Sunday, 4 December 2011


This week I am having a drastic change of diet, from one centred on cooked food (or at least foods which have had some heating as part of its preparation), to a very different diet of purely raw food.
My usual diet is not conventional as such, but despite my best endeavours to eat local, organic and seasonal food as much as possible, it must be fairly representative of how much heated food is eaten in most modern day societies.
Starting tomorrow, nothing which has been heated in excess of 40C during any part of its production, manufacture or preparation will enter my body for a week.
No pasteurised milk on my cereal in the morning, no mid-morning cake, no coffee (or the sugar in it), no bread, pasta, rice, polenta or barley for supper. No pasteurised cheese afterwards. No beer in the evening. And of course, no cooked meat, fish, fruit or vegetables.
So how will I eat? I think I’ll be eating very well indeed!
I may have some sliced pears with mixed seeds for breakfast.
I could make a light mayonnaise with a squeeze of lemon and a scrap of aromatic zest, and mix into grated Celeriac with a scattering of tiny capers for lunch.
A salad of shaved fennel, very thinly sliced shallots, segments of clementine carefully trimmed of pith, with a few spoons of trout caviar (I have a little pot of this in the fridge from a local trout farm in the Cotswolds) would do very well for supper.
I hope that by putting very tight constraints on what I eat and how I prepare it, I will be discovering exciting flavours, textures and combinations in what would usually be a time of year when I’d be eating thick, rich, heavy meals - braised meats, roast game, thick broths, creamy pastas and mounds of fluffy mashed roots.
I hope to be eating vegetables in their crispest, sweetest, most pure and vibrant forms, dressed with soft herbs, virgin oils, and lemon, and meat and fish cured with salt into aromatic prosciuttos and jamóns, and fermented into salamis, as well as simply sliced into tender carpaccio, chopped as a delicate tartar and pickled as lively Ceviche.
When heated, most foods (especially vegetables) are known to be considerably lower in heat-sensitive phytonutrients and vitamins, antioxidants, and important digestive enzymes (namely lipases, proteases and amylases), so my raw food diet should not only give me a fresh approach to food and eating, but leave me glowing with health!
I will of course miss my early morning coffee, the deeply savoury, and salty, unami hit of charred meat, the chewy, sour tang of handcrafted bread, and the smoky, pungency of toasting Asian spices, I revel in the idea of my new striped back diet of uncooked, unadulterated ingredients.        

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Winter salad of alpine cheese

With roasted squash, smoky ham, and fresh, raw spinach, this salad is warming and quick to make on a cold winter evening. I used a cheese called Chartreux, a semi-firm, washed rind cheese from the Vallée des Entremonts in the French alpine Chartreuse mountains. A fruity, lively flavoured cheese, fragrant and grassy, this is a typical mountain cheeses made in the valleys of the Alps. Cheeses such as Comté, Beaufort, Appenzell, Morbier, Raclette or Tilsit would be interesting substitutes.
1 bag baby leaf spinach
150g smoked ham, cut into lardons
1 butternut squash
150g Chartreux (or similar) cheese, cut into 1cm cubes
3 cloves garlic
1/3 baugette
Olive oil
Sherry vinegar
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
6 banana shallots

1.       Dice the squash into 2cm cubes, toss in olive oil, sea salt, pepper, a little chopped rosemary, and a few bruised clove of garlic. Roast at 200C for 30 minutes, or until soft and beginning to caramelise.
2.       Meanwhile peel and quarter the shallots, and place in a small frying pan with a little butter, olive oil, salt, pepper and a teaspoon of sugar. Start cooking on a high heat before transferring to the oven.
3.       Cut the baguette into smallish pieces, toss in olive oil and place in the oven for 10 minutes to crisp and start to brown.
4.       When the squash and shallots are ready, take them out of the oven, and allow to cool slightly.
5.       Place a frying pan over a medium heat, add a little olive oil, and lightly fry the smoked ham, until warmed through and taking on a golden colour.
6.       In a large bowl, toss the baby spinach, shallots, smoked ham, squash, crisp baguette together with the slightest sprinkling of sherry vinegar and olive oil.