We broke our Lenten fast yesterday with a feast of roast lamb for Easter, so today – and probably the next few days, really – is about leftovers, and the first of the leftovers is stock made from the lamb bone and the scraggly bits and meat juices, along with the handful of leftover roast celeriac and potato, the splash of cider which didn’t get used in the sauce, and a fresh onion, parsley and carrot. It’s all simmering away now, making the whole house smell warm and wholesome.
Later, some of the stock will go into a pilaf with the leftover lamb, leftover roasted apples and onions, and some pistachios, dried fruit, and pomegranate seeds. It’s tempting – so tempting! – to make slow-roasted quinces for dessert, but we still have strawberries and yoghurt-mascarpone-lavender cream leftover from last night’s dessert, so the quinces will wait for another day. Which means there will be another day this week when the house will smell fantastic for hours.
I love this time of year for so many reasons. I’ve always loved Easter, at first for the chocolate and because it was near my birthday (I was a Good Friday baby) and later for the religious ritual and the long weekend… and for the chocolate and because it is near my birthday. And for autumn leaves, though we don’t get so many of those on this side of Melbourne. Then, Melbourne brings out its best weather in April – glorious sunny days which aren’t too hot, and cool nights, and even rainy days like this one, which are just designed for curling up with a cat and a book and stock simmering on the stove.
As a cook, I love this time of year for the quinces and the chestnuts, but even more for the return of slow-cooked dishes and casseroles and baked fruits and breads, which scent the house and warm it. You can’t cook like that in summer, but at this time of year you haven’t entirely left behind the summer vegetables and foods, either.
We’re so lucky in our food here. Fasting, even in a limited way, really brings that home to me. Being vegetarian for the last six weeks was really hard, and I’m still pondering the reasons why. With meat back in our diet, it feels like we have a world of abundance to work with… and of course we do.
No new recipes from me today. It’s not that sort of day. But because I love you, here are links to four recipes that fill me with autumnal joy. Two of them are mine, two belong to other people. Enjoy!