Winter Cooking with Dannielle Mills

With a drop in the temperature outside comes a desire for warm, comforting food. Winter also sees a fabulous array of seasonal produce hit the shelves. Among the tastiest are stunning stalks of rhubarb and rich, creamy chestnuts. If you are new to these ingredients they can seem a little daunting, but both are simple to prepare, easy to introduce to your winter repertoire and, most importantly, delicious!

Celeriac & Chestnut Soup
with Fried Sage


2 brown onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
or crushed
2 tbs olive oil
1 head celeriac, trimmed and diced into 2cm pieces
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
into 2cm pieces
100g chestnuts, roasted and peeled
(see note below)
2L chicken stock
150g butter
8 sage leaves
Salt and pepper, to season


Make the soup Heat 2 tbs oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic until softened.

Add the celeriac, potatoes, chestnuts and chicken stock to the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add enough water to cover the ingredients and bring to the boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes and celeriac are very tender.

Remove the soup from heat and add butter. Use a stick blender to pureé soup until smooth (or cool slightly, then pureé in batches in a blender and return to pan). Warm over low heat.

Fry the sage Melt the remaining 20g of butter in a small pan over medium heat. Cook until the butter turns a light brown colour. Add sage leaves and cook for
1 minute until crisp.

Serve Serve the soup in bowls garnished with fried sage and a drizzle of the butter.

HANDY NOTE: Roasting Chestnuts

Preheat oven to 200°C. Score the skin of each chestnut with a small slit, or cross, so they don’t burst while roasting. Place chestnuts on a baking tray and roast for 10-20 minutes. The skin around the scores will start to peel back when they’re ready. Allow to cool slightly, then peel. They can fall apart once roasted but that’s not
a problem.

Mushroom & Pancetta Risotto


1L chicken stock
2 tbs olive oil
250g sliced mushrooms
60g pancetta (or bacon), finely diced
1 brown onion,  finely diced
150g butter
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
100ml white wine
1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
8 chestnuts, roasted and sliced


Make the risotto In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Cook mushrooms and pancetta for 5 minutes, or until softened and golden brown. Remove from the saucepan and set aside.

In the same saucepan, reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and 20g butter. Cook for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the rice and stir for
1 minute to coat the grains in butter.

Add the white wine and stir constantly until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Add two ladles of warmed stock and stir through. Reduce the heat to a simmer.

Leave the risotto to simmer for
25 minutes or until the rice is tender, stirring in more stock whenever the liquid is almost absorbed. You will need to stir the risotto every 5 minutes to stop it sticking to the pan.

Remove the risotto from heat and stir through the mushrooms, pancetta, parmigiano reggiano, chestnuts and remaining butter.

Serve Season with salt to taste and let sit for a few minutes, until the cheese and butter have melted. Serve immediately in bowls.

Rhurbarb & Apple Crumble


1 bunch rhubarb, cut into 1cm pieces
3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored
and cut into 1cm pieces
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla paste
1/3 cup caster sugar
Juice of 1/2 an orange

1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup hazelnut meal
1 cup oats
1/4 cup caster sugar
100g butter, chopped


Lavender Cream
If you are really looking to impress, rhubarb and lavender are a great combination, so try these crumbles with a delicious lavender cream. To make lavender cream bring 2 cups of pouring cream, 2 tsp of dried lavender and 2 tbs of caster sugar to a simmer over a low heat. Once simmered strain into a bowl and leave to cool. When completely chilled whip into soft peaks. Delicious!


Preheat the oven to 200°C
(180°C fan-forced).

Prepare the rhubarb mixture In a bowl toss the rhubarb, apple, cinnamon, vanilla, sugar and orange juice in a bowl and leave it to macerate for a minimum of 1 hour.

Make the crumble Combine the flour, hazelnut meal, oats, sugar and butter in a bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Cook the rhubarb mixture Heat a large saucepan over medium to high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the rhubarb mixture and cook for about 4 minutes or until apple is tender.

Once cooked spoon the rhubarb mixture into 4 individual ramekins and top with some crumble mix. Place in
the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the top is golden.

Serve hot with good quality vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Rhubarb Tarts


2 sheets good quality puff pastry
1 bunch rhubarb
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg, whisked


Preheat the oven to 200°C
(180°C fan-forced).

Cut the pastry sheets into quarters and place on a lined baking tray.

To prepare the rhubarb Cut the rhubarb into 10cm batons leaving a border around the pastry squares (you may need to cut some thicker pieces in half so all batons are the same size).

In a bowl, toss the rhubarb with the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon so that the rhubarb is well coated.

To prepare the tarts Arrange 5 batons in a row on each pastry square, leaving a small boarder around the outer edge.

Brush the edge of the pastry with egg and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until pastry is golden.

To serve Cool slightly and serve with cream or ice cream, or as a decadent breakfast pastry.

Visit Dannielle’s website
Join the Breeze Newsletter
receive notification of new issues, giveaways, competitions, great local stories and much more!
Stay Updated