I love and celebrate each change in the season and the food it brings. My appetite is always the first thing to let me know that Winter is here! I find myself spending more and more time in the kitchen, both because of the shortened days preventing most outdoor activities, but also to enjoy the ‘slow food’ nature of Winter’s produce. It's surprising to realise just how much choice we have in Winter when it comes to seasonal produce; Cavolo Nero, Chestnuts, Leeks, Oranges, Pork and Offal - just to name a few of my personal favourites - it's a bountiful time of year, with every reason to spend time slow-cooking in the warmth of your kitchen.
What's In Season
If we were all able to enjoy the luxury of wandering into our own garden and orchard, here's what Winter would have in store for us to base our hearty seasonal cooking around…
- Cavolo Nero
There’s every reason to gather friends and family around a long table for Sunday Lunch when the weather offers no other option but indoor activities. I take the opportunity to really spend some time in the kitchen preparing - it’s the warmest and best smelling room of the house once Sunday Lunch is on the go! I love starting any gathering with bruschetta because it’s hearty enough to enjoy a glass of wine or Verjuice Cocktail with but not too much to ruin a Winter’s appetite, so I’ve suggested a starter of Warm Verjuice Ricotta on Ciabatta with Slow Roasted Onions. All of the components of this bruschetta can be made ahead of time and assembled just before lunch starts. Then onto a particularly hearty main course of Oxtail with Orange, Olives and Walnuts. This is a wonderful dish and well worth the time required. Serve it with creamy polenta or perhaps even a good dried pasta. After such a filling meal I tend to keep dessert light, so you might like to try my Chocolate and Coffee Vino Cotto Biscuits; these really round off a Winter’s lunch beautifully.
What Makes Maggie's Sugo So Good?
Maggie uses a slow reduction method that intensifies the flavour of the fresh tomatoes without the need to add any stock, tomato paste or further enhancement to achieve the depth of flavour her sugo is famous for. The brightness of the herbs in each different sugo is carried on the richness of the slow cooked tomatoes so you can taste each individual ingredient. Maggie takes the long way round to ‘fast food’! If you're yet to discover this delicious time saver, Winter is the perfect season to acquaint yourself with Maggie's sugo; with pasta, atop pizza, as part of a lasagne or added to a seafood stew, you'll wonder how you ever coped with the cold of Winter without it!
Spending time in my garden is my favourite way to wind down. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that my time becomes completely unstructured in the garden, or my having my hands buried in the soil that has the required effect, but something definitely shifts for me when I surround myself in nature.