Winter warmers

winter.jpgWell here we are again at the time of year when all we want to do is eat warming, comforting food that fills us and makes us feel contented.Years ago that would have meant a lot of stodgy food made with suet and fats.If it was anything like my poor mums cooking it would have been very heavy going.

Things have changed thank goodness and we can eat loads of wonderful food with out feeling like a lead balloon.Take a look at a few of my recipes that will maybe tempt you.These recipes can also be made and left to their own devices at a time of year when we don’t have a lot of time to spare.

Braised red cabbage with apples


This is a great recipe because it can be made the day before and goes with loads of things like sausages.It also freezes well.

Serves 10 – 12 (so enough to freeze)

2lb/1kg red cabbage

1lb/450g chopped onions

1lb/450g cooking apples peeled,cored and chopped small

1 clove garlic (optional)

qtr whole nutmeg grated

qtr level tsp cinnamon

qtr level tsp cloves

3tbs brown sugar

3tbs wine vinegar

half oz butter

salt and pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 300f/ gas 2
  • Discard the tough outside leaves of the cabbage,cut into quarters and remove the hard core.
  • Shred the rest of the cabbage finely .
  • Next in a fairly large casserole dish arrange a layer of shredded cabbage seasoned with salt and pepper,then a layer of chopped onions and apples with a sprinkling of garlic,spices and sugar..Continue with these layers until all is used.
  • Now pour in the wine vinegar and add dots of butter on the top.Put a tight lid on the dish and let it cook very slowly in the oven for 2 – 2 and a half hours stirring everything around once or twice.
  • Red cabbage will keep warm without coming to any harm.

Sausages braised in red wine


This is a recipe by Delia Smith , but one like many of hers I go back to time and time again.Just perfect for this time of year.

  • 1 lb/450g good quality sausages

  •  olive oil

  • 8oz /225g diced bacon

  • 1 clove garlic peeled (optional)

  • 8 oz/225g shallots peeled (if not chopped onions)

  • 1 spoonful juniper berries

  • 10fl oz /275ml red wine

  • 1 tsp fresh thyme

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 6oz / 175 medium sized mushrooms

  • 1 heaped tsp plain flour

  • 1 rounded tsp mustard powder

  • 1 oz soft butter

  • 1 rounded tbs redcurrant jelly

  • salt and pepper.


  • Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole dish (or use a large frying pan ) then with the heat at medium ,brown the sausages evenly all over,taking care not to split the skins by turning them over too soon.

  • With a slotted spoon transfer them to a plate while you brown the bacon,garlic and shallots.

  • Now crush the juniper berries very slightly with out breaking them ,just enough to release thir flavour.

  • Return the sausages to the casserole ,pour in the wine and add the berries,thyme and bay leaves.Season and bring it up to a gentle simmer,put the lid on the casserole ,turn the heat as low as possible and let it all simmer for about 30 minutes.

  • After that add the mushrooms stirring them in well leave everything to cook gently for for a further 20 minutes – this time with out the lid on to reduce the liquid slightly.

  • To finish off remove the sausages and vegetables to a warming dish ,mix the flour and the mustard powder with the softened butter until you have a smooth paste and whisk this in a bit at a time into the casserole.

  • Let everything bubble for a couple more minutes,then take it off the heat ,return the sausages to the casserole and stir in the redcurrant jelly.

  • Ready to serve.

Thick bean and bacon soup


Just imagine this on a cold night with thick crusty bread.

8oz /225g dried butter beans

2pts 2.5ltrs water

1 bay leaf

4oz streaky bacon or off cuts

1 oz butter

2tbs oil

1 omion chopped

1 leek cleaned and chopped

2 celery stalks

1 clove garlic crushed (optional)

5fl oz / 150ml milk

salt and pepper

chopped parsley


  • First put the butter beans and water into a saucepan and bring them to the boil then boil for a minute ,cover and leave on one side for an hour.

  • Now add the bay leaf and any bacon rinds you might have to the pan,bring to the boil again ,cover and simmer for 45 minutes (removing the bay leaf and bacon rinds at the end)

  • Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan ,add the chopped vegetables ,then chop up the bacon small and add that too.

  • Stir to coat everything with the butter and oil and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes.

  • Now tip the cooked beans and their cooking liquid into the pan containing the bacon and vegetables ,add the garlic,cover and continue simmering for about 20 minutes or until the beans and vegetables are soft..

  • Mash them against the side of the pan with a large fork and thin down the soup with the milk.

  • Reheat adding the parsley,check the seasoning and serve.

Old fashioned bread pudding


Any body that knows me has heard me say many a time that my mum was not a very good cook……one thing she really could make though was a great bread pudding (not to be confused with bread and butter pudding)


8oz/225g bread – it does not matter if it is brown or white but cut off the crusts.

10fl oz /275ml milk

2oz / 50g butter melted

3oz /75gbrown sugar

2 tsp ground mixed spice

1 egg beaten

6 oz /175g mixed dried fruit (any you like)

grated rind half an orange

grated nutmeg


  • Preheat the oven  gas 4/180c

  • Butter a 2 pint baking dish

  • Begin by breaking the bread into suitable sized pieces and place them into a bowl.

  • Pour over the milk,then give the mixture a good stir and leave it for about 30 minutes so that the bread becomes well soaked into the milk (my mum used to use a mixture of milk and cold tea to make the mixture darker)

  • Now add the melted butter ,sugar,mixed spice and beaten egg.

  • Using a fork beat the mixture well making sure that no lumps remain.

  • Now stir in the grated orange rind and mixed fruit.

  • Spread the mixture into the buttered dish and sprinkle over the nutmeg .

  • Bake in the oven for about 1 and qtr hours – sprinkle over some sugar in the last qtr hour.

  • This is nice served with hot custard but is yummy cut into slices and eaten cold.


Chilli meat pattie casserole


I make no apologises for adding this very fattening recipe,but it is good!

1 lb/500g beef mince

large dash of worcester sauce

1 egg

2 oz /50g breadcrumbs made from stale bread

8oz / 250g strong cheese grated

vegetable oil

1 onion finely chopped

1 small red chilli chopped

14 oz / 440g can tomatoes undrained and mashed

4fl oz bottled tomato salsa

2tbs tomato paste (puree)

Hash brown topping

2 large potatoes scrubbed

2 eggs lightly beaten

5oz / 155g corn chips crushed (like dorritos)


  • Place beef,worcester sauce,egg,breadcrumbs and half the cheese in a bowl and mix to combine.Shape meat mixture into 8 patties.

  • Heat 2 tbs oil in a non stick pan over a medium heat,add patties and cook for 3 – 4 minutes each side or until brown.Place in a shallow ovenproof dish and put to one side.

  • Heat 1 tbs oil in a pan over medium heat ,add onion,garlic and chilli and cook ,stirring for 3 – 4 minutes or until onion is soft.Stir in tomatoes,salsa and tomato paste and bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes.Pour sauce over patties.

  • To make topping cook potatoes until just under tender.Drain and refresh under cold running water.

  • Peel potatoes and grate coarsely.

  • Place potatoes,eggs and corn chips into bowl and mix to combine.

  • Heat 2 tbs of oil into a large frying pan over a medium heat and cook spoonfuls of potato mixture for  a couple of minutes each side or until golden,remove from pan ,drain on kitchen paper  and place slightly over lapping on top of patties ,sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for  about 40 minutes.

Braised chicken with chickpeas


Olive oil

1 onion roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic chopped (optional)

1 carrot finely chopped

ha\lf celery stick

3lb/1.5kg chicken pieces

3fl oz /80ml marsala (or could use sherry)

8fl oz/80ml chicken stock

2tbs lemon juice

40g/2oz breadcrumbs

300g/10oz can chickpeas,rinsed and drained

200g/6 oz button mushrooms

2tbs chopped mint

2tbs chopped parsley


  • Heat half the oil in a large heavy based pan and cook the onion over a medium  heat until soft and golden.Add the garlic,carrot and celery and cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes .Remove from the pan and set aside.

  • Heat the remaining oil in the pan and brown the chicken in batches over high heat.Return all the chicken to the pan with the carrot and celery mix .Quickly add the marsala or sherry and stir well,scraping the side and base of the pan.

  • Add the stock and lemon juice and bring to the boil.

  • Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 1 hour,stirring occasionally.

  • Remove the chicken and keep warm.In a food processor puree the contents of the pan then add the bread crumbs and blend for a further 15 seconds.

  • Return the chicken to the pan ,pour in the puree,add the chickpeas and mushrooms and simmer covered for 15 minutes,Season to taste and scatter with mint and parsley to serve.

Orange roasted chicken


4lb chicken pieces

4oz/100g butter softened

2 cloves garlic crushed (optional)

1tbs finely grated orange rind

2fl oz/60ml orange juice


  • Preheat the oven to 220c/gas7

  • Combine the butter,garlic,and orange rind and beat well.

  • Gently loosen the skin of the chicken pieces by sliding your fingers between the flesh and the skin.Push the orange butter under the skin as evenly as possible.

  • Put the chicken pieces into a ceramic dish and pour on the orange juice.Cover and refridgerate for 3 hours or over night.

  • Drain the chicken pieces well and arrange cut side down on roasting racks inside 2 roasting tins.

  • Pour 2 tbs of water into each baking tin.

  • Roast for 30 – 40 minutes or until the chicken pieces are golden brown .

  • Cover with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Irish stew


1lb/450g floury or old potatoes ,peeled and sliced

1lb/450g onions peeled and sliced

2lb/900g lamb chops

1lb/450g waxy or new potatoes scrubbed

salt and pepper

1tbs chopped fresh parsley.


  • Preheat the oven to 160c/gas 3

  • Use the floury potatoes to line the base and sides of the casserole dish into which the rest of the ingredients will fit into nicely.Add half the onions in a layer then add the chops.

  • Trim the new potatoes to a uniform size and add them to the casserole.

  • Season generously with salt and pepper,add the parsley and put in enough water to come up to the top of the new potatoes.

  • Cover and bake in the oven for 1 – 2 hours depending on the size of the chops.

  • The floury potatoes should have dissolved to thicken the sauce and the new potatoes and the chops should be cooked to perfection.

1 egg







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