Warming Winter Comfort Foods

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The post-holiday period brings with it the dreaded winter blues, which means it’s the perfect time to get involved with some great, comforting and warming winter food! As we tend to stay in longer and more often during the winter than the summer, it’s a great excuse for getting involved in some slow cooked meals that are a pleasure to make and even more of a pleasure to devour! NetCost Market has devised some great ideas that will keep you happy and warm until spring arrives!

Pho Bo

Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup, and Pho Bo is the version made using beef. This fragrant, herby, warming bowl of goodness is an exceptional way to stave off the cold and is extremely healthy as it uses slow cooked bone and meat broth which is full of revitalizing vitamins and minerals, and nutrient dense herbs such as Thai basil, cilantro, mint, and chili. The beef brisket or sliced beef steak added on top contributes to its warming persona, and gives this meal its indulgent character!

For 4 servings:

Ingredients: 1 lb flat rice noodles, ½ lb bean sprouts, 1 onion (finely sliced), ½ cup chopped herbs (mixture of cilantro, mint, Thai basil), 1 hot chilli (roughly chopped), 1 lb sliced beef steak, 2 pints beef stock, thumb size piece of ginger (roughly chopped), 1 teaspoon white sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 4 teaspoons Thai fish sauce, 2 limes (cut in halves), 1 cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon crushed cilantro seeds, 3 pieces star anise.

To Make:

Make the broth by bringing the stock to the boil, then adding ginger, cinnamon, coriander seeds and star anise and after simmering for 15 minutes, adding sugar, salt, and fish sauce. After 5 minutes, strain spices from the stock and keep on a low heat in the pan.

Follow the cooking instructions of the noodles, keeping them just slightly underdone, and then rinsing them in cold water before dividing into bowls. Ensure you use large bowls as there is a lot to fit in there!

Place the beef in the hot broth to cook for around 1 minute, and while this is happening, add a handful of bean sprouts and onions with a little of the fresh herb mixture to the noodles bowls.

Strain out the beef slices using a slotted spoon, and place the beef on top of the vegetables and noodles in the bowls, then ladle over the luscious broth until all the noodles are covered.

Serve with chili sauce and a wedge of lime and enjoy!


British Steak and Ale Pie

Savoury pies have not made such a big impact here in the USA, but over in Great Britain they’ve been all the rage for hundreds of years! Steak and Ale pie is made by forming a thick, rich stew of tender beef, traditional British ale (a bizarre warm beer), carrots, mushrooms and onions, all locked into thick puff pastry that is baked in the oven. Calorie-rich yet unbelievably comforting, this traditional British “pub grub” has been warming Brits on those bitter snowy winter nights for centuries!

For 4 servings:

Ingredients: 1 heaped tablespoon white flour, 2 lb stewing beef (diced), 100g butter, 2 chopped onions, 2 chopped cloves of garlic, 2 medium carrots chopped, 1/3 lb mushrooms, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 pint of British ale, 1 pint beef stock, salt, pepper, 1 egg and 300g of premade puff pastry.

To make:

Preheat oven to 430F

Cover the beef chunks in the flour and season with plenty of salt and pepper.

Heat half of the butter in a pan and fry the beef until golden brown all over.

Add all the vegetables, herbs, ale and stock, and simmer with the lid on for 1 hour. When done, add the remaining butter and pour into a deep, ovenproof baking dish.

Beat the egg, and brush the top edge of the baking dish with the egg mix before rolling the puff pastry across the top and pinching around the edges to ensure it is fastened down. Brush the top of the pastry with the remaining egg mix. Stab a hole in the top of the pastry to stop it exploding!

Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the pastry has puffed up and is golden brown!


Butternut Pumpkin Macaroni Cheese

This is a brilliant vegetarian alternative that proves meat eaters don’t need to have all the fun! This warming dish uses a twist on the traditional mac n cheese to make a healthy, vitamin-rich alternative.

For 4 Servings:

Ingredients: 1 large butternut squash (peeled and cut into 1inch squared chunks), 2 tablespoons olive oil, 300g dried macaroni, 50g butter, 50g plain flour, 1 teaspoon hot mustard, 1-pint milk, ½ lb cheddar cheese, 100g parmesan cheese.

To Make:

Heat oven to 430F.

Toss squash chunks in oil and season, before placing on a baking sheet and baking for 15-20 minutes. At the same time, cook the macaroni according to the instructions on the packet.

Melt the butter in a pan, and stir in flour and mustard to make a paste (add more flour or milk accordingly). Gradually whisk in the milk and simmer to make a smooth sauce, stirring constantly!

Take the sauce off the heat.

Mash 1/3 of the squash with the cheddar cheese. Mix the remaining squash with the macaroni (after draining) and tip this mixture into an ovenproof dish. Top with the cheddar and squash mix, and sprinkle over the grated parmesan.

Place in the oven at 430F for 15 minutes until golden brown and bubbling!