Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Rooting Around

Ok, I admit it - I am completely and utterly a 'winter person'; I prefer the clothes, the food, and feeling all cosy and warm indoors when it's howling a gale outside! I mentioned this in the office the other day and was met with horrified stares, but I'm sorry - give me skiing over surfing any day. And anyway, winter has Christmas which is surely the trump card?! 

Having said that, it's true that I am a southern softie living in London, where it never gets that cold. I realised this over the last couple of days while I was 'oop north', and let me tell you, they know what cold really means! With temperatures below freezing and holes in my gloves, I certainly wasn't extolling the delights of the colder months…I think the best description for my general demeanour was ‘total grumpus’. 

One thing that did cheer me up briefly was a delicious Thai dinner, with the highlight being a hot and sour chicken soup. Enough spice to make my tongue tingle, and the right balance of sour to make the whole thing really kick, it warmed me up from the inside out.

Now, I know Thailand isn’t exactly known for its chilly climate, but its dishes like these that get me excited about eating, and that’s what winter brings for me. It is time to say goodbye to light lunches, and hello to something a bit more robust….purely to keep our energy levels up of course ;-)

All I wanted while I was braving the arctic this week was a nice hearty dish to warm my cockles, and there is nothing better than a well spiced curry to do that. Last weekend I made a root vegetable curry which is from Abel & Cole's 2012 calendar of all places!

It’s a great way to use up bits and pieces which on their own look a pretty sad sight, which always gives me more satisfaction than it should…I think it comes from the same part of me that never fails to be astonished when I bake bread where a bit of flour, yeast, salt and water produces something glorious.

This is called a root curry but really you could throw in any veg you fancy; I used sweet potato, parsnips, carrots, and red onion. The recipe calls for you to roast the veg and make a sauce separately, then pour the sauce over the roasted veg and finish it off in the oven for a further 20 minutes. While it was in the oven I had a cheeky taste of the sauce and was thoroughly underwhelmed as it was a bit bland. But fear not friends, my disappointment was well and truly pushed to the side when I took the finished dish out of the oven. In baking the sauce you take out much of the moisture, and by doing so hugely intensify the flavours, which results in a truly delicious and satisfying meal. You can access the recipe at

I topped it with a good dollop of crème fraiche and a generous helping of coriander and it was brrrrrr-illiant! (Sorry, I couldn’t help it)

Even better, I had half of the sauce left over and so the next day I poured it over a thick fillet of Pollack (most fish would work though) and some broccoli florets, and baked in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the fish was done. I’d say the sauce was even better the next day after the flavours had some time to mingle, so it’s well worth making more than you need the first time around.

As the winter months are drawing in, my salad-for-dinner days are behind me, no matter how delicious they were. Now is the time for hearty soups, stews, and spicy curries. stomach is rumbling just thinking about them.

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