Our Favourite Winter Recipes

Isn't there just something about this time of year that makes you want to reach for something warming, comforting and satisfying to eat? Come winter, we don't want salads or fussy food. We want casseroles and roasts. When it's blowing a gale outside, or the snow's piling up at the door, we want food that fills us up, feels like a treat and yet isn't quite so decadent as the meals we've eaten over the festive period. So, here at Raggedy Ann Girl, we've decided to share ten of our favourite winter dishes. But this time, we're not going to supply the recipes. We'll give you the cookbook where we found the dish, and then we're going to send you off to explore by yourself.

Macaroni Cheese from Rachel's Favourite Food at Home by Rachel Allen.

You can hardly have a list of favourite winter food without a lovely bowl of cheesy pasta, now can you? And you're probably thinking that every recipe for macaroni cheese is the same. But believe me, I've tried lots and Rachel Allen's is the most perfect. What makes it so different? Well, to begin with,  there isn't actually that much cheese in it. I know this is going to sound daft, but some recipes are just too cheesy. This makes them over salty and over sticky. Rachel recommends a blend of cheddar and gruyere too, and instead of good old English mustard, there's just a tad of Dijon. And this recipe makes no pretence at being sophisticated - like most of Rachel Allen's tasty recipes, it's about good food that you want to share with loved ones. It's very easy and quick to do, and makes great 'lap food' for munching in front of the telly.

Mexican Enchiladas With Cheese from Delia's Vegetarian Collection by Delia Smith.

Scrummy, spicy and cheesy this is certainly something you want to hunker down with. We serve ours with a side of smoky refried beans. Unless you're a veggie, you probably haven't even looked at this book, but it's well worth a peek, because it's packed with gorgeous, tasty food that just happens to be vegetarian friendly.

Bergen Fish Soup from Kitchen of Light by Andreas Viestad.

For much of the year beautiful Bergen in Norway is dark, cold and rainy, which is probably why its residents are just so good at cooking up cheering soups-cum-stews like this. And 'Kitchen of Light' is jam-packed with food you just want to make and to eat. With recipes that make good use of what's in season and this soup feels light and healthy, while being a perfect antidote to cheerless weather. It's basically a mixture of fish (salmon with a white fish is our favourite) cooked gently in a sweet-sour-salty broth. The flavours are delicate and it's good enough to impress at a dinner party, while seeming perfectly casual too!

Skagen Fish Soup from The Scandinavian Cookbook by Trina Hanemann.

If you thought one fish soup was very like the next, think again. Although this soup, too, is of Scandinavian origin (in this case Danish) it is quite different in mood from the previous one - the addition of saffron makes sure of that. You're supposed to make your own fish stock but more often than not I've used fresh ones bought from the supermarket and the results have been perfectly acceptable. And, in an attempt to be more healthy, I've replaced the cream with skimmed milk enriched with a tablespoon of skimmed milk powder and that works fine too.

Poverty Casserole from Cold-Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase.

Let me begin by warning that this is a misnomer. If you truly are poverty-stricken you're probably not going to want to use half a jar of sun-dried tomatoes, cream and fresh mozzarella in a casserole. According to its creator the circumstances that brought about this recipe were unusual to say the least. The author was the owner of a struggling delicatessen and so used some of her stock to make a 'cheap' dinner. But, if you can run to its more fancy ingredients, the pay-off is certainly worth it. It's simple to make too. Indeed the entire book is full of great recipes. Of all those on my bookshelf it probably bears more stains from the food I've made from it than any other! And that's always a good sign!

Winter Herb and Sausage Pasta from Entertaining At Home by Rachel Allen.

Lovely, homey and comforting. I feel I should admit, I've only made this fabulous meal twice so far, but it has become an instant favourite. And I also admit tinkering with the recipe - using Quorn sausages and bacon instead of the meaty variety. Just be sure to make plenty because just the smell of it cooking will make you very hungry!

New England Seafood Pie from Union Oyster House Cookbook by Jean Kerr & Spencer Smith

I've eaten this classic dish at what is America's oldest restaurant, in Boston, and this recipe brings back great wonderful memories of many special trips to New England. It's quick and easy to make and there's a lot of room for variation too. And you can use a variety of toppings from crumbs to mashed potatoes and, say it very quietly, it works perfectly well with a Smash instant mashed potato topping too!

Penne Alla Vodka from Feast by Nigella Lawson.

As all devotees of Nigella's recipes know, taste, texture and decadence usually come ahead of calorie control and this richly cheering dish is no exception. There's butter and vodka aplenty (although I've dramatically reduced the quantities of these with no ill effect on the flavour) but there are also onions and loads of health-giving tomatoes, so while you mightn't want to eat this every week, it's a perfect once a month dish. And it's great for entertaining because you can make the sauce (at least the time-consuming part) ahead of time and you only need to reheat and finish off once your guests arrive.

Quick Chilli from Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson.

I make no apologies for choosing two Nigella recipes in a row. I know quite a few chaps who tune in to her TV shows just to watch the lady herself, and I have to admit that I tune in just to imagine a bit of her fabulous life might rub off on me. However, fantasies aside, Nigella's food is always fabulous. And this recipe takes all the heavy work out of what is a really tasty chilli dish. Yes, it cheats its way along (with jars of pasta sauce and cans of spicy beans), but it tastes as if you spent hours making it (which is what counts, after all!) You can easily adjust the level of spiciness and there are several suggestions for serving suggestions (we like grated cheese, soured cream and tortilla chips with ours).

Rice Pudding with Warm Cherry Sauce in The Scandinavian Cookbook by Trina Hahnemann.

I just had to finish with a pudding and, after one of the hearty recipes above, even we Brits might baulk at a steamed sponge pudding. This dessert fits the bill perfectly. Around Yuletide you will see this dish (or a variant of it) all over Scandinavia. Called various things from 'rice cream' to 'ris a la monde' it's always gorgeous yet quite unlike our hearty UK hot rice pudding. It's chilled and creamy and served with a fruit sauce but it is definitely wintery. And lovely!