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January’s comforts

10 January 2014

by Simon Walsh


THERE is something about January which demands that we pull back a bit. Even seasonal produce is less exuberant. And one of the coldest months usually demands some comfort, too; so here are a couple of recipes to help the weeks along.

This Omelette pie is popular in France, and very easy to do. Make a meal of it with a green salad and tinned tomatoes.

1.5kg/3 lb potatoes, peeled and  sliced
225g/½ lb streaky bacon, chopped
one medium onion, chopped
small bunch chives
4 eggs
380ml/¾ pint milk
Black pepper
120g/4 oz grated cheese

Heat the oven to 190°/375°/Gas 4. Grease a large roasting tin with butter. Fry the chopped bacon in a frying pan, then add the onion, and continue cooking until soft. Line the base of the dish with potatoes, and sprinkle over some of the onion and bacon, and a twist of black pepper.

Repeat as above with potatoes, bacon, and pepper, until all layers are finished. Beat the eggs, add the milk, snip in the chives, and pour slowly over the potatoes in the dish. Sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serve in warm wedges.

Making a hot pudding is one of the real joys at this time of year. This Rice pudding with blood oranges is a touch above any basic recipe, and brings seasonality into the kitchen, particularly if you are hoping to make marmalade some time soon. They should be readily available in the shops, but a spoonful of jam such as damson or raspberry is a happy alternative.

60g/2 oz unsalted butter
120g/4 oz short grain "pudding"  rice
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 vanilla pod
600ml/1 pint whole milk
1 tablespoon condensed milk
2 blood oranges, peeled and  segmented

Put half the butter into a saucepan and melt it, then add the rice and ensure that everything is coated. Throw in the sugar and spices, combine well, pour over the milk, and bring gently to the boil. Split the vanilla pod with a sharp knife, and place into the pan, too, making sure to scrape in the seeds.

Once the pan has reached the boil, turn it down and give the pudding a brisk stir. Cook it on the lowest heat, and keep an eye on it, being sure to give it the occasional mix from time to time. After about half an hour, the rice should have absorbed the heat, giving a thick and creamy texture.

When ready to serve (and this can be made in advance - just reheat gently when needed), discard the vanilla pod, then stir in the remaining half of butter and the condensed milk. Divide between four or more bowls and place the orange segments in the centre of each one. Happiness all round.

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