I had my first mince pie(s) of the year yesterday. Hallowe'en and bonfire night have gone and now it's open season on the festive fun. So many films to watch, so little time.
We are most definitely into the cosier meals. The slow roasting and the richer sauces, the gradual disappearance of lettuce and delicately vibrant greens. We had a chilli last weekend, simmering slowly, full of spices and a hint of chocolate. Sunday afternoons are less guiltily filled with chocolate cake or toasted crumpets, the fire crackling and a general air of sloth.
I've been roasting things a lot, too. Red peppers with shallots and garlic, sweetening and softly caramelising in the dish. These beetroot, wrapped in foil, laying on a bunch of slightly past its best coriander stems and remaining leaves were sloshed with olive oil and salt and left for about and hour and a half in a medium-hot oven until tender. The oven trays have their chance to shine with 'sheet-pan' dinners a regular thing.
Perhaps the beetroot will be served warm in wedges with gunpowder spices or a generous dusting of ground cumin and mixed through with the remaining peppers. I may cube them and serve warm with coriander creme fraiche and lemon oil, or maybe cut into large chunks and used in a Sri Lankan beetroot curry while we watch the cricket in Galle on the telly.
It's these things, usually seen as a sideshow which really bring dishes alive so make sure to treat them with care and you'll always have good food. Most of the work is just done by time and heat leaving you free with the Griswolds or Fozziewig's Christmas party.