By Alan Rosenthal
Ebury Press – £14.99
Lest it be said that we’re not all Michelin Star Chefs, so the idea or concept of the one-pot dish is extremely welcoming to busy mums, families, those with hectic lives and those not so confident within the varying cantons of cooking. That said, the one-pot dish, need not necessarily be confined to a one-taste dish, as this rather tidy, colourful and succinct book makes perfectly clear.
Replete with groovy layout and tempting photographs, Stewed! – Nourish Your Soul is neatly sectioned into Continents, which really is a good idea in as much as all the varying flavours and herbs are kept together. As for the aforementioned concept of the one-pot dish or stew itself, there really is a lot more to be said than initially meets the eye (or the stomach), as the book’s author, Alan Rosenthal, points out in his Introduction: ‘’I always find there’s something incredibly satisfying about preparing and eating a stew; a medley of raw ingredients cooked together in a single pot to create a delicious symphony of flavours and textures. They also add theatre to mealtimes; a great big steaming cauldron taking centre stage for people to dig in to.’’ An interesting viewpoint methinks. The idea that a steaming pot of whatever can actually take ‘centre stage’ within ones’ home is indeed, an altogether refreshing perspective.
As Rosenthal continues, said perspective is also surprisingly realistic: ‘’We’re talking communal food that works just as well for dinner parties as it does for casual lunches. More importantly, because most can be made ahead of schedule, you, the cook, can sit back and enjoy the occasion rather than worrying about a complicated dish that needs your undivided attention at the last minute.’’ Here. Here. Double bravo, and a kiss me quick stew to boot, for how many times have we hosted a dinner party, only to find ourselves invariably anchored to the stove for the duration of the evening? The idea of preparing beforehand, hurling everything into just one pot, and actually partaking with ones’ guest, is, from a getting on down perspective, about as generous (and sensible) as it gets.
Moreover, Stewed! will enable you to push the culinary boat out even further, simply by way of exhorting you into trusting the actual taste of the food, rather than merely relying on the visual. For instance, the Chicken Stew with Cider, Tarragon and Asparagus on page 30, is altogether inviting, especially so far as food actually melting on your tongue is concerned. Although there will no doubt, be those who might find said combination a trifle less inviting than some of the other delightful recipes herein – such as the excellent Pollo Al Ajille (Chicken cooked with Garlic, Bay Leaves and White Wine).
Apart from a couple of exceptions, i.e. cuttle fish, almost all of the ingredients suggested throughout, are readily available from the supermarket; making for a book that’s as easy to follow as it is a joy to partake in.