Delia's Winter Collection

Posted on: 25 March 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Two winter warmers from the one and only, Delia Smith.

Irish StewThe book that led to a run on cranberries will be available for the first time in paperback this month.  The bestselling title has sold more than 2,5million copies since it was first published in 1995 and is a joyful celebration of the season, rich with autumn fruits and winter vegetables, fish and game, soups and roasts, casseroles and comfort food.

The book take up where its companion, Delia's best selling Summer Collection left off, leaving the reader in no doubt that winter is at least as fruitful for the cook as summer.  A self confessed fan of winter, Delia says that it has just as much charm for her as the other seasons.  "The dazzling splendour of Autumn colours, and Keat's as yet unmatched description of mists and mellow fruitfulness, the stark emptiness of bare branches against the winter skies, and always the very special pale winter light."

For Delia, food becomes even more important during the colder, darker season, because it provides comfort, warmth and excitement, and the chance to gather together around a table enjoying good conversation, food and wine.  She suggests warming up a bowl of bright Polish Beetroot Soup or Smoked Haddock Chowder with Poached Eggs, adapted from a traditional Scottish recipe.  Casseroles are perfect for winter, especially Irish stew which Delia describes as a "Heavenly banquet.  One of the best casserole dishes in the world."

With sections on autumn and winter entertaining, timed plans for Sunday lunch, how to cook winter vegetables, ideas from the East, and home baking, Delia's Winter Collection is destined to become a well-thumbed kitchen companion throughout the colder seasons.

A Bit Of Irish Stew With Crusted Dumplings

Serves 4-6

This is an updated version of my 'Cookery Course' recipe, included here simply because Irish Stew is on of the best casserole dishes in the entire world.  If you top it with dumplings then bake it in the oven so they turn crispy and crunchy, you will have a heavenly banquet on your plate.  Serve it as the Irish do, with simple boiled cabbage.

Ingredients

3lb (1.35kg) neck fillets of lamb and best end neck cutlets mixed
2 tbsp seasoned plain flour
12 oz (350g) onions, thickly sliced
8 oz (225g) carrots, cut into chunks
2 medium leeks, washed and sliced
1 large potato (about 10oz / 275g) peeled and cut into chunks
1 rounded tablespoon pearl barley
Salt and pepper

Dumplings

6oz (175g) self raising flour
3tbsp chopped fresh parsley
3oz (75g) shredded suet
Salt and pepper

Method

1) Start off by drying the pieces of meat on kitchen paper, trim any excess fat, cut the fillets into 1.5 inch (4cm) rounds, then dip them along with the cutlets into the seasoned flour. 

2) Now arrange a layer of meat in the base of the casserole, followed by a layer of onion, carrot, leek and potato, and a good seasoning.  Then add some more meat and continue layering until everything is done.

3) Next sprinkle in the pearl barley and pour in approximately 2 pints (1.2 litres) of hot water and bring it all up to simmering point.  Spoon off any scum that comes to the surface, cover with a well fitting lid and leave to simmer on the lowest heat possible for two hours.

4) About fifteen minutes before the end of the cooking time pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400F, 200C, then make the dumplings.  Mix the flour and parsley with a seasoning of salt and pepper into a bowl, then mix in - but do not rub in - the suet.  Now add just sufficient cold water to make a fairly stiff but elastic dough that leaves the bowl cleanly.  Knead it lightly then shape it into 12 dumplings. 

5) When the stew is ready, remove the lid and place the dumplings all over the surface, then transfer the casserole to the highest shelf of the oven (without a lid) and leave it there for 30 minutes or until the dumplings are golden brown and crusty.  Serve the meat surrounding the vegetables and dumplings with some of the liquid poured over and some in a gravy boat, and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.

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Sticky Gingerbread Puddings With Ginger Wine & Brandy Sauce

Serves 8

For quite a long time now I've been trying to come up with an idea that matches the charm and popularity of the Sticky Toffee Pudding in the 'Christmas' book.  This is quite definitely it - it has the same degree of lightness and this time the fragrance and spiciness of preserves ginger, which takes the edge of the sweetness beautifully. 

Ingredients

4oz (110g) preserved ginger in syrup (8 pieces)
6oz (175g) self-raising flour
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 tsp of ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 level teaspoon of baking powder
3/4 level teaspoon bicarbonate soda
2 X large eggs
3oz (75g) soft butter
4oz (110g) molasses sugar
1 tbsp black treacle
1 heaped teaspoon freshly grated ginger
60z (175g) Bramley apple peeled, cored and chopped small
6 fl oz (175ml) warm water

For The Sauce

6oz (175g) soft dark brown sugar
4oz (110g) unsalted butter
4 tbsp ginger wine
2 tbsp brandy
2 pieces of preserved ginger, chopped small

To Serve

Chilled

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