It's time to bust out the crockpots, break out the rolling pins, roll up the sleeves and spend some days cooking. There are really few things more lovely than the aroma of a roasting chicken or a loaf of bread wafting throughout the house. Recoiling at the idea of cooking? There's also plenty of quick comfort waiting for you at local restaurants. Here's our Top 5 winter warmer suggestions (and it doesn't have to be all chili and lasagna you know):
1. Grilled cheese is always a winter winner. Team it up with soup A, B, C or stew X, Y, or Z and you're set. Looking to take a baby step off the beaten path? Try a tuna melt. Grumpy's has great one, made with pepper cheese on caraway bread.
2. Thinking about chili? Gigi's has a good one, and supposedly Wilde Roast serves up a winner too (in both cases, call ahead to make sure they have it). Thinking about going a step further? How about a nice curry? Here's a suggestion we got last year from Barbette Chef Sarah Master made with braised lamb some seasonal winter root vegetables.
3. I have a friend who, come winter, seems to make mashed potatoes every other night. It's not a bad plan. Mashed potatoes with fried chicken, mashed potatoes with salad, mashed potatoes with fish tacos. Who the hell cares? Here's a simple, solid recipe (with a mini-twist) from Alton Brown.
4. Oatmeal is a go-to winter breakfast, with a boatload of variations, preferably involving several to many tablespoons of brown sugar. Looking for something a little different? How about rice pudding or kugel? Here's a surefire kugel recipe from an Israeli friend:
1 package egg noodles 1 small carton cottage cheese 1/2 cup or more brown sugar cinnamon, to taste 1/2/ cup or more raisins 2 eggs 1 heaping Tb. vegetable oil
Heat oven to 350-365. Bring large pot of water to boil and add the noodles. Cook 7-10 minutes or until done. Drain. Add cottage cheese, sugar, cinnamon, and raisins and mix. Add more to taste. Add eggs and oil and mix.
Grease a pan, any size that will fit. Pour mixture into pan and bake for an hour to an hour and a half, depending on how you like it.
Serve with powdered sugar, applesauce, jam, sour cream, yogurt or any other accompaniment you may desire.
5. Anything in the crockpot. Really, anything. Pot roast or carnitas for starters. You literally just heave a hunk of meat and some assorted veggies (root veggies like turnips are in season), leave it for the day, and 6-8 hours later you're set. For something a little different, try working with a tagine. That's what Saffron Chef Sameh Wadi likes to do. Here's his recipe for braised beef a la tagine:
Beef Short Rib Tagine* (North African Beef Stew)
3 pounds beef short ribs 4 tablespoons Spice Trail Tagine Spice 1/8 cup of vegetable oil plus 3 tablespoons 4 garlic cloves, sliced thin 2 large onions, chopped 8 carrots, peeled and sliced 2 large tomatoes, chopped 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks 1 cup rich chicken stock 1 cup cooked chickpeas Salt to taste
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped 3 tablespoons lemon juice
In a large bowl mix the short ribs with Spice Trail Tagine Spice, salt and 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil, making sure to coat each rib thoroughly with spices. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour at least.
Heat remaining oil in Tagine or large pot and place beef in one layer without overcrowding the pan then sear on all sides. Remove meat from Tagine and place garlic, onions, carrots, tomatoes and sweet potatoes and cook on low heat, add chicken stock and return short ribs to Tagine, cover and place in oven at 300 degrees. Bake for 3 hours and then add the chickpeas, cilantro, parsley and lemon juice. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes before serving.
*Tagine is a type of dish found in the North African cuisines of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, which is named after the special pot in which it is cooked. They are slow-cooked stews braised at low temperatures, resulting in tender meat with aromatic vegetables and sauce.
If you don't have a Tagine pot, this recipe could also be prepared in a covered baking dish.
What else do you like making in the winter, peeps?