This recipe is one I make quite often at this time of year. But it is only one of many things that can be done with the humble cauli. Appropriately frugal in both expense and calories, winter cauliflower is a fairly magical vegetable. With little effort the pretty pale curds can be transformed into a credible mashed potato and rice substitute (paleo-adherents love this brassica), as well as being an equal partner in the UK’s number one comfort food, cauliflower cheese. I and others also like it tossed in a little oil and lemon or balsamic vinegar then roasted to golden perfection in a hot oven. And soon I will be posting how to make this vegetable go from pale to pukka in just a few ingredients. Continue reading
I can’t believe it is one week to Christmas Day. The tree is up, garlands festoon every feasible surface, wreaths are on doors. So it is only the food to think about. And some last minute cards to post – oops!
These are my last two side dishes to give you. Both simple and make ahead (yay!). Wednesday I will offer two gorgeous and simple dessert options to prepare and squirrel away. And Friday, food to glow will feature a festive vegetarian main dish that meat eaters will almost certainly help themselves to. Continue reading
Love them or hate them, Brussels sprouts are a pretty addition to a winter festive table. But they do have a certain dubious reputation. At least here in Britain. Right now folk on the radio – okay, BBC Radio 2 – are asking the annual foodie question: are your sprouts on yet? This ‘banter’ starts in, oh, November. Yes, more than any other vegetable, sprouts get a bad rap.
Even if you don’t like them, sprouts are not only healthy they are also quite good for playing table football – soccer or American-style. Joking aside, Brussels sprouts briefly boiled or steamed, then sauteed in olive oil or butter until just starting to frazzle, are a world away from the mushy, stinky horrors of your youth. Blanket them in crispy ciabatta and sage crumbs, and Brussels get their festive hat on. Simple, but effective.
Although I like them only briefly acquainted with the steamer, cook them longer if you like them on the soft side, or if it makes them easier to eat. Whiz up any leftovers (crumbs too), mix in a beaten egg, and pop them into a small, oiled baking dish with a few grates of flavourful cheese to make a baked savoury pudding. Brilliant with a rasher or two of proper butchers’ bacon.
By the way, you know how I recently wrote about buying local? Well, one thing that I’m giving this year that is definitely not local are micro-loans. All of the adults on my little list are getting a card with a unique number that allows them to support a business venture of their choosing.
I have gone through Kiva, the not-for-profit organisation that hooks up those of us with a bit of money with those who don’t. They do this by working with “microfinance institutions on five continents to provide loans to people without access to traditional banking systems.” Mostly Kiva helps people like you and me support people setting up new businesses.
There are thousands of businesses and projects to choose from: from bull buying in Peru to purchasing food supplies for a non-profit community restaurant in Belize. You can even support writers and help build a shop. Previously I have given money to actually purchase such items for those who need it. You know, like goats and seeds. But this sounds really good as it is helping people in a different, and more long term, way. Loans start at $25. You can choose whether you want the money back, or re-loan it to another business or project. Other such ‘brokering’ organisations are around, such as lendwithcare.org. But you can also go straight to the individual microlending institutions themselves. Here’s a list from Forbes of the top 50 lenders, including assessment of risk. As my loans were on the lower end, shall we say, risk wasn’t an issue. I chose to go through Kiva as I had heard good things about it from someone who works on economic development projects in sub-Saharan Africa. Certainly a unique present!
Are you giving anything unusual over the festive season? What are your memories of sprouts as a child? And were you scarred for life? If you are up for more sprout recipes perhaps check out bbcgoodfood, or if you want to get fiddly, here’s one for the more dextrous among us from Heston Blumenthal.
Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Sage Crumbs
As you see, I couldn’t hold out any longer. My little wordpress snowfall was my unambiguous clue to unleash the festive food. And as we are well into December, and there is a layer of snow, it feels pretty official. As a matter of fact I am even sending Mr A into the loft this weekend to fetch Christmas. Continue reading
It is the first week of December and already I feel behind. Since November, newspaper supplements have practically dripped with all of the food that editors breathlessly extoll us to make; and my heart involuntarily races at the sight of those excruciatingly detailed checklists that will ‘make Christmas effortless.’ And then there are the actual presents. It is enough to make a sane person go into meltdown.