• With cold weather slowly but surely making it’s way into our lives it’s time to get into the kitchen and making the kind of food that suits this weather. We’ve got some delicious and comforting recipes for you that the family will simply love. Winter warmer meals are robust, comforting, and delicious.

    1. Croque-monsieur

    Serves: 4
    Difficulty level: Easy
    Time: 30 minutes

    TO DRINK: This toasted treat is a winner with a light-style Belgian beer.


    30ml (2 tbsp) unsalted butter
    60ml (4 tbsp) cake flour
    500ml (2 cups) milk
    3ml (½ tsp) ground nutmeg
    250ml (1 cup) Gruyère, grated
    60ml (4 tbsp) Parmesan, grated
    12 slices white bread
    30ml (2 tbsp) Dijon mustard
    150g Gypsy ham, sliced
    30ml (2 tbsp) fresh thyme leaves


    1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
    2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat and add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon for one minute to create a roux.
    3. Slowly add the milk to the roux, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat, add the nutmeg, Gruyère and Parmesan and season.
    4. Place the bread on baking trays and bake for 3 – 4 minutes. Turn and toast for a further 2 minutes or until golden. Spread each slice of toast with mustard. Add a slice of ham, top with another slice of toast, then another slice of ham and a final slice of toast.
    5. Spoon about 3 – 4 tbsp of cheese sauce onto the top of each toast stack and place under the grill for 3 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
    6. Remove from the heat, scatter with the thyme leaves and serve hot.

    2. Soup au pistou

    Serves: 4
    Difficulty level: Easy
    Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

    TO DRINK: A lightly wooded Chardonnay will stand up to the richness of the beans.


    100g dried white beans (cannellini or haricot), soaked overnight
    45ml (3 tbsp) olive oil
    1 garlic clove, chopped
    1 bouquet garni of bay leaves, thyme and parsley stalks
    1 onion, chopped
    3L water
    salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    1 leek, washed and finely chopped
    2 carrots, peeled and chopped
    3 ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
    2 potatoes, peeled and diced
    150g green beans, topped, tailed and chopped
    5 baby marrows, chopped
    50g fresh basil leaves
    2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
    1 ripe tomato, skinned and chopped
    100g Parmesan, grated
    60ml (¼ cup) olive oil


    1. Drain the beans and heat half of the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic, bouquet garni and onion and gently fry for 5 minutes until lightly golden.
    2. Add the drained beans and the 3L of water. Bring to the boil, cover and leave to simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. Season and set aside.
    3. Add the green beans and baby marrows and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
    4. For the pistou, blend the basil and garlic together in a food processor. Add the tomato and cheese and, with the motor running, gradually add the olive oil.
    5. Serve the soup hot with a dollop of pistou.

    Cook’s tip: For a quicker version, substitute the dried beans with 1 tin of drained cannellini beans.

    3. Boeuf bourguignon

    Serves: 4
    Difficulty level: Easy
    Time: 2 hours

    TO DRINK: A no-brainer – this dish hails from Burgundy, where the most exclusive Pinot Noir wines are made.


    1kg chuck steak
    salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    30ml (2 tbsp) flour
    45ml (3 tbsp) olive oil
    15 button onions, peeled
    1 onion, chopped
    100g streaky bacon or pancetta, cut into strips
    2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
    3 bay leaves
    3 sprigs fresh thyme
    1 bottle of red wine (Burgundy or
    Cabernet Sauvignon)
    500ml (2 cups) beef stock
    250g baby button mushrooms
    crusty French bread, to serve


    1. Cut the steak into cubes. Season the flour then lightly toss the steak cubes in the seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a casserole dish, brown the beef in batches and set aside.
    2. Add the button onions to the casserole dish and brown slightly. Remove and set aside.
    3. Add the chopped onion and bacon to the casserole dish and fry for 5 minutes. Return the beef to the pan with the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, wine and stock.
    4. Season well and simmer for 1 – 1 hour 30 minutes, or until the meat is tender.
    5. Return the onions to the pan together with the mushrooms and cook for a further 15 minutes on low heat. Spoon into bowls and serve with crusty French bread.

    4. Sausage cassoulet

    Serves: 4
    Difficulty level: Easy
    Time: 50 minutes

    TO DRINK: A light, fruity, dry rosé is a refreshing match for this rustic dish that’s full of flavour.


    60ml (¼ cup) olive oil
    100g smoked sausage, chopped
    500g beef sausages
    3 leeks, washed and thinly sliced
    4 garlic cloves, chopped
    15ml (1 tbsp) fresh rosemary, chopped
    15ml (1 tbsp) fresh sage, chopped
    125ml (½ cup) brandy
    2 x 410g tins chopped tomatoes
    2 x 410g tins cannellini beans, drained
    250ml (1 cup) chicken stock
    45ml (3 tbsp) tomato paste
    salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    125ml (½ cup) fresh flat-leaf
    parsley leaves, roughly chopped
    crusty bread, to serve


    1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
    2. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large heavybased casserole dish over medium heat. Add the sausages and sauté for 15 minutes until brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.
    3. Add the leeks and garlic to the casserole dish. Sauté to soften for about 8 minutes over low to medium heat. Add the rosemary, sage and brandy and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the liquid has nearly evaporated.
    4. Return the sausages to the pan. Add the tomatoes, beans, stock and tomato paste. Season well. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
    5. Scatter with the parsley and serve with crusty bread.

    5. Chicken Normandy

    Serves: 4
    Difficulty level: A little effort
    Time: 50 minutes

    TO DRINK: A fruity local brandy will complement the rich chicken and sweet apple.


    45ml (3 tbsp) butter
    3 apples, cut into wedges
    4 leg/thigh chicken portions
    30ml (2 tbsp) flour
    2 onions, cut into wedges
    125ml (½ cup) apple brandy or brandy
    500ml (2 cups) cider
    15ml (1 tbsp) fresh thyme leaves, chopped
    salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    125ml (½ cup) fresh cream
    steamed green beans, to serve


    1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
    2. Heat 2 tbsp of the butter in a large, ovenproof pan over medium heat. Add the apples and lightly fry until they have caramelised slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside.
    3. Dust the chicken with the flour. Heat the remaining butter in the same pan and fry for 5 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and set aside.
    4. Add the onion wedges to the pan and fry gently for 5 minutes until they are lightly golden in colour.
    5. Add the brandy to the pan and bring to the boil until it has reduced by half. Add the cider and bring to the boil. Add the thyme, return the chicken to the pan and season well. Place in the oven and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
    6. Remove the pan from the oven. Set the chicken pieces aside. Place the pan on the stove top over high heat. Add the apples, onions and cream. Simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce has reduced slightly.
    7. Serve with the crisp, steamed beans.

    6. Steamed apple and salted caramel puddings

    Yes, we did say apples and salt, but trust us on this one – it is delicious!

    Serves: 6
    Difficulty: A little effort
    Time: 1 hour


    Salted caramel
    150g (¾ cup) sugar
    50ml water
    50g salted butter
    50ml fresh cream
    10ml (2 tsp) sea salt flakes

    For the pudding
    100g salted butter
    100g (½ cup) sugar
    3 eggs
    200g cake flour
    10ml (2 tsp) baking powder
    150ml milk
    2 apples, cubed


    1. To make the caramel, heat the sugar and water in a pan over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and boil until the sugar reaches a light amber colour.
    2. Stir in the butter and cream, simmer for 2 minutes and add the sea salt flakes. Set aside.
    3. To make the pudding, cream together the butter and sugar.
    4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
    5. Sift in the flour and baking powder, and mix well. Stir in the milk.
    6. Grease 6 small ramekins and add a spoonful of the salted caramel. Divide the chopped apples between the ramekins then top with the batter.
    7. Cover the puddings with baking paper and then with foil, ensuring that no liquid can get into the ramekins.
    8. Place the ramekins in a large pot and pour in water. The water needs to reach halfway up the side of the ramekins.
    9. Steam over a gentle heat until the puddings are cooked through, about 45 minutes. Remove from the water and allow to cool slightly before turning out.
    10. Serve with extra salted caramel.


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