How does a foodie do macaroni cheese or fish and chips? The TV chef shares some of his favourite winter dishes.
Tarte tatin, above
5 cox’s orange pippin dessert apples, peeled, quartered and cored
200g caster sugar
350-400g ready-made, all-butter puff pastry
Plain flour, for dusting
Vanilla or cinnamon ice cream, to serve
1 Put the apple quarters in a single layer on kitchen paper on a baking tray, then place them, uncovered, in the fridge and leave to dry out overnight. The apples will go brown, which is correct — this draws out the moisture.
2 The next day preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.
3 Put the sugar into a large saucepan with 50ml of water. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat to medium and continue to cook, without stirring, until the mixture caramelises and becomes a rich, dark colour, 12-15 min.
4 Remove the pan from the heat. Carefully place the apple quarters in the hot pan, give them a quick stir with a wooden spoon, then return to the heat. Cook over a medium heat for 2-3 min.
5 Add the butter to the pan, stir to mix with the caramel and cook for a further 4-5 min. The apples will now be almost cooked, but should still hold their shape. If not, cook for another 1-2 min. Remove from the heat and cool for a minute.
6 Take an ovenproof frying pan or a tarte tatin tin, 23cm diameter by 4.5cm deep, and arrange the apples in the pan or tin in circles, cut sides down.
7 Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to 5mm thick and, using a plate slightly larger than the top of the pan, cut out a large circle. Place the pastry circle over the apples and tuck it in around the inside edges of the pan. Pierce the pastry a few times with the tip of a sharp knife. Pour the caramel left in the saucepan into a measuring jug, then drizzle some around the edge of the pastry into the apples until visible just below the level of the pastry. Reserve the remaining caramel sauce. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for about 20 min, until the pastry is risen, crisp and golden.
8 Remove from the oven, leave to stand in the pan for about 5 min, then loosen the sides and carefully invert the tart on to a serving plate with a rim (to catch the juices), so the apples are facing up. Drizzle with leftover caramel, cut into wedges and serve with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.
Ultimate mac and cheese
1.3 litres whole milk
2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
100g plain flour
100g comté cheese, grated
100g mature cheddar, grated 500g dried macaroni
2 x 150g mozzarella balls, drained and sliced or torn into pieces
30g parmesan, grated
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the breadcrumb topping
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100g fresh white breadcrumbs
4 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Pour the milk into a saucepan, then add the onion, garlic cloves, bay leaf and star anise. Bring almost to the boil, then remove from the heat, cover and set aside to infuse for 30 min. Strain into a jug and discard the flavourings.
2 Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.
3 Melt the butter in a separate large saucepan over low heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook for 1 min, stirring. Gradually whisk in the warm infused milk, until mixture is smooth. Slowly bring to boil over a low heat, whisking continuously, until the sauce thickens. Simmer gently for 5 min, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the comté and cheddar, and whisk in until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4 In the meantime, cook the macaroni in a large pan of salted boiling water until al dente, about 9 min, or according to the packet. Drain, refresh under cold running water and drain again.
5 Meanwhile, make the topping. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the garlic and sauté for a minute without colouring. Stir in the breadcrumbs and cook over a low heat for about 8 min, until the breadcrumbs are pale golden and lightly toasted, stirring regularly. Stir in the parsley.
6 Tip the macaroni into the cheese sauce and mix to coat. Pour the mixture into a large, wide gratin dish. Scatter the mozzarella on top, then sprinkle over the parmesan. Sprinkle the toasted breadcrumbs over the top.
7 Bake for 15-20 min, until the topping is golden. Serve with a crisp salad.
Lemon sole with fresh peas
6 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
100g frozen peas
Small handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
100ml vegetable stock or water
1-2 tbsp olive oil
2 whole lemon sole on the bone, about 250g each, dark skin removed (ask your fishmonger to do this if you prefer), trimmed and washed
1 tbsp plain flour
Lemon slices, to garnish
For the toasted-breadcrumb garnish
2 tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
1 tsp olive oil
¼ tsp finely grated lemon zest
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 First make the toasted-breadcrumb garnish. Mix the breadcrumbs with the olive oil in a small bowl, then transfer to a small frying pan and toast over a medium heat for a few minutes, until evenly golden, stirring often so they don’t burn. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and chilli flakes. Set aside.
2 Put the butter, spring onions, peas, basil, vegetable stock or water and a drizzle of olive oil into a small saucepan and season with salt. Cover, bring to the boil over a medium heat, then simmer for 3 min.
3 Meanwhile, pat the fish dry with kitchen paper. Dust the fish with a light coating of flour, patting off any excess, and season with salt. Heat a little olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan, then add the fish and cook over a medium-high heat for 3 min on each side, until cooked through.
4 Transfer the lemon sole to serving plates, then, using a slotted spoon, cover with the peas and spring onions. Spoon over some of the buttery juices and sprinkle over the toasted-breadcrumb garnish. Serve each portion with lemon slices on the side and crushed or sautéed new potatoes.
25g pine nuts
2 courgettes, very finely sliced with a vegetable peeler or mandolin
1 aubergine, very finely sliced with a vegetable peeler or mandolin
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 tbsp fresh oregano, torn, or use 1 tbsp dried oregano
4 aged sirloin steaks, about 130g each,at room temperature
20 semi-dried tomatoes
10g fresh basil leaves, torn
1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
40g parmesan, shaved
1 Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the pine nuts with a pinch of salt and cook over a low to medium heat for about 3 min, stirring regularly, until they are nicely browned and toasted. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
2 Meanwhile, preheat a griddle pan over a high heat. Add the courgette and aubergine slices to the hot pan in batches (without oil) and cook until they are soft, have griddle marks on them and are slightly charred, but not burnt, turning once. Remove the cooked slices to a plate or bowl, drizzle with the olive oil, then sprinkle with the oregano. Set aside and keep warm while you cook the steaks.
3 Rub the steaks with a little olive oil and season both sides with salt. Griddle the steaks in the hot pan for 4-5 min on each side, or for longer if you prefer your steak well done. Remove from the griddle pan to a plate and leave to rest for 5 min.
4 Toss the griddled vegetables with the pine nuts, tomatoes and basil, and divide among serving plates. Slice the steaks and place on top of the vegetables. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and oil, season with pepper. Scatter with parmesan before serving.
Slow-roasted pork belly with spiced apple sauce
1 pork belly on the bone, 2-3kg
Juice of ¼ lemon
25ml vegetable oil
For the apple and cinnamon sauce
500g dessert apples, such as braeburn, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
½ tsp ground cinnamon, or to taste
1 Preheat the oven to 240C/gas 9.
2 Using a very sharp knife, score the skin of the pork belly widthways in lines that are about 1cm apart, making sure you don’t cut all the way through to the meat (otherwise it will burn).
3 Place the scored pork belly on a wire rack placed inside a roasting tray. Squeeze the lemon juice over the skin. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt over the skin, then pour the vegetable oil on top of the salt. Massage the salt, lemon juice and oil into the skin, making sure there are no puddles of oil left on top.
4 Roast the pork belly in the oven for 25-30 min, until the skin has started to crisp up. Reduce the oven to 160C/gas 3 and roast for a further 1½ hours, until the meat is cooked and tender. Increase the oven temperature to 240C/gas 9 and roast for a further 15 min or so, to make sure the crackling is crisp and deep golden in colour.
5 While the pork belly is roasting, make the apple and cinnamon sauce. Put the apples in a pan with 2-3 tablespoons of water. Cover and cook over a low heat for 10-15 min, until the apples are soft and beginning to catch on the bottom of the pan (to add a bit of colour). Add a little more water if the apples are catching too much.
6 Once the apples are cooked, remove from the heat and stir through the cinnamon, then blitz with a stick blender for a smooth sauce or leave whole for a chunkier accompaniment. Leave to cool.
7 Carve the pork and serve with the apple sauce, making sure everyone gets some crispy crackling.