winter recipes

White Pine Tea

– 1 handful fresh white pine needles per serving

– 1 cup water per serving

Boil the water. Put the needles in a teapot and cover with the boiling water. Steep, covered, for at least 15 minutes, then strain and serve with sweetener, if desired.

Recipe Source: “Witch in the Kitchen: Magical Cooking for All Seasons” by Cait Johnson

Scottish Spiced Ale

– 4 eggs

– 4 ½ plus ½ cups Scottish ale

– ¼ cup clover honey

– 2 tablespoons butter, melted

– ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

– ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

– ¼ teaspoon cloves, or to taste

With a wire whisk, beat the eggs with ½ cup of the ale until frothy. Heat the remaining ale in a small pot until hot, being careful not to let it boil. While continuing to beat the eggs, pour the hot ale over the mixture. Return the mixture to the pot and add the honey, butter, and spices. Heat again, but do not boil. Pour into large mugs and drink hot.

Recipe Source: “Celtic Folklore Cooking” by Joanna Asala


– 1 gallon (or more) apple cider

– 1 large cinnamon stick, broken into pieces

– 13 allspice berries (one for each full moon of the year)

– 1 apple, sliced crosswise (to reveal the pentacles within each slice)

– 1 small whole orange, studded with 8 whole cloves (one for each festival of the year)

– Irish Whiskey

– maple syrup or brown sugar

In a large soup pot, gently heat the cider with the cinnamon stick, allspice berries, apple, and clove-studded orange. Then add the whiskey and maple syrup or brown sugar, to taste. Start by adding a cup or so of alcohol and taste to determine the potency you’re after, adding more and tasting until you get it right. Do not allow the wassail to boil unless you want to lose some of the alcohol. Serve steaming hot in mugs. 

Recipe Source: “Witch in the Kitchen: Magical Cooking for All Seasons” by Cait Johnson

Hot Buttered Rum

– ½ cup butter, softened

– ½ cup brown sugar

– ¼ cup powdered sugar

– ½ teaspoon nutmeg

– ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

– 1 cup vanilla ice cream, softened

– 6 jiggers of rum, or to taste

– boiling water

In a small bowl, beat butter together with brown sugar, powdered sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Beat in the softened ice cream. Pour the ice cream into a freezer-proof container, seal, and freeze. When ready to serve, put about ⅓ cup of the ice cream mixture into individual mugs. Add 1 jigger of rum and ½ cup boiling water to each. Stir well and serve.

Recipe Source: “Celtic Folklore Cooking” by Joanna Asala

Meat Pies with Butter Sauce

– 4 eggs, beaten

– 3 cups water, divided

– 1 ½ cups mashed potatoes

– 3 cups flour

– 2 pounds ground round steak

– ½ pound ground kidney suet

– 2 slices of bread, softened in milk and squeezed dry

– salt, pepper, and thyme to taste

– 1 medium onion, chopped fine

– 1 stick of butter

Mix together eggs, 2 ½ cups water, and mashed potatoes. Add enough flour to make a smooth dough. Roll out dough and cut into 3-inch rounds. With your hands, mix the beef, suet, bread, ½ cup water, and spices until sticky, but firm. Place 1 tablespoon of the mixture in the center of each pastry round; fold over and pinch to seal. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil on the stove and drop the meat pies in. Cook until they swell and float, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a platter. Saute onions in the butter and pour over the meat pies. 

Recipe Source: “Celtic Folklore Cooking” by Joanna Asala

Chestnuts and Brussels Sprouts

– 1 pound chestnuts, skinned

– 1 ½ pounds Brussels sprouts

– salt and pepper to taste

– pinch of ginger

– ¼ cup butter

– basil, dill, and caraway seeds (optional)

For the best dish, choose the biggest chestnuts and the smallest sprouts. 

To skin the chestnuts, make a cut along the flat side of each nut and drop into a pan of salted water. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove a couple at a time, as they have to peeled while hot. Remove outer shell and inner skin. 

Simmer skinned nuts in a pan of fresh, salted water for 15 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside. 

Cut a cross in the bottom of the stalk of each Brussels sprout. Soak in cold water for 10 minutes. Boil in a small amount of salted water for about 8 minutes; drain. Return the sprouts to the pan, add nuts, and season with salt and pepper. (Add the basil, dill, or caraway seeds in with the salt and pepper, if desired). Stir in the ginger and butter just before serving. 

Recipe Source: “Celtic Folklore Cooking” by Joanna Asala

Leek and Potato Gratin

– 2 cups low-fat milk

– 3 large potatoes, scrubbed and sliced into ¼-inch rounds

– 2 leeks, white parts only, washed well and sliced into ¼-inch rounds

– 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed

– ¼ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

– 1 cup shredded cheese

– ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 

In a large, heavy-bottomed or non-stick saucepan, combine the low-fat milk, potatoes, garlic, and sea salt to taste. Simmer over medium heat until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes (be careful not to scorch them). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the leeks and potatoes to a shallow baking dish, retaining the thickened hot milk in the saucepan.

Stir the cheese into the saucepan and continue stirring until the cheese is melted. Pour the cheese-milk mixture over the leeks and potatoes in the baking dish. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. 

Bake until the gratin is bubbly and golden, about 30 minutes. Let the gratin cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source: “Witch in the Kitchen: Magical Cooking for All Seasons” by Cait Johnson

Partridges in Orange Sauce

– 2 roasted partridges, pigeons, or other small game birds

– 2 oranges, peeled and sliced

– 1 cup white wine

– juice and zest of ½ lemon

– ¼ teaspoon ginger

– ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste

In a medium pot, combine orange slices, wine, lemon juice and zest, ginger, and salt. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Cut up the roasted birds and arrange in a stove-proof casserole dish. Pour the sauce over and cover. Simmer until meat is heated through.

Recipe Source: “Celtic Folklore Cooking” by Joanna Asala

Chestnut Soup

– lightly salted water for boiling

– 1 pound chestnuts

– 5 cups chicken stock

– 2 cups fresh milk

– pinch of nutmeg

– ¼ teaspoon ground mace, or to taste

– salt and pepper to taste

– croutons to garnish

To skin the chestnuts, make a cut along the flat side of each chestnut and drop them into a pan of boiling, salted water. Boil for 5 minutes. Chestnuts must be peeled while hot, so only take a couple at a time. Remove both the outer shells and inner skins. In a fresh pan of water, simmer the peeled chestnuts for about 15 minutes until they are tender. Be careful not to overcook them, or else they will fall apart. 

Discard the water and puree the chestnuts in a blender, then return them to the soup pot. Add the stock, milk, nutmeg, and mace. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reheat and serve with croutons for garnish.

Recipe Source: “Celtic Folklore Cooking” by Joanna Asala

Root Soup

– 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter

– 1 medium onion, diced

– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– 6 cups vegetable broth

– 3 cups diced fresh beets

– 1 medium potato, diced

– ½ cup diced carrot

– ½ cup peeled, diced parsnips

– ½ teaspoon dried thyme

– ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

– ½ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

– freshly ground black pepper

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil or butter. Add the onion and garlic and saute until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Then add the vegetable broth, beets, potato, carrot, parsnips, thyme, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the beets and parsnips are tender. Serve hot.

Recipe Source: “Witch in the Kitchen: Magical Cooking for All Seasons” by Cait Johnson

Chocolate-Coated Ginger

– 5 ½ ounces crystallized chopped ginger

– 2 bars of dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

– clean jam jars and labels

– metal or wooden skewers, or similar

– greaseproof (wax) paper

Chop up the ginger into smaller pieces, so each piece measures about a ½-inch across.

Break up the chocolate and melt in a bain-marie (a bowl positioned over a pan of hot simmering water). Once melted, take the chocolate off the heat, then dip the ginger into it, several at a time, and fish them out with wooden skewers.

Place each chocolate-coated piece on the greaseproof paper to dry. Once these are dry, put them in clean, dry jars, label and enjoy.

Recipe Source: “Treat Yourself Natural” by Sof McVeigh

Faerie Cakes

For cakes:

– 1 stick butter

– ⅔ cup sugar

– 2 eggs, beaten

– ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

– grated rind of one orange

– ¾ teaspoon baking powder

– 1 ¼ cups flour

– 1 tablespoon milk

– ⅓ cup sultanas

For sugar icing:

– 2 cups powdered sugar

– 2 tablespoons water, boiling

To make the cakes, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and orange rind. Sieve the baking powder and flour together and add to the butter mixture. Add a little milk to create a batter of dropping consistency. Fold in the sultanas and spoon the mixture into well-greased muffin cups. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 25 minutes.

For the sugar icing, combine the powdered sugar with the boiling water. Drizzle the sugar icing on the cakes and serve.

Recipe Source: “Celtic Folklore Cooking” by Joanna Asala

Marmalade Loaf

– 1 cup strong black tea (not herbal)

– 2 cups mixed dried fruit

– 1 ½ cups brown sugar

– 1 egg

– 4 tablespoons orange, lemon, or lime marmalade

– 4 cups flour

– salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon to taste

Soak the dried fruit and sugar in tea; cover and let stand overnight. The next morning, stir in the egg and marmalade; mix thoroughly. Sift flour together with spices and add to the marmalade mixture. Pour into greased and lined 9×5-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 1 to 1 ¼ hours. 

(Note: Start preparing this recipe a day ahead.)

Recipe Source: “Celtic Folklore Cooking” by Joanna Asala

Maura’s Irish Soda Bread

– 3 ½ cups unbleached flour

– ½ to ¾ cup raw or brown sugar

– 1 teaspoon baking powder

– ¼ teaspoon baking soda

– 1 stick butter, softened

– 1 egg

– 1 ¼ cups buttermilk (or regular milk soured with 1 teaspoon vinegar)

– ½ cup golden raisins or currants

– 1 teaspoon dried caraway seeds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, raw or brown sugar (use more for a sweet loaf), baking powder, and baking soda. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly.

Add the egg and the buttermilk; mix until moistened. The dough will be stiff. Add, working into the dough, the golden raisins and the caraway seeds. Form into a round loaf on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour.

Recipe Source: “Witch in the Kitchen: Magical Cooking for All Seasons” by Cait Johnson

Brigid’s Broth of Inspiration

– 2 tablespoons olive oil

– 3 leeks, white parts only, washed well and cut into ½-inch rounds

– 1 red bell pepper, diced

– 1 medium carrot, diced

– 2 teaspoons paprika

– ¼ teaspoon cayenne

–  6 cups vegetable broth or water

– sea salt

– handful of garlic-mustard greens, coarsely chopped

– 1 to 2 cups croutons

– 4 to 6 dollops sour cream

– sprouts for garnish

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil. Add the leeks, red pepper, and carrot, and heat, stirring occasionally, until barely tender. Sprinkle vegetables with paprika and cayenne to taste. Cover the vegetables with the vegetable broth or water and sea salt to taste. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, for 15 minutes.

Add the handful of garlic-mustard greens. Continue cooking for 2 or 3 minutes.

Place several croutons into individual bowls, ladle soup into the bowls, and top each serving with a dollop of sour cream. Arrange two or three sprouts (seeds or beans) on the sour cream and serve.

Recipe Source: “Witch in the Kitchen: Magical Cooking for All Seasons” by Cait Johnson

Waking Earth Cake

– 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

– 1 cup unbleached white flour

– 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

– ½ cup vegetable oil

– ½ cup unsulphured molasses

– ½ cup hot water

– ¼ cup blackstrap molasses

– yogurt or ice cream (vanilla)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine both flours and baking soda. Stir in the vegetable oil and the unsulphured molasses. This mixture will resemble crumb topping. Remove 1 cup of it and reserve.

In a small bowl, combine the hot water and the blackstrap molasses. Add to the flour mixture in the large bowl and mix well. Pour batter into a buttered 9-inch square baking pan; sprinkle with the reserved crumb topping, and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve warm with a dollop of yogurt or vanilla ice cream to represent the white snow covering the waking earth.

Recipe Source: “Witch in the Kitchen: Magical Cooking for All Seasons” by Cait Johnson


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