Roasted Cauliflower with Pear, Walnuts and Stilton

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A very easy comfort dish to make on a cold winter’s day and the winning recipe in the Guardian Cook, this week.

A little bit more…
I used purple skinned turnips as that’s what I had to hand, and for a little colour. Any root vegetable could be substituted, Jerusalem artichoke or celeriac, in particular, would be good
I used a local Devon Blue rather than stilton
This works equally well without the cheese. I’d add a drizzle of white miso mixed with a little water, as a salty contrast to the pear 

Winter Velvet Soup

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This is a soup my mum always used to make on Boxing Day with generous amounts of cream and brandy but is equally good without. I used a local cheese called Blue Bay made in Sharpham, Devon but any blue cheese will be fine.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium celeriac (about 700g), chopped
  • 1 large potato (about 200g), chopped
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1.5 litres vegetable or chicken stock
  • 500ml milk
  • 100g soft blue cheese, eg Cambozola
  • Brandy, splash or glug (optional)
  • Cream to drizzle on top (optional)
  • Sage leaves, (fresh or fried in butter) to garnish, (optional)

Method

  • Gently fry the onion for 5 minutes or so
  • Add the celeriac, potato, onion, celery, leek, and garlic, give it all a good stir then pour over the stock
  • Cook on a medium heat until the celeriac and potato are soft, about 20 minutes
  • Add the milk, 90g of the cheese and brandy, if using, and cook for a further 5 minutes
  • Blend with a food processor or hand blender
  • Pour into bowls, crumble the remaining blue cheese on top with a swirl of cream and sage leaves if using

Miso, Garlic and Kimchi Hotpot

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Savoury Rice Porridge ‘Zousui’

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Zousui translates as a hodgepodge or medley soup. It is typically prepared after a nabe, a Japanese hotpot, which is simmered throughout the meal and continuously topped up with meat or fish and vegetables and cooked like a fondue at the table with everyone helping themselves. At the end of the evening a tasty stock remains to which you mix in rice, crack an egg on top, cover and cook until the egg has set.

In our house though, it also refers to a one-pot dish we often make for breakfast (or lunch) using left over miso soup and rice. It is incredibly quick and simple, and is very warming on a chilly winter morning.

My children and I prefer the consistency of a creamy risotto, whereas my husband likes his more soupy so adjust the liquid to rice ratio as you like. If you don’t have enough soup add some water and mix in some more miso or shoyu. I like to finely slice the konbu originally used to make the dashi for the miso soup and add that in, too. Japanese often discard it but it is full of magnesium so I also eat it or make tsukudani (konbu relish) from it.

Ingredients

  • Cooked miso soup (or you could use a sachet of instant miso if you don’t have leftovers to hand)
  • Cooked rice, hot or cold, enough to serve the number of people eating
  • 1-2 Eggs (obviously use more for large quantities!)

Optional extras

  • Cubes of tofu
  • Handful of green leaves (spinach, mizuna, kale etc)
  • Any cooked vegetables, pulse or grain

Toppings

  • Chopped spring onion
  • Sesame seeds
  • Slivers of ginger

Method

  • Heat the miso soup in a pan
  • Mix in the rice, if cold heat till piping hot.
  • Crack in 1-2 eggs. You can either swirl the egg around on top as above or mix in the eggs and cook until lightly set for a creamy zousui.
  • Add the green leaves to wilt, if using.

Serve hot topped with spring onion and sesame and or ginger. I also like natto on mine! Pickles on the side is also good.

 

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Overnight Turnip Pickles

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The turnips in Japan are crisp and sweet and come in a creamy white or brilliant magenta pink. The latter make beautiful, colourful pickles that brighten up a winter meal. I like to add the stalks for a little contrast in texture and colour.

Ingredients

  • 1 turnip, preferably with stalks attached
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • yuzu or lemon zest (optional)

Method

  • Wash the turnip and peel if necessary. Wash the stalks week of any grit or dirt.
  • Cut the turnip in half, then into quarters.
  • Thinly slice into crescents.
  • Finely chop the stalks.
  • Place in a bowl and add the salt.
  • Gently rub the salt into the turnip.
  • Leave overnight in the fridge (I have also left this for as little as half an hour).
  • Drain most of the liquid but do not squeeze dry, you want the pickles to be moist.
  • Add shavings of yuzu or lemon zest.

Keeps for several days in the fridge.

 

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冬至 A Japanese Winter Solstice