Chatsworth House winter recipes

Posted in January, February, December, All Recipes, Winter, on

The best thing about cooking in the winter is being in the kitchen when the weather is horrible outside, surrounded by produce brought in from the garden – apples, beetroot, squash, rosemary, peppers and chillies – all of which need to be harvested before they get frosted or rot in the wind and rain.

People always react to the aromas as you cook – that smoky, slightly acid smell of rosemary as you chop it, the sweet and earthy smell of bread as it comes out of the oven, the tang of chutneys cooking – smells that most of us remember from childhood, but have not experienced for years.

Sophie Burnside, the private cook of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire at Chatsworth, likes to make comfort food at this time of year for those who have been out all day: walkers or shooting parties coming in from the cold and wet. When everyone returns to an open fire she loves to provide the food that goes with that – hearty and warming. Sophie has one of the best vegetable gardens to cook from, and wants to do it justice, so is always inventing food that's a bit out of the ordinary. She's making lots of beetroot soda bread at the moment, which looks incredible – the prettiest bread I've ever seen.

She's also making preserves; traditional ones such as medlar jelly for serving with game, pear chutney, apple chutney, and lots of her own invention, which she plays around with and perfects. Two large kitchen shelves are already chock-a-block with jars, with more on the way. Sophie wants her chutneys to be a beautiful colour, to sit there in their jars and glow. She also aims for an intensity of flavour and complexity, so she can open a jar when she's in a rush and turn an ordinary meal into something exciting.

Flavoured oils are another priority and look so good with the light shining through the bottles. They are brilliant for capturing the flavours of a hot summer and the herbs that go with that. She'll splosh basil or dill oil on fish and also uses them to make a different salad dressing every day. For the oil, Sophie puts three or four sprigs of freshly cut rosemary into a bottle, slices and adds three cloves of peeled garlic and then just tops up with extra virgin olive oil. You need to leave it to infuse for a couple of weeks before you use it. Sophie then uses it as the base for her salad dressing.

One of the lunches she served for the Duchess last week was one slice of beetroot bread and one of the squash bread, both topped with goats' cheese (the soft, crumbly mild variety that comes in a log) and a blob of a contrasting chutney (beetroot, apple and ginger on the squash and spiced squash and yellow tomato on the beetroot). With a garden salad on the side, with apple and rosemary dressing, this is a wonderfully easy meal, using the garden in every one of its parts – tasty, colourful and stylish. Who could want more? Below are the recipes she uses.

Beetroot or squash soda bread

Normal soda bread doesn't last well, but with the addition of the beetroot or squash, it stays moist for three to four days. And the texture – a cross between a cake and a bread (particularly with the squash version), is fabulous. Soda breads are, of course, wonderful if you're in a hurry – they're so quick and easy to make. They're good at this time of year, too – hearty and substantial, particularly when they have a little spice in them and, with the beetroot, a good earthy flavour.

Makes 2 loaves, 5in rounds

  • 14oz squash (onion, butternut, 'Crown Prince') or beetroot (round or tap-rooted)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Maldon salt and ground black pepper
  • ¼ tbsp dried chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 10½ oz strong white bread flour
  • 1¾ oz butter
  • 3 level tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3½ fl oz buttermilk
  • 1 egg

If using beetroot, peel and quarter them. With squash, peel and cut into chunks.

Line a baking tray with tinfoil and place the beetroot or squash, spices and olive oil inside. Cover with foil and roast at 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Squash takes about 40 minutes. Roast the beetroot for 50-60 minutes, until soft to the point of a knife. Allow to cool.

Purée the beetroot in a food processor or mash the squash with a potato masher, and place in a bowl with the flour, butter, baking powder, rosemary and salt. Rub to combine.

Beat the buttermilk with eggs and add gradually to make a dough.

Divide in two, shape and place on a greased baking sheet. Make a cross on top and sprinkle with flour. Leave for 20 minutes, before baking at 360°F/185°C/gas mark 4 for 25 minutes.

Beetroot, apple and ginger chutney

The taste of this is deep, mellow, warm and rich. Sophie chose flavours that she knows go well with beetroot ndash; ginger, apple, orange, cumin and star anise. She did not want chilli in this one, as the taste of ginger and apple are too delicate to have chilli over the top of them. It works perfectly and is an excellent contrast to the squash chutney, below, good on the same plate.

Makes 10 x 1lb jars

  • 2lb 10oz beetroot, peeled and chopped
  • 2lb 10oz eating apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1lb 12oz onion, finely chopped
  • 3½ oz fresh root ginger, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • Zest and juice of 2 oranges
  • 1¾ pt cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 heaped tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 heaped tbsp cumin seeds
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 1lb 1oz dark muscovado sugar
  • 1lb 1oz light, soft brown sugar
  • 1 heaped tsp Maldon salt

Place the peeled and roughly chopped beetroot in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, but not puréed. Repeat with the apple. Place in a large, thick-bottomed preserving pan, along with the rest of the ingredients. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for about three hours until thick and gooey.

Cool and pour into sterilised jars. Date and label.

Spiced squash and yellow tomato chutney

The colour was the main thing in this chutney. Squash is one of Sophie's favourite vegetables and she wanted to preserve it without losing its beautiful colour. That's why she used yellow tomatoes (which now would be difficult to get, so red would be OK to use as an alternative). She also loves the sweet and savoury together, almost like a fruity curry in a jar – very tangy, fresh and bright.

Makes 8 x 1lb jars

  • 2lb 3oz squash (butternut, onion, 'Crown Prince' or any dense-textured squash)
  • 1lb 12oz yellow tomatoes
  • 2 red peppers, finely diced
  • 1lb onion
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 50g fresh ginger
  • 2 cups white-wine vinegar
  • 1lb 5oz caster sugar
  • 3½ oz runny honey
  • 1¾ oz golden sultanas
  • 3½ oz dried apricots
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp Maldon salt
  • 2 small red chillies
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp mild chilli powder

Put all the ingredients in a thick-bottomed preserving pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce to simmer for about two hours.

Cool and pour into sterilised jars. Date and label.

Sophie's rosemary and apple salad dressing

This is a brilliant idea for a dressing – thick and rich, like a healthy mayonnaise – using apple rather than an egg to hold it together. Stored in a jar, it lasts for a week in the fridge.

Serves 4-6

  • 7 fl oz rosemary oil
  • 3½ fl oz cider vinegar
  • ½ apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Add the ingredients one by one into a mixing jug and blitz with a hand wand whizzer for a minute.

Adapted from an article published in The Telegraph in 2010