Living with the seasons: February

My least favourite month; the festivities of the winter season are behind us, but the growth of spring still feels so far away. However, the first of February brings the pagan festival of Imbolc (also called Imbolg) – the half way point between the Spring equinox and the Winter Solstice. This festival celebrates the beginning of the end of winter. The first signs of life are starting to break the cold earth. Snowdrops shine crystal white in the grey weather. The green shoots of bulbs herald the start of spring, leaves are starting to bud, birds sing, and the evenings grow lighter. I bought my first bunch of Daffodils this week, their sunny colour and sweet sent giving me life and hope. Try and bring flowers into your home: tulips, hyacinths and daffodils. Awaken your senses.

Snow drops in February.

At this time of year lambing begins. Life is starting to wake after a long winters sleep. Imbolc is a celebration of the fertility of the earth, where we give offerings for a fruitful harvest in the year ahead. A few years ago I went lambing with some colleagues from work. We went to a farm near by that did ‘adult only lambing’. Which is hilarious, but so great, because you can experience the shear joy of holding a tiny lamb. Feeling its warm body against yours, their ungainly heads and their soft wool. 

Living slow is all about living in tune with the seasons, and now feels like a great time to look forward. To stretch our stiff legs, to come out from beneath our winter layers and breath the smell of spring on its way. Now is a great time to spring clean. To brush away the winter’s dirt from the house, to wash the windows, to bash the rugs and to move things around. We all know, as soon as the sun is shining, there wont be a weekend or evening that isn’t spent revelling in the warmth and light. 

There is nothing much to do in the garden. Some forward thinking folks might be planting their first seeds in heated propagators. However, for those like me without such equipment or organisation, now might be a good time to buy your seeds for planting next month. 

Whether you are growing your own veggies or buying them locally, this month you will find beetroot, broccoli, artichokes, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, leeks, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, potatoes, shallots, swedes and turnips in season. I recommend cooking strews, curries and roasts with any of these veggies. Soups with the Jerusalem artichokes. Mash from the celeriac. Coleslaw with the cabbage and carrots. Have beetroot in your salads and broccoli on the side.

Chocolate and Ricotta Tart

Seasonal chocolate and rocotta tart for February - perfect on Valentines day!

However, this months recipe is going to be a chocolate and ricotta tart! Although, we don’t tend to celebrate Valentine’s Day, many people do. This super simple tart is rich, indulgent and sexy! Make this for your loved one and they will never want to leave you… or the tart. 


250g Ricotta

180g Dark Chocolate 

40g Icing Sugar 

Vanilla Extract 

Shortcrust Pastry 

Zest of One Lemon 

When I made this I made my ricotta and pastry. Both are super easy and if you want to then I encourage you to do so, extra brownie points to you! But for everyone else, we will be talking about making ricotta in a future blog post! 

First, pre heat your oven to 180C. 

Line your tart dish with baking paper. I used a 23cm tart dish. 

Roll out your pastry, cover half with lemon zest, and fold in half to sandwich the lemon zest. I know that sounds fiddly, but the lemon really lifts the taste and you wont regret it! Reserve some pastry for strips across the top, then roll the rest to fit your tin. Put your pastry in the tin, allowing it to flop over the side a little. This means that if your pastry shrinks in the oven you still have enough to encase the filling. Put that guy in the fridge.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a low heat. Be careful not to burn the chocolate – so keep an eye on it. 

Add the melted chocolate to the ricotta, add the icing sugar, and whisk together until combined. If you want to add a little extra something-something add some chopped walnuts or fresh raspberries.

Spread the filling into the pastry.

Lay your pastry strips over the top and put in the oven for 30 to 40 mins, until the pastry is golden.

Serve warm with crème fraîche, ice cream, cream or simply on its own!

I hope you all have a great February. Get out into nature, breath some fresh air and celebrate the coming of the end of winter in your own little way… and of course, eat some chocolate tart! 

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