It has technically not been winter in Toronto for about a month, but oh, what a cock tease of a spring we have had thus far. So we’re still trudging along, waiting for the patios to open, for the rhubarb to arrive, for weather in which I can wear a dress. With a distinct lack of spring menus in sight, this is what we’ve been eating around these parts. From a Guardian column I’ve been hoarding for ages, a beet and goat’s cheese salad from Nigel Slater. The original recipe calls for goat’s cheese curd, which I replaced with regular goat’s cheese. The beetroot gets tossed in a dressing spiked with fresh ginger and cardamom, coriander and cumin. We liked it.
I also finally got around to making the mejadra from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. Rice, green lentils, and lots and lots of onions. We ended up shallow frying the onions instead of deep frying them (too much effort, too much Sheila Cussons paranoia), which meant they were less crispy than they should have been, but still good. Lots of spice – cinnamon, turmeric, more coriander and cumin, some allspice. It’s a fair amount of work, but we had a container in the fridge for a few days and it served us well for lunch, topped with some Greek joghurt and sliced avocado, or for breakfast, topped with a fried egg.
There was also this kale and roasted pumpkin salad, with pancetta and a tahini dressing. (I apologise for the photo, which I really don’t like. But I can’t quite figure out how to always take good photographs of our food when we are actually also trying to eat it.) There’s something so very American about this salad – the kale, the pumpkin – and it strikes me as something we would not necessarily have eaten in Arcadia. But in the Northern hemisphere you cannot survive a winter without dubiously high amounts of kale, and even our love of pumpkin has exponentially increased on these shores. A fact which, I suspect, can be attributed not only to the pumpkin propaganda that seems so ingrained in North-American culture, but also to the vastly superior flavour of the pumpkin varieties available here. In any case – we like it in a weekday lunch salad, with kale, and more often than not, a dressing of tahini, rice wine vinegar, olive oil, perhaps a bit of Greek yogurt. It likes the fatty savouriness of a piece of pork, so we add some pancetta. Pepitas add crunch, and the salad happily sticks around the fridge and tastes as good on day three as it did on day one.
Onto dinners: One night I made this fennel baked in cream, also from a recipe I’ve held onto for years. Swopped out half the cream for milk, it was still pretty rich. But good – I guess if a dish contains both cream and parmesan and roasted fennel it’d be difficult to fuck it up. Didn’t look particularly pretty, so no idea how Saveur got such a good picture. Just looking at the recipe again I see it also contains butter, which I left out. No one died.
Finally – J made some delicious tandoori chicken one night, the spices largely all from a mix we were gifted from family who visited India recently. Most audacious moment was the fact that he did not bake it, but instead cooked it entirely under the grill. Pro: It’s deliciously smoky. Con: So is the rest of your apartment. Your oven will need cleaning.