We awoke this morning to find a soft blanket of white and drifting (OK, grey and drippy) snow, an extreme rarity in London. South Kensington was a bona fide wonderland, with the shop windows of warm patisseries carefully filled with freshly prepared winter treats and bouncy children with adorable English accents launching ineptly constructed snowballs at anything that moved.
After a mild, Al Gore-ish start to the season, winter has come to London! And, as everybody knows, the best way to warm up is from the inside out. So here, we offer three ways to face the chill and prevent yourself from wasting away this January...
Let It Snow!
Another Uxbridge-Road-inspired dish. We enjoyed this hearty side with a roasted breast of chicken and the last leftover bottle of Christmas muscadet.
Lentil, Onion and Rice Pilaf with Minty Yogurt Sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup dried lentils, rinsed, picked over
3/4 cup long-grain white rice
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 large onions, sliced
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and spices; sauteé until onion softens, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add water and lentils; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Stir in rice; return to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook until liquid is absorbed and rice and lentils are tender, about 15 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions; sauteé until soft and beginning to blacken, about 20 minutes. Mix onions into pilaf, add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Mix yogurt, cucumber, mint and remaining lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Top pilaf with dollop of yogurt.
Adapted from Bon Appétit, November 2003
Let it Snow!!
Our regular readers will be aware that one of our favorite sanctuaries on a cold evening (or any evening, really) is the pub. The very first London gastropub, The Eagle, proudly pioneered all of the now cliché gastropub accoutrements like chalkboard menus, an open plan kitchen and careful approaches to traditional English dishes like rabbit casserole or "Ste. Ana" marinated steak sandwiches. Our favorite tipple-on-tap was the Eagle IPA - not a traditional winter warmer, but a fine ale nonetheless.
Let It Snow!!!
Tam grew up in south central Pennsylvania, where the local German Baptists and Mennonites eat egg noodles on their mashed potatoes (topped with something aptly called "yellow gravy," which will go undiscussed here). The same tendencies presumably influenced this traditional Swiss dish, which combines pasta AND potatoes with a delicious cheesy sauce and is meant to be served with tart applesauce; it sounds like a peculiar combination, but is actually very delicious. Plus, it's totally a great way to carboload, man...
Make a quick homemade applesauce by combining chopped apples with a little water, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and a smidgen of nutmeg and simmering until apples are soft; mash with a fork for a coarse, chunky texture that goes nicely with this dish.
3 small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces spirali pasta (or whatever you've got; tubular shapes work best)
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium onions, sliced
1/2 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup whole milk
1 cup (packed) grated Swiss or sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon mustard (use Dijon if you're using Swiss cheese, strong English mustard if you're using cheddar)
Salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking dish. Cook potato in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer potato to large bowl. Add macaroni to same pot of boiling water; cook until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain macaroni. Add to bowl with potato.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions and sauté until tender and brown, stirring often, about 15 minutes.
Add onions, cream, milk and cheese to potato mixture and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to prepared dish. Bake until heated through and cheese melts, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; serve hot, with applesauce and salad alongside.