We love the kind of meals that feature in the winter months - stews, soups, roasts, slow cooking, pies and hot pots are all iconic to this time of year.
If you’re feeling low, firstly, don’t be hard on yourself, it hasn’t been easy going in and out of lockdown for all these months. As a result of the limited sunshine and short daylight hours, winter can take a toll on our mood in any year, let alone after the madness of 2020. But sometimes, it’s the little things that can help to perk us back up again the most.
After a particularly difficult day, one of our favourite ways to bring a smile to the faces of our loved ones is by serving up a delicious plate of comfort food. This idea has inspired us to create a winter round-up of recipes to make you happy. Food is the ultimate simple pleasure, and it’s a great way to bring a bit of fun to an evening.
Plus, this is a great chance to make the most out of the extra time that you’ve got - while our evening’s plans have been paused, why not try your hand at a few new recipes? Cooking and baking is a fantastic hobby to get stuck into.
So fill your bellies with some proper comfort food, courtesy of our favourite winter recipes. We’ve rounded up our top recipes to try out at this time of year, which will help you to eat seasonally and healthily, with food that is especially delicious when it’s cold outside.
Double chocolate malt cookies
Let’s kick things off with something sweet. Our chocolatey, malt-y cookies are a divine treat for a wintry day.
- Butter, 50g
- Dark chocolate, 200g
- Condensed milk, 1 x 396g tin
- Ground almonds, 25g
- Malted milk powder, 2 tsp
- Self-raising flour, 200g
- Maltesers, 100g
- White chocolate, 50g
- Add the butter and chocolate to a pan on low heat. Stir until melted.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the condensed milk, almonds and malted milk powder.
- Pour the mixture into a large bowl. Then sift in the flour and a pinch of salt. Mix until all of the ingredients are fully combined.
- Chill the dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C. Chop the Maltesers and the white chocolate, then mix these into the dough. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
- Roll the mixture into 24 balls and place them on the trays. Gently flatten each ball with the back of a spoon.
- Bake the cookies for around 12 minutes.
Pork Ragu Polenta
This cosy, warming dish is perfect for a midweek meal. It’s full of goodness, and the bulk of it can be made in advance, so it’s a nice and easy meal to make.
Ingredients - For the pork
- Skinless and boneless pork shoulder, 3 pounds, cut into 3 pieces
- Vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon
- Onion, 1 large
- Garlic cloves, 6
- Tomato paste, 2 tablespoons
- Full-bodied red wine, 120 ml
- Whole peeled tomatoes, 1 x 28-ounce can
- Thyme, 4 sprigs
- Rosemary, 2 sprigs
- Bay leaves, 2
For the polenta
- Coarse polenta (not the quick-cooking variety), 190g
- Butter, 30g
- Grated parmesan, 65g, plus extra to serve
- Fresh parsley, 65g, roughly chopped
- A splash of olive oil
- Start by cooking the pork. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot set over a medium heat. Add the pork to the pan. Turn the pork evenly until it is brown all over. This should take around 10–12 minutes. Once cooked, transfer the pork to a platter. Pour away any excess drippings from the pan, and wipe away any burnt bits.
- Finely chop the onion and the garlic. Add onion and garlic to the pot and cook for around 15 minutes. Add in the tomato paste and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Pour the wine into the pan, continue cooking until the wine has reduced by around half (this should take around 5-8 minutes).
- Add the tomatoes, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves. Pour in 470ml of water. Then add in the pork. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
- Bring the liquid to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, keeping the pan partially covered, for around 2 ½ -3 hours. By this point, the pork should be super tender, and the sauce should have thickened considerably. Finish by using two forks to break up the pork.
- You can make this pork and sauce mixture up to five days in advance.
- Around half an hour before you are ready to eat, you can prepare the polenta.
- In a large pot, bring 1400ml of slightly salted water to the boil. Add the polenta to the water bit by bit, whisking constantly as you do so. Reduce the heat to low, and cook the polenta for around 20-25 minutes, whisking it once every 2 minutes or so. By the end of this time, the polenta should be creamy and tender.
- Once the polenta reaches this stage, add the butter and parmesan, along with some salt and pepper. Then whisk the mixture well, until the cheese has melted.
- To serve, spoon the polenta into bowls. Cover with the pork, some parsley, grated parmesan, and a little drizzle of olive oil.
Sticky Ginger Skillet Parkin
You could either eat this cold, or warm with a generous serving of custard. Or, if you want to add your own twist to the recipe, you could add in some chopped pears, some rum-soaked raisins, or some slices of banana.
- Butter, 200g
- Light brown sugar, 85g
- Black treacle, 85g
- Golden syrup, 185g
- Self-raising flour, 250g
- Ground ginger, 2 tsp
- Mixed spice, 1 tsp
- Porridge oats, 100g
- Eggs, 2
- Milk, 2 tbsp
- A jar of stem ginger. You will need 2 balls of the ginger, plus 2 tbsp of the syrup
- Heat the oven to 150°C. Set a small saucepan over a low heat. Gently melt the butter, sugar, treacle and golden syrup together. Once the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for around 5 minutes.
- Add the flour, spices and oats to a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, stem ginger and ginger syrup.
- Bit by bit, add the dry ingredients into the cooled butter mixture. Then, again bit by bit, stir the egg mixture into the other mixture, until you have a thick batter. Pour the batter into a greased baking tray.
- Bake the cake for around 45-50 minutes.
We hope that these tasty recipes bring a bit of joy to your midweek routine. One thing’s for sure, there’s nothing dull about winter dishes.
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If you’d like to upgrade your kitchen ready to try out some new recipes this winter, be sure to pay a visit to our Smarter online store. Right now, you can even enjoy free delivery to the UK, US and Europe.
Written by Josephine Walbank