Winter is my favourite time of year. I love the crisp air in the morning, the smell of wood fires and the comfort of your warm woollies on a cold night.
Winter is the time for comfort food. Think slow cooked suppers, simple soups and perfect puddings.
Winter dishes are great as they tend to be fuss free, one pot wonders. I think if someone wants to learn to cook, winter should be the season in which to do so. Firstly you find yourself stuck in doors more, and most winter dishes tend to be one-pot wonders, that are not about presentation but about the comfort and taste.
Braised Lamb Shanks with ‘The Best Mashed’ Potatoes
Lamb shanks are a perfect winter warmer. The soft sweet meat that falls apart on the fork and the ‘ever so creamy’ mash potato are a perfect meal for beginners. You cant over cook it, and no matter how good you are at cooking they will always look the same on the plate!
4 lamb shanks
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
2 cups of red wine
Salt and pepper
8 King Edward Potatoes
Approx.70g full fat milk or cream
Approx. 50g unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
Finely grated nutmeg
Heat oil in a large wide bottomed pan, or Dutch oven. Brown the lamb shanks, and place to the side in a bowl. In the same pan gently fry the onions, garlic and carrot. If the mixture starts to catch to the bottom of the pan add a pinch of salt to stop it catching.
Stir in the cinnamon, ginger and chilli flakes and season with salt and pepper. Put the shanks back in the pan, add wine and cold water almost to cover, bring to the boil then put the lid on the pan, lower the heat and simmer very gently for 1-1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender.
Take meat out, and simmer cooking liquid until thickened slightly.
For the Mash.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Individually wrap each potato in foil and place in the oven. Bake for up to 1 hour or until soft inside.
When cooked, unwrap and scoop out the inside into a saucepan whilst hot. Add the cream and butter and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until creamy and smooth. Season with salt pepper and nutmeg.
To serve place a good heap of mash potato on a plate and place the lamb shank on top. Finish with a good spoon of the sauce.
Pea and Ham Soup
The smell of this soup filling your house, as you step out of the cold always makes the world just seem like a better place. I love to enjoy this soup piping hot with a thick slice of rye bread smothered with butter.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 smoked ham hock (get your butcher to cut the hock into about three pieces)
500g green dried split peas, rinsed and drained
2 bay leaves
2 liters water
1-2 teaspoons thyme leaves
Heat oil and butter in a large saucepan. Add onion, celery and carrot. Cook over low heat until soft. Add parsley, ham hock, split peas, bay leaves, water, stock and thyme leaves.
Simmer covered for an hour. Remove the lid and simmer for a further hour, or until the ham has fallen from the bone. Remove the bones from the soup and cut off any remaining meat. Return the meat to the soup.
Baked Rice Pudding
A wonderful winter dessert. The best mixture of rice pudding, and baked custard…
1 cup of rice
1 egg yolk
1 cup of milk
1/3 cup of milk
1/3 cup of caster sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
10gr butter, softened
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Place rice in cold water and bring to the boil. Once boiling remove and drain. Return the rice to a pan and cook till tender in the 1 cup of milk, stirring occasionally. Whisk together the egg and sugar.
Stir in the egg mix, extra milk and nutmeg.
Brush ramekins with butter and sprinkle with sugar, fill with rice mix, and bake in oven for 10-15 minutes, or until set.