Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Winter warm-ups

It is the time of year that Aga owners feel particularly smug about their ridiculously extravagant purchase and are basking in the warm hue of their cosy kitchens.
 It has been a wickedly cold winter so  it is a relief to have one warm room in the house and not have to set the kitchen fire every morning.    We have lambs galore frolicking about the wet and muddy paddocks....they are doing really well this year, despite the cold, after the good start we had in the autumn.
Daffodils in the morning light
We have been on a steady diet of warming winter soups...
and burnt-bottomed brussels:
I even came across a recipe for parmesan broth and had to try it.  I read about this on Food 52, via the Huffington Post here and since I had a cupful of parmesan rinds in the fridge I gave it a go.  NEVER throw out your parmesan rinds.  They have so much flavour and can be added to soups and stews or keep them in a plastic bag in the fridge until you have enough for a broth.  It is great in minestrone or any soup really, and can be used instead of stock for risotto.   It also freezes well.
And because there is a lot of rocket in the garden I made rocket pesto:
I don't think there is any need for a specific recipe, but I toasted some cashews (say 1/3 cup), and threw them in the food processor with a couple of good handfuls of rocket (about 100g) and whizzed it up with olive oil, a splash of lemon juice, salt and pepper until it was the right consistency the flavour was balanced.  Parmesan is optional.  I have been adding it to soup, putting it on grainy bread under an egg or some avocado or smoked salmon and also made this delicious chicken:
This makes a quick and easy midweek meal and again is so simple it really doesn't need a recipe.
Just get some chicken pieces (I usually buy marylands and cut the drumsticks off) and gently push the pesto under the skin as far as you can.   Place on a baking dish and season with salt and pepper.  
Cut a lemon in half and add to the pan with a couple of unpeeled cloves of garlic.  Drizzle with olive oil and bake in a hot oven for approximately 30 minutes, turning half way, until nicely browned.
It was good with some celeriac mash and spinach from the garden.
This clematis is like a phoenix rising from the ashes.  I thought I had killed it last summer and now, in the middle of winter, it has raced up the pole and popped out a flower when I least expected it.  So pretty.

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