I must admit, I had absolutely no idea I was being so overambitious aiming to write something once a week. It turns out, however, that motherhood is mindbogglingly time consuming – particularly in conjunction with a smashed foot. (Alright, yes, that’s a little melodramatic; I’m only two toes down but I’m housebound under doctor’s orders and hobbling around as if I’m 100 years old.) Thankfully, I’m occasionally granted time off for good behaviour when my husband gets home from work, so I do still get a little time to mess around in the kitchen. And these are the ingredients I shall be playing with this month…
1. Savoy cabbage (Wirsing). I could eat it till it came out of my ears. I’m not sure you can really beat it steamed and served with a knob of butter and a sprinkling of salt flakes, but I’m also a huge fan of its shredded leaves thrown about in a pan with bacon, apple and cider - a side dish which, very happily, goes perfectly with pork. I’d also highly recommend trying a warm savoy cabbage salad with lentils, bacon and avocado - a tasty and wonderfully textured plate of food that makes for a very pleasing Saturday lunch.
2. When winter eventually morphs into spring, I am usually left regretting not having made the most of rhubarb (Rhabarber) season. There’s nothing like a classic rhubarb crumble served with custard or a ball (or two) of good quality vanilla ice cream, and I imagine a bowl of baked rhubarb oatmeal would make a very good breakfast alternative. For another thoroughly fabulous pink pudding, you could try a rhubarb posset, but if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, why not combine it with something savoury? Believe it or not, the tangy pink stalks work beautifully alongside both pig meat – as a compote complementing roasted pork belly, for example – and fresh, pan-fried mackerel.
3. It was only for the first time this winter that I’ve seen decently proportioned parsnips (Pastinaken) available here in Wiesbaden – they’ve previously been rather pathetic-looking, carrot-sized affairs. So this month I’m planning to mash them up to eat alongside lamb steaks or sausages and gravy; or perhaps enjoy them chipped and roasted or blended into a creamy soup.
4. The humble cauliflower (Blumenkohl) is to me one of the most underrated of all vegetables, and soothing as it is as soup or baked with a cheese sauce, I can’t help feeling I should be a bit more adventurous with it. I love the idea of a cauliflower salad with hazelnut and pomegranate seeds or serving it alongside some roasted meat with pears in a bake - though I’m to be convinced of the idea of using it as a grain-free pizza base. I’ve also stumbled upon a lot of recipes recently in which cauliflower masquerades as couscous or rice and rather fancy it not just plain, with garlic and onions, but perhaps mixed with cashews, lemon and sultanas.
5. I don’t cook with leeks (Lauch) half as often as I’d like. In fact, I really only ever eat them steamed, covered in a white sauce or as a thick, velvety soup – Julia Child’s leek and potato is a classic. I’d love to sample a leek and goat’s cheese tart but other than that, I’m a little stuck for ideas – any suggestions?
Also around in February:
Chicory (Chicoree), lamb’s lettuce (Feldsalat), Brussel’s sprouts (Rosenkohl), salsify (Schwarzwurzeln) and Jerusalem artichokes (Topinambur).
What are you planning to cook up this month? Any recipes to recommend?
Photo Credit: Brown Butter Rhubarb Crumble by Hungry Girl Por Vida