Monday, May 03, 2010

ugg boots, comfort food and vegetable pies

Excuse this Melbourne obsession with weather. April, for the most part, was unseasonably humid and uncomfortable. My body hasn’t known whether it wants porridge or cold cereal, salads or soups and has been in a state of flux for weeks.

While some in the Northern Hemisphere might use birds flying south as a sign that winter has arrived, in this house the cat is the divining creature. The cool season officially begins the day she seeks a lap for comfort, after all – humans make the best heat pads. On Saturday night I awoke to a small furry creature attaching herself to my slumbering body, precariously balancing on my side – at 3.30am Princess Prissy Paws was pleased to announce that the warm season was officially closed.

Intellectually I know that cool weather is about grains, slow cooked dishes, legumes, bakes and braises but it takes some time for me to get my head into gear. To help me get my shopping list into shape, I've put together a short compilation of some seasonal favourites.

Chilli beans – made my first batch last week augmented with grated parsnip and carrot, plus some guacamole on the side. Fresh coriander was the only starlet missing.

Don’t like chilli? This bean and vegetable stew with green olives hits the spot nicely.

Colcannon - the cabbage lifts the nutrient profile of this butter-laden, winter soul food. Want. Some. Now!

Fish pie - just thinking about mashed potato makes me crave my white-sauce-free pie.

Spicy lentils and rice - I know lentils are “good” for me but I must admit I find them boring – except when thrown together like this with lots of herbs and a good quality vegetable stock.

Bean and vegetable soup - so versatile and warming.

Quinoa pilaf - I’ve been dreaming about this spunky little grain/seed lately, so time to make savoury quinoa like this and the creamy banana porridge as well.

A Thai influenced pumpkin soup was the perfect way to finish up last months green curry paste. For those not into chilli hot food, just use a generous knob of ginger to give pumpkin soup a bit of zip. A drizzle of coconut cream or milk to serve and you have the perfect vegan dish.

Old fashioned salmon patties - a wonderful combination of mashed potatoes, canned red salmon and nostalgia.

Sri Lankan fish curry - I love the mingling of spices and tamarind in this dish. A nice change from coconut or tomato based curries.

Fried rhubarb - butter, sugar, spices and heavenly rhubarb. Oh yes!

Lastly, while I’ve not blogged about it before, there will be a vegetable pie or two on rotation. Leftover curry in flaky pastry makes great pasties with a dollop of chutney. Or more laborious concoctions of dense winter vegetables, sautéed with onion and garlic, then held together with some vegetable stock thickened with cornflour – ladled into individual pie dishes and topped with a blanket of pastry (less carbs and fat, no blind baking).

As the weather changes, what recipes are you revisiting?

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Blogger Cindy said...

Oh yes, I'm in the mood!

Funnily enough, we had pumpkin curry wrapped up in pastry and topped with chutney last night - all in the name of cleaning up leftovers.

Can't wait to get my hands on some rhubarb...

11:24 am  
Blogger lisa said...

I'm rediscovering SOUP!

11:41 am  
Blogger Kath Lockett said...

Ah yes. For us it is Milly the dog. When our orange furry friend is curled up so tight that she resembles a cinnamon donut we *know* the nights are getting colder.

Foodwise, my husband Love Chunks is not only a meteorologist but also the chef of the house. Dinner last night was slow-roasted beef in honey beer and topped with his version of herbed Yorkshire puddings.

11:55 am  
Blogger Lisa (bakebikeblog) said...

oooh I really slow cooked winter foods :) Stews and chilli always make an appearance in our house :)

12:03 pm  
Blogger Johanna GGG said...

for us the cat is the barometer of cool weather because it means that zinc can go out during the day and not get sunburnt - she might seem to be sleeping in the autumn sunshine but inside she is leaping joyously at being able to go out

as for winter foods - I just posted some greens and cheese in pastry but I really fancy the idea of curry in pastry - maybe leftover dahl - although I just love it with promite on toast - mmmm I think there will be curry tomorrow night

11:41 pm  
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8:30 pm  
Blogger Ann ODyne said...

Lucky Ms Lockett! (above), and yes Winter is mashed potato time.
Cooking for only one's self, allows great flights of ridiculousness, and so I like my M.P with added parsnip and or any other vegetable, then stir in some grated mozarella.
It's just extecal! (the WV).

7:29 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Thanks for all your thoughts, lovely to know what is rocking your world foodwise in the cooler weather.

I've made a veggie pie, from scratch including a short pastry with bruised fennel seeds. For the middle I precooked leeks, garlic,fennel, pumpkin, potato and zucchini in a cup or so of vegetable stock. I used arrowroot to thicken the sauce - only because I was too lazy to hunt in the back of the cupboard for the cornflour. It was fine. But the three part preparation reminded me why I cook pies like this so rarely. There's a lot to be said for frozen pastry and leftovers!

1:58 pm  
Anonymous Megan said...

You had me at soup! Best cure for any cold weather.

12:59 am  
Blogger Pat Churchill said...

Yes, mea culpa, I went down the salmon patty trail myself last week. God, they were good. And I am also grateful no one else on the premises likes feijoas so I am pigging out on those, too. So glad they are under-appreciated :-)

8:01 pm  

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