Tag Archives: market

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

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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*

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Edinburgh’s best kept secret: Matthew’s Foods

15 Nov

I’d like to share what I think is one of Edinburgh’s best kept secrets. Take a trip with me to the Far East, okay the West of Edinburgh.

Matthew‘s Foods is chock full of all sorts of superb ingredients at the most reasonable prices. It’s great fun to explore. Some things are familiar, others are frankly weird and wonderful.

 

Matthews Foods Supermarket

Matthew's Foods Supermarket

 

From the outside you’d probably think it stocks just Chinese ingredients. Not so. You’ll find just about any ingredient you could possibly wish for whether you are cooking Indian, Thai, Korean, Japanese, British and of course, Chinese.

Just inside the front door you’ll find the fresh produce – plenty of unfamiliar and more recognisable items.  Ahead you’ll find aisles of produce  – each aisle seems to gather ingredients from a different cuisine together – this can be a little confusing as you can find coconut for instance  in several different places.

 

Spices from Matthew's Foods

Spices from Matthew's Foods

 

The ingredients are ridiculously cheap, and are offered in small, medium, large and enormous bags. I look at huge bag of cumin seeds and wonder how many years it would take me to get through it and it’s less than £5. There are bags of nuts – a kilo of cashews at little more than you’d pay for 250 grams in a high street supermarket.

At the back there are frozen items – intriguing dumplings, dim sum, seafood, fish and meats – what fun to have a party to try them all out.

In another aisle, teas and dried mushrooms. You often catch yourself wondering exactly what such and such is.  Near the exit, you can find utensils, cleavers, steamers and other kitchen bits and pieces.

I’m a regular visitor and always astonished how little I spend when I’ve stocked up on  umpteen things. There, it’ll be a best kept secret no longer.

So take a little trip to the orient, it’s such fun and very easy on your purse.

Matthews Foods

36 Inglis Green Rd
Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh EH14 2ER
0131 443 8686

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.

Marrakesh – where you should eat (pt 2)

1 Oct

In the second of two reports from Marrakesh,  you’ll find some tips about eating out.

Mint Tea

Mint Tea

Marrakesh has large numbers of riads, perhaps 200 or more. Enterprising owners have refurbished, extended and embellished houses in the oldest parts of town to provide luxurious accommodation. The riads Mr EF and I came across were in quiet locations and in many cases down a maze of tunnels – do arrange to be collected from the airport it is extremely difficult to find where you are going the first time!

Apart from being wonderful places to stay, riads are often the very best places to eat as they have their own dedicated chefs. You don’t have to be staying  at the Riad, but you must pre-book by lunchtime at the latest – just ask someone from where you are staying to book for you they will be happy to do so. When you arrive, just mention the name of where you are staying rather than your own name.  I suggest doing a bit of research – by all means use your guidebook for some tips, but bear in mind they will be out of date. Check out recent reviews on Trip Advisor to ensure which are the very best to try. There are other restaurants in the old quarter, such as Le Foundouk but they are very tourist oriented and the food average (and terrible music). We spent a very enjoyable couple of hours with the Simbade the chef at the Riad El Rimal who very patiently explained how to make a fish and a meat tagine. We’re still experimenting with his recipes and will share them in another post.

Pastilla served as a starter - it is usually round

Pastilla served as a starter - it is usually round

Wherever to you do eat, you’ll find that tagines and couscous are staples on the menu. Do try the pastilla (or bastilla) if it is available. It’s an unusual mixture for British palates, but think of mince pies and you’ll do fine. It’s usually meat (usually pigeon) and almonds encased in a filo-like pastry, topped with icing sugar and cinnamon. Made well, it is delicious!

Vegetarian Sandwich at Cafe des Epices

Vegetarian Sandwich at Cafe des Epices

At lunchtime, try one of the wonderful Moroccan salads made with locally grown ingredients. You’ll find that are served hot (as in the picture below of a delicious tomato and pepper mixture with charmoula spice) as well as cold. Moroccan flavouring is subtle and it is all down to the expertise of the chef as to whether it is really delicious or simply OK.  If you’re hankering after a sandwich, Cafe des Epices is a great place to head to – they even have WIFI. Salads cost around 20 dirhams, tagines from 60 (there are currently 13 dirhams to a pound).

Pimento and Tomato "Salad"

Pimento and Tomato "Salad"

Whilst you won’t usually find fine dining in the old town, there are exceptions. We visit La Sultana on our last night. This is a fabulous hotel right next to the Saadian tombs (well worth a visit). You can dine on French haute cuisine, or take the opportunity to try a range of delicious Moroccan specialities with the most impeccable service and delightful music from an oud player. The prices are European, but well worth it for the ambiance and high quality food – you dine under the stars next to a pool.

La Sultana Hotel - view from our dining table

La Sultana Hotel - view from our dining table

And for those of you with a sweet tooth, do try the Marrakeshi equivalent of baklava.  These are delicious light pastries filled with nuts and fruits, flavoured with rose water – delicious with the ubiquitous mint tea or coffee

Sweet Pastries from Marrakech

Sweet Pastries from Marrakech

A word of caution. Street restaurants will display prices for food but not drinks. This is the way some make their money, literally making a price up on the spot for incautious tourists – watch out for this in Place des Ferblantiers in particular. You can of course eat out at the stalls in the main square (but with caution as I suggested in Part 1).

To stay in a riad, check out Luxury Riads

La Sultana (information on the accommodation only)

Riad Al Rimal Cookery course available (in French only)

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

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