Cucumbers

Cucumbers

  Italian Ridged Cucumbers    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands    Cucumbers   The first cucumbers were cultivated in India around 3,500 years ago.  It took a thousand years for cultivation to reach as far as the Mediterranean region.  Now, the Cucumber is the second most valued  Cucurbit  (member of the gourd family) throughout the world – the first being the watermelon.  The cucumber is around 95% water (the watermelon around 92%) but both are good sources of essential vitamins and minerals.  Unsurprisingly, both are at their refreshing best eaten raw and cool. The larger a cucumber grows the milder it gets and the higher its natural sugar content becomes – though this is a modest 1-2%.       With older varieties of cucumber, the male flowers needed to be removed to prevent a bitter flavour developing but that astringency has been bred out of modern varieties.  Breeders too have taken out the ‘windy’ element associated with older types - ‘Burpless’ varieties are the norm now.    Fermented Cucumbers, or Acidified Pickled Cucumbers which produces a less complex flavoured pickle, are better made with small, thicker-skinned varieties of cucumber.  We buy Eastern European grown ones especially for this treatment as they stand up to the ‘pickle’ solutions without turning to mush as thin-skinned types do.  Marinating them in a sweet dill pickle is the easiest of methods for preserving them when they are at their best.  There are also ‘Armenian Cucumbers’, which are actually a form of African melon, and their relative the Gherkin whose true fruits are quite rounded.     The subtle, grassy, flavour and melon-like aroma of Cucumber is well matched to dill, both the green herb and the seed which is well known for its digestive properties.  Scattering borage flowers on a cucumber salad deepens its flavour, as well as making it look beautiful, whereas a sprig of mint contrasts.  Cucumber has an affinity with soft, creamy cheeses and yoghurt.  It can also be paired with its close relative the melon, especially the green-fleshed Galia type, in a cold soup or salad.  There’s ‘Salad Elona’ which calls for slices of cucumber and strawberries to be seasoned with salt, pepper and sugar and a little dry white wine or wine vinegar.  Or you can make a Cucumber salad by marinating thinly sliced shallot in lemon juice for 15 minutes, whisking in olive oil then pouring this over thinly sliced cucumbers.  Serve with yoghurt and mint.  You can cook with cucumber.  If you are including it in a sauce you might want to salt it first to draw out some of the water. There are recipes for creamy Cucumber soups to be served hot, and brothy versions to be served chilled.  For an accompaniment to baked or poached fish, sauté diced cucumber, peeled or unpeeled, in a little butter until just tender, add salt and pepper, diced tomatoes and chervil or dill fronds.    

Italian Ridged Cucumbers

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Cucumbers

The first cucumbers were cultivated in India around 3,500 years ago.  It took a thousand years for cultivation to reach as far as the Mediterranean region.  Now, the Cucumber is the second most valued Cucurbit (member of the gourd family) throughout the world – the first being the watermelon.  The cucumber is around 95% water (the watermelon around 92%) but both are good sources of essential vitamins and minerals.  Unsurprisingly, both are at their refreshing best eaten raw and cool. The larger a cucumber grows the milder it gets and the higher its natural sugar content becomes – though this is a modest 1-2%.  

 

With older varieties of cucumber, the male flowers needed to be removed to prevent a bitter flavour developing but that astringency has been bred out of modern varieties.  Breeders too have taken out the ‘windy’ element associated with older types - ‘Burpless’ varieties are the norm now.  

Fermented Cucumbers, or Acidified Pickled Cucumbers which produces a less complex flavoured pickle, are better made with small, thicker-skinned varieties of cucumber.  We buy Eastern European grown ones especially for this treatment as they stand up to the ‘pickle’ solutions without turning to mush as thin-skinned types do.  Marinating them in a sweet dill pickle is the easiest of methods for preserving them when they are at their best.  There are also ‘Armenian Cucumbers’, which are actually a form of African melon, and their relative the Gherkin whose true fruits are quite rounded.   

The subtle, grassy, flavour and melon-like aroma of Cucumber is well matched to dill, both the green herb and the seed which is well known for its digestive properties.  Scattering borage flowers on a cucumber salad deepens its flavour, as well as making it look beautiful, whereas a sprig of mint contrasts.  Cucumber has an affinity with soft, creamy cheeses and yoghurt.  It can also be paired with its close relative the melon, especially the green-fleshed Galia type, in a cold soup or salad.  There’s ‘Salad Elona’ which calls for slices of cucumber and strawberries to be seasoned with salt, pepper and sugar and a little dry white wine or wine vinegar.  Or you can make a Cucumber salad by marinating thinly sliced shallot in lemon juice for 15 minutes, whisking in olive oil then pouring this over thinly sliced cucumbers.  Serve with yoghurt and mint.

You can cook with cucumber.  If you are including it in a sauce you might want to salt it first to draw out some of the water. There are recipes for creamy Cucumber soups to be served hot, and brothy versions to be served chilled.  For an accompaniment to baked or poached fish, sauté diced cucumber, peeled or unpeeled, in a little butter until just tender, add salt and pepper, diced tomatoes and chervil or dill fronds. 

 

  English Cucumbers    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

English Cucumbers

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

april 2018 seasonal news

april 2018 seasonal news

  Seasonal Table at Puntarelle@Co    Photo ©Puntarelle&Co Ltd       APRIL       This time last year we were talking of the new spring planting season in the UK being properly under way.  How different things are this year.  We may be looking forward to Asparagus and early strawberries, but the outdoor grown English asparagus from our Kent growers is 2-3 weeks away.  Last year we had the first cut 19th of March.  But we should remember that last year was unusual.  A mild start to Spring meant an early harvest but Asparagus towards the end of April is actually the norm.  Only the bigger producers can get a crop to market earlier.  A few boxes of strawberries grown under cover are coming in but there will be a bit of a wait for the sunkissed ones.       While we wait for the sun to appear, we’re grateful for the English Wild Garlic leaves, Spring Nettle Tops and Jersey Royal Potatoes that are available.  Glad too to have Italian Broad Beans, Peas, Asparagus and Hop Shoots.  And to have the Wet Garlic bulbs from Morocco that have been arriving for the past three weeks which changed to Italian this week.   

Seasonal Table at Puntarelle@Co

Photo ©Puntarelle&Co Ltd

 

APRIL

 

This time last year we were talking of the new spring planting season in the UK being properly under way.  How different things are this year.  We may be looking forward to Asparagus and early strawberries, but the outdoor grown English asparagus from our Kent growers is 2-3 weeks away.  Last year we had the first cut 19th of March.  But we should remember that last year was unusual.  A mild start to Spring meant an early harvest but Asparagus towards the end of April is actually the norm.  Only the bigger producers can get a crop to market earlier.  A few boxes of strawberries grown under cover are coming in but there will be a bit of a wait for the sunkissed ones.  

 

While we wait for the sun to appear, we’re grateful for the English Wild Garlic leaves, Spring Nettle Tops and Jersey Royal Potatoes that are available.  Glad too to have Italian Broad Beans, Peas, Asparagus and Hop Shoots.  And to have the Wet Garlic bulbs from Morocco that have been arriving for the past three weeks which changed to Italian this week.

 

  Morel Mushrooms    Photo ©Puntarelle&Co Ltd        At the beginning of April , as I write this,  you will find :     Earthy, saline  Jersey Royal Potatoes .   Vitamin C, iron and calcium-rich Spring  Nettle Tops , both English and Italian (bag with care!).   Wild Garlic  leaves, this week English ones and we have  Watercress  from our preferred English grower too.   The first of the season’s UK-grown sweet, juicy  Cucumbers  and mild, crunchy  Spring Onions  have arrived.  The First Italian  Ridged Cucumbers  and  Romano Courgettes .   Wispy  Wild Asparagus  from Italy, as well as fat spears of the purple and white  Asparagus  varieties.  The last of the  Purple Sprouting Broccoli  but there’s new Spring season  Rainbow Chard  from Italy.    Again this week, sweet Italian  Peas    and  Broad Beans  and bulbs of  Wet Garlic  from Italy too.   Outdoor-grown Rhubarb , from our preferred farmer in Kent, has taken over from Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb.  Just a few boxes of English-grown  Strawberries  this week but we do have beautiful Strawberries from Italy.  There are  English Heritage Tomatoes  too along with large  Provence Tomatoes , and the  Marinda  and salty, crunchy  Camone   Tomatoes    that have seen us   through winter are still with us.   Radishes  are changing from winter varieties to spring ones and this week, we have French  Heritage Radishes .  Cool weather harvests of bitter  Radicchio  and  Chicories  like  Puntarelle  and  Cime de Rapa  from Italy are still with us and there are  Tropea Onions  and  Spinach  too.  New season  Aubergines  from Italy are now coming in more variety of sizes and shapes and there are Spring season  Green and Purple Artichokes , large and small.     St George’s Mushrooms  (one thing that isn’t late) and  Morel Mushrooms  too.  As always, we have seasonal herbs but this week we have pots of growing  Spring Herbs  as well.   

Morel Mushrooms

Photo ©Puntarelle&Co Ltd

 

At the beginning of April, as I write this, you will find:

 

Earthy, saline Jersey Royal Potatoes

Vitamin C, iron and calcium-rich Spring Nettle Tops, both English and Italian (bag with care!).

Wild Garlic leaves, this week English ones and we have Watercress from our preferred English grower too. 

The first of the season’s UK-grown sweet, juicy Cucumbers and mild, crunchy Spring Onions have arrived.

The First Italian Ridged Cucumbers and Romano Courgettes

Wispy Wild Asparagus from Italy, as well as fat spears of the purple and white Asparagus varieties.

The last of the Purple Sprouting Broccoli but there’s new Spring season Rainbow Chard from Italy.  

Again this week, sweet Italian Peas and Broad Beans and bulbs of Wet Garlic from Italy too.

Outdoor-grown Rhubarb, from our preferred farmer in Kent, has taken over from Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb.

Just a few boxes of English-grown Strawberries this week but we do have beautiful Strawberries from Italy.

There are English Heritage Tomatoes too along with large Provence Tomatoes, and the Marinda and salty, crunchy Camone Tomatoes that have seen us through winter are still with us.

Radishes are changing from winter varieties to spring ones and this week, we have French Heritage Radishes.

Cool weather harvests of bitter Radicchio and Chicories like Puntarelle and Cime de Rapa from Italy are still with us and there are Tropea Onions and Spinach too.

New season Aubergines from Italy are now coming in more variety of sizes and shapes and there are Spring season Green and Purple Artichokes, large and small.  

St George’s Mushrooms (one thing that isn’t late) and Morel Mushrooms too.

As always, we have seasonal herbs but this week we have pots of growing Spring Herbs as well.

 

  Italian New Season Cucumbers     Photo ©Puntarelle&Co Ltd      So, what produce can we expect to come through our doors before the end of  APRIL ?      Earthy, saline  Jersey Royal Potatoes  should see us through April.   Vitamin C, iron and calcium-rich Spring  Nettle Tops  (bag with care!).  English  Wild Garlic  leaves through most of the month.  Sweet, juicy UK-grown  Cucumbers  and Italian  Ridged Cucumbers  may be joined by pickling cucumbers from Eastern Europe this month.  Mild, crunchy English  Spring Onions  throughout the month.  Wispy  Wild Asparagus  from Italy may be joined by some English grown late in the month.  And, if we finally get some sun and warmth, fat spears of  English Aparagus  to look forward to.  There could be more Italian  Wild Hop Shoots  too.  This month sees the last of the  Purple Sprouting Broccoli  but there’s new Spring season  Rainbow Chard  from Italy, along with Italian  Peas    and  Broad Beans  and  Romano Courgettes.   Bulbs of sweet, pungent  Wet Garlic  from France and Italy .   Outdoor-grown Rhubarb , from our preferred farmer in Kent will continue.   Strawberries  from Italy, France and the UK will become more abundant and tastier.  Expect some French  Gariguette Strawberries .    Spring season  English Heritage Tomatoes  and some varieties from France and Italy will arrive this month, easing out the salty, crunchy  Camone  and  Marinda Tomatoes    that have seen us   through winter.   Radishes  are changing from winter varieties to spring ones this month and will arrive in greater quantities.   Watercress  from our preferred English grower and, maybe, some from France.  New season  Aubergines  from Italy in more variety of size and shape.     Green and Purple Artichokes , large and small.     St George’s Mushrooms  and  Morel Mushrooms .  We expect  Nespoli    (Loquats) to arrive from Italy this month.   There may be a chance of English-grown Broad Beans and Peas this month.  Given the unseasonal weather, we shall see.    Pots of growing  Spring Herbs  along with our usual herb sprigs.   

Italian New Season Cucumbers

Photo ©Puntarelle&Co Ltd

 

So, what produce can we expect to come through our doors before the end of APRIL

 

Earthy, saline Jersey Royal Potatoes should see us through April. 

Vitamin C, iron and calcium-rich Spring Nettle Tops (bag with care!).

English Wild Garlic leaves through most of the month.

Sweet, juicy UK-grown Cucumbers and Italian Ridged Cucumbers may be joined by pickling cucumbers from Eastern Europe this month.

Mild, crunchy English Spring Onions throughout the month.

Wispy Wild Asparagus from Italy may be joined by some English grown late in the month.  And, if we finally get some sun and warmth, fat spears of English Aparagus to look forward to.  There could be more Italian Wild Hop Shoots too.

This month sees the last of the Purple Sprouting Broccoli but there’s new Spring season Rainbow Chard from Italy, along with Italian Peas and Broad Beans and Romano Courgettes.

Bulbs of sweet, pungent Wet Garlic from France and Italy .

Outdoor-grown Rhubarb, from our preferred farmer in Kent will continue.

Strawberries from Italy, France and the UK will become more abundant and tastier.  Expect some French Gariguette Strawberries.  

Spring season English Heritage Tomatoes and some varieties from France and Italy will arrive this month, easing out the salty, crunchy Camone and Marinda Tomatoes that have seen us through winter.

Radishes are changing from winter varieties to spring ones this month and will arrive in greater quantities.

Watercress from our preferred English grower and, maybe, some from France.

New season Aubergines from Italy in more variety of size and shape.  

Green and Purple Artichokes, large and small.  

St George’s Mushrooms and Morel Mushrooms.

We expect Nespoli (Loquats) to arrive from Italy this month. 

There may be a chance of English-grown Broad Beans and Peas this month.  Given the unseasonal weather, we shall see.  

Pots of growing Spring Herbs along with our usual herb sprigs.

 

 Fermented Garlic with Lemon,Ginger,Tirmeric&Lemon   Photo ©Puntarelle&Co       NEWS:      Thanks to the feedback and support of our customers, our  London Fermentary  products have grown to the point where we feel it necessary to give them their own social media presence!  If you follow Puntarelle_Co on Instagram and/or on Twitter, we’d love it if you would show your support by also following us   @london_fermentary  on Instagram and/or  @LDNFermentary  on Twitter.  We’ll be able to keep you informed with news, like what seasonal Ferments you can expect to find each month.    And while we are on the subject, filling the gap between winter and spring this month we have a  Honey & Camomile with warming ginger and turmeric Water Kefir  for you.  And, by popular request, our immune-boosting jars of  Honey fermented with garlic, ginger, turmeric and lemon  are back in stock.     Apart from being delicious, these unpasteurised fermented drinks bring beneficial micro-organisms, B vitamins, minerals and enzymes in a slightly sour, zingy, low-sugar form.  More about our range of Fermented products at:   www.londonfermentary.com     

Fermented Garlic with Lemon,Ginger,Tirmeric&Lemon

Photo ©Puntarelle&Co

 

NEWS:

 

Thanks to the feedback and support of our customers, our London Fermentary products have grown to the point where we feel it necessary to give them their own social media presence!  If you follow Puntarelle_Co on Instagram and/or on Twitter, we’d love it if you would show your support by also following us  @london_fermentary on Instagram and/or @LDNFermentary on Twitter.  We’ll be able to keep you informed with news, like what seasonal Ferments you can expect to find each month.  

And while we are on the subject, filling the gap between winter and spring this month we have a Honey & Camomile with warming ginger and turmeric Water Kefir for you.  And, by popular request, our immune-boosting jars of Honey fermented with garlic, ginger, turmeric and lemon are back in stock.

 

Apart from being delicious, these unpasteurised fermented drinks bring beneficial micro-organisms, B vitamins, minerals and enzymes in a slightly sour, zingy, low-sugar form.  More about our range of Fermented products at: www.londonfermentary.com

 

  Spring Nettle Tops    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands      Rich in vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, iron and calcium, considering  Nettles  as a weed seriously undervalues their nutritional benefits.  Here at Puntarelle & Co we have them in Spring and early Summer when they are at their vigorous best.  Like everything that grows wild, you need to be sure it has grown in a clean environment if you are going to eat it.  Buy from us or, if you have a trusted patch near you, go out and snip the tops.  Take care picking them or filling your bag as they pack a mighty sting until subjected to brief heat or cold.     Here is an idea for using them:      Nettle & Spinach Soup   (Serves 4)     Around 350g (12 oz) nettle tops  Around 350g (12 oz) spinach or chard  50g (2 oz) butter or olive oil  2 leeks or onions, sliced  1 medium potato, diced (optional)  Around 1 litre (1¾ pints) vegetable stock  Salt and pepper  Cream to serve     Wash the nettle tops carefully (they sting until cooked) and the spinach or chard and drain both.  In a large pan, melt the butter and add the sliced leeks or onions.  Cook, without colouring, for 5-10 minutes to soften.  (Add diced potato at this point if you want a heartier soup).  Add the nettles and spinach or chard, cover and cook until just wilted.  Pour in the stock, bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes.   Liquidise then reheat and season with salt and pepper.    Serve with a spoonful of cream atop each bowl of soup.

Spring Nettle Tops

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

Rich in vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, iron and calcium, considering Nettles as a weed seriously undervalues their nutritional benefits.  Here at Puntarelle & Co we have them in Spring and early Summer when they are at their vigorous best.  Like everything that grows wild, you need to be sure it has grown in a clean environment if you are going to eat it.  Buy from us or, if you have a trusted patch near you, go out and snip the tops.  Take care picking them or filling your bag as they pack a mighty sting until subjected to brief heat or cold.

 

Here is an idea for using them:

 

Nettle & Spinach Soup

(Serves 4)

 

Around 350g (12 oz) nettle tops

Around 350g (12 oz) spinach or chard

50g (2 oz) butter or olive oil

2 leeks or onions, sliced

1 medium potato, diced (optional)

Around 1 litre (1¾ pints) vegetable stock

Salt and pepper

Cream to serve

 

Wash the nettle tops carefully (they sting until cooked) and the spinach or chard and drain both.

In a large pan, melt the butter and add the sliced leeks or onions.  Cook, without colouring, for 5-10 minutes to soften.  (Add diced potato at this point if you want a heartier soup).  Add the nettles and spinach or chard, cover and cook until just wilted.  Pour in the stock, bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes. 

Liquidise then reheat and season with salt and pepper.  

Serve with a spoonful of cream atop each bowl of soup.

  Nettle and Spinach Soup    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Nettle and Spinach Soup

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Broccoli

Broccoli

  Purple Sprouting Broccoli    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands       Broccoli      Most of the common vegetables around today have been eaten since before recorded history.  One exception is Broccoli.  Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and Celery are also relative newcomers.  Broccoli is a member of the Brassica family.  Two native brassicas, one from the Mediterranean and one from Central Asia, are responsible for more than a dozen common vegetables on our plates.  Cabbage, Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Kohlrabi, Chinese Cabbage, Turnip, Broccoli Rabe and Broccoli are amongst them.      Broccoli, like Cauliflower and Romanesco, is harvested for its immature flowers.   Broccoli Rabe , also known as  Rapini  and  Cime di Rapa  is not a true broccoli but the flowers that emerge from the thickened stalk of a variety of turnip (a brassica member).  It’s also sold as  ‘broccoletti di rape’ , meaning ‘little sprouts of turnip’.  It can be treated in the same way as true Broccoli.       Commercially, broccoli is available all year round but it’s really a cool-season vegetable that is at its best from late autumn through to early spring.  The most appreciated variety in the UK is the Purple Sprouting Broccoli. If you grow it, you find it makes a wonderful cut-and-come-again plant.  You simply snap off the small flower stalks.  There is also a white-flowering variety, less often seen.  The thick stalked Calabrese Broccoli variety takes over by July and goes on until October.  When the plant cells are damaged, like all brassicas, broccoli releases bitter, pungent and strong-smelling compounds.  The autumn and winter-grown vegetables are usually milder.  These characteristics make broccoli a love-it or hate-it vegetable.       In normal years, when the Purple Sprouting Broccoli is coming to an end, the English Asparagus season is starting and both vegetables respond to simple treatment.  Broccoli, like Asparagus, has an affinity with eggs.  It’s also very good with anchovies, cheese and bacon.  Streamed or boiled until just tender, the broccoli can be served with a jug of melted butter or hollandaise sauce, or tossed in a warm of emulsion of melted butter, garlic and tinned anchovies.  You can do what the Romans do and give it the  ripassata , or re-passed, treatment – boil the broccoli in salted water until tender, then drain; sauté a crushed garlic clove and chopped fresh or dried chilli in olive oil until the garlic softens; add the greens and a little salt and pepper, turning to coat the greens in the oil for 2-3 minutes.  Eat just as it is, add some cooked pasta to the pan or pile it onto toast and top with a fried egg.     We expect to see over-wintered Purple Sprouting Broccoli around for another 3-4 weeks.  It will be followed by mild Broccolini, also known as Tenderstem, which is actually a cross between broccoli and a Chinese kale, and there will be broccoli Calabrese too.     

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

Broccoli

 

Most of the common vegetables around today have been eaten since before recorded history.  One exception is Broccoli.  Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and Celery are also relative newcomers.  Broccoli is a member of the Brassica family.  Two native brassicas, one from the Mediterranean and one from Central Asia, are responsible for more than a dozen common vegetables on our plates.  Cabbage, Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Kohlrabi, Chinese Cabbage, Turnip, Broccoli Rabe and Broccoli are amongst them. 

 

Broccoli, like Cauliflower and Romanesco, is harvested for its immature flowers.  Broccoli Rabe, also known as Rapini and Cime di Rapa is not a true broccoli but the flowers that emerge from the thickened stalk of a variety of turnip (a brassica member).  It’s also sold as ‘broccoletti di rape’, meaning ‘little sprouts of turnip’.  It can be treated in the same way as true Broccoli.  

 

Commercially, broccoli is available all year round but it’s really a cool-season vegetable that is at its best from late autumn through to early spring.  The most appreciated variety in the UK is the Purple Sprouting Broccoli. If you grow it, you find it makes a wonderful cut-and-come-again plant.  You simply snap off the small flower stalks.  There is also a white-flowering variety, less often seen.  The thick stalked Calabrese Broccoli variety takes over by July and goes on until October.  When the plant cells are damaged, like all brassicas, broccoli releases bitter, pungent and strong-smelling compounds.  The autumn and winter-grown vegetables are usually milder.  These characteristics make broccoli a love-it or hate-it vegetable.  

 

In normal years, when the Purple Sprouting Broccoli is coming to an end, the English Asparagus season is starting and both vegetables respond to simple treatment.  Broccoli, like Asparagus, has an affinity with eggs.  It’s also very good with anchovies, cheese and bacon.  Streamed or boiled until just tender, the broccoli can be served with a jug of melted butter or hollandaise sauce, or tossed in a warm of emulsion of melted butter, garlic and tinned anchovies.  You can do what the Romans do and give it the ripassata, or re-passed, treatment – boil the broccoli in salted water until tender, then drain; sauté a crushed garlic clove and chopped fresh or dried chilli in olive oil until the garlic softens; add the greens and a little salt and pepper, turning to coat the greens in the oil for 2-3 minutes.  Eat just as it is, add some cooked pasta to the pan or pile it onto toast and top with a fried egg.

 

We expect to see over-wintered Purple Sprouting Broccoli around for another 3-4 weeks.  It will be followed by mild Broccolini, also known as Tenderstem, which is actually a cross between broccoli and a Chinese kale, and there will be broccoli Calabrese too.  

 

     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
               Watercress    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands       Watercress      As we enter spring, bunches of peppery  Watercress  stand out on our shelves.  This semi-aquatic herb,  Nasturtium officinale , grows wild in British lowland streams and ditches but it’s not advisable to collect it because of the risk of liver fluke, spread by cattle and sheep.  Watercress-growing depends on pure, mineral rich spring or borehole water for healthy growth.  Growers practice a regime of flooding and draining to provide just the right conditions.  At one time it was a crop that petered out in May when the flowers appeared.  These days the season can be extended by the grower rotating the beds for replanting seedlings or by planting a late-flowering variety that allows Watercress to be cultivated through most of the summer.  There is a natural lull in growth in the cold of winter too, though some growers cover their Watercress beds with plastic tunnels to extend the season.      We know the Greeks and Romans valued Watercress.  Dr Nicholas Culpepper, in his  Complete Herbal , championed the health-giving properties of watercress in 1653 –  “Water-cress potage is a good remedy to cleanse the blood in the spring and help headaches and consume the gross humours winter has left behind; those that would live in health may use it as they please, if they will not, I cannot help it.”   It was not grown on any great scale here until the beginning of the 19th century.  In 1808 William Bradbury cultivated Cress in Springhead, Kent.  Victorian London was so enamoured of Watercress that it was transported daily to the city from Alton in Hampshire by train on what was known as The Watercress Line.  In the 1940’s more than 1,000 acres of land in England were being cultivated for watercress growing but by the end of the 20th century this had shrunk to only 150 acres, mostly in southern counties where the chalk soils are ideal.         The health benefits of Watercress now have scientific backing and it is recognised as a food with high nutritional value .  Recent scientific research has shown that high levels of antioxidants, such as are present in Watercress, can increase the ability of cells to resist damage, helping to protect against the cell changes that can lead to some diseases.  This member of the brassica family, related to mustard, is high in vitamins A, C and K and has high levels of calcium, iron and folate.  In fact it has more than 15 important vitamins and minerals contained in its punchy leaves and stems.  Experiments carried out by the Ministry of Health in the 1930s concluded that Watercress was excellent for promoting children’s growth and so it was made a staple ingredient in school dinners.  The respected food historian and journalist, Derek Cooper, recalls being taken on outings to the Regent Park Zoon where, eating at the café, Watercress was offered  ‘Ad Lib’ .  It was often eaten in sandwiches at breakfast time, though in poorer homes it was eaten on its own, which earned it the nickname  “poor man’s bread” .       Sweet, spicy and tender when grown properly, it can be harsh and bitter when not given the right conditions to thrive.  Watercress and rocket are inter-changeable in most dishes.  It’s mostly thought of as a salad leaf but don’t throw away the stems which are juicy and contain much of the flavour.  Pair watercress with orange segments and some toasted almonds for a simple salad; toss watercress, pieces of blue cheese (like Stilton or Stichelton), sliced pears and walnuts in a honey vinaigrette; serve alongside roast chicken or beef; pair with buttery scrambled eggs or fold into an omelette; finely chop with spinach, tarragon or  parsley and add to a cream or egg based sauce to eat with salmon or chicken; make a creamy watercress soup; or a watercress sandwich with wholemeal bread and butter.     Watercress has a definite preference for coolness rather than heat or cold so we look forward to the spring season for Watercress.  Right now, in late March, we have Watercress from France.  Soon we will welcome our English-grown bunched Watercress.       
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


    

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
               Watercress soup    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

  Watercress    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands       Watercress      As we enter spring, bunches of peppery  Watercress  stand out on our shelves.  This semi-aquatic herb,  Nasturtium officinale , grows wild in British lowland streams and ditches but it’s not advisable to collect it because of the risk of liver fluke, spread by cattle and sheep.  Watercress-growing depends on pure, mineral rich spring or borehole water for healthy growth.  Growers practice a regime of flooding and draining to provide just the right conditions.  At one time it was a crop that petered out in May when the flowers appeared.  These days the season can be extended by the grower rotating the beds for replanting seedlings or by planting a late-flowering variety that allows Watercress to be cultivated through most of the summer.  There is a natural lull in growth in the cold of winter too, though some growers cover their Watercress beds with plastic tunnels to extend the season.      We know the Greeks and Romans valued Watercress.  Dr Nicholas Culpepper, in his  Complete Herbal , championed the health-giving properties of watercress in 1653 –  “Water-cress potage is a good remedy to cleanse the blood in the spring and help headaches and consume the gross humours winter has left behind; those that would live in health may use it as they please, if they will not, I cannot help it.”   It was not grown on any great scale here until the beginning of the 19th century.  In 1808 William Bradbury cultivated Cress in Springhead, Kent.  Victorian London was so enamoured of Watercress that it was transported daily to the city from Alton in Hampshire by train on what was known as The Watercress Line.  In the 1940’s more than 1,000 acres of land in England were being cultivated for watercress growing but by the end of the 20th century this had shrunk to only 150 acres, mostly in southern counties where the chalk soils are ideal.         The health benefits of Watercress now have scientific backing and it is recognised as a food with high nutritional value .  Recent scientific research has shown that high levels of antioxidants, such as are present in Watercress, can increase the ability of cells to resist damage, helping to protect against the cell changes that can lead to some diseases.  This member of the brassica family, related to mustard, is high in vitamins A, C and K and has high levels of calcium, iron and folate.  In fact it has more than 15 important vitamins and minerals contained in its punchy leaves and stems.  Experiments carried out by the Ministry of Health in the 1930s concluded that Watercress was excellent for promoting children’s growth and so it was made a staple ingredient in school dinners.  The respected food historian and journalist, Derek Cooper, recalls being taken on outings to the Regent Park Zoon where, eating at the café, Watercress was offered  ‘Ad Lib’ .  It was often eaten in sandwiches at breakfast time, though in poorer homes it was eaten on its own, which earned it the nickname  “poor man’s bread” .       Sweet, spicy and tender when grown properly, it can be harsh and bitter when not given the right conditions to thrive.  Watercress and rocket are inter-changeable in most dishes.  It’s mostly thought of as a salad leaf but don’t throw away the stems which are juicy and contain much of the flavour.  Pair watercress with orange segments and some toasted almonds for a simple salad; toss watercress, pieces of blue cheese (like Stilton or Stichelton), sliced pears and walnuts in a honey vinaigrette; serve alongside roast chicken or beef; pair with buttery scrambled eggs or fold into an omelette; finely chop with spinach, tarragon or  parsley and add to a cream or egg based sauce to eat with salmon or chicken; make a creamy watercress soup; or a watercress sandwich with wholemeal bread and butter.     Watercress has a definite preference for coolness rather than heat or cold so we look forward to the spring season for Watercress.  Right now, in late March, we have Watercress from France.  Soon we will welcome our English-grown bunched Watercress.     

Watercress

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

Watercress

 

As we enter spring, bunches of peppery Watercress stand out on our shelves.  This semi-aquatic herb, Nasturtium officinale, grows wild in British lowland streams and ditches but it’s not advisable to collect it because of the risk of liver fluke, spread by cattle and sheep.  Watercress-growing depends on pure, mineral rich spring or borehole water for healthy growth.  Growers practice a regime of flooding and draining to provide just the right conditions.  At one time it was a crop that petered out in May when the flowers appeared.  These days the season can be extended by the grower rotating the beds for replanting seedlings or by planting a late-flowering variety that allows Watercress to be cultivated through most of the summer.  There is a natural lull in growth in the cold of winter too, though some growers cover their Watercress beds with plastic tunnels to extend the season. 

 

We know the Greeks and Romans valued Watercress.  Dr Nicholas Culpepper, in his Complete Herbal, championed the health-giving properties of watercress in 1653 – “Water-cress potage is a good remedy to cleanse the blood in the spring and help headaches and consume the gross humours winter has left behind; those that would live in health may use it as they please, if they will not, I cannot help it.”  It was not grown on any great scale here until the beginning of the 19th century.  In 1808 William Bradbury cultivated Cress in Springhead, Kent.  Victorian London was so enamoured of Watercress that it was transported daily to the city from Alton in Hampshire by train on what was known as The Watercress Line.  In the 1940’s more than 1,000 acres of land in England were being cultivated for watercress growing but by the end of the 20th century this had shrunk to only 150 acres, mostly in southern counties where the chalk soils are ideal.    

 

The health benefits of Watercress now have scientific backing and it is recognised as a food with high nutritional value .  Recent scientific research has shown that high levels of antioxidants, such as are present in Watercress, can increase the ability of cells to resist damage, helping to protect against the cell changes that can lead to some diseases.  This member of the brassica family, related to mustard, is high in vitamins A, C and K and has high levels of calcium, iron and folate.  In fact it has more than 15 important vitamins and minerals contained in its punchy leaves and stems.  Experiments carried out by the Ministry of Health in the 1930s concluded that Watercress was excellent for promoting children’s growth and so it was made a staple ingredient in school dinners.  The respected food historian and journalist, Derek Cooper, recalls being taken on outings to the Regent Park Zoon where, eating at the café, Watercress was offered ‘Ad Lib’.  It was often eaten in sandwiches at breakfast time, though in poorer homes it was eaten on its own, which earned it the nickname “poor man’s bread”.  

 

Sweet, spicy and tender when grown properly, it can be harsh and bitter when not given the right conditions to thrive.  Watercress and rocket are inter-changeable in most dishes.  It’s mostly thought of as a salad leaf but don’t throw away the stems which are juicy and contain much of the flavour.  Pair watercress with orange segments and some toasted almonds for a simple salad; toss watercress, pieces of blue cheese (like Stilton or Stichelton), sliced pears and walnuts in a honey vinaigrette; serve alongside roast chicken or beef; pair with buttery scrambled eggs or fold into an omelette; finely chop with spinach, tarragon or  parsley and add to a cream or egg based sauce to eat with salmon or chicken; make a creamy watercress soup; or a watercress sandwich with wholemeal bread and butter.

 

Watercress has a definite preference for coolness rather than heat or cold so we look forward to the spring season for Watercress.  Right now, in late March, we have Watercress from France.  Soon we will welcome our English-grown bunched Watercress.  

 

  Watercress soup    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Watercress soup

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Radishes

Radishes

 
  White   Radish    Photo © Puntarelle & Co     Radishes   A member of the mustard family, Raphanus sativus, the  Radish  is native to Western Asia.  Cultivated for thousands of years they had reached the Mediterranean by the time of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. In Egypt, labourers working on the pyramids were given rations of garlic and radishes.  The Greeks even made votive offerings to Apollo in the form of models of radishes in gold – turnips merited the use of lead, and beetroots were rendered in silver.  The Romans were early appreciators of the radish too.     Shaped by human selection, the Radish now comes in many forms and colours, from pure white throughout; black with white flesh; a form that is green outside and red within; a variety called Blue Moon which is pale purple of skin and has striated purple and white flesh; and others that have deep-red skins at the top, fading to white at the base, or are completely round and red-skinned.  They also come in a huge variety of sizes from the small, elongated Breakfast Radish to large varieties of Daikon, or Mouli, which can grow to more than 30cm long and weigh as much as 3kg.  All share a crisp texture and varying degrees of pepperiness.  If left in the warmth too long, radishes will soften.   Place them in a bowl of iced water for an hour or so and they will regain much of their crispness.    In early Spring, it’s the small red, or red and white, Radish that catches the eye.  They take only 3-4  weeks to grow and are best grown early as summer’s heat can turn them harsh and woody unless watered assiduously.  They are best simply washed and eaten raw with salt, bread and butter.  Larger varieties can grow through the summer until harvested in the autumn.  Firm and drier, these later varieties can be roasted or braised.  The long, white Asian Daikon/Mouli is relatively mild and can be used raw or cooked.  Most of the heat in radishes lies in the skin, so peeling moderates the heat.  Cooking them deactivates the peppery enzyme and brings out their sweetness.    Serve small, spring radishes with a bowl of salt; with carrots, young peas or mangetouts and dip them into a bowl of mayonnaise or a garlicky aioli; dip radishes into a bagna cauda sauce (melt anchovies into olive oil and garlic before whisking in butter).  Make a radish sandwich – butter brown bread, add a layer of radish leaves and top with sliced radishes and season with salt.  The leaves of radish add a light pepperiness to a bowl of salad leaves too.  Larger types, like Daikon/Mouli, can be sliced, mixed with chicory leaves and finely sliced fennel, or paired with anchovy.  Both ways are good with a citrus and olive oil dressing.  Radishes pickle well too.  Personally, we wouldn’t cook radish.  It’s the peppery crunch that makes them so appealing, so, if you want a mild pepperiness, maybe you should reach for a turnip instead.  

White   Radish

Photo © Puntarelle & Co

Radishes

A member of the mustard family, Raphanus sativus, the Radish is native to Western Asia.  Cultivated for thousands of years they had reached the Mediterranean by the time of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. In Egypt, labourers working on the pyramids were given rations of garlic and radishes.  The Greeks even made votive offerings to Apollo in the form of models of radishes in gold – turnips merited the use of lead, and beetroots were rendered in silver.  The Romans were early appreciators of the radish too.   

Shaped by human selection, the Radish now comes in many forms and colours, from pure white throughout; black with white flesh; a form that is green outside and red within; a variety called Blue Moon which is pale purple of skin and has striated purple and white flesh; and others that have deep-red skins at the top, fading to white at the base, or are completely round and red-skinned.  They also come in a huge variety of sizes from the small, elongated Breakfast Radish to large varieties of Daikon, or Mouli, which can grow to more than 30cm long and weigh as much as 3kg.  All share a crisp texture and varying degrees of pepperiness.  If left in the warmth too long, radishes will soften.   Place them in a bowl of iced water for an hour or so and they will regain much of their crispness.  

In early Spring, it’s the small red, or red and white, Radish that catches the eye.  They take only 3-4  weeks to grow and are best grown early as summer’s heat can turn them harsh and woody unless watered assiduously.  They are best simply washed and eaten raw with salt, bread and butter.  Larger varieties can grow through the summer until harvested in the autumn.  Firm and drier, these later varieties can be roasted or braised.  The long, white Asian Daikon/Mouli is relatively mild and can be used raw or cooked.  Most of the heat in radishes lies in the skin, so peeling moderates the heat.  Cooking them deactivates the peppery enzyme and brings out their sweetness.  

Serve small, spring radishes with a bowl of salt; with carrots, young peas or mangetouts and dip them into a bowl of mayonnaise or a garlicky aioli; dip radishes into a bagna cauda sauce (melt anchovies into olive oil and garlic before whisking in butter).  Make a radish sandwich – butter brown bread, add a layer of radish leaves and top with sliced radishes and season with salt.  The leaves of radish add a light pepperiness to a bowl of salad leaves too.  Larger types, like Daikon/Mouli, can be sliced, mixed with chicory leaves and finely sliced fennel, or paired with anchovy.  Both ways are good with a citrus and olive oil dressing.  Radishes pickle well too.  Personally, we wouldn’t cook radish.  It’s the peppery crunch that makes them so appealing, so, if you want a mild pepperiness, maybe you should reach for a turnip instead.  

 Black radish    Photo © Puntarelle & Co

Black radish 

Photo © Puntarelle & Co

  Blue Meat Radish  &  Green Radish       Photo © Puntarelle & Co

Blue Meat Radish  &  Green Radish   

Photo © Puntarelle & Co

Seasonal Produce News-March 2018

Seasonal Produce News-March 2018

  Sicilian Tarocco Fire Oranges    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands       MARCH      Through February, British-grown hardy brassicas and winter stores of root crops have been essentials in our kitchens.  The pink and red stems of Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb, vibrant Radicchio leaves and fragrant Sicilian Citrus brought colour to our lives in what has turned out to be a truly wintery scene.  As I write, heavy snow is falling.  Here in London, sturdy boots and warm scarves and hats are essential.  Even southern Europe hasn’t been spared this winter.      In March, to add to our greens and roots, we are at our most reliant on southern Europe whose milder temperatures give their farmers a head-start over our own growers.  We turn to South Africa and South America for a few items.  This month we would normally expect the first of our supplies of deliciously sweet peas, tender broad beans, pungent wild garlic leaves and juicy wet garlic to propel us into spring.  The latest blast of cold, when even Rome has been blanketed in snow, comes just as they are raising early spring crops in southern Europe.  Spare a thought for growers here in Britain and throughout the rest of Europe right now.   

Sicilian Tarocco Fire Oranges

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

MARCH

 

Through February, British-grown hardy brassicas and winter stores of root crops have been essentials in our kitchens.  The pink and red stems of Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb, vibrant Radicchio leaves and fragrant Sicilian Citrus brought colour to our lives in what has turned out to be a truly wintery scene.  As I write, heavy snow is falling.  Here in London, sturdy boots and warm scarves and hats are essential.  Even southern Europe hasn’t been spared this winter. 

 

In March, to add to our greens and roots, we are at our most reliant on southern Europe whose milder temperatures give their farmers a head-start over our own growers.  We turn to South Africa and South America for a few items.  This month we would normally expect the first of our supplies of deliciously sweet peas, tender broad beans, pungent wild garlic leaves and juicy wet garlic to propel us into spring.  The latest blast of cold, when even Rome has been blanketed in snow, comes just as they are raising early spring crops in southern Europe.  Spare a thought for growers here in Britain and throughout the rest of Europe right now.

 

  Sardinian Spiky Artichokes    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands         We are very proud of our  Citrus,  much of it untreated and directly sourced from Sicily.  Crates of  Leafy Lemons , juicy  Navel Oranges ,  Tarocco   Oranges ,  Pink Grapefruits  and highly-perfumed  Mandarins  have been delivered in increasing variety since late December.  Last week  Kumquats  arrived and we hope for more red-fleshed  Moro   Oranges .        At the beginning of March here at Puntarelle & Co we have:      British  Brassicas  including  Savoy Cabbage , green and purple hued  January King , blistered-leaved  Black Cabbage/Cavolo Nero ,  Kale ,  Brussels Sprouts  and  Brussels Tops , and  Purple Sprouting Broccoli .  We have  Kohlrabi  too.  For Roots, which store well, there are  Jerusalem Artichokes ,  Beetroot ,  Turnips ,  Swede,   Celeriac ,  Potatoes  and  Carrots .   Leeks , which are happy in cold ground, are still coming in from the fields.    Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb  is reaching its peak.  Its stalks are a little thicker and more deeply coloured now, and are tasting at their best.   Untreated Sicilian Citrus  in the form of  Leafy     Lemons , juicy  Tarocco   Oranges ,  Pink Grapefruits , sweet  Mandarins Nova  and common Mandarins.    We have a small number of highly-coloured  Tarocco Fire Oranges   this week.  And, via the Milan market, we have  Bergamots  and  Cedro .  There may be snow on the ground but this week sees the first  Broad Beans ,  Fresh Peas ,  Wild Asparagus , cultivated  Purple Asparagus  from warmer climes.  We have  Minestra Cabbage  and  Broccolo di Bassano  from Italy.  There is vitamin and mineral packed Italian  Spinach  and  Chard  and colourful bitter-leaved heads of  Radicchio .  There’s  Puntarelle Chicory  and  Cime di Rapa  too.  Crunchy, juicy  Agretti/Monk’s Beard  continues, an excellent accompaniment to fish or simply blanched and tossed in anchovy butter.   Spiky Sardinian Artichokes  and globes of  Romaneschi Artichokes  are still with us and, this week, we have the medium-sized  Tema Artichokes  and the small purple  Petit Violet Artichokes  too.    There are Pale green Italian  Courgettes , crisp  Radish , and crunchy red  Tropea Onions .  Providing tasty  Tomatoes    through winter is a challenge but the green seasonal  Marinda  and salty, crunchy  Camone  are welcome, and they are at their best now.   A small amount of  Wild Garlic Leaves , as these have been affected by the weather.  We also have some wonderfully fleshy, semi-dried  Black Olives  from Italy this week.   

Sardinian Spiky Artichokes

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

 

We are very proud of our Citrus, much of it untreated and directly sourced from Sicily.  Crates of Leafy Lemons, juicy Navel Oranges, Tarocco Oranges, Pink Grapefruits and highly-perfumed Mandarins have been delivered in increasing variety since late December.  Last week Kumquats arrived and we hope for more red-fleshed Moro Oranges.  

 

At the beginning of March here at Puntarelle & Co we have:

 

British Brassicas including Savoy Cabbage, green and purple hued January King, blistered-leaved Black Cabbage/Cavolo Nero, Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Brussels Tops, and Purple Sprouting Broccoli.  We have Kohlrabi too.

For Roots, which store well, there are Jerusalem Artichokes, Beetroot, Turnips, Swede, Celeriac, Potatoes and CarrotsLeeks, which are happy in cold ground, are still coming in from the fields. 

Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb is reaching its peak.  Its stalks are a little thicker and more deeply coloured now, and are tasting at their best.

Untreated Sicilian Citrus in the form of Leafy Lemons, juicy Tarocco Oranges, Pink Grapefruits, sweet Mandarins Nova and common Mandarins.  We have a small number of highly-coloured Tarocco Fire Oranges  this week.  And, via the Milan market, we have Bergamots and Cedro.

There may be snow on the ground but this week sees the first Broad Beans, Fresh Peas, Wild Asparagus, cultivated Purple Asparagus from warmer climes.  We have Minestra Cabbage and Broccolo di Bassano from Italy.

There is vitamin and mineral packed Italian Spinach and Chard and colourful bitter-leaved heads of Radicchio.  There’s Puntarelle Chicory and Cime di Rapa too.

Crunchy, juicy Agretti/Monk’s Beard continues, an excellent accompaniment to fish or simply blanched and tossed in anchovy butter.

Spiky Sardinian Artichokes and globes of Romaneschi Artichokes are still with us and, this week, we have the medium-sized Tema Artichokes and the small purple Petit Violet Artichokes too.  

There are Pale green Italian Courgettes, crisp Radish, and crunchy red Tropea Onions.

Providing tasty Tomatoes through winter is a challenge but the green seasonal Marinda and salty, crunchy Camone are welcome, and they are at their best now. 

A small amount of Wild Garlic Leaves, as these have been affected by the weather.

We also have some wonderfully fleshy, semi-dried Black Olives from Italy this week.

 

  Pink Radicchio – La Rosa del Veneto    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands       So, what can we look forward to in the month of March (weather permitting)?      The first  Wet Garlic  from France and Italy.  English and French  Wild Garlic leaves  – sparse until it recovers from this cold spell.    Early  Broad Beans ,  Fresh Peas ,  Wild Asparagus , cultivated  Purple Asparagus ,  Minestra Cabbage  and  Broccolo di Bassano  from Italy.  Fragrant  Candonga Strawberries  from Italy and  Gariguette Strawberries  from France .    The last of the  Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb , its stalks thicker and more deeply coloured but tasting at its best.  Pale green Italian  Courgettes  and deep red, crunchy  Tropea Onions .   Untreated Sicilian and other Italian Citrus .  Expect  Lemons,   oranges ,  Bergamots  and  Cedro .    British  Brassicas  including  Savoy Cabbage , green and purple hued  January King , blistered-leaved  Black Cabbage/Cavolo Nero ,  Kale ,  Brussels Sprouts  and  Brussels Tops , and  Purple Sprouting Broccoli  should be with us throughout.  English-grown  Jerusalem Artichokes .  They store well and so continue to be available, as do  Beetroot ,  Turnips ,  Swede,   Celeriac ,  Potatoes  and  Carrots .  English  Leeks  too.  Italian  Spinach ,  Chard ,  Cime di Rapa  and members of the  Chicory  family, along with colourful bitter-leaved  Radicchio .  Crunchy, juicy  Agretti/Monk’s Beard  will be around all through the month, excellent with fish or simply blanched and tossed in anchovy butter.  Expect to see  Spiky Sardinian Artichokes , globes of  Romaneschi Artichokes , medium-sized  Tema Artichokes , the small purple  Petit Violet   Artichokes  and  Piccolo Artichokes  too.    Providing tasty  Tomatoes    at this time of year is a challenge but the winter  Marinda  and salty, crunchy  Camone  continue and are at their best now.  By the end of the month we hope to have some tasty new season hot-house varieties arriving.  Stimulating, iron-rich spring  Nettles  should be arriving   from France soon, possibly before the end of the month.   Expect early    Jersey Royal Potatoes  and the French  Ile de Ré  and  Noirmoutier Potatoes .  All coastal-grown roots that bring a welcome rush of earthy salinity at this time of year.   Spring onions    should   start to arrive this month and, there could be home-grown  Radishes .  We may see the first    Morel Mushrooms  - usually the first come from Canada, followed by Turkish ones.

Pink Radicchio – La Rosa del Veneto

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

So, what can we look forward to in the month of March (weather permitting)?

 

The first Wet Garlic from France and Italy.

English and French Wild Garlic leaves – sparse until it recovers from this cold spell.  

Early Broad Beans, Fresh Peas, Wild Asparagus, cultivated Purple Asparagus, Minestra Cabbage and Broccolo di Bassano from Italy.  Fragrant Candonga Strawberries from Italy and Gariguette Strawberries from France .  

The last of the Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb, its stalks thicker and more deeply coloured but tasting at its best.

Pale green Italian Courgettes and deep red, crunchy Tropea Onions.

Untreated Sicilian and other Italian Citrus.  Expect Lemons, oranges, Bergamots and Cedro.  

British Brassicas including Savoy Cabbage, green and purple hued January King, blistered-leaved Black Cabbage/Cavolo Nero, Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Brussels Tops, and Purple Sprouting Broccoli should be with us throughout.

English-grown Jerusalem Artichokes.  They store well and so continue to be available, as do Beetroot, Turnips, Swede, Celeriac, Potatoes and Carrots.  English Leeks too.

Italian Spinach, Chard, Cime di Rapa and members of the Chicory family, along with colourful bitter-leaved Radicchio.

Crunchy, juicy Agretti/Monk’s Beard will be around all through the month, excellent with fish or simply blanched and tossed in anchovy butter.

Expect to see Spiky Sardinian Artichokes, globes of Romaneschi Artichokes, medium-sized Tema Artichokes, the small purple Petit Violet Artichokes and Piccolo Artichokes too.  

Providing tasty Tomatoes at this time of year is a challenge but the winter Marinda and salty, crunchy Camone continue and are at their best now.  By the end of the month we hope to have some tasty new season hot-house varieties arriving.

Stimulating, iron-rich spring Nettles should be arriving from France soon, possibly before the end of the month. 

Expect early Jersey Royal Potatoes and the French Ile de Ré and Noirmoutier Potatoes.  All coastal-grown roots that bring a welcome rush of earthy salinity at this time of year.

Spring onions should start to arrive this month and, there could be home-grown Radishes.

We may see the first Morel Mushrooms - usually the first come from Canada, followed by Turkish ones.

  London Fermentary Water Kefirs    Photo ©Puntarelle&Co     NEW on our shelves:       Right now our seasonal  Water Kefirs  take advantage of the fantastic winter fruits that are coming through our doors.  These include Yorkshire Rhubarb, Sicilian Blood Orange and Sicilian Wonder Mandarin.  As those of you who are familiar with our Water Kefirs know, there is much more to them than their beautiful jewel-like colours.  Apart from being delicious, these unpasteurised fermented drinks bring beneficial micro-organisms, B vitamins, minerals and enzymes in a slightly sour, zingy, low-sugar form.  More about our range of Fermented products at:  www.londonfermentary.com    

London Fermentary Water Kefirs

Photo ©Puntarelle&Co

NEW on our shelves:    

Right now our seasonal Water Kefirs take advantage of the fantastic winter fruits that are coming through our doors.  These include Yorkshire Rhubarb, Sicilian Blood Orange and Sicilian Wonder Mandarin.  As those of you who are familiar with our Water Kefirs know, there is much more to them than their beautiful jewel-like colours.  Apart from being delicious, these unpasteurised fermented drinks bring beneficial micro-organisms, B vitamins, minerals and enzymes in a slightly sour, zingy, low-sugar form.  More about our range of Fermented products at: www.londonfermentary.com

 

  Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands    If you need a little inspiration for what to cook in March, here’s a suggestion:    Greens, bacon, cream & mustard    (Serves 4)   Ingredients:  500g of greens - broccoli, kale, kalettes, sprout tops or cabbage, washed and cut into manageable pieces  200g bacon (smoked or unsmoked), cut into small pieces  100ml single or double cream  2 tablespoons of grain mustard  Salt and pepper to season  Method:   Bring a pan of water to the boil and add salt.  Add the greens and cook until just tender.  Drain and plunge into iced water then drain.  Put aside.    Fry the bacon pieces until crisp.  Add the cooked greens, tossing them in the bacon fat until nicely coated.      On a low heat, add the cream and the mustard, and season with salt and pepper, mixing everything well.      Serve with bread for mopping up the juices.    

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

If you need a little inspiration for what to cook in March, here’s a suggestion:

Greens, bacon, cream & mustard

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

500g of greens - broccoli, kale, kalettes, sprout tops or cabbage, washed and cut into manageable pieces

200g bacon (smoked or unsmoked), cut into small pieces

100ml single or double cream

2 tablespoons of grain mustard

Salt and pepper to season

Method:

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add salt.  Add the greens and cook until just tender.  Drain and plunge into iced water then drain.  Put aside.

Fry the bacon pieces until crisp.  Add the cooked greens, tossing them in the bacon fat until nicely coated.  

On a low heat, add the cream and the mustard, and season with salt and pepper, mixing everything well.  

Serve with bread for mopping up the juices.

 

Kale

Kale

Kale at Puntarelle&Co

Seasonal Produce News-February 2018

Seasonal Produce News-February 2018

  January King Cabbages    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands       FEBRUARY      January was a month when no two days seemed alike with oddly fluctuating temperatures but British-grown Brassicas and roots seemed to cope well.  In our January Report, we promised you Sicilian Citrus and it was worth waiting for.  Tarocco blood oranges, Nova Mandarins and Pink Grapefruits came on our direct-sourced pallets, and there is more citrus to look forward to this month.  Vibrant pink spears of Forced Yorkshire Rhubarb brought more colour and acidity to our shelves and the first fronds of crunchy, salty Agretti arrived too.            

January King Cabbages

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

FEBRUARY

 

January was a month when no two days seemed alike with oddly fluctuating temperatures but British-grown Brassicas and roots seemed to cope well.  In our January Report, we promised you Sicilian Citrus and it was worth waiting for.  Tarocco blood oranges, Nova Mandarins and Pink Grapefruits came on our direct-sourced pallets, and there is more citrus to look forward to this month.  Vibrant pink spears of Forced Yorkshire Rhubarb brought more colour and acidity to our shelves and the first fronds of crunchy, salty Agretti arrived too.

 

 

 

 

  Cauliflower    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands   As we enter the last full month of winter, British-grown Brassicas and Root Vegetables are our seasonal staples and we look to southern Europe for more tender crops.  Far from just a variation on green and brown, February’s colour palette is a vibrant one in the Puntarelle arch.   Right now   we have:   Vibrant pink-stemmed  Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb .   Probably the last of the  Seville Oranges  for making bitter marmalade and buttery curd but there will be common  Mandarins  that work well too.  Un-treated, un-waxed  Tarocco Blood Oranges ,  Nova Mandarins  and  Pink Grapefruits .  Deep red, sweet-sharp,  Pomegranates .  English  Purple Sprouting Broccoli , which is particularly good right now, and, creamy  Cauliflowers .   From Portugal, we have  Hispi Cabbage .  Crunchy, salty Italian  Camone and Marinda Winter Tomatoes .  From Italy too, bunches of the Mediterranean succulent  Barba di Frate/Agretti/Monk’s Beard ,  Purple Cauliflowers ,  Rainbow Chard ,  Bulb Fennel ,  Roman Artichokes  and spikey  Sardinian Artichokes .  Bitter-sweet Italian Greens this week are  Puntarelle  and  Cime di Rapa  and we have the first of the new season  Courgettes .  Several varieties of colourful bitter-sweet pink and red  Radicchio  and milder-leaved yellow/green  Endive .  Vitamin and mineral-rich British  Brassicas  including  Savoy Cabbage , green and purple hued  January King , blistered-leaved  Black Cabbage/Cavolo Nero ,  Kale ,  Brussels Sprouts  and  Brussels Tops .   Orange-skinned  Onion Squash .  Root vegetables including  Celeriac ,  Jerusalem Artichokes ,  Swede ,  Beetroot  and   organic  Heritage Carrots  are all British grown this week, as are the  Leeks .   Potato  varieties this week are  Cyprus  and  Desiree ,  Maris Piper , and waxy-fleshed  La Ratte .  Fresh organic  Ginger Root  and  Turmeric Root .  A freshly-stocked      londonfermentary.com   fridge.

Cauliflower

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

As we enter the last full month of winter, British-grown Brassicas and Root Vegetables are our seasonal staples and we look to southern Europe for more tender crops.  Far from just a variation on green and brown, February’s colour palette is a vibrant one in the Puntarelle arch.  Right now we have:

Vibrant pink-stemmed Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb

Probably the last of the Seville Oranges for making bitter marmalade and buttery curd but there will be common Mandarins that work well too.

Un-treated, un-waxed Tarocco Blood Oranges, Nova Mandarins and Pink Grapefruits.

Deep red, sweet-sharp, Pomegranates.

English Purple Sprouting Broccoli, which is particularly good right now, and, creamy Cauliflowers

From Portugal, we have Hispi Cabbage.

Crunchy, salty Italian Camone and Marinda Winter Tomatoes.

From Italy too, bunches of the Mediterranean succulent Barba di Frate/Agretti/Monk’s Beard, Purple Cauliflowers, Rainbow Chard, Bulb Fennel, Roman Artichokes and spikey Sardinian Artichokes.

Bitter-sweet Italian Greens this week are Puntarelle and Cime di Rapa and we have the first of the new season Courgettes.

Several varieties of colourful bitter-sweet pink and red Radicchio and milder-leaved yellow/green Endive.

Vitamin and mineral-rich British Brassicas including Savoy Cabbage, green and purple hued January King, blistered-leaved Black Cabbage/Cavolo Nero, Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Brussels Tops

Orange-skinned Onion Squash.

Root vegetables including Celeriac, Jerusalem Artichokes, Swede, Beetroot and organic Heritage Carrots are all British grown this week, as are the Leeks.

Potato varieties this week are Cyprus and Desiree, Maris Piper, and waxy-fleshed La Ratte.

Fresh organic Ginger Root and Turmeric Root.

A freshly-stocked  londonfermentary.com fridge.

 Our Ferments        Photo ©Puntarelle&Co

Our Ferments    

 Photo ©Puntarelle&Co

  Spikey Sardinian Artichokes    Photo ©Puntarelle&Co       Writing in the first few days of February, here is the  produce we     expect to have for you before this last full month of winter comes to a close:        Vibrant pink-stemmed  Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb  will continue throughout the month.   Un-treated, un-waxed  Tarocco Blood Oranges ,  Nova Mandarins , common  Mandarins  and  Pink Grapefruits  will be joined by  Lemons ,  Cedro  and  Kumquats .  Deep red sweet-sharp  Pomegranates .  English  Purple Sprouting Broccoli , which is particularly good in February, and creamy  Cauliflowers .  Hispi Cabbage  from southern Europe.  Crunchy, salty Italian  Camone and Marinda Winter Tomatoes .  From Italy too, bunches of the Mediterranean succulent  Barba di Frate/Agretti/Monk’s Beard ,  Purple Cauliflowers ,  Rainbow Chard ,  Bulb Fennel ,  Roman Artichokes  and spikey  Sardinian Artichokes .  Bitter-sweet Italian Greens like  Puntarelle  and  Cime di Rapa  and new season  Courgettes .  A variety of colourful, bitter-sweet pink and red  Radicchio  and milder-leaved yellow/green  Endive .  Vitamin and mineral-rich British  Brassicas  including  Savoy Cabbage , green and purple hued  January King , blistered-leaved  Black Cabbage/Cavolo Nero ,  Kale ,  Brussels Sprouts  and  Brussels Tops .  Orange-skinned  Onion Squash .  Root vegetables including  Celeriac ,  Jerusalem Artichokes ,  Swede ,  Beetroot  and   organic  Heritage Carrots  are all British grown this week.  English  Leeks  and Spanish  Calçot onions .   Potato  varieties this week are  Cyprus  and  Desiree ,  Maris Piper , and waxy-fleshed  La Ratte .  Fresh organic  Ginger Root  and  Turmeric Root .  A freshly-stocked   londonfermentary.com   fridge.

Spikey Sardinian Artichokes

Photo ©Puntarelle&Co

 

Writing in the first few days of February, here is the produce we expect to have for you before this last full month of winter comes to a close:  

 

Vibrant pink-stemmed Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb will continue throughout the month. 

Un-treated, un-waxed Tarocco Blood Oranges, Nova Mandarins, common Mandarins and Pink Grapefruits will be joined by Lemons, Cedro and Kumquats.

Deep red sweet-sharp Pomegranates.

English Purple Sprouting Broccoli, which is particularly good in February, and creamy Cauliflowers. Hispi Cabbage from southern Europe.

Crunchy, salty Italian Camone and Marinda Winter Tomatoes.

From Italy too, bunches of the Mediterranean succulent Barba di Frate/Agretti/Monk’s Beard, Purple Cauliflowers, Rainbow Chard, Bulb Fennel, Roman Artichokes and spikey Sardinian Artichokes.

Bitter-sweet Italian Greens like Puntarelle and Cime di Rapa and new season Courgettes.

A variety of colourful, bitter-sweet pink and red Radicchio and milder-leaved yellow/green Endive.

Vitamin and mineral-rich British Brassicas including Savoy Cabbage, green and purple hued January King, blistered-leaved Black Cabbage/Cavolo Nero, Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Brussels Tops.

Orange-skinned Onion Squash.

Root vegetables including Celeriac, Jerusalem Artichokes, Swede, Beetroot and organic Heritage Carrots are all British grown this week.

English Leeks and Spanish Calçot onions.

Potato varieties this week are Cyprus and Desiree, Maris Piper, and waxy-fleshed La Ratte.

Fresh organic Ginger Root and Turmeric Root.

A freshly-stocked londonfermentary.com fridge.

  Tarocco Orange    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands    NEWS:    Have you tried our  Pink Rhubarb Water Kefir ?  Also this week we have  Orange Water Kefir  made from some of our Sicilian Tarocco oranges.

Tarocco Orange

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

NEWS: 

Have you tried our Pink Rhubarb Water Kefir?  Also this week we have Orange Water Kefir made from some of our Sicilian Tarocco oranges.

  Forced Yorkshire Rhubarb & Tarocco Blood Orange about to go in the oven    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands        Here is a recipe using fruits that are at their best right now – that beautiful pink forced Yorkshire Rhubarb and Sicilian Blood Oranges.  It’s adapted from  Nigel Slate r’s recipe in  Tender Volume II  and I can think of no simpler way to celebrate these two wonderful ingredients together.        Rhubarb with Blood Orange   (serves 4-6)     750g Rhubarb  4 Blood Oranges  Caster Sugar  1 vanilla pod  Heat the oven to 200C (180C Fan).  Rinse the rhubarb, cut off and discard the leaves.  Chop the stems into short lengths and place in an oven-proof dish.  Remove the peel from two of the oranges, cutting away any white pith, then slice the fruit thickly and add it to the rhubarb.  Squeeze the juice from the remaining two oranges, and pour over the rhubarb.  Add a good tablespoon of sugar and the vanilla pod.  Cover the dish with foil and cook in the oven until the rhubarb yields to the pressure of a fork.  Check and adjust the sweetness to your taste.  Allow to cool then spoon into serving glasses, cover with clingfilm, and chill in the fridge for at least an hour but will keep for 2-3 days.   

Forced Yorkshire Rhubarb & Tarocco Blood Orange about to go in the oven

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

Here is a recipe using fruits that are at their best right now – that beautiful pink forced Yorkshire Rhubarb and Sicilian Blood Oranges.  It’s adapted from Nigel Slater’s recipe in Tender Volume II and I can think of no simpler way to celebrate these two wonderful ingredients together.  

 

Rhubarb with Blood Orange

(serves 4-6)

 

750g Rhubarb

4 Blood Oranges

Caster Sugar

1 vanilla pod

Heat the oven to 200C (180C Fan).

Rinse the rhubarb, cut off and discard the leaves.  Chop the stems into short lengths and place in an oven-proof dish.

Remove the peel from two of the oranges, cutting away any white pith, then slice the fruit thickly and add it to the rhubarb.

Squeeze the juice from the remaining two oranges, and pour over the rhubarb.

Add a good tablespoon of sugar and the vanilla pod.

Cover the dish with foil and cook in the oven until the rhubarb yields to the pressure of a fork.

Check and adjust the sweetness to your taste.

Allow to cool then spoon into serving glasses, cover with clingfilm, and chill in the fridge for at least an hour but will keep for 2-3 days.

 

SEASONAL PRODUCE NEWS - JANUARY 2018

SEASONAL PRODUCE NEWS - JANUARY 2018

  Marinda Winter Tomatoes    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands    JANUARY   An early nip of frost in December brought a tasty mix of English brassicas to our shelves.  Cabbages, Kales, Brussels Sprouts and Tops all benefited from the cold snap.  Italian bitter greens, Radicchio and Endives came to the fore.  Our mourning for the sweet tomatoes of summer was eased by the arrival of crunchy, salty Marinda and Camone winter varieties.   Weather conditions delayed our longed for Sicilian Tarocco Oranges, though we did have some Moro blood oranges for our customers to take home for Christmas.

Marinda Winter Tomatoes

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

JANUARY

An early nip of frost in December brought a tasty mix of English brassicas to our shelves.  Cabbages, Kales, Brussels Sprouts and Tops all benefited from the cold snap.  Italian bitter greens, Radicchio and Endives came to the fore.  Our mourning for the sweet tomatoes of summer was eased by the arrival of crunchy, salty Marinda and Camone winter varieties.   Weather conditions delayed our longed for Sicilian Tarocco Oranges, though we did have some Moro blood oranges for our customers to take home for Christmas.

  Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands   As we enter what is normally the coldest month of the year, there is a surprising amount to look forward to in the fruit and vegetable world to cut through the cold and grey.  Vibrant pink Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb, new season citrus; bitter-sweet yellow/green, pink and red Chicories; and the greens and purples of the brassicas are just the start.   As I write we have:      Tender pink stems of  Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb .    Seville Oranges  for making bitter marmalade and buttery curd.   Blood Oranges  for juicing or salads.  Deep red sweet-sharp  Pomegranates .  Crunchy, salty  Camone and Marinda Winter Tomatoes .  Bunches of the Mediterranean succulent Barba di Frate/Agretti/Monk’s Beard.  Bitter-sweet Italian  Chicoria  including  Puntarelle  (Catalogna) and  Cime di Rapa .  Several varieties of colourful bitter-sweet  Radicchio  and, milder,  Endive .  British  Brassicas  including  Savoy Cabbage , spectacular green and purple hued  January King , blistered  Black Cabbage  (Cavolo Nero), green and purple vitamin and mineral rich  Kale ,  Brussels Sprouts  and  Brussels Tops  which have benefited from a kiss of frost.  Beautiful English  Purple Sprouting Broccoli ,  Cauliflower  and swirling lime-green  Romanesco , with the creaminess of cauliflower and the taste of broccoli.    Root vegetables including  Celeriac ,  Jerusalem Artichokes ,  Swede ,  Beetroot  and   organic  Heritage Carrots  are all British grown this week, as are the  Leeks .  A variety of  Winter Squash  and  Pumpkins .   Potato  varieties this week are  Cyprus  and  Desiree ,  Maris Piper , and waxy-fleshed  Pink Fir Apple  and  La Ratte .  Fresh organic  Ginger Root  and  Turmeric Root .  A freshly-stocked  londonfermentary.com  fridge.

Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

As we enter what is normally the coldest month of the year, there is a surprising amount to look forward to in the fruit and vegetable world to cut through the cold and grey.  Vibrant pink Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb, new season citrus; bitter-sweet yellow/green, pink and red Chicories; and the greens and purples of the brassicas are just the start.  As I write we have:

 

Tender pink stems of Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb

Seville Oranges for making bitter marmalade and buttery curd.

Blood Oranges for juicing or salads.

Deep red sweet-sharp Pomegranates.

Crunchy, salty Camone and Marinda Winter Tomatoes.

Bunches of the Mediterranean succulent Barba di Frate/Agretti/Monk’s Beard.

Bitter-sweet Italian Chicoria including Puntarelle (Catalogna) and Cime di Rapa.

Several varieties of colourful bitter-sweet Radicchio and, milder, Endive.

British Brassicas including Savoy Cabbage, spectacular green and purple hued January King, blistered Black Cabbage (Cavolo Nero), green and purple vitamin and mineral rich Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Brussels Tops which have benefited from a kiss of frost.

Beautiful English Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Cauliflower and swirling lime-green Romanesco, with the creaminess of cauliflower and the taste of broccoli.  

Root vegetables including Celeriac, Jerusalem Artichokes, Swede, Beetroot and organic Heritage Carrots are all British grown this week, as are the Leeks.

A variety of Winter Squash and Pumpkins.

Potato varieties this week are Cyprus and Desiree, Maris Piper, and waxy-fleshed Pink Fir Apple and La Ratte.

Fresh organic Ginger Root and Turmeric Root.

A freshly-stocked londonfermentary.com fridge.

  Radicchio Treviso    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands   Writing from the viewpoint of the first week of January, here is the  produce we     expect to have for you in the first month of the New Year:     Tender pink stems of  Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb ,  Blood Oranges  for juicing and  Seville Oranges  for making bitter marmalade and buttery curd and deep-red  Pomegranates  will all be here   throughout the month.   You can expect to see crunchy, salty  Camone and Marinda Winter Tomatoes  too.  The Citrus will get ever-more interesting as the month progresses with our longed-for Sicilian fruits, including  Tarocco Oranges , arriving at last.  The season for the Mediterranean succulent  Barba di Frate/Agretti/Monk’s Beard , which pairs so well with fish, has just started so you will find this on our shelves.  Varieties of bitter-leaved Italian  Chicória  including  Puntarelle  (Catalogna) and  Cime di Rapa  along with colourful bitter-sweet  Radicchio  and, milder,  Endive  will continue to arrive.  British  Brassicas  including  Savoy Cabbage , spectacular green and purple hued  January King , several varieties of Kale, including blistered-leaved  Black Cabbage  (Cavolo Nero),  Brussels Sprouts  and  Brussels Tops  will be happy in our cold winter.  English  Purple Sprouting Broccoli ,  Cauliflower  and swirling lime-green  Romanesco  with the creaminess of cauliflower and taste of mild broccoli will be in too.    British Root vegetables, of course, including  Celeriac ,  Jerusalem Artichokes ,  Swede ,  Beetroot  and   organic  Heritage Carrots .  There should be English  Leeks  too.   Potato  varieties will include  Cyprus  and  Desiree ,  Maris Piper , and waxy-fleshed  Pink Fir Apple  and  La Ratte .  Those stalwarts of the cold months  Winter Squash  and  Pumpkins  will be available throughout the month.      Dessert Apple  and  Cooking Apple  varieties will be in from our Kent farmer, though pears will be coming from farther afield now.    As usual we will have fresh organic  Ginger Root  and  Turmeric Root  which we also use at   londonfermentary.com   

Radicchio Treviso

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Writing from the viewpoint of the first week of January, here is the produce we expect to have for you in the first month of the New Year:  

Tender pink stems of Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb, Blood Oranges for juicing and Seville Oranges for making bitter marmalade and buttery curd and deep-red Pomegranates will all be here throughout the month. 

You can expect to see crunchy, salty Camone and Marinda Winter Tomatoes too.

The Citrus will get ever-more interesting as the month progresses with our longed-for Sicilian fruits, including Tarocco Oranges, arriving at last.

The season for the Mediterranean succulent Barba di Frate/Agretti/Monk’s Beard, which pairs so well with fish, has just started so you will find this on our shelves.

Varieties of bitter-leaved Italian Chicória including Puntarelle (Catalogna) and Cime di Rapa along with colourful bitter-sweet Radicchio and, milder, Endive will continue to arrive.

British Brassicas including Savoy Cabbage, spectacular green and purple hued January King, several varieties of Kale, including blistered-leaved Black Cabbage (Cavolo Nero), Brussels Sprouts and Brussels Tops will be happy in our cold winter.

English Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Cauliflower and swirling lime-green Romanesco with the creaminess of cauliflower and taste of mild broccoli will be in too.  

British Root vegetables, of course, including Celeriac, Jerusalem Artichokes, Swede, Beetroot and organic Heritage Carrots.

There should be English Leeks too.

Potato varieties will include Cyprus and Desiree, Maris Piper, and waxy-fleshed Pink Fir Apple and La Ratte.

Those stalwarts of the cold months Winter Squash and Pumpkins will be available throughout the month.

 

Dessert Apple and Cooking Apple varieties will be in from our Kent farmer, though pears will be coming from farther afield now.  

As usual we will have fresh organic Ginger Root and Turmeric Root which we also use at  londonfermentary.com  

  Cavolo Nero/Black Cabbage     Photo ©Puntarelle&Co Ltd    GOOD TO KNOW:     *** Puntarelle & Co will be back from holidays and trading normally from 12/13 January 2018 ***

Cavolo Nero/Black Cabbage

Photo ©Puntarelle&Co Ltd

GOOD TO KNOW: 

*** Puntarelle & Co will be back from holidays and trading normally from 12/13 January 2018 ***

  Agretti/ Barba di frate /Monk’s Beard    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands   The Mediterranean vegetable  Agretti , also known as  Barba di frate  or  Monk’s Beard  has the mineral sharpness of spinach with an added grassy succulence that compares with English Samphire.  Boiled briefly in salted water, it makes a fantastic accompaniment to fish and is excellent added to a fish broth.  If you want to make this vegetable the main event, rather than an addition, here’s a simple idea that can be used in two different ways:   Agretti with Anchovy Butter   (Serves 2)  1 Bunch of Agretti  60g (2 oz) unsalted butter  1 small tin (around 50g) anchovies  Pepper  Wash the Agretti well, trim off any tough roots before adding to boiling salted water.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, drain and refresh in a bowl of cold water.  Melt the butter gently, drain the anchovies of their oil and add the fish to the butter.  Cook, stirring, just until the anchovies break down to form a butter sauce.    Drain the Agretti and add it to the sauce with a grinding of pepper.  Heat through gently.  To serve:     Pile onto two slices of toasted bread   OR  Add cooked spaghetti, linguine or other ribbon pasta and toss through the sauce to coat the pasta, adding a spoonful or two of pasta water to loosen the mix.  Top with fried breadcrumbs.

Agretti/ Barba di frate /Monk’s Beard

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

The Mediterranean vegetable Agretti, also known as Barba di frate or Monk’s Beard has the mineral sharpness of spinach with an added grassy succulence that compares with English Samphire.  Boiled briefly in salted water, it makes a fantastic accompaniment to fish and is excellent added to a fish broth.  If you want to make this vegetable the main event, rather than an addition, here’s a simple idea that can be used in two different ways:

Agretti with Anchovy Butter

(Serves 2)

1 Bunch of Agretti

60g (2 oz) unsalted butter

1 small tin (around 50g) anchovies

Pepper

Wash the Agretti well, trim off any tough roots before adding to boiling salted water.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, drain and refresh in a bowl of cold water.

Melt the butter gently, drain the anchovies of their oil and add the fish to the butter.  Cook, stirring, just until the anchovies break down to form a butter sauce.  

Drain the Agretti and add it to the sauce with a grinding of pepper.  Heat through gently.

To serve:     Pile onto two slices of toasted bread 

OR

Add cooked spaghetti, linguine or other ribbon pasta and toss through the sauce to coat the pasta, adding a spoonful or two of pasta water to loosen the mix.  Top with fried breadcrumbs.

CELERIAC

CELERIAC

  Celeriac Root    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands       Celeriac      Beige, warty-skinned, a beard of tangled roots,  Celeriac  is a vegetable with a serious image problem.  It’s a member of the Celery family but couldn’t look more different.  If you’ve eaten Celeriac before, then you know how delicious this root can be.  If you haven’t encountered it, or have felt it best to look away, let us convince you of its merits.     Along with a mild celery flavour, Celeriac has the earthiness you’d expect from a root vegetable but also a minerality and a slightly sweet nuttiness.   It can be boiled, mashed, roasted, made into a soup or eaten raw, making it far more versatile than its strongly-flavoured cousin.  The exposed flesh oxidises quickly, so, unless you are going to use it straight away, you need to drop prepared celeriac into acidulated water to prevent discolouration.       Celeriac makes a great mash, particularly when combined with an equal amount of potato.  Enriched with butter and seasoned, it pairs well with beef and game dishes.  Sliced and layered with an equal quantity of potatoes, a sliced fried onion and a sprig of thyme it works well as a gratin too.  After layering, fill the dish half way up with vegetable or chicken stock, season, top with a little butter and bake in a medium oven, covered for 30 mins, then uncovered for a further 30 mins. It makes a very good soup married with potatoes, onion, garlic, chilli and stock then whizzed to a puree – a little cream and a topping of toasted hazelnuts or fried bacon is a good idea.  If you’re feeling adventurous, you can bake a celeriac whole in a salt crust– maybe one best left to the chefs.  We really enjoy Celeriac in its raw state and it’s hard to beat the French classic Celeriac Remoulade – Mix the juice of 1 lemon, salt, pepper, 2-3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 125ml mayonnaise, and 2 tablespoons of cream in a large bowl.  Slice a medium sized celeriac into juilienne strips and add them immediately to the dressing.  Serve alongside sliced cooked ham or top with sliced raw chestnuts mushrooms and roasted hazelnuts.    But here is our favourite raw salad:  Mix a vinaigrette dressing using good olive oil and a fruity vinegar (quantities 3:1) to an emulsion.  Add salt and pepper and some favourite chopped herbs.  Grate roughly equal amounts of Celeriac, Apple and colourful Heritage Carrots into the dressing.  Add chopped nuts and mix well.  Celeriac roots can stay in the ground right through winter if protected from prolonged frosts.  They also sit happily in the fridge so are a great vegetable to keep in.  At this time of year root vegetables come into their own, so next time you’re shopping with us you might want to take a fresh look at that beige, warty-skinned globe.   

Celeriac Root

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

Celeriac

 

Beige, warty-skinned, a beard of tangled roots, Celeriac is a vegetable with a serious image problem.  It’s a member of the Celery family but couldn’t look more different.  If you’ve eaten Celeriac before, then you know how delicious this root can be.  If you haven’t encountered it, or have felt it best to look away, let us convince you of its merits.

 

Along with a mild celery flavour, Celeriac has the earthiness you’d expect from a root vegetable but also a minerality and a slightly sweet nuttiness.   It can be boiled, mashed, roasted, made into a soup or eaten raw, making it far more versatile than its strongly-flavoured cousin.  The exposed flesh oxidises quickly, so, unless you are going to use it straight away, you need to drop prepared celeriac into acidulated water to prevent discolouration.  

 

Celeriac makes a great mash, particularly when combined with an equal amount of potato.  Enriched with butter and seasoned, it pairs well with beef and game dishes.  Sliced and layered with an equal quantity of potatoes, a sliced fried onion and a sprig of thyme it works well as a gratin too.  After layering, fill the dish half way up with vegetable or chicken stock, season, top with a little butter and bake in a medium oven, covered for 30 mins, then uncovered for a further 30 mins. It makes a very good soup married with potatoes, onion, garlic, chilli and stock then whizzed to a puree – a little cream and a topping of toasted hazelnuts or fried bacon is a good idea.  If you’re feeling adventurous, you can bake a celeriac whole in a salt crust– maybe one best left to the chefs.

We really enjoy Celeriac in its raw state and it’s hard to beat the French classic Celeriac Remoulade – Mix the juice of 1 lemon, salt, pepper, 2-3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 125ml mayonnaise, and 2 tablespoons of cream in a large bowl.  Slice a medium sized celeriac into juilienne strips and add them immediately to the dressing.  Serve alongside sliced cooked ham or top with sliced raw chestnuts mushrooms and roasted hazelnuts.  

But here is our favourite raw salad:  Mix a vinaigrette dressing using good olive oil and a fruity vinegar (quantities 3:1) to an emulsion.  Add salt and pepper and some favourite chopped herbs.  Grate roughly equal amounts of Celeriac, Apple and colourful Heritage Carrots into the dressing.  Add chopped nuts and mix well.

Celeriac roots can stay in the ground right through winter if protected from prolonged frosts.  They also sit happily in the fridge so are a great vegetable to keep in.  At this time of year root vegetables come into their own, so next time you’re shopping with us you might want to take a fresh look at that beige, warty-skinned globe.

 

RADICCHIO

RADICCHIO

  Castelfranco Radicchio    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands    Radicchio   There are two main varieties of cultivated chicory – the Endives which come in curly and broad-leaved varieties (which we will cover in a future bulletin) and the Radicchio which is the most colourful member of the chicory family and the one we focus on here.   Radicchi  is an Italian word for weeds that grow wild in the Mediterranean region.  The  Radicchio , and other members of the chicory family ( Cichorium ) that come through our doors are cultivated varieties of these.  The farming world has worked for thousands of years to reduce bitterness in crops including lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers and aubergines.  But some crops are still prized for this quality and Radicchio is one.  Many cultures take bitterness as a signal of medicinal value.  Each variety of Radicchio is named for one of the towns in the Italian Veneto where the crop has PGI (Protected geographical indication) status:  Chioggia , round and white-ribbed like a small red cabbage;  Treviso , the ‘ Prococe’  type having wide burgundy leaves forming a loose head and the later  ‘Tardivo’  type that has more tightly packed leaves that curl into a twist at the top;  Verona , smaller with deep red leaves and a loose oval shape; and  Castelfranco , its creamy yellow rose-like leaves splashed with wine-red being perhaps the most eye-catching.  In Radicchio, the extent of bitter compounds varies with  Treviso  containing most and  Chioggia  and  Castelfranco  the least.  The technique of blanching, growing in cold and dark conditions, ( imbianchimento  in Italian) brings out the red hues in what would otherwise be a largely green-leaved crop.  

Castelfranco Radicchio

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Radicchio

There are two main varieties of cultivated chicory – the Endives which come in curly and broad-leaved varieties (which we will cover in a future bulletin) and the Radicchio which is the most colourful member of the chicory family and the one we focus on here.

Radicchi is an Italian word for weeds that grow wild in the Mediterranean region.  The Radicchio, and other members of the chicory family (Cichorium) that come through our doors are cultivated varieties of these.  The farming world has worked for thousands of years to reduce bitterness in crops including lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers and aubergines.  But some crops are still prized for this quality and Radicchio is one.  Many cultures take bitterness as a signal of medicinal value.

Each variety of Radicchio is named for one of the towns in the Italian Veneto where the crop has PGI (Protected geographical indication) status: Chioggia, round and white-ribbed like a small red cabbage; Treviso, the ‘Prococe’ type having wide burgundy leaves forming a loose head and the later ‘Tardivo’ type that has more tightly packed leaves that curl into a twist at the top; Verona, smaller with deep red leaves and a loose oval shape; and Castelfranco, its creamy yellow rose-like leaves splashed with wine-red being perhaps the most eye-catching.  In Radicchio, the extent of bitter compounds varies with Treviso containing most and Chioggia and Castelfranco the least.  The technique of blanching, growing in cold and dark conditions, (imbianchimento in Italian) brings out the red hues in what would otherwise be a largely green-leaved crop.  

 Treviso  Photo © Puntarelle & Co Ltd   Served as a salad leaf, Radicchio pairs beautifully with orange.  The chef Florence Knight has a recipe in her book ‘One’ for mildly astringent Castelfranco mixed with prosciutto and toasted hazelnuts and dressed with an orange vinaigrette.  Cooking Radicchio intensifies its bitter qualities and adds a delicious counterpoint to rich, fatty foods – just think of a bacon and dandelion salad.  Subjected to a little charring on a grill, a more bitter Radicchio like  Treviso  pairs wonderfully well with a soft, creamy cheese like ricotta, goat’s curd or a blue cheese, maybe Gorgonzola, Stilton or Stichelton.  Simply chop the radicchio into quarters, coat lightly in olive oil, season and grill until lightly browned and softened then serve scattered with pieces of the cheese and a vinaigrette dressing.  A few toasted and salted walnuts wouldn’t go amiss.  

Treviso Photo © Puntarelle & Co Ltd

Served as a salad leaf, Radicchio pairs beautifully with orange.  The chef Florence Knight has a recipe in her book ‘One’ for mildly astringent Castelfranco mixed with prosciutto and toasted hazelnuts and dressed with an orange vinaigrette.  Cooking Radicchio intensifies its bitter qualities and adds a delicious counterpoint to rich, fatty foods – just think of a bacon and dandelion salad.  Subjected to a little charring on a grill, a more bitter Radicchio like Treviso pairs wonderfully well with a soft, creamy cheese like ricotta, goat’s curd or a blue cheese, maybe Gorgonzola, Stilton or Stichelton.  Simply chop the radicchio into quarters, coat lightly in olive oil, season and grill until lightly browned and softened then serve scattered with pieces of the cheese and a vinaigrette dressing.  A few toasted and salted walnuts wouldn’t go amiss.  

 Round Radicchio  Photo © Puntarelle & Co Ltd

Round Radicchio Photo © Puntarelle & Co Ltd

DECEMBER 2017

DECEMBER 2017

Seasonal Produce News - December 2017

  January King Cabbages    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands    DECEMBER   November went out with a cold snap.  Good for the British Brassicas and Root vegetables which will only get tastier for a blast of frost, but continuing cold will be bad news for more tender leaf crops like Chard.  English Apples and Pears were to the fore in November and the variety of new season citrus began to increase.  Another highlight was the arrival of short season Fenland Celery and bitter leaves from Italy in the form of Chicoria and Radicchio.    

January King Cabbages

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

DECEMBER

November went out with a cold snap.  Good for the British Brassicas and Root vegetables which will only get tastier for a blast of frost, but continuing cold will be bad news for more tender leaf crops like Chard.  English Apples and Pears were to the fore in November and the variety of new season citrus began to increase.  Another highlight was the arrival of short season Fenland Celery and bitter leaves from Italy in the form of Chicoria and Radicchio.    

  Castelfranco Radicchio    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands   Writing on the first day of December, colours and textures catching my eye are smooth and deep-cleft Pumpkins in greens, flame-reds and burnished browns; crinkly-leaved emerald, black/green and purple hued Brassicas; yellow and pale green and orange Citrus, including the first Tarocco oranges; deep red Pomegranates; and frills of Radicchio in yellows, pinks and burgundies.  And then there is our London Fermentary fridge, filled with jars and bottles of vibrant Fermented vegetables, sauces and Water Kefirs.  Scent comes from the boxes of Quince to my left.   Right now we have:     British  Brassicas  including  Savoy Cabbage , spectacular green and purple hued  January King , deeply crinkled  Black Cabbage  (Cavolo Nero), green and purple  Kale ,  Brussels Sprouts  and  Brussels Tops  which have benefited from a kiss of frost.  Beautiful English  Purple Sprouting Broccoli ,  Cauliflower  and swirling lime-green  Romanesco , with the creaminess of cauliflower and the taste of broccoli.    Root vegetables including  Celeriac ,  Jerusalem Artichoke ,  Swede , and  Beetroot  are all British grown this week, as are the  Leeks  and  Fenland Celery .  There is French  Scorzonera  and also organic  Heritage Carrots .   English Chard  growth is slowing so leaves are also coming in from kinder European climes as temperatures fall here.  There is  Watercress  still from our Sussex Farmer,  Kingfisher .  Pale green  Kohlrabi  is here from Italy.   Roscoff Onions  from France and large, sweet  White Onions  from Italy.  The cold-weather bitter greens from Italy include  Puntarelle  (Catalogna) and  Cime di Rapa .    Bitter leaves in the form of  Radicchio   Treviso  ( Prococe  and  Tardivo  types now), yellow, red-flecked  Castelfranco , round  Chioggia , rose-like  Pink Radicchio ,   and large-leaved green  Escarole .  Joining the party this week is the beautiful frilly white/yellow  Riccetta .  The mild inner leaves of both Escarole and Riccetta are fantastic in salads while the coarser outer leaves can be cooked.   Winter Squash  and  Pumpkins  -  Red Kuri (Onion Squash) , French  Spaghetti Squash  and burnished  Musquee de Provence Pumpkins  and  Delica Pumpkins  from Italy.    Potato  varieties this week are  Cyprus    and  Desiree  and both of our waxy-fleshed favourites: English  Pink Fir Apple  and  La Ratte  from France.     Dessert Apple  varieties from our Kent farmer this week are  Cox,   Crown Gold ,  Kent , and  Russet .  We have  Bramley  cooking apples from them too.  The  Pears  have been particularly good this year and the farm has supplied us with  Comice  and  Conference .    Pomegranates  this week are from Spain.  We also have ripe  Cachi/Persimmons  from Italy.  The first    Tarocco Oranges  from Sicily.  Being early season, they lack blush to the skin and may not yet have developed much colour to the flesh but we welcome their arrival.    There are   Italian  Navelina, Clementines  and  Leafy Lemons , and  Bergamots  too.  We also have good quality Spanish  Clementines .    Crunchy, salty winter  Camone  and  Marinda   Tomatoes .  Fresh organic  Ginger Root  and  Turmeric Root .

Castelfranco Radicchio

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Writing on the first day of December, colours and textures catching my eye are smooth and deep-cleft Pumpkins in greens, flame-reds and burnished browns; crinkly-leaved emerald, black/green and purple hued Brassicas; yellow and pale green and orange Citrus, including the first Tarocco oranges; deep red Pomegranates; and frills of Radicchio in yellows, pinks and burgundies.  And then there is our London Fermentary fridge, filled with jars and bottles of vibrant Fermented vegetables, sauces and Water Kefirs.  Scent comes from the boxes of Quince to my left.  Right now we have:  

British Brassicas including Savoy Cabbage, spectacular green and purple hued January King, deeply crinkled Black Cabbage (Cavolo Nero), green and purple Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Brussels Tops which have benefited from a kiss of frost.

Beautiful English Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Cauliflower and swirling lime-green Romanesco, with the creaminess of cauliflower and the taste of broccoli.  

Root vegetables including Celeriac, Jerusalem Artichoke, Swede, and Beetroot are all British grown this week, as are the Leeks and Fenland Celery.  There is French Scorzonera and also organic Heritage Carrots.

English Chard growth is slowing so leaves are also coming in from kinder European climes as temperatures fall here.  There is Watercress still from our Sussex Farmer, Kingfisher.

Pale green Kohlrabi is here from Italy.

Roscoff Onions from France and large, sweet White Onions from Italy.

The cold-weather bitter greens from Italy include Puntarelle (Catalogna) and Cime di Rapa.  

Bitter leaves in the form of Radicchio Treviso (Prococe and Tardivo types now), yellow, red-flecked Castelfranco, round Chioggia, rose-like Pink Radicchio, and large-leaved green Escarole.  Joining the party this week is the beautiful frilly white/yellow Riccetta.  The mild inner leaves of both Escarole and Riccetta are fantastic in salads while the coarser outer leaves can be cooked.

Winter Squash and Pumpkins - Red Kuri (Onion Squash), French Spaghetti Squash and burnished Musquee de Provence Pumpkins and Delica Pumpkins from Italy. 

Potato varieties this week are Cyprus and Desiree and both of our waxy-fleshed favourites: English Pink Fir Apple and La Ratte from France.  

Dessert Apple varieties from our Kent farmer this week are Cox, Crown Gold, Kent, and Russet.  We have Bramley cooking apples from them too.  The Pears have been particularly good this year and the farm has supplied us with Comice and Conference

Pomegranates this week are from Spain.  We also have ripe Cachi/Persimmons from Italy.

The first Tarocco Oranges from Sicily.  Being early season, they lack blush to the skin and may not yet have developed much colour to the flesh but we welcome their arrival.  There are Italian Navelina, Clementines and Leafy Lemons, and Bergamots too.  We also have good quality Spanish Clementines.  

Crunchy, salty winter Camone and Marinda Tomatoes.

Fresh organic Ginger Root and Turmeric Root.

  Romanesco    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands   So, in the final month of the year,  what produce can we     expect to see during the rest of December?     British  Brassicas  including  Savoy Cabbage , spectacular green and purple hued  January King , deeply crinkled  Black Cabbage  (Cavolo Nero), green and purple  Kale ,  Brussels Sprouts  and  Brussels Tops  which get better after a little frost.  We expect to have English  Purple Sprouting Broccoli  through the month.   Cauliflower  and  Romanesco , with its always-astonishing natural lime-green colour – the creaminess of cauliflower with the taste of broccoli.    British-grown Root vegetables including  Celeriac ,  Jerusalem Artichoke ,  Swede , and  Beetroot ,  Leeks  and  Fenland Celery .  There will be  Salsify  or  Scorzonera  and also organic  Heritage Carrots .   English Chard  growth is slowing so we can expect leaves to come in from kinder European climes as temperatures fall here.  We expect the  Watercress  from our Sussex Farmer,  Kingfisher , to continue.   Roscoff Onions  from France.  The cold-weather bitter greens from Italy including  Puntarelle  (Catalogna) and  Cime di Rapa  should continue.    We should have bitter leaves throughout the month.  Expect to see heads of  Radicchio   Treviso  ( Prococe  and  Tardivo  types), yellow, red-flecked  Castelfranco , round red/white  Chioggia , rose-like  Pink Radicchio ,   large-leaved green/white  Escarole  and frilly white/yellow  Riccetta .  The mild inner leaves of both Escarole and Riccetta are fantastic in salads while the coarser outer leaves can be cooked.   Winter Squash  and  Pumpkins  -  Red Kuri (Onion Squash) , burnished  Musquee de Provence Pumpkins  and  Delica Pumpkins .    Potato  varieties are likely to be  Cyprus ,  Desiree  and both of our waxy-fleshed favourites: English  Pink Fir Apple  and  La Ratte  from France.     Dessert Apple  varieties and  Bramley  cookers from our Kent farmer will continue to arrive.  We should also have  Pears  which are likely to be  Comice  and  Conference .    Pomegranates  throughout the month.  Supplies of  Tarocco Oranges , and  Citrus  in general, will increase as the month progresses.    Crunchy, salty winter  Camone  and  Marinda   Tomatoes  throughout December.  Don’t forget our fresh organic  Ginger Root  and  Turmeric Root .  On the run-up to Christmas we will have plenty of stocks of  Nuts   in their shells ,  Dried Fruits , fresh  Cranberries  and vacuum-packed  Chestnuts .    We will also have more of those juicy Bottle-Nosed  Pineapples .

Romanesco

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

So, in the final month of the year, what produce can we expect to see during the rest of December?  

British Brassicas including Savoy Cabbage, spectacular green and purple hued January King, deeply crinkled Black Cabbage (Cavolo Nero), green and purple Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Brussels Tops which get better after a little frost.

We expect to have English Purple Sprouting Broccoli through the month.  Cauliflower and Romanesco, with its always-astonishing natural lime-green colour – the creaminess of cauliflower with the taste of broccoli.  

British-grown Root vegetables including Celeriac, Jerusalem Artichoke, Swede, and Beetroot, Leeks and Fenland Celery.  There will be Salsify or Scorzonera and also organic Heritage Carrots.

English Chard growth is slowing so we can expect leaves to come in from kinder European climes as temperatures fall here.  We expect the Watercress from our Sussex Farmer, Kingfisher, to continue.

Roscoff Onions from France.

The cold-weather bitter greens from Italy including Puntarelle (Catalogna) and Cime di Rapa should continue.  

We should have bitter leaves throughout the month.  Expect to see heads of Radicchio Treviso (Prococe and Tardivo types), yellow, red-flecked Castelfranco, round red/white Chioggia, rose-like Pink Radicchio, large-leaved green/white Escarole and frilly white/yellow Riccetta.  The mild inner leaves of both Escarole and Riccetta are fantastic in salads while the coarser outer leaves can be cooked.

Winter Squash and Pumpkins - Red Kuri (Onion Squash), burnished Musquee de Provence Pumpkins and Delica Pumpkins

Potato varieties are likely to be Cyprus, Desiree and both of our waxy-fleshed favourites: English Pink Fir Apple and La Ratte from France.  

Dessert Apple varieties and Bramley cookers from our Kent farmer will continue to arrive.  We should also have Pears which are likely to be Comice and Conference

Pomegranates throughout the month.

Supplies of Tarocco Oranges, and Citrus in general, will increase as the month progresses.  

Crunchy, salty winter Camone and Marinda Tomatoes throughout December.

Don’t forget our fresh organic Ginger Root and Turmeric Root.

On the run-up to Christmas we will have plenty of stocks of Nuts in their shells, Dried Fruits, fresh Cranberries and vacuum-packed Chestnuts.  

We will also have more of those juicy Bottle-Nosed Pineapples.

  Sicilian Early Season Tarocco Oranges    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands    GOOD TO KNOW:    As we race towards Christmas, a word about opening hours.   Our Arch at Spa Terminus will be open: 21, 22 and 23 December 08.00-at least 13.00   Please get in touch if you would like to pre-order for collection on any of these days.  We can be contacted by email on:  hello@puntarelle.co.uk   Throughout December we will be selling our seasonal Water Kefirs as usual.  Going into winter, you can expect flavours that match this festive time with spices, citrus and dried fruit notes to the fore.  Examples are:   Pumpkin & Orange Spice Water Kefir   With notes of orange, and gingerbread, we think this seasonal Kefir catches the mood of the time of year perfectly.     Beetroot & Ginger Water Kefir   We had the idea to harness the natural sugars, earthy flavours and dramatic pigment in beetroot for this spicy Kefir and the results, we think, are very pleasing.  Like all our Water Kefirs, these unpasteurised fermented drinks bring beneficial micro-organisms, B vitamins, minerals and enzymes in a slightly sour, zingy, low sugar form.  More about our range of Fermented products at:  www.londonfermentary.com

Sicilian Early Season Tarocco Oranges

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

GOOD TO KNOW: 

As we race towards Christmas, a word about opening hours.  Our Arch at Spa Terminus will be open: 21, 22 and 23 December 08.00-at least 13.00

Please get in touch if you would like to pre-order for collection on any of these days.  We can be contacted by email on: hello@puntarelle.co.uk

Throughout December we will be selling our seasonal Water Kefirs as usual.  Going into winter, you can expect flavours that match this festive time with spices, citrus and dried fruit notes to the fore.  Examples are:

Pumpkin & Orange Spice Water Kefir

With notes of orange, and gingerbread, we think this seasonal Kefir catches the mood of the time of year perfectly.  

Beetroot & Ginger Water Kefir

We had the idea to harness the natural sugars, earthy flavours and dramatic pigment in beetroot for this spicy Kefir and the results, we think, are very pleasing.

Like all our Water Kefirs, these unpasteurised fermented drinks bring beneficial micro-organisms, B vitamins, minerals and enzymes in a slightly sour, zingy, low sugar form.  More about our range of Fermented products at: www.londonfermentary.com

  White Bean and Escarole Soup    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands   Escarole is one of the sturdier bitter leaves of the Radicchio family and it’s at its best at this time of year.  It works well in hot dishes, particularly soups and if there was ever a time for hot soups, it’s now.  Any white bean will do for this dish and you can use tinned beans if you prefer.  You could replace Escarole with something like Cime di Rapa if you blanch the greens first.    Cannellini bean and escarole soup   250g dried cannellini beans (500g cooked) 1 whole carrot 1 whole stick of celery Half a white onion 2 plump garlic cloves, sliced 1-2 small dried chillies, deseeded and crumbled A handful of basil leaves, torn (or a little basil pesto) a handful of parsley, roughly chopped At least 6 roughly torn escarole leaves 50g parmesan, plus more to serve Extra virgin olive oil Salt & pepper   Soak the beans overnight in plenty of cold water.  Drain and bring to the boil in a large pan of fresh water with the whole carrot, celery stick and half onion.  Reduce to a simmer for an hour or more (depending on freshness of the beans).  When the beans are soft, discard the vegetables.  Remove a quarter of the beans, puree and then return them to the pan to thicken the soup.    Gently fry the garlic and chilli in olive oil without browning.  Add the parsley, the fresh basil (if using) and escarole and cook for 1 minute to wilt.  Add this to the pot of beans.  Add grated Parmesan and salt and pepper and the basil pesto (if using).  Serve with a swirl of good olive oil and extra Parmesan. 

White Bean and Escarole Soup

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Escarole is one of the sturdier bitter leaves of the Radicchio family and it’s at its best at this time of year.  It works well in hot dishes, particularly soups and if there was ever a time for hot soups, it’s now.  Any white bean will do for this dish and you can use tinned beans if you prefer.  You could replace Escarole with something like Cime di Rapa if you blanch the greens first. 

Cannellini bean and escarole soup

250g dried cannellini beans (500g cooked)
1 whole carrot
1 whole stick of celery
Half a white onion
2 plump garlic cloves, sliced
1-2 small dried chillies, deseeded and crumbled
A handful of basil leaves, torn (or a little basil pesto)
a handful of parsley, roughly chopped
At least 6 roughly torn escarole leaves
50g parmesan, plus more to serve
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper

Soak the beans overnight in plenty of cold water.  Drain and bring to the boil in a large pan of fresh water with the whole carrot, celery stick and half onion.  Reduce to a simmer for an hour or more (depending on freshness of the beans).  When the beans are soft, discard the vegetables.  Remove a quarter of the beans, puree and then return them to the pan to thicken the soup.

Gently fry the garlic and chilli in olive oil without browning.  Add the parsley, the fresh basil (if using) and escarole and cook for 1 minute to wilt.  Add this to the pot of beans.  Add grated Parmesan and salt and pepper and the basil pesto (if using).  Serve with a swirl of good olive oil and extra Parmesan. 

CHARD

CHARD

Rainbow Chard 

SALSIFY

SALSIFY

  Scorzonera     Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands    Salsify & Scorzonera    Salsify  and  Scorzonera  are similar in taste even though they are not varieties of the same plant.  Botanically distinct, Salsify ( Tragopogon porrifolius ) is identifiable by its pale creamy-brown skin and slightly tapered shape, somewhere between a long thin parsnip and a carrot.  It’s often referred to as ‘White Salsify’.  The darker brown/black root, which hardly tapers at all but looks more like a cigar, is  Scorzonera hispanica , commonly called Scorzonera or, confusingly, ‘Black Salsify’.  Further confusion comes from Salsify sometimes being called the “oyster plant” for some past perceived flavour resemblance to the bivalve.  This quality is not generally detectable in modern-day plants, which is probably for the best.    Scorzonera is more common than Salsify and easier to work with.  Being similar in flavour they are interchangeable in recipes.  You are unlikely to be offered Burdock root ( Arctium lappa ) in the UK but it has a similar appearance and is valued in Japan where it is known as Gobo.  All three are members of the Lettuce family and their leaves are perfectly edible when young.  Salsify and Scorzonera are welcome additions to the root vegetable line-up we rely on so much through the winter months.  Both are high in essential vitamins and minerals and the roots are much appreciated by ingredient-led chefs for their texture and flavour.  The texture of Salsify and Scorzonera is crisp and waxy in a similar way to Jerusalem Artichoke but some think their flavour is closer to that of the Globe Artichoke.  Their earthy appearance may not be appealing at first sight but they are easy to prepare and to cook.  After scrubbing them clean, top and tail and cut them into manageable lengths.  Peel them and, as they oxidise quickly, drop the prepared pieces into a bowl of acidulated water to prevent discolouration.  They can then be dried, tossed in oil, sprinkled with thyme, salt and pepper and roasted in a hot oven for around 30 minutes.  But there are other ways to use these roots.  Boil in salted water, or steam, until just tender (not mushy) – thin ones can take around 10 minutes but thicker ones will need around 25 minutes.  The simplest way to serve them is to drain, toss in vinaigrette dressing while still warm and serve at room temperature.  Alternatively, drain, plunge the boiled roots into cold water then dry them on kitchen paper.  Their crisp, waxy texture makes for a wonderful fritter - dip in a light batter and fry in oil. Alternatively, treat them like asparagus and simply cover them with Hollandaise sauce.  You could finish them in butter on a medium heat until they turn golden-brown, adding chopped herbs before serving - particularly good with roasted or casseroled beef or roast chicken - add a splash of cream at the end if you want something richer.   Salsify and Scorzonera are in season from October to February  so we should have one or the other right through winter.   

Scorzonera

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Salsify & Scorzonera

Salsify and Scorzonera are similar in taste even though they are not varieties of the same plant.  Botanically distinct, Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) is identifiable by its pale creamy-brown skin and slightly tapered shape, somewhere between a long thin parsnip and a carrot.  It’s often referred to as ‘White Salsify’.  The darker brown/black root, which hardly tapers at all but looks more like a cigar, is Scorzonera hispanica, commonly called Scorzonera or, confusingly, ‘Black Salsify’.  Further confusion comes from Salsify sometimes being called the “oyster plant” for some past perceived flavour resemblance to the bivalve.  This quality is not generally detectable in modern-day plants, which is probably for the best.  

Scorzonera is more common than Salsify and easier to work with.  Being similar in flavour they are interchangeable in recipes.  You are unlikely to be offered Burdock root (Arctium lappa) in the UK but it has a similar appearance and is valued in Japan where it is known as Gobo.  All three are members of the Lettuce family and their leaves are perfectly edible when young.  Salsify and Scorzonera are welcome additions to the root vegetable line-up we rely on so much through the winter months.  Both are high in essential vitamins and minerals and the roots are much appreciated by ingredient-led chefs for their texture and flavour.

The texture of Salsify and Scorzonera is crisp and waxy in a similar way to Jerusalem Artichoke but some think their flavour is closer to that of the Globe Artichoke.  Their earthy appearance may not be appealing at first sight but they are easy to prepare and to cook.  After scrubbing them clean, top and tail and cut them into manageable lengths.  Peel them and, as they oxidise quickly, drop the prepared pieces into a bowl of acidulated water to prevent discolouration.  They can then be dried, tossed in oil, sprinkled with thyme, salt and pepper and roasted in a hot oven for around 30 minutes.  But there are other ways to use these roots.  Boil in salted water, or steam, until just tender (not mushy) – thin ones can take around 10 minutes but thicker ones will need around 25 minutes.  The simplest way to serve them is to drain, toss in vinaigrette dressing while still warm and serve at room temperature.  Alternatively, drain, plunge the boiled roots into cold water then dry them on kitchen paper.  Their crisp, waxy texture makes for a wonderful fritter - dip in a light batter and fry in oil. Alternatively, treat them like asparagus and simply cover them with Hollandaise sauce.  You could finish them in butter on a medium heat until they turn golden-brown, adding chopped herbs before serving - particularly good with roasted or casseroled beef or roast chicken - add a splash of cream at the end if you want something richer.

Salsify and Scorzonera are in season from October to February so we should have one or the other right through winter.