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This week's seasonal recommendation

 

What to cook this week?

Sun, 30 October, 2016

There's no escape from Halloween, even though I was secretly hoping it would have been brought forward to last night, been and gone. So if the offspring pressure builds and you haven't yet procured any scary bakes, go for Morticia's cake. If divested of spiders and sprinkles, it's an awesome fudgey, nearly flourless chocolate cake.

The season of morning fogs is upon us, which I adore, especially if I don't have to venture out into it to catch the 7:59. The season of colds is upon us too, sadly, so as a friend of mine firmly believes, the only way to fight it is through right nutrition. I know all about chicken soups, but my favourite cold-fighting options are French onion soup - warming, tasty, fragrant, comforting - and a large plateful of liver and onions, preferably with mash. Clearly a craving for onions goes with my colds so perhaps there's something to it? After all, our bodies know best what's good for them - if only we listened. 

Salmon special for this week: so versatile a fish I can think of six possible ways of cooking it before breakfast. Something sweet and something salty goes best with salmon, so why not dress it with soy sauce and maple syrup and bake in the oven, or go for palm sugar and oyster sauce and stir fry it (yes, it's possible, gently does it)? There's also the warm or cold option, a dinner or Christmas party classic, steamed salmon. Steaming it with lots of strong flavours beats poaching by miles. And if you don't want to cook it - don't, just marinate it for a gorgeous homemade gravadlax.

Veg-wise, time for those stolid winter companions: root vegetables. But they by no means need to be boring, just take a look at the recipe for fondant celeriac, cooked in butter/stock emulsion - or fondant anything actually. Another sure-fire cooking method - gratin. When in doubt, drown in cheese and cream.

Come November, we start to think in casserole terms: what can be thrown into a pot, banged in the oven and completely forgotten about for an hour or more? Today's suggestion: baked orzo with mushrooms and pancetta. Pasta that looks like rice? A pasta bake that looks like risotto? Oh yes - that's why I like to call it 'orzotto'.

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