Eat Tapas Day Monday 28th February 2011

I have been sent an email about Spanish cuisine, produce and ‘Eat Tapas Day’ which is on Monday 28th February.

The information I have been given says that,

The fiesta, which falls on a Monday, is dedicated to the great Spanish custom of accompanying drinks with a small plate of food or ‘tapa’. Tradition has it that barmen in the Andalusian capital Seville, began the practice by placing slices of ham or cheese on top of glasses of sherry to protect them from flies; ‘tapa’ literally translates as ‘cover’ in Spanish. Tapas have since developed into a national obsession with most bars in Spain specialising in a particular dish. Going from bar to bar and trying a variety of tapas in each, known as ‘tapear’, is the favoured night out for Andalusians.

On ‘Eat Tapas Day’ the UK public is encouraged to have a go at making their own tapas feast or to search out their nearest Spanish restaurant. The farmers chose the 28th of February as it coincides with ‘Andalusia Day’, an important public holiday in Andalusia celebrating the region’s autonomy, culture and famous local produce such as tomatoes, peppers and aubergines.

Spain’s southern region of Andalusia is the home of much of what we think of as typically Spanish. It’s the birthplace of flamenco and fans and home to postcard-perfect sun-bleached villages. The cuisine is just as famous in its own right: gazpacho, Ibérico ham and sherry are some of the more well known Andalusian delicacies.

The area is nicknamed “Europe’s Vegetable Garden”, and fresh produce such as tomatoes, peppers and aubergines have always been at the heart of Andalusian cooking. The region is also the world’s largest producer of olive oil! Enjoying a taste of Andalusia’s healthy and vibrant cuisine has never been easier, as lots of the region’s finest fresh produce is available in UK supermarkets and green grocers.

I was also sent a series of recipes to share with you and here is my favourite Spanish recipe:

Andalusian Chicken Stew with Peppers

Andalusian Chicken Stew With Peppers

Andalusian Chicken Stew With Peppers

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour

Serves: 4

2 red peppers

2 green peppers

2 yellow peppers

4 tbsp olive oil

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika (pimentón)

4 chicken legs

50g Serrano ham

250g tomatoes, chopped

250ml white wine

salt and pepper

Preheat the grill to high. Halve the peppers and cook under the grill for 20 minutes.

Place the peppers in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to cool. When cooled, deseed and peel the peppers then cut into slices.

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the garlic gently for a minute. Remove and reserve. Add the chicken and ham to the pan and cook until the chicken is golden brown. Add the tomatoes, wine, reserved garlic, paprika and the sliced peppers. Cover and cook over a low heat for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Serve with rice and green beans dressed with olive oil.

Calories per serving-

474kcals

23g fat

5g saturated fat

39g protein

17g carbohydrate

15g sugars

4g fibre

0.5g salt

Let me know if you try this recipe!

For further information on Eat Tapas Day and for more tapas recipes visit www.andalusianfreshproduce.co.uk.


The Taste Adventure Birmingham NEC November 2010

The Taste Adventure is a hands on activity aimed at four to ten year olds, which encourages children to engage their five senses when eating and enjoying food.

The Taste Adventure was launched by Slow Food UK and is supported by grainchain.com For those interested in taking part in the Taste Adventure, the next Taste Adventure will be at the BBC Good Food Show at Birmingham NEC on the 27 & 28 November 2010.

Here’s a video to give you a taster of The Taste Adventure.

If you are passionate about food and want to pass this passion onto children, then why not take them along to the Taste Adventure.

Let me know if you go along.


Pumpkin Carving & Halloween Jack O Lanterns

With Halloween only a day away and a friend of mine selling pumpkins, I thought I would write about pumpkin carving and making a Jack O’ Lantern Pumpkin.

Jack o Lanterns are popular at Halloween (31st October).

Children love to help to make the lantern.  (For Safety – Adults can do the cutting/carving work and the children can scoop out the insides and draw the face on the front!)

1. Choose a pumpkin from your vegetable patch or buy a large pumpkin.
2. Cut a circular hole around the stalk of the pumpkin. (Try to tilt the point of the knife into the centre of the pumpkin as this will help to stop the lid from falling in.)
3. Scoop out the seeds and any loose flesh using a spoon and the knife if needed.
4. Sketch a face onto the pumpkin. Use a biro so any mistakes can be scrubbed off with a scouring pad or fingernail.
5. Carefully cut out the features of the face.
6. Scrape away the flesh on the inside of the face until it is only 1cm thick.
7. Using a knife, mark a circle the size of your candle or tea-light in the centre of the base.
8. Carefully hollow out the marked area with a teaspoon.
9. Place a candle in the hollow, light it and replace the lid of your jack-o’-lantern.

The inner flesh of the pumpkin can be:

* used to make soup.
* boiled to make mashed pumpkin and served with a main meal.
* cut up small, fried or roasted and added to a pasta or rice dish.

The pumpkin seeds can be roasted and eaten as a snack or added to a salad.

On the TV yesterday I saw a chef using different coloured squashes to create different affects. A black squash with it’s orangy flesh looks great!

He also showed how to make meal times more interesting by actually using your pumpkin as the dish for your food! You can carve the pumpkins in the same way as above and then roast the pumpkins in the oven and then instead of placing a candle inside why not pep up your Halloween teatime with some brains – avocado and mayonnaise salad placed inside the pumpkin to look like brains or why not add some bolognaise mince with a tomato pasta sauce to create a bloody affect!

Enjoy your pumpkin carving and lantern making. Let me know how you get on and why not send me a picture of your lantern!

Happy Halloween!


Double Yolked Eggs – Are Double Yolks On The Increase?

I have read that double yolked hen eggs are caused by two eggs separating from the birds ovary at the same time and joining into one egg!

I would like to know if double yolks are on the increase. I rarely get a double yolk duck, hen, guinea fowl or quail egg. Occasionally we have had a double yolked quail egg but I have never had a twin yolked guinea fowl egg.

I am posing the question about whether double yolkers are on the increase as I received an interesting email from Sarah yesterday.

“I have read today in national paper one womans shock at all 6 of her eggs being twin yolks and that the british egg forum states its rare and to find 1 in a box is 1000 – 1 chance. However, I would like to point out that the cheaper eggs that I have been buying from “well known supermarket” are nearly always twin yolks. Easily 6 twin yolks this week in the 10 I have used so far. Im sure if it was looked into this is more common than the experts think. What I would like to know is…how can this be happening so often. What are they doing to the chickens! Is this a case of more interference with nature with inevitably a knock on effect in the human diet? Sarah B”

Thought this was interesting so if you wish to enter the debate then please feel free to comment, would love to know what you think. You can either leave a comment here on the website or you can catch up with the debate on the farmingfriends forum.


Sustainable Seabass Fishery Visit

On Saturday, 26th June 2010 we are taking my mother in law and father in law to Withernsea for a Slow Food North Yorkshire Seabass Fishery Visit.

Our host for the day will be Food Journalist/Historian/Chef/Beekeeper/local lad Gerard Baker. The day consists of going down to the beach to BBQ some fresh fish, have a picnic, swim (I grew up on the East Coast, do they not know how cold the North Sea is !!), set the shrimping nets and hear from Shaun all about the sustainable fishery.

In the afternoon we will then go to meet Gerard’s bees (10 min drive) where there will be the opportunity to ask questions and buy honey.

If you live in the area and are interested in eating locally sourced food then let us know and I’ll put you in touch with the Slow Food North Yorkshire Group. Look forward to seeing you there and if you can’t make it or live too far away for the Seabass visit I will tell you all about it on my return!


National Food Weeks In The UK 2010

I have been asked about national food weeks that are celebrated in the UK.

After a google search I have found the following national food weeks are celebrated in the UK.

Some of the dates are for 2009 and the dates for 2010 have to be confirmed.

  • British Yorkshire Pudding Day Annually on the 1st Sunday in February – Sunday 7th February 2010
  • National Bramley Apple Week (UK) 7th – 14th February 2010
  • National Chip Week UK 15th – 21st February 2010
  • National Bread Week 7th – 13th May 2010
  • May is Asparagus Month
  • National Honey Week (UK) 4th – 10th May 2009
  • National Doughnut Week 8th – 15th May 2010
  • National Herb Week – 6th – 9th May 2009
  • National Vegetarian week 24th – 30th May 2010
  • National Watercress Week 16th – 23rd May 2010
  • British Sandwich Week 16th-22nd May 2010
  • National Barbecue Week (UK)25th to 31st May 2009
  • National Salad Week (UK) 7th – 13th July.
  • British Cheese Week 25th September – 3rd October 2010
  • National Steak Week from October 12-18
  • National Chocolate Week (UK)12th – 18th October 2009
  • British Sausage Week 2nd -8th November 2009
  • National Curry Week 21-27 November 2010

Let me know if there are any other food celebrations in the UK that I have missed.


Farmhouse Breakfast Week January 2010

I have just been reading that this January (2010) will be the 11th annual Farmhouse Breakfast Week organised by the HGCA.

Farmhouse Breakfast Week highlights the benefits of starting the day with a healthy balanced breakfast and is a great opportunity to celebrate the rich wealth of breakfast foods found across the country.

What is your favourite breakfast? My favourite is hot croissants with butter, bacon and cheese or a soft boiled guinea fowl egg with wholemeal toast cut into soldiers!

Farmhouse Breakfast Week will take place the week of the 24th-30th January 2010. So how will you celebrate Farmhouse Breakfast Week?


Labelling Pork – Defra Introduce New Code Of Practice

I was interested to read in the Farmers Guardian about Defra drawing up a new code of practice for labelling pork products.

The new code of  practice will see retailers and processors clearly displaying the origin of the pork on the front of packets which will see an end to ambiguous labelling that has previously seen imported meat that is processed in the UK and then labelled as “produced in Britain.”

The Farmers Guardian article states that, “The code is expected to come into force on February 1 next year, and will mean pork products labelled ‘British’ will have to be produced from animals born, reared and slaughtered in Britain.”

I was pleased to read that the major retailers Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s as well as processors Cranswick, Vion and Tulip have all signed up to the code.

I am glad to hear about this labelling as I am always scrutinising the food labels to see where meat that I buy is produced and since rearing my own pork for the last two years I have become even more aware of where and how the pork I eat is reared and produced.


Facts About Macadamia Nuts

I have been sent some information to help promote the healthy benefits of eating macadamia nuts, they make a great healthy snack idea!

Macadamias can make an enormous contribution to a balanced, healthy diet and lifestyle. They have a higher level of monounsaturated fats (“good fats”) than other nuts, meaning they can help to combat an abnormally raised cholesterol level and promote heart health.

  • Ten Macadamia nuts a day can help reduce cholesterol.
  • Eating Macadamia nuts can help reduce high blood pressure.
  • Macadamia nuts are beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Macadamia nuts can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
  • 10 whole macadamia nuts or 20 halves (50g) has no significant carb-content and so therefore has no effect on blood sugar levels.
  • Macadamia nuts offer the highest levels of monounsaturated fats of any food including other nuts.
  • They contain omega 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids, a complex mix which helps to balance hormones, improve nerve function, memory and concentration, and improve skin texture.
  • The nuts are also high in fibre, antioxidant polyphenols, vitamins and minerals and are a great source of protein.

This makes macadamia’s an ideal snack, especially if on a diet or in training as they give you that full feeling for longer and more likely to avoid temptation.

A range of healthy eating recipes, in depth information and research about the health benefits of Macadamia nuts is available from the Macadamia Advice Centre.


Ducks Eggs Can Be Eaten

I am often asked if you can eat duck eggs. The answer is definately yes. Duck eggs can be used in the same way as hen eggs.

They are particularly good for:

  • omelettes
  • pancakes
  • poaching
  • scrambling

If you enjoy a fry up or a boiled egg for breakfast then a duck egg is a good substitute for a hen egg as it is a large egg!

An excellent serving suggestion for soft boiled duck eggs is to serve them with asparagus.

Duck eggs are excellent for making light and spongy cakes, buns and miffins.

Don’t use duck eggs for making Yorkshire puddings as the Yorkshire puddings tend to be heavy and don’t rise very well.

This is what some of the farmingfriends forum members had to say about duck eggs.

How do you like to eat and use duck eggs, please let us know.