I'm actually enjoying this cold weather. I do love a bit of drama and the possibility of maybe having to cope with no electric, water and so on. This may all sound rather dramatic in 2018 but when we lived in France the worst storm for 10 years swept across the Pyrenees and left us exactly like that; no water or electric I loved it! As a terrible hoarder we certainly didn't go hungry or cold and we used buckets of the swimming pool water to flush the loo!
Now we live in North Oxfordshire I think it's highly unlikely we would be cut-off for very long so today, instead of planning for the big freeze, I amused myself by making some more pear and ginger chutney; there are some really lovely pears around at the moment. I served it last weekend at Knife & Fork with our cheese course and it was very well received. Of course, if you can't be bothered to make the chutney or you don't have time just have some delicious fresh pears with your cheese instead.
I do love squirrelling produce away, whether in the freezer, pantry or fridge. I love the thought of stored produce ready to be eaten. Of course, we can now have anything we want, when we want it, but there's no fun in that for me. I liken it to being a culinary billionaire where everything is available to you so everything becomes quite dull and not a treat all.
That's why I like the seasons and the produce they bring. It's also very helpful when writing menus because, as a general rule, if it grows together it tastes good together. I also like to use what is in season as it will be at its best.
Taste has always been the driving force behind what I choose to eat. There's nothing more disappointing than having a beautiful looking plate of food put before you only to discover that there's little flavour. I'd much rather eat a far less pretty plate of food and savour every mouthful.
Last weekend at knife and fork I made full use of the seasonal produce around at the moment serving Jerusalem artichokes, blood oranges, squash, savoy cabbage and of course pear in chutney form. This was the menu:
sirloin steak with wasabi
Jerusalem artichoke, bacon & poached egg
Pork belly, butternut squash, Savoy cabbage, potatoes & gravy
Delice de Bourgogne, Barkham Blue, Black Bomber teff crackers, caramelised walnuts, celery, red grapes with pear & ginger chutney
Buttermilk panna cotta, confit blood orange sauce, candied orange & almonds
Chocolate & chestnut bites
If you intend to stay snuggled up inside over the weekend and fancy making some chutney here is my recipe.
450g demerara sugar
450ml cider vinegar
1 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon
2 star anise
60g grated fresh ginger
150g onions chopped
10 firm pears chopped
- Put the demerara sugar, vinegar, cinnamon and star anise into a large pan and bring to the boil.
- Add the ginger and onions and simmer until the liquid has reduced by about half.
- Add the raisins and pear; carry on simmering until the pears are cooked and the liquid becomes syrupy.*
- Leave to cool and then pour into sterilised jars
* I also added half a jar of finely chopped stem ginger and the syrup from the jar as I had half a jarring the fridge and I didn't want to waste it.