Grace Stevens Offers up Winter Comfort Food Ideas
The saying, “If you can’t stand the heat – get out of the kitchen” can become uncomfortably true in the middle of a South African summer. But in winter, our kitchens offer us a place to huddle and be sheltered from the storms, both physical and otherwise.
Food can nourish us and feed our creativity by connecting us with the larger world. The familiar warm embrace of an oven can provide our souls with a comfort nearly impossible to come by from anything else.
Grace Stevens – Celebrity chef, dame of deliciousness and mother to comfort food is here to share with you her top tips to take the food that puts you in a good mood from the pages of her recipe book to the plates of an evening you won’t forget.
Celebratory Carrot Cake
A recipe that is very nostalgic for me is my carrot cake. When I was pregnant with my first child, I would crave carrot cake to the point where it would be all I could think of. Problem was, I couldn’t find any that balanced the sweetness and spices just the way I wanted. And so my carrot cake recipe was born. It amazes me how so many years later, I still feel a familiar tingle of excitement every time I enjoy a slice. If you want to take this delicious recipe to the next level, try roasting the nuts beforehand to bring out their natural oils and intensify their rich rounded nutty flavour. Not to mention, the smell that fills your home with expectation makes that cake all the more delightful when you finally get to enjoy it.
Oscar Wilde is infamous for having said “Everything in moderation, including moderation” and I agree that we should make time and place for all food. Although my chocolate mousse recipe is certainly not an everyday occurrence in my household, it has a way of reminding me that spoiling ourselves occasionally is part of a healthy lifestyle. Its super-smooth yet light texture perfectly echoes and offsets the deep chocolate flavour. Although it is divine served on its own, add a little whipped cream and berries for tartness – it is simply sublime.
Recipes that use fruit have an amazing way of giving you a snack of summer delight to savour in the chilly winter months. Personally, citrus flavours are just what I need to boost my spirits on a winter’s day. In my lemon and blueberry cake, citrus flavours dance together with the brilliance of blueberries to make a treat that is full of antioxidants and has summer baked straight into it. Early research has even shown that the essential oils in citrus zest help to protect you from feeling gloomy as they have mood-lifting properties. And if by accident you spill the cake when liberating it from your baking tin, a good patch up with buttercream gives the whole family something to giggle about.
Food is a powerful trigger for some of our most profound, positive and playful memories. After many years in the cake making industry, Grace admits that when she works she still hears the wise voice of her home economics teacher telling her how to bake a perfect cake.
In an increasingly complex world, we can take comfort in the simple truth that a full belly makes a happy person. When we know someone has taken time to make a meal for us and put effort, love and skill into it, we can taste their care for us. With so many more of us cooking at home, the options to express our affection for our loved ones through wonderful winter treats are only limited by our personal tastes.