Food and wine
DEAR Friends, change is all around us, the seasons, light, weather, temperature, foods, now, more than ever, we see the changing year.
Last Monday we celebrated the Equinox when the balance of light and dark in the day is equal. Now we tip the balance towards more dark than light as the world turns into itself in preparation and hibernation before the lights of spring reawakens the earth and land around us.
Traditionally people move into more heavy foods these seasons as dropping temperatures necessitate more energy required by our bodies. Our modern lives with central heating and insulation all around us lessen that need, but the trend remains the same. Also with wine, lighter whites are dropped in favour of more gutsy, warming reds. Across the board food cooking moves into more hearty, warming territory than lighter, summer recipes.
During these winter months it is hardest to continue to sing the local, organic, and seasonal song. It is a fine thing during the abundance of summer when every local garden is bursting with local produce. In December will you be thinking twice, or even once, about buying those tomatoes on the shop shelve that obviously have not been grown near these Northern hemispheres.
So the challenge for us as producers, consumers, and cooks is to focus on what we do have and work creatively to maximise the taste and variety you can achieve with what we do have. Despite any promotions that entice us to use fancy, foreign produce we have to look at what we produce during these months and puff up our hearts with pride as we enjoy what we have closest to home.
Autumn lamb tends to have more flavour than spring lamb owing to the maturity of the meat. The lambs, having fed on sweet summer grass, have richer and sweeter meat with a slightly darker hue. Lamb easily partners other autumnal produce such as orchard fruits and root vegetables.
Slices of caramelised apple also go wonderfully with meat, especially pork. The practice of using apples to offset the richness of fatty meats is traditional.
September marks the start of the wood pigeon season. After a summer of feasting on corn and other cereal crops, the birds should have a sweet, nutty flavour that makes it perfect for autumn eating. Inquire at your shop if they can supply you.
Use your traditional root vegetables imaginatively. So-called boring old turnips and Swedes can be transformed by roasting with honey, creaming into mashes, or mixing in other colours and vegetables like carrot and parsnip.
Without being boring don’t over-boil your veg to Kingdom come! Over boiled veggies are mushy and naturally have lost much of their natural goodness. Also with veggies think about mixing in contrasting flavours. Mix cayenne pepper with potatoes, spices with turnips, sweet things with carrots, try roasted parsnip lengths with raisins sprinkled over. Go on, try something different. Difference makes the world go around (along with the old reliables!), try it, love it, eat it, you can do it!
Even potatoes can be wildly exciting by varying their presentation. Being creatures of habit this is difficult for us, but any effort will be rewarded. Mix your potatoes mashes with varying degrees of consistency with any combination of butter, salt, cream, cut scallions, lightly boiled cabbage, cayenne pepper. Try baked gratin or Dauphinoise potato dishes with sliced potatoes, cream, garlic, cheese on top?
And so at CABOTS Source we have now closed for winter. We will reopen next Spring and look forward to seeing you then. To all our local, organic suppliers and growers we say than you, to all the good customers who came in we say thank you, to those whom we did not please we say sorry, and to those bad ones….we say we forgive you! Peace and love. Local organic, seasonal.
SPICY PUMPKIN AND APPLE SOUP
This is a favourite soup of ours from last autumn that is hearty and warming, with a sexy sweetness from the pumpkins. We used orange pumpkins that gave a delicious colour too.
> 2 onions, peeled and chopped
> 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
> 1 tbsp olive oil
> 500g/1lb 2oz pumpkin, skinned, seeded and cubed
> 2 baking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
> 570ml/1 pint vegetables stock
> 300ml/½ pint dry cider or apple juice
> 2 tsp of Tom Yum spicy sauce
> Salt and freshly ground pepper
> Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onions and the garlic. Cook for two minutes and then add the pumpkin, chopped apples.
> Cook for another two minutes, season well and add the stock and the cider or apple juice. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the ingredients are tender.
> Liquidise and serve piping hot with crusty bread.