|an orange for Chinese New Year|
You can't have failed to notice, particularly if you are a Google user, that it is Chinese New Year at the moment. The reason I have illustrated this blog post with a picture of an orange, is because in Chinese culture, oranges, represent luck, health and wealth, and longevity. But the Spring Festival is always a good excuse to celebrate with some Chinese-style food, (as if you need any excuses). Why not try making your own char siu barbecue pork or some sticky honey and ginger chicken?
While spring seems an awfully long way away, you can put the drab, dark days of winter behind you and put a little colour into your culinary life. Right now it's time to celebrate rhubarb. February sees the Rhubarb Festival in Wakefield (21-23 February), heart of the wonderful "Rhubarb Triangle" (weather permitting, again)..And if you think rhubarb is just for puddings (crumbles or perhaps a trifle), then think again. Stewed rhubarb makes a stunning accompaniment for roast pork or lamb.
Talking of fruit, it is Bramley Apple Week from 2 February. Of course, if you are in the mood for a little sunshine while we are enduring all this damned rain, then perhaps use some of the short season's seville oranges to make a simple but delicious cake.
The Rugby 6 Nations tournament starts this weekend. In my family, it was always traditional to watch this at home with some bacon butties or sausage sandwiches. Not much of hardship there. I may even go the whole hog and make some pork scratchings to go with the odd beer (or two).
And while in the mood to celebrate, we've got St Valentine's Day coming up. if you're in the mood for love and lovely food, you might feel like sharing some sweets for your sweet . . . or even some seductive blood orange curd.
February definitely feels like a soup month. Nothing too 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 or perhaps the charm of a celeriac, pear and bacon soup.
Fish are most definitely still going strong in the cold months, delicious poached in a splash of white wine, or a hearty version with chorizo and chickpea stew, 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 (including my favourite "King of the Cabbages", the majestic Savoy), 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
* News Update
Apparently, it was the wettest January since 1767!