Winter is coming.
It’s time to embrace the season of darkness and frost, by infusing it with sugar, spice and everything nice.
Food has always been a pillar of comfort, but it definitely comes into its own in winter. And it’s not just about the food itself: winter is a time to focus on what really makes a meal memorable.
Danish people have the perfect word for it: hygge (pronounced: “heurgha”). It roughly translates to ‘cosiness’, but it’s so much more than that.
It’s waking up on a chilly morning, wrapping yourself in a cosy dressing gown and curling up with a toasty-warm bowl of spiced porridge. It’s switching on the lamps on a rainy afternoon, baking a batch of sugar-sweet biscuits, and eating them with a steaming cup of tea. It’s slow-cooking a beef stew, and eating it at the table with friends, candles, and a bottle of good wine.
So buy good quality, local and seasonal ingredients. Prepare them slowly and without haste. Experiment with new recipes. It’s the perfect time to play with bold flavours and try something new.
Serve the resulting deliciousness with warmth, light and exceptional company…
Porridge with winter apple compote
- Roughly chop a Bramley apple, then place it in a saucepan with a generous teaspoon of cinnamon, half a teaspoon of mixed spice, a tablespoon of honey, 100ml of apple juice, and a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Heat on medium for about 15 minutes, until the apple is soft, and the juice has turned thick and bubbly.
- Meanwhile, put a medium-sized sauce pan on to heat, and toast 100g of porridge oats for about 3 minutes or so. (This will give your porridge a very subtle nutty taste.) Add 150ml of milk, and about roughly the same amount of water, and bring to the boil, stirring frequently.
- Once the liquid is boiling, turn the heat down, and allow the porridge to simmer for about 10 minutes. After 5 minutes, add a generous pinch of salt and stir again. Once the porridge is done, turn the heat off, put the lid on and let it sit for a few minutes.
- Pour the porridge into two bowls, top with the cinnamon apple compote, and sprinkle with some roughly chopped pecans for extra crunch.
Beef and red wine stew
- Sprinkle some plain flour over 1kg of stewing beef chunks. Then heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the meat in batches, until it’s all browned. Set to one side, and turn the oven on to 180 degrees (or 160 if you’re oven is fan-assisted).
- Chop an onion, crush two cloves of garlic, and gently fry both in the bottom of a deep casserole pot (make sure it’s one that can go in the oven, and has a lid.)
- Once the onions are soft and translucent, add the meat to the casserole dish, along with a generous glass of red wine. Let the wine cook down for a couple of minutes, then add a cup of beef stock, a tablespoon of thyme, a tablespoon of rosemary (or fresh sprigs, if you have them), a couple of bay leaves and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
- Sift a tablespoon of plain flour into the stew, stir it all together, then pop it in the oven for two to three hours, letting it cook verrrry slowly. Take it out occasionally, to stir and check how the sauce is doing. If it gets too thick, add a bit more wine.
- Once the meat is fork tender and the sauce is nice and rich, take it out of the oven. Serve the stew hot, with fluffy mashed potato, wilted winter greens, and a glass of red wine on the side.