30 November 2015

Leeks vinaigrette

Leeks are one of the stalwarts of the winter vegetable plot. At this time of year most of the available green vegetables, such as cabbages, sprouts and kale, come from the brassica family and have a certain similarity in flavour. Leeks, which are alliums and related to onions and garlic, provide a distinctly different flavour. Leeks are fully hardy, and will stand through the coldest of weather. They are often a bit player, appearing in stews and pies alongside many other veg, but are such a tasty vegetable that sometimes they deserve to be the star of the show. One of my favourite leek dishes - and very easy to prepare - is the French bistro classic: leeks vinaigrette.

13 November 2015

Growing puntarelle in the UK

I first came across puntarelle on a winter holiday to Rome a few years back. Puntarelle is a variety of chicory, with distinctive pointy leaves. It's very popular around Rome, where it is in season in late autumn and winter. The best bit is the heart, which can be used to make a refreshing, slightly bitter salad. The outer leaves can be a bit tough, and are best braised. Puntarelle is very hard to buy in the UK. I thought I'd have a go at growing some this year, and found it grew very well.


6 November 2015

What's in season in November

What I like cooking and eating changes with the seasons. By November, my thoughts turn to stews, game and fruity puddings. By this point in the autumn, root vegetables, winter squashes and brassicas dominate. The game season is in full swing, and a wide range of English apples are (or should be) available. For those craving something raw, various hardy, or semi-hardy salads, such as chicories and mustards, are in season.

Winter squashes