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Jo’s Healthy Kitchen – September, 2022 Newsletter

I don’t know if you have missed reading my monthly newsletter but, after taking a few months off, I certainly missed writing it and your positive feedback.

September signals a return to routine after the relaxed timetable of summer – back to school, no more leaving the office early on a Friday – and it is amazing how the weather suddenly cools after Labor Day as if on cue. In fact, before you know it you are thinking of getting ahead with Christmas shopping or, in the, UK making your Christmas Cake or Christmas Pudding.

Throughout the year there are all sorts of National Food Days and September has its fair share of them, including ‘Hug a Vegetarian Day’ – I suggest letting them know ahead of time to avoid a potentially embarrassing moment! There is also National Key Lime Pie Day (best place for Key Lime Pie is Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe with two stores in Key West and they will ship them too – www.keylimeshop.com, National Guacamole Day, National Coffee Day and, for some reason, National Hot Cross Bun Day (they are traditionally associated with Easter).

I often give edible gifts for birthdays or Christmas, as a thank you or as a little something to cheer a friend up. The Charming Bakery (www.charmingbakery.co.uk) makes all sorts of brownies – triple chocolate, salted caramel, peanut crunch, raspberry blondie and more and there are vegan and gluten free options too. They are shipped by the dozen in a gift box. Try the Bestseller’s Box and sample all the various varieties.

If you only winter in the Palm Beach area you may have missed the opening of the Hive Bakery and Cafe. Open for breakfast and lunch, it serves a wonderful array of breads and pastries and light, healthy lunches served by very cheerful, efficient staff. It is largely a ladies’ lunch spot and the best place to sit is in the back room which is light and airy. Good for lunch after a visit to the Norton Museum.

The Cheltenham Literary Festival (UK) is coming around again – October 7th – 16th. It is on my bucket list but I never seem to be in the UK at the right time and the one time I was and had tickets to hear Nigella Lawson speak, I had to cancel due to family illness. As always, the line up of speakers is tremendous, interesting and varied and the tickets start at very reasonable prices. Food writers and chefs who are there this year include Stanley Tucci, Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Delia Smith, Heston Blumenthal and The Hairy Bikers. You can also have ‘Tea with Nadiya Hussain’ or listen to Emma Freud talking with Mary Berry.

Cake in a Mug has been a bit of a trend recently, though I have never actually tried it. However, googling about a bit, I now find that various cake companies have jumped on the bandwagon. It is something quick, easy and fun to do with children or grandchildren and takes no time at all in the microwave. Duncan Hines has a great range – www.duncanhines.com/mug-cakes-and-cups.

Lamb is not to everyone’s taste – some find it fatty or that it has too strong a flavor. I happen to love it in all its guises – chops, a Sunday roast, Shepherd’s Pie. I have also enjoyed a Barnsley lamb chop which is a double lamb chop not easily found except in a good, local butcher and a ‘hogget’ tenderloin. What is hogget? Let’s start with what is lamb – obviously a baby sheep but it is defined as being of either sex, without permanent incisor teeth and up to a year old. After that the lamb is termed a hogget, again of either sex and having no more than two permanent incisor teeth (not actually sure why the teeth aspect is important) and then there is mutton which comes from either a ewe or a castrated male called a ‘wether’ and they have more than two permanent teeth. All this is mostly extraneous as lamb sold here in the US is between 12 and 14 months old. Hogget is rarely served although it is making a comeback in the North of England, which is where I experienced it – delicious and tender. Mutton seems to have really fallen out of favor and you will rarely find it for sale partly because there has been a decline in the domestic wool industry.

Cassoulet, that traditional French country stew combining duck confit, pork, sausage and white beans is a dish that I love but have never made myself and now I don’t need to worry as d’Artagnan sells a cassoulet kit which takes the hard work out of confiting several duck’s legs and trying to track down the right kind of French ingredients – ventreche, garlic sausage, etc. A quick look at the cooking instructions online shows that it is quite easy to prepare although the actual cooking will take several hours and the beans need to soak for 24 hours – www.dartagnan.com

BOOK OF THE MONTH – Claudia Roden’s Mediterranean

Claudia Roden is a well known cookery writer and, to my mind ranks, alongside the likes of Elizabeth David, Julia Child, Madhur Jaffrey, to name a few, who have exposed us to different cuisines and recipes and encouraged us to try them. Roden’s area of expertise is Middle Eastern cooking. I was given her latest book, Claudia Roden’s Mediterranean – Treasured Recipes from a Lifetime of Travel, for my birthday and it really draws you in with its lavish photography, not just of her dishes but of scenes from around the region. The recipes are easy to follow and clearly written and, while you may have to buy a few new spices, the ingredients generally are easy to find in your local supermarket. I am thoroughly enjoying cooking my way through this book and highly recommend it.

TV SERIES OF THE MONTH – Rick Stein’s India

Rick Stein, best known for his famous fish restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall, UK and his seafood cookery books embarks on a trip around India in a quest to find the perfect curry and what constitutes the perfect curry. This is not a new series but equally it doesn’t date – great photography too. You can watch it on Amazon Prime.

PRODUCT OF THE MONTH – Avocado Hugger

The problem with avocados is that they go brown quickly and that is an annoying problem if you only need to use half an avocado in your smoothie/salad/avocado toast. Yes, you can sprinkle it with lemon juice and that is somewhat successful. Enter the avocado food hugger which appears to do the trick (available from Amazon).

STORE OF THE MONTH – Joseph’s Classic Market

I made my first ever trip to Joseph’s Classic Market, an Italian specialty store in Palm Beach Gardens, FL having heard friends rave about it and it was a very pleasant experience. On entering, the first thing that struck me was how bright and clean and beautifully displayed everything was. So as not to miss anything, I leisurely wandered the aisles and departments – produce, deli, meat, seafood, a dedicated pizza counter, cheeses from all over the world, a bakery and lastly the ready to go offerings. The fresh vegetables were neatly stacked and there was such an array of color. There were pre-prepared vegetables too – peppers, onions and mushrooms ready to be threaded on a skewer for the BBQ, a trio of different colored chunks of cauliflower (purple, yellow and white) which I am going to roast. Both the seafood and meat departments were temptingly laid out with a selection of different cuts and varieties of fish and again some pre-prepared items like seafood salad, bacon wrapped pork tenderloin and braciole. The shelves were packed with Italian products from pasta to sauces to some Joseph’s own brand. What was really impressive was the selection of ready to go gourmet food. If you like to eat well but are not a fan of cooking this is the place for you.There is a wealth of choice, mainly traditional Italian dishes – a mountain of meatballs, Chicken Francese, Chicken Marsala, lasagna, side dishes like broccoli rabe, roasted vegetables, roasted potatoes. It was hard to make a decision. All the dishes were beautifully presented on gleaming white plates – they absolutely glistened – and where appropriate were decorated with an orchid blossom. There are locations in Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Palm Beach Gardens and, to my delight, will soon open on S. Dixie, West Palm Beach.

RECIPE OF THE MONTH – Linguine con Acciughe e Olive Nere (serves 4)

This is my latest recipe, a quick Italian pasta dish. You can sprinkle a few capers over at the end of cooking if you like.

10 oz. gluten free linguine (2 oz. is recommended per person so I threw in a bit extra)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic – cut into little pieces
1 tin of anchovy fillets with salt – drained and sliced
12 black olives – pitted and cut into small pieces
2 tbsp. parley – finely chopped
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
Capers – optional

Cook and drain the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a frying pan and when hot, but not sizzling, add the garlic and let soften but not brown. Tip in the sliced anchovies (you will be surprised, they will melt before your very eyes, hence you can’t see them in the recipe only taste them).
When the anchovies have melted turn off the heat and stir in the olives and parsley.
Add the mixture to the linguine, pour over a tablespoon of olive oil, the lemon juice and season with freshly ground black pepper.
Toss well and serve.

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