With the storms across southern Europe wrecking salad, courgette, pepper and aubergine crops, pushing up prices and cold weather still forecast for this month, it makes sense to eat British seasonal hardy food – our green and white veg is tasty, nutritious, versatile and warming too – Brussel sprouts on stalks, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots for colour as well as the kale florette on a stalk too – just snap off, quickly steam and add with smoked salmon or chicken to pasta for a speedy supper.
Native apples and pears are still around and the first of the English sweet ‘n’ sour forced rhubarb is available. From overseas enjoy the blood oranges with their glorious colour and flavour – the juice is more acidic than regular oranges and works in everything from porridge to salads and puddings – particularly spectacular in jellies. Do try Dan’s recipe for sticky orange & almond cake and orange pannacotta below
Our chefs have been using the Seville oranges to make our own marmalade which is available in the reusable kilner jars as well as ordinary 1lb jars. Sevilles are still available if you like making your own marmalade or using the wonderful tart juice for savoury or sweet dishes – Seville orange curd is rather delicious.
For your loved ones this Valentine’s Day:
Emma Bridgewater’s pink hearts mugs, Sophie Allport’s stylish practical products – china mugs, oven gloves with hearts, though we do rather love her runner ducks; Parlane’s apple and strawberry as well as heart-shaped dishes; chocolates and sweet treats of course – Bon Bon’s have a yummy range with champagne and strawberry truffles, praline hearts, caramels, jelly and gummy hearts.
For something savoury why not a Valentine cheese –
Godminster’s (v) organic brie heart is soft and creamy, handmade in Somerset by skilled cheesemakers
Ford Farm’s cheddar heart, a traditional handmade west country farmhouse in a crimson wax – match the cheddar with a bottle of Chilean Vina Mar Chardonnay
Coeur de Neufchatel, the soft-white table cheese that is one of France’s oldest cheeses dating back to 1035. Legend goes that French farm girls fell in love with English soldiers during the Hundred Years War and started making heart shaped cheeses to show their love. It has a close textured thick paste covered with downy velvety rind and texture and taste similar to a Camembert – mushroomy, rich and nutty.
If you’re looking for christening presents or for young children, Sophie Allport’s melamine divider plates and 7 piece dinner sets will make meals more fun – in Woodland, Safari or On the Farm.
Cheeses of the Month
We’ve got the February blues with 3 blue cheeses of the month which all carry the 20% discount – look out for the red star
Roquefort Black Label
Arguably the world’s greatest blue, Roquefort has had its name and methods protected since 1411. Made from the Lacaune ewe’s milk, the cheese is left to ripen in the caves of Combalou southern France allowing the mould to grow naturally. Big, creamy chunks of curd and intense blue dissolve on the palate, sweet and fudgy with a complex peppery, deep spicy lingering after note.
There’s a temptation to match a strong and intense cheese with an equally powerful wine, but Gil our wine man from Corney & Barrow recommends the Petite Gasconne Blanc. Crisp and packed with enough acidity to cut through some of the rich creamy flavours of the cheese. It’s ripe fruit character makes the wine feel ever so slightly sweet in nature too which balances the saltiness of the blue leaving long-lasting flavours.
A unique soft blue veined cheese handmade with milk of the Butlers herd of pedigree cows at Inglewhite Dairy in Lancashire. Aged for 8 weeks it develops a distinctive amber hue and creamy smooth yet tangy taste. Soft enough to spread on crackers as well as use in cooking.
The clean citrus fruit in the Chenin Blanc from Lowry’s Pass will pair well – the wine is very intense with notes of green apples and pears with vibrant grapefruit and a fleshiness that prevents it from being too austere. All this energy comfortably slicing through the powerfully flavoured cheese – allowing you to do the same.
Made in Germany, this award-winning triple crème soft cheese made with cows milk is marbled with blue veins and has a grey natural crust. Rich and decadent, it has the texture and rich taste of a triple crème brie with the distinct lightly biting flavour of a blue.
As a change Gil has chosen a medium bodied red for this blue. The C&B Claret from small growers on the right bank of Bordeaux is a Merlot dominant blend offering red fruit and floral characters that give great complexity and depth of flavour. The tannins are well integrated so the wine drinks well on its own or partners this cheese with rich flavours and creamy notes.
Sticky Orange & Almond Cake
2 blood oranges
250g ground almonds
1tsp baking powder
Put the oranges in a small pan, cover with water, cover and bring to the boil. Simmer for 1.5 – 2 hours until soft. Cool completely, cut in half, remove pips and purée.
Beat together eggs and sugar, fold in the almonds and baking powder and then the purée.
Grease and line 23cm springform tin, spoon in batter and cook at 180⁰C for 40 minutes or until firm to touch.
Cool completely before cutting
Blood Orange Pannacotta
375ml double cream
375 ml blood orange juice
4 tsp milk
1 vanilla pod split lengthways, seeds scrapped out – or 1 tsp vanilla essence
3 gelatine leaves
6-8 moulds or ramekin dishes
1 Soak the gelatine leaves in a little cold water until soft.
2 Place the cream, orange juice, milk, sugar and vanilla seeds or essence into a pan and bring slowly to the boil, remove from the heat. Squeeze the water from the gelatine leaves and add to the pan. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved.
3 Wait until mix has cooled to room temperature before pouring into moulds, ramekin dishes or small glasses, cover. Place in the fridge for at least an hour to set.