Tuesday, 26 October 2010



Spanish Oranges are coming into season at this time of the year & many UK suppliers will be travelling to Spain to source Oranges for the winter season.

The Spanish Orange season usally runs from October – April. So I thought I’d post some information on this fantasic fruit.

Oranges originated in Southeast Asia. The fruit of Citrus sinensis is the sweet orange & Citrus aurantium, is the bitter orage. The name is thought to have derived from the Sanskrit for the orange tree.

So how did oranges come to Spain?
The sour orange (Citrus aurantium) was most likely being cultivated by the Chinese by 2500 BC, in addition to the Assam area of India and in Myanmar. Oranges were kept as an Oriental treasure for thousands of years; it wasn’t until the Romans brought these fragrant trees to the Italian port of Ostia around the first century AD when their migration gained momentum.
Approximately 800 years later, the Moors, native Muslims of the region, brought oranges with them to the southern Andalusia region of Spain & by the 13th century orange groves covered Spain from Seville to Granada.
So what makes Spanish oranges so special?
Well, Spain’s climate means that in my opinion its oranges are unrivalled for their flavour and colour. Juicy and thirst quenching, with a clean fresh, sweet taste, they also contain beneficial vitamins. One whole peeled contains approximately 85mg of vitamin C. An orange counts as one of the government’s recommended five a day fruit and vegetable portions, and its high pectin content has shown to help reduce blood cholesterol levels. Pectin is a water fibre that's great if you're dieting because it helps to suppress hunger pangs for up to four hours after eating.

Spanish Orange Varieties
Valencia is the most planted orange internationally, rightfully earning its name, “King of Juice Oranges”. Thomas Rivers took the Valencia orange tree from the Azores to Florida in 1870, where it was cultivated as the Brown “orange”. Years later it was renamed Hart’s Tardif, Hart, and Hart Late, quickly became Florida’s premier sweet orange cultivar. Valencia is a late harvesting orange, and recognized by its smooth, thin skin; its pale, seedless flesh; and its sharp, juicy finish.
Navel and Navelina inherited their namesake from the navel protuberance at the end of its round body, containing a tiny embryonic fruit. A seedless orange with a slight pebbly skin, the Navelina is renowned for its sweet and juicy pulp. The skin, equally vibrant in flavor, is often used in marmalade, preserves, and reductions or as a candied peel
Narajana Amarga (Seville Orange) is the landmark sour orange tree that traveled with the conquering Moors to Spain. Planted throughout the Mediterranean, one usually doesn’t eat the Narajana Amara, but instead, takes advantage of its high acidity and bitter qualities in marmalades, essential oils, teas, honeys and marinades. With a radiant golden colour in both its rind and flesh, and its medium size, containing ten large segments packed with seeds, it’s considered an eye-catching orange.
Blood Orange (Naranja Sanguina) is one of my personal favorites. Commonly used for sorbets and desserts, due to their unique blend of orange, raspberry and grape flavors, its name may have derived from its brilliant dark red interior. Its exterior also displays a reddish hue, but more subtle in its presentation. Another more gruesome theory is that its etymology originated in the medieval latticework of thorns enveloping the branches of the blood orange tree – the perfect defense against parched lips. Thought to have come from southern Italy, it is now grown extensively in southern Spain.
Berna is a moderately sweet orange that is commonly used for reductions, or desserts, and is virtually seedless. Although believed to originate in Spain, its popularity has waned over the years in favour of the Valencian orange. Interestingly, it’s identifiable by its rare pear-like aftertaste.
Now for the football fans, the orange was chosen to be the official mascot of the 1982 FIFA World Cup, which was held in Spain. The mascot was called "Naranjito" ("little orange"), and wore the colours of the Spanish football team uniform.
What to look for when buying oranges:

Choose oranges that are firm and feel heavy (weightier oranges are generally juicier). Very large fruit can sometimes be less sweet and concentrated in flavour. Remember skin colour is not indicative of quality - untreated ripe oranges are often pale orange or even greenish but those sold in supermarkets may be treated with ethylene to break down the green chlorophyll.
The vast majority of commercial oranges (Seville’s apart) are usually treated with a wax polish that may have deleterious effects. If using the rind, try to find unwaxed (and ideally organic) oranges.
Some oranges sold can be a little dry, pithy or lacking in flavour. Buy Spanish oranges over those imported from further a field. Navel oranges (identifiable by the belly button-like rudimentary fruit growth at one end) from Spain are consistently of high quality, and are also seedless and easy to peel. Valencia’s, at their best, are perfect for juicing.

Oranges in the shops today may have been picked anything from a few days to a few weeks earlier. Most will keep for a couple of weeks at room temperature.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Support UK Apple Growers

Support UK Apple Growers

"No fruit is more to our English taste than the Apple. Let the Frenchman have his Pear, the Italian his Fig, the Jamaican may retain his farinaceous Banana, and the Malay his Durian, but for us the Apple"   Edward Bunyard

Apples are the second most popular fruit in the UK just behind the banana, and each year we consume roughly 680 thousand tonnes of them. Of this only 34% are UK apples!

The wonderful diversity of English apples is giving way to the bland uniformity of the ubiquitous Golden Delicious or Granny Smith from, Southern France, Spain, Chile, South Africa or Washington, USA.

But in my opinion nothing can compare with a home-grown Cox, or Ribston's Pippin, or the classic Victorian Adam's Pearmain apple with it’s nutty sweet flavour eaten straight off the tree. Spain, Washington and Southern France are too warm ...England has the ideal climate, the correct length of season, the best climate for storage, and the best mix of varieties to last from summer until the following spring.


Eat UK Apples.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Shortcrust Pastry - For the Manchester tart!

Shortcrust pastry

The recipe below doesn't include a recipe for the shortcrust pastry base, so I thought I better include one.

2 cups (8oz) plain flour
4 level tablespoons lard
4 level tablespoons butter or margarine
pinch of salt
cold water

- Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the lard and the butter and chop it up roughly with a knife.
- With cool fingertips, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add 2 tablespoons of cold water and then, using a knife, mix lightly into a dough.
- Add a little more water if necessary but be careful not to add too much.
- The dough should not be sticky.
- Gently bring the dough into a ball by hand, gathering up any stray bits of dough.
- Leave to rest in the fridge for a couple of hours before using.
- To use, roll lightly with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Manchester Tart

I know what your thinking and no it's not that drunken lass falling out of the Ritz on a Saturady night, well maybe!

A staple on school dinner menus until the mid 1980s, the original Manchester Tart is a variation on an earlier recipe, the Manchester Pudding, which was first recorded by the Victorian cookery writer, Mrs Beeton.

The Manchester tart is a traditional English baked tart, which consists of a short crust pastry shell, spread with raspberry jam, covered with a custard filling and topped with flakes of coconut and a Maraschino cherry. One variation of the original recipe includes slices of banana underneath the custard with the jam.

Manchester Tart
600ml (1 pint) Milk
110g (4oz) Shortcrust Pastry
3 tbsp Raspberry Jam
3 tbsp Custard Powder
2-3 tbsp Desiccated Coconut
2 tbsp Sugar
Pre-heat oven to 200°C; 400°F: Gas 6.
Roll out the dough and line a baking dish.
Blind bake (prick with fork and place a piece of greaseproof paper with some baking beans on pastry).
Bake for 15 minutes.
Allow to cool.
Spread the jam over the pastry base, sprinkle with coconut.
Boil the milk and whisk into the sugar and custard powder (follow manufacturers instructions).
Pour into the pastry case.
Sprinkle with coconut or a little sugar, to prevent a skin forming.
Allow to cool before serving.
Serves 4

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Restaurant Review

Puccini’s Swinton, Manchester:

‘Puccini’s never disappoints’, – This ‘very genuine & friendly Italian’ gem has been a favourite with ‘discerning local foodies & football stars alike Gray Neville & Ryan Giggs even have pasta dish’s named after them’. Much of Puccini’s success is down to the ‘blessed presence’ of proprietor Michele Pucci and his friendly staff that know their way around the menu, & are happy to give chapter & verse on the ingredients. Pasta is always a good shout – Fettuccine Raimondo, noodles with egg yolk, mushrooms & ham in a tomato & cream sauce. Or try the Risotto Alla Fiorentina, rice sautéed with fresh peppers, onions, ham & tomato sauce are great choices as is the entire menu.  The Italian wine list, rich in glass & carafe choices, is a great accompaniment to the fabulous food and a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes are becoming more and more popular, so what are heirloom tomatoes? This little YouTube film should give you a taster!

You Tube Clip form Expertvillage

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Winter Tomatoes

Winters fast approaching and UK Tomatoes are all but finished. So where do your tomatoes come from for the winter period?
Well the main country we import Tomatoes from in the winter is Spain, but North Africa & Morocco in particular is becoming more popular with the UK retailers & consumers. Moroccan tomato growers are mainly managed by French companies.
I spent 4 days visiting Moroccan tomato growers exploring how they compared to our Spanish growers & was impressed at the quality and varieties they where growing and can say that they were comparable to Spanish tomatoes. The only disadvantage is an extra 12-24 hours in the supply chain. I feel we will see increased volumes of Moroccan tomatoes over the coming years especially Plum, Cherry and Vine tomatoes.

Halloween is only a few weeks away so I thought I’d post a favourite Halloween recipe.

Halloween is only a few weeks away so I thought I’d post a favourite Halloween recipe.

We’ve all cooked or ate Pumpkin soup so I’ve looked for something different and found this recipe on fellow blogger Bron Marshall’s (http://bronmarshall.com) site “take a look it’s great”

  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped or sliced
  • 2 chorizo sausages, approximately 250 grams, sliced
  • 400 grams of pumpkin, peeled and diced
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • 400 ml / grams of chopped peeled tomatoes, or passata
  • 1 cup of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 to 6 cloves of garlic, crushed - to taste
  • freshly ground salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Heat a large cast iron or earthen ware casserole dish on the hob; add the olive oil, onion and chorizo and sauté until very fragrant and golden.

Add the pumpkin, potato cubes and smoked paprika and stir through to coat.

Continue to cook for a couple of minutes, and then just cover the vegetables with enough of the tomatoes and stock.

Stir through the bay leaf, garlic and some freshly ground pepper and salt.

Cover and place into the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the pumpkin and potatoes are tender.

Remove the bay leaf, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve along side some fluffy rice, couscous or simply a crusty baguette.

I’ve tried it and it’s great! Do you have any Halloween Recipes you want to share?

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Whats in season October

This is the main season for apples and pears. The first bramleys are in season. Also available are sweetcorn, marrrow, mushrooms, beetroots, squash, watercress, onions, and leeks. The Jerusalem artichoke season begins, while cauliflowers are at their peak, as are main crop potatoes and carrots, sprouts, and broccoli. Lettuce is running out by the middle of the month, and courgettes finish towards the end.

Christmas is coming fast (I've seen Christmas cards in the shops already!) but whats your favourite Christmas food?

Christmas is coming but what do you like or dislike about Christmas dinner?

My Christmas food hate is Brussels sprouts. I think this goes back to my school days when they were always over cooked & presented almost as a green/yellow mush. This resulted in something that tasted acrid & had the texture of mushy peas.
It's weird as I do like cabbage which I’m told tastes like Brussels sprouts.

In recent years retailers have been selling Brussels sprouts on the stem, this is way of charging a premium for what is actually easier to harvest and cheaper to process, they look nice though!

Brussels Sprout Fact: Brussels sprouts, as with broccoli and other brassicas, contains sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have potent anti-cancer properties. Although boiling reduces the level of the anti-cancer compounds, steaming,, microwaving,, and stir frying does not result in significant loss

Well thats my first ever blog posting I hope you enjoy it and will join in.