Here’s my take on a veggie Autumn. The first year we moved here, we were so surprised by how closely the climate mirrors that of the UK. We might perhaps have imagined an endless summer like you might see in an Agatha Christie film, but instead, we have bluster and grey murky days, despite living in South West France. I blame the mountains!
Haché végétal is a great staple, but, how much more fun to make your own!
I recently treated myself to Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage. It’s a fabulous cookbook, inspirational and accessible, although you do have to do a bit of substituting for some of the ingredients. Anyway, the recipe for The Ultimate Traybake Ragù (p.101) is the missing link in my cooking repertoire. The resulting unctuous mince was so tasty! The big tweak I did though,(ssh, don’t tell Ottolenghi), was to dispense with the faff of roasting the veggies for 40 minutes. I simply chucked everything in together and it turned out fine. Better than fine. And once you have a decent Ragu, then you can make Shepherd’s Pie, Lasagne, Spag Book, Chilli con carne etc etc.
It’s mushroom season here and I gather people go out with their baskets and collect all sorts of fungi.
I, however, am simply not that brave, even though I suspect I am growing all sorts of treasures in the back garden. The reason I mention mushrooms is because they feature heavily in vegetarian cooking and in particular, in this lovely recipe by Sarah Beattie. Her book, imaginatively called Meat-Free Any Day, is another one that should be on your shelf because it’s easy to follow and colourful and cheery and chatty. Her recipe for a Kate and Sidney pudding is a triumph! You turn out a steaming suet pudding, cut into it and a savoury tsunami of mushrooms, chestnuts in a deep, rich gravy floods out.
The pharmacy will tell you if a mushroom is safe to eat
Winter cooking is great, with its accompanying stodge and massive kick of flavours. I was wondering the other day whether being in lockdown has affected how I cook. I think I plan more, shop less. I take pleasure in the small things, enjoying the happiness of seeing those you love relishing what you have just cooked. Or not! I recently had to sit through a meal of polite knife and fork scraping and strained smiles. My family ate what I put in front of them, dutifully, but with no pleasure. The offending item? Leeks!
They hate leeks. I thought I’d sneak ’em in, heavily disguised with mashed harricot beans, marscapone, white wine and loads of garlic. No dice, better than blood hounds, my lot. They can sniff out a vegetable they don’t like at 50 paces. Did I tell you that Monsieur Peskytarian is the only vegetarian/ pescetarian I know that isn’t keen on vegetables at all! Oh, the irony!
Anyway, I shall leave you enjoying a veggie autumn and check in at Christmas, with a Holiday special!!