In the pale grey light of January, still slightly sleepy from the excesses of Christmas, I find myself mostly craving something crisp and green to blow away the cobwebs – and the odd bowl of something earthy and comforting to sooth any winter blues. This month, thankfully, has plenty to offer on both fronts. Here are my suggestions for what to eat in January:
You can buy chestnuts (Kastanien – above right) all year round in their tinned and vacuum-packed forms, but the real deal are only available in winter, and though they are a classic pre-Christmas treat, I think they make a pretty luxurious addition to the menu in January, too. You need to roast and peel the fresh ones 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,
☆ an Italian chocolate and chestnut torte, or
☆ Yotam Ottolenghi’s chocolate and chestnut bars (which will probably win, as there’s really nothing better).
You can serve a whole crunchy, peppery daikon (Rettich, above left) – 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,
☆ braising it with beef brisket, or
☆ making a simple radish kimchi?
You might well think you don’t like them, but perhaps you’ve only had Brussels sprouts (Rosenkohl, pictured top) boiled till their soggy and bitter. Why not give them another chance – perhaps,
☆ hashed with poppy seeds and lemon,
☆ roasted with hoisin sauce or
☆ made into crispy, crunchy, little chips.
It may (still) be top of the cool charts in many places around the globe, but tough, dark kale (Grünkohl) has served up around Germany for very many years, particularly in the north, where it’s served stewed, with Pinkelwurst. The Germans apparently think it mad to eat it any other way, but there’s an abundance of ways to prepare it. Further to the recipes I mentioned in a rogue seasonal spotlight on it, I also love it in:
☆ Diana Henry’s breakfast greens with chilli, eggs, garlic and feta
☆ Anna Jones’s earthy, lemony lentil soup, and I also rather fancy trying it more plainly in some
☆ slow-cooked kale omelettes.
Truffles (Trüffel) are renowned for both their luxurious flavour and their vast expense. You can always cheat by adding a drizzle of truffle oil to your dish instead, but it’s not really anything at all like adding slivers of the real thing. But if you want to go all out and treat yourself, there’s all sorts of fabulous things you could do with one. 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 Wiesbaden’s 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? Any recipes to recommend? And is a truffle really worth the expense?
Does “the rest of the Christmas cake and chocolates” count as an answer?? Love this, am dying to try sprouts with hoisin now! 🙂
Haha! That is the right answer! Let me know how you get on with the sprouts 🙂
Gosh, do you really roast and peel your chestnuts? I feel a bit of a cop-out for always buying them vacuum-packed! Thanks v. much for the ideas…I tend to only make chestnut soup with them!
I’m particularly enjoying beet roots at the moment – this recipe for a bulgur, beet root salad is particularly good with a bit of smoked trout (it’s not pretty, but it IS delicious!):
Oh that sounds really good – I’ve pinned it for future reference, thank you! I can’t eat bulgur but I can just put some other grain in instead. I LOVE beetroot. And *cough* I’m afraid I cannot possibly admit to always roasting and peeling chestnuts. But I’d like to think I did. Over an open fire… etc 😉
Was going to type what’s up with the blog, but I think I can see now. How annoying. I hope you can get it sorted soon… 🙁 Love your January tips! Love all the foods mentioned too – bargain! xx
Thank you – and I love all of them too. Am feeling extremely green this month!!
OMG you are so healthy!! I do like kale, though, but tend to add some sausages on the side …
Hahaha I’m not sure I’m that healthy – there’s often plenty of cream and feta and ricotta and all sorts getting added to the lovely green things, you know 😉
I <3 Brussels sprouts and am always looking for interesting recipes to help sway others! Bacon is one of my favourite pairings with Rosenkohl (either tossed with halved sprouts and roasted or pan-fried with thinly sliced ones).
I try to always make enough Brussels sprouts for leftovers and then toss them in with macaroni and cheese. Yum!
Ohhh sprouts with macaroni cheese sounds wonderful! And it totally cancels out all that cheese 😉
Ever since I discovered the joy of roasting them I just cannot stop eating sprouts that way. My poor husband’s been forced to eat them regularly this winter!
My child was raised in the Franconia (Franken) region of Bavaria and of one of his favorite foods is Rahmwirsing. I make this quite a lot from October to April. As for Kale…we are quite addicted to Kale Chips! (A little olive oil and sea salt and bake at 275 F or 135 C…for about 20 minutes.
I love Rahmwirsing 🙂 And kale chips! Except I always seem to burn those ?