When it comes to cooking, winter is one of my favourite seasons.
Slow roasting, hearty soups and sticky sweet cake…throw in a cashmere sweater and an open fire and you will rarely find me happier.
Cooking for any size family can be simpler (and more of an occasion) when you lay a shared table.
Platters full of delicious things and then maybe a board game.
So this was a dream collaboration for me.
So, we put the kids and the dog in the car and headed to the country.
Soups are cold weather medicine, aren’t they?
Nothing better than a hearty, warm soup to start a meal – or be the meal.
Simply heat (I always prefer stove to microwave), top and pimp a little further with fresh herbs, chilli or a dollop of Skyr.
A Roast That Wows.
For this chicken roast, we used three different Woolworths Simply Roast Chicken Mini Roasts (see below) and served them pre-carved with charred lemon halves, chopped flat leaf parsley and fresh chilli.
These are super easy roasts. Pre-marinated and stuffed there’s literally zero preparation – you even cook them in the foil container they are sold in.
And they look sensational don’t you think?!
GOOD TO KNOW: I’ve stocked my Mum and Dad’s freezer with these mini roasts because they’re portion perfect for two people.
CLICK TO BUY: Woolworths Simply Roast Chicken Breast Cous Cous Stuffing, $11.02; Woolworths Simply Roast Mini Chicken Potato & Cheese Stuffing, $10.50; Woolworths Simply Roast Mini Chicken Garlic Bread Stuffing, $10.50
Beef Brisket Pies.
Winter lunch is not complete without a pie.
A firm favourite in my family, I’ve found that the quickest road to pie success is to use individual ramekins: a slow-cooked centre topped with puff pastry.
Woolworths have introduced great slow cooking meats into their Cook Cuts Range. For this pie, I used the new Woolworths The Cooks Cuts Beef Brisket which works beautifully for pies when cooked over two or three hours.
This recipe is from one of Sydney’s great field-to-fork chefs Sean Moran.
I cut some corners with store bought pastry and the filling can be cooked the day before and then warmed on the stove before filing the ramekins and creating the pastry tops.
Sean Moran’s Beef Brisket Pies.
250 gm butter
600 gm (about 12 large) portobello mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
150 gm (1 cup) plain flour
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cups (loosely packed) flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
560 gm (2 rolls) butter puff pastry (see note)
1 egg yolk, whisked with 2 tbsp pouring cream, for eggwash
100 ml olive oil
1 kg Woolworths The Cooks Cuts Beef Brisket
3 carrots, thinly sliced
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
750 ml (3 cups) beef stock
250 ml dry red wine
100 ml red wine vinegar
8 thyme sprigs
2 fresh bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1.For braised beef, preheat oven to 150C. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a casserole. Season brisket and brown in pan, turning occasionally, until golden (4-6 minutes). Remove and set aside. Reduce heat to medium-low, add vegetables and stir occasionally until caramelised (15-20 minutes). Add stock, wine, vinegar, herbs and garlic and return brisket to pan. Cover with baking paper, tucking edges into the liquid to secure, and cook in the oven until beef is tender (2-2½ hours). Remove brisket from liquid. When cool enough to handle, cut into 2cm-3cm pieces. Strain liquid (discard solids) and set aside.
2. Increase oven to 180C. Wipe casserole clean, add half the butter and melt over medium heat. Add mushrooms, season to taste and sauté until golden (5-7 minutes). Add garlic and remaining butter and, when melted, add flour and stir until nut-brown (5-7 minutes). Add mustard, then slowly add reserved cooking liquid, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and add brisket and parsley.
3. Divide mixture into six 250ml pie dishes. Cut 8 rounds to cover dishes. Place on top, pinch edges, brush with eggwash and pierce tops to allow steam to escape. Bake pies until deep golden (25-30 minutes). Serve hot.
Easy Side Dishes.
Most of the time, Saxon and I peel and prepare vegetables as though Gordon Ramsay is screaming at us but sometimes it’s nice to make things a little simpler.
These side dishes are easy crowd pleasers that make a colourful impact on the lunch table.
Woolworths Australian Winter Veg Mix are snap frozen and full of nutrients. Here we simply steamed until just soft then added olive oil, lemon juice and rock salt.
Find me someone who doesn’t like a crunchy potato gem? These Woolworths Australian Potato Minis are sourced locally, baked not fried and when served hot with rock salt…well they’re totally addcitive.
The Sweetest Things.
You know I love to bake. Any excuse to make a cake or ten.
Ironically, it was a recent trip down the health aisle that inspired me to find a great polenta cake recipe.
This is from Jamie Oliver and uses seasonal oranges which are one of my favourite fruits to bake with.
This cake is a great gluten-free option that keeps getting better day two and three.
If it lasts that long…
Jamie Oliver’s Orange Polenta Cake.
200 g unsalted butter , (at room temperature), plus extra for greasing
200 g demerara sugar
3 large free-range eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
200 g ground almonds
100 g coarse Macro polenta
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
5 cardamom pods
250 ml orange juice , (from 3-4 oranges)
30 ml orange blossom water
125 g golden caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F/gas 2½. Grease a 20cm springform tin, line the bottom and sides with greaseproof paper and grease again.
Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and creamy – don’t worry if it looks gritty, as the sugar will dissolve when it’s cooked. Beat in the eggs, one by one, then stir in the vanilla essence.
In a small bowl, combine the ground almonds, polenta, orange zest, orange blossom water and baking powder, then stir this into the cake mix.
Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the surface is light brown and the cake is coming away slightly from the sides of the tin.Remove the tin from the oven, leave to cool for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a plate. This cake will be quite fragile, so handle carefully as you remove it.
To make the syrup, crush the cardamom pods, then put all of the ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer over a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, or until reduced and thickened slightly. Set aside to cool.
Prick the cake all over with a skewer, then brush generously with the syrup. Delicious served with a dollop of crème fraîche or yoghurt and an extra drizzle of syrup.
Cheats Chocolate Caramel Tart.
This cake makes you look like baking legend but really it is all delicious smoke and mirrors.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Bake a frozen chocolate pastry pie base (you find it in Woolworths Frozen dessert section)
Cover the pastry case with baking paper and fill with pastry weights or beans. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove paper and weights.
Fill pastry case with store bough caramel ( or my Dulce De Leche) and smooth the top. Set aside.
Meanwhile place 200 gas of dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over boiling water and melt. In a medium saucepan add 1/2 cup of thickened cream and simmer until hot but not boiling. Pour over the chocolate. Stir until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Let cool a little.
Carefully spread the chocolate mixture over the top of the caramel. Let it set in the fridge an hour. To serve top with whipped cream and caramel popcorn.