Winter is the season when you want to indulge in hot, satisfying food that keeps the cold weather at bay. However, it needn’t just be about stodgy comfort food – it’s also the season for apples and pears, clementines, nutritious root vegetables and, of course, a little indulgence. You can spice up winter stews, soups, casseroles and game meat with lavish sprinklings of seasonal aromatic herbs, which include sage, rosemary and bay.
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Christmas is the season to indulge in fresh, seasonal fayre. You really can enjoy chestnuts roasting on an open fire because chestnuts are right on season and full of vitamin C and minerals, including iron, calcium potassium, zinc, magnesium, manganese and phosphorous. Clementine oranges, also in season in December, are rich in vitamin C and refresh the palate after all that stodgy Christmas food. You can enjoy clementines au naturel or use them as the prime ingredient for a delicious custard tart, rice pudding or festive clementine and cranberry crepes. Brussels sprouts may be good for you, but they tend to lose their allure once the Christmas dinner dishes have been cleared away. Give them a post-festive makeover by simmering them in decadent double cream and serve them with sizzling bacon.
Winter is the season to enjoy fresh local game. Organic game meat is rich in protein, full of flavour and doesn’t contain artificial preservatives because the animals are reared in the wild. Seasonal game includes goose, hare, partridge, grouse and pheasant. You can buy organic game meat from farm shops, butchers and online retailers. Look for game that feels firm and isn’t discoloured. Game meat is ideal for pies or served with seasonal root vegetables.
Root vegetables and Sunday roasts, stews and winter hotpots are made for each other. Seasonal winter root vegetables include parsnips, turnips, Swedes, carrots and onions. Root vegetables are rich in dietary fibre and vitamins, helping to protect from colds and infections when temperatures fall.
Fresh, locally sourced oysters have more flavour than imported ones and make for a luxurious and delicious appetizer. Celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall uses oysters from the Falmouth Bay sustainable fishery in Cornwall (falmouthoysters.co.uk). You can eat oysters straight from the shell or steam them open and add them to vichyssoise soup, which is made with leeks, chives, parsley, potatoes and cream.
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