Cold comfort recipes

Pork and paprika stew with caraway dumplings

This is a marvelously warming stew to enjoy on a cold day. It makes a super portable lunch kept in a flask – just save the caraway dumplings for a day you are planning to eat it at home. I will often make a double or triple batch of this stew and store it in individual portions in the freezer, which are quick and easy to defrost, reheat and eat on the go.

Serves 4


1 tbsp olive oil
500g pork shoulder, cut into chunks
2 medium white onions, sliced into chunks
2 red peppers, cut into large chunks
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp sweet paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp caraway seeds
500ml hot beef stock
1 large glass red wine
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

For the dumplings

125g self-raising flour
2 tsp caraway seeds
Salt and pepper
50g suet
8-10 tsp cold water


  • Place the olive oil in the largest saucepan you have. Ensure it has a well-fitting lid.
  • Heat the olive oil over a medium hot temperature. Add the pork chunks and cook for a few minutes until lightly browned.\
  • Add the onions, peppers and garlic, followed by the tomato purée, paprika, cayenne pepper and caraway seeds. Stir together well.
  • Add the beef stock, wine, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Stir again and cover. Leave the casserole to bubble away gently over a moderate heat for at least 1½ hours.
  • Whilst the casserole is cooking, make the dumplings. Place the flour, caraway seeds, salt, pepper and suet together in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Add the cold water, little by little, to bring the mixture together to form a soft and slightly sticky dough. Be careful not to add too much extra water, as the dumplings will become soggy, so start by adding 8 teaspoons gradually, as you may not need the rest.
  • Once you have made the dumpling dough, pinch off pieces and roll into golf-ball sized dumplings. Set aside.
  • You can leave the casserole to cook gently for a couple of hours if you like, but it needs at least 1½ hours for the meat to become really tender.
  • Twenty minutes before you are ready to eat, add the dumplings to the casserole by placing them on the surface. Cook for a further 20 minutes and serve the casserole and dumplings with green vegetables.

Tip: if the sauce is looking quite runny, remove the lid and turn the heat up. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, to allow some of the excess liquid to cook off.

Spiced parsnip loaf cake

A spiced parsnip cake, freshly cut

Parsnips work just as well in cakes as carrots do. This is a lovely everyday cake to make at home. The end result is a sweetly spiced, satisfying loaf. It keeps well – up to five days in a tin – and travels very well.

Makes 1 large loaf


250g butter
125g light brown soft sugar
125g caster sugar
½ tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, beaten
2 very large parsnips, peeled and grated
200g sultanas
100g pecan nuts
350g self-raising flour, sifted


  • Start by lining a 900g loaf tin with non-stick baking paper and preheating the oven to 190˚C/170˚C fan/Gas 5.
  • Beat together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Next, add the salt, cinnamon, mixed spice, vanilla and eggs and beat again until very smooth.
  • Add the parsnips, sultanas and pecans and gently fold them into the mix, followed by the flour.
  • Carefully spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about an hour, until a cocktail stick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • Remove the loaf from the tin and cool fully on a wire rack before slicing.


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