Monday, September 30, 2013

French Food Market.... Heaven for foodies!

I'm just back from my holidays in France and want to share with you one of the best thing France has to offer to it's inhabitants and visitors alike. Farmers' Markets in France are an institution of its own. They are deeply routed into regional history and traditions. You'll probably find a weekly market in almost all French towns, villages and big cities too. Obviously, it is fruit , vegetables and local produce in general that are the mainspring of most markets. The smaller the market, the more of a local producers you'll find. In rural areas, it is still possible to find markets where small farmers sell just their own produce - potatoes, vegetables and fruit in season, flowers, farm-produced cheese and different kinds of meat (both raw and cooked/smoked), home-made bread, lots of seafood (fish, prawn, oysters, mussels), eggs and even a living rabbit or week-old chicks.


You can be sure one thing when buying on a French market - the product you'll buy will be fresh and you can count on an advice from it's producer/seller (as to how to choose it, cook it and/or store it). By the way - would you believe that I completely forgot to buy the artichokes!?!? I had them (tried them) many years ago and wanted to eat them again... Silly me... Aren't they beautiful? Big, round, green flowers - I would almost put them in the vase rather than in the oven ;)


What I did remember to buy was garlic and a lot of it! I don't know if it's only me, but I find it VERY hard to buy a good, tasty and one that doesn't "go bad" after two weeks garlic here in Ireland (most of the ones I can find here in the shops is imported from China...).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Preserves by Pam Corbin (book review)...

"Preserves - River Cottage Handbook No. 2"
by Pam Corbin

 Hardcover (224 pages)

Chapters: Seasonality, The rules, Jam & Jellies, Pickles Chutneys & Relishes, Cordials Fruit Liqueurs & Vinegars, Bottled fruits, Sauces Ketchup & Oil-based preserves, Useful things

River Cottage has a series of great books which are handy guides, in a small format and thick cover. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is a real passionate "foodie" (producer, consumer) - something which hugely contributed into creation of those books. As it's already autumn in the air and it is THAT time of the year for making jams, relishes etc. for the coming winter (and the whole year round) I've picked this book from my shelf to write about - and highly recommend it to you!

Pam Corbin is very strict on health and safety, but everything in a modern, not over complicated way. There are some really useful tips about sterilising, filling and sealing, all in a form of handy, easy to read tables - so even if you're complete novice when it comes to making your own jams, pickles, she'll take you all way through.She explains everything, covers all the basics and more. Explains that like chutneys are not marmalades etc. This book is like a mini encyclopedia of all things in jars.

Of course the real test is in the recipes. I like the way in which book is written and divided into useful and thematical chapters. Each recipe is on its own page and there are lots of useful illustrations.I love the seasonal advice that tells you when to make a particular preserve. Pam also suggests interesting variations which you probably wouldn't think of yourself, like: Whiskey marmalade, Indian spices (like fenugreek) in the rhubarb relish, Pickled crab apples instead of pears and many more.
Things I was surprised with are the recipes on how to make: passata, fruit leather(!), quince jelly and compost heap jelly. She also tells you how rewarding it is to make your own jam or jelly, way more better (and healthier) than buying one from the shop. More to that - this book also teaches about seasonality, which seems to be forgotten in our modern, hectic lives.

Honestly - if you're looking for a big in content, but small in size, book about food preservation don't look any further!


Some of the recipes I've already tried:





Homemade piccalilly








About the author: 
Pam Corbin has been making preserves for as long as she can remember, and for more than twenty years her passion has been her business. Pam and her husband Hugh moved to Devon where they bought an old pig farm and converted it into a small jam factory. Always using good, wholesome, seasonal ingredients, their products, sold under the Thursday Cottage label, soon became firm favourites with jam-lovers the world over. Pam has now hung up her professional wooden spoon but continues to 'jam' at home. She also works closely with the River Cottage team, making seasonal goodies using fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers from her own garden, from Park Farm, and from the fields and hedgerows. - by rivercottage.net

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tart Tatin.... recipe by Michel Roux.

I'm a BIG fan of tart tatin! I can have it literally at any time day or night - and if you throw in some vanilla ice-cream with that... Mmmm... Nothing better than that now :) There are lots of recipes for Tart Tatin out there and they vary between each other slightly - not much as the principles are the same each time. This version of the famous desserts belongs to Michel Roux and it is fool proof. Hope you'll try it - especially if you're using ready made shop bought pastry - the rest is quite simple and quick to do.



How to make it...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Asian & Turkish pickled eggs...

Pickled eggs are literally everywhere when you live in UK or Ireland. I finally(!) had to try them. I didn't want to go to the shop tho and just buy them as I was afraid they will be very vinegary (and I'm NOT a fan of vinegar...) So after finding something on Pinterest I decided that it's a high time I finally man up and do it! ;) I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to prepare it - apart from boiling the eggs there's hardly any work involved. You just have to wait a week and... you'll end up with nice, spicy, not boring eggs - perfect for your sandwich, salad or just on it's own with ketchup (as my lil Baby J liked the most).




"Pickled eggs are typically hard boiled eggs that are cured in vinegar or brine. This was originally done like many foods as a way to preserve the food so that it could be eaten months later; pickled eggs have since become a favorite among many as a snack or hors d'œuvre popular in pubs, bars and taverns, and around the world in places where beer is served.
After the eggs are hard boiled, the shell is removed and they are submerged in a solution of vinegar, salt, spices, and other seasonings. Recipes vary from the traditional brine solution used for pickles to other solutions which can impart a sweet or spicy taste." - by Wikipedia.org

 How to make it...

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Hasselback potatoes...

This simple recipe for baked potatoes is all over the Internet (especially on Pinterest). I finally had to try them. Just the other day we got quite big rooster potatoes and I thought they'll be perfect for that! It turned out to be very easy (although a little bit tricky) to make and the taste is amazing. A cross between baked/roasted potatoes and French fries. Delicious!
While doing some research on this method of roasting/baking potatoes I've learned that the recipe originates from Sweden and that traditionally it also calls for breadcrumbs and cheese. My version was simpler (but I'll be definietly trying the original idea very soon!).
Hope you'll try and do make them! They are amazing! My 3 years old Baby J loved pealing slice by slice and putting the whole piece into her little mouth saing "I love them mummy!" I honestly can't give you a better recommendation than that :)




How to make them...