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Those without a fondness for cooking might be fooled into thinking winter is a cold, dark and miserable season, where limited produce and early sunsets make mustering the energy to cook a challenge.
But we know better.
Winter can be a thrilling time in the kitchen, whether its huddling over a steaming pot of pasta or waiting by the oven for that slow-cooked lamb braise or cinnamon-spiked apple strudel. All you need is a few special ingredients to transform those classic winter ingredients into something truly heart-warming.
These are our favourites:
Dried Porcini Mushrooms
Simply rehydrate these flavour bombs in a little hot water and you’ve got rich, umami-packed mushroom slices that will add an earthy punch to stews, braises, risottos and pasta dishes. Blend them into a cream of mushroom soup, make your own mushroom ketchup or add them to your savoury pie filling. Don’t throw out the rehydrating water, either. Pass it through some muslin and use it in your next soup, stew or risotto.
One easy-to-use sachet of this jet-black paste added to homemade pasta, pasta sauce, risotto or braised calamari imbues an impressively dark tint to the dish, as well as imparting a subtle ocean flavour. Stores easily in the fridge so it’s on hand when you need it.
A traditional Sardinian ingredient, this durum wheat pasta is formed into small pearls, similar to Israeli couscous, which are then toasted to give them a wonderfully nutty flavour (as well as bursts of colour). Produced in Italy to a traditional recipe, fregola is wonderful with seafood, in soups and salads, or served simply with a fresh tomato sauce.
Slowly roasted over days until soft and deeply black, these plump, organic Australian garlic cloves are sweet and full of umami, with notes of molasses and balsamic vinegar. Add to roasts, pan-fried mushrooms and sauces, or slice thinly and use on crostini.
Winter is a time for hearty roasts and rich gravies, and nothing goes better with that spread than crunchy, golden duck fat potatoes. Find our recipe for the best ever duck fat potatoes here.
Thai Curry Pastes
Few things are as warming as a steaming bowl of Thai curry, the blend of aromatics, herbs, coconut milk, meat and vegetables both nourishing and deeply satisfying. Not only do our range of quality Thai curry pastes make it easy to create authentic curries at home in only minutes, they’ll be some of the best curries you’ve ever tasted.
Flavourful, meltingly soft and often misunderstood, anchovies should be a staple in your fridge. Forget the shrivelled grey lumps you’ve seen on cheap pizzas- good quality anchovies are only subtly ‘fishy’, are richly moreish and have a beautiful pink hue. Use them to add an umami boost to pasta sauces, bolognese, braises, cheese sauces and other wintery delights.
Chestnuts & Chestnut Flour
Winter in Europe is punctuated with the smell of roasting chestnuts wafting its way down the street from roadside roasters. Capture this romantic flavour at home with our vacuum-packed French chestnuts, perfect adding texture and flavour to stuffings, rice pilafs, winter salads and more. Or add a nutty, festively winter kick to your tarts, cakes and other warming baking projects with chestnut flour.
Packed with chillies, spices, rose petals and rose oil, this harissa is fiery and fragrant. Use to add flavour and an aromatic sweetness to stews, soups and couscous, and to season meat and vegetables before cooking. Mix it into mince for a twist on burgers, meatballs and meatloaf.
Fresh truffle’s brief winter season makes it one of the most prized ingredients of the season, shaved liberally over everything from scrambled eggs to pizza. This coarse paste of mushroom, black truffles, truffle aroma, capers, olives, anchovies and spices makes it easy to use incorporate truffle into almost any meal. Ideal for sauces, ravioli-filling and other pasta dishes, omelettes and more.
All these amazing products, plus many more perfect for winter dishes, are available now from your nearest The Essential Ingredient store, or buy online for delivery to anywhere in Australia.