Bitter Christmas

Posted by December 11, 2013 Christmas No Comments
With everyone talking about Christmas baking and cooking I’d like to put a word in for eating something bitter at this time of the year. Bitter has been my life over the last year or so as I’ve been working on a book about bitter foods to be published by Ten Speed in September 2014. I think there should be a little bitter in every holiday menu. Bitter foods spark the appetite and more importantly help you digest your food, very beneficial at this time of year when we all tend to over indulge.

Dandelions are one of my favourite bitter greens: in my Paris market I was offered a choice between the familiar dark green, chewy ones and those pictured here. I chose the pale dandelions. They had been blanched, that is grown under a blanket of soil, which made them more tender, but also more bitter. I eat them bathed in a simple dressing of olive oil with a good amount of lemon and salt added. Salt and acid help balance bitter. The darker specimens respond better to a hot dressing which wilts them into submission. Place them in a warm bowl, cook up some fatty bacon and when crisp add it to the leaves. Pour some vinegar and white wine to the pan stirring to deglaze and season well. Tip the hot dressing over the dandelions and toss. Add to your Christmas menu and serve it before the pudding to restore your appetite.