Autumn finally arrived here in the UK in the last week of October. The unseasonably warm, sunny days have been tempered by brisk northerly winds, though blue skies and sunshine haven’t totally abandoned our isles. Here at Puntarelle & Co we see the change of seasons clearly, and not just in the chill morning start to our day. Our choice of fruits is paired-back now. Yes, we could select southern hemisphere strawberries and peaches but we choose not to. Our customers recognise and appreciate the seasonal shift in foods and so do we. And there is so much to enjoy through November.
Here is the key short-season produce you can expect to find at Puntarelle & Co this month along with all the usual staples:
Apples from brothers Ken and John, who grow fruit on our favoured farm in Kent and have been topping off our fruit crates with the most beautiful boughs of crab apples this year.
Pears, from the same source, include Doyenne du Comice and Conference.
The English Quince crop is outstanding this year. The weather has suited them particularly well producing large, good-keeping fruits. We expect to have some of the French crop soon too.
Our display of Organic varieties of Pumpkin and Winter Squash is growing by the day. Click on the link to our focus piece from last year to find your favourite.
Sweet, nutty Fenland Celery has arrived this week. It will be with us for just a few short weeks.
Our favourite greens at this time of year has to be Rainbow Chard , its vibrant stems of orange, pinks and reds are standing out amongst the Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Cavolo Nero/Black Cabbage. Though the colourful Kale varieties are giving some competition for colour so early in their season.
Cabbages have had their first nips of frost, making Primo, Red and White all taste fantastic now and you can expect to see Brussels Tops and Brussels Sprouts right through the cold months along with Heritage Carrots, Parsnips, Celeriac, Parsley Root and Turnips.
Potatoes at the moment are waxy Pink Fir Apple, King Edwards for roasting and mashing and Cyprus which is a good all-rounder.
We have small amounts of Chanterelles and Girolles Mushrooms from Scotland.
We are getting beautiful Sicilian Pomegranates this year, large and sweet/sharp juicy with great colour.
Flavourful Fennel is coming directly from Verona right now.
Hard to believe but we are still getting crunchy Romano Courgettes and some tasty Sorrento Tomatoes as I write this at the very start of November.
Beautiful Persimmons are arriving from Italy now, some perfectly ripe which are very difficult to transport, and others which need only a week in a warm kitchen to come to perfection.
Fragrant, zingy Bergamots began arriving in late October and we expect to have them throughout November
The bitter cold-weather leaves are now arriving. Mildly bitter, juicy Puntarelle is in, so good served with an anchovy sauce. Broad-leaved Cima di Rapa and Chicoria, with its dandelion-like leaves began arriving in late October. Both great winter greens to serve up alongside our English root vegetables.
We have sweet-fleshed Delica Squash in now. They have a rich, nutty flavour and are very plentiful.
We always look forward to the varieties of Chicory leaf that begin to arrive after the first cold snaps. Expect to see green/yellow Endives like curly Frisee, large floppy-headed Escarole alongside colourful Radicchios like speckled Castelfranco, deep red leaved Tardivo and Treviso and the pink Rose Radicchio from November onwards.
On the Citrus front, apart from Bergamots and some Miyagawa Mandarins, we are receiving new season Navelina oranges but we will have to wait till December for the blood orange season to get going.
Seasonal specials this month are: Fresh Cranberries, Walnuts in their shells and vacuum-packed chestnuts.
Puntarelle & Co News:
We have been concerned for some time about the amount of packaging there is in our dry goods section. We recognise that, like most food businesses, we still have a lot to do to get to where we want to be on the sustainability front. Visits to Italy, where dried pulses are often sold scooped from the sack rather than pre-packed, have inspired us to do the same. A visit to Puglia this August, where selling loose pulses is commonplace, provided us with the spur to adopt this more sustainable model. We have sourced Italian grown beans, rice and grains which our customers will now be able to scoop-up in the quantities they want into reusable bags.
We are also pleased to announce that we have sourced our first organic cold-pressed olive oil from Campania / Italy, by Bufano olive oil mill. This oil has been bottled specially for us by . We should have this for sale the second week in November.
London Fermentary news:
We are very happy with how London Fermentary is developing and excited to announce that we have nutritionist Olga Bonde joining our team. She will be working with us on production and as a consultant to help us develop our brand.
Some of you will already have met Oona who has been running customer tastings every Saturday morning for the past few weeks. Please pop in to try our fermented food and drinks between 09.00-13.00.
Our Inspirational Fermentation Courses are proving to be a great success so we have developed a ONE full-day workshop for people who cannot commit to the 3-week course. The first course will run on 16 January 2019. Click to find out.
Seasonal Water Kefirs this month include:
Apple, Beet & Ginger
Honey & Camomile (with a hint of ginger and turmeric for their healing properties)
Bergamot & Orange
Lemon & Juniper
Quince & Calendula
Pomegranate & Rose Petals
The english Apple crop is so good this year, not only is it plentiful but the fruits are crisp and delicious throughout the varieties. So, this month we have a recipe for using these fantastic seasonal fruits.
Buckwheat pancakes with apples
For the filling:
About 500g of warm apple compote + a few raisins
(peeled and chopped apples – whatever you have - cooked down with a knob of butter and sugar to taste. Add a handful of raisins while the apple is still hot)
A handful of shelled walnuts, roughly chopped (optional)
For the pancakes:
(pancake mixture makes around 12 x 20cm thin pancakes)
120g buckwheat flour
50g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 medium egg
175ml full cream milk + 175ml water
30g melted butter
Combine the flours and salt. Make a well in the centre and add the egg and a little milk then start to draw in the dry ingredients to the wet, adding more of the milk and water gradually until you have a smooth batter. Add the melted butter and mix in.
Lightly butter a 20cm heavy-based frying pan and heat to medium-hot. Keep the heat at this level throughout. Pour in enough pancake mixture to quickly swirl it around the pan and lightly coat it and cook until the underside is lightly browned. This is a sacrificial one as the first pancake is always poor so discard it. Add just a little butter before cooking each pancake. Pour about 2-3 tablespoons of batter into the pan and quickly swirl it around the pan to coat it thinly. Brown lightly and turn the pancake to lightly brown the other side. Repeat the process and when each pancake is light browned on both sides add it to a plate and keep warm in a low oven until you have used up all the mixture.
Spoon a heaped tablespoon of the warm apple and raisin compote onto each pancake and add some of the chopped walnuts folding the pancakes over. Serve with cream.