If you get bored of potatoes in winter, rutabaga is a great alternative. It makes a puree very similar in consistency, although the rutabaga version is lighter due to its lower starch content. I like to add a small garlic clove to the rutabaga while cooking it over low heat, which adds a nice flavor while not overwhelming the rutabaga’s taste. Rutabaga and especially its cooking liquid always remind me of peanuts. It has the sweetness of the peanuts too, which needs some balance that can be adjusted by a fruit vinegar of your choice.
Winter is the season of braised meat. The secret of braising is pretty simple: use the cheap cuts with a lot of connective tissue and do not trim anything off of them. So ask your butcher please not to trim off anything at all. You can still cut it off on your plate, but if you braise meat long enough, the connective tissue will just disappear. Meat cooks a lot faster than the connective tissues, but if you braise your meat at low temperature for a long long time, the connective tissues are going to melt into the meat and turn the meat moist and soft. That is also the secret of all braised dishes and why they need so much time. I like to prepare them overnight in the oven. This way I don’t have to worry about any burnt parts and if I wake up during the night, I turn the meat around and go back to sleep. And I wake up in the morning with a wonderful scent of braised meat all over my flat.
In the main course of my meatless menu for the 2011 ZEITmagazin cooking competition I wanted to present the carrot from different perspectives. The base is formed by a clean tasting creamy carrot puree. After cooking the carrots I put them back on the hot stove to dry them out a bit. Afterwards, while blending to a fine puree I adjusted the consistency if the puree by adding some raw carrot juice. Carrots tend to loose a lot of flavor during cooking – by adding carrot juice later I managed to reincorporate the clean carrot flavor into the puree.