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Seasonal Stomach The Tea Journey

The Tea Journey: Sichuan Dew

May 7, 2017

Hello and welcome to a special May instalment of the Tea Journey. I want to break with the structure we’ve been following for the Tea Journey so far to really focus on the experience. Following on from last week’s Health, Happiness and Hustle post, I really wanted to take my time over this tea, to enjoy it mindfully and allow myself a break to drink it (after I’d finished running around taking photos of course!).

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Seasonal Stomach

What To Eat This Season: Spring

March 29, 2017

Spring is here, and I don’t know about you but I’m starting to feel excited about food again. I do like a bit of stodge now and then, but the long winter of pies, chilli con carne and root vegetables has got me craving clean, fresh flavours. Beautiful vegetables will be coming into season thick and fast from now on, Easter brings with it the spring lamb and we start to see hints of the summer red berries.

Here are some of the best foodie delights to look out for this spring. If you can, buy from your local farm shop or market – the price is usually cheaper than the supermarkets, and the quality, taste and ethics are far superior.

Asparagus
(April – June)

All jokes about wee aside, British asparagus is in its prime during spring, so you will find some big juicy stalks in the shops rather than the weedy imports the supermarkets insist in selling in December.

Asparagus is more versatile than you think – you can roast it with other spring veg, mix it through a risotto or eat with poached eggs and bacon. My favourite way is the French though – dipping the stalks into melted butter or hollandaise.

Broccoli
(from April)

It’s a warm welcome back to this tree-wannabe in all its forms – purple sprouting is also back from April. The health benefits of broccoli have brought it back into vogue by Joe Wicks and crew, but I’ve always liked it as a quick and easy way to bring greenery to a dish. If your not a fan of boiled broccoli I recommended steaming or dry frying – if you catch broccoli slightly it has a gorgeous nutty flavour.

Lamb
(from April)

Spring means Easter, and Easter means lamb. Slow cook a leg studded with garlic and serve with olives and halloumi for a Greek style lunch, or fry pretty cutlets for a special dinner. There are lots of options for this versatile meat, and buy local for the best flavour.

Rhubarb
(April-May)

Follow up your lamb with a yummy rhubarb crumble – pair it with cherries for a delicious mix of sweet and tartness. Rhubarb is really easy to grow, so if you hang around your local allotment for long enough you’re sure to find someone with a glut of the stuff desperate to give it away. If you want it to be pink you need forced rhubarb (grown in the dark) – the regular stuff tastes the same but is more of a gooseberry-green.

Early British fruits – Cherries, Peaches, Strawberries
(from June)

Just writing this my brain is wandering off thinking of strawberries dusted with sugar in the sunshine, of Wimbledon, of strawberries in Pimms…I do like a strawberry. From June the summer fruits start coming into season, so get your pinafores on and go picking!

 

I’d love to know your favourite spring recipes – I hope to feature some of mine (read: Dan’s) this season.

Seasonal Stomach The Tea Journey

The Tea Journey: Two Green Teas

February 20, 2017

Welcome back to the Tea Journey and here we’ve taken an excursion away from tea bags into loose leaf green tea. I’ve been a little trepidatious about tasting green tea. It’s the one tea I’ve always wanted to like for the health benefits, but I could never get on with the teabags my mum bought from the supermarket.

After that experience I never quite believed that all the people espousing the amazing-ness of green tea could actually like it, or was there something wrong with me and my taste buds? I was keen to find out.

Here I am trying two types of green tea by Jing Tea. The first is Organic Jade Green Sword, Jing’s best-selling entry level green tea; the second is Dragon Well, China’s most famous green tea.

The preparation

To make the loose leaf tea I used Jing’s Tea Infuser, a glass mug with a glass infuser that sits in the top. Quite often loose leaf teas can be a bit too faffy for everyday use – you need a lot of equipment and it’s very fiddly to clean the teapot out after use. The Tea Infuser is just as easy as making tea with a bag – spoon in the tea, pour over the water, wait 3 minutes, then lift the infuser out. Done!

Green tea must not be made with boiling water as it will burn the leaves and make the tea taste bitter. If you haven’t got a thermometer, I tend to leave the kettle about 10 minutes after boiling to let it cool down to 80 degrees.

The experience

In the infuser the tea colours slowly over the three minute infusion time to a vivid-yellow green, the leaves dancing as the water is poured in before settling nicely to stew. With the lid on the cups steams up, the flavours percolating and building , and when you remove the infuser both teas look like patches of freshly mown grass.

Jade Green Sword

As I took my first sip, all my nervous fears were immediately allayed. I can totally see why this is the most popular and introductory green tea. It’s bright and fresh and completely unexpected on the tongue; I expected it to be more powdery after my earlier experiences. It has citrus notes, like grapefruit or maybe a sharp green apple rather than being lemon-y.

As bright and fruity as it is there’s a richness that settles on the tongue that is almost like coffee; it’s difficult to describe, it doesn’t taste like coffee, but the sensations in the mouth, that ‘settling’ feeling is very similar to the sensations of coffee drinking.

It is so refreshing and easy to drink that it’s almost like a light cordial; it feels like a spring morning. Whereas the flavours of jasmine and peppermint matured and altered in the mouth, this is bright and zingy the whole way through.

Dragon Well

So onto to Dragon Well with its bright green, long leaves. This is a very unexpected flavour. It has the same sort of brightness as Jade Sword, but as if it had been smoked. It has a much, much deeper flavour which is smoky and sophisticated; it feels more grown up, like the father compared to Jade Sword’s busy pre-teen.

There are still touches of fruit but they’re in the background compared to the smokiness that dominates the mouth. While the flavour is deeper it is similar to Jade Sword in that it is still light and doesn’t mellow or sophisticate on the tongue.

I’ve said repeatedly here that Dragon Well has a ‘smoked’ flavour – to clarify, the tea hasn’t actually been smoked, and the more sophisticated palates at Jing would call this nuttiness.

The freshness is still undeniable, but it is a wintery freshness as opposed to the early summer vibes of Jade Green Sword. This is definitely a February drink.

The rituals

Green tea has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, both to treat individual illnesses and also as a general health tonic. There are studies that show it can help to speed up the metabolism and reduce cholesterol. Tea was also used by Buddhist monks to achieve better results while meditating.

I’ve always thought that green tea is as much a lifestyle choice as it is a beverage. Having tried it, it is certainly the perfect tea to sit with, to take time over and to feel revitalised with. Why not use it to aid meditation and mindfulness? On a quiet weekend afternoon I can’t imagine much better. Jing have this short guide to tea meditation and I heartily recommend it.

 

You can view all of Jing’s green teas here – and if you’re not sure which green tea is for you, they have lots of guides online to help too.*

Are you a green tea lover? What’s your favourite variety?

*please note that these products were sent to me by Jing Tea to review – however, the words are all mine and from the heart.

Seasonal Stomach

One Pot Meals, For People Who Don’t Like Them

February 10, 2017

Having written recently about my distaste for stews, it got me thinking about how I have always tarnished one pot meals with the same brush. At university I remember zealously telling my housemates that ‘I don’t like any one pot meals’ as they all sat down to a casserole or stew, and I munched a Ryvita.

I’ve always considered a ‘one pot meal’ to be a meat-based, greasy-water-gravy dish. It wasn’t until recently that it dawned on me that actually most of my meals are one pot meals according to the literal definition: a meal made in one pot.

Why did I come around to them as a concept? I now value my time far more than when I was a student when all time was infinite, so anything that reduces cooking faffery, and the subsequent washing up, gets a big thumbs up. Similarly anything that can be made in bulk and portioned up for lunches is useful, and cooking like this helps me to buy less, and therefore waste less.

So here I’m on a somewhat evangelising quest to help you too see the light of One Pot Meals. I’ve provided all my historic grievances, and offered solutions and alternatives to make you desperate for a lovely new casserole dish.

Problem: They’re too stodgy

I like a bit of stodge when it comes in a treacle sponge or a roast potato, but there’s something about that really rich, bordering on greasiness about a stew that makes me shudder. I don’t like that tacky feeling that seems to coat the inside of my mouth. But one pots don’t have to be overtly rich.

While thinking about this post it dawned on me that risotto is a one pot meal! Duh! I have a recipe for an easy peasy oven baked risotto, but even if you make it traditionally they can be really sharp and light. Add plenty of lemon juice and use aldente fresh vegetables for a zingy, crunchy one pot meal full of flavour and texture.

Problem: I hate stewed meat

This is my big bugbear with stews and casseroles. I hate chewy meat, and even if it’s beautifully tender, I’m still waiting for that bit of gristle so much so that I can’t fully enjoy it. For one pots now I’ll usually cook the meat separately and add it in – whether that’s sausages stirred through a pasta dish or lamb on top of a bean stew. I realise that this isn’t strictly one pot, but it will reduce your cooking time and taste nicer – I think we can get away with one pot-one tray, right?

Problem: They’re too watery

The biggest mistake people make with one pot meals, especially stews and sauces, is putting the pan lid on while it bubbles away. Think about it – the steam rises, condenses on the lid, and falls back into the sauce as water. It never gets a chance to thicken. Keep the lid well away from the pot and allow the steam to evaporate away. Give it the occasional stir to stop the bottom burning, but the sloppiest mixture will only take about half an hour to thicken up really nicely

Problem: Not enough flavour

Linked to the above, even if you’ve removed the lid and it’s still lacklustre, you need to up your seasoning game. For any one pot meal bay leaf, salt and pepper are vital. If it’s tomato-based add a few squirts of tomato purée. Try a spoonful of marmite for a salty, umami depth, a little hint of spice (try cinnamon with beef) or a tingly hit of lemon.

 

Are you converted? Or do you have any favourite one pot recipes? I’d love to hear them!

Seasonal Stomach The Tea Journey

The Tea Journey: Peppermint Leaf Tea

February 6, 2017

Welcome back to the Tea Journey and to our second instalment, Peppermint Leaf tea. I think we all have this vague idea that mint tea is good for you in some way, easing digestive complaints, reducing bloating and whatnot. However, my only experience of mint tea was in Morocco where a tiny portion is served with around 6 sugar cubes, so that kind of defeated all the health benefits.

Since then, I’ve not really had mint tea. I must admit that I’m not actually the greatest fan of mint full stop, apart from the mint sauce in a jar you used to have with your nan’s roast dinners that doesn’t really taste like mint. However, I am keen to test out the health benefits and to see if I can acquire a taste for it.

The preparation

The preparation of Peppermint Leaf tea is easier than Jasmine. Simply pour fresh, boiling water over the bag and infuse for 3 minutes.

The experience

The Jing Peppermint leaf tea leaves no holds barred when it comes to strength of flavour. Forget watery mint teas, this one punches you in the face with a minty hurricane as soon as you open the packet. Once the water is added, the smell softens somewhat. It smells a little like Murray mints – smooth, creamy and sweet with the mintiness, rather than the harshness of a humbug or Polo.

It almost immediately turns a vibrant, golden yellow. It’s almost unbelievable that a little bag of dried herbs can exude so much colour in so little time. As you waft and drag the bag through the water you can see the dried mint unfurl and enliven so that it ends up looking like a clutch of freshly mown grass.

And then you take a sip.

I’ve honestly never had a tea like it. There is just so much going on in there that you immediately take another one just to work out what the hell just happened. At first it’s really mellow, the flavour coming mainly from the smell that wafts towards your nose. It’s slightly sweet (although maybe that’s my brain tricking me into thinking it’s a Murray mint…). Then after you swallow, a spicy heat lies across the back of your tongue. It’s tingly and peppery, like the sensation you get from a clean, chilli-based meal (I’m talking Thai rather than Tikka).

The more you drink, the tingle spreads around your mouth making you feel refreshed, clean and cool (I’m honestly not trying to make this sound like a toothpaste, it’s not!). Unlike other teas where it can start to feel claggy in your mouth after half a cup, this one just keeps getting fresher.

The rituals

As peppermint tea is caffeine-free and has digestive-easing properties, it is traditionally drunk as an after dinner palate cleanser. Peppermint helps the movement of gas through the body, thereby reducing bloating and speeding up digestion. It is also a natural anti-inflammatory, so is popular with IBS-sufferers to soothe their tummies.

Similarly to jasmine, peppermint also has stress relieving properties and is commonly used in aromatherapy. A natural sedative, its anti-inflammatory nature can reduce blood pressure and body temperature, allowing you to unwind and relax.

Why not start drinking Peppermint tea before bed? Have an early night with a favourite magazine or a new book, fluff up your pillows and curl up with a soothing peppermint tea. Particularly if you’re a bad sleeper or have tummy trouble, it could help you relax and sleep more soundly.

Peppermint Leaf is certainly the surprising tea. I hadn’t, to be honest, expected to enjoy it. I thought it would be too minty, or not minty enough. I thought it might be dusty or synthetic tasting. I didn’t expect the freshness, I didn’t expect to, well, enjoy it. Having learned a little about it’s health benefits, I think I’ve found myself a new bedtime drink.

Check out Jing Tea’s peppermint range here*.

Come back next time when I’ll be dipping my toe into the ocean of green tea.

What are your thoughts on peppermint tea? And how are you enjoying the Tea Journey so far? Let me know in the comments if there’s anything more you’d like to see!

*please note that these products were sent to me by Jing Tea to review – however, the words are all mine and from the heart.

Seasonal Stomach The Tea Journey

The Tea Journey: Jasmine Silver Needle Tea

January 22, 2017

I’m starting the Tea Journey with Jasmine Silver Needle. But why jasmine? It doesn’t seem like an entry level tea, with its exotic connotations and the fact that it’s made with flowers. But it’s a natural start for me, as I love all things jasmine – scented candles, shower gels, the tiny white climbing flowers and their scent in summer. I have tried jasmine tea before, and it’s the only herbal tea I’ve enjoyed rather than struggled through.

So at this stop in the Tea Journey I dip my toe at the shallow end of the pool. If you’ve not tried jasmine tea before, or you’ve been put off herbal teas by those dusty-tasting fruit versions, I really recommend it as an introduction to the world outside of milk and two sugars.

Here I’ll tell you how to make the perfect cup, how it tastes, and how to really enjoy it.

The preparation

First of all, jasmine tea deserves more than a novelty mug. For the best flavour and temperature, use a glass cup, or exquisitely thin china. The tea deserves it, you deserve it.

Heat the water to 80 degrees. If you don’t have a fancy thermostat kettle, you can use a meat thermometer, or any type of thermometer. If you are thermometer-less, add a little cold water into the cup just to take the temperature down.

Infuse the tea for 3-5 minutes. I prefer to infuse for the shorter amount of time as it keeps the flavour lovely and light. You can also re-use the Jing teabags a couple of times, so don’t just bin them!

The experience

Preparing this tea is mesmeric. Watching the sands dribble through the timer while the tea gently stains the water like watercolour paint, building a kind of ritualistic tension. Making it properly, with time and attention, definitely adds to the overall experience.

The first thing you get, as you cradle the cup under your chin, is the aroma. It’s otherworldly almost, hypnotising you into thinking, for just a second, that you are elsewhere. It evokes gardens and greenhouses and the act of parting leaves and flowers as you explore deeper. It smells like a memory I can’t quite place – happy, yet mysterious.

The taste is gentle and floral, but in a really decadent way (I always think ‘floral’ as a flavour makes it sound soapy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth). It is a multi-faceted tasting experience, where the first sip feels light and clean, yet it mellows into a rich heaviness which lingers on the tongue. This makes it feel totally luxurious. When drinking this, you know how good it is for you (see below), but the flavour tricks you into thinking it’s sweet and naughty.

The rituals

In northern China it is customary to serve jasmine tea as a welcoming gesture to guests. How lovely is that?! I think it’s a wonderful ritual to adopt. Why not plan a slow afternoon with friends, to craft, chat and drink tea in a beautifully jasmine-scented room?

For centuries jasmine tea has also been used for stress relief and as an anti-depressant, which makes sense when you think that jasmine is also commonly used in aromatherapy.

Perhaps if you’re not feeling particularly social, you can drink your jasmine tea meditatively. Feel the warmth of the liquid in your hands, and take long, deep breaths of the fragrant steam. Allow the aroma to seep into you, and lose yourself in it. Spend a little time doing something for you – get out of your head with a craft project, or a new book. Let the tea do it’s work.

The story

Jasmine tea is first recorded in the Song Dynasty in the 13th century, but then it was reserved for royalty alone. Nowadays it is still made in the traditional way.

The tea is picked in April in dried in the sun in Yunnan province in the south of China. In August, the tea is laid beneath a bed of jasmine flowers (I wouldn’t mind lying in a bed of jasmine flowers…) for seven nights, infusing the fragrant aroma with the tea.

If you’re looking for something to help you detox (without lowering yourself to diet teas), jasmine tea is pretty perfect. It’s a natural anti-oxidant, it increases your metabolic rate to burn fat faster, and its anti-bacterial properties can help prevent and relieve colds. What a super tea.

Over the course of exploring, I’ve come to think of jasmine as a happy tea. From the dainty little white flowers of the plant, to the light, bright flavour of the tea, through to its social connotations and stress-busting properties, it’s definitely a drink that embodies and promotes happiness. It may seem summery, but this makes it perfect for this dark, wintery days.

Get some happiness for yourself and check out Jing’s jasmine range here.*

Come back next time when I’ll be drinking proper Peppermint Leaf tea.

What are your thoughts on jasmine tea? And how are you enjoying the Tea Journey so far? Let me know in the comments if there’s anything more you’d like to see!

 

*please note that these products were sent to me by Jing Tea to review – however, the words are all mine and from the heart.

Seasonal Stomach Simple Self

Food and Memory: Cooking Up Comfort

January 14, 2017

It’s been a cold old week, one of those periods where you feel like you never really get warm – January is really starting to bite. We’ve been coming in from dog walks comparing cold hands and digging the big scarfs out from the bottom of the wardrobe. At times like this, your mind turns to comfort food.

While eating a corned beef sandwich (see below), my mind turned to wondering what makes comfort food, well, comforting? Because there isn’t a one size fits all. Some love a hearty stew, while others, me included, would be happy to never eat a stew again in their life. Why are everyone’s comfort foods so drastically different?

I think at this point I should specify my definition of comfort food. To me, it’s something you long for, that you dream about, that you reach for when you’re poorly or down in the dumps. There are, however, two types of comfort foods: foods that make you feel gross afterwards, and ones that don’t.

The first type, for me at least, is home to pizza, fish and chips and all those fast food sins. Yes, you crave them, but afterwards you feel bloated and a little ashamed. Here I’m looking at type two comfort foods, the ones you make at home and may even have some level of nutritional value.

We know we crave type one comfort foods because of the saturated fats and sodium, but what about the type twos? What addictive properties can they possibly have?

I’ve think that we’re addicted to the memories they hold. Most commonly our comfort foods are linked to our childhoods, and the nostalgia we feel when we taste or smell them. Even just preparing the food can bring back those memories – I can’t make a marmite sandwich without thinking about being in my auntie’s kitchen, where she’d make sandwiches with more butter than marmite, then dashing back out into the sun dappled garden to play. (Which reminds me, why, in our childhood memories, is it always summer or Christmas?).

This works backwards too, of course. Dan will eat anything but spaghetti bolognaise following his childhood food traumas with the stuff, while my aversion to stew comes from my memories of chewy, gristly meat in a watery gravy. The way we eat as children informs our appetites more than we know, and sets the blueprint for what will comfort us as adults.

It needn’t just be memories from childhood that inform our comfort food choices though. Milestones in our life, traumatic or notable events, and trying something new can all imprint on our brains, and our taste buds.

When we seek comfort, we seek the familiar. With comfort foods we are looking for things that are tried and tested, that we know make us feel good. They trigger memories of familiarity, of family and love, of a time we were comforted before. I don’t know about you, but I think food’s power to do all that is quite amazing – especially as most comfort food is humble, homely fare. Well done food.

 

Here are my favourite comfort foods, and the memories they hold…

Corned Beef Sandwiches

Where it all began, both in terms of this post and my life of comfort food. When I was very young my Nanny Vera (Dad’s mum) would look after me, I think after nursery. I was so young that I can’t remember exactly when it was or for how long; its one of those memories that feels very sporadic but I’m sure it must have been a fairly regular arrangement.

Anyway, I would always have corned beef sandwiches with orange squash and lemonade at her house. This is where my soft spot for corned beef came from. Even the smell of the stuff has me walking into her kitchen – I can remember where everything was and how the light would slant in through the net curtains onto the wall. I remember sitting on her pouffy red velvet sofas, the smell of the wax crayons she kept in a biscuit tin and the way she used to call 7 Up ‘Zup’. Every time I eat a corned beef sandwich I’m five years old again, and I remember my grandmother – a slightly odd tribute, but one filled with love.

Cottage Pie

Specifically, this has to be my mum’s cottage pie where the mash is dry and slightly caught on top so it’s lovely and crispy. It’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think ‘comfort food’. I had a hard time during my first two years of university, as a lot of people do but never quite admit to. I would come home as often as I could. When I did, my mum would have made cottage pie, and I remember eating it and feeling the weight lift off my shoulders. I think I associate that recipe now with the feeling of safety, of being protected and loved and secure, which is probably why it’s my ultimate comfort food.

Roast potatoes

I’ve always liked roast potatoes, but their comfort food status was cemented in the period I first met Dan. Working together in a pub, after Sunday service we would all eat the leftover roasts that hadn’t been sold. I’d never had potatoes so perfect – rock solid on the outside, fluffy on the inside and SO flavoursome. I would eat them by the bucket load (literally, he would save me a plastic tub of them).

They are comforting in themselves, but they also remind me of those heady days of falling in love. They remind of the afternoons where we’d finally get to sit and eat together, where we could cast off our work responsibilities and spend the summer evenings together. Even now, roast potatoes form part of our DNA as a couple in our in-jokes and knowing language. I associate this food with the man I love, and what is more comforting than that?

 

What are your comfort foods, and what memories do they conjure?

Seasonal Stomach The Tea Journey

Welcome Aboard The Tea Journey

January 8, 2017

Tea is having something of a renaissance. The supermarket shelves of my youth sold six or seven varieties of English Breakfast, with the bigger places perhaps stocking a dusty box of Earl Grey. Not so anymore. Long aisles of brightly coloured boxes boast myriad varieties of fruit, herbal, green, white and black teas, with brands ranging from supermarket’s own to passionate start ups to the stalwart tea corporates trying to elbow their way into this newly booming market.

The trouble now is, where do you start? How do you know which of those brightly coloured boxes is for you? And are these supermarket teas even the best introduction to the world outside of builder’s brews?

This is where The Tea Journey comes in.

Proper tea drinking forces you to slow down: testing the water temperature, timing the brew, pouring from kettle, to pot, to cup. There is a nostalgia about tea drinking, a sense of taking part in rituals that have been repeated around the world throughout time. It grounds you, connects you to the world. This is what makes it such an easy way to embrace a slower pace of life.

I’ve always loved the idea of being ‘into’ tea, of drinking something other than English Breakfast. Every time I’ve caught a whiff of speciality teas they smell so exotic and enticing, but I’ve never known which one is for me. I want to know how to choose the right teas for my taste buds, I want to learn how to properly prepare them, and I want to engage, in some small way, with the ancient rituals and customs that have accompanied tea drinking over the centuries.

All this, and more, we’ll cover on our Tea Journey this year, all thanks to Jing Tea. Each season I’ll introduce a new set of teas, with interesting insights, how to’s, and, most importantly of all, the taste verdict.

Whether you’re already a tea aficionado, or, like me, you love the idea of becoming one, the Tea Journey will have something for you.

About Jing Tea

I’m working with tea specialists Jing Tea to bring you The Tea Journey. Suppliers to 70 Michelin starred restaurants around the world, Jing are true connoisseurs. On a mission to inspire the world to enjoy tea at its best, they believe tea should be as delicious as it is uplifting the spirit. Tea drinking to them is all about the experience. Their teas are authentic and pure, and perfect introductions to the very best of modern tea drinking.

 

Find out more about Jing, and don’t forget to check back here for our first stop on the Tea Journey in 2 weeks time.

Mid Week Eats Seasonal Stomach

Mid Week Eat: Sling Together Stew

January 3, 2017

It’s easy to eat seasonally with a whole lazy Sunday and 6 hours to roast a joint ahead of you. It’s more difficult when you get in from work late and all you want to do is order a pizza. My Mid-Week-Eats recipes are all quick, really easy and made mostly using ingredients you’ll already have in your cupboards. No trailing round various health food shops to source a weird paste anymore.

 

This is the most genuine Mid Week Eat I think I’ve ever made. Car trouble made a trip to the shops impossible, so I had to improvise with what was in the cupboards and freezer. No matter how bare your larder, you should be able to sling together a stew based on whatever you have. Depending on how much time you have you can make this in 20 minutes or 2 hours.

I’ve included lots of options in the ingredients…

Makes 2 portions

1 tin of beans – chick peas, butter beans, kidney beans, whatever you have
1 tin of tomatoes
1 onion
1 garlic clove
Sausage, chicken, bacon, cheese – anything you have in the freezer or fridge

  1. Soften the onions and garlic over a low heat  –
  2. Add the tomatoes
  3. Choose your flavourings – cumin and curry powder work well, as do herbs like oregano. Go with your mood. Cook for as long as you have
  4. Add your beans
  5. Don’t over-stew your beans, 15 minutes should do it
  6. Serve as it is or add some protein – I fried off chunks of sausages and chucked them in too
Mid Week Eats Seasonal Stomach

Mid Week Eat: Oven Baked Risotto

November 22, 2016

It’s easy to eat seasonally with a whole lazy Sunday and 6 hours to roast a joint ahead of you. It’s more difficult when you get in from work late and all you want to do is order a pizza. My Mid-Week-Eats recipes are all quick, really easy and made mostly using ingredients you’ll already have in your cupboards. No trailing round various health food shops to source a weird paste anymore.

What’s more autumnal than mushrooms? This oven baked risotto is based on this recipe from BBC Good Food – I’ve just added a few tweaks at the end to really make the flavours pop.

I love this recipe because it has all the lovely stodge and texture of a risotto, without the faff of stirring incessantly at the hob. Just put all the ingredients together and bung it in the oven. Perfect mid week comfort in 35 minutes.

Makes 4 portions

25g dried porcini mushrooms
350g risotto rice
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
450ml stock
Lemon juice
Thyme

  1. Soak the dried porcini in 45ml of hot water for about ten minutes
  2. Chop the onion and soften it in an oven-proof dish. After 2 minutes crush the garlic into the pan too.
  3. Drain the mushrooms but keep the liquid. Chop the mushrooms into bitesized pieces.
  4. Add the mushrooms, mushroom liquid, stock, rice and thyme to the pan. Season.
  5. Cover the pan and put it in the oven on a medium heat for 20-30 minutes, or until the rice is cooked and the liquid absorbed.
  6. Finish with a good squeeze of lemon juice (about half a lemon) and balsamic to taste (I added about five sploshes)
  7. Top with an extras you fancy to serve – chestnut mushrooms, bacon, parmesan…