After a long and cold winter, February brings a welcome ingredient in the form of new, seasonal fruit. Even those of us who preserve summer fruit gluts can't help but get excited at the prospect of fresh new flavours, and there are several delicious things to look out for in this tail-end of winter:
February fruits in season
These delicious, richly coloured citrus fruits are available from December to May, but they tend to be most widely available in the UK in January and February. There are three main varieties, Tarocco, Moro and Sanguinello, and their rich colour intensifies as the temperature drops! Blood oranges are usually bought as a seasonal fruit for marmalade making, but they also work brilliantly in recipes.
Why not try this Blood Orange curd, which would be great for Valentine's Day served in a glass jar with a sprinkle of dried rose petals? It only needs four ingredients too, so it's deceptively simple, despite its beautiful flavour and appearance.
To make it, take a bowl and whisk together the juice and finely-grated zest of two blood oranges, half a regular orange and half a lemon, with 220g of caster sugar, 110g of unsalted butter and four large egg yolks. Place the bowl above a saucepan of simmering water so that the bowl doesn't actually touch the water. Continue to whisk the mix until it thickens, but don't let it overcook and curdle. Let the mix cool down and then pour it into a large glass jar or a set of four glass jars or ramekins.
Decorate for Valentines Day with whatever takes your fancy! This curd is a great dessert after a roast dinner or lamb dish, and it pairs particularly well with almonds too - perhaps a bowl of amaretti biscuits for the contrasting crunch. Find the full recipe here: https://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/blood-orange-curd/
If you're tired of apples, then maybe it's time to try a new variety! Did you know that over 2,500 varieties of apple have been developed in the UK? So, if you're still sticking firmly to those Cox's, it could be time to hunt down a Lord Lambourne or Egremont Russet! One of the best ways to serve apples as a dessert is to simply bake them. Even better, you can do this in the slow cooker, so that they bake beautifully to soft perfection and without the expense of the oven. Simply core baking apples, fill with mincemeat and chopped almonds, pare the skin around the middle as they tend to 'pop' and place them on a layer of tin foil. Put them in the slow cooker on the lowest setting for a couple of hours and check them now and again.
Delicate and fragrant, pears taste beautiful served simply, perhaps poached in red wine and cinnamon and served with a dollop of Greek Yoghurt if you're feeling virtuous or mascarpone if you fancy a treat. Pears are also wonderful on top of a flan, and this is one of those dishes that can be whizzed together as a 'cheat' pudding with a ready-made flan case, some ready-bought fresh custard and some fresh cream. Combine the custard and cream, fill the flan case and then chip the pears very finely before layering them over the top! Voila! No one will ever know that you had a little help...
Towards the end of the month, early rhubarb may start to become available too. Rhubarb is delicious in traditional crumble, in pies, or incorporated into sweet tray bakes. It's also a surprisingly good ingredient in savoury dishes! For example, rhubarb can be used to enliven sweet and sour sticky ribs. Often, recipes use vinegar to provide the necessary acid tang that balances the sweetness, but in this recipe, the rhubarb provides the sharpness and a fruity depth of flavour that is surprising and delicious. It's also complemented here with orange juice to provide the sweetness, rather than brown sugar.
The other secret to this recipe is the spice mix, which can be made at home with spices that are probably already in your cupboard. Find it here: https://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/sticky-ribs-rhubarb-ginger-chilli/
Stock up on glass jars
Glass jars make beautiful serving dishes for informal puddings, and they work very well for desserts that you're preparing ahead and storing in the fridge. Check out our range for some beautiful options at great prices. Not only is our range huge but we also offer very fast delivery at excellent prices. See the full glass jar range here: https://www.waresofknutsford.co.uk/jars/
Remember, too, that if you have any queries, the Wares customer service team is always here to help! Simply contact us during office hours, and we will be delighted to assist you - it's all part of the customer experience at Wares of Knutsford and the reason our customers choose us every time!