It’s at this time of year I start making the gratitude list that gets you through to spring – you know the one. The daily reminder of a small pleasure or small measure of beauty here and there to cheer the soul when a weak sun goes down by 5 in the afternoon, you get caught in a perfect storm and the walls are closing in. This past week in Sydney town the sky has weeped for six days and nights. Non stop. So I come back to this
I always associated poppies with remembrance, but learnt recently that in the Victorian language of flowers, they communicate fantastic extravagance. I like the sentiment. Right now when the trees are bare, this blooms.
The upside of the dead of winter is all that comfort food lavishly laid out in food mags, tempting with their medieval banquet-sized feasts of puddings and pies, pastas with rich ragus and roasts, roasts, roasts finally has the opportunity to intersect with the reality of freezing your arse off, and the body clocks shift into carbing up for survival. Hibernate, eat!
I love the word cassoulet, almost as much as I love eating it. But as duck confit is involved in this classic dish and its richness not advisable on a daily basis, I have a far more pared back imitation on standby which is virtuously good for you. Leeks, beans, tomatoes, herbs and a bit of chorizo sausage. It’s simple, the oven warms my apartment and the meal warms my soul. It’s honest, rustic, comfort food without the comfort padding.
Sausage and bean stew
From marie claire fresh
2x400g tins cannellini beans, rinsed
5 ripe Roma (plum) tomatoes, roughly chopped
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 leek, roughly chopped
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tbsp picked thyme leaves
250ml (1 cup) white wine
350g chorizo sausage
1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the beans, tomatoes, leeks, garlic, thyme and white wine into an ovenproof casserole dish.
Prick the skins of the sausages and sear in a frying pan over high heat until they are browned on all sides. Cut the sausages into pieces and throw in to the casserole dish. Stir together, then cover the dish with a lid or foil and put in the oven for 1 hour.
Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with warm bread.
And then dessert. The combination of gingerbread – texturally and taste wise, with the sweetened rhubarb always says July to me.
Rhubarb gingerbread sponge pudding
125g caster sugar
1/3 cup golden syrup
185g plain flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Cut the rhubarb into 3cm pieces and put in the bottom of a well buttered 1 litre ovenproof dish, with the caster sugar.
Measure the golden syrup and stand measuring cup in hot water so that the syrup will run freely.
Sift the flour, spices and salt together.
Cream the butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy, then beat in the syrup.
Beat in the egg. Fold in the spiced flour.
Heat the milk, stirring in the bicarbonate of soda until completely dissolved. Add to the batter. Mix well and spoon the batter over the rhubarb ad bake for about 35 minutes until pudding is well browned and when skewered the rhubarb is soft.
Serve with thick cream or mascarpone.
Have a great week.