Category: Autumn/Winter

In Season: November

In the UK, we get pears in season for a good portion of the year – but winter is when it really kicks off, with varieties ranging beyond the faithful Conference. There are around 550 types in Britain, and a lot of them sound like something you’d expect to find in Care of Magical Creatures class, but the shelves are dominated by just four. As imported varieties typically test highly for pesticides, it’s worth making the most of the UK’s pear seasons while it’s here. So what do we make with them? Read More

Pear & cinnamon crumble cake

Pear and cinnamon crumble cake // The Dinner Bell

I might call this “Surprise Victory Cake”, instead of its actual descriptive name, because I did not expect this to work, and my god, it did. It really did.

I just about half-followed a recipe: made the topping up as I went along; tasted and guessed at the spice quantities; set to work bringing it all together with bowls strewn around the kitchen. The mixing stage was nerve-wracking, and for a split second, I wondered if it was a a waste of time and ingredients.

But then I put it in the oven and the kitchen filled with the smell of autumn. Cut into it and found it had the perfect level of springiness,  just the right amount of cinnamon and nutmeg flavour.

It turned out to be a cake that you take into the office and ten minutes later start getting “Oh yes 10/10” messages. A cake that might make your flatmate mutter, “Marry me,” as they take a bite. Maybe a couple of “I feel all warm and cosy inside”s. Read More

Seasonal greens & chorizo – two ways

Can we be super honest? I’m a lazy cook. When it’s not bashing out a batch at the weekend, cooking means evening meals, and that window of time between work and bed is one that I cherish. It’s for reading, or baths, or mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. It’s not the time to create a masterpiece in the kitchen.

But there’s room for not-quite-recipes: the food you can prepare with one knife and one pan, making the most of seasonal veg at its simplest. This is one such throw-these-things-together plan, which allows you to prep tomorrow’s high-protein breakfast frittata(ish) while you eat dinner.

Go forth and exercise that scrolling thumb. Read More

In Season: October

“GUYS. Look at all those apples. Bloody hell I love apple season, look at them all!”

It was October 1st and I was way too excited about apples, wandering around Borough Market with Sophie and Em as part of what Timehop shows to be an annual get-together, trying to spot a wild Delbard Estivale (apple type, not Pokémon). I’d blame being slightly delirious on the fact that I’d been stung by a huge wasp – unprovoked! – a couple of hours earlier*, but I feel like it’s justified – it’s a great month for English apples, meaning we can branch out beyond the supermarket standard breeds and the madness that is importing from New Zealand and the USA.

So for In Season this month, we’re looking at the classic early-autumn fruits, apple and blackberry. Read More

In Season: September

Anyone who’s been through a school system that kicks off in September knows this: it’s the real new year. As we dodge kids in too-big jumpers on the pavements, it’s hard not to get nostalgic about new bags and catching up with all your mates after some time apart and trying some “new year, new me” magic via the medium of shoes*. And for those of us who throughout the summer crave wool tights and cosy corners, crunchy leaves and steaming mugs of hot chocolate, the type that fit perfectly into the curves of your hand, it’s 30 days of hope and promise.

September, in food too, is the great month of overlaps, its bounty made obvious by a glance at the seasonal calendar**. It’s our last chance for several months to grab short-season gems like plums and blueberries, but our first chance to get in on some sweet butternut squash lovin’. It’s very nearly soup season. Today, we’re focusing on plum, courgette, and the sweet and jammy fig.  Read More

Chicken, leek & cider pie

Today, we’re nearly halfway through the Idiot Challenge for Idiot People. Set and voted upon by a group of university friends, the challenge forces us (the idiots) to work out in some way every day for the month of April. Chicken pie with leek and cider // The Dinner BellIt’s less stupid, now, than it otherwise might have been – we’ve negotiated “lighter” exercise, like yoga, in, in an effort to give our bodies a little rest. Two weeks in, and a few people have dropped days, but thanks to a refusal to give in, most of us are going strong, despite aches and the necessity to wake up before the sun to squeeze things in. We’re all exercising more, and better, for it – I guess it’s the way we support each other. This is what I left university with: one degree, and several stubborn, idiot friends.

And then, sticky dancefloors and counting coins in the half-dark. Bubbles up my nose and a too-strong fruit taste. Half-carrying my friend’s dad back to his house after too many “mystery strength” Somerset varieties. These are my memories of most ciders.

It was university, of course, that did that too. May we never drink cider and black again.

Quite understandably, I shy away from cider a little these days, lest I get caught out by something overly sweet and too full of bubbles; still, when given the opportunity to try the new ciders from Aspall, I leapt at it because, well, I have faith in Aspall.

And Waddlegoose did not let me down.
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In Season: February

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he internet is strange, strange place when it comes to diet policing. We think print magazines are odd – all those celebrity diets and green juice and hundreds of “detoxes” that are just starving yourself under a different name – but the end of this year’s Veganuary, and the backlash against it, have shown the world wide web to be much more bizarre when it comes to shaming people for their food choices. Read More

Caramel spiced rum hot chocolate

Move over, all other variations, for I have found the most warming, accidentally-boozy, rich hot chocolate out there. Even if you make it with low-calorie drinking chocolate, we’re talking thick, dark, and creamy. This is serious business. Meet caramel spiced rum hot chocolate.

Caramel spiced rum hot chocolate // The Dinner Bell

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In Season: December

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ontrary to the December diet I described in my last post, there are plenty of vegetables that are in season in December, as well as, you know, biscuits, cakes, and meat wrapped in more meat.

Admittedly, fruit is thin on the ground – at this point we’re mostly importing or living on booze-soaked dried fruit. No complaints here! Read More

Quick spicy sausage & bean casserole

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s a kid, I was a super picky eater. Not in the way that’s shown by TV shows which decry the state of the nation’s nutrition – I don’t remember being particularly enamoured with chicken nuggets and I didn’t eat chips till the age of 17 – but in a “give me cheese or give me nothing” way.
Quick spicy sausage & bean casserole // The Dinner Bell At 24 years old, I’m still finding things that I’ve never eaten, things that are totally normal and cause people to look at me like I’ve come from another planet.

I had baked beans for the first time a couple of months ago.

I had no idea what I’d been missing out on all this time. Easy, tasty food that can be tarted up without much hassle and is a great hiding place for secret veg! That’s my favourite.

So, this quick sausage and bean casserole is now my go-to, just a matter of whacking things into a pan in a few rounds then curling up with a warming Spanish-tinged delight. And as Beyonce no doubt meant to say, if you like it then you shoulda put an egg on it. Silky yolk running into comforting, spicy casserole? Yes please. Read More