Spuds, swedes and celery to brace us for the cold and wet

Himmel und Erde

“Heaven and Earth” is a German winter main course of earthy potatoes and heavenly apples, served on its own, or with a pork chop, or a good old butcher’s banger.

2lbs mature potatoes, scrubbed and boiled in their jackets; 2lbs eating apples, peeled cored and quartered; 2oz unsalted butter; ½ tsp ground nutmeg or allspice; salt and pepper.

Skin the cooked potatoes while still warm and cut into chunks or a similar size to the apple quarters. Melt the butter in a heavy frying pan. As soon as it sizzles, add the apples and the potatoes, turning them carefully until they brown a little. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg or allspice. Serve with or without meat – or maybe a fried egg. [Elisabeth Luard’s Recipes & Ramblings]

Roast Swede with Maple Syrup

700g swede; 2tbsp olive oil; 3tbsp maple syrup; salt and black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Peel the swede and cut into large pieces, about the size of a roast potato. Heat the olive oil in a baking tray and, when it is hot, add the pieces of swede and toss in the oil. Using a pastry brush, coat the swede with the maple syrup and season with salt and pepper. This prevents a pool of maple syrup forming in the tray, which would burn easily. Bake in the preheated oven, turning from time to time, for 45 minutes until crisp and golden. [From Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook].

Braised Celery

A gentle flavour perfect with roast turkey or chicken.

2 heads celery; 200ml chicken stock; 50g butter; a fat clove garlic, peeled and flattened; 3tbsp Madeira.

Set the oven at 180C. Trim the bunches of celery, leaving the stalks attached at the root end and cutting each head down to about 20cm in length. Keep the trimmings for stock. Cut each head in half lengthways. Heat the stock. Melt the butter in a flameproof dish and gently fry the heads of celery over a low heat without letting them colour. Add the garlic and Madeira, then pour over the hot stock. Cover with a lid, then bake for forty-five to fifty minutes, till the celery is tender. [Tender by Nigel Slater].

Cauliflower Spiced in Mustard and Fennel Seeds

Cook 1tbsp mustard seeds and 2tbsp fennel seeds in 2tbsp of oil until they start to pop. Add 3 chopped garlic cloves, ½tsp ground turmeric and 1 cauliflower, broken into florets. Mix well, add 100ml water, then cover and simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is cooked. Sprinkle with fresh herbs if you have any – coriander, mint or parsley. [The Riverford Farm Book]

Danish Celery and Cheese Soup

1 medium head celery, chopped till fairly small; 2 medium onions, chopped; 50g (scant 2oz) lightly salted butter; 30g (1oz) plain flour; 1litre (2pt) chicken stock, salt & pepper; 60g (2oz) Danish blue cheese; chopped parsley.

Cook the vegetables in the butter for 10 minutes in a covered pan without browning them. Stir in the flour thoroughly, then moisten with the stock. Season. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes, until the celery is really tender. Mash the cheese to a cream and whisk it gradually into the soup just before serving; once you start doing this, lower the heat to make sure the soup remains well below boiling point. Correct the seasoning, add parsley, and serve with croutons. [Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book].

Quick Kale

To braise kale, blanch it in a large pan of boiling salted water for 1 minute, then drain, refresh in cold water and squeeze out excess liquid. Fry 1-3 thinly sliced garlic cloves in olive oil. Just before the garlic turns brown, add the kale, turn the heat down and mix together. Season well and serve. Alternatively, then blitz it with cream, Parmesan and dried chilli to make a quick sauce for pasta.

Leek Rabbit

Cook sliced leeks gently in a little oil until softened. Toast bread on one side, spread the other side with a layer of Dijon mustard and put the leeks on top. Cover with a good strong Cheddar cheese and grill. [The Thrifty Cookbook by Kate Colquhoun].

Celery English Style

Serve the best inner stalks standing in a glass jug or jar, with a large piece of farmhouse Cheddar, plus biscuits, bread and salty farm butter. When a Stilton is coming to an end, mash the last pieces with butter and serve with celery.

Kale and Potato Soup

1 large onion; 1tbsp butter; 1 clove garlic; 2 big potatoes; 1 large bunch kale; 5 cups hot water or stock; ½tsp salt, to taste; black pepper.

Sauté the onion in butter, stirring until clear and slightly golden. About halfway, add the garlic; when the onion is done, crush the garlic with a fork. Add the potatoes and 2 cups of water. Simmer, covered, until the potatoes start to soften around the edges. Meantime, wash the kale, remove stems, chop, and steam. When the potatoes are very well done, puree half of them with the remaining water and the salt and pepper. Combine all on the heat, gently, correcting the consistency if necessary by adding water or milk.

Braised Carrots and Turnips with Honey

For the carrots

1kg bunched carrots, trimmed and cut lengthways in half; 50g butter; 1tbsp honey; 50ml water; 1tbsp balsamic vinegar; 1tbsp chopped parsley; sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

For the turnips

600g turnips, peeled and halved; 50g butter; 1tbsp honey; 50ml water; 1tbsp balsamic vinegar; 1tbsp chopped parsley.

Put all the ingredients for the carrots except the vinegar and parsley in a heavy-based pan and place over a high heat until the mixture is simmering away. Turn the heat right down, cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, frequently checking and stirring to make sure the carrots don’t stick and burn. When the carrots are almost cooked, uncover the pan, increase the heat slightly and stir in the balsamic vinegar. Cook for 3 minutes, then turn off the heat and stir in the parsley. Cook the turnips in the same way – they should take a little less time than the carrots. When carrots and turnips are done, mix them together, season to taste and serve. [From The Riverford Farm Book].

Roast Parsnips rolled in Parmesan

Crunchy, sweet, and great with any meat or stew, to eat as an aperitif, or as a first course dipped into crème fraîche flavoured with dill.

Olive oil, for the tin; 600g parsnips; 100g Parmesan cheese, grated; 100g fresh brown or white breadcrumbs; seasoned flour; 2 eggs, beaten.

Preheat the oven to 190C and put the oiled baking tin in it to get really hot. Peel the parsnips and cut them into wedges, then steam them for 10 minutes. Mix the breadcrumbs with the Parmesan. Dip the hot parsnips in the seasoned flour, then into the beaten egg and lastly roll them in the breadcrumb mixture. Put parsnips into the preheated oven on oiled baking tin and roast for about 35 minutes, until tender and golden brown. [The Garden Cookbook by Sarah Raven].

Leek and Parsnip Gratin

Peel and dice the vegetables, and steam them or soften them in a little butter or oil in a covered saucepan. Cover them with double cream spiked with a good teaspoon of grainy mustard. Mature Cheddar cheese on top, with or without breadcrumbs, works beautifully. In a preheated oven at 180C, bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and bubbling. [The Thrifty Cookbook by Kate Colquhoun].

Carrots with Apple

A Rhineland recipe from Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book.

¾kg (1½lb) carrots; 375g (12oz) sliced onions; 60g (2oz) butter; 375g (12oz) Cox’s orange pippins, peeled, sliced; salt, sugar, lemon juice, pepper.

Cut the carrots into sticks and cook them in a very light salted water, with 1½tsp sugar, until they are almost tender. As they cook, fry the onions in the butter until they are soft and yellowish, then raise the heat so they brown a little. Add them to the almost-cooked carrot sticks with the apples and complete the cooking. Strain off the juices (which could be used in another dish), then season the carrot mixture with a little more salt to bring out the flavours – not enough to fight the natural sweetness. Add lemon juice to taste and pepper. Serve with pork, ham, duck, or on its own with wholemeal bread.

Baked Onions

Onions; olive oil; thyme sprigs (optional)

Put the oven on at 190C. Bake the onions in their skins with a light drizzle of oil and maybe a few sprigs of thyme, for about thirty minutes, till soft to the touch. Test one: it should be meltingly soft inside. Eat while hot. [Nigel Slater, Tender]

Mashed Parsnips

1.35kg parsnips, peeled and cut in half; 1.1 litres milk; 285g butter; sea salt and pepper.

Boil the parsnips in the milk with a pinch of salt. When cooked, drain them, reserving the milk. Mash with the butter. If they seem too dry add a splash of cooking milk. Season to taste and serve. [Nose To tail Eating, Fergus Henderson]

Vichy Carrots

A good way to cook winter carrots: lengthy cooking intensifies the flavour.

1kg carrots; 50g butter; pinch of salt and black pepper; 1tsp sugar; plenty of chopped parsley; juice of 1 lemon

Peel the carrots and slice them. Put them in the saucepan with the butter, salt, pepper and sugar. Just cover them with cold water and let them boil until the water has evaporated and they are tender and glazed. Stir in masses of chopped parsley and the lemon juice to taste.

Orbs of Joy

Peel some red onions but keep them whole. Put in an oven dish and add chicken stock until they are almost covered. Braise them in a medium oven. As they cook, the stock around them will reduce slightly, giving your onions a slightly singed and caramelized exterior and a pale pink and totally giving interior. [Beyond Nose To Tail, by Justin Piers Gellatly].

Leek and Cheese Mash

A good side dish for Monday’s leftover cold cuts.

A large leek; butter; leftover mashed potato; cheese

Wash and chop the leek, let it cook in a generous amount of butter, covered with a lid, till soft. Season with salt and then scoop into a shallow, ovenproof dish. Tip the mashed potatoes on top of the leeks. Level them a little without packing them down too tightly. Dot small knobs of butter over the surface, cover with grated or crumbled cheese, then bake in a hot oven till the cheese has melted and the potatoes are heated through. [Tender by Nigel Slater].