Start of the Year
This time of year gets a tough write-up; grey, dark and rainy, and yes, sometimes it is. But my kitchen is filled with arguably the most colourful produce of the year: exotic citrus and blood oranges, pink radicchio and creamy Castelfranco, splattered with pink like a Jackson Pollock painting. There is so much deep red, orange, pink and scarlet. Chard too, in all the rainbow colours, beetroots in candy-cane stripes and of course the highlighter pink of forced rhubarb.
It’s a time of year too, when so many people are feeling a little under the weather. In my book The Modern Cook’s Year I have included lots of ideas for those days when your food needs to be restorative as well as comforting. Some of my favourites are shared below:
BREAKFAST: BAKED APPLE PORRIDGE WITH MAPLE BUTTER
This is primarily our weekend porridge for the whole family, but leftovers can be reheated with a little extra milk if you are cooking for one. If you are reheating, then an extra bit of fresh apple grated in would be nice.
Made creamy with coconut milk and sweetened with squash, this highly spiced broth feels especially restorative if you’re fighting off a cold. Turmeric, ginger and garlic are all immune-boosting ingredients, while fiery green chillies will blow away your cobwebs for the new year. I use green peppercorns, as I love the grassy punch they give: seek them out fresh if you can; if not, the brined ones in jars will do just fine.
Sometimes earl grey doesn’t cut it – these two tonics are an uplifting way to combat the cold.
DINNER: WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER
This is my favourite way to eat cauliflower, the sweet note of coconut milk, the punch of ginger and green chilli, earthiness from mustard seeds and the clean, spiced note of turmeric are soaked up by the vegetable. Other days I roast it with lemon, bay and saffron or cover it in a green herb pesto.
DESSERT: BLOOD ORANGE FREEZER CAKE
This is a no-cook cake, raw in fact if you are into that kind of thing; I use the freezer to set the cake instead of the oven. These cakes are sometimes called ice-box cakes, which I think sounds quite magical. It’s the kind of dessert I like to eat in January.I use a raw cashew butter here, which I buy from the supermarket, though if I have time I make it at home, as the flavour is gentler than the toasted nut butters you can buy and it has notes of white chocolate. Any more subtly flavoured nut butter would work here