There’s plenty of seasonal produce available in the month of January.
Vegetables: Cabbage, cauliflower, celariac, leeks, parsnip, shallots, squash are all available in the market, you can also find forced rhubarb in places – its slightly more tender because it’s grown indoors. If you’re in Yorkshire look out for the Wakefield Rhubarb Festival towards the end of February.
Fish : If you’ve been following Hugh’s Fish Fight you’ll be aware of the need to use sustainable fish and to look for alternatives to the staple diet of Cod, Haddock and Plaice. Well, you should still be able to find fresh Whiting this week and perhaps slightly into February. For the next two months you should also be able to find Brill, Hake, Halibut, Herring, Sardines, Lemon Sole and Turbot in amongst the usual offerings. I noticed Asda supplying river caught fish this last week, I think it was Cobbler. I’ve never noticed them doing this before so I would just like to say well done to them. If I hadn’t already bought meat & fish I’d have got some to try it.
Game: If you like game then look in particular for Hare, Pheasant, Partridge and Woodcock in January, most everything else is available except for Grouse as the shooting season is already closed for this.
Ideas: There’s plenty of scope in January for lots of hot pots, stews, pies and soups – staple winter warmers that in the short dark winter days will warm the belly of anyone.
One of my favourite soups is Leek & Potato soup, or as they’re being forced to label it now Potato & Leek, so here’s my rant for the week … red tape dictates they name the high proportional ingredient first; why? I don’t know, it’s been known as Leek & Potato soup for many many years before the person who invented the rule was born, it’s just another stupid rule that’s cost company’s money to change all their labelling and marketing for what purpose? So that someone can feel as if they’ve made a good decision. It’s Leek & Potato soup that I grew up with so I’m still going to call it that, when I first saw the name the wrong way round I had to check the tin to make sure it was the same thing. Why change something that’s been in place for centuries? It’s like renaming Laurel and Hardy to Hardy & Laurel because of their proportions, it’s just silly and unnecessary.
I tend to use tins of soup for lunch at work as I’ve one of those microwavable flasks that keep my soup warm till lunchtime, when you’re in a hurry to get to work in the morning it’s a great time saver. This large flask is ideal for me as I can dunk chunks of bread into the soup without it overflowing. I use my pressure cooker to make the soup for myself when I’ve got time using my brothers recipe – don’t blend it otherwise you’ll release the starch out of the potato, best to press through a sieve if you can. If you do blend it, don’t do it for too long and do it slowly, in short bursts. Afterwards you can portion it out and freeze it, reheat slowly in a pan when you need it again.