Monday 9 February 2015

9:Antony Worrall-Thompson, Slow Cooking-Cooking the Books

Starter:     Italian Leek Stew

Main:        Lancashire Hotpot

Dessert:    Treacle Sponge Pudding

For those who are new to the blog, I’m about a third of the way through a self-set challenge – Cooking the Books! I decided I had so many recipe books that I rarely used and wanted to try some of the recipes rather than sticking to the same few I use every time. I have no idea where this week’s book came from, who may have bought it, but I do know that Antony Worrall-Thompson and his recipes don’t often feature in my cooking or chosen ideas, so this will either change or confirm my opinions!


Starter: Italian Leek Stew

Easiness: 7/10

Taste: 7/10 but needs extra salt and pepper, and more parmesan on top!

Make again: 5/10

Cheats & Changes: Rapeseed Oil instead of Olive

This looked an interesting option for a vegetarian meal, which we’ve been having at least once a week since the veg. boxes arrived. It’s usually a veg lasagne of sorts, so it was pleasing to try something different. The recipe is fairly simple and combines traditional flavours, but after making it, I remember that I don’t really like cooked olives. I’ll eat them, don’t get me wrong, and I don’t pick them out…I think it’s the smell it gives to the overall dish that I have issues with!


Anyway, begin like this: Stir fry chopped leeks, sliced onions, garlic and cayenne until lightly browned and beginning to soften. Transfer to your slow cooker. Add some chopped kalamata olives, a tin of chopped tomatoes, 180ml water and a can of borlotti beans. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Turn to high, add cubed mozzarella and torn basil leaves and cook for another 15 minutes. Season.
A small bowl of this with some homemade rough bread is perfect for a little stew starter. Or serve with brown rice for a more substantial main course! I chose a simple homemade tagliatelle side.


I would make it again, but as a small lunch or a starter, as we had it as a main. I don’t think the flavours are strong enough to maintain interest for a large main course, although the OH said it tasted quite ‘meaty’,  and I needed to add cheese to the top, as usual!

I’ll share the spoils with Mr W-T!

Main: Lancashire Hotpot

Easiness: 8/10

Taste: 9/10

Make again: 8/10

Cheats & Changes: lamb scragg/neck chunks not chops, I left out lambs’ kidneys (yuck)

Yet again, I find myself with lamb chunks ready to slow cook and a plethora of delicious recipes to choose from, so I was trying to find something different from my usual lamb stews bulked out with beans or grains. There were options of lamb taginey flavours but the one I chose this week was a Lancashire  Hotpot. Although not a slow cooker recipe, it is a one pot, long cook idea with very few ingredients.


Butter the bottom of an over proof casserole with about 10g butter (a big chunk), I'm using a low cast iron one. Next, place a layer of peeled and sliced (around 8mm thick) potatoes over the base. Fry off the lamb chunks until browned and place on top with some thyme springs, bay leaves and a sprinkle of sugar! The recipe actually states neck end chops, but any scragg end meat will do. Scatter sliced onions over the top and add another layer of potatoes. Pour over some lamb stock (I used beef) being careful not to cover the top layer of potatoes as you want these to be crispy rather than soggy. Brush the top with melted butter and pop into the oven on 160° C for two hours. Then remove the lid and turn up the heat to 200° C. Leave for another 30 minutes until golden brown.


Now, even when crisped on top, this didn’t look appealing. There was little sauce/gravy to be seen, and it looked flavourless, however, this was a classic case of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’: it was absolutely delicious. The potatoes at the bottom were squishy with the onions, the ones on top had an edgy crunch and the lamb just fell apart. I, as always, served it with a dollop of mint jelly and the suggested mulled red cabbage.

1.5 – 0.5 to Mr. W-T.

Dessert: Treacle Sponge

Easiness: 7/10

Taste: 8/10

Make again: 5/10

Cheats & Changes: none

I know I swore to stick to the oven when baking cakes but this one just requires a pudding basin, so I'm giving it a go! A treacle sponge pudding, of all things! Generally, this is made with syrup, not treacle, and this one is no different. There are also white breadcrumbs added, so we'll see how we get on.


You’ll find the recipe here but it’s a basic cake mixture with a bit more flour added, then some milk to make it sloppier – in fact, I think it could have done with being a bit less sloppy, but it did have the finished texture of a squishy steamed pudding rather than cake. It also has lemon zest and juice, If I cooked it again, I’d add more syrup.


Using the slow cooker as a steamer did work really well, especially since it was in a pudding basin rather that cake tin so I’ll keep that in mind for future recipes too.


2.5 – 0.5 to Mr. W-T.

So, this is post number 9, which means I’m nearly a third of the way through these books – where has that time gone?! If I’m not careful, we’re going to end up with a glut of Jamies for the last third, so look out for some in the next few weeks. I’ve also still got a few Delia’s and even another Nigel Slater one to come. Looking back at the original challenge, I’ve already failed by deciding not to go for Heston. After a ‘sort of’ Facebook vote, we decided that life was too short, and cash too tight to invest in the time, food and equipment needed! I’d rather be building Lego or reading books with F!


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Merlotti x

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