Affordable winter warmers

Winter has arrived and more than ever we need to be cooking meals that tick all the boxes.

We need to shop wisely and keep our nutrition high, but we also need to have meals that will be full of flavour and fill our bellies.

Winter’s array of vegetables are fantastic as they are perfect for roasting, boiling and mashing and they make great soups, salads and stews.

These recipes are here to guide you and give you some simple ideas which, of course, you can make your own.

 

Pumpkin, white bean and leek soup

This soup is all about seasonal goodness. Pumpkins add a delicious sweet, velvety note to your soup and by adding succulent leeks and protein packed beans you are rewarded with a soup perfect for these cold evenings.

Serves 4

2 Tbsp oil

1 leek, washed and sliced thinly

500g pumpkin, skinned, deseeded and cut into 1cm cubes

2 425g cans cannellini beans

100g kale, spinach, silverbeet

salt and cracked pepper

Method

Place the oil and leeks in a medium-sized saucepan and cook over a moderate heat for 3 minutes.

Add half the pumpkin and stir to mix, reduce the temperature and cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes or until the pumpkin and leeks become soft.

Add the beans and their liquid. Add 1 cup water and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Cook the soup for a further 10 minutes, then add the remaining pumpkin and greens.

Continue cooking the soup until the pumpkin is tender and slightly mushy.

Use a potato masher to lightly mash the soup so that some of the beans and pumpkin break down. This will give the soup a better consistency.

Adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Serve and enjoy.

 

 

Toasted barley and mushroom salad

These two ingredients go well together. Barley swells up and adds a terrific texture to silky, juicy mushrooms. This salad needs a punchy dressing to bring it together. I like pomegranate molasses, but balsamic works beautifully as well.

Serves 4-6

1½ cup pearl barley

¼ cup olive oil

2 shallots or 1 red onion, sliced into thin slices

500g mushrooms, torn into pieces

4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

100g spinach leaves

handful flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

3 Tbsp pomegranate molasses or balsamic vinegar

⅛ tsp ground cinnamon

salt and cracked black pepper

25g Parmesan cheese, grated

Method

Place the barley in a medium-sized pot, and heat over a moderate heat. Move the barley around every minute or so to lightly toast it. When this is done, generously cover the barley with water. Add a little salt and cook for 20-30 minutes or until tender.

Drain and cool on a flat tray.

In a suitably sized fry pan, add the oil and cook the shallots/red onion over a moderate heat until they become crispy and golden (not black). Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Set aside.

Return the pan to a moderately high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute for 8-10 minutes or until the mushrooms are golden and juicy looking.

Add the garlic and continue cooking for a further 3-4 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic or mushrooms. Season with salt and cracked pepper.

Remove the mushrooms and garlic from the oil and place in a large bowl.

Add the barley, spinach and parsley and toss to combine.

Use the remaining oil in the fry pan to make the dressing. Add the pomegranate molasses and cinnamon. Whisk together and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Add the dressing to the salad and stir gently through. Add half the grated Parmesan and mix lightly.

Arrange the salad in your serving dish. Finish with the remaining Parmesan and crispy shallots. Grind over a little more cracked pepper. Best warm or at room temperature.

 

Mince and potato pie

This pie brings back memories of family dinners in England. What I like about it is that it uses cheap cuts of meat. The addition of potatoes makes it go a bit further.

Serves 6

Pastry

350g flour

200g butter, cubed

1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp cold water, plus 1 egg beaten for glazing pie

Filling

1kg beef mince

2 Tbsp oil

1 onion, sliced thinly

250g potatoes, peeled, sliced thinly

250g swede, peeled, sliced thinly into small pieces

1½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground pepper

1 beef stock cube

water

Method

Begin by making the pastry.

Put the flour and butter in a food processor and blend on the pulse setting until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the motor running, add the beaten egg and water and blend until the mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 180degC.

Add the oil to a fry pan and sweat off the onion for 5 minutes.

Add the onion to a large bowl and add the mince.

Add the sliced potato and swede, season with the salt and pepper. Mix all together with your hands.

Loosely place the meat and vegetable mix into a 30cm x 20cm pie dish.

Crumble over the stock cube and pour over enough water to just cover the mince.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

Roll out your pastry to comfortably cover the pie dish.

Remove the pie from the oven and carefully lay the pastry over the dish so the pastry fits nicely. Do not stretch the pastry as this will encourage shrinking.

Press the sides of the pastry against the sides of the dish, cut off the overhang and pleat the sides or use a fork so they look attractive.

Glaze the surface of the pie with the lightly beaten egg.

Bake for 25 minutes. If the pastry becomes too dark, loosely cover with foil.

Allow to cool slightly and serve alongside cabbage and a jug of gravy.

 

Apple and lemon self-saucing pudding

Remember those days of "self-saucing puds"? Puddings like this are fantastic as all the magic is done during cooking. The combination of zesty lemon and tangy apples surrounded by sponge cake and citrus sauce is magical.

Serves 4-6

3 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

125g butter, softened, plus extra to grease

1 cup sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 lemon, zest and juice

2 eggs

80ml milk

1 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

2 Tbsp cornflour

1 orange and 1 lemon, zested and juice

⅔ cup boiling water

Optional

icing sugar, to dust

Method

Heat the oven to 180degC.

Lightly butter the base of a 20cm diameter ovenproof dish.

Scatter over the prepared apples.

In the bowl of an electric mixer,

beat the butter and sugar

together until light and creamy.

Add the lemon zest and vanilla and combine.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each.

Sift the dry ingredients together and fold through, alternating with the milk.

Spoon the sponge mixture over the apples and even out.

Combine the cornflour with the remaining sugar and sprinkle evenly over the sponge mix.

Add the orange zest, lemon and orange juice to a bowl and pour in 1 cup of boiling water. Stir to combine and pour over the top of the pudding. Do not mix.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool slightly before eating.

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