Warm asparagus with melted cheese
You could use any soft, melting cheese to grill with the asparagus but my favourite for this at the moment is a ripe Finn from Neal's Yard Creamery and with hundreds of acres of asparagus grown in the county, this really is local.
spears of asparagus - 24
soft, ripe cheese - 250g
Cook the asparagus in boiling, lightly salted water till it is tender enough to bend. Lift the spears out with a draining spoon and lower them into a shallow baking dish.
Slice the cheese thinly and lay it over the asparagus. Then place under a hot grill till the cheese melts into an impromptu sauce. Eat immediately, while the cheese is still runny.
Braised lettuce with broad beans and bacon
Soft butter-head lettuce makes an excellent vegetable when cooked with vegetable stock and bacon. By adding broad beans the dish becomes delightfully summery, more like a light vegetable stew, wonderful with salmon, light, juicy and clean tasting. Use smoked bacon for this, so that it flavours the juices.
2 medium-sized lettuce
a thick slice of butter
diced, unsmoked bacon - 150g
small, young leeks - 2
shelled broad beans - 500g
vegetable stock - 500ml
Pull away and discard any tatty leaves, then cut each lettuce into quarters. Wash under cold, running water to remove any grit or aphids.
Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan to which you have a lid. Add the diced bacon and leave it to stew in the butter for five minutes or so over a moderate heat. Meanwhile trim, wash and cut the leeks into short pieces, add them to the pan and continue cooking, stirring now and again till they have started to soften.
Tip in the beans, the lettuce, the stock and a seasoning of salt and black pepper and bring the liquid to the boil. Turn it down as it soon as it starts to bubble furiously then cover with a tight lid. Leave to simmer for 20 minutes by which time the lettuce will have sunken into four silky mounds and the liquor will have almost vanished.
Lift out the lettuce, beans and bacon with a draining spoon and place on a serving dish. If there is more than a ladleful of liquid in the pan then turn up the heat and boil furiously to reduce it a little; check the seasoning then pour over the lettuce.
The Herefordshire Food Links network is co-ordinated by the Bulmer Foundation and is part-financed by the European Union (EAGGF) and DEFRA through the Herefordshire Rivers LEADER+ programme.