Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Keeping it simple… Part I

Pre-Christmas I find I crave meat less and less as the Big Day approaches: something I suspect to do with the surfeit looming. Particularly in this weather – and with MCD Jr having had his very first cold and cough – I’m paranoid about keeping up our vegetable intake and a lot of the meals tend towards the vegetarian, in a strange simulacrum of Puritan-like fasting before the main event.

Monday’s soup was the usual throw-unfeasibly-large-amounts-of-vegetables-in-a-pot-and-cook-with-stock-and-blend variety but the combination this time was particularly worthy of note. Half a pumpkin, laboriously peeled and cubed, a handful of Jerusalem artichokes simply scrubbed, a lone peeled potato found floating in the drawer and an apple for sweetness – all softened with a base of sweated onion and garlic. Simmer with enough vegetable stock to cover until thoroughly soft and then blend. The genius is in the velvety texture from the artichokes and the sweet combo of pumpkin and apple. Last night I just topped with a handful of toasted croutons (always mindful of Simon Hopkinson’s note that they ‘do something nice to the inside of your mouth’). This lunchtime I had the leftovers alongside a roll stuffed with grilled chorizo sausage in a riff on the old pea and ham soup-and-sandwich combo.

Edouard Pomiane, a warm and lovely presence in the food writing world, had a lovely way with cooked tomatoes, luxurious and warming without being cloyingly rich. Cut tomatoes in half and prick the skin side a few times with the point of a knife. Place cut-side down in a frying pan with a knob of butter and fry until coloured. Turn oven and cook – and this is his crucial injunction – until the juices run out. Pour in a dollop of cream, season well and scoop over hot toast. It’ll do for breakfast with a pot of hot coffee.

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