Winter is a special time for entertaining. Cold days, long dark evenings and roaring fires. These images conjure up a longing for satisfying, heavier meals and for time spent in the company of good friends and loved ones.
At this time of year, I love my slow cooker. There’s nothing more delightful than walking through the door at the end of the day and being greeted by the scent of a delicious dinner – almost ready to serve. In these moments, not only do I get to pat myself on the back for my organizational skills, I also get to navigate the after school sports commitments, homework and extra curricular activities with more grace than I would otherwise manage.
As these colder months unfold I repeatedly draw on a handful of ingredients to nourish my family and keep the seasonal bugs at bay.
In this post, I’m going to share my 3 favorite ingredients for creating delicious meals. These ingredients aren’t fancy or expensive. They are easy to source, cheap to purchase and they provide the great bases for family meals or heat and eat staples you can use to stock up your freezer. Let’s begin!
If you’re a regular purchaser of my Friday meals, you’ll know first-hand how much I love to incorporate ginger into my cooking, and especially into my Asian inspired dishes.
For over 4000 years, ginger has been used to treat a variety of ailments. And whilst almost everyone is familiar with its ability to treat nausea, ginger also provides a great natural boost the immune system. This is a tremendous help during the bug infested winter months when work spaces and school classrooms turn into petri-dishes!
During winter I add this little gem to as many meals as I can. Fortunately, it’s so diverse that its application is limited only by our imagination or our willingness to experiment.
Here are a handful of my favorite ways to use ginger:
- Add to salmon by whipping up a honey, freshly grated ginger and toasted sesame seed glaze
- Marinate a chicken in honey, oil and freshly grated ginger
- If you have a sweet tooth, add freshly grated ginger to cream cheese frosting and use on carrot cake.
Garlic has a long list of admirers and I am a firm fan! Regular garlic consumption has been linked to reductions in the risk of cardiovascular disease and there are now studies suggesting it can even lower our risk of incurring particular types of cancers.
Whether you’re a huge lover of Italian food, a voracious consumer of Indian curries or a firm fan of Mum’s home cooked garlic and rosemary roast vegetables, this little bulb has endless applications. Some of my favorite ways of using it include:
- Roasting some garlic cloves, spooning out the contents and mixing through creamy mashed potato
- Making a garlic sauce for roast chicken by roasting some cloves, removing the skin from the clove and mixing the roasted garlic through the chicken juices before thickening
- Frying prawns in some butter combined with minced garlic, adding 1½ cups of white wine and tossing through some linguini. Serve with fresh parsley and freshly cracked pepper
- And how can I fail to mention garlic bread in this list? Mix a couple of spoonfuls of minced garlic with some creamy butter and spread on the loaf of your choosing. Bake in a warm oven for approx. 15 mins.
A staple for most of us, the humble onion adds tremendous flavor to food and possesses a myriad of health benefits to boost. The phytochemicals and vitamin C in onion help boost immunity, while raw onion lowers the production of LDL or bad cholesterol, helping to keep your heart healthy. As I was considering my favorite ways to use onion, I rapidly came to the conclusion that it’s added to so many of my meals (whether I’m cooking lasagne, soups, curries or pies), you’ll more likely than not find onion amongst my list of ingredients!
Easy to find and very affordable. Ginger, garlic and onion are my winter staples and you can’t eat at my house without at least one of these delicious ingredients making its way onto your plate. So to conclude this blog, I thought I’d share a recipe for a fabulous dish of mine that combines all three of these powerhouse ingredients into one magnificent meal that will make your mouth water:
Crispy Shredded Beef
400g rump or sirloin steak (trimmed)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 Tsp salt
4 Tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
oil for deep frying
2 carrots, finely sliced
1 small onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove
2 cm finger of fresh ginger
2 red chillies, shredded
4 Tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
3 Tbsp Chinese black rice vinegar
2 Tbsp light soy sauce
Cut the beef into thin shreds. Combine with eggs, salt and cornflour, then coat the shredded beef in the batter. Mix well.
Fill a wok to 1/4 full of oil. Heat the oil to 180 degrees C (350 F), or until a piece of bread fries golden brown in 15 seconds when dropped into the oil. Cook the beef for 3 -4 mins, stirring to separate, then remove and drain. Pour the oil from the wok, leaving 1 Tbsp.
Reheat the reserved oil over a high heat until very hot and stir fry the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli for a few seconds. Add the beef, carrot, sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. Stir to combine.