In the kitchen with Henny: Winter warm-ups

As the weather gets cooler, we naturally gravitate to foods that warm us up from the inside out - here are a few.

Sweet potato soup (photo credit: HENNY SHOR)
Sweet potato soup
(photo credit: HENNY SHOR)

As the weather gets cooler, we naturally gravitate to foods that warm us up from the inside out. 

There are many warming ingredients that we can use to help our bodies keep in the warmth long after the meal. Foods that have onions, garlic, pepper, ginger, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, honey, sweet potatoes and root vegetables are great ways to keep our bodies warmer during the winter months. 

I’m excited to share with you some of my delicious winter recipes that give us that extra boost of warmth, as well as boosting our immune system. 

Sweet Potato Soup

There’s nothing that warms the body and heart like a good, rich soup. I created this recipe a few years ago on a particularly cold day. I warmed up immediately after tasting it, and it’s become a winter family favorite. The ginger-honey-cinnamon combination really gives you a warm boost!

Yields about 10-12 servings.

1/3 cup olive oil2 onions chopped4-5 cloves of peeled garlic1 Tbsp. kosher salt¼ tsp. black pepper3-4 sweet potatoes peeled and sliced4-5 carrots peeled and sliced2 zucchinis cubedfresh ginger freshly grated gingerfresh turmericfresh parsley leaves½ cup honey or silan2 Tbsp. ground cinnamonspices to add about 1 tsp. each: turmeric, ginger, granulated garlic

In an 8-10 quart pot, heat up olive oil and add in the onions to sauté. 

After about 4 minutes add in the garlic cloves, salt and pepper, let sauté in low flame for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the sweet potatoes, carrots, and zucchini and mix with the onions and garlic for about 2 minutes and then add water enough to cover the vegetables. 

Add 2 pieces of washed and cubed ginger, about the size of a large olive. In addition, I also grate a small amount of fresh ginger using a hand grater and add that in as well, and add the fresh turmeric. (If you have a soup cloth bag you can place the ginger and turmeric in there for easy removal before blending.) Add in the honey, cinnamon, parsley and remainder of spices. 

Cover the pot and bring to a low boil, then lower the heat to simmer for about 90 minutes. Let the pot stand for about 30 minutes to an hour. Remove the ginger and turmeric before blending. Use an immersion blender to “zhuzh” the soup until smooth. This soup freezes great and stays great in the fridge up to 4 days.

Shawarma – Chicken or Turkey

 Mashed potato upgrade (credit: HENNY SHOR) Mashed potato upgrade (credit: HENNY SHOR)

When you live in Israel, shawarma becomes a food you can’t ignore. The shawarma stands with spinning rotisseries are on almost every corner, and the smell alone gets your stomach growling in hunger. 

What I love about this recipe is how simple it is to make, and how easy it is to love every bite! My friend Gila served this to us four years ago and I was so impressed I called her the next day for the recipe. I have made a few changes to add even more warmth to this easy-to-make dinner dish. 

Yields 4 servings.

1 kilo boneless chicken thighs or breast  or boneless turkey thigh (which is labeled shawarma in Israeli supermarkets)2 large onions diced1/3 cup olive oil + 2 Tbsp. for marinadeJuice of ½ lemon½ tsp. kosher salt1 tsp. ground black pepper1 Tbsp. ground cumin1 Tbsp. ground turmeric1 Tbsp. paprika½ tsp corianderPinch of cinnamon

Cube the chicken or turkey and place them in a bowl with 2 Tbsp. of olive oil and the lemon juice, cover and set aside or refrigerate if you are preparing ahead of time. 

In a large deep pan, sauté the onions in olive oil and add the salt and pepper. Let sauté for about 5 minutes mixing occasionally. Add in the cumin, turmeric and paprika to the onions and sauté for another minute.

Now add in the cubed chicken/turkey as well as the coriander and cinnamon and mix well with the onions and spices. Lower the flame and cover the pot. 

Let the shawarma cook for about 15-20 minutes for chicken breast, and 20-25 minutes for turkey. Stir occasionally making sure the chicken/turkey is getting cooked evenly. 

Shut off the flame and let stand for 5-10 minutes until serving.

Mashed Potatoes Upgrade

 Mashed potatoes (credit: HENNY SHOR) Mashed potatoes (credit: HENNY SHOR)

When I am feeling the Jerusalem winter in my bones, I crave the warm feeling that mashed potatoes gives me. Even boiling them in the pot brings warmth into the home immediately.

I know many people feel that mashed potatoes are so simple they don’t need a recipe for it. However, when I serve my guests mashed potatoes, the compliments are overflowing, and I am often asked how they come out so perfectly tasty that they have had more than second helpings. 

Just ask Magazine editor Erica Schachne, whom I was blessed with hosting recently. She insisted I put this recipe in my next column.

Yields about 4 servings.

6-8 small potatoes unpeeled (red or white)1/3 cup of olive oil2 onions chopped6-8 cloves of garlic, sliced50 gr. of cooked beef fat (optional but oh so good!)2 tsp. salt½ tsp. pepper

Fill a 6-8 quart pot with water, set it on the stove over a medium flame and add in the washed potatoes either whole or cut into chunks. I like them with the peel, but you can peel the potatoes if you wish. Cover the pot most of the way and let the potatoes boil for about 25-35 minutes.

While the potatoes are boiling, use a pan to heat the oil and sauté the onions for 5-7 minutes, mixing occasionally. If you are using beef fat, add it to the sauté pan now to add a very rich flavor. (I very often will trim fat off a cooked roast or brisket and place the fat in a bag in the freezer and save it for mashed potatoes, or a stuffing.) Add in the sliced garlic cloves, salt and pepper, and sauté on a low flame for another 3-4 minutes – again stirring a few times.

Drain the water from the potatoes and let them sit for about 5 minutes, then add the sautéed onions and garlic and begin mashing the potatoes with a large fork or masher. Taste to see if you need more salt or another tsp. of olive oil to help it mash better. 

This can be served right away or placed into a dish and refrigerated up to 3 days before heating up in the oven to serve.

Chocolate Fondue 

 Chocolate fondue (credit: HENNY SHOR) Chocolate fondue (credit: HENNY SHOR)

Winter or summer, we crave chocolate. Let’s be honest here, hot chocolate fondue is a whole new level of indulgence. There is a reason why we have strawberries in the winter, as it goes perfectly with melted chocolate. 

This dessert idea is so simple to prepare and is extremely enjoyable on a long Friday night after the meal.

Yields servings for 8 people.

250 gr. of good quality dark chocolate2 Tbsp. +1 tsp. oil1 Tbsp. instant coffee grounds dissolved in 2 Tbsp. boiling water1 tsp. chocolate or coffee liqueur – optionalStrawberries, segments of oranges or clementines, pretzels, almonds, and anything you desire to dip into melted chocolate!

Use the smallest burner on your stove on the lowest flame (no – I don’t use a microwave!). Add 2 Tbsp. of oil to a small pot and then add the chocolate; it can be chocolate chips or chocolate squares.

Use a rubber spatula to stir often so it melts smoothly. Dissolve the coffee grounds in boiling water and add it to the pot when most of the chocolate has melted. Keep mixing after adding the coffee and you’ll notice it may begin to thicken. Don’t panic, it will be fine, just add the extra teaspoon of oil (or two if you feel you need it) until it thins out and all is smooth and melted. 

The last step is to add a teaspoon of liquor, obviously optional, but it definitely enhances the flavor. Give it another stir and then shut off the flame. 

You can transfer this into a fondue bowl with a candle lit below it, or keep this warm in a ceramic bowl on the Shabbat platta until dessert is served. Place it on a trivet in the center of your table along with a variety of fruits and snacks, and dip in!

Ginger and Lemon Tea with Honey 

 Ginger and lemon tea with honey (credit: HENNY SHOR) Ginger and lemon tea with honey (credit: HENNY SHOR)

During the winter time we really need to boost our immunity and help get rid of any congestion that is bringing us down. Years ago before I was married, my roommate Rivka had enough of my coughing fits and taught me how to make lemon and honey tea to help relieve some of my congestion. I was intrigued that I could make my own tea at home, yet also a bit skeptical that it would work, but I was willing to try anything.

It worked wonders and each winter I would keep a jar of it in my fridge to add to my teas for that extra boost. Then I became aware of the powers of fresh ginger and I added it to my at home winter tea potion!

I wish you all a healthy and warm winter, enjoying the coziness and blessings that it brings.

Yields about 8 cups of tea.

Fresh ginger root2 lemons¼ cup of honey

Directions: Fill a medium-sized pot with water about two-thirds full and place it on a medium flame. Wash the ginger and lemon well and cut them up into large chunks or slices, leaving on the peel. I encourage you to research the immense benefits of lemon peel, organic is best. 

Add them to the water and then pour in the honey. Cover the pot and let it come to a boil, lower the flame and let simmer for about 30 minutes. 

You can drink this mixture as a cup of tea – yes, it is strong! Alternatively, add some of it to a tea of your choice.  

 The author (credit: HENNY SHOR) The author (credit: HENNY SHOR)
The writer is a kitchen coach, who inspires confidence and creativity in the kitchen. Learn more about workshops and coaching: