All posts filed under: Winter Recipes

From Belgium with love … Baked chicory in a cheese and ham sauce.

Chicory baked in a cheese and ham sauce is a big favourite in this part of the world. From January until the end of April the markets are full of farmers selling witloof, as it is called in the Dutch speaking part of Belgium. “Grown in the soil not in water” is one of their key cries.  This traditional dish is perfect with mashed potatoes and either red cabbage or just a simple green salad. This recipe comes straight from Jaak – my father-in-law whose grandfather was a chicory farmer. So, I’m guessing this is a fairly old recipe. Removing the heart of the chicory and blanching definitely removes a lot of the bitterness and anti-nutrients naturally present in the plant. The end result is a subtly flavoured winter vegetable that works really well with the more robust flavours of a thick cheese and ham sauce. Ingredients One whole chicory/person. One slice of ham/person. Milk, butter, arrow root and cheese for the cheese sauce. Breadcrumbs. Parsley. Thyme. Salt & pepper. Directions Begin by rinsing the chicory and …

Winter Soups

Nothing beats a thick winter soup. It is the quintessential warm food for cold days. Add enough potatoes, stock, vegetables and a small cut or two of some left-over meat and you will be left with a satiating balanced meal not just a snack or starter. Served alongside a crust of bread, butter or cheese – what more could the family ask for? Soups are an excellent way to eat all those famed vegetables we are told we should be eating more of.  The very best thing about a thick winter soup is that they are so easy to prepare even for the busy, hard-pressed parent. I always double the amount I need so that I can freeze left overs.   If you’re a dab hand in the kitchen and have been making soups for years then perhaps a posting on soups is a dull affair. Soups are not exactly haute cuisine – but who needs that every day of the week? The most important thing is that soups taste good – good enough to make …

Goulash

  As with the Belgian carbonarde so too with this traditional Hungarian dish – a good stock makes all the difference. You can omit the stock and have a very fine stew – but the stock will give your goulash that extra zing that will transform you from a good cook into an elevated master cook. The stewing cuts are tough with little fat and no bone so a stock goes a long way in imparting not only flavour but nutrients as well. The stock and salt will help all other flavour compounds link up and form a happy, harmonious partnership that your palate will instantly recognise and feel content with. Other than the vegetables used for the mirepoix I generally leave vegetables out of this dish since it is a long slow cook and added vegetables just get stewed to death. Just before serving and once the stew has cooled to a temperature where it no longer burns the hand add a tablespoon or two of either sour cream or yoghurt and sprinkle with either …

Traditional pea & ham soup

Pea and ham soup is the quintessential, traditional winter soup – comforting , filling but above all tasty. Fresh pea soup  served with mint and a light chicken stock is often associated with summer – but a hearty dried-pea soup with some smoked or cured ham is a real winter treat. It is such a traditional winter soup for the simple reason that peas are easy to dry and store. Like other dried legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, red beans or broad beans the dried variety provide an abundance of nutrients to keep populations fed and nourished at a time when it is impossible to cultivate fresh crops. Peas boiled in water with a pinch of salt would be tasteless and unappetising. They require a savoury punch and the best companion to a winter pea soup has got to be some kind of cured ham – yet another traditional source of winter food. Fresh pork would have been rare since pigs were typically slaughtered in the late autumn and the various cuts and pieces brined, salted or …

Traditional gammon in a creamy mustard sauce.

I had to wait one week for my gammon but it was well worth the wait. It is not for the first time that I reflect on how lucky we are to have a traditional butcher in town who has his own smoke room out the back. I have absolute confidence that Rondou’s will only use traditional, therefore, natural ingredients, for his cured meats. This gammon was lightly smoked and salted – and boy did it taste magnificent. Salty – but not over-poweringly so. Tender and moist. A gammon is typically coated in honey but the dark, caramel flavours of the maple syrup definitely has something going for it. Ingredients 1 gammon. Some maple syrup. Cloves. Mustard. Cream. Salt & pepper. Directions   With a sharp knife cut into the skin to make a criss-cross pattern. This can be tough going and to be honest I didn’t have a knife sharp enough to accomplish this feat! – but if you can do this. Glaze the entire outside with some maple syrup and insert the cloves into the fat where …

Knick-knack paddy-whack give the cook a bone – Stock

Basic ingredients – A bone (any bone from any animal will do: chicken, game, veal, beef).   An onion, Carrots. Celery (or leeks). Salt & Pepper. Parsley. Bay leaf . Vinegar. Water– For those who truly want to become a master in their own kitchen begin with a simple bone stock. Bones, like animals fats, impart flavour. Also known as broth or bouillon – stock is pathetically simple to make. So amazingly straight-forward you can not go wrong. You’d have thought that for something that adds so much taste, flavour and pleasure to a dish one would first have to be initiated into some kind of cult, spend years in the desert and perform an amazing acrobatic feat before being deemed worthy enough to learn the secret of how to make an outstanding bone broth. Happily for the everyday cook all you need is a big pot, a bone, water, salt, pepper and some veggies. The reward in terms of taste and nutrition is second to none. Add a stock to any of your savoury dishes and …

Roasted Winter-Root Vegetables with Pancetta and Poached Egg

Roasting winter vegetables really is a great way to get a whole load of sweetness and nutritional benefit on one plate. Pancetta is the rolled-up, salted belly pork typical to Italian cuisine. If you can’t find pancetta use any ordinary salted bacon cut into small cubed sized pieces. The poached egg on top of this dish makes it a warming, nutritious everyday meal that your family and or friends are going to love. Ingredients Any winter-root vegetable that takes your fancy: turnips, swedes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, potatoes, carrots …. 2-3 red onions – or any onion if you don’t have red ones to hand. Lots of garlic cloves (these beauties are going to be baked so the over-powering taste of garlic is reduced. You can afford to be generous.) Cumin Seeds and or Caraway Seeds. Rosemary. Thyme Directions Peel the root vegetables with a vegetable-peeler and cut the root-vegetables into chunks of a similar size. Pour the vegetables you have chosen into a big pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Leave to …