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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

Could you butcher a pig?

13 Sep
Sunnyside Farm Pigs

Sunnyside Farm Pigs

This post is perhaps not for the queasy or vegetarian amongst you, but don’t leave yet!

I really like to know where what I buy comes from. With farmers’ markets, it has become easier to get to know the meat producers and hear about how their raise their stock. When you get to visit the farm, you really start to understand the sheer hard work and dedication these men and women have for producing tasty meat for us to eat.

About a year ago, I decided to go one step further. A friend and I took a half-share each in a pig from Sunnyside Farm, Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire. We visited the farm to pick a Gloucester Old Spot piglet who would be raised on our behalf. The farm is lovingly run by Doreen, David and Dom Smith who produce pork, Dexter Beef and rosy veal.

She appeared to be a sassy piglet. We received regular updates when we visited Sunnyside’s stall at Edinburgh’s farmers’ market. She always seemed to be up to a bit of mischief. Something I rather liked. However, we did not see her after that first day and we did not name her. When she was good and ready, we set off to the farm to butcher the carcass.

Working on the carcass with Dom Smith

We arrived for the butchery day got togged up and were presented with a beautiful carcass and set to work.  I can truly say it has been one of the most satisfying tasks I have every done. It was fascinating to see where the familiar joints were located and how they were joined together. Using the sharpest of knives, we followed seams of fat and gradually divided the carcass into pieces. We occasionally used a saw and a chopper to gradually reduce the bulk into recognisable cuts.

Preparing the joint to make ham

Dom demonstrates how to prepare the joint for ham

It took us the good part of day to joint the carcass and then create sausages and start the processes to make ham and bacon, with a break for lunch. When we asked Dom Smith how long it would have taken him, we found it would have been a mere fraction of the time. As to the meat, it has proved the most delicious we have ever eaten, and the bacon absolutely outstanding.

Making sausage meat

Sunnyside have a Pig in a Day event coming up on the 17th September to learn how to do the butchery. Places are very limited, I’d grab one if I were you! Otherwise, do consider taking a share in a pig, you’ll never want to eat any other pork again.

Just some of the cuts and sausages from half a pig

Just some of the cuts and sausages from half a pig

All the pork and products were for our own personal use. We froze most of what we produced.

Sunnyside Farm,
Sanquhar,
Dumfriesshire,
DG4 6JP

Tel: 01659 50258
Email: sales@sunnysidefarm.biz