Eat Seasonably. Eat Reasonably
"There is no sincerer love than the love of food", said George Bernard Shaw. Without doubts, food takes center-stage in the lives of living creatures, then why not spend some time carefully choosing natural and healthy seasonal ingredients to cook and eat a nice comforting meal.
Let us get back to old-style cooking – grander than just a paper bag of burger-patties-veggies combo with a handful of vinegary-pickles. Head out, with a big cloth-bag, early morning to local markets, handpick some of your favorite freshly laid out November ingredients hopefully brought straight from the farms somewhere on the outskirts of the city.
To set the mood, start with the smell of sweet and mustardy turnips, found best in winters. Bargain a little. Taste a slender slice of winter-famous, deliciously sweet, dense and buttery orange flesh of butternut squash before buying this magical ingredient. Search for those crunchy but pleasantly bitter, plump, heavy for their size, amazing smooth, shinny shelled chestnuts sitting at one of the corners of the market to be picked up. Browse on more through the market while biting on that perfect-for-enjoying on their own food, an apple.
Bite on any apple — sharp, sweet, crunchy, softer-fleshed, red, yellow, green and everything in between. But most of all, do not miss out on the overriding feeling of joy while at the market, because your previously lazy senses would already start demanding a delicious granny-style flavorful wholesome meal.
Start with a traditional starter or a hearty soup to sip-on, with November ingredients that welcomes all sorts of Christmas notations and brings out the best in them, while you are preparing the rest.
Chestnut, roasted butternut squash and Bramley apple soup
Preheat oven at 200C. Roast 1.5 kg of deseeded, roughly cut large wedges of butternut squash, with a drizzle of over three tbsp of olive oil, for half an hour until tender, golden-brown. Peel the skin off once it cools.Fry in 2 tbsp of olive oil a chopped onion, a finely chopped garlic clove, 2 cubed potatoes and a bramley apple for 4-5 minutes, until softened. Add on 2 liters of hot chicken or vegetable stock, squash, a sprig thyme leaves, half a kilo peeled, sliced, roasted chestnut and about 400g chestnut purée to it. After a stir, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer after a boil to a low heat until the potatoes tender, for 15-20 minutes. After it cools, blend the mixture until smooth, return to the pan and heat until warmed through. Garnish with a few drops of truffle oil, cream, a few sliced roasted chestnuts.
All you need is a generous glug of maple syrup to make all the difference in this Nigella Lawson easy roast parsnips recipe with just 3 ingredients – half a kilo parsnips, 125ml vegetable oil and 80ml of maple syrup. Preheat oven at 200C. Roast for half an hour peeled halved or quartered parsnips drizzled with oil and maple syrup until tender golden-brown.
Gingered Pears and Parsnips
Combine 2 quartered dense, crispy and smooth pears and 3 sliced parsnips in a skillet with a cup of chicken broth, 2 tbsp butter, juice of a lemon, a few slices ginger, a bay leaf and a pinch each of sugar and red pepper flakes. Partially cover and boil until the liquid evaporates and the pears brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in a splash of water.
Old-Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes
These old-fashioned scalloped potatoes and onions are baked in a rich cream sauce in this classic. Preheat oven at 350°C. In a pan, cook 3 finely chopped garlic cloves and a thinly sliced onion in about 4 tbsp. unsalted butter until golden, 8–10 minutes. Add a quarter cup of flour; cook, stir, until smooth, 2 minutes. Add 1½ cup heavy cream, ½ cup milk, 3 tbsp. finely chopped thyme, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Add 1½ peeled and very thinly sliced potatoes; cook until tender, 8–10 minutes.
Transfer it to a greased baking dish. Spoon press mixture down; sprinkle ¼ tsp. paprika. Bake until golden brown, about 40 minutes.