Sumac roasted carrots with labneh and tamari walnuts
Smoked fish benny with negroni hollandaise
Sauerkraut soup with smalec toast
(sponsored by the letter S)
This months necessities are simple and consistent. I could happily get by with the three T’s of turkey, twiglets and toblerone but alas I strive to try harder.
The playlist always spins back to Tchaikovsky as soon as I spot the first garland of lights. The world outside a limited monochrome, I need my colour and warmth to come from within (definitely not my personality or soul mind).
I am a pickler and preserver all year and it keeps me in good spirits to have a pantry full of, well, good spirits. I can lazily eat and drink as I please and rarely a meal occurs without having a darn good reason for me to stand up. Roasting and simmering is in order for every evening as I cannot possibly be babysitting the stove top tonight (so much sports on as well!).
Roasted sumac carrots is what people will first think of when they get to know my winter cooking. Sumac is as close to a local citrus as I can get in Canada and it simply has to be processed and dehydrated for it to get to market so it ticks the imperishable, impenetrable box. Carrots roasted sweet and chewy even with the slight char of an uneven oven too high is deemed delicious. Pair with anything and everything as well. Soft or hard cheese, fried or braised meats or tofus, fresh or fermented greens and brassicas. Even served alone with a crisp cold sherry.
Whilst the Carrots are perfect for the party the benny is the slow restart after. Any layovers from the night before are sure to leave when the smell of smoked fish simmering in the pan hits the hallway. If you are to stay for breakfast you are to do so quietly with the icy breeze from the windows wide open please.
A hollandaise is a true act of love and I have been very punitive in my opinion of others. The setting must be just right, something soft yet lively must be playing as you whisk, Don McLean’s American pie reminds me of people I care for so that’ll suit me just fine. Smoked fish benny is not for everyone and that is the point. Sometimes somethings are just special to some people.
Hopefully we are all a little too generous and a little too kind this time of year, both in treating ourselves and treating others. Peasant cooking is my forte. It is simply cooking things you already have to a pleasing crescendo. Sauerkraut soup really couldn’t be simpler. You need no mirepoix, no bouquet garni just a little onion or cabbage and something leftover to make a delicate stock with (dare I suggest a pot or cube?). This is beer food, this is cheap wine food, this is really nice food to save the wallet for just a night.
And to finish we will always have our caviar and Pringles, I was taught this by the most enigmatic of chefs who had hosted a wonderful night (or two now I believe) with the ultimate ‘if you build it they will come’ chef filled with a menu of rambunctious remedies for all that winter ails. Thank you to Lee Tiernan and Jeremy Lee.