Category Archives for The Seasons

Summer Party Food – Cheesy Prosciutto Puffs

Doesn’t that title just lure you in? I really love a summer party.  It summons images of warm evenings, lively chatter, soft music, fruity Pimms and of course, wonderful food. Light and colourful, packed with flavour and to allow for mingling, in nibble form. 

Just the word ‘nibble’ fills me with a kind of girlish glee. I love the guilt free abandon of it all.  Nothing that can be described as a ‘nibble’ can possibly be bad for you for goodness sake! Plus, nibbles tend to come in groups and I’m all for variety in my food.  I love nuts for sure, but I also enjoy a good olive, perhaps some blini or even a crostini. Perhaps a Cheesy Prosciutto Puff?

Cheesy Prosciutto Puffs

So read on my little vol-au-vents and I shall share with you the secret (or now, not so secret) recipe for Cheesy Prosciutto Puffs (squeee!) They’re bite-sized pieces of puffy heaven that really pack a Mediterranean punch.  Flaky pastry; as light as air, a slight tang of pesto with beautiful Prosciutto adding depth and Grana Padano cheese, an extra richness that makes them really elegant and completely indulgent.

I’m confident that you’ll want to make some of these little babies for your next summer gathering…and that your guests will thank you for it!

Cheesy Prosciutto Puffs

Cheesy Prosciutto Puffs

Ingredients

1 x 320 g packet of ready-rolled puff pastry
4 tbs pesto
1 pack of prosciutto
75 g grated Grana Padano Cheese
1 egg, beaten

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 C Fan
  • Line a couple of baking trays with grease proof paper
  • Now, carefully lay out the pastry and roll it gently until it is more of a square shape (approx 35cm per side)
  • Spoon the pesto on to the pastry and spread it out so it covers it completely – right to the edges!
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the pastry into 16 squares (so, start by cutting into quarters and then cut each quarter into quarters.)
  • Cut the prosciutto so you have 16 pieces and a bit on each square
  • Now sprinkle over the grated cheese and season well. Go steady with the salt as the Prosciutto and Grana Padano are both quite salty. Plenty of black pepper though!
  • Gently roll each square into a sausage shape and then brush the fold with the beaten egg to help seal it
  • Cover them all in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 10 mins
  • Remove from the fridge and using a sharp knife, slice each sausage into 8 small discs and place them on the baking trays, allowing enough space for them to puff up a little when cooked
  • Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes, until golden brown.

 Recipe Inspiration

Cheesy Prosciutto Puffs

I was recently sent some beautiful samples of Grana Padano cheese and Prosciutto di San Daniele. To be honest, they were both so good that very little would beat just eating them au naturel (no, I’m not being paid to say that – promise!) but that would have made for rather a dull post so I tried to come up with a recipe that would show off the beautiful flavours and allow them to compliment each other.  I hope that’s what I’ve done… 🙂

I also had help from Mary Berry and her fantastic book Mary Berry Absolute Favourites, where her Cheesy Cheese Spirals gave me the idea for the recipe above.

What are your favourite summer party nibbles? Let me know in the comments below!

Drink: Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Slushie

A sip or two of this citrus slushie will start your spring BBQ with a swing. A great twist on the classic gin & tonic, this drink is sharp and refreshing with more buzz than a bumblebee in a sunflower….

gin and tonic slushie

A friend of mine recently posted a picture on Facebook of their first BBQ of the year (yes, I’m looking at you Matt!) and I have to say, much as I love a good BBQ, I have found the weather a little too much on the chilly side to be tempted to the dust off the grill and fire-lighters just yet (and by that, of COURSE I mean, get hubby to dust off the grill and fire-lighters).  That being said, I definitely feel like the season of outside eating is just around the corner, and it’s definitely not too early to start planning that first spring or summer BBQ with friends…or to start taste testing this fabulous Grapefruit Gin and Tonic Slushie to make sure it’s up to scratch.  You’re such a good friend to care so much about getting it just right! 😉

gin and tonic slushie

Apart from the fact that it’s just more pleasant to eat a meal in the garden, the warmth of the sun on your skin, the sound of birds singing in the trees; it also makes entertaining so much easier and somehow less formal.  People can be ushered quickly through the house (before they notice you haven’t hoovered) and out into the garden, where you welcome them with a little drinky…

gin and tonic slushie

Slushie the Campfire Slayer

(I’m sorry.  I had to.  It was just too good).

…Which brings me to the purpose of this post.  Assuming you’re not as brave as my friend Matt and you haven’t yet had your first BBQ of the year then I urge you to include these as an aperitif when you do.. They’re a (ahem) ‘citrus’ twist on an old classic and they’re both refreshing and just alcoholic enough to kick your afternoon or evening off with a pleasant buzz.

Grapefruit Gin and Tonic Slushie

Grapefruit Gin and Tonic Slushie
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 100 ml gin
  2. 300 ml tonic water
  3. Juice of 1/2 a grapefruit
  4. 2 tsp sugar
Instructions
  1. Mix your ingredients in a jug and then pour into a shallow baking tray - I use the disposable foil ones
  2. Pop your tray in the freezer for 2 hours
  3. Now break up the forming ice with a fork and spoon into the glasses of your choice
  4. Grate a bit of grapefruit, lime or lemon zest over and serve with a straw
Notes
  1. For an extra twist, add a splash of elderflower cordial to the glass once you've spooned in the ice.
Eat Drink Cook http://www.eatdrinkcook.co.uk/
 In a party mood?  Then try one of these great drinks too!

Chai Baileys

Sangria

sangria

Slow Cooker Beef in Red Wine

Beef, cooked in red wine, with a touch of rosemary until it’s meltingly soft. Simple ingredients but flavours that are rich and deep… 

Slow Cooker Beef in Red Wine

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe since before Christmas but I  kept making it and then eating it all before I remembered to take a photo! 

It’s one of those magical dishes which requires minimum preparation (if you can even call chucking all the ingredients into your slow cooker and giving them a quick stir, ‘preparation’) but which, when left for a few hours of gentle heating, transforms into something so special, so truly treatsome (yes, that’s a word!) that it both comforts and revives at the end of a wearisome day.

Slow Cooker Beef in Red Wine

Slow Cooker Beef in Red Wine
Yields 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 onion, finely chopped
  2. 450 g cubed braising steak
  3. 1 tbs flour
  4. 1 tsp dried rosemary
  5. 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  6. 200 ml red wine
  7. 200 water
  8. 100 g frozen peas
Instructions
  1. Set your slow cooker to medium
  2. Add all the dry ingredients and stir well so that everything is well coated with the flour
  3. Season
  4. Add the wine and water
  5. Leave for 7-8 hours, stirring occasionally if you're around to do so
  6. Add the peas at least 30 minutes before you eat
Eat Drink Cook http://www.eatdrinkcook.co.uk/
 If you’re still not convinced that you need to make this stew, then just do one last thing for me…  

Imagine yourself outside your front door.  It’s dark. It’s freezing. I mean freezing. You’ve been rushed off your feet all day and you think you can feel the first signs of a cold.  What’s worse, you can’t find your keys.  You’re scrabbling about in your bag but it’s too dark to see anything properly and your hands are so numb you can’t make your fingers work.  

Slow cooker beef and red wine

After what feels like about an hour of bag scrabbling, you finally find the elusive keys and put them triumphantly into the lock. One quick turn and you’re in.  

Suddenly, the cold of the day is behind you.  The warmth of your home greets you like the welcoming smile of an old friend and the smell?  Well, the smell of tender beef, red wine and rosemary  fills your nostrils and drives out the tiredness, the cold and the problems of the day.

All that’s left to do is to grab yourself a bowl and greedily ladle it in.  Then settle into your favourite chair and with a big sigh, enjoy….

After more winter warmers?

Try these for size…

Chicken & Vegetable Broth

Chicken & Vegetable Broth

Winter Vegetable Soup

Cheese & Rosemary Toasts

Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks

Lamb Shanks

Chinese Salmon and Crispy Kale

Sweet and salty, crispy seaweed stylee kale and succulent, pink, salmon with just a hint of the orient. A Chinese whisper if you will..

Chinese Salmon & Crispy Kale

I’ve always loved the Crispy Seaweed that you get at the Chinese.  I think it’s the combination of sweet and salty along with that satisfying crunch – plus hey, it’s one of your five a day right? So when  I recently discovered that, for the most part, it isn’t actually seaweed at all, but rather, cabbage or kale, I’ve got to say I felt a bit let down.

Once I got over my initial indignation, I realised that this could actually be a good thing! It meant I could recreate one of my favourite takeaway treats in my very own kitchen (without having to take a trip to the beach first…)

Chinese Salmon Crispy Kale

Now the good thing about this dish (other than the whole ‘no need for waders’ thing above and aside from the fact that it’s bloomin’ tasty) is that it’s unbelievably easy to make. You are no more than 10 minutes away from tucking into a mound of sweet and salty, crispy seaweed stylee kale and succulent, pink, salmon with just a hint of the orient. A Chinese whisper if you will…

Crispy Kale, Chinese Salmon

Chinese Salmon & Crispy Kale
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. For the Crispy Kale
  2. Around 3 handfuls of curly kale
  3. 1/2 tbs olive oil
  4. 1 tsp Maldon salt
  5. 1 heaped tsp brown sugar
  6. 1/2 tsp ground ginger (optional)
  7. For the Salmon
  8. 2 salmon fillets
  9. 1 tbs flour
  10. 1 tsp Chinese Five Spice
  11. 2 salmon fillets
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C
  2. Pick the leaves off the kale and chop finely
  3. Mix in the oil, salt, sugar and ground ginger so that all the kale is coated
  4. Place the kale on a baking tray so that it's all evenly laid out
  5. Roast in the oven for approx 6 minutes (check so it doesn't burn but it should be, well...crispy, when it comes out!)
  6. Meanwhile, mix the flour and five spice and put it on to a plate
  7. Coat each salmon fillet in the flour mix, shaking off any excess
  8. If you have a George Foreman Grill then place them in the grill and cook for 6 minutes (if not, then heat a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan and fry the fillets for around 3 minutes per side.
Eat Drink Cook http://www.eatdrinkcook.co.uk/
 The recipe for Crispy Kale is based on one I found in my trusty Abel & Cole book (nope – this isn’t a sponsored post – but credit where credit’s due right!?)

For the fish, I use my George Foreman grill, thanks to my lovely Mother-in-Law who recently served us some perfectly cooked salmon using her’s and so inspired me to dig mine out of a cupboard and dust it off after months (ok, years…) of neglect.  If you don’t have one, then a frying or griddle pan will do just fine.

Colette’s Kitchen Favourites: January

Those of you who have read my monthly posts on seasonal foods will know that I’m a big fan of eating food when it is at its freshest and best – that is to say, when it’s in season.

This year, more for my own interest than anything else, I’ve started to keep a food diary, recording our evening meal each day so that I can refer back, both for inspiration and for sheer curiosity.

I’m pretty sure getting into a food rut isn’t a problem that’s unique to me so I’ve decided that each month I’ll share a few of our family favourites from the previous one in the hope that it may spark a few ideas or even inspire you to try something new.  Some may be seasonal, others just something from a much loved cook book or even a family favourite passed down from my Mum.

January’s Favourite Meal

Haggis 

We’re not Scottish but I can’t let Burn’s Night pass by without making the most of an excellent excuse (as if I need one) to eat haggis.  Now, if you’re one of those people who crinkles their nose in disgust at the thought of haggis – then take my advice and don’t think! It tastes like beautifully spiced mince.  It’s warming, comforting and I love the stuff.

We eat it with: Mashed potato, Marrowfat peas and gravy.

My Most Used Recipe Book

Simply Nigella – Nigella Lawson

This was the perfect recipe book for me in January.  It’s full of simple, nutritious meals.  The kind that are comforting enough for even the coldest of January days, but also full of great ingredients that you can feel doing you good and restoring you after the festive season of excess.

My favourite 3 recipes this month were;

Pasta A La Bruno 

…a simple, spicy pasta dish with tomatoes and crispy bacon.  Quick to make and with a kick that warms you through to your cockles (to use the medical term).

Indian Spiced Cod with Coconut Dahl

This is a lovely, simple way to cook fish.  The flavours are subtle, but fragrant and delicious. Beautiful fillets of cod are coated in a spiced yoghurt that is speckled with mustard seeds which add a satisfying crunch. The dahl is the perfect accompaniment and if possible, it’s even easier. Just lentils, coconut water, a cinnamon stick and cardamom pods make up this lovely little side dish.

Warm Spiced Cauliflower & Chickpea Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

When I first presented this to hubby, it was with a certain amount of trepidation. No meat, just a plate of cauliflower and chickpeas. Somehow though, this combination of a few simple ingredients just works.  I mean, really works! Even hubby is converted and has since asked to have it again.  As the book’s title suggests, this recipe is simple.  It’s also delicious, filling – and super healthy. Hurrah!

Ingredients to look forward to in February…

Kale

Cauliflower

Hake

Blood Orange

Recipe: Apple Flapjacks

Oats, apple, golden syrup and just the smallest hint of cinnamon. What’s not to love about these meltingly soft, sweet apple flapjacks?

The great thing about flapjacks is that despite the fact that they’re clearly a yummy little treat; sweet and gooey like a slice of cake, they’re made from oats and so they somehow seem really rather healthy. To be clear, I’m not saying that they are (in fact, to do so would be to completely ignore the artery clogging amounts of butter and the tooth rotting levels of sugar and syrup..) – but it’s certainly easier to maintain the illusion with flapjack than with a big slab of chocolate cake.

apple flapjack

Apple flapjacks are frankly even more virtuous. They’ve got one of your five a day in them for goodness sakes! They’re practically a health food. So what I’m saying is, in this month of over-indulgence, these flapjacks are a little something which you can enjoy without too much guilt.  It’s nearly Christmas after all!

apple flapjacks

Gotta taste for apples?  I’m here for you…

Salted caramel apple crumble

Apple & Blackberry Cheesecake

Spiced Apple Butter

Apple & Pear Turnovers

Apple Flapjacks
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Ingredients
  1. 350 g butter
  2. 4 tbs golden syrup
  3. 100 g light brown sugar
  4. 500 g oats
  5. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  6. 2 apples, peeled, cored and finely sliced
Instructions
  1. Line a tin with grease proof paper and pre-heat your oven to 170 C (fan)
  2. Add the butter, sugar and golden syrup to a small pan and stir regularly until the butter has completely melted
  3. Put the oats and ground cinnamon in a large bowl and add the melted butter mix. Stir well.
  4. Add half of the oat mix to the baking tin and flatten down firmly
  5. Now add the sliced apple and cover with the rest of the oats. Flatten again to prevent crumbling later
  6. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the edges are starting to brown
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly
  8. Now slice while still in the tin and leave to cool completely before turning out on to a board or plate
Notes
  1. After much experimenting, I have found that the jumbo oats are much crumblier, so if you want a sturdier flapjack, I would use the smaller oats.
Eat Drink Cook http://www.eatdrinkcook.co.uk/
 Now, these are fab for breakfast, for pudding or just as a little something sweet with a nice cup of tea.  

Crispy Baked Chicken with Sweet Potato Fries

That satisfying crunch, through the crispy, golden breadcrumb coating, into succulent bites of chicken…

This recipe is a slightly more grown-up, much tastier and healthier version of the kids classic, chicken nuggets and chips.  It’s for those days when you yearn for childish food. You want something simple and comforting. Something that can be eaten with your fingers, dipped into your condiment of choice and happily scoffed with guilt-free abandon.

crispy baked chicken nuggets

Pretty perfect as it is, but add the tiniest hint of rosemary and the occasional hit of chilli and suddenly this crispy baked chicken gets even more exciting. Oh, an one more thing.  This is baked chicken so you get all of the crunch but none of the grease!

Fan of Crispy Chicken?  Try this too…

Pesto Breadcrumb Chicken

Crispy baked chicken

Now as you know, I’m certainly not one to be bossy, but if you’re going to go to the trouble of making this rather fabulous crispy chicken, then it seems a shame not to enjoy it with its natural bedfellow, the gorgeously gooey sweet potato fry (or rather, a whole bowl for them if possible).

Crispy baked chicken

Crispy Baked Chicken & Sweet Potato Fries
Serves 4
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For the Crispy Baked Chicken
  1. 40 g plain flour
  2. 1 tsp dried rosemary
  3. 1/2 tsp paprika
  4. 1 large egg
  5. 100 g panko breadcrumbs
  6. 1 tsp chilli flakes
  7. 450 g skinless and boneless chicken thighs
  8. Spray oil (optional)
For the Sweet Potato Fries
  1. 3 sweet potatoes
  2. 1 tsp paprika
  3. 1 tbs olive oil
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C
  2. Line 3 baking trays with baking paper
  3. Put the flour, paprika and rosemary on a plate and season well with salt and pepper
  4. Whisk the egg in a bowl
  5. Put the panko breadcrumbs and chilli flakes in another bowl and season well
  6. Cut any fat off the chicken and then slice into strips
  7. Take each strip and coat in the flour, shake off the excess and then dip in the egg
  8. Roll each strip in the breadcrumbs and place 2 of the baking trays
  9. If you have some spray oil then give the chicken a spray. This will help it turn golden.
  10. Peel the sweet potatoes and slice them into fries
  11. Add the paprika and oil and mix so they are all coated
  12. Place them on the third baking tray and put them in the oven for 10 minutes
  13. Now turn them over and add the chicken to the oven.
  14. Bake for another 15-20 minutes
  15. Remove when the fries are soft and the chicken crispy on the outside with no pink on the inside.
Notes
  1. I use scissors to cut the chicken into strips - I find it much easier than cutting with a knife
Eat Drink Cook http://www.eatdrinkcook.co.uk/

Autumn Cottage Pie

This Cottage Pie has all the colours and tastes of autumn. A filling of minced beef, squash, herbs and just a heady touch of cinnamon. All with a bronzed crown of cheesey sweet potato…

You know that saying about how dogs start to look like their owners? Well, have you ever noticed that foods often tend to look like the seasons they belong to?

Cottage Pie

Not sure what I’m on about? Stay with me for a second… Think about the foods that you eat in summer. Vibrant, bright colours that match the world around them. Watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes… 

See what I mean? Well in autumn, the season of golds, coppers and orange, the food very kindly obliges again. Butternut squash, sweet potato and pumpkin all reflecting this cold season of warm, burnished colours.

Cottage Pie

This recipe is a celebration of some of my favourite autumn foods.  It’s actually inspired by Delia’s Special Cottage Pie from her Complete Cookery Course but with a few seasonal twists which add a subtle, but oh-so comforting sweetness.

Autumn Cottage Pie
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 2 tbs olive oil
  2. 2 leeks, thinly sliced
  3. 300 g butternut squash, diced
  4. 500 g minced beef
  5. 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  6. 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  7. 1 tbs chopped fresh parsley
  8. 300 ml beef stock
  9. 900 g sweet potatoes
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a pan and then add the chopped leeks. Cook them, stirring occasionally until they have softened
  2. Add the diced butternut squash - the cubes should be around 1cm
  3. Now add the mince, cinnamon and herbs and continue to stir occasionally until browned
  4. Add the stock and bring to a simmer, then set aside
  5. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes and then add to a pan of water
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C
  7. Bring the water to the boil and simmer for around 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are soft
  8. Put the sauce into a casserole
  9. Mash the sweet potatoes and add the second tbs of olive oil then add them to the top of the sauce and spread them out to cover it all
  10. Bake in the oven for 25 mins
Eat Drink Cook http://www.eatdrinkcook.co.uk/

Seasonal Food in November

November seasonal food

November has arrived, bringing with it a blanket of fog (in Nottingham at least). I’ve often found that fog, rather like snow, seems to induce a childlike frenzy of emotion in otherwise mature and well-rounded adults. 

Some find it exciting and mysterious, others, creepy and eerie. A few think it’s just plain gloomy. For me, fog awakens my need to feel cosy. Walking to work, there’s almost a ghostly quality to the city. Everyone drifting by as if in a dream until eventually, growing more distant, they’re swallowed by the mist. 

Autumn firmly here – in fact, winter edging ever closer, it’s not surprising that this month’s seasonal foods are rather few and far between…

Fruit & Veg

Dates

Pomegranates

Cauliflower

Jerusalem Artichoke

You would be forgiven for thinking that the humble cauliflower is the least exciting of this little bunch.  Perhaps it is, if it’s just boiled to within an inch of it’s life, and then served plan.  Curried however, it’s a wondrous thing. Cooked with onion, cubes of potato, and a few well chosen spices it makes a simple to make but really rather wonderful treat!

As for cauliflower cheese, I can’t think of many dishes (especially vegetable dishes) which offer such creamy comfort.  As a child, we often used to have this as a main meal, with more vegetables on the side for good measure. I never once felt there was anything lacking in such a meal!

Meat & Fish

Venison

I cooked venison for the first time last year, making my ‘Harty’ Venison Stew (I was very pleased with that little pun at the time – and I must say, I still am!)

It makes a lovely, more gamey alternative to beef, and in this rather cold and blustery month, it provides robust flavour to bolster you against the chill!

My thoughts on November’s Seasonal Foods last year…

Other seasonal eats

Chicken & Vegetable Broth

Get your glow back with a bowlful of this Chicken & Vegetable Broth. Bitefuls of carrot and swede, the occasional satisfying pop of a pea, chicken that’s fallen from the bone and glistening pearl barley… 

You know that feeling when you’ve been out in the sunshine all day and you feel all glowing and full of life? It can be hard to recreate that at this time of year. The combination of grey skies, dark mornings and rainy days can leave you feeling pretty lack lustre and, if things get really bad, downright depressed.

Chicken & Vegetable Broth

That’s when I turn to food for a spot of comfort.  I’m not talking cakes and chocolate here (although I certainly wouldn’t discount them!) No, instead, why not try to replace what’s missing in sunshine and vitamin D with food that fills you with goodness and warmth on the inside?

Chicken & Vegetable Broth

This Chicken and Vegetable Broth is full to the brim with wholesome comfort and goodness.  A steaming bowlful slurped with a hunk of crusty bread, a good book and if possible, some sort of roaring fire, cannot fail to give you that glow of satisfaction that’s so often missing around this time of year.

For more words of wisdom regarding comfort food try this…

Chicken & Vegetable Broth

PS – I’m currently lucky enough to be on hols in the very lovely village of Ringstead in Norfolk and can confirm that a brisk walk along the beach is another great way to get a healthy, happy glow.  Said walk, followed by this Broth is pretty close to perfect.

Chicken & Vegetable Broth
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Ingredients
  1. 1 tbs olive oil
  2. 6 skinless chicken thighs (approx 600 g)
  3. 2 leeks, sliced into rings
  4. 2 carrots, chopped into 1.5 cm cubes
  5. 1/3 swede, chopped into 1.5 cm cubes
  6. 2 tbs tomato purée
  7. 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  8. 750 ml chicken stock
  9. 50 g pearl barley
  10. 100 g frozen peas
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in large pan and add the chicken thighs. Brown on each side and then remove to a plate. You may need to do this in batches.
  2. Now add the chopped leeks to the pan and cook gently until they have softened.
  3. Add the carrots and swede, herbs and tomato purée. Stir gently for a minute or so before adding in the stock.
  4. Now add the chicken thighs back in, along with any juices that have collected on the plate
  5. Bring to the boil and add in the pearl barley
  6. Simmer gently for 45-60 minutes until the vegetables have softened and the chicken has started to fall from the bone
  7. Now remove the chicken from the bones and add it back to the broth
  8. Finally, add the peas and simmer for a further 5-10 mins
Notes
  1. The dried herbs are included here so that the lack of fresh can never get between you and a bowl of broth. They can however, be very happily replaced with fresh - such as thyme, rosemary, parsley etc
  2. Equally, don't let a lack of leeks get in your way. These can be substituted with a large onion.
Eat Drink Cook http://www.eatdrinkcook.co.uk/
 For more recipes to warm your cockles, take a look at these…

Slow cooker lamb shanks

Winter vegetable soup

Quick and easy chilli

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