Gone are the balmy days of summer and my thoughts have turned to warm and snug. Now is the time to hibernate, embrace your kitchen and slow the food down. If you’re having trouble adjusting to the inevitable chill here are some delicious reminders of what we can look forward to whilst we wait for the thaw.
- Mulling Spices
Arm yourself with cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg and you can take over the world. Well, at least delight your friends and relatives. With invocations of fireside chats and deep armchairs, making the perfect mulled wine or indeed mulled cider, will keep your guests enthralled and your kitchen smelling like Christmas. I love this Jamie Oliver recipe as the syrup can be made in advance and even given as gifts. Another great DIY Christmas gift is mulled spice bags, simply gather your ingredients together and fasten with cheesecloth. If no alcohol is your preference then Chai/Yogi tea, made using the same spices, is the perfect substitute.
2. Stews and Casseroles
Nothing says winter cooking like a big one-pot gentle simmering on the hob. Nutritious, delicious and plentiful, one stew can feed you for days. Casseroles may seem old fashioned but if you take the time to make one you will be greatly rewarded. There are two camps in the stew/casserole field and that is meat based and vegetable based. A well-cooked vegan stew can really hold its own whilst a sausage casserole is the best thing to do with sausages, hands down.
The humble citrus fruit is nature’s way of storing sunshine for the winter months. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to starting drinking lemon water. If you can, squeeze yourself some fresh juice for those winter mornings and definitely take those clementines and mandarins to work for a snack; the vitamin C will help keep those pesky bugs at bay and will help keep you energised during the winter months.
4. Roasted Roots
I’m talking parsnips, carrots, pumpkins, and all things in between. Heat your oven to 200 degrees, chop your vegetables into equal sizes and put in a roasting pan with oil, rosemary, whole garlic cloves, and some dried chilli flakes if you want a kick. Cook for 45 mins, turning once and enjoy. The flavours are so rich, the recipes so versatile and the cooking so simple that you can go and do that thing quickly and come back. I love making a big batch and having roasted vegetable couscous the next day.
A straightforward way to get nutrients, use up leftovers and impress your friends. A well-made soup is worth a thousand words and whether you aim for healthy or decadent, the key is to take your time. I love a minestrone for a lunchtime get together and a pumpkin and ginger soup is the perfect, colourful antidote to a dreary day.