Over the last few years, food fashion has shifted away from the quirky and sometimes crazy molecular gastronomy of the last decades to a focus on fresh, local produce cooked at its best. I am not about to don my wellies and skip off down a country path in search of dandelion leaves, although leaving a juicy blackberry on a bush is pretty much sacrilege. Really, though, this new fashion has had very little impact on the way I cook except that I have started to pay more attention to the ingredients of the season.
In part, this focus on seasonality is due to the fact that my parents have a vegetable garden, which provides me with a plentiful source of free food. However, if you grow it yourself, you can’t get asparagus in December. This puts me in a bit of a bind because the veg selection gets a little bit more limited at this time of year; there are only so many ways you can cook a carrot!
Beetroot is one thing that comes into its own in winter though and its earthy flavour is a really comforting addition to many dishes. This dish is a really simple mid-week supper that makes great use of seasonal produce. It’s warming and comforting without being too heavy, meaning it is a great antidote to the plethora of stews and pies and puddings that will have you heaving your gut off the floor come January.
It seems that in the last week the thermometer has plummeted. We were said to have had the warmest halloween ever and yet this week has seen me lusting after winter coats online as frost and fog has suddenly set in. This kind of weather is fantastic though because it excuses proper warming, filling dinners and allows any thoughts of weight-loss to be pushed out of the brain in favour of dreams of mince-pies and mulled wine.
One of my favourite winter-warmer style dinners is fish pie. Nothing fancy just classic, hearty, british food. You might think this a bit of a luxury especially those of you who are starting to feel the pinch in the no mans land between loan payments. But this is actually a fairly cheap dinner and you can get a few portions out of it so, if you’re not in the beans on toast stage yet, give this a go and it will definitely help you get through the next few hypothermic months! Continue reading
There has been an incident at my house. The equilibrium of our middle class lives has been shattered. My mum has sprained her ankle. It is the biggest news of the year. The ground troops have been called in for back up, i.e. me. My first good turn (a brownie guide must do three good turns everyday) as substitute woman of the house was to cook everyone dinner. Sound easy, not so. My dad had been instructed to buy Salmon, easy dinner she thought. My first thought was salmon tacos with guacamole, roasted peppers and rice. My dad doesn’t really like Mexican. So then maybe a nice warm salmon salad with grilled courgette. He doesn’t really like salad either. Basically give my dad an overcooked pork chop with overcooked veggies and boiled potatoes and he will be happy, he’s old-fashioned that way. The recipe I came up with is traditional with a twist. It was completely made up but I think it works. It is not the cheapest dish in the world but for entertaining or pleasing fussy parents it is perfect.
By far the easiest way to cook salmon, or any fish in fact, is in a tinfoil parcel, in the oven. You don’t get the crispy skin that frying would give but on the other hand the fish will not dry out, it stays lovely and flakey. If this recipe looks a little complex/ pricey for you you could equally make the risotto on it own but I would add a little grated parmesan and perhaps some int to give it more depth of flavour. You could also save money by using less salmon and at the last minute, just before adding the veggies, stirring it into the risotto. This is a bit less fancy but equally delicious!