Winter Warmer Recipes

By Lauren Wallis

There is nothing quite so soothing about the winter season as some great comfort food.

Whilst salads in the summer are all well and good, winter heralds a whole new crop; potatoes, parsnips and Brussels sprouts on the vegetable front, and plums, pears and berries for something a little more fruity. Here are my top winter dishes to warm your cockles.

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Mashed potato

Eat: whilst getting cosy in front of the Eastenders omnibus
Drink with: a hot Ribena

1.4kg/3lb boiling potatoes (Desiree or Maris Piper)
1 tablespoon salt

1. Wash and peel potatoes, and wash again.
2. Cut into equal-sized pieces so they will be ready at the same time.
3. Cover with water and add salt.
4. Boil until tender
5. When cooked, put into a colander and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
6. Place the potatoes back in the pan to be mashed, using a masher. Add butter if desired. Serve immediately.

Parsnip soup

Eat: before hitting the January sales
Drink with: pressed apple juice, to complement the parsnips

1 tbsp olive oil
˝ red onion, chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 tsp curry powder
1 chicken stock cube
2 cloves garlic, crushed
250ml/9fl oz water, boiling
parsley to garnish

1. Heat oil in a pan and soften the onion gently for 5-6 minutes.
2. Add parsnip and cook for five minutes.
3. Add all other ingredients, except parsley, and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until parsnip is tender.
4. Blend soup until smooth with a hand held blender or in a food processor.
5. Serve with a sprig of parsley.

Brussels sprouts

Eat: on a cold winter night
Drink with: some mulled wine

1 packet frozen Brussels sprouts
25g butter
Small piece of fresh ginger
1 orange
Soy sauce
Salt and pepper

1. Fry sprouts in butter with strips of ginger and cook, stirring constantly, for five minutes.
2. Add some orange juice and a few strips of rind, a splash of soy sauce, salt, pepper and cover for a further four minutes.

Plums and nuts on toast

Eat: before work on a chilly winter morning
Drink with: a nice cup of tea

55g/2oz macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
30g/1oz butter
2 plums, stoned and halved
2 slices toast

1. Toast nuts in a dry pan until golden.
2. Melt butter in a pan.
3. Add plums and sauté for 2-3 minutes until tender.
4. Serve plums on the toast with juice from pan.
5. Scatter nuts over the top.

Pear crumble

Eat: after your Friday night dinner
Drink with: lemon tea or black coffee

8 shortbread biscuits, crushed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
125g/5oz plain flour
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
85g/3oz margarine
4 pear halves
1 satsuma, peeled and segmented
1. Preheat oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
2. Place crushed biscuits, cinnamon, ginger, plain flour, sugar and margarine together in a large bowl and rub together until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
3. Layer pear halves in an ovenproof dish and top with satsuma segments.
4. Sprinkle mixture on top of fruits.
5. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes or until crumble is crisp and golden.
6. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Winter berry smoothie

Eat with: toast or crumpets
Drink: whenever you need an energy boost

Simply blend together a combination of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries (and banana, if desired). For a dairy smoothie, just add milk or yogurt to the mixture.