Seasonal Eating Guide: What to Eat in January

Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts

In the pale grey light of January, still slightly sleepy from the excesses of my London Christmas (highlight: a roasted rib of beef with gluten-free Yorkshire pudding – thanks, mum!), I find myself craving either comforting, earthy flavours or something crisp and green to blow away the cobwebs.  January, thankfully, has plenty to offer on both fronts.  Here are my top five edibles that this month, are very easy to find:

1. You might think you don’t like Brussels sprouts (Rosenkohl), but perhaps you’ve only had them boiled till their soggy and bitter.  Give them another chance, perhaps hashed with poppy seeds and lemonroasted with hoisin sauce or even made into crispy, crunchy, little chips.  Trust me, you’ll be surprised at just how tasty a brussels sprout can be!

2. Though you can buy chestnuts (Kastanien) all year round in their tinned and vacuum-packed forms, the real deal are only available in winter.  You need to roast and peel them first, but once that’s done, there’s plenty you can do with them – both savoury and sweet.  The trouble is, with only a very small a pile of them currently sitting on my kitchen counter top, it’s almost impossible to decide between turning them into a warm and creamy chestnut soup or an Italian chocolate and chestnut torte.

3. You can serve a whole crunchy, peppery daikon radish (Rettich) – also known as mooli – with the traditional German evening meal of bread, cold meats and cheeses; simply scrub it and put it in the middle of the table for everyone to cut a chunk off.  Otherwise, there’s a million and one ways you can use it Asian-style – how about pickling it to serve with pork belly for starters?

Kale chips

Kale chips

4. Kale (Grünkohl), I’m told, is currently top of the cool charts.  I personally find the idea of a vegetable coming into fashion a little bit silly, but it does mean that further to the recipes I mentioned in my rogue seasonal post on the leafy green from 2012, there’s now an abundance of new ways to eat it out there, from slow-cooked kale omelettes to kale ice lollies (via The Guardian) and just about everything in between.  Its new found popularity also explains why Food52’s suggesting throwing ourselves a kale party.

5. Finally, truffles (Trüffel) are renowned for both their luxurious, earthy flavour and their vast expense.  You can always cheat on the truffle front by adding a drizzle of truffle oil to your dish, but it’s not really anything at all like adding slivers of the real thing.  I don’t think I’ve actually ever seen any for sale round here, but if you do find a truffle, there’s all sorts of fabulous things you could do with it.  If not, you can enjoy the season (at marginally less expense) by indulging in a slice or two of truffle salami, which is available at many a butcher’s shop at this time of year.  If I fancy a truffly, meaty treat, I wander over to get some from Metzgerei Leinhos on Yorkstraße, where they slice it wafer thin.

Also around in January: beetroot, chicory, parsnips, salsify, Savoy cabbages, swede, turnips and walnuts.

What are you making the most of this month?  Have you any recipes to recommend?  And do you think a truffle’s worth the expense?!

Photo credit: Chestnut Soup from Essentially England