Cooking for fun- Asparagus and Jersey Royal potatoes - 

Ailsa Craddock

The arrival of swallows and so many good things grown or reared locally, I love May with all its promise of Summer and everything fresh and newly green! It’s also the time for British asparagus and Jersey Royal potatoes. The potatoes have been grown on the island for 140 years and today, there are about twenty island farmers who grow them on about 7,300 acres and can only be grown on Jersey to have the name. As for the asparagus, we are very lucky to live in the Vale of Evesham, one of the homes of British asparagus. There is nothing like the ‘real thing’. This first recipe is using these two British stalwarts - but with a twist!

Coconut Potato Bowl with Lime and Ginger

(I’m not giving you exact amounts here - just use how ever much you need to feed how many people!)

Jersey Royal potatoes, roughly chopped

Cauliflower florets

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Sea salt and pepper

Asparagus,

Olive oil

Cherry tomatoes, halved

Spring onion, sliced

Baby broad beans

Sliced cooked beetroot

Coconut flakes, toasted, to garnish

Dressing; 2 tbsp olive oil finely, grated zest and juice of a lime, grated ginger

Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas mark 6. Place the potatoes and cauliflower florets in a roasting tray, drizzle over the coconut oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and roast for 30 minutes until tender and beginning to brown. In the meantime, prepare everything else; brush the asparagus with some olive oil, heat a griddle pan until hot and cook the stems until charred and tender. Set aside. For the dressing, whisk together the olive oil and lime juice, then stir in the zest and ginger and season with some salt and pepper. To assemble, arrange the potatoes and cauliflower to one side and place the other ingredients round the bowl (or how you prefer), drizzle with the dressing and scatter over the coconut flakes, or serve on the side.

Asparagus Soup

25g butter

a little vegetable oil

350g asparagus spears, stalks chopped, woody ends discarded, tips reserved

3 shallots, finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 large handfuls spinach

700ml vegetable stock (fresh if possible)

Olive oil, for drizzling (optional)

Rustic bread, preferably sourdough, to serve (optional)

Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan until foaming. Fry the asparagus tips for a few mins to soften. Remove and set aside. Add the shallots, asparagus stalks and garlic, and cook for 5-10 mins until softened but still bright. Stir through the spinach, pour over the stock, bring to the boil, then blitz with a hand blender. Season generously and add hot water to loosen if needed. Ladle into bowls and scatter the asparagus tips over each. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with sourdough bread, if you like.

Crab And Asparagus with Thai mayonnaise

Again, the amount of asparagus and crab is up to you.

Asparagus spears

Crab meat

Sliced sourdough bread

Olive oil

Handful of rocket leaves or spinach

2 - 4 tablespoons of good mayonnaise

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

1/2 - 1 red chilli

Freshly grated zest of 1lime

1 tablespoon fish sauce (if this is the first time you have used it please don’t be put off by the smell - it tastes much better!)

Chopped coriander

Cook the asparagus in boiling water for 2 - 4 minutes, drain and refresh under cold running water. Stir the garlic, chilli, zest, fish sauce and coriander into the mayonnaise. Season, if necessary, fold in the crab meat and set aside. Toast the bread, drizzle with olive oil and scatter over rocket or spinach leaves. Pile the crab mixture on top. Toss the cold asparagus spears in a little olive oil and arrange over the crab meat. Alternatively, you could cook LOTS of asparagus and serve, on the side, hot with lashings of butter - using any leftover toast to soak up