Whether you are counting calories or food miles, January is the perfect time to savour local vegetables.
In these frosty months, roots rule, along with frost-resistant greens such as leek and celery. Carrots, onions and potatoes — which grow below ground, safe from the ravages of British weather — are among the pleasures of winter cooking. Sweet onions are wonderful simply sautéed in a little olive oil, adding a rich, round flavour to winter soups. Add some legumes — like haricot beans — and herbs and you have a delicious and nutritious meal.
I always think that December is the best time of the year to be at home. Outside, it’s short days, wet weather and shopping mayhem. Keep food simple and warming. Here’s a great recipe for turning a baked potato into a winter treat in minutes and something that is guaranteed to bring a smile to everyone’s face.
It’s good for you, too, as the more colourful vegetables contain important nutrients in the pigment.
I know I am beginning to sound like a record — or should I say a CD or a download? Everything moves on so quickly. Just when you get used to one sort of gadget to make your life easier, what happens? They bring out another, and life gets more difficult. My HDTV has compatibility issues with my DVD player (maybe I should have paired them up through JDate?). These days you need an “ology”, or a language degree, just to understand the manual (mine came in Chinese.)
The twin strands that make up the culinary story of Chanucah are oil and cheese. We all know the story of the small cruse of oil, enough for one day which nevertheless kept the light burning in the Temple for eight days until a fresh supply of pure oil could be provided. Less well known, however, is the story of the resourceful Judith (after whom, incidentally, my mother apparently named me) who is said to have plied the Assyrian General Holofernes first with an array of delicious (and salty) cheeses, and then with copious quantities of wine to quench his thirst.
For me, eating in winter is all about comfort food. When it is cold outside, what bliss to light the fire, sit down to cottage pie then curl up on the sofa to watch a movie. I like staying in especially now that I have my new baby. He is 10 months old, a good eater and he sleeps through the night, bless him. His name is Oscar and he is a golden retriever. I guess he is my substitute child now that Nicholas, my son, is at university.
Why do I find this word so difficult to say? After all, it's not long, I can spell it, and everybody else seems to be able to use it remarkably well. But for me, saying "no" seems to be a no-no, even though I think it all the time.
By contrast, the word "yes" just trips off my tongue. There it is, out there before I've even had a chance to think through the consequences of always trying to please.
My paternal grandfather, Nonno Bino, was originally from the ghetto of Venice and came to Rome in the 1930s to find a job and a wife. He married my grandmother (Nonna Bianca) and worked with her in the family business - at the time a small shop selling glass and ceramic household products. I cherish my Venetian origins, and Venetian Jewish cooking is one of the richest cuisines in Italy. In fact, Venice had Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Italian Jews living together, and as a result the food in the ghettos was varied, exotic and cosmopolitan.
The economic downturn has spurred a resurgence of interest in "peasant dishes" based on inexpensive ingredients or representing creative ways of using up leftovers. Admittedly, this bread and butter pudding is step up the ladder from its peasant antecedent, but it is guaranteed to take your mind off any economic woes as you surrender to its vanilla-perfumed embrace.
What is it about Hallowe'en that kids find so irresistible? Ok, it may not be the most Jewish of festivals (and falling, this year on a Friday, you may have to postpone or cancel the trick-or-treating altogether) but the excitement in our house as the sun sets on October 31 is incredible. Children end up with all kinds of sweets and chocolate from trick or treating, so it's lovely to prepare some great home-cooked food for them on the scary theme.