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Carina in print: The Scotsman magazine

Carina is delighted to be a regular contributor to The Scotsman magazine, and her latest column, for April, was about all things asparagus. Read it below….

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April is a glorious time in the garden, and in Asparagus risotto is delicious, but the kitchen. One of the asparagus soup is truly indulgent delights of the season is that we’re able to get our hands on some delicious Scottish asparagus after a long ten months without this very elegant vegetable. There’s no doubt that it’s a real treat.

I’ll admit that, at Contini George Street, we got our rst asparagus from Italy in mid-March. At Cannonball and the Scottish Cafe, we took delivery of our rst gorgeous asparagus from Eassie Farm, Glamis, this month. Some may say I’m cheating. I think it’s lucky: we get the best of both worlds.

We can never underestimate the dialogue we have with our suppliers. To be able to talk to growers makes our job far more exciting, and makes us far more knowledgeable. Eassie Farm’s Mr Pattullo popped by just before the start of the season. It was wonderful to see him still so enthusiastic about sourcing amazing Scottish produce considering he’s no spring chicken (I know he won’t mind me saying that). I was delighted to hear from him that we’re looking forward to one of the best seasons yet. Hurrah.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Serves 4

Asparagus risotto is delicious, but asparagus soup is truly indulgent and the perfect first course for Easter Sunday.

  • 1 kilo of asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • 2 celery stalks, very finely chopped
  • 1 leek, very finely chopped
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 50 ml of extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 50g of butter
  • 750ml of chicken or vegetable stock

Prepare the asparagus by snapping the stalks to separate the tender part from the tougher  bottom.  Chop the tender stalks into inch size pieces.  You will be able to use about an inch of the top part of the tougher stock.  Chop these very finely and wash well.

Choose a large soup pot and fry the onion, leek, celery and tough asparagus in equal parts olive oil and butter until soft.  Take your time here and really let the flavours develop.

Season with a good pinch of salt, and add stock or enough boiling water to cover.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add the tops of the asparagus and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat, set aside a couple of asparagus top for dressing, and blend.  I recommend passing the soup through a mouli or sieve to remove any tough stalks.

Check the seasoning, then add 100ml of double cream and serve hot, drizzled with olive oil and the reserved asparagus tops.

Blue Cheese and Black pudding salad

Serves 2

With picnic weather on the horizon, I had to share one of my favourite warm salad recipes with you.  This is delicious with some pan fried scallops or even a delicious pork chop for a mid week treat.

  • 100g of pea shoots, stalks removed
  • 100g of good quality blue cheese
  • Ramsays of Carluke Black pudding
  • Coriander dressing
  • Large handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 sprig of fresh wild garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small fresh green chilli, deseeded and very finely chopped
  • salt

Using a pestle and mortar, cream the garlic and salt. Start adding the coriander leaves and add olive oil juice as required to loosen the mixture to a loose paste. Once all the coriander has been added, fold in the fresh chilli and add enough oil so the dressing is liquid but still creamy.

Chop the black pudding into small cubes and fry in a little olive oil until crispy. Place on a baking sheet and dry in a moderate oven until the salad is ready.

Choose a large shallow bowl and scatter the pea shoots in the middle, then crumble the blue cheese over the leaves.

Add the black pudding and then drizzle the dressing over the salad. Serve with wedges of fresh lime (if you’re not having Bellavista!)

Blood Orange Sorbet

As one season begins, another season comes to an end.  Enjoy the last of the blood oranges while you can. This very refreshing sorbet is super easy and a perfect spring dessert.  Bellavista make a dessert sparkling wine called Nectar which is delicious with this sharp citrus sorbet.

  • 250 ml of orange juice (made up with juice of one lemon to add a little tarte)
  • 50g granulated sugar

Simmer the sugar and half of the juice until it’s all dissolved. Add the remaining juice and then allow to cool. Transfer to an ice cream freezer

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