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Just made tonight – not yet eaten – a winter root coleslaw with a mustardy dressing. I used a green kohlrabi, carrots, white cabbage, golden beetroot and Chioggia (pink and white stripe) beetroot. All raw, just sliced thinly by hand and then cut into strips.
For the dressing I used up some creme fraiche and mixed it up with mayonnaise. Then I added wholegrain mustard to taste – I wanted it quite tangy as it gets diluted the moment you mix it with the vegetables. We’re having this for tea with a homemade lasagne – it smells delicious and I can barely wait!
When it comes to pasta bakes, I’m usually pretty unadventurous – favouring a simple tomato sauce and lumps of fresh mozzarella or the grated version. Cooked until the cheese top is golden and crisp.
Last night I decided we needed a bit of a shake up. Still featuring lots of cheese, of course, I made a cheesy broccoli pasta bake. So simple, and yet it tasted nicer than I thought it would.
Heat your oven up to about 180 – 200°C. Cut the broccoli up into bite-sized pieces. Pop a pan of water onto boil and add your pasta.
You want to just undercook the pasta (it carries on cooking in the oven), and add the broccoli for the last few minutes to cook a little. Drain the pasta and the broccoli.
While the pasta is cooking, make a cheese sauce. I use equal amounts of butter and flour to make a roux, then add hot milk a bit at a time, and stir like mad with a whisk to keep it smooth. Bring to the boil and keep whisking – this was my job when I was growing up.
Add lots of grated mature Cheddar to the sauce and stir in until melted. Pour the cheese sauce over the drained pasta and broccoli and mix together.
Put the whole lot into an ovenproof dish, sprinkle over an extra bit of grated cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and bubbling.
I would pop this firmly in the category of ‘Comfort Food’. Good for cold wintery nights or when you’re feeling low. This is food that hugs you.
Christmas Eve lunch – a simple winter salad of warm potatoes, crispy bacon, chopped celery leaves and a dressing of mustard, cider vinegar and shallots.
This was my first attempt at this delicious sounding salad from Rose Prince’s The New English Table – I tried to follow the amounts for the dressing, but it wasn’t quite how I wanted it, so I just tweaked the ingredients until I was happy.
Winter potato, bacon and celery leaf salad
20 new potatoes
6 rashers of streaky bacon
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
175ml olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp water
Handful of celery leaves
Salt and pepper
Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water until done. Drain and cut in half or quarters.
Meanwhile, fry the bacon until crispy.
Mix together the sugar, mustard, olive oil and water – I like to use a jam jar as you can screw on the lid and shake it. Add the shallots, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pop the cooked potatoes into a bowl. Tear up (or cut up) the crispy bacon and add to the potatoes. Drizzle over the dressing and sprinkle over chopped celery leaves. Stir everything together.
I’m set on making this meal one of my winter staples. It was so delicious, and not difficult at all to make.
Somewhere between mushrooms in a cream and wine sauce and a Stroganoff, this is a vegetarian meal full of flavour – I could have quite happily eaten it straight from the pan.
Clean and cook the mushrooms in a knob of butter – I used a mixture of tiny button mushrooms (from the market) kept whole, and sliced white and chestnut mushrooms. Cook them until all the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are tender and starting to go golden. Season with salt and pepper.
The cream and wine sauce
In a separate pan, melt another knob of butter and soften a finely chopped small onion. Add about 200ml dry white wine to the pan and let it bubble until it’s reduced by about half. Then add in about 150ml double cream and stir until the mixture begins to thicken.
Creating the creamy mushrooms
At this point, simply add the cooked mushrooms to the cream sauce and stir in. I added a glug of milk to loosen my sauce up a bit and give us more of it. Once the milk was added, I just allowed it to heat through a thicken a little. Finally, taste and season, and stir through some chopped parsley if you want.
What to eat it with
We ate our creamy mushrooms with a pile of steaming rice and a crisp seasonal leaf salad, but it would also be delicious on toast. We also added a naughty sprinkling of grated Raclette cheese – not essentially but delicious.
Today we have been trying to finish off our wedding invitations, but we also managed to go for a lovely long walk along the canal and lanes near our house. It was pretty nippy but beautiful crisp blue skies.
Scenes from our walk…
A gorgeous horse caught in the sunlight…
The canal all frozen over…
A cute tiny cottage…
Seeds in the hedge twinkly with frost…
Now it’s time to huddle up by a cosy log fire and keep warm. Hope everyone else has had a happy weekend.
If ever there was a winter dish this was it. I’m pretty sure it must be quite healthy, all those lentils and greens, plus a good dose of garlic. Anyway…what matters was it tasted fantastic.
This is one of those meals where the quality of the ingredients really makes the difference. I used Puy Lentils, organic cavolo nero, and incredible coiled Italian sausages (that I picked up here).
These incredible Italian sausages were simply popped under a hot grilled for about 5-6 minutes on each side until they were golden. I even drained the little amount of amber coloured fat that pooled in the coils into the lentils – waste not want not!
The lentils (about 200g for 2) were covered with water, with a bunch of tied parsley stalks, a peeled garlic clove and a bay leaf. Simmered for about 15-20 minutes until soft, then drained. I mixed in a splash of sherry vinegar to taste, seasoned well with salt and pepper, and stirred through chopped parsley. Finally mash the garlic clove and stir in.
The cavolo nero
I’m not a huge cabbage and kale lover, but cavolo nero I have a bit of thing for. First I chopped it up, popped it into a large pan of salted boiling water and let it cook for 3 minutes before draining. Cool it immediately with cold water, then squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can. When you’re ready to eat, gently fry some sliced garlic in oil then add the cavolo nero and stir to warm through.
I have just created a brand new Recipe Index for the blog to help people find the recipes they want – and hopefully some others you’d like to try!
I thought it would be a breeze to put it together…but in fact it turns out I’ve added rather a lot of recipes and took me a lot longer than I expected.
Hope you enjoy!
Brie and Onion Tart
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter
200g puff pastry
In a large frying pan heat the butter. Peel the onions and cut into segments. Cook the onions in the butter on a gentle heat until they are meltingly tender and slightly caramelised. Let them take their time.
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Roll out your puff pastry until it is only a couple of millimetres thick. Carefully place the pastry onto a baking tray and score a border around the pastry about 2cm for the edges. Prick with a fork.
Once the onions are cooked, spread them out over the pastry leaving the border free. Brush some of the remaining oniony butter from in the pan around the border – this will help it to go lovely and golden.
Cut the Brie into pieces and scatter over the onions. Sprinkle over some thyme leaves and a little salt and pepper.
Cook in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the cheese has melted and oozed amongst the onions.
Eat with a big pile of crisp and crunchy salad tossed in a tangy homemade dressing – just a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil is all it needs. Scrumptious.
This delicious recipe is taken from the fabulous Nigel Slater’s Appetite.
Over Christmas I have been unwell, and am still now not fully back to my ‘normal’ self. Food and eating has suffered in our house, that is until N picked up where I’ve left off and started cooking more and more.
My love affair with food is currently on hold, but I am hoping with winter starting to dwindle and the promise of spring (tiny bright green chive shoots are poking through the soggy soil!) that all that will be rekindled. It has, however, been a delight to have N cook so often.
So this is why I have not posted anything in so long, I just haven’t really felt up to it. But in the last week we have cooked some nice meals, and I’d like to share some of them over the next week. A delicious mezze-stlye birthday meal for my mom cooked by myself and the little sister, a not-your-ordinary birthday cake, a simple Ploughmans lunch, and a comforting onion and brie tart.
Plus – I am getting married, and that I am very excited about! It means a wonderful day with family and friends, bound together by the eating of good food – so a wedding feast to remember needs to be dreamt up.