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What’s in Season – January 2011

14 Jan

It a  time of year when we need those jaded palates revived – not too easy at the moment!

I’m thinking hearty soups and slow cooked stews, lovely fresh fish with delicate sauces … Do seek out some seasonal produce whether you’re cooking or eating out!

A big thank you to Archie from Earthy for his round up on What’s in Season.

Meat and Fish

The game season is largely coming to an end and some bargains are to be had. If you have some room in your freezer stock up now! Get along to your local fish shop and try something new. If you’ve not seen it, catch up on Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall’s Big Fish Fight.

Dabs, sole, mussels, wild duck, partridge, rabbit, hare, pork, beef, lamb.

Fruit and Vegetables

Pear Souffle

Pear Soufflés

Archie’s update:

What to Eat

As we draw ever closer to the ‘hunger gap’ those bleak weeks of late February & early March when nothing is sprouting yet & stores fruit & veg are almost totally depleted it is essential to celebrate the last hurrah of local veggie goodness before the joyous outpourings of spring. Despite the snow (which has knocked favourites like Cauliflower and Shallots from our local list to the continental one) there is plenty of hearty fresh veg in Scottish fields and  the shelves of Earthy right now. Some of it takes a bit work, but always gives back in flavour & goodness more than you have to put in.

In Season and Available Locally

Carrots – Look for dirty carrots since they keep better (the dirt holds in the moisture & stops them drying out). That said we do wash our rainbow carrots – a mix of purple, white and orange – since they are too pretty not to. We just make sure to sell them fast!

Kale – Often referred to as a superfood, kale is loaded with vitamins & minerals. Go fusion and shed it through a stir fry in the place of pak choi or look out for the soft leaved variety ‘Cavolo Nero’ and fry in olive oil & garlic for a classic Italian side.

Perpetual Spinach – Pretty much the last leaf of the year, it needs cooked but along with ricotta it makes one of the world’s great vegetarian lasagnes.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli – The snow has delayed its arrival, but it will be here by the end of the month. My favourite brassica is a versatile beast, but I always come back to just dipping it in some Hollandaise or tonetta (a paste of tuna, oil, capers & onion)

Turnips/Swede – As we come up to Burns Night, must I really suggest what to partner your Neeps with?

Brussel Sprouts – Still going strong, get a bit more adventurous with your sprouts post-Christmas. Think of them as baby cabbages and let your imagination take you.

Parsnips – Roasted parsnips are an absolute joy. If you find them a little tough at this time of year, just cut out the core and they will soften beautifully.

Celeriac – A fellow Earthling put me on to Celeriac Schnitzel which is a total taste revelation. They knock potato croquettes into a cocked-hat.

Cabbages – Lots of varieties but look out for Savoy and January King – Savoys are practically built for bad weather so look out for some really beauties. Lucskos Kaposzta an Eastern European pork and cabbage stew makes it the star of the show.

Thank you Archie!

Do try this Pear Souffle recipe from Rick Stein – really easy!

In season and available from the UK

Chicory, Cauliflower, Jerusalem Artichokes, Shallots, Salsify, Chestnuts/Cobnuts, Apples. Pears

Fruit from abroad

Look out for Seville oranges. Not just for marmalade, these are wonderful in savoury sauces. Look out for lychees, pomegranates and blood oranges too.

Lychees

Lychees

EARTHY

Open 7 days a week 9-7 weekdays, 9-6 on Saturday and 10-6 on Sunday.

Twitter: @earthyfoods

Earthy Food Market
33-41 Ratcliffe Terrace
Edinburgh EH9 1SX

What’s in season – December

16 Dec

Despite all the snow, I know that our local producers are doing their best to bring you the finest produce. Just promise me you’ll buy as much locally as possible?

Meat and fish

Beef, duck, king scallops, oysters, skate, turbot, wild venison, pheasant, haddock, mussels, veal, chicken, turkey, goose

How did they do that? - Christmas apples

How did they do that? - Christmas apples*

Continue reading

What’s in season? November

19 Nov

 

Hand dived scallops

Hand dived scallops

We’re really into Winter mode now the clocks have gone back. The weather seems to have deteriorated too. All the more reason to cook hearty soups and stews and glory in the fruits still available. I was surprised to see blueberries on sale this last weekend, but they really were Scottish! The other delight was to see a pack of Scottish chilis from Scotherbs – these have proved to be delicious.

 

Fruit and Vegetables

Fennel; beetroot; Broccoli, Dirty carrots; butternut squash; Leeks, Onions, Spinach; Swiss chard, Parsnips, russet apples (and many more types), Wild Mushrooms, pears, ceps (last few). And from further afield, truffles, some amazing large juicy pineapples and cranberries

Meat and Fish

Crab, Scallops, plaice (very reasonably priced), Lobster,  Squid, Mallard, Chicken,  Beef, Pork , Turbot

Recipe

Spiced berries

This is a really quick dessert. It can be made from any combination of berries you might have in the freezer or indeed a packet of frozen fruit is fine. It’s also worth freezing a bag of cranberries if you spot some.

Equal quantities of blackberries, redcurrants, cranberries, raspberries and blueberries – you’ll need about 100 grams per person.

1 stick of cinnamon (about 4 cm long)

4 cloves

4 green cardamoms (lightly squashed)

100 grams of sugar (brown or white) – you might need more depending on the fruit you used.

Method

Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and cook slowly until the juices run. If you are using cranberries, make sure they have softened, these usually take longest to cook. Remove the spices and add more sugar if very tart.

What’s in season? October

11 Oct

 

October produce at Edinburgh's Farmers' Market

October produce at Edinburgh's Farmers' Market

 

It’s autumn, but still warm. We’ve the tail end of the summer produce (those with greenhouses are probably still picking peppers and tomatoes) and some new autumnal favourites inspiring me to make soup and simmer long cooked stews. I’m also really enjoying the figs from Turkey and contemplating how to make the most of a gift of quinces.

Fruit and Vegetables

Fennel (baby and full size); Beetroots; Broccoli, Dirty carrots (always the best, they keep so much longer); squashes in all shapes and sizes; Leeks, Pumpkins, Onions, Spinach; Swiss chard, Parsnips, Quinces, Wild Mushrooms, Figs, plums, pears.

Meat and Fish

Crab, Sole (Dover, Lemon), Lobster,  Squid, Mallard, Goose, Guinea Fowl, Chicken, Veal, Beef,

RECIPE

Poached figs

This is so easy, quick and delicious (adapted from a Waitrose recipe)

 

Poached Figs

Poached Figs

 

Serves 2

4 large figs (just wash gently, no other preparation needed)
1 orange juice extracted and zest grated
100 grams soft brown or demerara sugar
4 cardamon pods crushed
300 ml water
Greaseproof or non-stick paper

Find a saucepan that the figs fit snugly into. You do not want it to be too big as they will not stay immersed during cooking.

Put everything except the figs into the saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down the gas so it is just bubbling. When the sugar has dissolved, put the figs into the liquid.
Bring back to a good simmer (lots of bubbles, not boiling).

Place a circle of greaseproof paper over the figs to ensure they stay mostly under the water.

Cook until soft. This will depend on how ripe your figs are – mine took about 10 minutes -they should be soft to the touch.

Remove the figs to the bowl you’ll eat from and boil the syrup to reduce it by half. Cover the figs with the sauce and add ice cream or cream.

Marrakech – tastes and flavours (Part 1)

27 Sep

Another world awaits you,  a 3.5 hour flight away: Marrakesh.  You can sail to Morocco from Spain, but you’d need to drive another 7 hours after docking in Tangiers.  The short flight time does not really prepare you for the culture shift (and shock).

Marrakech Skyline

Marrakech Skyline

It is hot, very hot. The sort of heat that makes you perspire more every step you take. You will hear French and Arabic spoken. You will see Moroccan women covered from head to toe or in western dress (but always with legs and arms covered). You’ll find hundreds of cars, taxis and donkeys and carts. Everyone is on the move and on the hustle.

It can be a very frustrating place. As much as you want to browse and ask questions, the stall holders want to sell to you and you end up almost not daring to point or to show any interest to avoid saying “no” for the umpteenth time.

Is it a place for foodies?

Yes!  The food is down to earth, healthy and tasty. The flavours are subtle. Just don’t expect finesse or fine dining.

The cuisine goes beyond tagines and couscous – and includes long-braised beef in a ceramic pot that is taken to the local bakery in the morning and collected in the evening. Shoulder of lamb that is cooked until it is so tender it just falls off the bone. Chicken, beef and lamb sold from tiny kiosks with other unidentifiable meats.  Fish is very popular too, caught just a few hours away. Local produce abounds including dates, prunes and apricots and a myriad of nuts, beans and seeds.  There are citrus trees laden with oranges, grapefruit and limes that are transformed into refreshing drinks and thousands of olive trees growing very close to the city. Huge fat local grown tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are the staple ingredients of refreshing Moroccan Salads.

A quick guide for foodies

Sights and Sounds

At the centre of the city is Jemaa El Fna – a vast space that each evening fills up with food stalls. From around 5 pm, the stalls are built from scratch. It’s fascinating to watch the hue and cry, but you’d need to be brave (or have a very strong stomach) to eat there – raw meat kebabs stored in the heat until cooked, no running water … The Moroccan chef at the riad where we stayed, refuses to eat there since one stall holder tried to pass sheep’s head off as beef!

Egg Sandwiches - Moroccan Style

Egg Sandwiches - Moroccan Style

We were fascinated by one stall which was very popular with the locals. The guys appeared to be filling a bread roll with onion, boiled egg and possibly some potato. The speed they were working was astonishing.

Mint tea anyone?

Mint tea anyone?

Mint tea is the staple drink wherever you go, here it was being served from huge samovars. There are even stalls that sell nothing but fresh mint.

Dried fruit stands

Dried fruit stands

Throughout the square there are rows of stands selling similar items set together. In this row piles upon piles of all sorts of dried fruits and nuts. In another area, juice stalls, just in case you get thirsty.

Citrus juice sellers

Citrus juice sellers

Spices

Our spice Guide Abdellatif

Our spice Guide Abdellatif

Most of the spice stalls double up as herbalists – you’ll see weird and wonderful things including minerals used as deodorants and henna as well as the more easily identified spices. Do watch for what is labelled as saffron – it is in fact, turmeric.  The souk is not the place to buy your spices – the prices are high. Venture a little further to the Jewish area and go to the Spice Market near to the Bahia Palace (well worth the 10 dirhams (£1) to visit). We met the charming Abdellatif L’Aadam who revelled in telling us about the spices on his stall including many of his own special blends. Good buys are charmoula spice and ras-el-hanout both difficult to find outside Morocco and staples of the cuisine. (Enter the Spice Market by the entrance nearest the Palace, he’s just inside on the right).

Abdellatif's Spice Stall

Abdellatif's Spice Stall

Coming up soon in Part 2: Eating Out in Marrakech, and a recipe or two.

I recommend the Time Out Shortlist on Marrakesh or the Lonely Plant Marrakesh Encounter

What’s in season – August

14 Aug

Inspired by Brendan MacNeill’s wonderful photograph of runner beans from my garden, here is what’s in season, with emphasis on what’s available locally. Be inspired!

Runner Beans

Runner Beans

Vegetables and Fruit

Beetroot (look out for the wonderful yellow,  orange and striped varieties), chard, cherries (a few still available on the farmers’ market from Perth); courgettes, fennel, gooseberries, runner beans, raspberries, tomatoes (check out all the wonderful heritage varieties), potatoes, onions and from further afield, apricots, nectarines, peaches and melons.

Meat and Fish

Crab, langoustines, plaice, scallops (look out for hand dived),  John Dory, poultry (Poussin, duck and chicken spotted at the farmers’ market), lamb, squid

Also look out for delicious cheeses, including mozzarella and ricotta if you’re lucky!

What’s in season – July

28 Jul

It’s always great to know what’s in season when your planning what to cook or what to eat in restaurants. How many times have you seen the phrase we focus on seasonal local food and you get parma ham and chocolate cheesecake on the menu?

This list is not exhaustive, it’ll just give you an idea of what to look for, and to avoid oddities such as asparagus from Peru when it was in season here (guess which big supermarket that was). No apologies for including some fruit from Europe such as apricots. You can even get Scottish cherries from Edinburgh’s farmers’ market currently!

Home grown yellow tomatoes

Home grown yellow tomatoes

Fruit and Vegetables

Apricots,artichokes, beetroot (look for the yellow ones), beans (broad, french and runners), chard, courgettes, cherries, fennel, gooseberries, nectarines, peaches, peas, mange out, peppers, red and black currants, sweetcorn, tomatoes (many different varieties at the markets).

Meat and Fish

Brill, organic or free range chicken, pork, halibut, lamb, langoustines, pilchards, plaice, queenie (small) scallops, wild salmon.

Promote our farmer’s market Edinburgh, not hide it

7 Jul

Our Farmers’ Market celebrated its 10th anniversary last weekend (although the actual date was back in June). It’s hard to remember back to a time before farmers’ markets, when it was nigh on impossible to shop for local produce unless you happened to live near a supplier. Scotland’s produce is now prized at top restaurants here and abroad. Many new food businesses have started (and thrived) on the back of regular attendance at markets.

Many of us have been lucky enough to visit farmers’ markets in Europe and further afield. I’ve recently had the opportunity to visit the largest of Portland’s farmers markets with more than 200 stall holders and thousands of purchasers. They put ours to shame – we have around 65 (didn’t this number used to be higher?)

Mozarella Cheese at Edinburgh Farmers' Market

Mozarella Cheese at Edinburgh Farmers' Market

I am so frustrated with our market here. The company running the market often seems to be far keener on promoting foreign markets fetching up in Castle Street selling overpriced produce than ensuring that the farmers’ market thrives. We have some truly world-class suppliers, but who is singing their praises?

Where was the support needed throughout all the building work at the Usher Hall that reduced the number of parking spaces making it difficult to park anywhere near the market with the exception of the overpriced NCP car park (how many shoppers actually want to park for 2 hours and for more than £5?). As the number of permit holder places increased, where was the encouragement for shoppers to come to the market?

Did anyone log how much less the stall holders received each week? Special Saturday parking could be introduced, or validated parking if you shop at the stalls. Where is the support for those who come on their bikes?

Do you remember the last time you actually saw some advertising for the market? Did you even know that the 10th birthday was being celebrated? Market it to the locals, not visitors – they’ll not be buying meat to taken home with them.

In Portland, you can use your credit card to purchase items (by a token system); there’s a vegetable valet where you leave your heavy bags of vegetables then drive by in your car later to pick up; a lively interactive website (you can find where your chosen stall is located); token matching (for those on lower incomes), a full programme of appropriate events and much more.

Portland Farmers' Market

Portland Farmers' Market

So we will continue to brave the parking problems and visit Edinburgh’s market as often as we can. On Saturday we found cherries from Perth (yes – grown in pots in a polytunnel), strawberries, tomatoes, fresh fish, meat, vegetables, eggs, cheeses, German baking, Italian baking … – oh and also a Ceilidh band and an MC at 9 am in the morning (hmmm).

Come on Edinburgh, you can do SO much better. What do you think?

Compare and contrast:

Edinburgh Farmers’ Market (not updated since mid June, no mention of last weekend’s activities!)

Portland Farmers’ Market