We may not get much snow in the winter here in South Africa, but the howling winds, icy temperatures and pounding rainfall is more than enough to plunge us indoors. Despite the raging elements outside, there is still something magically serene and comforting about the winter. Long evenings curled up with a book in front of a smouldering fireplace, weekends spent under the solace of oversized jumpers, warm fluffy blankets, chunky socks, winter recipes, and cold hands wrapped around a wickedly delicious mug of hot chocolate, savouring the aroma of fresh oven baked bread.
Grace Stevens, award-winning TV chef, confectionery connoisseur, and winter-loving human shares some of her much-loved winter recipes, flavours and traditions to warm up your homes and soothe your soul.
Here Are Grace’s Top 3 Traditions:
Be bold and confident in your choices
In South Africa winter is a short-lived affair, so make the most of the plummeting temperatures as soon as you can. I love rich but warm desserts, mugs of steaming hot chocolate around a raging fire and thick, cosy jerseys. As soon as the days start to get shorter and the morning crispier, I salvage my treasured slippers and knits, cram my cupboards full of marshmallows, hot chocolate, and plenty of tea bags and then I start baking. For me, nothing feels, smells, looks, or tastes like winter than traditional, old fashioned but freshly baked cakes, biscuits, and doughnuts.
Think outside of the box
Food shared with loved ones is the catalyst for so many unforgettable memories. There is something wonderfully uplifting about gathering the family around a table full of scrumptious winter favourites, but don’t be afraid to update and adapt where necessary. I absolutely love the peppermint tart recipe my grandmother lovingly passed on to me, but that doesn’t mean I should serve it the way she would. A luscious bowl of peppermint tart mousse is an alternative way to serve it to seamlessly finish off a substantial winter meal, and it is usually very popular with young and old alike.
Don’t be afraid to experiment
Our sense of taste plays an important role in capturing memories. When we taste something for the first or last time, we usually connect it back to the place we were at, who we were with and how we felt at the time. I often say that in the kitchen, the real magic only happens when you fuse traditional flavours with newer, less obvious ones. Not everything will taste incredible the first time you try it, but that is okay. Test, taste, and fine tune as you go and be enthralled by the mystery, taste, and wonder!
Two of Grace’s Top Winter-Warming Recipes
What I love the most about this recipe is that it combines pumpkin fritters, a traditional South African winter dessert, with the typically American donut to create a perfect marriage of deep-fried deliciousness. Infusing pumpkin in the yeast dough oozes winter charm and flavour as well as a light and airy texture.
The best thing to warm you up on a bitterly cold night is a magnificent mug of steaming hot chocolate. I make mine by rolling up chocolate ganache into small truffle-like balls, sinking two or three into a mug of warmed milk and then stirring. Dust with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg to really elevate the wintry flavour.