Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Cookbook Challenge

In my house is a little bookshelf that holds one of my most treasured collections...

My cookbooks :)

Perhaps not the most extensive collection of cooking volumes, but I love each and every one of these inspirational books. I find great joy in paging through the glossy pictures and reading the little stories that sometimes go with the recipes. I also love adding to this ever growing collection and can very often be found in the cookery section of my favourite charity bookshop.

It must therefore come as a bit of a surprise when I reveal that I hardly ever use these books for their intended purpose, that is to cook from them. I am much too much of a rebel and inventor in the kitchen to be told what to do by a recipe :) I do sometimes feel slightly guilty about this though...

That is why I have decided to set a challenge for myself. I will choose one cookbook a week and cook a dish from that book. That way each and every one of my beloved books will get its very own fifteen minutes of glory and spotlight time!

To kick off the challenge I chose the River Cottage Veg Everyday book, for the simple reason that I had most of the ingredients for one of the recipes in the house :)

This is a lovely book and one I look through quite often. I just love the pictures and the cute way in which they used veggies to make prints.

There are some truly wonderful recipes in this book.

The one I chose for my challenge was this butternut squash stew.

I had every intention of following the recipe to the word, but realised within minutes that this was not going to happen! I didn't have enough butternut in the house and had to add in some sweet potato to make up the difference.

I also decided on a whim that I was going to oven roast these veggies before adding them to the stew. I personally think that you get the best flavour from vegetables by covering them in glistening olive oil, adding a few little cubes of butter and roasting them in a hot oven.

I also used a red onion in favour of the required brown one, as I much prefer the sweet and mild flavour that it brings to the stew.

The end result was not too dissimilar to Hugh's own, and I was very happy that I had more or less achieved my goal.

The proof was in the eating though, and I am very pleased to report that it was clean plates all around :) That's a win in my book!


  1. Good for you, I am just the same!! I must go and get one of those IKEA blocks as a kitchen bookshelf, perfect. I think my problem is that I shop what is best in the shops and then try to cook around what I have so I rarely have everything for a recipe and just wing it from the base recipe. I am even guilty of googling the basic ingredients in the fridge and finding a recipe that way, that works really well! Great idea though, may join you in your quest to use more than the odd recipe in my lovely recipe books, Fiona x

  2. The stew looks delicious. I'm the same way, I can read cookbooks like novels and I can easily spend all day immersed in one, but I don't cook enough recipes from them. I need to start, thank you for the inspiration. :)