We all know that healthy and fresh is the way to go, but there’s only so much salad you can eat when it’s cold outside. Sometimes, only comfort food will hit the spot. So, just what are the top 5 comfort food choices?

1. Apple crumble and custard.

Yes, the humble apple crumble still has the power to brighten the darkest day. The trick is to use a sprinkle of cinnamon and to stew the Bramley apples for just the right amount of time. Pour on real custard, ideally made with Madagascan vanilla and crucially, cream, not water. Star anise takes this dish to another level. Then curl up and enjoy.

2. Macaroni Cheese

Mac and Cheese as it’s now more familiarly known, is a firm comfort food favourite, combining flavour and stodge in equal amounts. The key is to use top quality tube shaped pasta, and both Cheddar and Parmesan cheese. Add garlic and mustard, and you have an indulgent, cheesy, melt in your mouth dish. For a killer ingredient, add a splash of Worcestershire sauce.

3. Spaghetti Bolognaise

This takes slightly more effort in the time stakes, but the reward is more than worth it. Try pork mince instead of beef, for a silkier, tastier experience, then add sieved tomato passata. Add garlic, a chunk of chorizo and lots of fragrant oregano, and leave to absorb all the flavours. Serve with spaghetti and fresh Parmesan and feel truly spoiled.

4. Cauliflower cheese

Quick, easy and so satisfying with a gratin of thinly sliced potatoes and lardons. It’s almost a tartiflette, which combines bacon potatoes and cheese, but the cauliflower option lightens the dish. Add Gruyere and double cream for true indulgence.

5. Chilli

Whether it’s chilli con carne, or a vegetarian option, nothing feels more cosy than a rich, warming bowl of chilli on a freezing cold day. Some add chocolate for a Mexican touch, but simply opting for grass fed beef, garlic, kidney beans and peppers provides excellent results. Just how many chillis to add may be your sticking point, but for comfort, try just enough to spice up your tastebuds rather than ‘feel the burn’. Cumin seeds and chipotle chillis (smoked, dried jalapenos) will take this dish into another dimension.

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