Running a book club has been one of the best things I’ve done so far this year – it’s really broadened my horizons and reignited my passion for reading. As I’m something of a control freak I wouldn’t have expected to enjoy it so much, but it’s actually rather nice to have books chosen for me, as it opens me up to things I never would have chosen myself. Recently, for example, I read a book called Nothing To Envy which is all about life in North Korea – this is not a subject that ever interested me before, but now I can think of little else.
In fact, joining the book club has inspired me to relinquish control in other areas of my life too: I decided to invite my loved ones to choose dishes for me to cook. Suggestions are still coming in: some are challenging, some unusual, all hopefully delicious, and as I work my way through the list I will share the dishes here. (And any more suggestions are more than welcome!)
It should come as no surprise that my dictatorial brother was the first to respond. I daresay he has long been waiting for another opportunity to boss me about and tell me what to do! Happily, he came up trumps with the recipe, which is taken, aptly enough, from the book I got him for Christmas. It’s just my kind of recipe, and it reminds me of my brother too and his love for good hearty grub. Whenever I’m at home between jobs, he always invites himself to stop by on his lunch break once a week and “lets” me cook for him. It’s a nice little tradition, and maybe next time I’m at leisure in the UK I’ll serve him this.
Serves 6, from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Three Good Things
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 stick of celery, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 tsp dried thyme
700g mushroom, thickly sliced or quartered
250ml vegetable stock
150ml red wine
175g self raising flour
75g chilled butter, diced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp mustard powder
75g cheddar, grated
1. Preheat the oven to 190C. Heat 1 tablepsoon of oil in a large pan and sweat the onion, celery, carrot and thyme for about 15 minutes until tender. Set aside.
2. The mushrooms may need to be cooked in batches – heat the rest of the oil in a frying pan and add the mushrooms, cooking each batch for about 8-10 minutes. Add them to the other cooked vegetables when done.
3. Warm through the stock and wine in the same pan that you used for the mushrooms, scraping the bottom to release those good bits on the bottom. Pour the liquids over the mushrooms and vegetables and let it all simmer gently while you prepare the scones.
4. Put the flour, salt and butter in a bowl. Rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
5. Stir in the mustard powder and cheese.
6. Beat together the egg and milk, then combine with the dry ingredients – it makes a fairly spongy mix.
7. Pour the mushroom mixture into a large ovenproof dish, then dot the scone mixture on top – aim for 2-3 scones per serving.
8. Cook for about 30 minutes, until the scones on top are nicely coloured and fairly firm to touch. Serve with sour cream, if you have any to hand.