As winter edges ever closer to spring through the month of February I have seen the first of the early spring flowers, snowdrops, crocuses and primroses poking their heads above the ground I also take delight in some new food items coming into their own. Now is the time for the gorgeous textured leaves of the savoy cabbage, carrots, chicory and endive, onions, forced rhubarb and rabbit. Of course hardy kale and roots from store are still going strong. Here are a few ideas for you to get eating seasonal in February and take advantage of the lower prices on these in season items.
Up until my early twenties I thought I disliked cabbage and figured it to be boring. That was until I learned how to cook it properly and discovered the Savoy. The savoy is by far the most superior of all cabbages with it’s texture and nutty flavour, steam it lightly for a just a few minutes and it will make the perfect accompaniment to any winter warming stew or roast. I also use it in soups adding it towards the end so it retains it’s gorgeous colour and some texture.
When it comes to carrots I love to chop them into match sticks and eat them raw as a healthy tasty snack, on their own or dipped in hummus. They are also most delicious roasted in the oven drizzled in olive oil and lightly seasoned, they caramelise beautifully oozing with scrumptious sweetness.
This year my husband and I spent valentines with friends and our host cooked a gorgeous tart of caramelised onions and goats cheese which is so easy to make and utterly scrumptious. I had two slices! Simply layout puff pastry on a backing tray, and layer on the caramelised onions and slices of goats cheese and roast in the oven for around 15 mins until the pastry has risen and is a golden brown. Remember to brush your pastry with an egg wash to help prevent burning and ensure a warm golden colour.
Although not so popular in modern day society if you are looking for something a little a different or to try something new give wild rabbit a go. I’m definitely not suggesting you grab Foo Foo from her hutch and many of you may find it difficult to consider rabbit as a dinner option if you have kept them as pets. However if you do fancy giving rabbit a go, I urge you not to buy a farmed rabbit, wild rabbit is far leaner, healthier and ultimately ethical. You will have to track down your local gamekeeper, farmers market or you might be able to order it with a butcher as you are unlikely to find it in your local supermarket. The best way to cook rabbit is in a stew to make the most of this slighter tougher meat which will also prevent it from drying out.
Forced rhubarb is about your only option if you are looking for British seasonal fruit in February. Considered phenomenally superior to outdoor rhubarb which comes available later in the year. The process of forcing is quite interesting, with the plants grown on long dark warm tunnels mainly in Yorkshire and is hand picked by candlelight. Considered quite a delicacy and on par with Parma ham and champagne! Forced rhubarb has a tender texture and sweet flavour unlike the outdoor variety which can be quite sharp. While working on a shoot yesterday with Food Stylist Olia Hercules we created this amazing photograph of pancakes served with fresh forced rhubarb and orange fruits and rhubarb syrup.
Let me know if you decide to try any of February’s wonderful ingredients and what you decide to make with them.