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Cold comforts: winter food to make you smile

PUBLISHED: 14:26 07 January 2014 | UPDATED: 14:26 07 January 2014

The chefs at The Mistley Thorn cook up Smoked Mackerel Rillettes with a beet root salad.

The chefs at The Mistley Thorn cook up Smoked Mackerel Rillettes with a beet root salad.

Archant

Hearty winter dishes are all very well, but eventually we crave something light, healthy and delicious to see us through the colder months. Sherri Singleton’s delicious winter salads could be just the thing. Charlotte Smith-Jarvis samples them

It’s January. Do you feel a bit . . . bleugh?

Too much turkey, too many potatoes roasted in goose fat and an endless mountain of puddings, cheeses, chocolates and novelty continental biscuits is enough to make anyone take the oath to eat healthily in the new year.

But what to eat? January has long been seen as a culinary void. A black hole in the dark winter months, deprived of the sweet, rainbow-coloured bounty of spring and summer.

The only strawberries available are semi-green, solid and woolly, tomatoes are insipid and even many of the apples and pears gathered for storage last autumn have become bruised and starchy.

But, says Sherri Singleton, chef/proprietor of The Mistley Thorn on the Essex border, winter has plenty of tasty jewels to uncover – they simply need a bit of TLC and creative thinking.

The Californian cook’s childhood, growing up in what she calls a “melting pot” of cultures, means she has a buffet of flavour combinations and food memories to draw upon when she looks at using seasonal produce.

“We recently went to San Francisco

and kale salads were everywhere,” she

says, talking about how the most seemingly mundane vegetables can be transformed.

On salads – which are everywhere in California – Sherri is something of an expert.

“It’s very nice to incorporate pulses and different grains, and also any of your hard squashes or roasted pumpkin and pomegranate seeds. Persimmons are great in salads too as are any sort of citrus fruits, like blood oranges which are coming in in January. The nice thing about citrus is it marries well with fennel, or the bitter leaves that are around like endive, chicory or spinach.

“Cavolo nero is very good in a salad if you take the spine out and crunch up the leaves a bit. And the best thing about kale or cavolo nero salads is you can dress them and they won’t wilt.”

Sherri’s current favourite salad combination marries roasted butternut squash with pink pearls of pomegranate and a tangy orange dressing.

And she has a bit of a thing for seaweed at the moment, a nutritious and vibrant ingredient to pep up your winter diet.

“You can use seaweed in soups and we’ve made seaweed butter to put on salads. Any supermarket or good Asian shop will usually sell nori sheets, and there are some nice seasoning mixes that have nori and black and white sesame, and also shisho, which is spicy and really nice on salads and as a garnish.”

For more of Sherri’s delicious salad inspiration see the january issue of Suffolk magazine www.buyamag.co.uk

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