The February supper club is here and with #dryJanuary over, there seems to be a new dietary rage taking centre stage; #nosugarfebruary. Yes, sugar, the thing that we should all be now worrying about has it’s own avoidance month, something which if you went back five years, would have been unheard of. But that doesn’t mean that food can’t be sweet, that you can’t enjoy dishes or that you simply need to avoid things you enjoy.
“In France, cooking is a serious sport, and a national sport” Julia Childs once famously quipped, and she wasn’t wrong. And are the French bothered about marketing cliched months, the exchange of nouns to blend into some literary plus valence of rhyming dietary requirements. No, probably not.
As ever, the joy of supper clubs are about food, food and more food. But this month we want to introduce something a little different, we want to advise a wine or two, because, you’ve been so well behaved in January.
So what is on the menu for the month of February, what should we be drinking with it. Here are just some suggestions.
What foods should we be eating this February?
There is a lot of carry over this month, from January with a focus on shellfish (arguably a little late season but definitely worth it) but, the wondrous, truffle makes an appearance. Now to many, the idea of truffle makes no sense. It costs far too much in many people’s eyes and doesn’t taste of much. A little more probing and you will see that truffle is mainly consumed in oil format. We can guarantee that oil truffle is not the taste of the real stuff. You want the real thing, so if you can get your hands on it, it’s worth it.
Purple sprouting makes a welcome edition as does the great rhubarb, this time, in season! Here are just some ideas.
February hosts a great time for mussels. Farmed mussels are sustainable and have some really great flavour, but one of the things that can go horribly wrong is the preparation. From beards to molluscs you need a bit of preparation time to get the dish right, but when you do, it can make a simple dish great.
A great mussel starter is the simple, moules mariniere. White wine, cream, fresh parsley, what more could you ask for?
If you wanted to avoid shellfish, then why not look at the ever likely leek. Yes, it’s the month of the famous Welsh vegetable and you can’t go wrong with this wonderful seasonal vegetable. This amazing leek and pancetta soup with cheese croutes must be tried. If you are vegetarian, you can remove the pancetta, naturally. This still packs a lot of flavour and goodness.
You are spoilt this February with the mains. From game birds to lovely in season local vegetables and the addition of truffle, you can make great dishes with little effort. “The secret to any great dish, is great ingredients.” This anonymous proverb has held the test of time, but what can you make with this month’s great food?
If you got your hands on wild caught partridge or a speciality butcher had it available, then you must try it, and you must definitely try this amazing recipe. Partridge with pears and perry. This is a real heavenly dish that must be tried.
What about the great vegetables we were talking about? Well, sweet potatoes make a great introduction this month, so why not give a family classic a twist with this delicious vegetable shepherd’s pie. Lorraine Pascal’s twist provides lots of twists with this fun family favourite and it tastes great.
And what about that truffle we rattled on about. Well, a main of pasta is never off the menu in the De Blasio household, so a pasta dish with truffle is a natural way to go with this ingredient. Well, Theo Randall delivers with this wonderful dish, tagliarini with artichoke and truffles. It’s simple, doesn’t take long to cook and the truffle is the star of the show – avoid the truffle oil, though. Please!
For the truffle dish, you want to avoid trying to pair the wine to the truffle but the other ingredients as wine and truffle pairing is notorious. This verdicchio is a great selection and matches the creaminess of the dish.
If you’re going for the vegetarian classic, then you want something to really cut through a bit of the sweetness of the sweet potato but still keep fresh and not overwhelm your palette. Therefore we advise a great tasting, sauvignon blanc and this one from Oyster bay matches the brief.
Well, the diet has been good to you and you now want to splash out a little, have a bit of a treat for all of that exercise and juicing, right? We think one of these two desserts really bring out the best of the seasonal foods.
First there is the treacle sponge with spiced pears. It’s easy, has all the great flavours that you could want from a dessert and the custard that goes with the pears is something special – James Martin, we salute you.
But what about the blood orange you scream? Yes, February gives you the taste of citrus and this dish is delicious. Mousse pots with orange shortbread. It takes time, you need a little skill and a lot of confidence but the results are spectacular. Why not give this showstopper a go, you won’t be disappoints.
What dishes will you be cooking this February, we’d love to know. If you try any of these dishes, why not drop us a photo on our Facebook page and share your supper club recipes.