Winter Warmers

Spring is definitely on the way here in Yorkshire, but there is still a chill in the air and it’s nice to spend cosy evenings with the heating on enjoying being indoors. Here are a couple of suggestions for hearty treats.

Leek and Potato crumble (serves 2)

1 large onion
3 leeks
2 medium potatoes
150ml milk
75g butter
125g plain flour
30g cheddar cheese
1 tsp paprika

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Slice the onions and leeks. Peel the potatoes and dice into small cubes.

3. Put in a pan with the milk and 25g butter. Cook over a medium heat, stirring until the butter melts. Cover and allow to cook until the veg is softened.

4. Blend 25g flour with 4tbsp cold water and stir into the veg. Cook for 3 minutes until the sauce thickens. Season as needed.

5. Meanwhile dice 50g butter and rub into 100g flour to make crumbs. Mix in the cheddar and paprika.

6. Tip the vegetable base into an ovenproof dish and top with the crumble. Cook in the preheated oven for 15 minutes until the crumble is golden brown.

Hot buttered Rum (serves 2)

My Dad and his partner bought me some little bottles of Rum back from their recent Caribbean cruise and I wanted to try doing something different with them.

25g butter
3tsp soft brown sugar
Orange peel (use a potato peeler to cut a few long strips of peel)
100ml Rum, spiced rum works particularly well.
2 cinnamon sticks
300ml boiling water

1. Melt the butter and sugar together in a pan with a strip of orange peel.

2. Stir in the Rum and boiling water.

3. Serve with the cinnamon stick to garnish.

Vegetarian Jambalaya

This is a really tasty recipe that’s easy to throw together and full of big flavours.

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Veggie Jambalaya (serves 4)

1 finely chopped onion
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped into small pieces
2 celery sticks, finely diced
1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
A splash of oil
350g long grain rice
1 tsp chilli powder
3 heaped tbsp tomato purée
2 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
900ml vegetable stock

Optional but recommended
Some diced sweet potato or butternut squash
One tin of red kidney beans, drained

1. Heat a splash of oil and cook the onion, garlic, pepper, celery and chilli in a frying pan. Cook for around 5 minutes until softened.

2. Add the rice to the frying pan, along with chilli powder and tomato purée and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Add the dried thyme, paprika and cayenne pepper and the stock. Add the diced Squash/sweet potato and red kidney beans. Bring to the boil.

4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes with the pan lid on. Stir occasionally.

2017 so far – the year of Chocolate?

The start of 2017 came with a trip to London to see the stage show Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I also indulged my sweet tooth with a trip to Fortnum and Mason for cream puffs (expensive but amazing!), a Baileys Hot Chocolate on the Carousel Bar at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and a Red Velvet cupcake from the Primrose Bakery.

(I forgot to take a picture of the cupcake, but I DID take a picture of the delicious Bermondsey Porter Cake that I had from Peyton and Byrne when we popped back to London to see The Lion King a month later.)

On returning to Yorkshire, I went with some friends to see The Witches in Leeds.

I was feeling inspired to work on some sweets of my own (not ones laced with Formula 86 or with the ability to transform you into a blueberry!) and, luckily, for Christmas I received a copy of Hope and Greenwood’s Sweets Made Simple. I decided to have a go at English Almond Butter Toffee. I’ll definitely make this again. It was a bit of a challenge, but it was so tasty and moreish.