Monday, 21 January 2013

A Post-Snow Warm Up

As is the case for most of the country at the moment, over here we're covered with a blanket of beautiful snow. There have been snowball fights, snow angels and even a snow rabbit, and at the end of the day you need something warm and comforting to come back to - that preferably doesn't require a lot of effort. Enter bread and stew.

I always think of stew as being a bit bland and mushy, and generally not the most appealing. I don't know why because I've never really had it, but this blows the generic 'stew' idea out of the water. It's a take on one by Nigel Slater, and is full of spices and textures and goodness. And as for bread, I've adapted a family recipe to make gluten-free bread rolls. So. Much. Good.

Stew - mine's basically the same as Nigel Slater's recipe, but a vegetarian version with a few extra bits
- 4 medium onions
- 3 small carrots
- 1 large stick celery
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ tsp mild paprika (you could also use smoked)
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ nutmeg, grated
- 300g Puy lentils (green work fine as a substitute)
- 500ml veg stock
- large handful fresh parsley
- 1tsp sugar
- couple of knobs of butter
- crème fraîche (to serve)

1. Melt a knob of butter in a large pot or saucepan. Roughly chop two of the onions, along with the celery, carrots and garlic, and add to the pan. Cover and let steam for a few minutes, before adding the spices. Stir to coat and cook for a few more minutes. 
2. Add the lentils, stock and 500ml of water. Cover and leave for 30 minutes - stirring occasionally - until the lentils are all soft and nice. 
3. While that's cooking, stick another knob of butter in a small pan. Chop the two remaining onions into fairly large pieces, then add along with the sugar. Allow these to cook slowly and caramelise, and then finish with a grate of nutmeg. 
4. Add your handful of chopped parsley to the lentils along with some salt and pepper, then serve with the onions and a dollop of crème fraîche.

Gluten-free bread rolls - my Mum calls these 'milk rolls' for reasons which will soon become apparent. The gluten-free version makes 8-10 rolls, but you tend to get more out of the regular version.
- 300ml milk
- 50g butter
- 7g sachet dried yeast
- 1tsp caster sugar
- 500g gluten-free plain flour
- 1tsp salt
- 1 small egg, beaten

1. Place the milk and butter in a pan and heat until lukewarm.
2. Sieve the dey ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Make a well in the centre and pour in the liquid along with the egg. Mix to a soft dough, then spend a few minutes attempting to knead some air in. If you're making the regular gluten version knead well until smooth and elastic.
3. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 mins, until increased in size.
4. Turn onto a well-floured surface and have another attempt at kneading for a few minutes. Cut into pieces and shape into rolls.
5. Place on a greased baking sheet, cover and leave in a warm place for another 10-15 minutes. Grab another egg and beat it with a splash of milk, then use this to glaze the rolls. Sprinkle with various seeds to make them all pretty, then bake in a preheated oven at 220°C for 20 minutes.

Voila. I know the snow is causing a lot of disruption and all, but I kind of hope it stays a bit longer. 
Days like these are the best.

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