Winter not only brings crackling log fires, fashionable winter coats, and cute hats, it also welcomes the season for soups, roasts, braises, and baking. I find nothing more comforting then spending an afternoon in the kitchen preparing something delicious for the cold night ahead. Here are 5 of my favourite hearty winter recipes to get you through the cold nights ahead.
Fish pie is damn fine comfort food. With the help of ready-made puff pastry, it is super straightforward to prepare. You can even make the filling the day before if you want. Feel free to divide it up and make individual pies too, there is something nice about everyone digging into their own dish.
400g smoked salmon fillets, skin off (and pin-boned)
500g firm white fish such as ling, skin off and pin-boned
700ml full cream milk
1 leek, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 lemon, rind only
½ cup dill (roughly 1 bunch), finely chopped
Salt and pepper
2 sheets ready made puff pastry
Preheat oven to 180°C
1. Place salmon and ling into a deep saucepan with milk, leek, garlic and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat for 12 minutes, occasionally stirring. Strain milk into a jug and place the fish and leek to the side, discarding the bay leaves.
2. Clean the saucepan and place back onto the stove. Melt butter, add flour and stir with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes until well combined. Add a ¼ cup of the milk back into the saucepan. Use a balloon whisk to combine. Now gently pour the remaining milk back into the saucepan, whisking continuously for 5 to 8 minutes or until you have a thick sauce. Stir in mustard and dill and season generously with salt and pepper.
3. Flake fish into your milk mixture and gently combine. Allow mixture to cool and then transfer fish mixture to your pie dish. It’s always better having a cooled mixture for a pie to give the pastry top the best chance to rise and get crisp.
4. Cut your puff pastry to fit your pie dish with at least 1 cm over-hanging. Place it over the top of your dish and using a fork, press down the edges to seal. Make a small incision to the pastry to allow steam to escape. If you are feeling creative, cut out a fish shape using left over pastry and stick on to the top of your pie.
5. Brush the top of your pie with beaten egg, then bake the pie in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the pastry is golden and puffed.
6. Delicious served with a fresh basic salad.
This beef stew is a traditional meal in Tuscany called Peposo. Traditionally it’s made with lots of pepper and no tomato but I’ve added my own twist – and in true MOEI fashion made it as straightforward as I can. The result is a melt in your mouth stew, which is salty, sweet, and full of a rich beef flavour… the ultimate for a winter's night. Serve along with a rocket and Parmesan salad. Oh and of course a glass of Italian red wine.
1.2kg stewing beef (such as brisket, chuck or blade), cut into 3cm chunks
10 garlic cloves
½ cup tomato paste
2 rosemary springs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper, ground
6 anchovies, drained
1 cup red wine
1 cup of chicken stock
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Parmesan to serve
Polenta or pasta to serve
1. Preheat your oven to full whack (about 250°C)
2. Place your beef in a casserole dish or deep baking try. Add garlic, tomato, rosemary, salt, pepper and anchovies and using your hands rub everything together.
3. Pour over red wine, chicken stock and balsamic vinegar. Place lid on or tightly cover with foil. Sealing the dish traps the steam, which results in incredibly tender meat.
4. Place in the oven and set timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes turn the heat down at 150°C. Cook for 3 ½ hours or until meat is falling apart.
5. Set meat aside whilst you prepare polenta or pasta according to packet instructions, not forgetting the butter.
6. Serve meat over polenta or pasta with a few scraps of Parmesan and along a side salad of rocket and Parmesan.
It’s best to keep the washing up to a minimum on a cold winter’s night, which is why I love this one-pot stew. Serve with chargrilled bread to mop up the sauce.
4 chicken thighs with bone in, fat trimmed
4 chicken drumsticks
4 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
150g thick bacon, diced
400g mixed mushrooms (e.g. button, shiitake, porcini, oyster)
2 x 400ml cans chopped tomatoes
1 cup white wine
3 garlic cloves, crushed, plus 2 extra whole
1 bunch oregano leaves
1 loaf of crusty Italian bread
1 bunch roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
60g soft goat’s cheese
1. Place the chicken thighs and drumsticks, flour, salt and pepper in a large snap-lock bag and shake to coat the chicken. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large casserole dish over medium heat.
2. Add the chicken skin-side down and cook for 4-5 minutes on both sides or until the chicken is golden. Remove the chicken from the dish and place on a plate. Set aside. Add the bacon to the casserole dish over medium heat and cook for 3 minutes or until crisp and golden.
3. Return the chicken to the dish with the mushrooms, tomatoes, wine, crushed garlic and the oregano. Half fill one of your empty cans of tomatoes with water and swish it around in both cans and pour that in too. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
4. Meanwhile, slice the bread and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Cut the remaining garlic cloves in half and rub all over the bread slices to infuse them with garlic flavour. Heat a barbecue or griddle pan on high heat (or place under the grill) and chargrill the bread for 2-3 minutes on each side or until toasted.
5. To serve, sprinkle the stew with chopped parsley and crumbled goat’s cheese with the toasted bread on the side to mop up the juices.
The beauty of this dish is that you can use any vegies you find lying around your fridge. Use the Asian stock as a guide and be creative with what you add. I sometimes throw in leftover dumplings at the last minute too.
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
800ml chicken stock
1 star anise (star-shaped aniseed-flavoured spice, available from the spice aisle of supermarkets)
4 spring onions, sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
180g dried ramen egg or hokkien noodles (available from the Asian aisle of supermarkets or
Asian food shops)
1 chicken breast fillet, sliced (optional)
100g (1 punnet) shiitake mushrooms
½ bunch bok choy
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 chopped fresh red chilli (optional)
½ cup (about ½ bunch) chopped coriander leaves (optional)
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the stock, star anise, the green ends of the spring onions, soy sauce and sugar. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.
2. Meanwhile, cook the noodles in a large saucepan of salted boiling water according to packet instructions. Drain and divide into two bowls. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the star anise and spring onion and discard. Increase heat to medium and add the chicken and mushrooms. Cover and cook for 3 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked through.
3. Add the bok choy and cook for 30 seconds or until the leaves have wilted. Turn off heat. Ladle the soup into bowls over the noodles, sprinkle with the sesame oil, chopped chilli and coriander leaves, if using.
The ginger beer adds a mellow spice to this pudding. Serve it with lashings of butterscotch sauce and freezing vanilla ice cream for the perfect end to a winter’s night.
200 g dried pitted dates
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup boiling water
125 g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (concentrated vanilla paste, available from the baking aisle of supermarkets)
1 ½ cups self-raising flour, sifted
1 teaspoon ground ginger
250ml ginger beer
vanilla ice cream, to serve
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup
200ml thickened cream
125g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a 22cm round cake tin with butter and line the base and sides with baking paper.
2. Cover the dates and bicarbonate of soda with the boiling water. Leave for 20 minutes. Place the dates in a food processor and blitz until pureed. (Alternatively, use a small sharp knife to finely chop the dates then place in a bowl with their liquid.) Use electric beaters to beat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla paste for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add the flour, ginger, date puree and ginger beer and use a wooden spoon to fold through until combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then tip onto a plate.
4. Meanwhile, for the sauce, place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
5. To serve, prick the cake with a skewer. Pour over a third of the hot sauce and leave for 2-3 minutes to soak in. Serve with ice cream and sauce on the side.