Simon Rimmer’s Winter Seasonal Picks
Eating for the season not only means the ingredients will taste better but it is more sustainable, helping to reduce the need for transportation and decreasing carbon emissions - read on for Simon’s top winter picks.
Mussels are a delicious and nutritious ingredient, providing a great source of protein. They’re packed with vitamins B12 and C, making them perfect for boosting your immune system during the colder seasons. If your New Year’s resolution is to eat healthier, mussels are low in calories and high in healthy fats such as Omega−3 fatty acids which benefits the heart, vision and brain.
Although frozen mussels are available all year, fresh mussels are at their peak in October through to March.
Choose the best
To avoid inedible mussels ensure they have closed and undamaged shells when purchased.
Before preparing, it is important to check that all the shells are tightly closed as open shells may indicate that the mussels are spoilt. If a shell is open, tap it to see if it tightens, and if not, do not use it. To clean, use a knife to remove any hardened debris and cold water to scrub away sand or salt, avoiding soaking.
Fresh mussels should be eaten on the day of purchase as they spoil quickly. Frozen or preserved mussels, such as those stored in vinegar, can be stored for much longer. If you plan to chill your mussels for use later in the day, avoid storing them in plastic bags, use a damp paper or cloth to wrap around the shellfish.
Mussels can be cooked in a variety of ways, baked, grilled or fried, and are great for both starters and within a main meal. Try curried mussels by adding red Thai curry paste or for milder palates prepare with coconut milk. Alternatively, stuff the shells with breadcrumbs, parsley and garlic for a scrumptious side dish.
Although one of the most debated ingredients on a Christmas dinner, there are many delicious ways to enjoy Brussels sprouts, especially as they are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Brussels sprouts are available all year round, but the most flavoursome sprouts tend to be in higher season during the winter months.
Choose the best
When choosing Brussels sprouts, look for the greenest and firmest. Smaller heads tend to contain the most flavour and have fewer loose leaves due to their tightness. Select sprouts of a similar, small size, as this will allow equal time for them all to cook thoroughly. Try to avoid sprouts with loose or yellowing leaves, as these are not as fresh and will not be as flavoursome.
To prepare Brussels sprouts, remove the stalks and any loose or spilt leaves then wipe away any soil under a cold running tap.
If stored in the refrigerator, Brussels sprouts can last up to one week. To keep them fresh, place the unwashed sprouts into a plastic bag before putting them into the refrigerator. Sprouts purchased on a stalk should be kept on the stalk to maintain moisture. Washing sprouts before storing will cause them to spoil quicker due to condensation, but if prepping in advance, opt for an airtight container and use within three days.
For a winter snack, deep-fried Brussels Sprouts are a must-try. After blanching, place the sprouts into flour pre-seasoned with salt, pepper and chilli, then shake off any access before deep-frying until crispy. Serve your delicious savoury treat with a dip – mayonnaise and mustard are great options.
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
This crunchy colourful broccoli is great for both eating raw and cooking. Full of vitamins A and C and folic acid, this flavourful vegetable is a great ingredient to include in dishes during the frosty time of year.
Purple sprouting broccoli takes much longer to grow than other types of broccoli such as De Cicco and Italian Leaf Broccoli which mature much quicker. It can tolerate very low temperatures and is at its prime in the winter season.
Choose the best
Look for broccoli with darker florets, avoiding yellowing and wilted plants for a fresher, vibrant vegetable.
After removing any spoilt leaves and stems, cut off the broccoli florets with a knife leaving only small stems. Clean the broccoli thoroughly under cold water to remove any dirt.
When buying fresh, the broccoli should be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. To prolong freshness, it can also be frozen, but this will affect the texture when defrosted. If freezing, blanch the broccoli before placing in the freezer to preserve the quality.
When roasted, purple sprouting broccoli has a delicious smoky flavour. After blanching, place the broccoli in butter with flaked almonds and roast until the edges are blackened - a creamy sauce is the perfect accompaniment. Broccoli and stilton soup is another appetising dish that is simple to prepare. Cook the broccoli with onions, carrots, celery and stock then purée. Finally, fold in stilton for a rich winter warmer.
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