STEW! A Cookbook to Warm The Heart

Stewing is about to become even more stylish as Genevieve Taylor, in her debut cookbook ‘Stew!’, brings together a collection of 100 “splendidly simple recipes” bursting with flavour, proving that cooking doesn’t have to be complicated to impress.

Published by Absolute Press in March 2011, this is a book that will sit very happily in the collection of any busy home-cook, as well as offering a wealth of inspiration for anyone looking to entertain or feed a crowd frugally, without even flinching.

The book is easy to navigate, and since meat, fish and vegetables are mixed in each chapter, the design of Matt Inwood and Claire Siggery cleverly incorporates a side-bar denoting the meat used in each stew, or whether it is a fish or vegetarian recipe. Along with short, descriptive head-notes, the recipes are clearly laid out with simple-to-follow steps.

From the ‘Traditional and Hearty’ classics such as Lancashire Hotpot with Braised Red Cabbage or Beef Stew with Herby Dumplings, to globally-inspired stars such as Pork Braised with Ginger, Garlic and Soy or Brazilian Black Bean Stew, each recipe provides a talking point as well as delivering on taste with minimal effort.

Genevieve believes that there is nothing complicated about the process of stewing; “You simply assemble everything in the right order and let the low heat do the work whilst you get on with something else.” In most cases, this “age-old” method of cooking begins with browning or sealing the meat, before adding stock, wine or water along with some additional readily available ingredients, then allowing an “amazing alchemy” to take place.

Genevieve also offers some key advice; when buying meat try to select the whole piece and then either cut it up yourself or ask the butcher to do it for you. The point is made on the basis that “meat that is pre-diced potentially comes from all parts of the animal, and for that matter, from all different animals”.

Economical cuts such as beef shin, pork shoulder steaks and chicken thighs will give you with a head start, ensuring your stews are succulent and sensational. Many of the stews benefit from being made in advance and reheated and can also be frozen.

Family favourites include the Greek Chicken with Pasta Stew, gleaming with olives and paired with thyme and lemon, whilst the Hearty Sausage Hotpot, served with spaghetti and mounds of grated cheese, provides a further example of meals that are flavourful yet easy to achieve.

Fish stews include Clams with White Beans and Saffron or the ‘must-try’ Cuban Prawn and Rice Stew, a risotto-like stew combining lime, cumin and garlic. Whilst vegetarian recipes, such as Wild Mushroom Stew with Ricotta Dumplings or Italian-style Cavolo Nero and Cannelini Beans with Gorgonzola Toasts, are delicious enough to make a whole crowd of guests happy to forgo meat.

For an extra level of indulgence, turn to ‘Stews to Impress’, where a generous lug of cream, a splash of brandy or a glass or two of wine meet with lean venison, gamey rabbit or pheasant, along with the fuller flavours of whole grain mustard, green peppercorns and capers.

To stir the senses, flick to the section on ‘Fragrant and Aromatic’ stews, which brilliantly highlights favourites from under-represented cuisines such as Polish Pork and Cabbage Stew, Turlu Turlu (a fragrant spiced vegetable stew from Turkey) or African Stewed Beef with Peanut Butter.

And if the first four ‘packed-with-flavour’ chapters weren’t enough to convince you to stew all year round, Genevieve’s grand finale includes some fresher flavours in ‘Fresh and Vibrant’, where bright herbs and seasonal vegetables, such as foraged wild garlic, English asparagus, Chantenay carrots, or broad beans take centre stage.

The stews are brought to life by the beautiful photography of Mike Cooper, the food having been styled by Genevieve, herself a professional stylist, in a truly comforting and homely way. This is the food that Genevieve serves to her friends and family. Flavour, texture and character leap from every page in this beautifully compiled collection of inspiring recipes, making ‘Stew!’ a compelling resource for any cook to recreate and experiment with at home.

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