Winter warmers! Three simple, healthy and hearty meals to enjoy this season …

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One of the things that stood out after a recent trip to Hobart was the great winter warming food available all across the city. Whether it was share plates in a Japanese bar, a relaxed breakfast in a specialty bagel shop or fragrant curry for dinner, the key was simplicity – quality seasonal produce, uncomplicated recipes and easy cooking methods.

You may not be a dedicated foodie but you can still put great things in a pot and get wonderful warm results to impress this winter! Here are a few ideas to get you started. And to check what’s in season, visit the brilliant website Sustainable Table

Slow Cooked Beef Brisket

Beef brisket is still one of the cheapest cuts you can get and a slow cooking dream.

Prepare your brisket (any size) with a spice mix of your own creation. A good starting point is paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, chilli powder, salt, pepper and olive oil. Combine the dried ingredients and work them into the meat. Put a drizzle of oil on the meat and work the spices through again.

Cook your brisket in a slow cooker or an ovenproof heavy based saucepan with a lid. Seal the brisket in the pan for a few minutes to brown and caramelise the outside (careful not to burn the seasoning), add 500ml of your favourite fluid (red wine/stout/sherry etc.), 500ml of beef stock, a 500ml jar of tomato passata, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, some bay leaves, a couple of garlic cloves and a chopped onion.

Put in the oven on 120 degrees Celsius for eight hours, turning after four hours then remove any excess fat from the liquid and reduce it to make the sauce whilst putting the meat back in the oven on 180 degrees Celsius for 40-60 minutes, basting regularly with the sauce.

Mash potatoes, bake some root vegetables, or steam some greens and peas to go alongside it, and call it a winter feast!


Chicken noodle soup with a modern twist

If you were ever fed chicken noodle soup as a child when you were sick, you’ll know its almost magical ability to induce instant contentment. Here’s a healthy version suited to adult palates that you can try at home.


The ingredients you’ll need in your shopping basket are:

  100g dried rice vermicelli noodles

  2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

  2 (about 400g) small chicken breast fillets

  4cm-piece fresh ginger, peeled, julienned

  2 garlic cloves, crushed

  2 tablespoons yellow curry paste

  400g sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1.5cm pieces

  1.5L (6 cups) salt-reduced chicken stock

  270ml can light coconut cream

  1 tablespoon light soy sauce

  1/2 wombok (Chinese cabbage), thinly shredded

  2 spring onions, finely sliced

  Fresh coriander sprigs, to serve

  Long fresh red chilli, sliced, to serve


Place the noodles in a heatproof bowl and pour over enough boiling water to cover. Set aside for 5-7 minutes or until tender, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Season the chicken and cook for 6 minutes each side or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Add the ginger and garlic to the wok and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the curry paste and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the sweet potato, stock and coconut cream. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavours to develop. Stir in the soy sauce.

While the soup is simmering, slice the chicken. Divide the cabbage and noodles among serving bowls then pour over the soup and top with sliced chicken, spring onions, coriander and chilli.

Fast fluffy gnocchi

The Italians know how to do comfort food, and nothing beats the fluffy goodness of homemade gnocchi!

Take 500 grams of floury potatoes, peel them and chop into 3-4cm pieces, then boil until soft.

Drain and cool for a couple of minutes before placing them in a pan to season with salt and pepper and mash really well.

Move onto a clean food surface and mix 60 grams of plain flour through the mash with your hands. Separate the mix into gnocchi-sized pieces and compress them with your palms. Boil up a big pot of salted water and place the gnocchi in, with a slotted spoon at the ready to pull them out as soon as they rise up.

Now add a little olive oil to a hot frying pan, toss in a finely diced shallot and fresh peas, stirring for about a minute. Add the gnocchi, some spinach and a dash of white wine (and cream if you’re feeling decadent!) Give it a quick stir around and plate up with a flourish of olive oil, shaved Parmesan, fresh parsley and cracked pepper. If you’re lucky enough to have fresh horseradish, grate a bit on as well – it’s a taste sensation!

Hot toddy by the fire?

For winter evenings at home on the couch, why not try a hot toddy with a difference. Ditch the standard whiskey and go for gin instead! Put a generous teaspoon of honey in a glass of boiling water, add 45ml of your favourite gin, a big squeeze of lemon and then pop in a slice of lemon with a few cloves in it, stir the lot with a cinnamon stick and sit back and sip your winter worries away!

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