we've only just got back to Belleau.... and I hate coming back so late in the week... you see it's been a heck of a week down in London... we've been working on a huge fashion event to launch Forever 21 in the UK... so it's been a frantic few days of no sleep, ditsy fashion models, bitchy hair stylist, screaming clients...you get the picture...
... one bonus is that we used THE most wonderful caterers called NOMAD who consider themselves 'food designers' rather than caterers... and their food truly is exceptional in both its creativity and finished look... of course I was running around like a mad man and didn't get a moment to take any pictures but you'll have to take my word for it that they looked and tasted amazing...
... now we're finally back at the cottage and the plan is NOT to leave the living room or kitchen for 2 days... I've pre-shopped, so I have everything I need... I literally have to cook and eat.
First on the agenda is this weeks sourdough loaf... didn't get a chance last weekend, what with all the prepping for the event and so my weekly 'sourdough Friday's' didn't quite get off to a roaring start... even this week it's more like sourdough Saturday... but what the heck...onwards and upwards... I used 3 cups of wholewheat flour this time.... and isn't she a beauty!
Next is something warm and hearty and healthy... the problem with staying in London and working odd hours is that we tend to eat crap all day and have little room for anything fresh or green... so a nice vegetarian sausage stew was well deserved...
Now this is one of those 'throw-what-you've-got-in-a-pot' kind of dishes that you know, dear reader, I love to make... it's no '30 minute meal' because the longer and slower you leave it to cook, the better it will taste... and even though you're using veggie sausages this should be no excuse to forgo the intense flavours and earthy vegetables that a good stew should have. I'm serving this in a big bowl, by itself, without the accompaniment of a mash but I think with the inclusion of parsnips and green beans, do we really need the extra carbs?
Vegetarian Sausage Stew
A quick note on veggie sausages... there are many to choose from and most of them taste like cardboard and should be avoided at all cost... of course it usually comes down to taste and availability but I think there are certain brands that work well with certain dishes... for this I've gone for Quorn classic sausages... another good brand is Cauldron, which also produce a firm 'meaty' sausage with plenty of oil
1 pack (6) of veggie sausage cut into large chunks
1 onion - finely chopped
2 carrots - cut into large chunks
1 parsnip - cut into large chunks
a large handful of closed cup mushrooms - quartered
2 cloves of garlic - crushed
a large handful of fine green beans cut into thirds
3 peppers - cut into chunks (home grown and kindly given to me by my neighbour...)
1 pint of good quality vegetable stock
1 tablespoon flour
1 large glass of red wine
herbs and seasoning to taste
2 bay leaves
- in a heavy casserole pan saute the onions in butter and olive oil until translucent
- add the sausage and brown, the crisper, the better, then sprinkle with flour, like you would cubes of beef, remove the sausages and set aside.
- add the mushrooms and saute until slightly brown, then add the carrots and parsnip and saute for 5 mins, add the sausages back to the pan and then the garlic and herbs... I used thyme and rosemary... season and let it all sweat and intensify in flavour... the trick is to do this all slowly, building layers of taste.
- add the stock and a teaspoon or two of gravy powder (try and use a good quality one... you're using it for the thickening and browning rather than the chemical taste these usually give off...) and also add a squirt of tomato ketchup.
- throw in the green beans and peppers and then bung it in a medium oven for as long as you've got... a couple of hours is good.
...oh and finally... 5 plants... one whole summer... and on November 6th I pick my first (and only) home-grown tomato... what the global-warming is that all about?... tasted damn fine though...
eat and of course, enjoy!