Warming winter recipes to try your hand at this Twixmas
PUBLISHED: 10:35 10 December 2018 | UPDATED: 11:12 10 December 2018
Step back into the kitchen between Christmas and New Year and cook for pleasure with these warming winter recipes from Gill Meller’s latest book Time
WINTER FRUIT BREAKFAST BUNS
Fig and Seville marmalade breakfast buns (makes 9)
These buns were inspired by a winter trifle I make with dried figs and thick-cut bitter marmalade – and custard and cream, of course! I knew figs and marmalade went together well, so I came up with these. The buns are absolutely perfect with a cup of coffee.
500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
75g caster sugar or vanilla sugar
1 teaspoon instant dried yeast
200ml warm milk
100g butter, melted, plus
50g very soft butter for brushing and extra for greasing
1 jar coarse-cut
Seville orange marmalade
For the fruit filling
8 dried figs, roughly chopped
juice of 1 orange
First, make the fruit filling. Place the chopped figs in a bowl, pour over the orange juice and set aside while you make the dough. Grease a 20 x 25cm baking tray or dish. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt, then add the milk, melted butter and egg and mix to a sticky dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Wipe the bowl clean, return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave to rise until the dough is doubled in size. This might take from 2–4 hours depending on how warm it is.
When the dough is ready, carefully tip it onto a well-floured surface, and roll into a rectangle of about 45 x 30cm with one of the long sides facing towards you. Brush the surface of the dough with the soft butter. Spoon out all but a couple of tablespoons of marmalade over the top of the butter, then sprinkle over the soaked, chopped figs. Leave a margin of 2.5cm along the edge farthest away from you.
Take hold of the edge closest to you and carefully roll up the dough, enveloping the marmalade and figs in a spiral as you go. Everything’s quite soft at this point so you’ll need to be quite careful. Trim the ends of the roll, then cut along the length into 9 equal pieces. Arrange these snugly, cut-side down, in the greased baking tray or dish. Cover or place it inside a clean plastic bag and leave it in a warm place for 1–2 hours, or until risen.
Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 7. Once the buns are risen, bake them for about 25–30 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and, while they’re hot, brush the buns all over with the remaining marmalade. Let cool before breaking apart and serving.
WARM WINTER SALAD
Warm salad of seared skirt steak, roast celeriac, red onions and herbs (serves 4)
Skirt steak knocks the socks off beef cuts like fillet and sirloin, and is relatively inexpensive by comparison. It has a moist, open grain but needs careful cooking to really make it shine. You either cook it very gently for several hours until unctuous and giving, or sear it quickly on a very hot grill or in a pan and serve it pink. There is no middle ground. Here, I’m serving it with celeriac, roasted to a golden, nutty perfection alongside sweet red onions and crunchy seeds. I finish this gorgeous winter salad with a couple of handfuls of fresh herbs.
1 celeriac (about 800g), peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
2 red onions, halved and each half cut into 3 or 4 wedges
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 rosemary sprigs, torn
1 small bunch of thyme, torn
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
15g pumpkin seeds
15g) sunflower seeds
300g skirt steak
1 large handful of salad leaves and herbs
salt and freshly ground
For the dressing
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Heat the oven 180°C/350°F/gas mark 6. First, make the dressing. Put all the ingredients in a small bowl or jug, season with salt and pepper and whisk vigorously and set aside while you make the salad.
Scatter the celeriac over a large baking tray, then the onions, the garlic, rosemary, thyme and bay. Trickle a tablespoon of the olive oil over and season well with salt and pepper. Place the baking tray in the hot oven and roast, turning the celeriac occasionally, for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and scatter over the seeds, then return to the oven for a further 8–10 minutes, or until the celeriac is a little caramelized on the outside and tender in the middle. Remove from the oven and keep warm.
Season the steak all over with plenty of salt and pepper. Heat a medium–large frying pan over a high heat. Add the remaining olive oil and, when hot, add the steak. Cook for about 1–2 minutes on each side for rare; or 2–3 minutes on each side for medium. Lift the steak from the pan and keep warm.
Take a large, warmed serving platter and scatter over the roasted vegetables and seeds. Slice the skirt steak thickly across its grain and place this on and around the celeriac. Top with the salad leaves, then trickle over the dressing and bring to the table.
HEARTY WINTER STEW
A stew of pork, bacon and mushrooms with cream, cider and parsley (serves 4)
I first served this stew aboard a fishing boat on a bitterly cold day. I’d cooked it the day before - always a good idea with a stew - and reheated it over a tiny camp stove in the wheel-house. I remember the delicious smells of the stew carrying out to the hungry fishermen on deck.
dash of extra-virgin olive oil
1 piece of cured pork belly
(streaky bacon; about 350g), cut into 4–5cm cubes
500g fresh pork belly, cut into 4–5cm cubes
1 large or 2 small leeks, halved and sliced
2 or 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
4–6 bay leaves
2–3 rosemary sprigs
2–3 thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons plain flour
450ml pork, chicken or vegetable stock
knob of butter
250g wild or cultivated mushrooms, cut into large pieces
200ml double cream
small bunch of parsley
salt and freshly ground
Heat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 3. Start by heating the oil in a large heavy-based casserole set over a medium–high heat. Add the cured and fresh pork belly pieces and cook for 6–8 minutes, or until well browned on all sides. Lift the pieces out of the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside
Add the leeks to the same pan, along with the sliced garlic, all the herbs and a little seasoning. Sweat the leeks gently for about 10 minutes, then return the browned pork pieces to the pan, sprinkle over the plain flour and stir well. Cook for a further 3–4 minutes, then pour in the cider and stock and bring to a simmer. Stir well, then place a tight-fitting lid on the pan and place in the oven for 2 hours, until the pork is fork tender.
Meanwhile, set a large frying pan over a high heat and add the butter. When it’s bubbling, add the mushrooms, season lightly and sauté, turning them regularly, for 6–8 minutes, until cooked through. Set aside.
When the casserole is ready, remove it from the oven and add the fried mushrooms and double cream. Stir well, return the casserole to the oven for 15 minutes without its lid.
Stir in the chopped parsley and check the seasoning before bringing to the table and serve with a sharply dressed green salad and some good bread.
Cooking can be a brilliant way to establish gentler, healthier rhythms in the way we live, as families and as individuals. It is a way to celebrate the passing of time and also remember it. Every time we make something good to eat, we make a memory.
My new book Time is divided into three chapters. Each represents a different time of day – morning, day and night, the moments we nearly always find ourselves in the kitchen. Each chapter flows gently through a year too, marking it in the way I love, with simple seasonal recipes and delicious things to eat.
This book is an ode to the kitchen and all it represents. It’s a thank you to the kitchens of my childhood, and also a letter to the people I’ve met in them and a menu of the things I’ve cooked.
It’s a portrait of a year through the lens of a day - a dedication to, and celebration of, time.
Time by Gill Meller is published at £25 but Dorset Magazine readers can save themselves £3 with free p&p by calling 01256 302699 and quoting code Q27.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gill Meller is a chef, food writer, teacher and advocate for real cooking. He has worked closely with River Cottage for over 12 years and his first book Gather, won the Fortnum and Mason award for Best Debut Food Book in 2017 and was shortlisted for the Andre Simon Award and Guild of Food Writers Award in the same year. Gill lives with his family in West Dorset.