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As the temperature dips below zero and the days get longer, our bellies turn to comfort food to keep warm.

Winter eats: Warm up with these comfort food recipes

Visit the Complete Guide to Winter 2016/17 for the Winter Forecast, tips to survive it and much more.

Leeanna McLean
Digital Reporter

Monday, November 21, 2016, 9:05 PM - As the temperature dips below zero and the days get longer, our bellies turn to comfort food to keep warm.

During the winter local produce dwindles and you may find yourself heading for the big-box grocery store where there is a broader selection. Not so fast.

Although they may be rough around the edges, root vegetables like squash, pie pumpkin and turnip are in their prime around this time of year. They have a longer shelf life and many of them even taste sweeter after the first kiss of frost.

Chef Deb Rankine of Oshawa Ont., is a cooking school instructor and author of the cookbook series The Fridge Whisperer.

The Weather Network has lined up some great cooking tips and hearty flavourful winter recipes with chef Deb for the perfect cozy night in with some friends.

So throw some logs on the fire, crack open a few bottles of wine and set the table. Winter is here and it tastes great.

WINTER FORECAST: Here's everything you need to make it through the coming season

10 minute secret to a perfect holiday pie

Chef Deb shows you how to properly break down a pie pumpkin and prepare it in a pressure cooker. Make a delicious pumpkin pie or tea bread by making your own puree. Cut the pumpkin up and place in a pressure cooker. After about ten minutes, take the pieces out, remove the flesh and mash with a fork.

Pie pumpkin tea bread (makes 2 loaves)


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups pie pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla


  • Preheat oven 350°F. Coat two bread tins (9-x-5-x3-inches; see Whisperer, whisperer below) with vegetable spray. Set aside.
  • Stir together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder and salt until blended. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat together eggs and sugar until sugar has dissolved, then stir in pumpkin puree, vegetable oil and vanilla until blended.
  • Gradually stir flour mixture into egg mixture until combined, then pour batter into baking tins two-thirds full.
  • Bake on centre rack until a toothpick inserted in centre of bread comes out clean, about 70 minutes, turning tins from front to back halfway through baking time.
  • Transfer tins to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes. Run a knife around edges to loosen, then turn out bread back, place back on rack and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature. Consume within 3 days for optimum flavour or freeze for up to 2 months.

Turn up the heat with this tasty soup

Chef Deb walks you through roasted sweet potato jerk soup. Roasting sweet potatoes first helps build depth of flavour and makes the soup easy to make because the vegetable is already cooked.

Roasted sweet potato jerk soup (serves 4)


  • 1 pound mini sweet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger puree
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon Jamaican jerk paste (try Walkers Brand)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock


  • Place potatoes on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, set on centre rack of preheated 350F oven and roast until very tender, about 45 minutes to an hour, then transfer to wire rack and let cool.
  • Remove and discard skin, place pulp in a bowl and mash with a fork. Set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add oil and heat to shimmering, that add onion, garlic, ginger and jerk paste and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring often.
  • Stir in reserved sweet potato, coconut milk and stock and continue cooking until soup is thoroughly heated. If desired, puree soup and pass through a fine mesh sieve for a velvety texture.

Turnip vs. rutabaga

A turnip and rutabaga are miles apart in texture and flavour but are often mistaken for each other, even by professional chefs. Learn the difference in the video below. Chef Deb Rankine shows you how to break these vegetables down.

Rutabaga mash (serves 4)


  • 1 rutabaga (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons heavy (35%) cream
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter, divided
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper


  • Place rutabaga in a saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Drain rutabaga, return to saucepan, add cream and 2 tablespoons butter and mash to combine, season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Spoon rutabaga puree into a serving bowl, make a well in centre with back of a spoon and add remaining 2 tablespoon butter. Serve immediately.

Crispy Acorn Squash Chips (serves 4)


  • 1 small acorn squash, washed and patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon no-salt dried vegetable seasoning


  • Preheat oven 325°F. Set out a baking sheet.
  • Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds.
  • On a mandolin or with a sharp chef’s knife, cut squash crosswise into ⅛-inch-thick slices, brush both sides with vegetable oil, place in a single layer and baking sheet and sprinkle with vegetable seasoning.
  • Bake on centre rack for 35 minutes, flipping chips over and turning sheet pan from back to front halfway through backing time. Transfer chips to a wire rack to cool slightly, then serve immediately.

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