6 WINTER COMFORT FOOD RECIPES
As the weather starts to get colder and darker, it’s the perfect time to cook up some delicious comfort food to get you through the season! There are so many fun recipes to try and here are just a few of my favourites.
Creamy Mac ‘N’ Cheese
Mac ‘n’ cheese is a childhood favourite of mine and is the perfect dish to cook on cold winter nights when you’ve got back from Uni late. It’s easy, quick and delicious! You can also make a lot of the dish ahead of time, making it perfect for families, students or just lazy cooks.
- 300g of macaroni pasta
- 200g bacon lardons
- 4 streaky bacon rashes (smoked or unsmoked)
For the sauce:
- 1 packet of cheese sauce
- 200g of grated cheddar cheese
- 300ml of milk
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180°C
- Boil some water in the kettle then add your pasta to a saucepan and boil for 6 – 8 minutes. Meanwhile fry and brown off your bacon lardons and cook your streaky bacon until it’s cooked to your preference, then keep warm
- Add 300ml of milk into a measuring jug and then add the sauce, whisking it well. Add to a saucepan and continue to whisk until slightly thick. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Whilst stirring, add 150g of your grated cheese to the sauce and mix together until thick enough to coat your pasta
- Drain your pasta and add to the sauce. Add your bacon and mix together. Empty your pasta mix into a deep oven dish and add your remaining grated cheese on top
- Bake in the oven for 8 – 10 minutes until the crust is bubbling softly and golden
If you are someone who loves to visit restaurants like Wagamama, but can’t always afford to go, why not recreate your favourite dish at home? One of the most well known and loved dishes is, of course, Katsu Curry. You really can’t go wrong with this warm, homely and delicious Japanese-inspired curry.
- 100g of flour
- 1 free range egg
- 200g of breadcrumbs
- 4 chicken breasts
- 100ml of vegetable oil
- 100ml of steamed rice
- 2 carrots
For the sauce:
- 1 Tbsp. of vegetable oil, soy sauce & medium curry powder
- 1 onion
- 5 whole garlic cloves
- 2 Tbsp. of plain flour & honey
- 600ml chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ Tbsp. of garam masala
- To make the sauce, heat the oil in a small pan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, then throw in the carrots and cook slowly for 10 minutes until softened and starting to caramelise.
- Stir in the flour and curry powder and cook for a minute until mixed well. Slowly pour in the stock bit by bit until combined (do this gradually to avoid getting lumps).
- Add the honey, soy sauce and bay leaf and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
- Add the garam masala, then pass the sauce through a sieve.
- Now prepare the chicken. Lay the seasoned flour, egg and breadcrumbs on separate plates. Coat the chicken in the flour, then dip into the egg and finally into the breadcrumbs.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the breaded chicken breasts for 5 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked through.
- Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on kitchen paper.
- Slice the chicken diagonally and serve with the sauce drizzled over, steamed rice and salad.
Loaded Potato Skins
This is a pub classic that you can easily make and enjoy from the comfort of your own kitchen. To speed up the cooking time you might decide to heat it up in the microwave – it’s up to you!
- 5 small baked potatoes
- 1 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
- ½ tsp. of parsley
- ¼ tsp. of salt
- ¼ tsp. of garlic powder
For the toppings:
- 3 bacon rashers
- 2 Tbsp. of chives
- 150g of cheddar cheese
- Sour cream for serving
- Preheat the oven to 220°C. Combine butter, parsley, salt and garlic powder in a small bowl. Set this aside.
- Scrub the potatoes, pierce a few times with a sharp knife, rub with olive oil and bake in a 200°C oven for about an hour until the potatoes are cooked through.
- Ensure that the potatoes are cooled, then cut them in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon, scoop some of the inside out but leave enough for ¼ (or more if you want).
- Brush both the inside and outside of the potatoes with the butter mixture then place them cut side down in a baking dish and bake for 5 minutes. Then flip them over and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Fill each potato with cheese and bacon. Return to the oven for another 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from the oven, top with chives and serve with sour cream.
Irish Pub Potato Nachos
Another pub classic (I promise it’ll be the last). As someone with Irish and Spanish heritage, I couldn’t not include pub nachos! Not only are they easy to make, but you can also create your own version of this recipe by trying different toppings out. To do it properly, it’ll take you just under an hour. However, you can easily simplify it and substitute the potatoes for tortilla chips to speed up the process.
- 4 Russet potatoes
- 2 Tbsp. of olive oil
- ½ tsp. of onion powder
- ⅓ tsp. of dried thyme
- ½ tsp. of cajun seasoning
For the toppings:
- 6 bacon rashers
- 5 green onions, diced
- 200g of grated cheddar cheese
- Sour cream to serve
- Preheat the oven to 200°C and rub a large baking tray with olive oil.
- Slice the potatoes about ¼ of a inch thick and then add the slices to a large mixing bowl and add the olive oil and spices. Mix together thoroughly and add them onto the baking tray and bake for 20 minutes.
- After, flip them over and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut the bacon into small slices and fry until golden.
- Take the potatoes out of the oven and add the shredded cheese, bacon and green onions as toppings. Make sure they are all covered evenly.
- Once finished, pop them back into the oven for around 5 minutes until the cheese has melted.
- Remove the potatoes from the oven and serve with sour cream.
Dark Chocolate Chewy Cookies
Not only are chocolate cookies a classic, they are also a definite a crowd pleaser when entertaining friends or family. I personally prefer to substitute milk chocolate for dark as it adds a sharper and more bitter taste. This makes them much less sickly to eat!
- 50g butter, softened
- 150g soft brown sugar , golden caster sugar, or ideally half of each
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 180-200g plain flour (see tip below)
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 200g chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
- Beat the butter and sugar together using an electric whisk or hand whisk until very light and fluffy, then beat in the egg and vanilla.
- Fold in the flour, baking powder, chocolate and ¼ tsp. salt as quickly as you can. Don’t overwork the dough as this will toughen the cookies.
- For the best flavour, leave the mixture overnight: either cover the bowl and chill, or roll the mixture into balls and chill.
- Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line two baking trays with parchment. Divide the mixture into balls, the craggier the balls, the rougher the cookies will look. If you want to give the dough more texture, tear the balls in half and squidge them lightly back together.
- Space out evenly on the baking sheets, leaving enough space between each to allow for spreading.
- Bake the fresh cookies for 8-10 mins and the chilled ones for 10-12 mins, or until browned and a little crisp at the edges but still very soft in the middle – they will harden a little as they cool.
- Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes before eating warm, or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Lastly but certainly not least, vanilla cheesecake! Cheesecake can be an easy dessert to make, if you follow a simple recipe. You can add a multitude of different toppings too, such as berries, chocolate syrup and caramel sauce. If, like me, you like to indulge when you treat yourself to dessert, you can add whipped cream, honeycomb and a drizzle of coulis.
- Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing
- 200g graham cracker
- 400g cups sugar, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 905 g cream cheese, room temperature
- 120ml heavy cream
- 460g sour cream
- 5 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 1 vanilla bean
- 4 large eggs
- Mixed berries, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 25cm springform pan with nonstick spray. Line the inside edges of the pan with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the graham crackers, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and the melted butter. Pulse to combine until the texture is similar to wet sand.
- Press the graham cracker crumbs into the prepared pan, using a measuring cup to compact the even layer.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.
- Once cool, line the sides of the springform pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, remaining sugar and salt. Using an electric hand mixer, blend until well-combined and fluffy.
- Add the heavy cream and beat to incorporate. Add the sour cream, flour, salt, and vanilla bean seeds, and beat to combine. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix until fully combined, making sure not to over-beat. The mixture should be smooth and creamy.
- Pour the cream cheese mixture into the cooled crust.
- Wrap the outside of the springform pan tightly with foil and place the pan in a large baking dish. Fill the dish with 2cm of boiling water.
- Gently transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake for 1 hour.
- Without opening the oven door, turn off the heat and let the cheesecake rest for 1 hour. Remove the springform pan from the baking dish and unwrap the foil. Run a paring knife gently around the outside of the cheesecake to loosen it from the sides of the pan.
- Cover the pan with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator and release the springform pan. Remove the parchment paper lining.
- Top with fresh berries, if desired.
- Dip a knife into hot water for clean slices, then slice and serve.
Cooking and baking can be really comforting during those cold and dreary nights inside. Not only can it give you something to do with your friends, it also gives you the chance to explore some new flavours and dishes that you may not usually try at home. I hope that you enjoy recreating these dishes as much as I have!
By Chloé Williamson
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