As soon as I saw the description of the contents of this week's gourmet box, I knew I wanted it. I asked the nice guys at Abel & Cole if I could have a delivery a week earlier than planned (my original plan was to have a box every two weeks and I have already blogged about the boxes I and II, here and here).
I love the sight of the purple carrots. They are just beautiful.
These lovely bunched carrots are from Pollybell farm on the Isle of Axholme in Lincolnshire. The Isle of Axholme is an ancient agricultural site, surrounded by the three rivers Don, Trent and Idle.
I also found it endearing that they are grown by the river Don, as there is of course the Don river in the south of Russia where my grandparents used to live. I just talked to my Mum on the phone, and she told me that the purple carrots grow wild in the Don river area. How's that for a coincidence?
I did not know that the purple carrots were "actually the norm before the orange ones came into fashion. These are the Purple Haze variety, and taste as stunning as they look – cut into them to see the orange colour inside". I love the idea that you can read about each product on the site and find lots of interesting information.
Just read how they describe the Romanesco - "Romanseco is the Rolls Royce of cauliflowers. It’s a touch nutty and a bit less creamy than your average white cauli... These stunning romanesco cauliflowers are grown by Matthew Murton at Arrow Organics in Pembridge, Herefordshire. The farm, The Leen, is a real bit of British history - it's noted in the Doomsday Book and there's even evidence that it's a few centuries older than that!"
Eddie is very interested in the contents of the box. He picked up the mushrooms and veg to inspect them carefully. Here is Eddie exploring the veg box.
Now what do we cook first? Choices, choices? I also ordered some persimmons aka Sharon fruit aka kaki (which sounds very funny in Russian, as it basically means poo. That's what we tell to young babies when they pick up something from the floor "Foo, kaka". Doesn't take much to amuse me, does it?) And kind people at Abel & Cole sent a free bottle of milk too. That's our milkshakes sorted.
Watch this space, I will be adding photos and recipes to this post.
The meaty Portobello mushrooms were asking to be be stuffed and baked. I had some cranberry bread going stale, so I grated 4 tbsps of crumbs. One small shallot was chopped and fried quickly with the olive oil and one clove of garlic, finely chopped. We always have a parmesan in the fridge, so I grated it and added to the crumbs & onion-garlic mixture. That was my stuffing for the mushrooms. Slightly drizzle the olive oil over the mushrooms, add salt if you like and stuffing on the top. It takes about 20 minutes to cook in the oven at 180C.
"Pink Fir Apple potatoes are a very special breed. “In Victorian times they were considered an aphrodisiac,” says Andrew Dennis, who grows them for us in the Lincolnshire fens. This heritage variety is unique in many ways. For one, it has an exceptionally delicious nutty taste. “They also have a really funny, knobbly shape,” says Andrew. “Because of this, they must be picked by hand.”"
Don't know about the Victorians, they must have been a very easily excitable species, if they got randy at the sight (taste) of the knobbly bits. Once I hit the bed, I fell into slumber at once (being sleep-deprived for years with my both guys, you get more excited by the prospect of sleep than whatever any aphrodisiacs might promise).
Here are the sexy potatoes if you don't have a clue what I am talking about.
I parboiled the potatoes, cut into chunks, then drizzled olive oil over them and roasted. They were very nice, as nutty as promised.
The final result: mini chipolatas in the onion gravy, stuffed mushrooms and roast potatoes.
Update on 17/11/11
Trofie with the purple carrots and pork meatballs
The other day our local Waitrose had a lot of reduced price food in the meat counter, and I snapped some pork burgers with the wild mushrooms and also Italian style sausages. Don't we all like a bargain?! They went in the freezer, as I did not plan to cook them immediately. Yesterday the two burgers were defrosted and mixed with a grated purple carrot to add an extra favour and texture to the meat. I rolled the smal size meatballs. First they went in the frying pan for a light browning, then they were transferred into a small ceramic dish and baked in the oven for 20 minutes at 180C.
Another purple carrot was chopped and put into the pan with the boiling water together with the chopped potato. I cooked them separately from the pasta, as the carrot colours water in a very distinctive bright hue.
The trofie pasta was cooked in a big pan of salted water. Once drained, it was mixed with the cooked potato and carrot and 3 heaped tablespoons of pesto.
Serve with the grated parmesan on top.
Add several meatballs to the dish.
A beetroot of a fabulous deep claret colour and purple carrots inspired me to go back to my roots and make a classic Russian salad called Vinegret (a bastardised version of the word Vinaigrette), which is a very healthy salad. It is best served with some chopped salted herring (not the marinated horror that you find in the most delis) and a shot of vodka (not that I would know, as I do not drink vodka).
I will do a separate post for Vinegret, as it truly deserves a place of its own.
The green pepper, stuffed with risotto and sausagemeat.