Comfort food

Yuk. It’s cold and horrid and dark. Time to start gathering up some of those recipes I turn to during the winter to cheer me up.

Roast pumpkin soup. (Next time though, I think I might add some tomato puree or extra tomatoes.) Also, I now know what to do with the cleaned-up pumpkin seeds: toast for ten minutes or so in a frying pan with oil, add a mix of spices (chilli powder/cumin/paprika) for a few more minutes and then add some fresh-squeezed lime juice, let all the liquid evaporate off, sprinkle a bit of salt, and serve up as a side dish to nibble happily.

Tuna and fennel spaghetti. The toasted breadcrumbs are essential, although the capers and fresh herbs aren’t. Leftovers also make a nice packed lunch the next day (especially if you have access to a microwave at work).

Haloumi and sweet potato casserole. Which works pretty well even if you don’t have sweet potatoes around. Ditto on the packed lunch leftovers, if you have the self-control to have any leftovers. Baked sweet potato is also simple, utterly delectable, and makes a nice change from the usual version.

Sweet potato risotto. This was my absolute favourite form of risotto last winter. (I don’t usually oven-roast it, mind you, as I have an aversion to turning on the oven to cook just one thing – I parboil/steam in microwave and then finish off in a frying pan for some crispy edges before adding to the risotto.) Risotto of any variety is yet another thing that’s worth making extra for lunch the following day.

Lamb and lentil stew. Tomorrow I’ll be doing something with similar flavourings, but in the slow cooker. I love having the house slowly filling with cooking food aromas for several hours. My mouth is expectantly watering already.

Then there are the things that are essential but don’t need recipes, like mashed potato (in all its varieties: with parsnip; cheese; mustard; bubble and squeak…). And sausages. Sausages. Sausages. Mmmmm. Sausages…

I am contemplating making my own bread this winter (I’m fed up with the available local choices – I found a really good bakery, but they went bust). I know how to do it, thanks to good friends who had the patience to teach me the business of dough-making, and were prepared to gamble on the results being edible (now that’s real friendship). The big question is, can I be arsed?

Do you have any special favourites for seeing off the winter blues?

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