Feta must be the most useful of cheeses, the saltiness of the cheese adding spark to pizzas and salads, turning dips into treasured spreads, and baking into a gorgeous stuffing or filling or centrepiece. We have brought our favourite feta dishes together for you.
Winter is here, and it is a cold and wet start to the season this year. Out of the wardrobe come jumpers, coats, scarves and beanies. In the kitchen, soups arrive – wholesome and hearty, steaming as they hit the table. We are grateful to Winter for providing us with the weather to have these great soups.
Our approach to stock for soups has varied over the years. In current times, we tend to make it as we need it, quickly infusing skins and peels, lentils, vegetables, herbs and spices to match the soup. In past years, when we were busier, stocks always sat in the freezer – we made them in the evenings, or as we prepared other dishes the stock would bubble on the stove. Choose a method to suit your lifestyle and family. Sometimes we just use water! We rely on the vegetables and other ingredients itself to shine in the soup.
To help you on your way with stocks, here are the ones that we use the most.
- How to Make Vegetable Stocks
- How to Make Vegetarian Dashi
- A Light, Infused Vegetable Stock
- Deeply Flavoured Coconut Curry Stock
- Asian Flavoured Vegetable Stock
- Easy Vegetable Stocks
Now that you have your Winter wardrobe organised, let’s get cooking! Most of these soups will freeze well.
Here are 30 of our best Soups for Early Winter.
This is a great green salad of beans, edamame and broccolini or sprouting broccoli. It is flavoured sort of South Indian style, with black mustard seeds and a handful of curry leaves. The coconut adds a beautiful contrast to the beans, although it can be left out of the recipe if desired.
It is an Ottolenghi recipe from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area. This recipe involves South Indian ingredients – mustard seeds, dried chillies and curry leaves. I have slightly altered the way that these are used in the recipe to get the best out of them..
Browse all of our Edamame dishes and all of our Curry Leaf recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Summer dishes.
In the depths of Winter we turn to hot drinks to warm the body. But there are herbs and spices that will also warm us from the inside. Rosemary is one, ginger another, and black pepper too. This drink uses ginger, cardamom and pepper and will tingle and warm your body in the coldest of weathers. It is consumed either warm or at room temperature, so is a no-fuss recipe.
In India, ginger is well known as a cure for colds and sore throats. Dry ginger powder mixed with water is said to work wonders to relieve stiff joints. You can see that this drink is essential during Winter.
The dry ginger powder is essential to this drink – for maximum effect, don’t substitute with ginger root. The ginger, cardamom and pepper do not dissolve completely. Do as I do and stir while drinking, or allow it to sit for 5 or so minutes, then strain.
Burghul seems to be used mostly a Winter grain, but I would like to reassure you that Summery Salads based on Burghul are terrific. Juicy with ripe tomatoes, fragrant with Pomegranate Molasses, crunchy with nuts, cooling with cucumber and herbs. A perfect fit for a lunch on a hot day, sitting under the grapevines.
Similar recipes include Burghul Salad with Olives, Hazelnuts and Pomegranates, Cauliflower and Burghul Kitchari, and Burghul and Mung Kitchari.
When Wintery weather finally hits, there is nothing more satisfying than layering vegetables with cheese and baking until the veggies are tender and the cheese is molten and crisped on top. These are quintessential Winter dishes.
Other Collections include:
Since discovering golpar, I have been looking at ways to use it. This lovely salad has its origin in a book by Najmieh Batmanglij, New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking. It is quite a terrific salad, with the flavour bursts of pomegranate kernels, the tang of the lime, golpar and salt, the freshness of mint and the cooling taste of the cucumber. It is a remarkable mix of flavours and is totally gorgeous. It would make a great Xmas Salad with those lovely colours.
Golpar is the powder made from the seeds of Iranian Hogweed, and you can read more about it here. Pick up some of the powder or the seeds at a Middle Eastern or Afghan grocery. If you can only find the seeds, grind them to a powder in a spice grinder.
We are quite into roasted Brussels Sprouts now – we have eaten more sprouts this year than in total since childhood. I have never really enjoyed Brussels Sprouts as my Mother, bless her cotton socks, overcooked them. Boiled, grey and soggy, and not a drop of lemon juice. Sigh. Brussels Sprouts should never go near water.
This year we discovered roasted Brussels Sprouts (and raw Brussels Sprouts, but that’s another story). They make great snacks too – we will eat them at any time of the day – fingers can be used.
Today we roast them tossed with pomegranate molasses. Deee- vine. The sweet-tart of the molasses against the bitter of the brussels sprouts is very special.
Saffron rice – it’s a classic of the Middle East, and one that is so gorgeous. This is a simple recipe that gives 2 colours to the rice. Always use good saffron – nice long threads with an earthy and sweet aroma.
Serve with any Middle Eastern or even Indian dish. You will love it.
Are you wanting other ways to use saffron? Try crushing a tiny piece of saffron into a glass of champagne or sparkling apple cider, turning the drink into a golden elixir. And coffee spiced with saffron and cardamom is a wonderful, soothing drink. Try our Saffron and Spices Tea – relaxing and amazing.
India must be the country that has the most appreciation of rice. It boasts thousands of different rice varieties and many many more dishes that feature rice as the main ingredient. Rice is never ever relegated to a side dish, playing second fiddle to the main dish or dishes of the meal. There it is, front and centre, always. Pulaos, Kitcheri, Biryani, Bhats, Pongal and Mixed Rices are examples of well known rice dishes.
Pulihora is a South Indian rice which is usually made with tamarind. But the same dish can also be made with green mango or with lemon juice as the souring agent. It is a rice dish that plays homage to the love of sour tastes in Tamil Nadu and beyond. In this recipe, the tamarind is replaced with green mango, and some carrot adds a sweet counterbalance and colour.
This dish is also called mangai sadam and mavinakayi chitranna in different regions. The recipes vary a little, e.g. coconut might be added, but the base is essentially the same. In South India mango pulihora is made during certain auspicious occasions and festivals too.
How most excellent is pesto and its cousin pistou swirled into vegetable soups! We do it in our 13 Treasure Happiness Soup, so called because it brings a sense of joy and happiness to anyone who eats it. More correctly it is a Provencale Vegetable Soup.
Our soup today is one of the Italian ones that combines pasta and dried beans, a classic soup pairing, with vegetables. The pasta used can be Vermicelli or Maltagliati – the irregular shapes of pasta designed to go into soups. A hand made pesto crowns the soup and is swirled through the soup before eating – a process that adds to the joy of hot soup on a cold day.
Bugialli died recently. He was instrumental in bringing Italian regional food to the US – beginning with his first book in 1977, Food of Italy. Surprisingly, he didn’t become as well known in other parts of the world, but that might have been by design.
When French cuisine was being celebrated in the 1970s, Bugialli argued that Italian cooking also deserved to be taken seriously, beginning with the understanding that it varies by region. This fundamental fact, true of any great cuisine, is so often bypassed as we delve into foreign foods – and today the great internet machine condenses ancient and complex cuisines into a few popular dishes. Bugialli, with his love of his own heritage, scoured Italy for regional dishes and published authoritative books on many sub-cuisines of Italy. When we think about the handful of people who have been instrumental in exciting other countries about the cuisine of their own country, excited enough to alter the supply-and-demand chain of ingredients, it is difficult to more than a couple. Roden, Child, David, Thompson – can I include Oliver in this list? – all English speaking passionate foodies who fell in love with the food and food philosophy of a different country. Bugialli and Jaffrey are two of the few who have successfully translated their own cuisine in a way that not only is acceptable to others but has also driven culinary change.
You might expect there to be more people who have achieved notoriety in this way. The difficulty is, of course, that one needs to be able to view the food – ingredients, processes, techniques, history, associated stories – through the eyes of the intended audience. This is easiest if you are yourself a member of your target audience, and incredibly difficult if you are not. The advantage that Jaffrey and Bugialli had was that they both lived and worked in the UK and/or the US for some time before adopting their culinary careers of writing and teaching.
When I returned home from my shortish working sojourn in the North East of France with its amazing foods, wines and cheeses, I scoured the local bookshops for French cookbooks. In the process I also discovered a number seminal cookbooks from other European cuisines. Not that I knew they were seminal at the time but I did have a nose for great cookbooks. That is why I happen to have a much loved Bugialli, but it was a long time before I came to realise how influential he had been and how classic his books are. This wonderful eggplant dish is one of his.
So today I am making another simple but wonderful dish from his book – a simple salad of capsicums with capers. I learnt a great technique from this recipe. When roasting capsicums in the oven, include a tray of water in the bottom of the oven. The steam from the water begins to lift the skins from the capsicums without over-charring them, so that the flesh is protected. They are more steamed than grilled, leading to a very delicate flavour.
This colourful salad of silky,sweet capsicums, tangy capers and fresh herbs can be a salad or side dish, appetiser, part of a mezze spread, or an addition to a sandwich or wrap. It can also be layered onto other tossed or composed salads. The combination of tomato, garlic, mint and capers is an amazing pairing with the sweet capsicums. Yum!