An extra layer, at this time of year, is what I like to call a necessaccessory. I'm not just talking about hats, scarves and gloves but a full winter coating of my very own whale blubber. This means following a strict routine of hearty stews, gristly stodge, plenty a mug of tongue-burning cocoa and no holding back. Last night kicked off with a two course bloaty supper; an unforgettable start to fighting off the cold and putting a little fire into an otherwise frozen belly.
Portobello Mushroom stuffed with Parmesan Creamed Spinach.
1 large Portobello mushroom
1 large handful baby spinach
2 tbsps creme fraiche
2 tbsp grated parmesan
pinch ground black pepper
small pinch nutmeg
In a sieve over a pan of boiling water, lightly wilt the spinach. Transfer into a bowl and mix with the creme fraiche, parmesan, nutmeg and pepper. Spoon the spinach onto the underside of the mushroom and place under a hot grill for 5 minutes, or until the creme fraiche has started to brown and the mushroom has wrinkled slightly.
Cut in half and serve for two, or have whole for one. No fuss.
Nigel Slater's Sausage with Lentils
(Taken and lovingly adapted from my most loyal cookbook: Penguin 60s Nigel Slater 30-Minute Suppers)
125g small brown or green lentils
85g smoked bacon, roughly chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, sliced
handful fresh parsley, chopped
pinch black pepper
200g chopped tomatoes
4 good pork sausages (spicy sausages very good)
Rinse the lentils in a sieve under cold running water. Fry the bacon in a pan until the fat runs. Add a little oil if necessary. Fry the onion in the fat or oil for 4-5 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic, cover and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the lentils and enough boiling water to cover them by an inch or so. Cook over a moderate heat and simmer for approx. 20 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, almost all of the parsley and black pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes, and let the liquid evaporate off. As Nigel so geniusly says 'test
Meanwhile, fry the sausages in a pan with a little oil. When they are entirely cooked through, slice and serve on top of a few ladles of the wamed lentil mix in hot bowls - how I like it - or on plates, with a garnish of the remaining parsley...