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February News 2019

February News 2019

January King Cabbages    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

January King Cabbages

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

FEBRUARY


In February the colours of January continue with pinks, reds, greens and claret-splashed yellows of Chicories, stems of Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb turn from pink to red and the shades of citrus become more varied as more varieties arrive from Sicily.  Large, spikey Sardinian and fat, round, Romano Artichokes share space with an array of British root vegetables, including Celeriac and Jerusalem Artichokes, but, undoubtedly, February is the leanest month in the northern hemisphere’s growing calendar.


Here is a taster of the things you can expect to find here at Puntarelle & Co in the month of February:  

Winter Selection    Photo © Puntarelle & Co

Winter Selection

Photo © Puntarelle & Co

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

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

Un-treated, un-waxed Blood Oranges, Sweet Clementines and, if we are lucky, Pink Grapefruits.

Deep red, sweet-sharp, Pomegranates.

English Purple Sprouting Broccoli, which is particularly good right now, 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, 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.

Roman Artichokes & Italian Aubergines    Photo © Puntarelle & Co

Roman Artichokes & Italian Aubergines

Photo © Puntarelle & Co

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

Winter Pumpkins.

Root vegetables including Celeriac, Jerusalem Artichokes, Swede, Beetroot, organic Heritage Carrots and Leeks.

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

Fresh organic Ginger Root and Turmeric Root.

London Fermentary fridges

London Fermentary fridges

Our freshly-stocked londonfermentary.com fridge this month typically includes Water Kefir flavours like Blood Orange, Yorkshire Rhubarb, Cranberry & Chilli and Honey & Camomile. Don’t forget your refillable bottles for “Kefir on the tap” option. In LF fridge you’ll find an extensive range of seasonal Fermented Vegetables too. Please , check LF website for latest Inspirational Fermentation Course dates www.londonfermentary.com

Forced Yorkshire Rhubarb & Tarocco Blood Orange about to go in the oven    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

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.


Forced Rhubarb

Forced Rhubarb

Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb


Each year in early January slim soft-pink through to ruby-red Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb stems begin to appear at market.  A native of Siberia, there is evidence that rhubarb was grown for its medicinal properties – thought to be effective in gut, liver and lung problems - at least as far back as 2700BC.  It was grown in the UK for around 150 years for use as a purgative before it became valued as a food in the early 18th century.  Garden-grown rhubarb is a much more muscular proposition than ‘forced’ rhubarb.  Its thicker, darker red/green stems need a little more cooking and extra sugar to make it palatable.  But it was the accidental ‘blanching’ of rhubarb, caused by gardeners at the Chelsea Physic Garden piling up waste plants over winter, that led to the growing of ‘forced’ rhubarb.  By the time the roots were uncovered, tender stems had pushed through towards the light and these were found to be far tastier than outdoor, uncovered rhubarb stems.  


The method was embraced and developed into the use of ‘forcing’ sheds, after the roots have experienced a blast of frost first in the fields, to produce an earlier, more delicate tasting crop.  In Yorkshire, rhubarb farmers were able to produce such a good crop, and get it to market so efficiently, that growers in other areas of the country gave up trying to compete.  Today forced rhubarb continues to be grown in a small area around Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield in Yorkshire known as "The Rhubarb Triangle".  It’s labour-intensive work which means the crop commands a relatively high price.  One of the oldest growers is E Oldroyd & Sons Ltd.  Oldroyd's forced rhubarb still finds its way to London markets and to our shelves.


Rhubarb is valued for food from Russia through Turkey, Pakistan and the Middle East.  Persian cooking values it for balancing meat stews, particularly lamb.  A lightly sweetened compote is a good accompaniment to cut the fattiness of pork or oiliness of fish, like mackerel.  For desserts, the tender stems can go into cakes and tarts.  The most versatile way with forced rhubarb is to gently poach it to make a sweet compote - 5 parts fruit to 1 part sugar is about right if you don’t want it too sweet.  Additions you can make when poaching include a vanilla pod; a little preserved ginger; orange zest and/or juice; or a single clove.  Alternatively you could add a teaspoon or two of rosewater just before serving.  Fold into lightly whipped cream, or a mix of cream and yogurt, to make a rhubarb fool.  If you have some meringues and a little cream you have the makings of a take on Eton Mess.  Rhubarb also makes a good cordial, though you’d be better waiting for the cheaper outdoor-grown variety for that.


Yorkshire Rhubarb    Photo © Puntarelle & Co

Yorkshire Rhubarb

Photo © Puntarelle & Co

May News 2017

May News 2017

SEASONAL PRODUCE NEWS – MAY 2017

 

English Asparagus       Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands    MAY    April proved to be a stop/start month for home-grown crops but English Wild Garlic and Nettle Tops were particular favourites of our customers.  The Asparagus harvest began a full three weeks earlier than normal, only for the crop in many parts of the country to then be hit by late frosts.  With conditions now improving, we should see English Asparagus from our Kent grower throughout May.  We had Broad Beans and Peas from Italy.  The peas in particular have been much fuller and sweeter over the past couple of weeks.  Glorious plump Wet Violet Garlic arrived on cue from France in the second half of April and, at last, we received some sweeter tomato varieties from both Italy and France. 

English Asparagus     Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

MAY

April proved to be a stop/start month for home-grown crops but English Wild Garlic and Nettle Tops were particular favourites of our customers.  The Asparagus harvest began a full three weeks earlier than normal, only for the crop in many parts of the country to then be hit by late frosts.  With conditions now improving, we should see English Asparagus from our Kent grower throughout May.  We had Broad Beans and Peas from Italy.  The peas in particular have been much fuller and sweeter over the past couple of weeks.  Glorious plump Wet Violet Garlic arrived on cue from France in the second half of April and, at last, we received some sweeter tomato varieties from both Italy and France. 

Sorrel    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands    At the beginning of   MAY , as I write this, you will find at Puntarelle & Co:  Italian  Spinach  and  Chard  alongside particularly good  Sorrel .     New Potatoes  from Jersey, France and Cornwall.  New season  Purple Aubergines  from Italy, including the elongated purple and white striped variety, and fragrant  Fennel  bulbs.    Supplies of  Green and Purple Artichokes  from Italy are slowing, to be replaced by French crops this month.    Again, we have chosen  French Grelot Onions  this week.  Italian   Roman  Courgettes  and smooth-skinned Yellow and White varieties along with French round courgettes.   Broad Beans  and  Peas  from Italy are still arriving, the peas fuller and sweeter now.  These are joined by the first Italian  Fine Green Beans .  From Sicily we have firm, crunchy, spiky  Cucumbers    – perfect for pickling – and, in response to customer requests, the first of the  Melons  and small, sweet red-yellow  Watermelons .  English green  Asparagus  from our Kent grower, as well as white French and Italian varieties.  Outdoor-grown English  Rhubarb .  This fruit/vegetable is admittedly not as eye-catching as the early pink forced one, but is a far better proposition for a rhubarb crumble.    Early Spanish  Peaches  and  Nectarines  are in, as are Italian  Apricots  and French outdoor-grown  Strawberries , and Italian  Cherries  and  Nespoli .  Meaty, yellow ‘Pineapple’  Tomatoes  have arrived from France this week, and we also have other colourful Heritage varieties.  We have English harvests of  Spinach ,  Salad Leaves ,  Cucumbers  and  Radishes  as well as fresh  Herbs  -  Mint,   Coriander  and  Parsley .

Sorrel  Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

At the beginning of MAY, as I write this, you will find at Puntarelle & Co:

Italian Spinach and Chard alongside particularly good Sorrel.  

New Potatoes from Jersey, France and Cornwall.

New season Purple Aubergines from Italy, including the elongated purple and white striped variety, and fragrant Fennel bulbs.  

Supplies of Green and Purple Artichokes from Italy are slowing, to be replaced by French crops this month.  

Again, we have chosen French Grelot Onions this week.

Italian Roman Courgettes and smooth-skinned Yellow and White varieties along with French round courgettes.

Broad Beans and Peas from Italy are still arriving, the peas fuller and sweeter now.  These are joined by the first Italian Fine Green Beans.

From Sicily we have firm, crunchy, spiky Cucumbers – perfect for pickling – and, in response to customer requests, the first of the Melons and small, sweet red-yellow Watermelons.

English green Asparagus from our Kent grower, as well as white French and Italian varieties.

Outdoor-grown English Rhubarb.  This fruit/vegetable is admittedly not as eye-catching as the early pink forced one, but is a far better proposition for a rhubarb crumble.  

Early Spanish Peaches and Nectarines are in, as are Italian Apricots and French outdoor-grown Strawberries, and Italian Cherries and Nespoli.

Meaty, yellow ‘Pineapple’ Tomatoes have arrived from France this week, and we also have other colourful Heritage varieties.

We have English harvests of Spinach, Salad Leaves, Cucumbers and Radishes as well as fresh Herbs - Mint, Coriander and Parsley.

Radishes    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands   So, what new season produce can we  expect  to come through our doors in  MAY ?   Asparagus  and outdoor-grown  Rhubarb  from our Kent grower throughout May.  English  Spring Onions  continue.  Given a little warm weather we will be welcoming English  Broad Beans  and    Peas , later in the month to take over from French and Italian varieties.    Small, crunchy English  Cucumbers  will be with us through May, along with  Radishes  and  Spinach .  We are particularly looking forward to introducing English  Watercress  direct from the grower later in the month.  You can expect lots of fresh, vibrant  Herbs .  Hopefully, we will see some English  Wild Hops  too, if we have some warmer weather, though these will be fleeting.    Meaty, yellow ‘Pineapple’  Tomatoes  and colourful Heritage ones are now here from France and we expect more varieties with real flavour as the month progresses.  French  Apricots , hopefully some Bergeron, take over from the Italian and Spanish ones later in the month.  We have had some promising English harvests over the past two years so we may have some for you in June/July.   Peaches  and  Nectarines  from Italy will follow the Spanish this month, later joined by French ‘blood’ varieties.   Strawberries  from Italy, Spain and France are tasting good, and we may have English-grown fruit from our Kent grower in mid-May.     Cherries  from Italy, Spain and, later, France.    Towards the end of the month we could have English  Gooseberries  and  Raspberries .   Courgette  fruits and flowers and  Fennel  from both Italy and France.   Wet Garlic from  France and Italy will continue, as will Italian  Tropea Onions  and French  Grelot Onions .   The first new season  Borlotti Beans  and  Yellow Fine Beans  from Italy.    We expect French  Artichokes  to take over from Italian chokes.     New Potatoes  from Jersey, France and Cornwall.   Morel Mushrooms  will be available.  We will have foraged  Sea Spinach  this month.

Radishes  Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

So, what new season produce can we expect to come through our doors in MAY?

Asparagus and outdoor-grown Rhubarb from our Kent grower throughout May.  English Spring Onions continue.

Given a little warm weather we will be welcoming English Broad Beans and Peas, later in the month to take over from French and Italian varieties.  

Small, crunchy English Cucumbers will be with us through May, along with Radishes and Spinach.  We are particularly looking forward to introducing English Watercress direct from the grower later in the month.  You can expect lots of fresh, vibrant Herbs.  Hopefully, we will see some English Wild Hops too, if we have some warmer weather, though these will be fleeting.  

Meaty, yellow ‘Pineapple’ Tomatoes and colourful Heritage ones are now here from France and we expect more varieties with real flavour as the month progresses.

French Apricots, hopefully some Bergeron, take over from the Italian and Spanish ones later in the month.  We have had some promising English harvests over the past two years so we may have some for you in June/July.

Peaches and Nectarines from Italy will follow the Spanish this month, later joined by French ‘blood’ varieties.

Strawberries from Italy, Spain and France are tasting good, and we may have English-grown fruit from our Kent grower in mid-May. 

 Cherries from Italy, Spain and, later, France.  

Towards the end of the month we could have English Gooseberries and Raspberries.

Courgette fruits and flowers and Fennel from both Italy and France.

Wet Garlic from France and Italy will continue, as will Italian Tropea Onions and French Grelot Onions

The first new season Borlotti Beans and Yellow Fine Beans from Italy. 

 We expect French Artichokes to take over from Italian chokes.  

New Potatoes from Jersey, France and Cornwall.

Morel Mushrooms will be available.

We will have foraged Sea Spinach this month.

Tarragon     Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands    NEW on our shelves:   Joining our  Fermented Vegetables    range this month are Tarragon Infused Mixed Vegetables; jars of Savoy Cabbage with lemon zest and dill; and Sicilian Kumquats which have fermented to a salty, freshness which we recommend for use in Stews and Tagines or sliced thinly into salads.   With the arrival of the first Italian Fine Beans and harvests of fine, young English Spinach and watercress joining the New Potato crops, we offer a warm salad recipe to take us into May.  This is one of those salads that can be adapted throughout spring and summer according to what produce is available.  You need green leaves, waxy potatoes, fresh beans (asparagus works too) and a little protein like Chorizo, bacon, pancetta, anchovy or boiled chopped egg.  Here is a suggestion using what is available on our shelves right now:

Tarragon   Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

NEW on our shelves:

Joining our Fermented Vegetables range this month are Tarragon Infused Mixed Vegetables; jars of Savoy Cabbage with lemon zest and dill; and Sicilian Kumquats which have fermented to a salty, freshness which we recommend for use in Stews and Tagines or sliced thinly into salads. 

With the arrival of the first Italian Fine Beans and harvests of fine, young English Spinach and watercress joining the New Potato crops, we offer a warm salad recipe to take us into May.  This is one of those salads that can be adapted throughout spring and summer according to what produce is available.  You need green leaves, waxy potatoes, fresh beans (asparagus works too) and a little protein like Chorizo, bacon, pancetta, anchovy or boiled chopped egg.  Here is a suggestion using what is available on our shelves right now:

A Late Spring Salad    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands    A Late Spring Salad    (Serves 4)   300g Fine Green Beans  800g waxy potatoes (e.g. Jersey Royals, La Ratte)  250g cooking chorizo  2 good handfuls of young spinach leaves or watercress (or a mixture), washed and dried.  Dressing:  2 tablespoons of Sherry Vinegar  Salt and pepper to taste  6-7 tablespoons Olive Oil  Wash the potatoes (skin on or off, as you prefer) and boil for 15-20 minutes until cooked. Cut off the top of beans, wash and boil in salted water until just cooked(2-3 minutes).    Drain the beans and plunge them into cold water to retain the colour before cutting them in half and drying them. Thickly slice the chorizo and fry in a hot pan until softened and slightly coloured. Mix your Dressing in a large serving bowl. Drain and slice the potatoes thickly before adding them to the dressing while still warm.  Add the cooked beans and the chorizo and stir.    Add the spinach (or other) leaves.  Mix gently and serve.

A Late Spring Salad  Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

A Late Spring Salad

(Serves 4)

300g Fine Green Beans

800g waxy potatoes (e.g. Jersey Royals, La Ratte)

250g cooking chorizo

2 good handfuls of young spinach leaves or watercress (or a mixture), washed and dried.

Dressing:

2 tablespoons of Sherry Vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

6-7 tablespoons Olive Oil

Wash the potatoes (skin on or off, as you prefer) and boil for 15-20 minutes until cooked.
Cut off the top of beans, wash and boil in salted water until just cooked(2-3 minutes).  

Drain the beans and plunge them into cold water to retain the colour before cutting them in half and drying them.
Thickly slice the chorizo and fry in a hot pan until softened and slightly coloured.
Mix your Dressing in a large serving bowl.
Drain and slice the potatoes thickly before adding them to the dressing while still warm.  Add the cooked beans and the chorizo and stir.  

Add the spinach (or other) leaves.  Mix gently and serve.