Let’s have a conference about pears…..conference pears that is. Conference is the most widely grown pear in the UK, probably not because it is the finest tasting although it does have good flavour, but because it is easy to grow and easy to store. It is a true heritage pear though, being bred by one of the most famous Victoria fruit tree breeders, the Rivers nursery.
I have a confession to make. I am a bit of an apple traitor. Normally I would always say, buy local, buy British, support UK farmers. I should, as a Brit and the friend of an English apple farmer, be championing the cox or other apples grown here. However my favourite apple is Pink Lady an apple that is impossible to grow legally in the UK. The reason it is impossible is that it is still under plant breeders rights and the breeder will not allow it to be grown here as conditions are not ideal and they wish to maintain its premier image. So what to do?
Growing your own has certain advantages, the sweetness of sweetcorn taken straight from the plant and plunged in to boiling water, peas eaten straight from the pod. A third is choosing plant varieties, many of which have superior eating qualities but do not store well so are not stocked by supermarkets. Arran pilot is one of those. First developed in the 1930’s it was never commercially a success but is a favourite among allotmenteers. It is a first early potato so one of the earliest to be harvested, from about mid June but starts to deteriorate in flavour and texture within about 2 weeks of harvesting so the only way you will try it is if you grow your own.
There is something very satisfying about scraping back the soil to reveal your first potato harvest. If you just can’t wait to try your homegrown potatoes then a small sowing of Rocket may be for you. Rocket is a first early and is one of the earliest potato crops in the UK. It probably just pips Swift to the crown of earliest potatoes. Rock can be lifted, in warmer parts of the UK where frost protection has been given as early as late May, for most it will be about 10-12 weeks after planting.
I’m on a constant quest to find a chilli that tastes as good as a habanero with it’s beautiful fruity tang but not quite a much heat. Havana gold is touted by the seed catalogues as being such a chilli but does it live up to its reputation?
The biggest difference you will see between the UK and the USA/Canada at this time of year are the halloween decorations. Even though the UK was the home of the pagan Samhain which is the father of halloween, it generally passes most people by. In contrast in the US and Canada there were streets of…
What do you think of when you think of Italy? For me it is holiday memories, fields and fields of sunflowers, sitting on the edge of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pompeii and Herculaneum and the most memorable part of the whole day (I’m almost embarrassed to say) was eating lunch in what I think was little more than a small garage with a wood fired pizza oven in the back which served the most amazing pizza Napolitano
Falafel can easily be bought from the supermarket and you seem to be able to buy them in an increasing array of flavours from sweet potato to beetroot. Interesting as they may be, nothing beat the taste of freshly cooked hand-made falafel.
I first started playing around with a recipie for vegetable chilli when I found a tin of jackfruit in our local supermarket. Jackfruit is all the rage at the moment as a meat substitute as it has a texture similar to pulled pork and a mild taste so cit an be used in vegan pulled…
We first tried padron peppers over twenty years ago in a small restaurant on a keyside in Mallorca. I still remember my mothers excitement the first time she saw the peppers for sale in the UK nearly fifteen years later which goes to show just how much this very simple dish had stuck in our…
“Most cookbooks assume that if the reader follows the recipe to the letter, they’ll get a dish right first time. This is so wrong. If you’re making hollandaise for the first time, you will, of course, screw it up” Or so said Anthony Bourdain who was Gordon Ramsey before Gordon Ramsey and much much worse. Making…
For most vegetable varieties grown by amateurs, choosing the wrong variety or growing them incorrectly causes only short term annoyance, easily remedied and a lesson learned for next year.
Not so with asparagus. If I were to say to you that building an asparagus bed takes as much effort as a planning a wedding I wouldn’t be far wrong.
Brits reading this site will remember the famous slogan “Beans means Heinz” and for over a hundred years we’ve been sitting down to baked beans on toast for breakfast or lunch, so much so we seem to have almost forgotten that baked beans are an American introduction.
We first had this sitting on kindergarten sized chairs in a small street cafe in Hanoi old quarter with wail of mopeds horns buzzing by echoing in our ears. The place was so tiny that the owned produced only a handful of dishes, completely fresh, zingy and alongside the street bustle a wonderful assault on the senses.
Thai food is one of the most fragrant and vibrant cuisines. However most of the pastes and sauces that you can buy from supermarkets fall far short of the mark. Making Thai food from scratch produces something that will make you jump up and down with sheer delight with it’s aromatic, vivid and punchy flavours….
If you want to confuse your friends try feeding them Green Zebra Tomatoes. These were bred in the 1980’s by the famous tomato breeder Tom Wagner and whilst ripe tomatoes will take on a slightly yellow tone, they never stray far from the name that they are given.