All posts tagged: comfort food

Mushroom, Lentil & Red Wine ‘Shepherd’s’ Pie… (He’s a veg shepherd. Obvs.)

The crisp cold and frosty season is well and truly upon us.  The air is cold and the sky is blue, which can provide light relief from the January blues…  The stillness of winter reminds us how important rest is though.  Pacing ourselves, and taking time to be still, whether that’s sitting with a warm drink, or switching fast paced exercise for a more restorative yoga practice.  Stillness in winter can be a way to reconnect to our sense of vitality (or lack of) and preserve our energies, it can also be a place where we begin to feel stagnant, where coughs and cold creep in and it becomes hard to move at all.  Balance is key (Not just tree pose -but it helps!)… One thing this time of year requires, however you’re feeling, is warming hearty food…Good nourishment and extra calories. This is a vegetarian shepherd’s pie recipe that’s hearty and rich, warming and comforting!  Just what’s required in the middle of winter… Ingredients for the Filling: 1 Red Onion 2 Cloves Garlic 2 …

Roast Butternut Squash & Sage Lasagne

Sometimes, only pasta, baked in cheesy sauce will do.  Laced with nutmeg, layered with smooth seasonal roast butternut squash and herby tomato sauce… Served with baby spinach and rocket and eaten until it’s gone… because really, it’s never as good tomorrow, and I probably wont fancy it then anyway… digging my fork in the dish at the end might even be the best bit… “just one more mouthful” I’m thinking… “and then I’ll stop”… Ingredients for the cheese sauce: 2 tbsp butter 50g plain flour 1 pint organic milk 50g cheddar cheese 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg Ingredients for the tomato sauce: 1 tbsp olive oil 1 red onion 2 cloves garlic 1/2 red pepper 2 sprigs fresh rosemary 1 can chopped tomatoes 1 tsp maple syrup 1/4 tsp sea salt Other Ingredients: 350g Lasagne sheets 1 butternut squash 4 sprigs of sage Extra Cheese for grating Method: 1) Preheat the oven to 200C.  Peel and slice the butternut squash in to discs around 1/2cm thick.  Place on a baking tray drizzled with olive oil, cracked …

It’s the Sweet, Spicy, Splendid Smell of Christmas Eve, The Christmas Ham!

Cooking it all day long is Sooooo Christmas!  It’s a ritual and a tradition on Christmas Eve… It fills the house with sweet smells and warmth.  The whir of the oven warming while the pan bubbles on the hob.  It melts in the mouth once it’s cooked and it’s as good cold as it is warm… it’s just such a lovely addition to our Christmas food! Ingredients to boil the ham (serves 4 for several days or party of 10): We had a 2.8KGk Smoked Ham Enough water to cover 1 litre Cranberry Juice 1/2 litre Apple Juice 1 Onion (quartered) 1 orange (quartered) 2 garlic cloves 200mls red wine 2 cinnamon sticks 1 teaspoon peppercorns 3 cardamom pods 1 star anise 1/2 teaspoon allspice powder Ingredients for the glaze: 1 tbsp maple syrup 2 tbsp cranberry compote 2 tbsp honey juice of 1/2 lemon zest of 1 orange 1 tsp dijon mustard Enough cloves to stud the ham (30-40ish) Method: 1. Place the ham in a large pan on the hob, cover with water, …

Lasagne & Roast Potatoes Anyone? Or Herby Red Lentil Lasagne…

It wasn’t until I was a grown up that anyone questioned our standard family supper of lasagne and roast potatoes… It gives me quite a giggle to think about it now!  What a carb fest, extreme comfort food!  Although I’ve dropped the addition of roast potatoes from this dish, I do often make a lasagne, especially in the winter months and it’s usually always vegetarian.  It still feels like comfort food to me, and I’m sure my children are inheriting the same feeling… So here it is in all its carby, cheesy, tomato glory!   Ingredients (serves 6): 350g egg lasagne Ingredients for the tomato sauce: 2 tins tomatoes 100g red lentils 1 red onion, finely chopped 3 cloves garlic, crushed 125mls red wine 2 tsp maple syrup 1 tsp mixed herbs 2 sprigs fresh rosemary salt & black pepper additional water to top up when the lentils absorb the liquid Ingredients for the cheese sauce: 100g butter* 100g flour 100g mature cheddar* 1 pint milk* 1 tsp dijon mustard 1/2 tsp ground nutmet crack …

Roast Garlic & Potato Salad… A Hearty Winter Warmer…

This is a really warming, salty, hearty salad, the kind of salad that winter evenings call for…  We spent the morning hiking around Box Hill, about 6 miles in all up and down, a bit of a mash up of the stepping stones walk, box hill hike, juniper top trail and happy valley trail… It was windy, cold and beautiful.  The views are stunning, the countryside is pristine and we were absolutely (almost literally) swept away.  Daphne the dog, still slightly caked in mud, is asleep still… So this evening, although we both wanted something hearty to eat, we also wanted something healthy.  So here’s a warming tasty salad, full of earthy goodness, perfect for a winter’s evening… Ingredients (serves 2): 2 large handfuls spinach 1 pointed beetroot (or small beetroot) 2 carrots 1 thick end of bread (stale is good, cut in to 1″ cubes) 1 large potato (cut in to 1″ cubes) 4 large cloves or 6 medium cloves of garlic 1/2 red onion 1 large handful pumpkin seeds 1/2 thumb ginger 1 …

Roast Curried Squash and Cauliflower Dhal aka Waste Not Want Not

“Pumpkin sooooooooup….Owwwwwww” Groaned the kids when I told them what was for tea… To be honest I’m feeling a bit the same.  The best thing about eating seasonally is how much we enjoy the first ripe fruit or veg of the season, remembering last year’s recipes and creating something new.  It’s a creative challenge keeping up with a glut, and it feels great to share what we can’t use with friends and neighbours.  The worst thing about eating seasonally is that by the end of the season, if I never see a pumpkin, courgette, apple, blackberry etc. (delete as appropriate) again it will be too soon!!  Still.  Waste not want not.  I spared the kids the pumpkin soup in the end and made a large vat of curried squash and cauliflower dhal and promptly delivered it to my lovely neighbour (who very often delivers me samosas and other delicious Indian sundries)… It’s just had her seal of approval, a text to say “delicious”.  Clearly she’s not in a pumpkin glut!  So here’s the recipe… And …

Arancini with Spicy Tomatoes and Black Eye Beans

This is truly indulgent, especially the day after risotto!  But what can you do when there are leftovers that need to be used up?  And, anything in breadcrumbs goes down well with the kids… I haven’t made Arancini other than with leftover risotto, and honestly I think this is the best way, it’s full of flavour, sticky and easier to handle…  It’s a great lunch or evening meal served up with these spicy tomatoes and beans. Ingredients for the Arancini: Around 200g leftover risotto (see risotto recipe) 1 egg Handful plain flour Dessert bowl of breadcrumbs (see breadcrumbs recipe) 1 heavy-duty pan for deep-frying 1/2 ltr olive oil Method for the Arancini: 1. Heat the pan with the oil until hot. After a few minutes test the heat by dropping a small piece of bread in. It’ll float and fry if the oil is hot enough. 2. Take dessert spoons of risotto rice and roll between the palms in to a ball. 3. Roll in flour, then beaten egg, then coat in breadcrumbs and drop …

Shiitake Mushroom and Thyme Risotto

Risotto follows roast chicken almost always in our house.  Once the chicken is more or less stripped of breast meat I boil the carcass to create a stock.  I have a slightly ‘war time’ attitude to waste.  Being only a generation removed, and the oldest child of a single mother my conscience will not allow me to throw it away… Actually, there’s something quite romantic for me about the idea of generations of women making the most of food, not wasting anything… And the wisdom of those women knowing (without the science we now have) how good it is for their families, from keeping colds and flu at bay to soothing the gut and making hair shine!  Read more about the health benefits of home-made chicken stock here.  There are plenty of recipes on-line for making your own.  Mine really is very simple: Chicken Stock from a roast chicken: Place the carcass in a large pan.  Cut it down if it’s still in one piece.  Cover with water, bring to the boil, put the lid …

Roast Caramelised Autumn Veg Salad aka A Beetroot Affair to Remember

This is a beautifully warm, earthy salad… rich in flavour and texture.  I’ve got an abundance of gem squash at the moment thanks Jude, my allotment neighbour and still plenty of beetroot… Oh beetroot… In the words of Tom Robbins; ‘The beet is the most intense of vegetables…the murderer returned to the scene of the crime…The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot…Rasputin’s favourite vegetable, you could see it in his eyes”… Phew. Ok. So if we’re all back in the room I shall continue…!! Ingredients for 2: 2 purple carrots 4 small beetroots 2 slices gem squash (Chopped) Sprig of Thyme 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 tsp maple syrup pinch sea salt 2 large handfuls baby spinach 100g Shaved raw red cabbage 2 handfuls pine nuts Method: 1. Chop the carrot (length-ways and half), beetroot (into 4) and gem squash in to bite sized chunks. 2. spread the veg out in a baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and throw in the thyme. Give …

Cheap as Chips with Bestival Sauce

This is a great side or snack… The kids love it and I love picking on it when they have it! Using olive oil, and cutting out any dehydrated potato or additional starch or flavour that can be found in commercial potato products, these take 25 minutes in the oven.  As quick as most frozen oven chips, and cheap too! Ingredients: 1 medium potato per person cut in to 6 1 tbsp olive oil pinch of sea salt sprinkling of paprika (added by my lovely neighbour Louise) Method: 1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C 2. Cut the potatoes in to eight and spread out on a baking tray. 3. drizzle the olive oil and pinch of sea salt over the potatoes and give them a shimmy. 4. bake for 25 mins (or until the flesh is browning and they’re cooked through) The sauce here comes from our Chilli Chicken Bestival Kebabs recipe… Which was inspired by Tim’s weekend jolly (sorry work trip) to Bestival a few weeks ago! If you fancy chicken with the chips …