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This week's seasonal recommendation

 

What to cook this week?

Sat, 3 August, 2019

Unusual food combinations used to be all the rage about twenty years ago when everyone was sprinkling black pepper over strawberries and smothering chicken in chocolate. It deserves to be more than a passing fad: that’s how new dishes are created. I should know all about weird combos, I’ve been eating cheese and jam sandwiches since I was a kid.

That’s actually not a million miles away from cheese and honey, and the Greeks know as well as I do how wonderful that matching is. Chocolate is guilty of many pairings, some successful (salt) and others not so much (chilli but feel free to differ). My grandmother used to serve fried fish with a sauce made with raisins, almonds and carrots and apparently it was a dish in its own right of Ukrainian/Austrian/Jewish origin – wherever her family originated from (my ancestry kit hasn’t arrived yet). And of course if you go out farther afield, there will be turnip cakes, banana and mayo sandwiches, pasta with potatoes and French fries with cheese and gravy.

I’m suggesting some a bit less usual combinations to cook this week, or simply GOOD combinations. Latkes with apples are actually a classic and the pairing works well. Turnips in a salad? Don’t diss it until you try the smoked fish and turnip salad. Fruit is a good match for meat as the blueberry duck and the lamb breast with raisins and grapes demonstrate – and lamb breast is definitely a cheap cut worth promoting.

Fish allegedly doesn’t go with cheese but salmon works well with blue cheese en papillote. Mussels with black pudding are unbelievably good. And no-meat combos may include Thai cinnamon noodles, simply brilliant, or twice cooked beetroot with pomegranate, aka crimson central.

I can even extend the odd coupling to bread, if anyone is interested, and suggest whole wheat loaf on rye starter if beetroot bread isn’t exotic enough. And as far as desserts are concerned, carrot cake with tahini surprisingly works, and a date cake becomes a wonder with the addition of a tamarind paste.

Let’s experiment away! What are your favourite weird food combinations? Use the comments to let me know.

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