There is very little I don't like about food. I eat most of it, grotty or not. But one thing that gets me goat is colourlessness; food which arrives monochrome on the plate. All that comes to cloud the mind is, well, beiiiige, and apart from last season's trench coat, it's not a colour which really lights me up.
Think of the joy when purple beetroot is layered with sweet potato in a gratin - it perks up the chicken rather a lot, don't you think? A bowl of porridge is just gruel to the beholder unless drizzled with a berry compote or a raisin or two. Brie is brie, but not with a dollop of quince jelly. I'm not saying chuck any old rainbow together - if the flavours work, it can make for instant brightness. Call it fussy...
So after all that, I seem to have called the kettle black with a recipe entirely made from beige. And even when - for my aesthetic OCD - I spooned a bit of red tomato jam next to it, I really wish I hadn't.
This is what I like to call the 'winter light box'. (Beige) Enoki mushrooms, (beige) jerusalem artichokes, (beige) fried shallots and(beige) puff pastry. There is no colour. But I love it.
TART OF THE MOST BEAUTIFULLY BEIGE THINGS
3 large new season jerusalem artichokes, finely sliced
1tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 sprigs thyme (plus more for last min seasoning)
salt and pepper (plus more for last min seasoning)
small block puff pastry
small knob salted butter
6 shallots, finely sliced
small bunch of enoki mushrooms (beautiful specimens)
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Scatter the artichoke slices in a roasting tin and drizzle with the olive oil, the garlic, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes until the artichoke is soft and browning. When cooked, keep the oven on.
In a small saucepan, over a medium heat, melt the butter and add the shallots. Fry until soft and almost melting. Do not colour.
Scatter flour onto a surface and a rolling pin. Roll out the pastry to 3mm thick, in the shape of a rectangle. Score the pastry, an inch from the edge, so that you have an inner rectangle shape. Shift the pastry onto a lightly floured baking tray.
Layer the inner rectangle with the buttery shallots, the jerusalem artichokes and top with the enoki mushrooms. Season with salt and a final sprinkling of thyme. Place in the oven for approx. 10 minutes, or until the edges of the pastry are puffed and golden.
Serve with its very beige self.