Monday, 1 November 2010

November, What’s in Season This Month

Eating seasonally and when possible locally, suggests eating food that is at its prime in terms of taste and nutritional contents, whilst at the same time cutting down on those food miles. If and when you do make a shopping trip, buy British when the season allows, all produce should be clearly labelled with its country of origin and if it isn’t please ask.
Every month, I expect to publish on this blog a guide to what's in season, the focal points are going to be about fresh and locally produced (in particular British) produce and what we are growing ourselves on our balcony.
November is often seen as the interval between autumn and Christmas, a lacklustre month with little daylight nevertheless, on the cooking front, there is plenty to look forward to, superb game flavoursome beef and game stews and casseroles, tasty roasts, scrumptious rice puddings, and magnificent winter soups. It’s also the time for Brussels sprouts and a choice of cabbages, just the thing with a warming game stew or crisply stir-fried to go with the several varieties of fish obtainable now.

So what is available in the markets, shops, and supermarkets?

At the beginning of the month, there will still be Cox’s apples, conference pears, and the wonderful Bramley apple; British Comice pears will be starting as well as Spartan and Worcester apples. From California, we shall be seeing red seedless grapes, nectarines, and peaches, please remember those food miles though. Tender vegetable crops are disappearing as the frosts approach, nevertheless still going strong are cabbages, cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, leeks, swede, parsnips, apples, pears, quinces, and sprouts.
To splash out on now there are superb new season vegetables, Broccoli, Celeriac, Red and Winter Cabbages, Salsify, Celery, along with Potatoes that are really tasty and floury, just perfect for baking.
At their most excellent are Carrots, Parsnips, and Swedes, these root vegetables truly sweeten up in the November frosts, Turnips, Leeks, Brussels sprouts, Beetroot, and Chicory are all reaching the shelves in prime condition.
At the start of November, all the flat fish are very good, Dover soles, lemon soles, and plaice, but remember prices will rise because many boats will stop going out once their quotas have been filled.
This is the ultimate time for game, low fat, richly flavoured and as free range as it can get. Together with pheasant, partridge, and wild duck although grouse is nearing the end of its season 10th of December it will be better casseroled than roasted, try roasting pheasant on a bed of wild mushrooms.

Fruit at Its Best

Apples (Bramley’s, Russets, Spartan and Worcester), Chestnuts, Walnuts, Pears (Comice and Conference), Forced Rhubarb

Vegetables at Their Best

Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage (Savoy, Red And Winter), Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chard, Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale, Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Main Crop Potatoes, Pumpkins, Shallots, Squash, Swede, Turnips, Winter Greens, and don’t forget the Mushrooms especially the wild varieties try all these Chanterelles, Field Mushroom, Hedgehog Fungus, Horse Mushroom, Oyster Mushroom, Parasol Mushroom, Puffballs, Wood Blewit .

Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best

Duck, Goose, Grouse, Hare, Partridge, Pheasant, Rabbit, Turkey, Venison, and Wood Pigeon.
Good quality British lamb is just about coming to the end of its best season but the New Zealand lamb is very good now

Fish and Seafood at Its Best

Brill, Clams, Cod, Crab, Haddock, Hake, Huss, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Mussels, Monkfish, Native Oysters, Plaice, Pollock, Prawns, Rock Oysters, Scallops, Sea Bass, Sprats, Squid, Turbot, and Whiting

What’s Happening in the Supermarkets

This is a new section by popular demand, and while we have nothing against the big supermarkets most of the time we in truth make use of two of them Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s and they can sell very good seasonal and organic foods while we hardly ever use them for fruit, vegetables and butchers meats we do buy game from them when the have it. We under no circumstances use them for fish and shellfish our local fishmongers have the finest and freshest available.
Sometimes we think that they are just too large and their buying power can be detrimental to the British food industry and with all those strip lights many of which don’t work, freezer cabinets that need a good defrost and clean, never-ending queues of strangers and endless shelves of packets, tins, and bottles, sham smiles from uninterested checkout assistants we just keep asking ourselves “Isn't there a better way to get our food”?
Supermarket News;
Some supermarkets' sense of geography when labelling products can be a little off sometimes. Such as, Tesco’s Willow Farm chicken it is in fact from 42 farms across the South-West and Northern Ireland, whilst Marks and Spencer's Oakham chickens come from farms in Northern Ireland and the Suffolk Coast, not from Oakham directly.
Three stars go to The Co-Operative as it is to drive its seasonal credentials by applying to trademark the phrase ‘the co-operative taste the seasons'.
Sainsbury's is the first supermarket to sell the new Purple Majesty; you know those purple potatoes that are being grown in Scotland by the Albert Bartlett Company they will be on sale in 100 stores across Scotland, London, and the South East.
And five stars go to Morrisons has introduced a VegPledge to its Let's Grow campaign, The campaign aims to teach school children how to safely peel, prepare and cook fresh vegetables by cooking three fresh fruit and vegetable recipes, and teaching them to understand the nutritional importance of eating fruit and vegetables.
Look Out For In the Supermarkets This Month:
Vegetables; Artichoke, Aubergine, Beetroot, Broccoli, Butternut Squash, Carrots, Celeriac, Celery, Chillies, Courgettes, Fennel, Garlic, Horseradish, Kale, Leeks, Marrow, Onions,  Peppers, Potatoes (Maincrop), Pumpkins, Radishes, Rocket, Sweet Corn, Turnips And Watercress.
Fruit; Apples, Bilberries, Blackberries, Elderberries, Pears and Quince.
Herbs and Stuff; Chestnuts, Chives, Mint, Parsley (Curly), Sage and Wild Mushrooms.
Meat; Beef, Chicken, Grouse, Guinea Fowl, Lamb, Partridge, Pork, Rabbit, Venison, and Wood Pigeon.
Fish; Brill, Clams, Coley, Crab, Grey Mullet, Haddock, Halibut, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Monkfish, Mussels, Oysters, Pilchard, Plaice, Pollack, Prawns, Scallops, Sea Bass, Sea Bream, Squid, Turbot And Winkles.

Local Shopping

Tachbrook Street Market (7)Tachbrook Street Market

Address: Tachbrook Street, SW1
Trading hours: Monday to Saturday: 8am to 6pm, Nearest tube: Victoria or Pimlico, Bus: 2, 24, 36, 185, 436
Open every day except Sunday, the number of stalls in this ancient street market  which has existed for more than 200 years increases as the week moves forwards, the market offers a wide array of goods from home furnishings and gardening equipment, to fruit and veg, fresh meat, fish, shellfish and bread and cakes, the market is also home to an array of events counting late night shopping, gourmet lunchtime offers, ‘Fashion Thursdays’ and it will be hosting a brilliant Christmas market.
Managed by Westminster Artisans Ltd on behalf of Westminster Council it is set to be a community hub thanks to its lively diverse array of stalls with scrumptious international hot food the paella is superb, fresh food, chocolate, cheese, olive oil, bread, funky fashion, and lots more. Discover different stalls on different days.
We love buying fresh fruit and veg, fish and shellfish as well as fresh meat at the market it is fast becoming along with other shops in Pimlico a foodies paradise.
Dates for your diary:
Thursday 18 November -Funky Fashion
Friday 3 December - CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
Spring 2011 - Pimlico Food Festival

Sonny's Fruit and Veg Stall, Tachbrook Street Market On Sonny’s Stall on Tachbrook Street Market

What a pleasure it is to see such  fresh produce full of vibrant colours this week was no disappointment with what was on offer. There was Apples, Gala, English Russets, Braeburns and Bramleys, Artichokes, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Courgettes, English King Edward Potatoes, English Raspberries,
Fennel, Field Mushrooms, Leeks, Mache (Lambs Lettuce), Parsnips, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radish, Watercress, While Peaches, some fantastic pumpkins and squashes and you can plainly see that all of what was available was in first-rate condition.

imageOur Local Butchers have been getting in

On the market was a new stall with a good selection of meats and poultry, we shall have to find out more about them next week.
As well as the customary meat on offer at Freeman’s they also had some nice game birds and truly fine oxtail.
Alhayat had some exceptional Heather Fed Scottish lamb, British rosé veal and chicken and at a fantastic price, you can’t go wrong giving this shop a go.

Fishmonger, Jon Norris  (9)Our Local Fishmonger on Tachbrook Street Market Has Been Getting In

 Jon has some outstanding plump succulent plaice on his stall, ask him to fillet them then once home just lightly flour the fillets and fry them for a short time on each side in a little oil and serve with a pat of garlic butter, prepared by mixing butter with a little crushed garlic and chopped parsley it’s so tasty, so easy and very quick.
We had an excellent pair of whiting which Jon filleted for us, Whiting is a very delicate fish that can move from a wonderful dish to a watery mush in no time flat so the best way to cook this delicate fish is the old-fashioned way with a lot of hot oil and batter, but our favourite quick way to cook it is the same as with plaice fillet it (your fishmonger will do this) and then lightly flour the fillets and fry them for a short time on each side in a little oil and serve with a pat of garlic butter, prepared by mixing butter with a little crushed garlic and chopped parsley it’s so tasty. The trouble I had was that my eyes where a little bit bigger than my belly and we had quite a large fillet left uncooked so we made it into a fishcake with a few fresh prawns, look for the recipe next week!
Now we get to what Jon had for sale and what a display it was he really put his heart into sourcing his wares this week there was Brill, Clams including sweet plump Razor Clams, Cod fillets, steaks and 2 of the largest whole fish I have seen for a long time, Crab, Haddock, Hake including a whole whopper, Halibut, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Megrim Sole, Dover Sole, Gilthead Bream, Gurnard, Lobster, Mackerel, Mussels, Monkfish, Native Oysters, Plaice so plump and sweet, Pollock this is a must to try, Prawns, Rock Oysters, Scallops, line caught Sea Bass from the Isle of Wight, Skate, Sprats, Squid, Turbot, and Whiting.
Most all Jon’s fish is from around the Cornish, Devon and Scottish coasts but the photos can give you a better picture of what must be one of the best displays of fish and shellfish you will see.
Fishmonger, Jon Norris  (8)Fishmonger, Jon Norris  (10)
 Fishmonger, Jon Norris  (12)Fishmonger, Jon Norris  (13)
Jon’s tips to buying fish and shellfish;
 Fresh Whole Fish
  1. The eyes should be clear and convex, not sunken
  2. The flesh should be firm and resilient to finger pressure
  3. The fish should smell freshly and lightly of the sea
  4. Don’t buy fish with a strong ‘fishy’ or sulphurous odour, or that smells of ammonia.
  5. Oily fish like herring, mackerel, and salmon should have a light, fresh oil smell, like linseed oil. If they smell of rancid oil, don’t buy.
Fresh Fillets
  1. The surface of the fillet should be moist, with no signs of discolouration.
  2. The texture should be firm, with no mushiness. Some separation of the muscle flakes (caused by the filleting process) is completely normal, but it shouldn’t be excessive.
  3. As with whole fish, the smell should be fresh and light, with no ‘off’ odours.
  4. Live bi-valves (including mussels, clams and oysters)
  5. The general rule of not buying bi-valves during any month spelled without an ‘r’ (i.e. May to August) still holds true, as this is the spawning season and quality will be poorer. When raw, the shells should be closed tight. Any slightly open shells that don’t close up in response to a few light taps should be discarded. When cooked, the shells should open – discard any that don’t.
Just what every good cook needs in their kitchen is a fishbone remover just like they use in Masterchef

In The Balcony Garden

We are still harvesting the cherry tomatoes (Tumbling Red Tom), and have harvested a few mini peppers, the thyme, sage and rosemary is doing well and should keep on supplying us well into winter as should the mint and the parsley.

Recipes for November

Halibut Steaks with Arugula (Rocket) Pesto

Courtesy of Chef Andrew Howarth, Tigh-Na-Mara Restaurant, British Columbia. I had this when he came to Palm Springs as a guest of the Riccio Brothers it was awesome.
Serves / Makes: four servings
Prep-Time:                         5 minutes
Cook-Time:                        10 to 15 minutes
YOU WILL NEED                  
For The Pesto
1 Bunch of Arugula (rocket), washed and chopped
¼ cup of pine nuts, lightly toasted
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese
5 tablespoons of virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Halibut steaks
Mix all the ingredients in a food processor and purée into a paste.
Spread the mixture thinly on top of the halibut steaks and cook in the oven or in the barbecue. Spray the barbecue grills with oil, place the halibut, pesto side up, and barbecue with the lid down. Don’t turn the fish over.
 Serve and Enjoy! with a simple salad with walnut vinaigrette

Pan Fried Breast of Partridge

This is one of our favourite ways to cook partridge and pheasant with creamed leeks although we both really like it with creamed or buttered cabbage and rosti potatoes.
We totally love cooking with game both of us were born and raised in the country and it is part of who we are. People often don't appreciate how adaptable and healthy game is to cook and eat. Partridge meat is low in fat and dries out quickly. Unlike some other birds, it is important that it be suitably cooked, to be eaten pink and not too rare.
Serves / Makes: 4
Prep-Time:                         10 minutes
Cook-Time:                        5 to 8 minutes
You Will Need;
6, partridge breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1, tablespoon olive oil
125 mls stock, we like to use a light beef stock and 25 mls red wine mixed, it is best to use the wine that you will be drinking with the partridge
1 teaspoon, redcurrant jelly
4 thick slices black pudding, Tesco’s now sell 4 nice thick slices of genuine Bury black pudding
Season the partridge breasts with salt and pepper heat a heavy based frying pan until very hot add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan then the breasts, skinned side down.
Fry for 2 minutes then turn over and fry for 2 minutes more Remove the partridge from pan and allow to rest on a plate in a warm place. Deglaze the pan with stock and red wine, stir in the redcurrant jelly, reduce by half, then set aside, and keep warm.
Fry the black pudding in a non-stick pan until crisp on the outside and heated through. Cut or tear slices into bite-sized pieces. To serve, slice partridge thinly we like to arrange partridge on top or around creamed leeks and surround with chunks of black pudding and then drizzle with the reduced jus now all you need to do is serve and enjoy! 

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