Sunday, July 4, 2010

Winter Blues

Ahh winter. How I hate thee. Every summer as I laze in front of a rotating fan, cursing the humidity, I try to convince myself that I'm going to love it when winter rolls around but I never do. I hate the cold. Sydney seems to go into hybernation in the middle of each year, and for good reason; it's cold, it gets dark and miserable at 5pm, everyone gets snotty and sick and...uhh... it's cold.

The really only good thing about winter in Sydney is the weather - beautiful, crisp, clear, bright days where you can sit outside in the sun and warm up, sometimes to the point of slight perspiration. Sometimes. I suppose it's also a good time of year because you never have to shave your legs. And you can drink a cup of steaming tea without breaking into a hot flush. And also, you can stay at home on a friday night watching tv and not feel like you're missing out on much, because no-one enjoys running home at 3am in a little dress in freezing temperatures. Futhermore, you can eat way more delciously warm meals because of the "you need to eat more in winter because your body works harder to stay warm" mentality. And you can wear ugg boots on a latenight trip to woolies because everybody else is.

Okay, so maybe winter isn't that horrible but I think I need more convincing. However, today was one of those days when I became a little bit more accepting of winter. The air was cool but still, the sun was warm, the day was slow and I went for a little walking adventure with my dog and my manfriend. Plus, I got to pat a horse called Murphy. I suppoooose that's pretty alright for a winter's day...


Here's a winter day recipe that guarantees to warm the insides

Tomato and Lentil Stew

2 cups brown lentils, rinsed under a tap
6 small brown shallots, quartered
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tins of tomatoes (I either use whole tomatoes and break them down, or use canned cherry tomatoes which are awesome)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup verjus (optional)
1/2 bunch of cavolo nero, roughly chopped into largish pieces (or spinach leaves)
200g speck, (smoked bacon) skin removed and cut into medium sized squares
Handful of fresh basil leaves
200g bocconcini, roughly torn into pieces
Salt and pepper

Get the lentils cooking by rinsing the dried lentils and putting in a deep pan. Cover completely with water and bring to the boil on the stovetop. Once it has reached boiling point, reduce heat to a medium simmer, cover with a lid and cook for about 15-20 minutes until the lentils are soft and edible.

In another pan, fry off the shallots and garlic in olive oil in a medium to high heat. Once they are Try to get some nice carmelisation going because it really adds to the flavour of the sauce. Add the verjus, and then fry for a few more minutes before adding the tins of tomato, tomato paste and red wine. Season with salt and pepper. Leave on a medium to high simmer to reduce and become a thick-ish sauce.

In the meantime, fry off the speck until crispy and golden in another saucepan. Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel to soak up an excess oil/fat. Add the cavolo nero to wilt into the tomato sauce. Drain the cooked lentils and stir into the tomato mixture. At the last minute stir in some roughly chopped basil leaves.

Spoon into bowls, top with the fried speck and milky pieces of bocconcini, and finish with some whole basil leaves. Serve with steamed green beans and good bread to soak up the juices.


  1. I'm not a Winter person either. To me, the best thing about Winter is boots, coats and eating food like this! :) The stew looks fantatsic!

  2. This is just about the perfect food to warm you to your toes in winter! It's summer here, but I remember the winter blues all too well!