Seasonal December Foods and How to Cook Them

Winter vegetables are inspiring, and when the days are getting shorter, it's a great time to get your aprons on and get cooking the best seasonal produce! Does anyone still wear aprons?

Anyway, how about adding some old-fashioned dumplings to a Winter Root Vegetable Soup? Combine all your fresh carrots, swede, turnips and celeriac to make a hearty and healthy soup. The dumplings add a really nice homely touch to this type of seasonal fayre. Dumplings use beef or even a vegetarian suet if you prefer, and self-raising flour. This is a true British classic.

When the vegetable market stands are full of leeks, what better than making some short crust pastry and a generous amount of leeks to make a French Leek Tart. This is a satisfying main meal that can be served with fresh greens and buttery potatoes.

One other excellent winter vegetable to utilise this December is the cauliflower. So, one delicious recipe idea is to make a 'Harissa Cauliflower Bake' by combining the delicious peppery flavour of harissa and the earthy taste of cauliflower. The idea is to combine bell peppers, tomatoes and cauliflower and bake them with the harissa. Serve with fresh couscous, minty yoghurt and roasted garlic!

Honey is such a great ingredient, so this winter, make sure you don't just add it to your teas! One great way to pump up the flavonoids to our winter vegetables is to 'Honey Roast' our favourite root crops. We'd recommend using beetroot, onions, potatoes and butternut squash. All you need to do is toss your chosen veggies with a bit of olive oil and a generous tablespoon of honey in a large bowl. One added delight is to serve with crème fraiche as it contrasts so brilliantly with the sweet earthy flavours. This will make an exquisite side dish, or if you add a few beans or pulses can make a great veggie supper.

If you are sometimes reaching for something new, then look no further! How about a great fusion dish of 'Spicy Cauliflower Cheese' by combining Indian spices with cauliflower cheese. This is a question of subtly blending fresh chillis, mustard powder and coriander with a traditional cauliflower cheese dish. On a cold winter night this is truly a great blend of comfort and joy!

Seafood is excellent in December, and why not push your culinary boundaries with salmon, which can be seen in abundance at this time of year? Why not try 'Salmon with Ginger and Broccoli', instead of just poaching and adding vegetables? Combine a little oyster sauce and white pepper and use this to dress the salmon. Then finely slice the ginger and break the broccoli into florets.

The key to baking this dish is to place all the ingredients in a baking paper parcel, big enough so it won't touch the fish. This only takes 12 to 15 minutes in the oven and then can be served with freshly steamed rice.

You may notice in your local Fishmonger's that scallops are also well stocked in these winter months. One classic to try is Pan-fried Scallops with Black Pudding. If necessary, why not add a side of a seasonal vegetables. The key to success is to first source the freshest scallops you can find and then make sure you cook until golden on the outside and just tender on the inside. The black pudding element is, perhaps, less critical in timing, but there is no need to overcook it. Pop open a bottle fine white wine, sit back and enjoy!