Winter warm-up

Winter is a time for hunkering down and seeking comfort in the warmth of the fire with great home-cooked meals.

I use the basis of these recipes, adapting them to what we have in the fridge or pantry – we must always be flexible in our thinking and adapt accordingly.

I hope you get to try them, enjoy them and make them again.

Revel in the concept of laying low during this season, it’s a time of hibernation – no garden to tend to, no lawns to mow.

It’ll come around quick enough so enjoy the enforced time with a book by the fire, nutritious meals on the table and harvesting memories with all that you share your time with.

Take care, Kerri.

  • Pumpkin, feta and walnut fritter

These fritters are a great way to showcase pumpkin. They are perfect served with baked pumpkin, extra feta, spinach and streaky bacon for a lazy Sunday brunch or a lighter option for lunch and dinner beside a wee green salad.

1C self-raising flour
1C grated raw pumpkin
4 eggs
1/4 C warm milk or soda water, approximately
1/2 C walnut pieces
200g crumbled feta
1/2 C chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
2–3 spring onions, finely sliced
Butter and oil for frying (I use rice bran)
To serve: Extra feta, baked pumpkin, spinach, streaky bacon, relish and chopped walnuts

– Beat eggs and flour together until smooth in a large bowl, then add the pumpkin, feta, walnuts, spring onions and season with salt and pepper. Mix well, then add warm milk or soda water if needed to get a smooth, non-gluggy consistency.
– Add 2T of butter to a pan with a good glug of oil (butter for flavour and oil for the lower burning factor) until bubbly, spoon two to three fritters into the pan and cook for approximately three minutes, flip carefully and cook for a further couple of minutes.

  • Simple winter vegetable soup

Soups are supposed to be simple so don’t get hung up on the ingredients.
My simple rule is to have a base of onion, celery, leek and garlic which I sauté until soft, then add whatever vegetables I like, using hard vegetables (potatoes, carrots, kumara, parsnip, pumpkin etc) diced small.
Then add stock and water and cook for about 10 minutes.
Then I add softer vegetables roughly diced and herbs or flavourings, and let simmer for a good 45 minutes for all the vegetables in impart their flavours.
This soup is super easy and warming to the soul on cold wintery days.
Instead of the sausage you can use any left-over roasted meats sliced and added just at the end so it doesn’t toughen.
I like a hearty textured soup, so just lightly use a potato masher, or a quick blitz with a hand blender, leaving chunks in. Also add more water if you seek a less heartier soup – it’s totally up to you.

2T oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 white part of a leek, finely sliced
1-2 stalks celery, tops included, finely diced
1 medium carrot and parsnip, both finely diced
1/4 pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and finely diced
1 medium kumara or potato, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 stalks of silverbeet, finely shredded
1 x 850g tin of chopped tomatoes
2T tomato paste
4T approximately powdered stock (vegetable, chicken or beef)
1t chilli flakes
1-2 fresh bay leaves and 1 stalk of rosemary (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
6-10 (dependent on how much you want on your plate) good quality sausages of your choosing, taken out of the casings and cut into small-sized pieces

– In a large stock pot add your oil and sauté your onion, leek, garlic and celery until softened, about five minutes.
– Add your carrot, pumpkin, kumara or potato and silverbeet. Add tomatoes, then enough water to cover veges well, add your stock powder.
– Taste to see if you’re happy with the flavour and adjust accordingly.
– Add your chilli flakes, bay leaves and rosemary, if using, and let simmer for about 45 minutes until vegetables are softened and flavoursome. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
– While this is cooking add your sausage meatballs to a hot non-stick frypan and toss until fully cooked and add these to the finished soup.
– To serve, ladle into bowls and add a good handful of baby spinach and your favourite cheese (parmesan or feta) or basil pesto – whatever you have on hand, but to be fair this is so packed with flavour not a lot needs to be added.
– Serve with warmed bread, muffins or toast with lashings of butter.

  • Savoury muffins

These muffins are super speedy to make and perfect to eat alongside the soup or as an addition to a weekday lunch. They are super moist so tend to collapse, so they look pretty ugly, but in the taste stakes they are way up there, so give them a try. There are so many recipes about, but give this one a go and serve straight from the oven.

1 1/2 c self-raising flour
2C (200g) grated tasty cheese
100g chopped ham, salami or even roasted chicken
3 finely sliced spring onions
1 courgette or carrot, grated
1/4 C relish
1 egg
3/4 to 1C milk
Salt and pepper

– Preheat oven to 200°C and grease 8-10 muffin tin holes in a 12-muffin tin pan (depending on size that you want).
– Sift flour into a large bowl and add grated cheese, ham, courgette, spring onions, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly.
– Beat the egg, relish and milk together and fold through the flour and cheese mixture until just combined.
– Bake until nicely browned on top and cooked through.

  • Chocolate cornflake cakes

These are super easy to make and brings memories of the chocolate rice bubble cakes that we used to enjoy at kids’ parties – but a more luxurious version!

50g butter
4T golden syrup
100g dark chocolate (at least 50% cocoa)
75g cornflakes

– Gently melt the butter, syrup and chocolate in a small heavy pan on the stove or in bursts of 1 minute in the microwave until fully melted. Stir in the cornflakes.
– Place large spoonfuls of the mixture on a greased baking sheet and let set in the fridge.
– A handful of your favourite dried fruit or nuts also work well to change it up.

  • Steamed marmalade, ginger and treacle pudding

Decadent and a real winter treat is how best to describe this dessert.
The treacle flavour is not too strong when coupled with the golden syrup, and marmalade at the base of the pudding bowl adds a nice twist.
I’m lucky enough to have scored a proper steamed pudding bowl which makes it all very easy to use.
The ginger batter is lovely and light. Serve with whipped cream, warm custard or vanilla ice cream.
To make life easier I boil water and place the container of treacle and golden syrup in a bowl to heat. It makes it easier to handle.

125g softened butter, plus extra for greasing the bowl
3T treacle
6T golden syrup
4T chunky style marmalade
110g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
150g self-raising flour, sifted
2T ginger powder
2T milk
1.2 litre pudding basin needed

– Butter the pudding basin. Mix the treacle, golden syrup and marmalade and spread evenly over the base of the pudding tin.
– Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl or in an electric beater until light and fluffy.
– Beat in the eggs one at a time, then fold in the flour and ginger, following with the milk, mixing until just folded through.
– Spoon on top of treacle mix carefully. Butter a piece of baking paper and fold a pleat across the centre.
– Cover the basin with the paper, butter side down, and secure with string under the lip of the basin.
– Place in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid, filled quarter way with water and simmer on a low heat for about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
– Keep an eye on the level of water and top up if required.


For Foodies with Kerri Lysagh