It's cold and snowy... so, what's cooking?

winter cooking 2015 composite

By Deanna Fox

The doldrums of winter have settled in. I've got cabin fever, and these long, freezing days are starting to wear on me.

Winter is great in that I can snuggle in front of the fire in fleece-lined leggings, ugly (but cozy) sweaters, and put whiskey in my tea with reckless abandon.

But the best way to beat winter is from the inside out. I've been wondering what other cooks in the area have been eating to get through the winter. So I asked! Here's what winter tastes like a handful of kitchens around the Capital Region.

deanna_fox_moroccan_chicken_stew.jpg

I'll start. I crave warmer temperatures, but the best I can do right now it try to turn the feeling of sunshine on bare skin into the flavors of other seasons and locales. For me, that has manifested at a mock-Moroccan stew. I use this recipe, but with tweaks (because I can't leave well enough alone). To the stew itself, I also add two cloves of minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, and a teaspoon each of ground turmeric, cumin, coriander, and red chile pepper. To the couscous I add golden raisins and silvered almonds. I finish the dish with a bit of crumbled feta. I'll be eating this all winter long.

Kim Hickok, Kimversations
Kim_Hickok_Short_Ribs_Mount_Vernon.jpg
Courtesy of Kim Hickok

"For me, it's all about short ribs. Our family's go-to recipe is Short Ribs Mount Vernon. I like that I can cook these in the oven or slow cooker and if I want, I can even speed up the cooking process by using the pressure cooker."

Here's the recipe.

Albany Jane, AlbanyEats!
albany_jane_cassoulet.jpg
Courtesy of Albany Jane

"I've been digging cassoulet for these cold days (and nights). I'm normally not a big fan of bean dishes, but the beans in cassoulet become meltingly tender and blend right into the dish."

Here's the recipe.

The Fuj, Fuj On Tap

A photo posted by Matthew 'Fuj' Scher (@fujontap) on



"Hot Toddy all day long. I keep it simple: Eagle Rare, juice from half a lemon, lemon zest, cinnamon stick, black tea, North Country Farms honey."

Here are some hot toddy recipes.

Lauren Keating, Healthy-Delicious.com
Healthy Delicious Lauren Keating Lemon Chicken with Olives and Potatoes
Courtesy of Lauren Keating

"Simple dishes that cook in the oven means less time in the kitchen and more time in front of the fireplace, so they're perfect for this time of year. I especially love this lemon chicken with olives and potatoes. It's rich and warm, and the bright lemon flavor reminds me of spring weather."

Here's the recipe.

Mary, AOA editor
"Sometime's I'm a little sad that I don't really cook. Not, mind you, sad enough to really learn. Just a little sad. My husband and some of my friends really have fun being creative in the kitchen. I always seem to have something else I'm writing or creating in the back of my mind that I'd rather be doing.

"My mother was a wonderful cook, but she didn't write anything down. Her cooking was unpretentious, passed down from her Italian grandmother and meant to feed an army of kids, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and great-grandparents at dining room tables that always had room for more people.

"I miss my mother every day, but I miss her cooking most in the winter. Roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding, stews, sauce (gravy), braciole, lasagne. You'd walk in the house and know by the smell of the kitchen that you were loved. One cold February day when I was really missing my mom, a friend suggested I cook one of her meals. Being less than talented in the kitchen I tried to think of something simple that I could recreate. I put on one of her old sweatshirts and put together her chicken soup. It was never made as a meal in itself -- it always went with cheeses or sandwiches, and she'd dish out seconds from a pot on the stove, not a fancy bowl. Now it's my favorite thing to make when it's cold. Or when I miss my mom."

Mama Darcy's chicken soup

Ingredients: 1 roasting chicken, bay leaf, carrots, celery, orzo or elbow macaroni, Parmesan cheese.

Instructions: Boil a roasting chicken in a pot of water with a bay leaf. Chop celery and carrots. Let the chicken cool, bone it, chop it and return it to the pot with the vegetables. Simmer until vegetables are soft. Serve it over pasta and add parmesan cheese to taste.

That's it. Told you it was unpretentious.

Greg, AOA editor
homemade_pizza_greg.jpg

"I've been making a bunch of pizza the last few weeks. This has been good because: 1) It involves cranking the oven as hot as it will go, making the kitchen nice and toasty, and 2) We've had a lot of pizza to eat. I hadn't really been happy with the pizza I had been making at home until trying this crust recipe from Roberta's in Brooklyn that had been shared in NYT. It's worked great for me, with a crisp, airy end crust. I set the oven to 550, heat a cast iron skillet in the oven for a half-hour, cook the pizza in the skillet for 4 minutes, then hit it with the broiler for 2 more. Done."

"And, you know, once you have the oven warmed up, it'd be a shame to let that all heat go to waste. So, um, we've also been eating a lot of hand pies lately."

Here's the pizza dough recipe (the video there is worth watching).

Daniel Berman, FUSSYlittleBLOG
"I made a soup in the pressure cooker. I really just shot from the hip and used a wintry mix of storage vegetables (onions, potatoes, celery root, and carrots), dried white beans, homemade chicken stock, and a Parm-Reg rind. I tossed in a couple of bay leaves for good measure. There was nothing that could really go wrong with that. You know, besides being beige.

"However, I also fried up some matchsticks of pancetta, because that goes amazingly with beans. And then I drizzled some golden olive oil onto the top of each bowl. Some fresh cracked black pepper gives it a kick. I've been known to grate a bit more Parm-Reg over the top, too.

"All of the sudden, that beige soup is starting to be full of color. But everything on that plate is edible. Everything is working hard to make the food a feast for the senses.

"It's ready in a little over an hour, and it makes a phenomenal amount of food. Fortunately, it freezes well, which is why we've been eating this warming seasonal soup for weeks.""

Here's a recipe for winter soup with beans.
____

Deanna Fox writes about many things, mostly about food. More can be found on her website, Twitter, or Instagram.

Comments

I made that same cassoulet dish for some friends last weekend. It was amazing!

Wow, love these delicious ideas!
The internet is keeping me FAT.
Well ,sitting at the computer ,and looking at all the reipies, has added major weight gain
My specialties are home made Ital sauce for lasagna, corned beef & cabbage, stuffed green peppeers, noodle kugel, meat loaf, chocolate mouse.

Quote of the day:
"You'd walk in the house and know by the smell of the kitchen that you were loved."

And where are the recipes for your many hungry vegetarian readers? Here's one I really like, made in a slow cooker: Mushroom Lentil Barley Stew from Allrecipes.com. I'd recommend doubling the garlic. Add some warm crusty bread and your favorite salad, and you'll have a lovely winter meal. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Mushroom-Lentil-Barley-Stew/Detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Thumb&e11=mushroom%20barley%20lentil%20stew&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Home%20Page&soid=sr_results_p1i1

My all time favorite heartwarming winter dish is so richly decadent that I only make it a couple times per year. Thursday night's forecast makes it almost a certainty. The dish is from the Haute Savoie district of France -- the part that includes Chamonix and bumps right against the Swiss border by Lake Geneva. It's called Gratin Savoyard, but is known in my family as "cholesterol heaven." You know it's going to be richly delicious when you begin by sautéing the bacon in butter. ;-)

Here's my version along with some possible variations:

Gratin Savoyard

Prep time: 20-25 minutes. Oven time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

· 2 tbsp. Butter
· 1 1/4 lbs. Potatoes (4 or 5 med. potatoes) (Red unpeeled, or white boilers peeled), cut in 1/2 inch or slighlty larger cubes,
· 1 or 2 medium Onions chopped coarsely
· 1/2 lb. Bacon, thick sliced and preferably smoky, cut in 1/4” strips
· 1/2 lb. (or more) coarsely grated cooking cheese - not too strong flavored, but not too bland either. Gruyere is delightful, but I’ve also used smoked Gouda and Asiago.
· 1/2 pt. Heavy Cream
· 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
· 1/2 chicken bouillon cube
· 1/4 tsp. black pepper (or more)

Pre-heat oven to 425°.

In a sauce pan, cover potatoes with cold water, bring to boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Drain promptly and set aside until called for.

In a heavy bottom non-stick saute pan that can go in the oven ( or use a regular saute pan and transfer to a shallow buttered casserole before adding cheese for finish in oven) melt butter and saute bacon and onions until onions are transparent. Add garlic and pepper and saute one minute more. Add potatoes and toss with bacon and onions to coat with fat. Add cream and bouillon cube/flavor base and bring to a boil, boil rapidly, stirring, for 2 or 3 minutes, until cream is noticeably thickened and reduced. Spread cheese evenly over top, and place immediately into hot oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Let stand about 10 minutes to cool a bit and set up before serving.

Serves 2 hungry people for dinner, or a lunch/brunch dish for 4.

Possible additions and variations:

· leftover ham, chicken, or sausage, cut in small pieces, added at same time as garlic
· fresh bite sized broccoli or cauliflower florets (about 1/2 lb.), added as above
· fresh mushrooms, sliced and added at end of saute with garlic
· fresh cabbage, sliced thin and added at same time as garlic
· fresh corn, cut from cob (or frozen, defrosted) added with potatoes
· chopped green pepper, sauteed with the onions & bacon
· sliced ripe olives and/or anchovies added just before cheese
· small amount finely chopped Jalapeño added just before cheese
· omit bouillon and add small can chopped clams (drained) just before cheese
· small dice of pepperoni (not too many) added with garlic

Thanks Roseann I'm definitely gonna try that one. I love allrecipes :)

I'll be adopting Greg's method for cooking pizza. And I haven't made a cassoulet in ages. Gonna make that happen too.

@Kim: I'll be curious to hear how it turns out! Oh, and the 00 flour is worth trying. I've made that crust recipe with both bread flour and 00, and the 00 seemed to make a more airy crust. (I got a small bag of the flour at Whole Foods, and I think I've seen it at Honest Weight.)

Cabin Fever Dinner: Nathan's all beef hotdogs boiled and then fried in a little butter, served Chicago-style on Freihofer's New England buns, homemade potato salad, deviled eggs, ice tea and watermelon. Spread blanket on the floor, play some Jobim, close your eyes and it's summer!

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