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Eat the Seasons - November 2012

In season this month

 

Fruit, Nuts & Fungi

Apples, medlars, pears, quince, raspberries, chestnuts, horse mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, walnuts, wood blewits

Vegetables & Herbs

Artichoke, beetroot, Brussels tops, cabbages, cardoons, carrots, celeriac, celery, chard, chicory, endive, greens, kale, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins, salsify, swede, turnips, nettles, watercress

Meat & Game

Wild goose, grouse, hare, mallard, partridge, pheasant, rabbit, wood pigeon

Fish & Shellfish

Cod, crab, lobster, mackerel, mussels, oysters, prawns, scallops, sea bass, sprats, squid, whiting

Whilst many of us mourn the passing of summer and the ever falling temperatures, for the foodies amongst us there are good things about the colder weather.  The flavour of many vegetables is said to be improved by a frost and shellfish such as scallops, muscles and oysters are at their best in a cold sea.  Plus one of my favourite delicacies – English Truffles are in season from now until March.  The timing of the first frost will end the natural fungi season, apart from Wood Blewitt, which can withstand the frosts and continues to grow until January. 

This month we wanted to include a recipe that would be good to enjoy at a Bonfire Night Party. Always on the hunt for new recipes, our Head Chef Graham spotted a Parkin recipe in the Waitrose ‘Autumn Harvest 2012’ brochure, and - like any true chef would - adapted it to make it his own.  We plan to serve it at our Supper Club on the 25th October, and having already enjoyed his trial batch, I can highly recommend it!  To ring the changes he suggests you could add 100g (about 4oz) of roughly chopped Pecan nuts to the mix.  Most Parkin recipes suggest keeping for a few days before eating to ensure and most and sticky texture, however this version is packed with fruit so it’s really moist and juicy and best served freshly baked.  Be sure to keep any leftovers chilled in an airtight box.

Fig & Pear Parkin
Ingredients (makes 12 squares)

Preparation: 20 minutes  Cook: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 100g slightly salted butter, plus extra to grease
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g oats
  • 3 small ripe pears
  • 4 fresh figs
  • 150g black treacle, plus a little extra to drizzle
  • 150g golden syrup
  • 3 pieces Chinese stem ginger, chopped
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Crème Fraiche, to serve

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 170oc, gas mark 3.
  • Grease and line the base and sides of a 28x24cm shall baking tin or similar-sized roasting tin.  Grease the paper.  Mix together the flour, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl. 
  • Place the oats in a food processor and lightly blend until coarse, then add to the flour. 
  • Quarter and core the pears.  Slice all the fruits into thin wedges and add half to the dry ingredients.
  • Heat the butter in a saucepan with the treacle, golden syrup and stem ginger until the butter has melted but the mixture isn’t boiling. 
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the milk, then the egg.  Add to the flour mixture and mix together.  Turn into the prepared tin and spread to the edges.
  • Scatter with the remaining fruit.  Bake for about 45 minutes until the center feels firm to the touch.  Serve warm or cold, on the same day topped with crème fraiche.