Category Archives: Winter

Orange is the new black…

 

Everything is Orange.  Or gold.  Or turning orangey-gold.  The sun is shining, and setting fire to every rust and russet that shimmers in the breeze, clinging without real hope to sleepy trees.  The frost adds a certain magical sparkle to anything that doesn’t quite meet my glittery requirements. Pumpkins of various hues adorn every doorstep in the neighbourhood, and the twinkle of fairy lights are slowly becoming ‘de rigueur’.  It is official . . . winter is coming.  My nose is red and my cheeks are more so, I blend well with the colours of autumn and the Michelin style oversized down jacket has made its’ annual reappearance.  Carmex and Coffee are not a winning pairing, I note, as my first sips of morning Americano are tainted by the scent and slick of menthol lipsalve.  But a little frozen hand is thrust in my spare one, and I make a decision. I like November in Seattle.  I like it very much.

Though feeling hopelessly romantic about this particularly pretty moment, I know that imminently I will be plunged into 50 shades of grey depression, brought on by short gloomy days.  Too cold and wet to venture outside, except to pick up and drop off damp grumpy children.  Meals become larger, heavier, and wetter too, often echoing the colours of outside in an effort to bring some colour into the kitchen.  But, god help me, I am bored of squash. I cannot bear the thought of one more Butternut soup, Pumpkin Pie, roasted Spaghetti or Delicata.  I am ‘pumpkined’ out and I haven’t even started thinking about Thanksgiving – and the ubiquitous pie that cannot be avoided.  I think I shall be serving pumpkin ice cream with crunchy amaretti biscuits and a little shot of Theo’s Chocolate hot cocoa.  Anyone got any better ideas?

I have not given up on everything orange, though.  Well, not quite.  Carrots are still abundant at the farmers market and deliver all the earthy notes and smoky sweetness that I crave at this time of year, without the sugary, creamy richness of its rounder second cousin.  Throw it in an oven that is just a little too hot, with plenty of garlic and spices, and you have something robust and hearty enough to take centre stage at the table, not simply stand humbly beside the main event.

In this recipe the combination of hot, caramelized (even slightly burnt) roasted carrots and a cool, creamy, tangy cheese is one I find refreshing.  The clash of textures awakens the palate, and hails perhaps just a hint of Spring on the distant horizon with the perky, clean additions of fresh coriander/cilantro and tart, rich cheese.

My guilt about berating the Butternut will undoubtedly ensure an imminent recipe.  Watch this space…

Dukkah

The ingredients below are relatively numerous, but don’t be put off. Make a batch of Dukkah and you won’t be disappointed – it can be used in so many ways; a crust for fish or poultry, an addition to vegetables, dip a hard boiled egg in it or just serve it with warm, crusty bread and a slosh of very good olive oil when supper isn’t quite ready and you need to keep your guests at bay!

I like to use the stunning organic rainbow carrots grown in California, paired specifically with Yarmuth Farm’s French Creek Cheese; a bloomy, creamy cheese with a distinct tart kick – I believe they are still at the University District and Ballard Farmers’ Markets throughout the winter.  However, any tangy creamy cheese will strike a good balance – use your favourite and get creative!

Ingredients For Dukkah

50g flaked almonds
20g pistachio nut meats
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 ½ tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp dry green peppercorns (or white, as an alternative)
3 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
½ tsp nigella seeds
½ tsp Sea salt flakes
1 tsp Za’atar
1 tsp dried oregano
a pinch of sumac 

 

Dukkah Method

Gently roast the fennel, cumin and coriander seeds in a hot cast iron pan until they start to pop – this will take about 30 seconds. Remove and put into pestle and mortar. Turn off the heat and allow pan to cool a little, then tip in the nigella and sesame seeds, constantly stirring, and remove when the sesame starts to turn golden. Add them to the seeds. Lightly crush until coarsely ground with the peppercorns.

Finely chop the almonds and pistachios and add to the mix with the final ingredients. You should end up with a coarse, dry, well combined mixture. Store in an airtight container.

Maple Roasted Carrots with Dukkah and Goat’s Brie

Roasted Carrots

15 medium sized carrots, halved or quartered if larger
2 TBSPs Good Olive Oil
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 TBSP coriander seed
1 TBSP cumin seed
1 TBSP fresh lemon zest
2 TBSPS Maple Syrup
2 TBSPs Dukkah
a large handful of fresh coriander/cilantro
One small, ripe, Goat’s Brie, or similar

 

The Dressing

1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Olive oil
S & P
1 tsp maple syrup

 

Method

Pre heat oven to 450F

carrots on a tray ready for roastingGrind the coriander and cumin seed with a pestle and mortar. Add the garlic, lemon zest and maple syrup and slowly add the olive oil as you continue to grind to a loose paste. Toss the carrots in the paste with your hands in a large bowl, ensuring all are evenly covered in the mixture and lay out on a parchment lined cookie sheet/oven tray.

Roast for about 20 minutes, or until the carrots take on really good colour, even becoming a little burnt around the edges. Remove and drizzle over the dressing, allowing to cool slightly, before composing the dish. Pile the carrots jauntily, adding coriander/cilantro leaves and fat slices of the brie as you layer them slowly upwards. Sprinkle liberally with Dukkah and serve immediately.

 

 

 

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Filed under Everything!, Savoury, Winter

I couldn’t help it . . .

Lemon and Herb cheese

Happy Valentine’s Day All!

Cheesy, it may be, (on oh so many levels) but also adorable, and a chance to share a recipe I have been asked for quite a few times now.  Hopeless romantic that I am, and never one to pass up on the excuse of a terrible pun, I just couldn’t resist the purchase of this tiny heart shaped Neufchatel in our local Trader Joe’s.  Let no one call me a food snob; I believe that food, first and foremost, should be enjoyed – and I defy anyone not to smile, and even melt a little, at the sight of a heart shaped cheese.  So go and let your valentine heart run wild and grab one before they all go!  If you are lucky enough to live in london, get yourself to La Fromagerie or Neals Yard where I happen to know they have an equally romantic funny bone. They will undoubtedly have a suitably (if not slightly more subtly) shaped cheese to fit the bill. Perhaps a nettle wrapped Yarg, or even a White Lake Goats’ cheese from water logged Shepton Mallet.  If not, I know they will point you in the right direction!

And, never one to ‘short change’ you, given that it barely counts as a recipe, I have included a suitably seasonal drink recipe too!

Lemon and Herb Stuffed Brie . . . or in this case, Neufchatel

(and by the way, it is not really a recipe)

Actually many Bries, Camemberts and even this heart shaped Neufchatel work well.

You will need: Crème fraiche, salt and pepper, a good ripe Brie, lemon zest, a little lemon juice, Italian or flat leaf parsley, finely sliced

Method

Split the brie in half – a cheese wire is perfect for this but otherwise dental floss works well – just make sure it is not minted! Chop the parsley and set to one side.  Using a fork, gently whip the crème fraiche with a little lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper to a stiff consistency, adjusting seasoning along the way – you can use up to about a ¼ cup of juice, and zest of half a lemon to a cup of crème fraiche without it splitting.    Put parsley on bottom half of cheese and then spoon on the Crème fraiche mixture and place the top half back on.  Rub a little zest into the bloomy rind on top and perhaps add a whole parsley leaf or two as a hint to the contents.  Put in the fridge for at least three hours for the flavours to meld, but remove for half an hour or so before you serve.  It goes well with a cold glass of white wine and hot sourdough toast – we had it with a particularly lovely Riesling last night.

Blood Orange and Juniper Gin Fizz

blood orange and juniper gin fizz

Makes two tall or four short cocktails

Again, this hardly counts as a recipe, but combines three ingredients that seem to so obviously belong together at this time of year!  I also get to showcase a favourite local ingredient – Seattle’s own Dry Soda.

Three Ingredients

Juice of about five Blood Oranges (about half a pint)

Two shots of gin – double if you are that way inclined!

A bottle of DRY Soda Company Juniper Berry Soda

Using a peeler, peel a few slivers of the particularly attractive parts of the orange peel, ensuring there is no pith attached.  Juice the oranges.  I like the texture of the orange pulp with the bubbles, but if you would prefer your drink a little less rustic; strain the juice. Muddle the juice and gin and pour equally amongst the glasses, topping up with the soda. Throw in a bit of peel at a jaunty angle and drink deeply.  It is good.

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Filed under Everything!, Recipes, Winter