Winter indulgences

I haven’t bogged for ages about food – I think I lost my way a bit.  It all became about eating well and fitting food around activities – yoga/gym/work etc.  Lots of advanced planning and quick meals – what to cook when you’re only home at 7.30pm? All fairly pedestrian.

This weekend has afforded me the luxury of indulging in winter foods.  I suddenly thought “beef cheeks” with red wine – lots of it both in the cooking and in the cook.  I have a fabulous recipe for a Spanish beef cheek dish that uses annatto seeds/oil, manzanilla fina sherry  and green olives and is served with tomato bread and a parsley and anchovy salad (delicious); and another one that I think is gorgeous but very decadent because it calls for both red wine and gorgonzola.  Delicious, but ….hmm …

So I went looking for recipes and came across one from Frank Camorra of Movida.  No blue cheese, instead:  red wine adn Pedro Ximinez sherry.  How decadent is that?  500m good quality shiraz (well, there goes a bottle – just a bit leftover for a glass for the cook), 500ml sherry and 500ml water (plus thyme, bay leaves, onion, garlic and carrots).  And a long slow cook. Its served with a cauliflower puree and the cauliflower is cooked in cream and butter !  Did I mention “decadent”? For those who know me, you’ll have thought I’ve gone troppo – I don’t use butter and avoid dairy and fats and carbs, etc, etc,…. yawn.  So this is definitely a aberration.

But winter weather (not that we’re having much of it here in sunny Sydney) calls for comfort food – big rich meaty dishes that can sustain us.  Full of flavour and readily accompanied by equally big flavoursome reds. And given its a long weekend, why not indulge?

I thought I may as well make extra so that we could have another meal of it during the week and then decided that perhaps we needed something lighter in between.  Some lovely looking chicken thighs at AC Butchery caught my eye and I marinaded them in a mixture of lime leaves (the only herb still growing in my garden), lemongrass, galangal, chilli, palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice and then pan fried them before finishing them off in the oven.  They might sound rich but I served them with a salad of rice stick noodles, chopped cucumber, chilli  and asian herbs with the usual Vietnamese dressing.  Bliss. I just love the way these flavours dance in your mouth – each one complementing the other. It was a dish to savour and then sit back and sigh over.  Perfect.

Today some beautiful bright red rhubarb stalks captured my imagination.  I chopped  and cooked them in orange juice with sultantas (you need to add a few drops of water or the rhubarb will stick to the bottom of the pan) and am looking forward to having them over my oats in the morning (and possibly with the leftover cream for desert – would that be too much?).

I also quickly made some more preserved lemons – these are a staple of mine and I love that you can just make a jar or two and have them in the pantry for use. I also gift these to people – after all, who doesn’t use them?

So now its finally time to indulge in my Modiva-braised beef cheeks and cauliflower puree.

Tomorrow I go to the gym.

Beef Cheeks with Ximenez sherry