I don't know about you but this year I've found myself spending endless hours in the kitchen cooking up a storm during these dark evenings. Whether it's a hearty lamb joint for a Sunday Roast, or some cosy winter puddings for an evening by the fire, I've really fallen back in love with cooking.
One of my favourite cookbooks has been The Christmas Chronicles from Nigel Slater. If you haven't got your hands on one of his cookbooks, I highly recommend it's one you add to your Christmas gift list.
In this post, I've pulled together some of my most loved recipes to share with you - along with an old family favourite.
Hot Apple Drink
Let's start with a festive tipple to sit on the kitchen counter whilst you cook. Whether you're able to share it with friends and family or if you're having a quiet time to yourself, this is the perfect drink for a cold winter's evening.
Take an apple and slice it into 8 after discarding the core and pips. Warm 3 tbsp of apple juice in a pan on a low heat, adding 2 tbsp of brown sugar and carefully lower in the apples. Cook slowly until the apples are soft - but before they fall apart. Remove from the heat.
In another pan, pour 100ml of brandy, 400ml of cloudy apple juice, a clementine, 3 cloves, a stick of cinnamon and 3 slightly cruised allspice berries. Bring the picture to the boil before reducing the heat and bubble gently for 15 minutes.
Ladle in the drink into glasses along with a couple of slices of the cooked apples.
Orange Poppy Seed Cake
These delicious cakes are a firm favourite in the Grandad's Shed household.
First up, dig out your muffin tin. This recipe will make 12. Line each hole with baking paper and set the oven to 180C.
Mix together 225g softened butter with 225g golden caster sugar and cream until soft and fluffy. Next, grate in the zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon.
Stir together 110g plain flour, half a tsp baking powder and 115g ground almonds in a separate bowl. Slowly add 4 lightly beaten eggs to the butter and sugar mix. Then slowly add in the flour mix until creamed. Then add in 20g of poppy seeds before transferring the mixture into the lined cases.
Heat in the oven for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out without any raw cake when inserted into one of the cakes.
To make the syrup topping, cut 50g of crystallised orange peel into thin strips.
Grate 1 lemon and squeeze the juice of it, along with that of 1 orange into a small saucepan. Add in 100g of golden caster sugar, 2 bay leaves and bring to the boil. Then add in the strips of candied peel.
Once you remove the cakes from the over, pierce them with a metal skewer. Spoon over the syrup and peel over the surface. Leave to cool and remove them from their cases ready to eat.
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Mmm, lamb has to be one of my absolute favourites. This recipe is the perfect dish to rustle up on a cold winters day. First up, set the oven at 180C.
In a large pot, sizzle 1.6kg of lamb belly with the bone in until the surface is golden. Then turn it over to brown the other side before moving it from the pan.
Cut 4 shallots into 1cm thick slices before cooking them for 10 minutes in the pot you've just used until they are translucent. Then add the lamb back in. Add your seasonings. We like to use rosemary, thyme and black paper. Then cover in 1.5 litres of stock. Cover the pan with a lid and place in the oven for about 90 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut 1kg of potatoes into 1/2 cm slides.
When tender, take out the lamb and place on a chopping board. The bones should slide out with ease. Then cut the meat into pieces. Mix the chopped meat back in the pan.
Turn the oven up a notch and place the potatoes across the bottom of a large baking dish. Then cover with a layer of the lamb and shallots. Then the potatoes. Repeat this layering of the potatoes and lamb mixture finishing with potatoes on top.
Pour over any remaining stock and bake for 60-90 minutes, until the potatoes are deliciously golden.
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My Mum's Whisky Liqueur
This is a recipe we make on Christmas Eve every year without fail. It's such a cosy drink that I just know you're going to love too.
Blend together 1 tbsp of instant coffee, a few drops of almond essence, a wine glass of any whisky, 300ml of single cream, 3 medium eggs and 1 tin of condensed milk for 2 minutes, or until nice and smooth.
Have a little taste. You might want to add in a little bit more coffee or whisky, depending on how strong you like it. Pour over ice and enjoy!
We can keep this one in the fridge for up to two weeks to whip out at a later date.
Seeded cheese biscuits.
Does anyone else find they are up to their eyeballs in cheese over Christmas? We do! This recipe is the perfect one to use up some of those leftovers - or as an accompaniment for the big day. We recommend trying them warm straight out of the oven too - they're lovely!
Preheat your oven to 200C. Then cut 150g of butter into small pieces and add in an equal amount of flour. Rub the mix between your fingertips.
Add in 60g of parmesan and then fold in 10g each of poppy, sesame, nigella and hemp seeds. Add in a pick of salt and 3 tbsp of water to form a soft dough.
Roll out the dough over a lightly floured surface into a square about 25cm x 25cm. Cut into 3 and then 3 to create 9 squares. Then cut each square in half diagonally to create 18 triangles overall.
Place these over a parchment-lined tray and bake for 12-14 minutes. Once lightly golden, take them out of the oven before using a knife to transfer the biscuits onto a wire rack to cool.
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Which recipes have been your go-tos this winter? Head over to our Kitchenware Shop to browse a gorgeous range of item to bring a smile to your face every time you bake.