By Georgina Hayden
March is upon us! The days are getting longer and spring is so close I can almost smell it (or maybe that’s the stash of hot cross buns I’m hoarding in my bread bin). Either way, the bleak winter months are on their way out and we’re getting more and more beautiful produce to play with.
Baking is one of my favourite things to do when it’s still a bit chilly and my inclination to leave the house is non-existent. However, this doesn’t have to mean sweet treats – this extends to savoury goods too. Tarts, quiches, muffins… weekend time spent with seasonal ingredients is a beautiful thing. At the moment my fridge is full of the purplest sprouting broccoli, enormous heads of kale, and lovely long leeks. And it doesn’t stop at veg; there’s a ton of amazing fish and shellfish around too – salmon, sardines, sea bass, clams… amazing.
So, what to make? Well one thing that’s also great right now is venison, so why not start a bake-athon with a delicious slow-cooked venison pie? Stewing venison cooked with wine and juniper berries is an absolute dream and a comforting treat – robe it in pastry, however, and you’ve just taken it to another level. I like to line a high-sided 9” cake tin with homemade suet pastry, then fill it with the thick, cooled stew and make a lovely pastry top, joining it up with the pastry sides. Bake on the bottom of the oven at 180°C for a delicious, golden pie with a difference – it’s a real showstopper. Alternatively, for a Jamie twist, try this equally delicious venison pie that’s perfect for Sunday lunch.
With all those beautiful aforementioned greens about you can make a range of wonderful tarts and quiches. I love a deep filo tart filled with a creamy cheese (blue cheese is a winner for me – try Stichelton for a punchy but creamy Stilton alternative) and top it with blanched purple sprouting broccoli. Keep the tips and the leaves of the broccoli poking out and drizzle with a little olive oil before baking – you’ll get gorgeous crispy bits amongst the blue cheese creaminess. Stunning.
You could use chunks of perfectly poached salmon in your quiche instead, with a zesty lemony cream and super slow-cooked leeks in the base. Perfect for lunch with an herby green salad. Alternatively, try Laura Fyfe’s lovely asparagus & smoked salmon quiche recipe from Jamie Magazine!
If you’re looking for a speedy afternoon baked treat, why not have a go at savoury muffins? I adore kale muffins, laced with chunks of feta and even a little crispy bacon. You can shred the kale and stir it through your muffin mixture, or better yet steam the kale first and blitz it up, then stir through the batter to make a stunning bright green snack. Top with some pine nuts or pumpkin seeds for a little crunch.
So there you have it; beautiful greens, slow-cooked meat, zesty fish… Who needs cake?
Actually, I need cake too.
Header image by Dan Jones.