On a cold Winters’ Day or just because…..These recipes will warm you right down to your toes.
To serve 2 people:
- 2 cups of milk.
- 3 oz of best-quality chocolate..either bittersweet or semi-sweet.
- 1 cinnamon stick.
- 2-star anise.
- 2 tsp of honey or Tate and Lyle’s Golden syrup.
- 1 tsp brown sugar.
- 1 tsp vanilla extract.
- 2 tbsp or as you like it of spiced rum or dark rum.
Put the milk in a saucepan with the chocolate broken into pieces, cinnamon stick, honey and sugar and heat very gently until the chocolate has melted.
Add the vanilla extract and using a small hand whisk start whisking, add 1 tbsp of the rum( still whisking) stop long enough to TASTE and add more rum as required for your taste.
Still whisking, add some more sugar if required.
Take out the cinnamon stick and star anise, and pour hot chocolate into 2 cappuccino cups or caffè latte cups.
If you are making this for someone who is tee-total or a kiddie omit the rum and add some marshmallows and let your imagination run free or add marshmallows anyway…Why not? Spoil yourself.
In the run-up to Christmas, we all want something which is quick and easy to do and when it is cold which warms us up…
Fish Pie can be pastry topped or topped with mashed potato…or just sprinkled with some fresh breadcrumbs for a lighter pie.
My mum always used to make it topped with potatoes sometimes she sliced them and others she boiled them… I think the slices of potatoes look very pretty if you are having someone for dinner but when I am making it, especially if I am busy then mashed potato fits the bill nicely.
I top it with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes ( which) I love but everyone one else likes the normal mashed potato as they call it…
For the filling
- 400 ml whole milk
- 1 small onion finely sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 500 gm thick white fish fillets, skinned…although if I can I get a pack of mixed fish pieces which includes salmon, smoked fish and other fish and it is very nice.
- 40 gm butter
- 40 gm plain flour
- 150 gm frozen peas/sweetcorn
- 200 gm large raw prawns, peeled
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the topping
- 800 gm medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 40 gm butter, cubed
- 3 tbsp milk
- 100 gm mature cheddar cheese, grated/ or breadcrumbs and parmesan makes for a nice topping.
Preheat the oven to 200C /400F/ Gas 6.
To make the filling, pour the milk into a large pan and add the sliced onion and bay leaves. Season with salt and black pepper.
Place the fish fillets in the pan and bring to a very gentle simmer, cover and cook for two minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand and infuse for 20 minutes. Remove the fish and transfer to a colander over a bowl, then pour the milk into a jug.
Half fill a large saucepan with cold water. Add the potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
Drain the potatoes and cover them with a clean tea towel which absorbs the steam. Mash with the butter, milk and three-quarters of the grated cheese. If I have cream in the fridge and feel a bit decadent then I omit the butter and milk and mash it with cream.
Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
To finish the filling, melt the butter in a medium saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook for a few seconds, then gradually add the infused milk, stirring constantly, and simmer over medium heat for 3–4 minutes until the sauce is smooth and thick. Stir in the peas and season with salt and black pepper.
Spread one-third of the sauce into the base of a 1.5 litre/2¾ pint ovenproof dish. Scatter half the fish fillets over the sauce, breaking them into chunky pieces as you go and discarding the onion and bay leaves.
Arrange half the prawns on top of the fish and pour over another third of the sauce. Repeat this with the remaining fish and prawns and finish with the final third of the sauce on top.
Spoon the mash over the fish mixture, spreading to the edges with a palette knife. With a fork just take it across the surface and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
Sometimes I also slice some tomatoes and arrange them around the side of the dish.
Place the dish on a baking tray and bake in the centre of the oven for about 25 minutes or until the top is golden-brown and the filling is bubbling.
Serve with some lemon slices.
Some steamed vegetables can be served if a more substantial meal is required.
N.B This is also a nice recipe and can be made in individual servings just divide the mix between 4 bowls and brown the top for about 15 minutes.
Curries are also a nice warming dish and most can be kept warm so as someone arrives home cold and chilled or just worn out it can be served almost immediately.
One of my all-time favourites is a Duck Curry, not one I make often and when I do I vow to make it more often but generally I make it when I want something a little more special.
I had Duck curry for the first time on a little island just off Phuket, Thailand it is a fiery curry offset by pineapple and tomatoes. Some add lychee as well as pineapple but we found it a little sweet for us but experiment, everyone’s taste is different….I also add some vegetables, mange tout or sugar snap peas maybe a few florets of broccoli..really whatever I have in the fridge.
Firstly cook your duck breasts, we like ours medium-rare.
Put the duck skin side down in a cold pan, turn the heat to medium and cook the duck breasts for 6-8 minutes until the skin is golden and crispy, turn the breasts over and just sear the other side for 1 minute. Turn over so they are breast side up and put in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for 7-9 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for 10 minutes before slicing the breasts thinly.
- 400ml coconut milk
- 2 duck breasts
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 3/4 cup fresh pineapple cut into bite-sized pieces.
- 10 cherry tomatoes.
- 6-10 mange tout..or other vegetables of your choice.
- 100 gm Thai eggplant cut into quarters. ( Pictured below)
- 1-2 tbsp red curry paste.
- 6 kaffir lime leaves torn
- A bunch of Thai basil washed and leaves picked…
- 2 tsp lime juice.
- 100gm pea eggplants( Pictured to the right above)
To make sauce put a very tiny drop of oil in the pan over medium heat add your curry paste and stir to cook for 1 min, add fish sauce. Gradually add coconut milk whilst still stirring.
Bring to a slow boil and add torn lime leaves and eggplants cook for 5/6 mins and add tomatoes and pineapple, cook for a further 10 minutes then add the mange tout and stir in some Thai basil leaves and lime juice.
Now taste and adjust the curry paste if you want more heat. If anything else needs adjusting you can also do that now. Thai flavours are very pronounced and if you get it balanced ..very nice if not…I have had some disasters and I don’t mind admitting that…which is why I always say TASTE and Taste again.
When you are ready to serve then add sliced duck to the sauce and just warm through and serve with some Thai basil over the top and a sliced red chilli if you like.
Serve with steamed rice.
I hope you have enjoyed these easy-to-make Winter Warmers…as always I appreciate your visit and comments as at this busy time of year…
Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great weekend xx