A very belated Happy New Year from Giles and the team at A Bit Of A Mouthful. 2012 promises to be a busy one, with lots of music and musicians, exciting recipes and maybe, who knows, even a bit of backstage gossip...
As part of the blog in 2012, Giles will be bringing you the best advice on seasonal eating, so lets get going with February foods, while we're still just in February.
To boost your energy at this time of the year you need healthy high-quality food, and not just good ole safe comfort food. You should always aim to keep your energy levels high, whatever the time of year, by eating regular snacks and meals.
When mood and energy levels start to dip we crave sugary, stodgy comfort food. These do make us feel instantly better as we “buzz on sugars”…but of course we crash soon after into a mind and body slump! To avoid this cyclic rollercoaster try and eat at least 5 times a day with nutritious snacks in between your regular meals. Contact me at: email@example.com and I’ll write up some of the healthy snack as and treats I have made to keep some of my clients going all day and well into the evening for Showtime!!
So, what to eat in February, the month of cupid and slightly lighter evenings, that the hope and promise of spring and summer to come. I think people may be unaware of how much bountiful food we have both locally and nationally to enjoy this time of year.
Rhubarb - The first tender British rhubarb stems arrive in February adding a tart tangy flavour and a splash of pink colouring onto our plates to lift us out of our winter blues. Rhubarb is quite tender and tart this time of year, so it will need plenty of sweetening up to enjoy.- Trade Secret: If you want rhubarb to keep its shape, the best way to cook it is by baking. Cut the stems into manageable lengths, and arrange in a roasting tin. Sprinkle with lots of sugar and add a dash of water. Cook, uncovered at 180C/gas 4 for about 20-30 minutes.
Kale - Or curly kale, amongst other names, is a vegetable full of vitamins and vitality for this time of year. The Kale is actually a member of the Cabbage family and loves the cold frosty conditions. It should be treated in much the same way as cabbage with quick blanching (1-2 minutes) stir-fried or roasted (8 minutes). The taste is rich, complex and robust and is often overlooked but it is nutritious, colourful and tastier than cabbage.
Kale works especially well with wintry food such as soups, stews, beans, root vegetables, potatoes, ham, and game. It can be steamed, stir-fried or boiled. Try mixing it into bubble and squeak, fish pie, or curries. Scots brose, a nourishing soup or oatmeal, is one of the best traditional dishes using Kale
Trade Secret: Chop it and use in place of spinach or cabbage in cooked dishes (it's best not to serve it raw).
Mussels - Like oysters, any month with the letter “R” within it is a good month to eat fresh Mussels…how better to inject a little taste of the summer and the sea with fresh Mussels?
Trade Secret: When you buy mussels, they should all have closed shells. If any are open, give them a firm tap on the kitchen counter on their base and they should close after a few seconds. Discard any that don't close, as they run the risk of contamination. Live mussels should have shiny shells and feel full when handled. Before cooking, they need to be cleaned under cold running water and any beards removed with a bristle brush. They should be used as soon as possible, on the same day as you bring them home. If you have to keep mussels for a few hours - tip them in a deep bowl and cover with a couple of layers of damp newspaper. Don't soak them in water though - it ruins them.
Guinea Fowl - If meat is your craving then look no further than Guinea Fowl this month. Many people think guinea fowl or guinea hen is a British game bird but in fact it is of West African origin and in Britain is usually sold farm-reared rather than wild. Free-range versions are available but some are battery farmed.
Guinea fowl can be served in any way that is appropriate for a small chicken. As well as roasting, it is often spatchcocked and marinated before grilling or barbecuing. Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll write up some recipe ideas for you next month.
Enjoy and come back soon to see what March has in store.