Sunday, 5 April 2015

In my kitchen - April 2015

Purple Sprouting

I love the taste of Purple Sprouting which is one of those treats only available for a few weeks of the year, and all the better for that.
One of my grumbles about modern life is how we have lost seasonality with so many things - strawberries available in supermarkets for most of the year,  for example.  I've even seen Hot Cross buns on sale at Christmas!  Celebrating the changing seasons and the cycle of the year is important to me and eating seasonally available foods is part of that.  
I also think that seasonal eating means a much more varied and interesting diet than when we just depend on the ready staples that are always available.  When I was a child, fresh tomatoes at any time other than in the summer were very expensive, so for most of the year  my mum and my grandma rarely used tomatoes in salad.  Instead we ate more foods like beetroot salad, coleslaws made with available ingredients, Russian Salad, chicory and "proper" white celery.  White celery, which I never see for sale now, it having been replaced by the green variety which lacks the subtlety of flavour of white celery, and which is imported into this country by the tonne.    White celery was a true late autumn/winter vegetable and was delicious made into a Waldorf Salad with some apple, walnuts and homemade mayonnaise (my grandma wouldn't have dreamed of reaching for the Hellmans).
These salads were fresh and tasty and exposed me, as I grew up, to so many different tastes and textures, which I'm sure fostered my interest in food and cooking as an adult.  
Hot Cross Buns and Chocolate Eggs
Hot Cross buns on Good Friday and chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday.
Freekh is roasted green wheat which is eaten mainly across the Sham area of the Middle East, and which was introduced to me by a Palestinian friend.  I like it cooked simply - braised in stock until most of the stock has been absorbed and the grains are soft so the starch has been released to give it a thick, soupy texture.  I ate mine with roasted carrots and spring lamb chops that had been rubbed with garlic and cumin before being slowly roasted in the oven. 
These rice and coconut pancakes are made with yeast which gives them a texture similar to that of  homemade crumpets.  I first ate appam at a friend's house with a spicy chicken curry.  Apparently appam are traditionally eaten at Easter in Kerala by Indian Christian families.   They are easy to make and make an interesting change from chappatis and naan bread.  I've made my own at home - they went well with a red lentil dhal and are also very tasty served with honey for breakfast.

I wrote this to join in with the In My Kitchen blog posts curated by Celia who writes the  Fig Jam and Lime Cordial blog.