For once tonight we weren’t going anywhere after school and miracles of miracles, I felt like cooking, so I dusted down my new copy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Everyday and opened it up at what I thought was the most kid friendly recipe I had menu planned for this week, Chilli, Cheese and Rosemary Polenta with Tomato Sauce. I adapted the recipe slightly for the kids, cooking the polenta in two batches, one without the chilli and rosemary for the kids (Girl Lacer hates rosemary).
Now I thought I had plenty of time but of course life gets in the way or more specifically this time yet another application to Club Penguin and a bored nearly 8 year old who didn’t want to watch a DVD on that old fashioned thing called a TV, no, instead she either wanted to watch it on the computer (I wouldn’t let her as it was nearly Boy Lacer’s turn on the computer) or the iPad (which didn’t work because of server problems). So my nice leisurely late afternoon worth of cooking was a bit interrupted. Luckily, although the recipe needs to be done in stages and requires (for me) a hell of a lot of pans, it was fairly straightforward and I got away with cheating a bit by not letting the polenta completely cool down before frying it. (Sorry I can’t find a link to the recipe and for copyright reasons I will not copy the recipe here but it’s basically chilli, cheese and rosemary flavoured polenta cooled, cut up and then fried till gently brown, the sauce is a very basic tomato sauce made out of tinned tomatoes, the recipe for which can be found in countless books).
The kids hated it? Why? What is so wrong with cheese flavoured polenta? So they half heartedly dipped some bread into their tomato sauce instead. Mr. Lacer (who was at least grateful for arriving home to a cooked meal – it doesn’t happen often) liked it but thought the sauce was missing something (possibly true, maybe some balsamic vinegar or something although I know that by Mr. Lacer saying the sauce was missing something, actually means for him, a large amount of something creamy – he’s not a big fan of tomato sauces). Me though, I loved it, I think polenta normally is a bit bland but the cheese and rosemary in this was amazing (and would be nice not cooled and fried as well- and a little healthier to) and the tomato sauce, although not the best tomato sauce I’ve ever tasted, complemented it perfectly. As with what I remember with most Hugh FW recipes, the amounts are generous and I have enough left over for a lunch for me tomorrow, yay! I will be making this again, just probably not too often, a little unhealthy . . . I can also see myself adapting the recipe to for other flavours (mmmmm mustard or pesto sounds good or ooooh oooh ooooh my favourite, pancetta).
As for the book itself, it is exactly what you would expect from a River Cottage book, so if you’ve already got a River Cottage book, particularly some of their more recent ones, you’ll already appreciate what a quality book this is. The photography is gorgeous, it’s got a nice layout and it even feels nice to hold and flick through as they’ve used some really nice, slightly thicker than normal (I think) paper. Hugh FW writes at the beginning (and I’m paraphrasing here) that he wanted to write a book about vegetables that wasn’t a vegetarian cookbook, although it is a vegetarian cookbook (although quite a few of the recipes use dairy products and eggs so not exclusively vegan), it doesn’t feel like a vegetarian cookbook as it’s not all lentils and nut loaf. I think even the most hardened meat eater could happily cope with this book.
The recipes in Veg Everyday are the typical comforting food you’d expect from River Cottage and several of the recipes (ok at least one) I’d swear I recognised from Hugh FW’s TV shows. I can imagine I’ll be cooking from this a lot (if I ever find the time and/or energy). Recipes I’d like to try include:
- Aubergine parmigiana
- Squash and fennel lasagne
- Courgette and rice filo pie
- Potato dauphinoise
- Sweet potato and peanut gratin
- Herby, peanutty, noodly salad
- Spelt salad with squash and fennel
- Asian-inspired coleslaw
- Roasted beetroot soup with horseradish cream
- Parsnip and ginger soup
- River Cottage garlicky flatbreads
- Hot squash foldover
- Leek and cheese toastie (looking particularly good)
- Twice baked potatoes
- DIY ‘pot’ noodles
- Tomato and mozzarella risotto
- Quinoa with courgettes and onions
- Spiced spinach and potatoes
- Patatas bravas
- Spinach and thyme pasties
- Grilled aubergines with chilli and honey (which is in a barbecue section)
- Roasted aubergine boats
- Stuffed peppers with new potatoes, feta and pesto
- Roasted potatoes and aubergines
- Roast new potatoes with two mojo sauces
- Oven roasted ratatouille
- Potato rosti
- Roasted tomato ketchup (may be worth growing tomatoes next year)