• In season now: May

    New this month: Asparagus! The food of gods... and carrots are back.

    Still in season from last month: cauliflower, chard, green cabbage, salad leaves, main-crop potatoes (from store), salad leaves, sea kale, spring greens, rhubarb

    Goodbye till next year to: Purple sprouting broccoli (sniff, sniff), leeks, stored parsnips, forced rhubarb

  • What I’m doing here

    This all started when I picked the first strawberries from my new allotment.

    I'd never been so enraptured or so excited by food. It was a shock to find that anything could taste so good.

    So what - I'd never had strawberries before?

    No - all the strawberries I'd had were shop-bought, like as not flown in from intensive growers in Spain or Chile, and eaten in winter when strawberries should be a distant summer memory.

    It revolutionised my thinking about the fresh food we eat every day. I started to wonder if you got the same amazing taste from all types of food grown and eaten in season. And then I decided to do something about it.

    The Year of Eating Seasonally is my little experiment to find out what it's really like not to have it all. The only fruit and veg I and my family are going to eat in 2008 will be what's growing in the ground at the time (or, in winter, what I can get out of store).

    I want to find out if the hungry gap is really as hungry as everyone says it is: whether you're really eating nothing but cabbage all winter; and whether you miss strawberries in December.

    Along the way I hope I'll save a few tons of carbon being released into the atmosphere on my behalf, as I won't be requiring those French beans flown from Chile, thanks very much. And I hope I'll be rediscovering what food can really taste like.

    If you have any comments, please feel free to post them anywhere you like - or you can email me at sallywhite@hotmail.com.

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Cauliflower in red wine

A really rich dish that transforms ordinary old cauliflower and lifts it to the status of true deliciousness.

1 lb 10 oz (800g) cauliflower – that’s two medium heads or one very large one – broken up into florets
1 large onion (or two small ones) finely sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
3 anchovies
2oz (55g) parmesan cheese, chopped coarsely
12 pitted black olives, chopped
1 glass red wine (4 fl oz, or 115 ml, if you’re being precise)

Start by popping the anchovies into a small bowl of fresh water. Leave them to soak for a while – this makes them less overwhelmingly salty.

Bring a large saucepan to the boil. While that’s heating, take a heavy-bottomed casserole – not too broad, as this is a layer dish and needs to go up more than it spreads out! Then fry the onions in the bottom for about 5 minutes, until soft.

When the water is boiling, drop in the cauliflower florets and time them to boil for 60 seconds. This blanches them and stops them losing too much goodness. When their minute is up, drain and set aside.

Take the anchovies out of the water, and chop them finely. Add half to the onion in the casserole, then add a tablespoon of the cheese and 4 of the chopped olives.

Cover this mixture with cauliflower florets. Then scatter a few more olives over the cauliflower, add some anchovy and a little more of the cheese. Cover with more cauliflower, then more olives, anchovies and cheese, and sprinkle with a little olive oil. Keep layering like this until you use up all the ingredients.

Pour over the red wine, sprinkle with a last spot of olive oil, then cover with a close-fitting lid and cook at a very slow simmer for about 45 minutes. Don’t stir or disturb the layers.

Serve piping hot, with crusty bread and green salad.


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