You can’t beat a pie to look forward to on a cold night, and this truth becomes even more obvious if the pie in question has a suet crust. There’s just something about the bouncy, airy suet crust that rings our bell! It’s more common in the north than the south, for example in the Lancashire/Yorkshire meat and potato pie, but we particularly like to use it on a steak pie to create one of the most comforting of comfort foods.
One of the ultimate Winter warmers, a bowl of this brings to mind Les Halles, Paris, back in the day when it was still a market and the traders and porters used to enjoy a bowl for breakfast. Two things are essential to make it work – a good beef stock, and braising the onions in butter, slowly, for a good half an hour. This brings out the sugars in the onion, giving the finished soup a lovely sweetness. It is filling and satisfying, and in the end, who can argue with a bowl of soup that has cheese on toast on top?
One of the national dishes of Ethiopia, Doro (chicken) Wat is a magnificently spicy, warming delight. When done traditionally it is truly fiery, to the same mouth numbing level as a Vindaloo, and it also features the unique flavour of Ethiopian passion berry. Ethiopians use a type of clarified butter to make Wat, similar to ghee, but sunflower oil works for those who don’t care for ghee. The base of the dish is Berbere spice blend, and the key to success is patience as there is a long cooking process involved, specifically the slow-cooked onion, garlic and ginger. To get the right result, it is essential not to skimp on the time.
A traditional Greek winter dish, this is one of those one-pot wonders that can feed a family and then some! Traditionally it would have been taken to the village bakers to be cooked, to be collected and enjoyed on the way home from work. It is often made with beef, but we love this lamb version. Orzo pasta is the one shaped like large grains of rice, and it can be found in Greek, Turkish or other Mediterranean grocers. The best cheese to use is Greek kefalotyri, but pecorino is a suitable substitute rather than Parmesan.
A classic and traditional English beef stew includes a surprising collection of spice, although they are aromatics rather than fiery examples. This recipe uses shin beef, which lends itself so well to slow cooking either in the oven or on top of the stove, and is spiced with ginger, allspice, coriander and orange zest. The orange zest brings balance, the ginger a little zing and the allspice a sweet, warming character. Serve this with suet dumplings for a real English wintertime treat.
One of our great food memories is Couscous
Royale in Paris – a collection of meats including merguez, chicken and lamb meatballs are the centrepiece of this delicious feast, but perhaps our favourite bit has always been the veggie stew that goes with it. Carrot, turnip and chickpeas slowly simmered in a spicy broth which is mild, aromatic and warming. We often recreate this one at home, forgetting the meat and just having a plate of the veggie stew with a pile of buttery couscous. Our Ras El Hanout or Marrakesh chicken blend are both perfect for this dish.
Featured in our egg feature in this newsletter, this is one of Japan’s greatest comfort foods, much loved by children and adults alike. The name literally translates as ‘parent and child bowl’, due to the chicken and eggs being used in the same dish. It is quick and easy, perfect for lunch or a light supper, and is a really authentic taste of Japan.
This lovely veggie dish (itself a rarity in meat-loving Spain) is from Andalucia, heavily influenced by North Africa. The tang of capers and apple vinegar is balanced by a little sugar, and the dish is seasoned with coriander, cumin and paprika. It is best to keep the cauli crunchy, and the dish can be enjoyed cold as well as hot, for example as part of a salad buffet. Sweet, sour and aromatic, this is a real treat!
The meatball is available on pretty much every tapas menu in Spain, but the quality varies enormously – this version is one we enjoyed in Jerez de la Frontera, and is different first because the size of the meatball is, well, big, and second because it is just totally delicious. It is hearty enough to be served as a main course with a few chips, if you allow two meatballs a head, but of course it is also great as part of a tapas spread. The two elements (meatball and sauce) can be prepared ahead of time and then reheated either in a pan or in the oven (better, but be careful the dish doesn’t dry out) when it is time to eat. The smoked paprika is the key player in making this sauce truly delicious.
Recently spotted in Singapore on the menu of a certain large hamburger operation is the Rendang Burger, which we think is an excellent idea. Reports claim that the corporate version is very tasty indeed, but it won't be as tasty as this! We've used our handmade Rendang blend combined with extra coconut, lemon grass and crispy fried onions to recreate that deep, aromatic and spicy rendang flavour. Build your burger with an Asian slaw, and forget the ketchup - this one needs to be topped with your favourite chilli sauce for the ultimate flavour. In Malaysia or Singapore, this would always be garnished with a fried egg (so many things are in that part of the world!), feel free to go native should you desire.