Each year, as the days shorten and the nights get increasingly frigid, the hours I clock in the kitchen take a drastic tick upward. I crave braises, soups, and hearty baked goods to combat the chilly darkness.
This season, the cookbook I’m turning to again and again for these cozy, warming dishes is Yvette Van Boven’s Homemade Winter. A follow-up to her first book, which was simply called, Homemade, this second volume is bursting with beautifully imperfect photography, charming line drawings, and enticingly seasonal recipes.
One of the things that makes this book so darn special is its visual appeal. Van Boven is a Dutch food stylist, freelance writer, and designer. Instead of handing her recipes and content over to a team of folks (which is how it typically works in publishing), she created each and every page in the book (using photography by her husband Oof Verschuren). The end result is a volume that feels personal and intimate, more like a family scrapbook than a traditional cookbook.
On my initial trip through Homemade Winter, I made a list of 27 recipes that I want to try. Though I’ve made just three so far, I’m itching to work my way through the rest of my bookmarks and post-it notes.
First out of my kitchen was the Brown Soda Bread on page 23. It’s dense, tender, and slightly sweet. Like most soda breads, it’s best eaten the day it was baked, but I did find that it made surprisingly good toast the next morning. It’s also very nice eaten alongside a bowl of A Gentle Soup of Leeks & Chestnuts on page 116. Oh, this soup. It’s quietly creamy and lush.
Finally, I tried the Cranberry Clafoutis on page 224. Each summer, I go on a tear making these quick, custardy desserts with cherries, plum slices and strawberries. But it never occurred to me that I could make them with wintery fruit. My mind is blown, and in the very best way. (It doesn’t hurt that she has you briefly simmer the cranberries in slurry of sugar and wine. Now that’s some delicious stuff.)
Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a loaf of soda bread in the kitchen, calling my name.
Brown Soda Bread
- 4 cups (500 g) whole wheat flour
- 2 1/2 (200 g) cups rolled oats
- 1 2/3 (100 g) cups wheat bran
- 3 generous tablespoons brown sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups (500 ml) buttermilk or whey, or more or less as needed to make a smooth dough
- 1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk and egg and stir until the dough just comes together in a ball—no longer or the bread will be tough.
Grease a 9-inch (23 cm) round cake pan and pat the dough into it. Brush the top with some water and sprinkle with some bran or oats, then slash a cross into the top. Bake for about 45 minutes. Take the bread out of the pan and bake directly on the oven rack for another 10 minutes, until it is nicely browned and crisp. Let it cool on a rack.
Gentle Soup of Leeks & Chestnuts
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 9 ounces (250 g) chestnuts, peeled (you can buy them peeled)
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts, washed well and sliced
- 10 ounces (300 g) potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 cup (250 ml) beer
- about 4 1/2 cups (1l) chicken broth
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and briefly sauté the chestnuts, leeks, and potatoes. Add the beer, let it evaporate for a few minutes, then add enough broth to cover the vegetables by 1 inch (2.5 cm).
Let simmer over low heat until the potatoes are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes, then puree the soup until smooth with an immersion blender, or in batches in a standing blender.
Add water if needed, until the soup has the consistency you prefer. Taste for salt and pepper, then stir in half of the cream.
Serve with good bread and a swirl of the remaining cream.
Clafoutis with Cranberries
- 9 ounces fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 g) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (200 ml) marsala wine
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup (250 ml) milk
- 5 tablespoons (75 g) soft butter, plus more for greasing
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (125 g) granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup (75 g) all-purpose flour
- seeds from 1 vanilla bean, or 1 sachet (2 teaspoons) vanilla sugar
- pinch of salt
- confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine cranberries, sugar, and marsala wine in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for seven minutes, until most of the berries have burst. Add cinnamon, stir to combine and set aside.
Butter various small baking dishes (or 1 large one) generously. You can use all kinds of sizes, as long as they have a total volume of about 3 cups.
In a food processor or bowl, process or whisk the eggs, milk, butter, sugar, flour, vanilla seeds, and salt into a smooth batter.
Pour batter into the baking dishes and arrange the cranberries on top (without the simmering liquid).
Bake clafoutis for about 25 minutes, until set.
Let it cool (the clafoutis will sink a little) and sprinkle them with confectioners’ sugar.
If you’re making the recipe for children and don’t wish to use alcohol, replace it with orange juice or tea.