Image via Wikipedia

What is stewing?

It’s when you cut food into even sized pieces and simmer them in a minimal amount of liquid or sauce that forms part of the stew.

There are three different ways to cook a stew although I have to admit I’ve only ever used the first two. The first way is the one that most of us would be familiar with where the food is cooked in a liquid that is thickened by the ingredients themselves.

The second, is when the food is cooked in a liquid from which a sauce is made and the last way would be when the food is cooked in a prepared sauce.

Usually a stew is cooked at around 180C in a heavy based saucepan with a suitable lid or a casserole. It’s a great method of cooking for a number of reasons, but the best ones are that it retains almost all the nutrients of the ingredients and it’s also quite cost-effective to make as less expensive meat cuts can be used.

With stews it’s particularly important to remember correct handling of your pans as not only is it easy to burn yourself but in many cases you will be lifting heavy pans with hot liquids inside in and out of your oven, be careful of your back and remember to lift with your legs 😉

Recipe: Potato Rosti

Potato Rosti
Potato Rosti

400g Potato
50g butter

Peel and wash the potatoes, then place them in salted water and bring to the boil and simmer for a minute. Drain the water and allow them to cool.

Next shred the potatoes, using a grater, into a large bowl. Heat the butter in a saucepan until it melts then add a little at a time to the shredded potatoes just enough to allow the mixture to bind together and season lightly with salt and pepper. You could add some herbs (maybe some fresh picked thyme or finely chopped rosemary) at this point, if you wanted to.

Form the mixture into rounds either by hand or using a ring mould.

Fry the shaped rosti in a hot pan on both sides until crisp and golden brown.

The Results are in…

The postman dropped off a letter earlier this morning, well, a few letters to be honest but I won’t bore you with details of the bills and the spam. The letter that grabbed my interest first off was one from the college.

I opened it wondering was it the results I’ve been waiting on? Sure enough, there they are, my results for all my hard work over the year. Whether it was by accident or design I really would like to thank whoever packed the envelope, cause the first thing I saw after I realised it was my results was “Awarded”. Never before has one word given such relief!

Not only that, but 8 out of the 12 subjects were distinctions with the rest being merits, so to say that I’m thrilled about the result would be an understatement, I’m walking on air at the moment.

Now to find the job that will take me the next step in my new career.

Recipe: How to Steam Broccoli

Steamed Brocoli
Steamed Brocoli


1 head of broccoli
Vinaigrette Dressing

Prepare the broccoli by cutting the florets from the stalk and chopping into roughly equal sized pieces. Next peel and dice the stalk into small chunks.

Place some water in a saucepan, not enough to reach the bottom of your steamer basket, and bring this to the boil and reduce to a simmer.

Load the steamer basket with the stalk chunks first and then the broccoli florets on top.

Place the steaming basket into the saucepan and cover with a tight lid. Cook until done (a knife or skewer slides through easily) this should only take 4 – 5 minutes. Then remove from the heat and toss gently in some vinaigrette for a tasty alternative to plain veg.

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Two types of steaming utensils
Image via Wikipedia

Steaming is my favourite way to cook green veg like Broccoli, French beans etc. as it retains so much of the nutritional value in the food, it gives a great colour to veg as well and it’s difficult to over cook food when steaming (not impossible, but you really have to try 😉 )

There are two types of steaming Atmospheric and High Pressure.

When atmospheric steaming the food is cooked by the action of the steam, so it’s important that the food is separated from the water, this can be done by using an atmospheric steamer or a steaming basket in a normal saucepan.

High pressure steaming requires specialist equipment in the form of a pressure cooker and is generally more suitable for cooking small quantities of food. Foods are cooked much faster by pressure cooking than by most other methods, so dishes can be ready sooner. Less energy is required than when boiling, atmospheric steaming or oven cooking. Since less water is necessary, the foods come to cooking temperature faster.

With all steaming it’s important to check the water level and temperature before you start and to be aware of the risk of scalding. When lids are removed there is going to be a cloud of steam rising and this can give a very bad burn so always protect yourself.

Also remember to time foods carefully when using a pressure cooker.