Winter warmers: Five hot names reveal the secrets of their favourite seasonal treats

 

Grand Marnier hot chocolate

John Williams, The Ritz

Drinking one of these by an open fire is one of those sure-fire ways to ensure you have a perfect afternoon. I came across it first in a little village in Savoie in France. It was snowing outside, we were swaddled in coats and I ordered one. It was so nice, we now serve it in the bar at the Ritz.

I like it with Grand Marnier, as I think the orange works well with the rich chocolate. But if you prefer, you can use a different spirit and finish with orange zest. Cognac works well and so do some whiskies. Whether you top with cream is also another choice you and your waistline have to make.

Serves 2

200ml milk
Pinch ground cinnamon (optional)
2 heaped tbsp Amedei hot-chocolate granules
40ml Grand Marnier

Toppings (optional)

20ml vanilla whipped cream
Chocolate shavings
Orange zest, julienned
Coffee-bean shavings

Place the milk and cinammon into a heavy-based pan and gently heat. Once warmed, pass through a fine sieve and return the milk to the pan. Stir in the Amedei hot chocolate, whisking well. Just before it reaches boiling point, take it from the heat and add the Grand Marnier. Decant into two mugs. Top with whipped cream and decorate to preference.

Keeper's House hot buttered rum

Oliver Peyton, Peyton and Byrne

A classic warm toddy which dates back to 17th-century America, this owes its inception to the beginning of the molasses trade. When the colonists started to import it from Jamaica, several rum distilleries opened in New England in the 1650s. They soon started adding the distilled rum to hot drinks – and that's how this drink came about.

It isn't seen so much today but it is an impressive brew and a hearty one, too. I can't wait until it is the time of year to have it on my menus. We serve it warm and it has a wonderful buttery sweetness, followed by a kick of rum. Mix up on a cold evening and drink deeply.

Serves 1

1 tsp brown sugar
1 small slice of butter
Pinch of ground cinnamon and nutmeg
Drop of vanilla extract
50ml-60ml of dark rum
Muddle in a sturdy Collins glass and top with hot water.


London particular pie

Dan Doherty, Duck & Waffle

The origin of the name of this dish is interesting. London particular was the name given to the thick layer of smog which used to envelope the capital in the winter. Another name for it was "pea souper" and eventually the terms became interchangeable. So pea soup acquired the name London particular.

I created this recipe a few years ago at my old restaurant in Greenwich. It had snowed and everyone had gone home and I was left to play in the kitchen. We had pea soup on the specials board and a batch of shortcrust pastry ready in the fridge, earmarked, I believe, for a steak pie. So I put them together and the London particular pie was born. It might sound a peculiar combination but it warms the cockles wonderfully.

Serves 4

1 smoked ham hock
400g dried split green peas
2 litres chicken stock
1 sprig thyme
2 bay leaves
1 sprig mint, finely chopped
2 onions, quartered
Puff pastry

Soak the peas overnight, then drain. Set aside.

In a large pan, add all the ingredients except the peas, mint and pastry and slowly cook on a low-to-medium heat for 4 hours (or until the ham is falling apart). Top up with water if necessary.

Remove the ham from the pot and allow to cool to the point where you can handle it with ease. Flake the ham and mix back through the drained-pea mix.

Add the finely chopped mint and place in a pie dish big enough for 4 people.

Chill and cover with the puff pastry. Now wash with egg and bake at 180C/350F/Gas4 for 25 minutes or until the pastry turns golden.

Serve immediately.


Baked Vacherin

Jeff Galvin, Galvin Restaurants

This may be very easy to prepare, but it still makes for a pretty spectacular and indulgent treat. It's a good dish for an informal Christmas meal with friends, as Vacherin Mont d'Or is only available in December and January.

I suppose you could call it the ultimate winter dish – molten cheese baked in its box and ready for dipping. You can serve it with any accompaniments you like. I love waxy ratte potatoes and good-quality charcuterie. But you could also have chicory leaves and sliced pear with crusty French baguette. If you can't get hold of the Vacherin, try a well-ripened Camembert.

For special occasions I pour a little vin jaune from the Jura region (where the cheese is produced) over the cheese just before serving, as is customary in France – it takes it to a whole new level.

Serves 2

1 Vacherin Mont d'Or cheese
Drizzle olive oil
300g ratte potatoes

To serve

A selection of charcuterie – salami, sausage, Bayonne ham or rillettes
Cornichons
Cocktail onions
Crusty bread

Drizzle olive oil on top and then wrap the Vacherin in kitchen foil.

Return it to its box and place on a baking tray and cook at 160C/325F/Gas3 for 25 minutes until the centre is very hot.

Boil the potatoes for 15 minutes while the cheese is baking.

Serve the baked cheese with the boiled potatoes, charcuterie, cornichons, onions and bread on a wooden board. Eat as you would a fondue, dipping the accompaniments with a fork into the molten cheese.


Indian-style scrambled eggs

Ben Tish, Salt Yard Group

My wife made this for me the first time we met, two years ago. Straight after eating it, I thought, "Right, this is the girl for me." She is a brilliant cook. It started life as one of her Indian family recipes.

But now we make it together and we change it every time – I think it is at its peak now. I love having it on a Sunday afternoon, perhaps because it is comforting, but also because it tastes so incredibly healthy. I suppose it's the spices which account for that – all that turmeric, chilli and cumin. I can also recommend it as a hangover cure.

Serves 2

Olive oil, for cooking
¼ tsp cumin seeds
½ clove garlic, finely chopped
½ small onion, finely chopped
¼ thumbnail ginger, finely chopped
¼ tsp turmeric
1 small red chilli, finely chopped – seeds included if you like it hot
4 eggs, lightly beaten
100ml milk
15g unsalted butter
2 tsp roughly chopped fresh coriander
2 slices toasted sourdough, to serve

Add a glug of olive oil to a medium-sized saucepan over a medium heat. Add the cumin, garlic, onion, ginger and turmeric and gently cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the onion is soft but without colour and the spices have released their oils.

Beat the eggs together with the milk. Turn the heat under the saucepan to low and add the egg-and-milk mixture. Cook for about 2 minutes until the eggs are just starting to thicken.

Now add the butter and cook until the eggs are scrambled but still nice and soft.

Season well, add the coriander and serve on the sourdough toast. It's delicious served with goat's milk yoghurt.

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