Welcome to a special Winter
2011 edition of the Recipes4us.co.uk newsletter which
includes a section on Christmas and New Year cooking. This
edition replaces the November and December issues, and
as usual I will be taking a break in January so the next
newsletter will be the
Wishing you Health and Peace for
Winter Cooking and Recipes
Winter is upon us and although
there isn't such an abundance of fruit and vegetables in season
in the UK,
there are still lots of other ingredients which are at their
best from December to February.
Below is a full recipe to whet your appetite
but I've also set up a whole new section
on the main website, Winter Cooking & Recipes which includes a collection of
specially selected recipes using winter ingredients
Brussels Sprouts, clams, guinea fowl, Jerusalem artichokes,
mackerel, parsnips, red cabbage and walnuts plus
individual ingredient pages with additional information
season ingredients. Here's an example - just click on the
Oysters are in season and at their best from October to April.
Although overfishing in the 19th century brought British native
oysters to near extinction, they are now protected by laws in
an attempt to restore their numbers. They are still unfortunately,
much more expensive than rock oysters.
Season October to December
Confit Pheasant with
Goose fat is an intrinsic
part of this recipe but in any event, pheasant is also
in season in the UK from October to February and if you've
grown your own, haricot beans will also be in
plentiful supply so this is
truly a winter dish. There's also nothing to stop you using
goose legs and breasts instead of pheasant.
To make the confit leg of pheasant:
Preheat an oven to 140c.
To confit the pheasant legs fully submerge the
thighs in goose fat in a large roasting pan.
Slowly cook the legs in the oven for 2 to 3
This will help the meat stay tender and not come
To make the stew:
In a heavy pan heat 100ml of goose fat. Add the
chopped celery, carrot, onion and garlic and
Take the rind off the bacon (but reserve as this
can be added later for extra flavour in cooking)
and cut it into 8 pieces. Add to the pan and
Add half the chicken stock, the white wine, the
thyme and the tomatoes to the pan. The rind of
the bacon can be added to the dish for extra
flavour. Simmer for one hour.
Meanwhile, cook the beans in water and the rest
of the chicken stock until they are tender. This
should take 10-15 minutes. Drain and add the
beans to the pan and stir in.
Preheat an oven to 220c.
In a separate pan brown the pheasant breasts
skin side down in some goose fat. Remove from
the pan and place them into the stew. Add the
confit pheasant legs and sprinkle with
breadcrumbs over the top of the dish before
returning to the oven to brown.
Remove from the heat and bake for 20 minutes
until the top is crunchy and golden.
Serve at the table, making sure that everyone
gets a pheasant leg, a breast and a piece of
Cooking and Prep Time - approx 3 hours
4 hen pheasants, cut into breasts and thighs
600g chunk of smoked streaky bacon or smoked
500g dried haricot beans soaked for 24 hours in
100ml goose fat (plus about 250ml goose fat for
2 sticks of celery (chopped)
2 carrots (chopped)
4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 bunch of thyme
1 litre chicken stock
500g canned chopped tomato
100g dried breadcrumbs
1 glass of white wine
cookers are really handy at this time of year. Imagine coming home at the end of
a hard day's work (or shopping) to the aroma of a home made casserole/stew which
is ready to eat.
going any further, I'd like to clear up a
question relating to terminology. The term "slow
cooker" is a generic name for a countertop
appliance consisting of a heating element and
heat proof dish (crock) housed in an outer case
(often metal) and a lid which is designed to
cook foods by slow, moist heat. Crock-Pot™ is
the brand name of a particular manufacturer and
much like the name "Hoover" has become
inextricably linked with vacuum cleaners, so
Crock-pot™ has become synonymous with slow
cookers so, in effect, crock-pots and slow
cookers are the same type of appliance
i.e. a Crock-pot™ is a slow cooker.
So why would you want to
use a slow cooker ?
Saves money on energy
as they require very little power to operate
Cooler Kitchen due to
the lower energy used.
Cheaper cuts of meat
can be used as the slow and long cooking
time ensures the collagen in the connective
tissue is broken down resulting in tender
One pot cooking -
cooking meat and vegetables together in the
slow cooker saves on washing up. Also, if
you have a removable crock, this can double
up as a serving dish.
Although there are some
more expensive models on the market, many are
relatively cheap to buy - no more than the cost
of a large saucepan. Also, don't be put
off if you are only cooking for 1 or 2 as most
recipes cooked in slow cookers are ideal for
freezing. Furthermore, as adapting normal
casserole or stew recipes for slow cookers is
really easy, you can still have all your
For more information about
choosing, buying and using slow cookers, visit
Whilst on the
subject of slow cookers, I recently came across a
new range of seasonings especially for slow cookers
made by Schwartz so I thought I'd try one.
gift of time
Slow Cookers ‘Gift of Time’ campaign is encouraging
mums to change their evening meal routine and create
tasty family dishes by slow cooking, freeing up time
along the way. The Schwartz Slow Cookers recipe mix
range, has already blended the right herbs, spices
and ingredients to help consumers prepare a
delicious home-cooked meal without having to slave
over a hot stove all day.
Schwartz Slow Cookers range is available in most
major supermarkets and comes in approximately 35g
packets for RRP £0.99. For more information about
the range and for slow cooking tips, visit
In the meantime,
here's my review of their Chicken in Red Wine mix.
The other two shown above are Beef & Tomato
casserole and a Sausage and Bean casserole.
I used a 3.5L slow cooker.
As there's only two of us, I didn't use the 8 pieces
of chicken called for in the recipe just 3 thighs
and 3 drumsticks as that's what came in the pack
with the intention of freezing the leftovers. I
didn't have any shallots so I used 1 large onion cut
into 6 wedges then divided into layers. I also
didn't have any mushrooms but added a large carrot
and a small stick of celery which I cut into batons.
I also used 4 rashers of back bacon cut into pieces.
I was very pleased to
note I didn't need to add any red wine.
I browned the chicken first. Not only does it add
flavour, but it looks better as it wouldn't brown in
a slow cooker and I also lightly browned the other
ingredients for the same reason.
The instructions on the packet said to mix the
contents with 300ml/10fl.oz. of water plus 2 tbsp of
tomato paste. It didn't stipulate hot/cold water. So
to be on the safe side, I mixed it with just enough
cold water to make a thick paste then added tomato
purée and topped up with boiling water to the
450ml/15fl.oz mark. Poured over the chicken and veg
in slow cooker. I did wonder if there there
was going to be enough sauce to serve but stuck to
the instructions and didn't add any more liquid.
I shouldn't have worried as by the end of the
cooking time (8 hours on low) there was plenty of
red wine sauce to serve 4. The chicken was cooked to
perfection - nice and tender but without falling to
pieces. The vegetables were nice and tender too but
again, not falling apart.
Taste wise, I thought it wasn't too bad at all although
I did have to add salt whilst eating it. The recipe
didn't call for the addition of salt and pepper. It
did have a vague wine flavour. My husband felt
it was a little bland compared to my usual homemade
I were to use this again I would add salt and pepper
and perhaps 2 or 3 generous sprigs of thyme.
of the best for coughs and sneezes
been watching a new series on TV called Food
Hospital which focuses on food and
diet being used to treat or greatly alleviate the
symptoms of certain illnesses including chronic
diseases such as Crohn's for which there is no cure. The
results in many cases were amazing, especially skin
It's now widely accepted that a poor
diet or a diet lacking in certain foods can contribute in making us more susceptible to illness, so as we are in the
midst of the cold and flu season, below are 6
of the best foods to eat during the winter
months to help ward off the sniffles.
Chillies - eases congestion, soothes sore throat,
clears sinuses and boosts the immune system
Garlic - acts as a decongestant, kills
bacteria, fights fungus, stimulates the
multiplication of infection-fighting white cells,
boosts natural killer cell activity, and increases
the efficiency of antibody production
Ginger - helps relieve coughing and fever that
often accompany colds and flu.
Sweet Peppers (Capsicums)
good source of Vitamin C which boosts the immune
Oysters - contain good
amounts of zinc helps develop white blood cells
essential to fight off bacteria and viruses
Sweet Potatoes - contain Beta
carotene which increases the number of
infection-fighting cells, natural killer cells, and
Cooking Skills .
Bruschetta is an antipasto
(appetizer) which originates from Italy. The name comes from
the word "bruscare," which means to roast
over coals. This name refers to the bread
(not the toppings) which was traditionally griddled but is often
now just toasted.
Bruschetta is a great
choice for parties
or larger gatherings as it can be really
quick and easy to make - at its most basic it's just bread,
such as ciabatta or baguette which is cut into
slices, often at an angle to create a
larger surface, grilled/griddled/toasted
on both sides then rubbed with fresh garlic
and sprinkled with olive oil.
The traditional topping is
freshly chopped tomatoes
with fresh basil, however today many other toppings are
used from meats to vegetables.
Just as an aside,
Crostini which translates to "little toasts," are
generally much thinner, daintier slices of bread (usually from a baguette)
are toasted until crisp then topped with various
toppings including spreads, pates
Tips for making
Use a good bread such
as Italian ciabatta or French baguette
although it can be stale
Cut slices which are
about 1cm/½-inch thick
Cutting the slices at
an angle increases the surface size and
bread on both sides
Once grilled, use a
freshly cut clove of garlic to rub
over one side of the bread whilst it's still
Use the best quality
olive oil you can afford to drizzle over one
side of the bread whilst it's still warm.
the bread with oil otherwise the bread will
become soggy and difficult to pick up
Make sure your
toppings are well flavoured, in particular,
season freshly chopped tomatoes well with
salt and pepper and perhaps balsamic vinegar
You can prepare the
bread in advance but depending on the
topping used, it is often best to assemble
the finished Bruschetta shortly before
serving, especially if it is quite wet, to
ensure the bread doesn't get sodden and
break up when handled
Serve at room
temperature although Bruschetta made with
cheese can be further grilled to melt the
cheese and served warm
Here are some ideas as to
toppings which can be used for Bruschetta though
the options are endless:-
Brie, Tomato and Basil
Caramelised Onion with
Mozzarella & Tomato
Blue cheese, pear, and
goats cheese and basil
Sun dried tomato,
capers and ricotta
Sautéed Sliced Mushroom and goat's cheese
Rocket, prosciutto, toasted pine nuts
Roasted Peppers with
Pesto Crushed White Beans, tuna, onion &
Tapenade, lemon, capers
and anchovy paste
Marinated artichoke hearts
Mascarpone, figs and prosciutto
Sautéed Prawns with garlic, olive oil, lemon and
Goat cheese and roasted red peppers
Bruschetta can be as simple or
complicated as you like and can also be made more
substantial and served as a main course for lunch as
demonstrated in this Steak version by Andy Peters.
Bruschetta with Beetroot & Lemon
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: (Based on a
2cm/¾inch thick steak)
Rare: 2½ minutes on each side
Medium: 4 minutes on each side
Well done: 6 minutes on each side
1. To prepare the beetroot and lemon
mayonnaise; place the ingredients into a
large bowl, season, mix together and
chill until required.
2. In a shallow bowl mix together the
thyme leaves, basil or olive oil and
seasoning. Coat the steaks on both
sides with the mixture and set aside.
3. Place the ciabatta slices on a clean
chopping board and rub on both sides
with the garlic. Drizzle with the extra
4. Lightly toast the slices on a
prepared barbecue, turning once.
5. Cook the steaks on a prepared
barbecue according to your preference.
Remove from the heat, squeeze over the
lime juice and set aside to rest for 5
6. Transfer the bread slices onto 4
warmed plates and spread with a little
of the mayonnaise. Garnish with a few
salad leaves. Slice the steaks and
arrange over the salad leaves then
finish with a spoonful of mayonnaise.
For the Beetroot and Lemon
120ml/8tbsp reduced calorie mayonnaise
2 small cooked beetroot (not in
vinegar), peeled and finely chopped
60ml/4tbsp freshly chopped chives
Grated zest of 1 lemon
For the Bruschetta
4 lean rib-eye, sirloin or rump steaks
60ml/4tbsp fresh thyme leaves
30ml/2tbsp basil or olive oil
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
1 ciabatta loaf, sliced
2 small garlic cloves, peeled and cut in
Extra olive oil, for drizzling
Juice of 1 lime
1 x 100g bag salad leaves
On a stick
By Matt Armendariz
Price £16.99 | ISBN 978-1594744891
Paperback: 184 pages
| Published May 2011
ever there was truth in a saying, the
graphic used for the front of this book
proves the phrase "never judge a book
by its cover". Not only is it
a dull picture but it's not the most
exciting recipe either (breakfast
pancake dogs). BUT it totally belies
what is, as far as I am concerned, a
little gem of a book which has many
interesting and unusual recipes and
As the name
implies, the book concentrates on foods
which are served on a skewer of some
kind or another which is
particularly useful for the impending
To start there are
very short chapters on the types of
sticks which can be used, from small
cocktail sticks to long skewers. It even
includes more unusual sticks such as
rosemary sprigs and, if you are lucky
enough to be able to get it, sticks made
from sugarcane, plus ideas for dips and sauces to serve
as accompaniments which is particularly handy
as it gives an idea as to which dips or
sauces go with particular foods.
The recipes are divided into
two main sections - savoury and sweet -
with full colour photography for every
The savoury section has 50 recipes
covering main ingredients including
poultry and meats with a selection of
hot and cold recipes. There are the usual
suspects such as satay plus some many
off the wall recipes which one may not
immediately associate with serving on a
stick such as pizza skewers, Mac 'n'
Cheese (pictured below) and even
spaghetti and meatballs. There are also
recipes from around the world such as
the Vietnamese Bo La Lot picture below
Mac 'n' Cheese
suitable for serving at parties but add
some extras such as rice or salad, and
many can be served as starters such as
the coconut shrimp with mango chutney
recipe pictured above. As well as the
section about dips, many of the recipes include a
complimentary dip. There are little written tips
included on some recipes and many recipes include
ideas which you many not have thought about. For
example, in a few of the recipes the ingredients are
assembled onto wooden or bamboo sticks before being
cooked, including fried items - something I wouldn't
have thought of doing - which means most of the
preparation can be done well beforehand with only
the brief cooking being left to the last minute.
The sweet section is just as interesting
- even more so in a way as coming up with
different ideas for dessert party food
on a stick is perhaps a little more
There are 30 sweet stick
recipes ranging from relatively simple
fruit ones such as mango chilli skewers
to more complicated assemblies such as
chocolate covered cheesecakes.
The jello picks shown on the right are
a more unusual dessert stick with the
added twist that they are made with
tequila and triple sec so highly
suitable for adult parties as are the
Sangria Pops shown which are made with red and
They range in size from bite-sized
treats to whole candy apples. All in all
a nice assortment of the usual and
Conclusion: As an
owner of hundreds of cookery books, I am very happy to add this
one to my collection and have certainly
learned a thing . . . or two. As a "specialist"
book, it would make a great gift for any
home cook who already has a selection of
About the Author
Matt Armendariz is a man who loves
food, drink, and everything in between! As a former
art and creative director for such companies as
Whole Foods Market and Bristol Farms, Matt has been
immersed in the world of food for 20 years..
Find the best of UK produce online - even unusual or
Food shopping has never been easier !
Countdown to Christmas
5 . . .
4 . . .
3 . . .
2 . . .
1 . . .
1st week in December
If you haven't done
so already, you should order your organic fresh
turkey or goose
Continue re-boiling home made
Christmas puddings once every 2 weeks
Now's the last chance to marzipan your cake
if you haven't already done so.
Now's a good time to
make your own mincemeat especially if you find
shop-bought varieties too sweet or not to your
liking. See feature below
2nd week in
There may still be enough time to
order your turkey but don't delay. Many specialist suppliers are
sold out by now especially if you want the delicious Bronze
or free range birds.
Now's a good time to
stock up on items such as extra wide aluminium foil,
wooden cocktail sticks, festive linen or paper
napkins, crackers and any bakeware items you may
need such as large roasting tins and baking trays.
Ice your cake
3rd week in
Now's the last chance to
ice your cake.
Last re-boiling of home made
Christmas puddings before the day.
There's still time
to make your own mincemeat.
Now's the time to buy
in less perishable items such as potatoes,
parsnips, chestnuts, nuts, streaky bacon etc. Don't
leave it until Christmas week to avoid
Take an hour out, put
your feet up and make a list of all the remaining
things to do. Include things like making mince pies,
planning meals on Christmas eve, Christmas day
and Boxing day.
Click here for a printable time plan for
If you've followed
the above, the only things left to do are collect
the turkey and buy last minute perishables such as
cream and green vegetables.
Small Gifts for Cooks
Below are some gift ideas
which may be of interest to keen cooks and which they may not already
have. Click to view and buy.
Some make great Stocking fillers.
We tell everything you
need to consider or know about food over the festive
season - from buying and preparing to cooking and serving perfect
What better to
accompany all that wonderful food with a glass
Champagne may be the choice of many,
but why not try some other traditional drinks
such as Christmas Wassail or buttered rum.
Why not start with a cocktail...or two.
If you're determined to
have champagne but the purse strings are a
little tight this year, make it go
further with a traditional bucks fizz. The most
difficult thing about making this drink is
opening the champagne bottle.
Fresh Orange Juice
Pour the orange juice into a tall champagne flute and top up with champagne.
If you fancy doing something a little different with your champagne, try
this alternative version
1 teasp Campari
Fresh Orange Juice
1. Place the Campari into a tall
champagne flute, add the fruit juices
then top up with champagne.
Below are some items
you may need to purchase in order to more easily prepare, cook or
serve recipes or ingredients featured in this newsletter. They are all available
from Amazon - click the links/pictures and get them delivered
direct to your home or office.
Fold of the Month
Decorative Wine Glass Fold
is an easy fold to achieve and is
particularly suitable for soft
medium or thin or very sheer fabrics
such as organza or polyester as shown
end result is suitable for formal
dining, when made with everyday or paper
napkins, it can also be used for
It has the
added advantage that it doesn't take up
table space on what could be an already
crowded table so this fold would be
ideal at Christmas when there may be
small gifts or crackers on the table.
Below is a
video in which I show you how easy it is
to create this stunning napkin fold.
Recipe of the Month
Oven baked Butternut
Squash and Sausages
This is a delicious and comforting
meal for all the family. The sweet
stuffed squash complements the
sausage filling perfectly.
For the squash:
2 small –medium sized butternut
squash, halved and seeded
2 tbsp olive oil
8 Pork sausages
4 rashers lean rindless back bacon,
2 red peppers, quartered and
2- 3 flat mushrooms, cut into large
8 cherry tomatoes
200 ml ready prepared gravy
Chopped parsley to garnish
Freshly ground black pepper to
1. Preheat the oven to 200 C, 400 F,
gas mark 6. Place the butternut
squash on a baking sheet and lightly
brush with a little of the oil. Bake
for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, wrap the sausages in
the bacon and bake for 10 minutes
with the squash. Remove the squash
and sausages from the oven and scoop
out a little of the flesh to make a
bigger dip in the squash.
3. Arrange the sausages, peppers,
mushrooms and cherry tomatoes in the
squash and return to the oven. Bake
for a further 15 minutes. Brush with
the remaining oil and cover with
foil. Bake for 15 minutes.
4. Warm the gravy and drizzle over
the squash. Sprinkle with parsley
and freshly ground black pepper.
If you can't get
butternut squash try using acorn or other small
winter squashes .
Click the picture to
find this month's weekday menus to help you
plan your meals and shopping in the busy weeks ahead.
What's in Season in
to see what's in season in January plus lots of seasonal recipes
Chinese New Year Menu
23rd January 2012 - year of the Dragon
Food has played a major role in Chinese New Year celebrations for centuries,
and "lucky" foods are traditionally served throughout the two week Chinese New
Year celebration, known as the Spring Festival - the most important festival in
China when families come together to celebrate in as grand a style as they can
Why not celebrate the Chinese New Year by whisking up an authentic Chinese meal.
Selection page for lots of recipes. We've also got a special
Canton Cooking by Country section if you want prepare a truly authentic
menu or try this Dim Sum party selection
Chinese New Year - Dim Sum Drinks Party Menu for 12
often eaten as they come, either fresh or roasted and
salted, they are also excellent when used in both sweet
and savoury recipes such as stuffing, in pasta and
rice side dishes, ice cream, baklava and biscotti
As 26th January is Pistachio
Day, here are three very different recipes which
feature these delicious little nuts for you to try.