A fine summer it doth foreshow
(Traditional English saying)
Well if there's any truth in the saying, so far England is destined for another dismal summer. Although forecasters are predicting a "cold snap" blowing in from the east. Which could mean anything from a bit of a chill to blizzards.
But weather aside, spring is on the horizon and if you're looking forward to a little colour in your culinary life, then it is the right time to celebrate rhubarb. February sees the Rhubarb Festival in Wakefield, heart of the wonderful "Rhubarb Triangle" (weather permitting . . . the lack of frosts this winter has affected the growing season).And if you think rhubarb is just for puddings (crumbles or perhaps a trifle), then think again. Stewed rhubarb makes a stunning accompaniement for roast pork.
And while in the mood to celebrate, we've got St Valentine's Day and Pancake Day (also known as Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras) on 21 February.
February definitely feels like a soup month. Nothing to heavy, in order to ward off those memories of Christmas gluttony, but soothing enough to scare aware the winter blues. A nice spicy parsnip soup will do nicely I think!
Fish are most definitely still going strong in the cold months, delicious poached in a splash of white wine and served with buttery mashed potato and some leafy greens. Very comforting. And don't forget that mussels are relatively cheap at the moment,as well as being very quick and easy to cook.
And talking of leafy greens, it is the season for kale and various cabbages, as well as leeks and Brussels, which can be easily turned into a satisfying soup or added to mash for a cheerful "bubble and squeak", perfect with a leftover roast. Winter root crops are still in season and there are stores of potatoes, apples and pears.
vegetables, herbs and wild greens:
artichokes (Jerusalem), beetroot, broccoli (purple sprouting), Brussels sprouts, Brussels tops, cabbages (various green varieties and white), carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chard, chicory, endive, greens (spring and winter), kale, kohlrabi, leeks, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, shallots, spinach, squash, swede, turnips
fruit and nuts:
apples (pippins and russets), pears, rhubarb (forced)
meat and game:
beef, chicken, guinea fowl, hare, mutton, pork, turkey, venison
fish and shellfish:
cockles, cod, crab (brown, cock and hen), haddock, halibut, herring, lobster, mussels, oysters (rock), shrimps