The cold weather kitchen has a stronger focus on comfort food than the rest of the year. Suddenly the focus is on warmth, ease of preparation, and seasonal ingredients that only appear as winter approaches. Get inspired by these cold weather must-haves and build the winter kitchen of your dreams...
Slow cookers are total lifesavers during the cold winter months, there’s something especially comforting about coming home to a hot meal after a long day when it’s dark out by 5 p.m.. The sky’s the limit when it comes to what can be cooked in a slow cooker; stews, soups, chilies, slow braised meats, and classic recipes like chicken and dumplings are all well-suited for slow cooker treatment. Your slow cooker can also be used to make hot breakfasts such as steel-cut oats, grits, and congee to make chilly winter mornings slightly more tolerable.
Classic soup recipe
Having a classic soup recipe or two in your recipe arsenal is always a good idea when it gets colder out. Whether it’s chicken noodle, beef and barley, tomato or even a simple miso soup, these favourites can add warmth and comfort to even the darkest winter days. Make a big batch of soup and freeze individual portions to bring to work or to defrost in the microwave after a long day.
Fresh ginger root is a versatile ingredient that will add a warming flavour to any recipe. Make ginger simple syrup to add to teas and cocktails by dissolving equal parts white sugar and water with an inch or two of thinly sliced ginger, allowing the ginger to steep for 10 to 15 minutes before removing. Grate fresh ginger into baked goods such as muffins and quick breads, or add it to savoury stir-fries and marinades. Jazz up your morning routine and add finely chop candied ginger to oatmeal and granola parfaits or as part of a topping for apple and pear crisps.
Roasted root vegetables
Winter is the best time of year to find locally grown root vegetables such as heirloom carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabaga, potatoes, onions, and beets and roasting them in a hot oven gives them a memorable flavour. Make roasted root vegetables into an easy sheet pan dinner by drizzling them with olive oil, tossing with salt and pepper (and any other seasoning you like) before roasting for 45 minutes to an hour. Add halloumi, fresh chevre or crumbled feta cheese during the last 10 minutes and serve with a generous handful of fresh herbs.
Tea or tisane
A hot cup of tea on a cold day can instantly lift anyone’s spirits, whether you prefer Earl Grey, green tea, English breakfast or white tea. Herbal and fruit teas full under the heading of a tisane, which are just as much of a pick-me-up in the winter time. Experiment with the addition of fresh herbs and other flavourings such as peppermint, juniper berries, pomegranate seeds, and citrus. For extra-cold nights add a shot of bourbon, rye whisky or dark rum and a dollop of honey for a hot treat with a kick.
Mandarin oranges and clementines
It turns out the mandarin versus clementine debate is a hot-button issue in Canada and that your preference will largely depend on whether you’re from Eastern or Western Canada. Either way, November usually signals a return of at least one of these little oranges. Clementines and mandarins are packed with vitamin C and are perfectly snack-sized and easy to peel, so tuck a couple into your bag for hungry emergencies. The peels of mandarins and clementines can also be used to make delicate candied citrus peels for special occasions or simple homemade gifts.
Pomegranates usually appear in Canadian grocery stores at the end of October or beginning of December, their jewel-like berries adding a gorgeous shade of ruby red to salads, parfaits and grain pilafs. Pomegranates are an excellent source of vitamin K and make a great on-the-go snack if they’ve been separated from their thick white and red skin. To easily break a pomegranate apart with very little mess fill up a large salad bowl with water and pull the fruit apart while it’s completely underwater and then spread the drained fruit out on a paper towel or clean cloth towel to dry before using.
Dutch oven or casserole dish
A good Dutch oven or casserole dish can last a lifetime if treated properly and they’re indispensable for browning, braising and broiling once the temperature dips. Chicken thighs, short ribs, pot roasts, and pork shoulders become umami-filled culinary masterpieces when cooked in a Dutch oven and are perfect for recipes that require long roasting times over low heat.