Bring in the winter with these seasonal staple recipes.
As the wind gets chiller and the sun gets dimmer we know winter is at its peak. With bonfires and fireplaces being our current favourite, there's no better feeling in the world than cosy-ing up in our beds after a long day. The best part? Winter food! Yes, we mean mulled wine, indulgent meals, seasonal spices, and not to forget roasty-toasty marshmallows, dipped in a cup of decadent hot chocolate as the wisp of cold air surrounds us.
If you're feeling those post-holiday blues then it's time to indulge in a few indulgent treats. From gingerbread cookies to raising a toast with the family over a glass of mulled wine, and feasting on mince pies and Christmas pudding, it's truly the season to the thankful and jolly. Here are some recipes to try at home.
A Christmas Feast
Setting up an exquisite table filled with sumptuous food is a non-negotiable! From Roasted Turkey that's the star of the evening, to Honey Glazed Ham, Shepherd’s Pie and roasted potatoes, this is a treat like no other.
1. Shepherd’s pie
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
500g lamb mince
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp tomato purée
275ml lamb or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
450g potatoes, chopped into 2cm chunks
50g unsalted butter
pinch of white pepper
green salad or steamed broccoli, to serve (optional)
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Then, add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic, and sauté for 5 mins over.
Add the lamb mince to the pan and use a wooden spoon to break it up. Cook until well browned, then sprinkle in the flour and mix well. Add the tomato purée, stock, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning to taste. Mix everything well, cover with a lid and simmer for 30 mins.
Meanwhile, put the potatoes in a separate pan and cover them with hot water. Place over medium heat and simmer for 20 mins or until tender and cooked through. Drain, then return to the pan and shake over low heat to steam off excess moisture.
Put the milk in a small pan and heat gently over low heat. Remove the potatoes from the heat and crush with a potato masher until smooth. Add the hot milk, butter and white pepper, and beat until fluffy and well blended.
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Remove the bay leaf from the lamb mixture and transfer it to a large ovenproof dish. Spoon the mashed potato on top and use a fork to spread it around, sealing in the meat and making a stripy pattern.
Bake in the oven for 30 mins until the potato is crisp and golden on top.
2. Roast Turkey
1 stick unsalted butter
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 fresh turkey
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch of fresh thyme
1 whole lemon, halved
1 Spanish onion, quartered
1 head garlic, halved
Preheat the oven.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the zest, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves to the butter mixture.
Wash the Turkey well and remove any excess fat. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan and liberally salt and pepper the inside of the turkey. Stuff the cavity with thyme, halved lemon, quartered onion, and garlic. Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with string.
Roast the turkey for about 2 1/2 hours.
Remove the turkey to a cutting board and cover with aluminium foil; let rest for 20 minutes.
Slice the turkey and serve.
Holiday season desserts are to die for. Keeping spices as the hero ingredients, each dessert leaves you wanting more. To begin with, are gingerbread cookies followed by a burst of flavours rich in spices. From the traditional Christmas Stollen to an assortment of pies, it doesn't get any better.
3. Gingerbread Cookies
100g salted butter
3 tbsp golden syrup
100g dark sugar
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
225g plain flour
50g icing sugar
Heat the butter, syrup and sugar together in a small pan until completely melted and set it aside to cool.
Mix the soda bicarb, ginger, cinnamon and flour in a large bowl. Pour in the buttery syrup mixture and stir to combine. Use your hands to combine to form a dough. Between two baking sheets, roll the dough out to a thickness of ½cm and keep it in the fridge to chill for 1 hr.
Pre-heat the oven at 190C. Remove the dough from the fridge and cut out shapes using a cookie cutter. Place the cut cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 mins. Once they are baked, leave them to cool completely before icing.
Mix the icing sugar with 1-2 tbsp water. Using a piping bag with a thin nozzle decorate the cooled cookies as per your liking.
4. Plum Cake
150g caster sugar
115g butter, at room temperature
140g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
12 plums, pitted and halved
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or to taste
1-2 tablespoons caster sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 180 C.
In a big bowl beat sugar and butter until fluffy with an electric mixer. Sift in the flour and baking powder to the mixture and slowly beat in the eggs one at a time. Add a dash of salt and mix well.
Pour the batter into a greased tin and top it with plums and sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon.
Bake in preheated oven on the lowest shelf for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
5. Pumpkin Pie
1 can pumpkin
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 (9 inches) unbaked pie crust
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt until smooth.
Pour the mixture into the crust and bake for 15 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking for 35 to 40 minutes.
6. Mince Pie
1 large jar mincemeat
2 satsumas, segmented and finely chopped
1 apple, finely chopped
zest 1 lemon
little icing sugar, for dusting
For the pastry
375g plain flour
260g unsalted butter, softened
125g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 large egg, plus 1 beaten egg for glazing
Pre-heat the oven to 220C.
Place 375g plain flour and 260g softened unsalted butter in a bowl and rub together to a crumb consistency. Add 125g caster sugar and 1 large beaten egg, and mix till the dough comes together. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 10 mins.
Scoop the large jar of mincemeat into a bowl and add 2 segmented satsumas, 1 finely chopped apple and zest of 1 lemon.
Roll out the pastry and using a round cutter cut out 16 bases and place them into muffin trays. Put 1½ tbsp mincemeat mixture into each. Brush the edge of each pie with a little beaten egg.
Re-roll out the pastry to cut 7cm lids and press them on top to seal. Glaze with the beaten egg, sprinkle with the extra caster sugar, then make a small cut in the tops.
Bake the mince pies for 15-20 mins until golden brown. Leave to cool before releasing them from the muffin trays and dusting with a little more icing sugar before serving.
Tales and Tipples
From mulled wine to eggnog and hot chocolate (topped with a marshmallow), traditional tipples are here to keep you warm and fuzzy on these bittersweet cold winter nights. And snuggling up while sipping on your favourite drink is just one of our favourite things to do.
7. Mulled Wine
1 bottle of red wine
1 orange, sliced into rounds, plus more for garnish
6 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup brandy
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients. Bring to a simmer, not a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer gently over low heat for 10 minutes.
Serve warm and garnish with more citrus slices and cinnamon sticks.
8. Hot Chocolate
8 ounces dark, semi-sweet, or bittersweet chocolate
4 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Finely chop the chocolate into small pieces and set aside.
Place the milk into a small saucepan on low heat and bring to a low simmer. Whisk once in a while to ensure that the milk doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Bring it to a simmer then take off the heat and allow it to steep for 10 minutes.
Add the chocolate, vanilla, powdered sugar, and salt, and whisk vigorously until the chocolate has melted.
Heat for another 4 minutes, constantly stirring, until the chocolate is completely melted.
Serve hot topped with whipped cream and marshmallows.
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1-pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 ounces bourbon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg whites*
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in colour.
Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Then add the milk, cream, bourbon and nutmeg and stir to combine.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat to soft peaks. With the mixer still running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
Whisk the egg whites into the mixture. Chill and serve.