Italian-style sausage casserole

November is simply the worse.

I mean, it was bad enough before the end of daylight saving time.

But now, it’s dark at literally 4pm (on a good day), and it’s not quite time for Chrismas cheer just yet. Which is just depressing.

Italian-style Sausage Casserole • Comfort Food Recipe • Cake + Whisky

So unless you’ve escaped to a warm, sunny part of the world (!!), comfort food is the only way forward.

From late October to about March, this Italian-style sausage casserole is an absolute staple in my house.

Italian-style Sausage Casserole • Comfort Food Recipe • Cake + Whisky

Warming, comforting, satisfying, suuuuuuuper easy to make and -all things considered- healthy, it has all the good adjectives going on!

Italian-style Sausage Casserole • Comfort Food Recipe • Cake + Whisky

Make a big batch – have it for dinner, save some for lunch (it’s even better the next day!) and put leftovers in the freezer for lazy days.

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Italian-style Sausage Casserole • Comfort Food Recipe • Cake + Whisky

Talk about a real kick-asserole!

 More warming recipes

My favourite squash soup (VE, GF, DF)

Apple & black pudding sausage rolls

Spicy pork dumplings

Banana bread porridge (VE)

Polenta plum cobbler (V)

The above recipe was originally published in March 2015. It was retested, rephotographed, rewritten and republished in November 2017.

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Italian-style sausage casserole

My favourite squash soup (VG, GF, DF)

Very few things cheer me up about the days growing colder and ever shorter.

The perspective of wearing (his) cashmere sweaters is one. Getting to wear my beloved boots is another.

But the strongest of them all is finally having the possibility to eat soup for every meal without people looking at me like I’m crazy.

The best squash soup recipe (vegan) • Cake + WhiskyThe best squash soup recipe (vegan) • Cake + Whisky

Which I’m 100% up for because I love soup.

And more than any other soup, I LOVE squash soup.

The best squash soup recipe (vegan) • Cake + Whisky

It’s really healthy (5-a-day in a bowl? YES PLEASE!), very seasonal, warm and comforting, SUPER-EASY to make and reaaaaaally exciting when served with a lot of fun toppings (Bacon? Cheese? Croutons? All of the above? Your call!)!

A souper supper if I ever saw one!

The best squash soup recipe (vegan) • Cake + Whisky

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Some great squash soup toppings:

  • Pine nuts + spring onion + nigella seeds – easy, nutty, beautiful!
  • Bacon + fried sage leaves – a classic is a classic for a reason!
  • Blue cheese + walnut pieces – another classic, another winner!
  • Pretty much any cheese actually – goat’s cheese, parmesan crisp, the one you got from the farmer’s market…
  • Soy-roasted nuts – a great vegan alternative!
  • Hazelnut dukkah – crush toasted hazelnuts with cumin and salt and get sprinkling!
  • Fried chorizo + onion – like sunshine in a bowl!
  • Curry powder + ginger paste + a spoonful of coconut cream – for an Asian spicy twist!
  • Garlic butter mushrooms – autumn-ception!

And about a billion other things! Please report all gourd-geous discoveries in the comments!

More seasonal recipes

Banana bread porridge (VG, GF)

Garlic butter mushroom bun (V)

Spicy pork dumplings

Polenta plum cobbler (V)

This post was originally published in Oct. 2014 but has been updated with better pictures and topping suggestions in September 2017.

My favourite squash soup (VG, GF, DF)

Winter Pistou Soup

Soooo, I might have gone a teeny tiny (huge) bit overboard with sales shopping in January.

Which has made me the proud owner of two sets of guest towels (how very grown up!), a beautiful breakfast tray, some very un-seasonal tshirts and a dozen candles amongst other things. And a little bit broke in the process.

I swear I’m gonna try and be better this month (spring collections look bloomin’ lovely though!), so a little bit of budget cooking is in order.

No, don’t do that face. Budget cooking doesn’t have to be bland and boring.

Proof if there ever needed one with Voucherbox’s amazing e-book, which just launched today and is filled to the brim with tasty, colourful recipes created by some of my fave food bloggers (and yours truly #blowingmyownhorn).

Winter Pistou Soup | Cake + Whisky Winter Pistou Soup | Cake + Whisky

As far as I’m concerned, vegetable-laden soups are the best way to cook healthy yet comforting meals on a budget. And my absolute favourite one is pistou soup, a thick and hearty (almost like a stew) South of France classic.

I love this soup’s delicate, almost sweet taste. But I love it even more with a good drizzle of the fresh, pungent basil & garlic oil on top. #GarlicIsMyFave #SoFrenchItHurts

Winter Pistou Soup | Cake + Whisky Winter Pistou Soup | Cake + Whisky

The end-of-Summer version of it was my birthday meal of choice and a very convenient way to tackle the glut of courgettes, green beans and tomatoes my parents’ garden would always provide in August.

Winter Pistou Soup | Cake + Whisky

The pistou recipe shared below is a cold-month variation on this childhood favourite and it’s just as good as the original.

Super easy, warming, vitamin-packed, low GI and extremely good value for money, it’s great for the cold winter nights.

Winter Pistou Soup | Cake + Whisky

Winter Pistou Soup (vegan or not, GF)

Serves 4 – cost per person £1.7**

Ingredients:
For the soup:
  • 1 big brown or yellow onion (about 170g), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 big garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 sticks celery (about 100g), roughly chopped
  • 2 big carrots (about 170g), peeled and roughly diced
  • 1 small winter squash (about 170g), guts removed & diced
  • ½ can chopped tomato
  • 1 can cannellini beans, well rinsed
  • 2 medium-sized potato (about 150g), peeled and roughly diced
  • 2 handfuls leavy greens (about 60g – I used curly kale but spinach, spring greens, cavolo nero… would work equally well), roughly torn
  • 100g fresh green beans, cut in bite size pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt, pepper
  • Tap water
  • Not compulsory: 1 small slice pork belly (about 150g), diced
For the basil & garlic oil:
  • Small bunch fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic (if you find the taste of raw garlic too pungent, blanch it for a minute or so in boiling water and drain well before proceeding)
  • 200ml olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
Method:
  1. Wash, peel and chop all the vegetables. Remove the top layer of fat from the pork belly slice and dice the meat.
  2. In a big saucepan, heat up 1 tbsp olive oil. Add in the onion, garlic and celery, season with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes or until translucent.
  3. Throw the carrot (and pork belly dices if using) into the saucepan and cook until the pork is well caramelized on all sides (about 10 minutes).
  4. Add in the canned tomato and winter squash and water to cover, then bring to a small simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Add in the cannellini beans and potato chunks, top with more water if necessary, then put the lid back on and cook for another 10 minutes before adding the torn greens and green beans, and more water if necessary, then put the lid back on and cook for another 10 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning accordingly.
  6. Make the basil & garlic oil: Blend together all the ingredients using a food processor or a hand blender, then pour into a small bowl, ready to serve.
  7. Serve the hot soup with the oil on the side for guests to spoon to their heart’s content onto the soup.

Leftover soup will keep for a few days in the fridge. And believe it or nor, is even better the next day! Leftover oil should be used quickly. It works really well with all sorts of things. Steamed vegetables, in tomato sauces, with pasta or baked fish (…) so get creative!

*This post was created in collaboration with Voucherbox but all words, images and garlic spirit animal my own.

**based on average supermarket own-brand prices

Winter Pistou Soup

Cranberry Oatmeal Cake

Growing up in France, my breakfasts were almost always of the sweet variety. Toast with butter and jam, or Nutella, pastries… and on the very best days, cake!

Fast forward a few years (really not that many!) and you’ll find that my breakfasts have taken a savoury turn… but cake very much remains at the top of the ‘best breakfast’ list!

Cranberry Oatmeal Cake

Now, I know that not everyone can stomach a brownie calorie bomb early in the morning (feel free to call me shall you need some help!), but the below Cranberry Oatmeal Cake is a completely different animal.

Cranberry Oatmeal Cake Cranberry Oatmeal Cake

It has oats, and berries, and syrup and egg. It has that sweet, milky taste of the very best porridge, contrasting perfectly with the sharp, tangy cranberry and deep, dark chocolate chips. And it’s much more convenient to eat on-the-go than a bowl of cereal.

Cranberry Oatmeal Cake

If that’s not top breakfast material, I don’t know what is!

Cranberry Oatmeal Cake

Cranberry Oatmeal Cake (serves 6-8)

Ingredients: 

  • 100g porridge oats
  • 250ml hot milk
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 60ml maple syrup
  • 1 big free-range egg, lightly beaten
  • 120g self-raising flour + 1 tbsp
  • 150g fresh or frozen cranberry
  • 1 tbsp dark chocolate chips

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C°. Grease and line a large loaf tin.

2. In a small bowl, mix the cranberries with 1 tbsp flour until evenly coated (that will prevent them from falling to the bottom of the tin).

3. Combine the oats and the hot milk in a large mixing bowl and set aside for a while to allow the oats to absorb most of the milk.

4. Cream the butter and sugar together with a whisk, then stir in the maple syrup and the egg.

5. Fold the flour into the butter mixture.

6. Drain any remaining liquid from the oats, then stir into the cake batter.

7. Add in the chocolate chips and 2/3 of the cranberries and mix once more.

8. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and sprinkle the remaining cranberries evenly on top.

9. Bake for about 45 min (or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean).

10. Let rest in the tin for 10 min before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. Dust with a little icing sugar before serving.

 

 

Cranberry Oatmeal Cake

Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle

The best recipes are almost always circonstancial.

Whether it’s a trip to the farmer’s market, a recent visit to a new favourite restaurant or simply a massive fridge forage and the realisation that half of what’s in it needs using, those lightbulb moments are what inspire me most in the kitchen.

With Autumn being very much on its way, I’ve been craving comfort food more and more in the last few days.

So of course, I turned to Italian classics, because as much as I wish the French would do better at it, nobody does comfort food quite like the Italians…

Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle recipe | Cake + Whisky

With bolognese on my mind, I went on a little bit of a fridge/freezer forage.

Memories of a beautiful pasta dish we had in Paris, the last few remaining pieces of rabbit my grandma brought in her luggage when she last visited, a can of olives fished from the back of a cupboard, a few bits and bobs from a previous Farmdrop order

… slowly, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place and this rich and zingy Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle recipe was born!

Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle recipe | Cake + Whisky

Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle (serves 2-3)

Ingredients: 250g fresh pappardelle (I get mine from La Tua Pasta via Farmdrop), 1/2 rabbit (about 600g, preferably leg pieces as they have fewer small bones), 1 small shallot (finely chopped), 2 rashers of smoked bacon, cut into small pieces, handful of cherry tomatoes (about 200g, chopped roughly), small handful pitted black olives (about 15, sliced), 1L good quality chicken or vegetable stock, zest of 1/4 lemon (grated), 2 bay leaves, 1 fresh sprig of thyme, pinch of smoked paprika, 5 pepper corns + freshly ground black pepper, sea salt, good quality olive oil, grated parmesan to serve

1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat up 2 tbs of olive oil, then add the rabbit pieces. Season with a small pinch of sea salt. Cook over high heat for a few minutes until golden. Add the bay leaves and the peppercorns, then pour in the chicken/vegetable stock. Cover the pot, reduce to a small simmer and cook for about an hour or until the meat starts falling off the bones, topping with a little bit of water if necessary.

2. Take the rabbit pieces off the cooking stock and let if cool off before taking all the meat off the bones. Discard the bones and shred the rabbit to bite-sized pieces.

3. Cook the pappardelle according to packaging instructions.

4. In a large pan or wok, heat up 2 tbs of olive oil. Add the chopped shallot and the bacon bits and cook until golden. Add the tomatoes and cook until they start breaking down (about 5-10 min), adding a bit of the cooking stock if necessary. Throw in the sliced olives, lemon zest and smoked paprika, season with salt and pepper and cook for another 2-3 min.

5. Drain the pasta, add to the pan and toss to coat. Serve immediately with some freshly grated parmesan.

What inspires you to get cooking?

PIN FOR LATER:

Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle recipe | Cake + Whisky

Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle

London’s First Mulled Wine Festival

There is no better way to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season (yes,  it’s only mid-November,  I know,  I know!)  than with a cup of spicy mulled wine.

Oh wait. Yes there is.

Several cups of it.

Plus mince pies and candy canes.

And London first Mulled Wine Festival, organised by Yelp London, has it all and then some more,  making it the best thing that could have happened to your weekend.

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + WhiskyYelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

To find it, easy,  just follow the Christmas trail!! (or you could check it out on Yelp…)

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

Strong Christmas sweater game? You’re probably getting close…

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

Giant reindeer? Getting hot!

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

And when you see a big group of Santas,  you know you’re in the right place!

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

Download the app and check into the event, get your wristband from one of the fantastic Yelpers on site (and say hi! for me), and you’re all set to go!

Go where I hear you say? The most wonderful place of them all.

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

Mulled wine land!

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

A hot cup of the Christmas staple will make you forget that winter is coming.

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

And soon you’ll be saying that it’s ice cream weather.

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + WhiskyYelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + WhiskyYelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

(YES,  mulled wine ice pops are a real thing. A really,  really good real thing even!!)

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

A side of mince pies is pretty much obligatory.

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

But that’s if you can resist the inviting smell of MeatLiquor‘s burgers (don’t even bother trying.)

Yelp #MulledWineFest London | Cake + Whisky

Eat, drink and be merry!

London’s first Mulled Wine Festival sure is the best way to welcome the festive season!!

Yelp’s #MulledWineFest is in full swing on Covent Garden Plaza today and tomorrow (November 13-14), 12-9 PM. Entry is free if you download the Yelp app and check into the event.

London’s First Mulled Wine Festival

Winter Chai Rice Pudding

There’s nothing quite as depressing as how shorter days get this time of the year.

So I try to cheer myself up the best way I know how: with gallons of pumpkin soup and a generous sprinkle of winter spices in everything else I cook.

And rice pudding is no exception!

Combining traditional Indian chai flavours with the warmth of traditional European winter-y spices, this super-comforting Winter Chai Rice Pudding is my new go-to dessert!

Winter Chai Rice Pudding | Cake + Whisky

Winter Chai Rice Pudding (serves 6-8)

Ingredients: 1 small glass of Arborio rice, 2-3 pints of whole milk, 3 cs of runny honey, 1 vanilla pod, 3 slightly curshed cardamom seeds, 1 star anise, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1. Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan

2. Cook on low heat stirring regularly until the rice is no longer crunchy (about 30-35 min)

3. Serve warm or cold (and with some red berry coulis if you’re feeling so inclined)

What’s your favourite recipe to beat the winter blues? 

Winter Chai Rice Pudding