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Eat the Seasons - December 2012

 

Fruit, Nuts & Fungi

Apples (Egremont, Russet, Blenheim Orange, Orleans Reinette), Chestnuts, Clementines, Cranberries, Pears, Satsumas, Tangerines, Walnuts

Vegetables & Herbs

Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Endive, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Red Cabbage, Sweed, Turnips

Meat & Game

Goose, Grouse, Hare, Partridge, Pheasant, Mallard, Venison, Wood Pigeon

Fish & Shellfish

Cod, Crab, Mussels, Oysters (Native & Rock), Sea Bass, Whiting                                                        

December is a time for enjoying good food.  Despite shorter days nature still provides us with some fantastic seasonal fruit and a return to winter vegetables; sprouts, turnips, swede and parsnips, beside items from store such as potatoes, carrots, red cabbage, beetroot, apples and pears. 

We have the shortest day of the year this month and it really is a time to stay inside and enjoy great food.  For a real treat this month try Wild Goose, Jerusalem Artichokes or Red Cabbage (wonderful braised and served with chestnuts) all of which will be at their best now.  Other seasonal flavours include celery, parsnips, sea bass and pears.  Keep an eye out for salsify, a stick-like root vegetable which can be quite hard to find in the shops (independent fishmongers often have supplies). If you manage to buy some, try the creamy flesh cubed then baked with chicken or pork.

As this is a busy time of year for entertaining here is a simple dessert that you can easily tweak to make your own!

 

Cherry & Amaretti Parfaits

Serves 4

 

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces (1 cup) dried cherries
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup ricotta
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup icing sugar
  • 8 amoretti cookies, coarsely crumbled

 

Method:

  • Combine cherries, water, granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan over a medium heat.  Bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.  Let cool.
  • Meanwhile, blend cream cheese, ricotta, vanilla, icing sugar, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt in a food processor until smooth.  Divide the cherries among 4 glasses, then top each with the ricotta mixture.  You could prepare to this stage the day before and keep in the fridge if required. 
  • Sprinkle the top of each dessert with crumbled amoretti biscuits and serve immediately.

You could ring the changes with this dessert in lots of ways, here are a few ideas;

  • Stir chopped Toblerone, chopped walnuts or toasted hazelnuts through the ricotta mixture.
  • Swap the dried cherries for cranberries or almost any other dried fruit
  • Swap the Amoretti biscuits for Cinder Toffee, or do a 50/50 mix of the two
  • Replace up to half of the water with a spirit such as Quantro or Amoretto.