Winter is a time for hibernating, and not just for animals. I like nothing more than being in my kitchen on a cold winters’ day, making delicious hearty meals for family and friends.
Sometimes you can add little twists to some simple meals which enhance had that comforting wintry taste.
“Every person who cooks something has to make the recipe, the foodstuff, his or her own – not by effortful innovation but just by being true to your own taste.”
As Nigella says everything should be done to your taste, so sometimes when you think a recipe has gone wrong it might be that the ingredients are not balanced for your palate, so experiment and trust your instinct.
Here are a few of my favourites alternatives.
- Cinnamon Braised Red Cabbage (serves four)
This is a great addition to a roast dinner and works especially well with lamb.
Shred a whole red cabbage into an ovenproof dish, grate an apple over it, sprinkle with a teaspoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of brown sugar and squeeze the juice of half a lemon in. Mix together and pop in the oven for 30- 40 minutes at 180 degrees. I prefer less sugar and more cinnamon but this is a good place to start. You could also add a finely sliced onion which draws out the taste of the spice. If you like more aroma try adding some ginger too.
- Roasted Winter Vegetable Ragout
This recipe is courtesy of the Gluten Free Goddess and can be found on her wonderful blog. This would make a perfect side dish to roast chicken or as GFG recommends can be made into a stew or served over pasta.
- Broccoli in almond butter
Steam or boil your broccoli as normal. In a frying pan melt some butter until it starts to bubble and add flaked almonds. Once toasted add your broccoli and coat in the almond butter and serve. A great warming and comforting side to salmon or trout.
Mash potato is an ultimate comfort food, and goes so well with meat, fish and veg in any form. But potato is not the only veg to give you that soft and nutritious warming feeling. Here are a few uncomplicated alternatives.
- Sweet potato and marshmallow- I cannot claim credit for this one, its all Nigella. You can find the recipe here. This could be mistaken for a dessert but served with well seasoned meat and stuffing it cuts through and adds a delicious contrast to your meal.
- Celeriac, garlic and spring onion- celeriac is most easily described as turnip with a mils taste of celery. When boiled it turns soft and creamy, and is great just with butter. However if you fry some fine chopped garlic and lightly fry some spring onion (add for last 2 minutes of cooking the garlic), you can create a whole new kind of champ with a little extra bitterness to your normal potato flavour.
- Chorizo and chilli mash- this really spices up your mash potato. Fry off some chopped chorizo and add some chilli powder or dried chilli flakes. Make your mash as normal, remove your chorizo from the pan and pop onto kitchen roll to remove some of the oil, then stir into the mash. This is delicious with white fish and steamed spinach, or with chicken.
Stew and dumplings is a favourite in our house, especially the dumplings. But they can get a bit bland. You can have some fun with condiments to add a new dimension to your dumpling.
- Beef Stew- add some horseradish sauce into your dumpling mix.
- Lamb Stew- add some mint sauce to your dumpling mix. Or roast some garlic cloves and squeeze the warm sweet garlic into your mix with a sprinkle of rosemary.
- Pork Casserole- add some wholegrain mustard to your mix or some smoked paprika and black pepper adds a Spanish flavour to hold on to those memories of summer.
Hopefully none of these twists are too time consuming or expensive alternatives, but will add that little something special to your meal.