The Christmas/ New year break is always an excuse for us (ok, an excuse for me) to overindulge and eat and drink far too much. But given the historical importance of the passing of the shortest day, I'm sure that people have been exuberantly celebrating the return of the longer days for quite some time.
I got a few new cookbooks as presents (I'm sure there's a bit of background research that goes on to make sure that I don't already have the book(s) involved!) and I can thoroughly recommend:
"The Good Table" by Valentine Warner, who writes cookbooks like they should be written: every page contains something that I want to eat (and every aspiring cook should have this book as far as I'm concerned).
Food from Plenty, by Diana Hendry is a book with wonderful food, but I feel that the name of the book is completely wrong. It isn't a celebration of abundance, but it's a really worthwhile book about using what's best at the right time and at the right price. I fear the title might put many people off:
And although I have a very representative selection of the best of the new cookbooks to be published in the past 30 years, I managed to miss the first River Cottage book, which has just been re-issued in an updated version:
I genuinely promote those books without hesitation. One could happily use them for several years and not regret a day.
For relaxation (!) I'm reading "The Food of France" by Waverley Root, first published in 1958. This huge tome discusses the evolution of French food with regard to the political history and geography, and thoroughly covers ingredients, cooking techniques, trends and personalities. There are no recipes, but many dishes are described in the abstract, so I was able to 'reverse engineer' this excellent recipe tonight:
Greens, to include cabbage, spinach, chard, spring greens
Leeks and onions
Bacon (I used pancetta)
The quantities must be inexact, but the ratio of greens to sauce doesn't really matter all that much.
Chop up the greens and leeks/onions and simmer in water for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool and then squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Render the bacon/pancetta in oil or lard until just crisping and then add the chopped greens and simmer the lot very slowly for another 20 minutes stirring from time to time. Break 3 eggs into a bowl and add 250 ml. of cream. Whisk thoroughly. Put the egg and cream mixture into a pan and heat over the lowest possible heat, stirring all the time until it just thickens. Combine the greens and the cream mixture over a very low heat, just to make sure the amalgamation takes place. Season to taste with salt (careful!) and black pepper.
I served this with boiled new potatoes that I sliced and browned in a little lard.
Lard, bacon, eggs, cream....call an ambulance just in case!