As the nights draw in and the cold starts to chill the bones, what could be better than a warming, hearty dinner? Today and next Sunday, I'll be giving you recipes to prepare two delicious dinners that will fill your stomach and leave you blissfully content.
I've started this week's meal with a soup that is wonderfully elegant, but also has beautifully earthy base notes – and you can tell from its taste that it's good for you. Although it takes a bit of time to prepare, the beef becomes total comfort food when cooked gently, soft enough to eat with a spoon; and while the raspberry and orange pudding is light and delicate, it gives a delightfully cosy feeling inside.
Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3526, petershamnurseries.com
Potato, porcini and rosemary soup
180g/6oz dried porcini
300ml/1/2 pint warm water
120ml/4fl oz extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
6 sprigs rosemary, leaves only
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 small dried red chilli
1kg/2lb Roseval potatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
60g/21/2oz Parmesan, grated
The juice of half a lemon
A bunch of curly parsley, leaves only, very finely chopped
Place the porcini in a bowl. Pour over the warm water and leave for 10 minutes to allow the porcini to soften and the water to become infused with their lovely, musty flavour.
Place a large heavy-based pan over a low heat, add a tablespoon of the oil and, when just warm, add the shallots. Cook over a low heat for five minutes to soften.
Chop the rosemary finely and add to the shallots along with the garlic. Crumble over the chilli and stir well to combine.
Slice the potatoes into quarter-inch rounds (do not bother to peel, as the skin is delicious). Strain the porcini, reserving the infused water. Chop fairly roughly and add to the pan with the potatoes.
Add the rest of the olive oil, a good pinch of sea salt and a little freshly ground black pepper, stir to coat and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring every now and then.
Pour in the reserved water and continue to cook until the potatoes are tender and beginning to fall apart. Add the Parmesan and the lemon juice. Sprinkle over the chopped parsley, taste one final time and add what you feel is necessary – perhaps a little more pepper and a pinch or two of salt. Ladle into warm bowls and serve.
Slow-cooked beef with pancetta and cavolo nero
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1kg/2lb boneless rib of beef, cut into chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Spanish onions, peeled and sliced
3 sticks of celery, cut into fine slices
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
4 slices of pancetta, cut into cubes
4 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
3 bay leaves, preferably fresh
4 sprigs of rosemary
4 tomatoes, roughly chopped, deseeded
A bottle of Barolo or similar hearty red wine
1 bunch of cavolo nero, washed
3tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
80g/3oz Parmesan, freshly grated
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish. Season the meat generously and brown in batches. As each batch becomes golden-brown, remove and keep warm as you brown the rest. Don't overcowd the dish. Pour out the excess oil and add the onions, celery, carrots and pancetta and cook over a low heat until the vegetables are light-brown and soft. Add the garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, tomatoes and wine and bring to the boil.
Return the meat to the dish and turn the heat to very low. Place a lid on and cook for two-and-a-half hours. Transfer the meat to a serving dish, turn up the heat to high and reduce the sauce by a third, and season.
To prepare the cavolo nero (Tuscan cabbage), blanch for five minutes, and add the olive oil, Parmesan and garlic while still warm. Toss through and serve with the slow-cooked beef.
Raspberry and orange pudding
Served warm with a dollop of cream, this is the perfect end to a meal in cold weather.
100g/31/oz unsalted butter, softened, plus a little extra for buttering the moulds
100g/31/2oz caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, cut in half lengthwise, seeds scraped out
2 whole eggs
100g/31/2oz self-raising flour
Finely grated zest of a lemon and an orange
A small pinch of salt
16 plump raspberries
4 tbsp golden syrup
Jersey cream to serve
4 tbsp finely chopped candied orange to serve (optional)
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Butter four darioles (pudding-shaped moulds) and set aside. Mix the butter and sugar together until it forms a pale, smooth cream. Add the seeds from the vanilla pod, followed by one egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift in the flour and fold in gently. Finally, add the lemon and orange zest and a small pinch of salt.
Divide the raspberries among the moulds, placing four in each. Spoon the golden syrup on top, allowing about one tablespoon per mould. Spoon over the sponge mixture and cover each mould loosely with some buttered foil. Place on a baking tray and cook in the hot oven for 30 minutes, until they have risen and are cooked through.
To serve, run a knife around each pudding and turn out on to warmed plates. Finish by adding a dollop of cream and, if using, a spoonful of chopped candied orange. Eat while piping hot.