All posts filed under: Winter Recipes

Cassoulet

Many recipes call for the addition of chicken stock to this classic winter stew from the south west of France – but this dish is so packed with flavour from the goose and pork belly fat I think chicken stock is wasted if added. Save your stock for a hearty vegetable soup instead. Cassoulet is a simple – though perfect – dish for the cold winter months and fairly simple to prepare. This traditional, hearty dish may originally derive from France but in a modern age we are fortunate enough to be able to purchase most of the ingredients at a reasonable price. You can omit the duck if you want or because you can’t find it. The other ingredients will still make this a wonderful meal. The dense texture from the beans gives this winter meal that comforting feel so many of us desire as we sit down to a dark evening meal. Ingredients 400 gr of beans – an assortment. Use tinned. It’s easier. 1 kg tomatoes 1 kg carrots 2-3 celery sticks …

Citrus! The glamour of January

“Ain’t no sunshine!” announced The Guardian last week (as if we didn’t already know that!). One of the darkest on records (yeah we had suspected). Gloomiest winter since records began (no kidding). Trips to the therapist up by 30% ….(hmmm – anyone got the number of a good one?). Just as you begin to hang you head in despair and think about phoning up a therapist  you suddenly realise not all is lost. Forget the therapist. Hang-up the phone. Swivel your eyes to the market and look at all the beautiful array of citrus fruit. Yes ladies and gentlemen – citrus fruit are in season as I write from a dark “tupperware-box-like” Belgium. That bright orange ball ripened by the Iberian sun is the chink of light that’s been missing since the Christmas lights were switched off a couple of weeks ago. The blood-red oranges grown in the shadow of Mount Etna joyfully show-off their regal ruby-red interior –  a sign that somewhere there is still light … …whilst the grapefruit from Spain taste cleansing and …

The Great British Remainalade

Don’t believe for a single moment that Brexiteers own the rights to British patriotism and identity. I am a British patriot and I am one hundred per cent behind Britain remaining in the EU. If May talks about a red, white and blue Brexit we fight back with a traditional, British Remainalade. I love my country for its long history of openness, tolerance and desire to trade with the world. I love my country’s cliff-walks, right-of-ways for ramblers, the sound of leather balls hitting a cricket bat on lazy summer afternoon, I am proud of Pimms with mint, cucumber and strawberries, I love British pies, camping in Cornwall, walking in Snowdonia and hiking in the Lake District. I love it that Manchester had a club scene in the 1990’s, that it is a country which produced Train Spotting 1 (and now 2) and that it is a land full of eccentric writers, musicians and muses. No other country I can think of has come up with anything comparable to The Sex Pistols or The Cure. I …

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 …