute best right now.

Who i'm using

All of our fruit and vegetables are grown here on the farm or by the South Devon Organic Producers cooperative. Ben Watson, who runs the Riverford Farm Shop, sources our meat from local organic farmers. Our lovely lamb comes from George Welch at Allerton Farm in Totnes. Rodney Cleave, a great butcher in Ashburton, supplies us with game, including netted rabbits and the veal comes from Bocaddon Farm in Cornwall.



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