Winter Warmers With Thomas Frake

Winter is coming and that means long nights, cold weather, and evenings snuggled up under a blanket in the comfort of your home. But did you know that rather than turning up your heating a couple of degrees, you could turn to food to make you feel warmer instead?

We’ve paired up with 2020 MasterChef winner Thomas Frake, to share three delicious recipes that will warm you up from the inside out.

Bonfire baked beans

Serves: Two

Time: 45 mins

Packed full of smoky, sweet and spicy flavours, this bonfire baked beans recipe elevates the traditionally tinned teatime staple into something delicious and heart-warming. Smoked paprika and ancho chilli flakes add a fiery and smoky kick, whilst the brown sugar and black treacle add a sweet and sticky depth of flavour. Serve on freshly toasted sourdough with perfectly fried eggs for a warming winter lunch.


  • 400g (240g drained) tinned cannellini beans
  • 200g passata
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp ancho chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp black treacle
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil


1. Preheat the oven to 160०C.

2. Over a medium heat, heat 1 tbsp of rapeseed oil in an oven-safe frying pan. Finely slice the smoked streaky bacon rashers and gently fry until just beginning to crisp.

3. Finely slice the shallot and add to the bacon. Stir to coat in the rendered bacon fat

and let the shallot sweat for five minutes, or until translucent. Do not let them brown.

4. Finely chop or mince a clove of garlic and add to the bacon and onions. Sweat for another two minutes.

5. Add the smoked paprika, cumin, ancho chilli flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir well to coat

the bacon, onions, and garlic in the spices. Cook for another minute or so to cook out the spices.

6. Add the drained cannellini beans, passata, brown sugar, white wine vinegar and black treacle to the pan and stir to incorporate all of the ingredients. Let the beans simmer for 5 minutes and then transfer to the hot oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the beans are tender.

7. Serve with freshly toasted sourdough and perfectly fried eggs.

Calf’s liver, bacon and onions

Serves: Two

Time: 45 mins

Hearty, comforting and delicious, this take on liver, bacon and onions is like a warm winter hug in a bowl. Caramelised liver and smoky crisp bacon pair perfectly with rich creamy potatoes and a sweet onion gravy. Serve piled high in a bowl with lashings of gravy for a superb seasonal supper.


  • 4 slices of calf liver
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • ½ tsp mild curry power
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 75g butter
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 4 rashers of smoked bacon
  • 1 white onion
  • 50ml sherry or port
  • 300ml beef stock
  • 1 tsp tomato ketchup
  • 6 fresh sage leaves

To make the creamed potatoes:

  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • 50ml double cream
  • 50g butter
  • Pinch of salt

To make the spinach:

  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 25g butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 100०C – this will be used as a warming oven.
  2. For the creamed potatoes, firstly peel and chop the potatoes into 2-inch cubes. Place in a large saucepan filled with salted water. Bring the potatoes to the boil for 10-15 minutes until they are soft. You should be able to pierce easily with a knife. Once cooked, drain in a colander, and leave to steam dry for a couple of minutes. Whilst still warm, pass the potatoes through a ricer or mash until smooth. Return to a low heat and incorporate the cream and butter by beating with a wooden spoon until smooth and glossy. Season to taste with salt. Keep warm.
  3. For the onion gravy, finely slice one whole onion. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and 25g of butter over a medium heat. Add the onions and gently sauté until translucent. Do not let them brown. Once softened, add the sherry or port to the pan and reduce until thick and syrupy. Add 1 tbsp of flour to the onions and stir to coat. 
  4. Once coated, add the beef stock to the saucepan and vigorously simmer for about 20 minutes, until reduced by a third, or when the gravy is thickened.
  5. Remove the gravy from the heat, allow to cool slightly, and add the tomato ketchup and 25g of butter. Stir until thickened and glossy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. For the bacon, add 1 tbsp of rapeseed oil to a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Fry the bacon for about 2 minutes per side or until crispy, remove from the pan. Drain on kitchen roll, and then transfer to the oven to keep crisp and dry. Add the sage leaves to the pan for just a few seconds until crispy. Drain on kitchen roll and season with a pinch of salt.
  7. For the liver, season 2 tbsp of flour with salt, pepper, and the curry powder. Dust the liver slices in the flour and pat to remove the excess flour. In the same pan and oil the bacon was cooked in, add the liver slices to the pan two at a time over a medium-high heat. Depending on the thickness, fry the liver for 1-2 minutes per side, remove from the pan, and transfer to the warm oven to rest for a few minutes.
  8. For the spinach, heat the butter in a medium saucepan over a medium heat until foaming. Add the spinach and stir until slightly wilted. Do not wilt the spinach right down, some crisp texture should remain. Remove with a slotted spoon on to some kitchen roll to absorb excess butter, and then serve.
  9. To plate up, spoon some of the onion gravy into a shallow bowl. Add a large spoonful of the creamed potato with the spinach placed alongside. Top the spinach with two slices of liver per person, and then top the liver with the rest of the gravy, slices of bacon and the crispy sage leaves.

Sticky banoffee pudding with caramelised walnuts

Serves: Six

Time: 50 mins

Sweet and sticky, but light and fluffy, these sticky banoffee puddings warm the soul with steaming hot sponges, a decadent toffee sauce, and crunchy caramelised walnuts. Ripe bananas add an extra caramel sweetness, whilst black treacle and cinnamon add warming winter spices. Serve steaming hot with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream for an indulgent winter dessert.


To make the banoffee puddings:

  • 100g ripe bananas
  • 100g pitted dates
  • 200ml boiling water
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 50g (plus extra for greasing) butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g dark muscovado sugar
  • 2 tsp black treacle
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp salt

To make the sticky toffee sauce:

  • 150ml double cream
  • 150g butter (softened)
  • 150g dark muscovado sugar

To make the caramelised walnuts:

  • 60g walnut pieces
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 180०C, and butter six small pudding moulds.
  2. Firstly, roughly chop the dates and bananas and place into a large bowl. Pour over 200ml of boiling hot water and allow to soak for 15 minutes.
  3. Whilst the dates and bananas soak, prepare the caramelised walnuts. Heat the caster sugar and water in a small saucepan over a high heat, gently agitating the pan, but do not stir. When the caramel begins to bubble and turn a light golden colour, add the walnut pieces and salt, and stir to coat. Tip the walnuts into a glass bowl and leave to cool.
  4. Using a stick blender or food processor, blend the dates, bananas and water until a puree is formed. Add the vanilla extract, cinnamon, salted butter, dark muscovado sugar, bicarbonate soda, black treacle and salt, and blend again until smooth.
  5. Bit by bit, sift and whisk in the self-raising flour until incorporated, followed by the two beaten eggs. Whisk well into a thick batter without any lumps.
  6. Divide the mixture between your pudding moulds, filling them to three-quarters full only, as this will give the puddings room to rise. Bake at 180०C for about 30 minutes, and the top of each pudding forms a crust. Turn the oven off, open the door, and allow the puddings to rest, but keep warm.
  7. For the sauce, add the double cream, butter and dark muscovado sugar into a small saucepan and place over a medium heat. Whisk continuously until the butter is melted, the sugar has dissolved, and you are left with a thick and glossy sauce.
  8. To serve, turn the puddings out onto a plate, pour over the sticky toffee sauce, top with the caramelised walnuts and serve with simple vanilla ice cream

The foods that warm the heart

There are several different types of food that can help you to feel warmer, due to the fact they are rich in vitamins and iron. These are just some of the top ingredients that can help you feel nice and toasty during the long winter nights:

  • Liver: Liver is packed full of iron, vitamin A, B12, folic acid, niacin and minerals, and at just 200 calories, it’s much lower in calories compared to most other cuts of meat. However, liver is high in cholesterol, so should only be eaten in small quantities.
  • Spinach: Eating spinach can increase your metabolism, which in turn, can help to produce more body heat – making it an ideal ingredient to eat during the winter months!
  • Dried fruit: Dried fruit has plenty of magnesium, iron, vitamin B, protein and fibre – with dates especially well-known to help raise your body’s temperature.
  • Eggs: Packed with vitamin A and D, as well as iron, calcium and zinc; eggs help make your bones stronger; but they also keep your energy levels high, in turn, causing you to produce heat in your body. 
  • Bananas: Packed full of magnesium and vitamin B, bananas can help the thyroid and adrenal glands to regulate your body’s temperature during the winter. In fact, one large banana could equip you with 10% of your recommended daily magnesium intake.

Be kind to yourself this winter and cook these delicious heart-warming recipes to keep you feeling warm inside and out. Alternatively, for more food inspiration, check out the rest of our blog

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