More recipes to warm up this winter
16:43 12 February 2015
Evelyn Curtis offers up some more recipes to ward off the chill, including Irish stew, bacon and cider hotpot and rhubarb and strawberry tart
With the bleakest month of the year now almost behind us, the days are becoming just that little bit longer. Brave little snowdrops and crocuses are making their first appearance defying the bitterly cold winter, and to provide our own inner glow for the month of February this is the time for hot soups, and warming stews and casseroles.
The season for citrus fruit is coming to an end, but nowadays we are well served with imports. Home-grown forced rhubarb, my old favourite, is at its peak and can be served stewed or poached, and makes a light and colourful dessert to accompany a robust stew. So this month let’s start off with an Irish stew, making the most of root vegetables which are economical to buy and still plentiful in our greengrocers and supermarkets, followed by a Bacon and Cider Hotpot, and rounding off with a Rhubarb and Strawberry Streusel Tart.
900g middle neck of lamb, trimmed of fat.
450g onions, peeled and finely sliced.
1 carrot, scraped and diced.
1.1kg potatoes, peeled and sliced.
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced. ½ tsp salt.
Freshly ground black pepper.
1 tbsp oil.
425ml stock made with vegetable cube.
Heat oil in large frying pan and quickly brown meat.
Arrange half the meat in bottom of a fairly large flameproof casserole and cover with half the onions and carrots, then half the potatoes, seasoning well with salt and pepper.
Repeat the layers, seasoning well and finishing with a layer of potatoes.
Add just enough stock to cover the top layer of potatoes, and bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and continue cooking on a very low temperature for 1½ -2hrs.
Alternatively cook in preheated oven 150C, 300F, Gas Mark2 for 2½ hours, uncovered for the last half hour.
Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs, and serve with the traditional red cabbage or, if you prefer, a crisp green one.
Bacon and Cider Hotpot
675g lean sweet cure bacon, cut into cubes.
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced.
4 carrots, scraped and chopped. 3 sticks of celery sliced.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
425ml apple juice.
2 tbsp dry cider.
100g button mushrooms.
2 tbsp chopped parsley.
2 tsp. cornflour.
Melt butter in flameproof casserole and fry bacon and vegetables until lightly browned, season and add apple juice and cider. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 40 minutes.
Add mushrooms to the casserole 15 minutes before the end of cooking time.
Blend cornflour with water and mix to a smooth paste.
Add to the casserole and bring to the boil stirring continuously.
Simmer for another 10 minutes, stir in chopped parsley and serve with thick slices of granary bread.
My Rhubarb and Strawberry Streusel Tart
110g plain flour.
50g wholemeal flour.
About 2 tablespoons water.
110g castor sugar.
1 egg beaten.
1 tablespoon strawberry jam.
110g rhubarb roughly chopped.
200g plain flour.
1 tsp ground cinnamon.
75g golden castor sugar.
For the pastry rub fats into flours until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Bind together with the water to give a stiff dough.
Wrap in Clingfilm and rest in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, then roll out on a lightly floured surface.
Use to line an 8inch (20cm) flan tin, prick base well and return to the refrigerator.
Heat oven to 400F, 200C, Gas mark 6.
For the filling:
Measure butter, sugar, semolina and egg into a bowl and beat well until thoroughly blended.
Spread the strawberry jam over the base of the flan tin, arrange rhubarb on top.
Spoon the semolina mixture over the rhubarb and spread out evenly.
To make the topping:
Mix the flour with the cinnamon and sugar.
Melt the butter and pour over the flour mixture while still hot.
Using a knife, cut the mixture repeatedly until you have a mass of lumpy crumbs, scatter thickly and evenly over the filling, so that it is completely covered.
Bake for about 35 minutes, until golden brown and pastry is cooked through.
Leave in flan tin to cool and cut into wedges and serve with custard or cream.
For more recipes from Evelyn, visit her website: www.evelyncurtis.co.uk