Sweet potato casserole. Picture: Craig Lee
Sweet potato casserole. Picture: Craig Lee

The best winter ingredients and how to use them

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Jun 3, 2021

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When the temperatures drop we crave cosy foods.

This means there is nothing better than a hearty meal to comfort us on a winter’s day.

Winter may be all cold days and dark evenings, but there is an abundance of incredible ingredients that can liven up your cooking and lift your mood.

From vibrant citrus fruits to succulent duck dishes, these are some of the best ingredients to enjoy in winter and what to do with them.

Citrus fruit

For a touch of winter sunshine, make the most of the bounty of citrus fruit available. Tangy grapefruit is great in salads for a burst of sweet-and-sour flavour, while oranges and lemons lend themselves to delicious cakes.

Blood orange and pink grapefruit salad

Serves: 4

Ingredients

2 blood oranges

1 pink grapefruit

4 handfuls of mixed greens such as radicchio, curly endive, and oak leaf lettuce, about 200 g total

¼ of a large pomegranate

10g dill

Dressing

Juice from the blood oranges and grapefruit, about 4 tbsp

1 tbsp honey

4-5 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

Method

Slice a bit off the stem end of the grapefruit and repeat on the opposite end.

Stand the grapefruit up on a chopping board on one of the cut ends. Take a sharp knife – a serrated one works well – and following the contour of the fruit, slice off the skin and white pith.

Hold the fruit over a bowl so you capture all the juices.

Take the knife and make ‘v’ shaped cuts to remove each individual segment.

Place the segments in a separate bowl and repeat with the two blood oranges.

Squeeze the remaining pith over the juice bowl to extract any remaining juice.

Mix the citrus juices with an equal amount of oil and add in honey to taste. Season generously with salt and pepper and set aside.

Cut the pomegranate open and remove the seeds.

Depending on the size, you’ll want to use a quarter to a half of the total pomegranate. Remove all the pith from the seeds and set them aside.

Gently wash the lettuces in cold water and spin in a salad spinner.

Keep the leaves whole unless they are very large. Arrange the lettuces in a salad bowl or platter.

Garnish with the citrus segments, sprigs of dill, and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle with the dressing and serve at once.

Root vegetables

There’s an abundance of nutty celeriac, sweet potato, parsnip, and swedes on offer at this time of year. Roast with oil, garlic, and woody herbs such as rosemary and thyme for a simple side for any roast, or get a bit more creative and use in place of potatoes in other dishes.

Sweet potato casserole

Serves: 8

Ingredients

4 medium-large sweet potatoes

6 tbsp brown sugar

¼ cup orange juice

¼ cup heavy cream or whole milk

3½ tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp salt

For the topping

3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened slightly

½ cup dark brown sugar

¾ cup chopped pecans

Method

To make the casserole, heat the oven to 190º.

Bake sweet potatoes until very tender – 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Remove and let cool. Reduce heat to 180º.

When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half, scoop out flesh, and mash until smooth. You should have about 4 cups.

Using a hand mixer, mix in brown sugar, orange juice, heavy cream, butter, vanilla, and salt. Place in a casserole dish.

To make the topping, combine the butter, brown sugar, and pecans. Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Bake for 30 minutes.

Serve hot

Recipe by cookbook author Marian Burros.

Duck

With a rich, gamey taste and tender meat, whole roasted duck is a fabulous alternative to a traditional Sunday lunch with family.

Roast duck with sour cherry sauce

Ingredients

240g duck breast

1 tin sour cherries

1 tot brandy

6ml port

10g corn starch

60g parnish (peeled and medium diced)

200ml milk

2ml cream

8g salt

8g pepper

20g rainbow carrots

20g sugar snap peas

10g zucchini

50g butter

Method

In a cold pan, place the duck breast-side down, and then turn up the heat. The fat will release slowly. After 4 minutes, when the skin is golden, turn it over and cook in the released duck fat for 9 minutes, or until medium.

Drain off the juice from sour cherries. Add the brandy and port into a heated pot, and then add the sour cherry juice. Cook for 3 minutes and thicken with cornstarch.

Boil the parsnip in the milk until soft. Place the parsnip into a cup and blend with a stick blender. Add the cream, salt, and pepper, and blitz until you have a smooth parsnip cream.

Boil the rainbow carrots, sugar snap peas, and zucchini until soft. Sautè in butter and season.

Lastly, take the rested duck breast and cut it into 4 pieces. Dress the plate to your liking.

Recipe by Chef Tony Kocke

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