Winter calls for hearty recipes to warm the soul. Try these delicious seasonal offerings from one of Wildflower’s favourite food writers, Donna Hay, who shares these enticing recipes from her fabulous new book ‘Even More Basics to Brilliance’, which is on sale now.

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Za’atar Lamb Skewers with Whipped Feta

700g lamb backstrap (loin), cut into chunks

2 tablespoons chopped oregano leaves

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon za’atar (see basic recipe za’atar), plus extra

sea salt and cracked black pepper

200g soft feta

½ cup (125g) plain thick yoghurt

warm flatbread, lettuce and cucumber, to serve

Step 1 Combine lamb, oregano, lemon rind, garlic, oil, za’atar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes.

Step 2 Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat.

Step 3 Thread lamb onto 8 metal skewers and cook for 6–8 minutes, turning occasionally, until cooked.

Step 4 Whisk feta and yoghurt together. Top flatbreads with lettuce, cucumber, lamb skewers, the whipped feta and extra za’atar. Serves 4

Za’atar

1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves+

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

2 tablespoons sumac

½ teaspoon sea salt flakes

Step 1 Place the thyme, sesame seeds, sumac and salt in a bowl and mix to combine. Makes ½ cup (30g)

Cook’s notes

+ This recipe is, essentially, just a simple mix of herbs and spices, so it is important to source quality ingredients. Specialty stores and online specialty spice merchants are my preferred go-tos.

Store za’atar in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2–3 months.

Roast Garlic Chicken on Potato and Leek Gratin

2 tablespoons mashed roast garlic (see basic recipe roast garlic)

1 tablespoon chopped tarragon leaves, plus 4 sprigs, extra

80g unsalted butter, softened

sea salt and cracked black pepper

1 x 1.3kg whole chicken

½ lemon, cut into wedges

extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

potato and leek gratin

1kg starchy potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

2 leeks, trimmed and cut into thin strips

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

1¼ cups (310ml) hot pure cream

Step 1 Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Combine the mashed roast garlic, tarragon, butter, salt and pepper. Loosen the skin over the chicken breast.

Step 2 Using a small spoon, place the garlic butter under the skin of the chicken.

Step 3 Fill the cavity of the chicken with the extra tarragon sprigs and the lemon. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil.

Step 4 To make the potato and leek gratin, place the potato, leek and thyme in a deep 25cm x 30cm (10 inch x 12 inch) baking dish. Pour the hot cream over.

Step 5 Place the chicken on top of the gratin and roast for 1 hour or until the chicken and potatoes are tender and cooked through. Serves 4

Roast Garlic

3 large heads garlic

extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle

sea salt flakes

Step 1 Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).

Step 2 Place each head of garlic on a sheet of aluminium foil. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and wrap to enclose.

Step 3 Place on a baking tray and roast for 40 minutes or until soft and golden.

Step 4 Cool for 10 minutes, then squeeze the garlic from their skins and transfer to a sterilised glass jar+. Discard the garlic skins. Makes ⅓ cup (100g)

Cook’s note

+ It is essential to sterilise jars thoroughly and store roast garlic in the refrigerator to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses such as botulism. When using the garlic, don’t leave the jar out at room temperature for too long. You can keep this in a sterilised glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. To sterilise glass jars, preheat oven to 120°C (250°F). Wash the jars and their metal lids in soapy water, rinse and place on a baking tray. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool before filling.

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Mac and Cheese

300g dried macaroni or 400g dried casarecce

80g unsalted butter, chopped

⅓ cup (50g) plain (all-purpose) flour

1.2 litres warm milk

170g coarsely grated cheddar cheese

1 cup (80g) finely grated parmesan

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

sea salt and cracked black pepper

sourdough crumb

200g sourdough breadcrumbs without crusts

60g unsalted butter, melted

Step 1 Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain and place in a large baking dish. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F).

Step 2 Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk and bring to a rapid simmer. Cook for 5–6 minutes, stirring continuously, or until thickened slightly. Remove from the heat and add the cheddar, parmesan, Dijon, salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Step 3 Pour the cheese mixture over the pasta and stir to combine.

Step 4 To make the sourdough crumb, combine the breadcrumbs and butter.

Step 5 Sprinkle the sourdough crumb over the mac and cheese and bake for 20–25 minutes or until golden and crunchy. Serves 4

Donna Hay’s new book ‘Even More Basics to Brilliance’ is on sale now (£28, Fourth Estate). To buy your copy, visit Waterstone’s online store here

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