“Italian Beef Stew with Yellow Peppers and Olives” and “Creamy Parmesan Polenta” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

Or, in Italian: “Stufato di Manzo” and Crema di Polenta con Parmigiano”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaureen: I know. You are amazed that I made beef stew, since you all know that it’s the one food I have spent my lifetime hating. Yuck. But I thought since it’s Italian beef stew, I might like it better. Plus, I’m going to try polenta again. This is all about trying things.

Tim: You didn’t like the last polenta I made.

Maureen: True that. I didn’t like it AT ALL. I like this polenta much more.

Andrew (14): I feel the opposite. I liked the other one better.

Tim: This one was interesting, because it was made with milk and water. The other one just used water. This one had butter in it, while the other one had olive oil.

Maureen: Dairy ALWAYS makes things better.

Tim: Corn and butter go together like…

Maureen: …two peas in a pod.

Nicholas (10): I liked everything tonight but the polenta.

Maureen: I have a monumental, earth shattering statement to make: I LIKE THIS STEW!

Nicholas: No way!

Andrew: Where is my mother and what have you done with her?

Maureen: Ha ha ha. No, I can’t believe it myself, but I really like it. I think it’s because it has this nice tomato sauce.

Tim: Given that there’s only 400 grams of beef in this, this made much more than I thought it would.

Maureen: Should I make this again?

Andrew: The stew, yes. The polenta, no.

Nicholas: I agree with Andrew.

Tim: I liked everything. Would eat again. Happily.

To make the Italian beef stew, click through this sentence to see the recipe via Google Books.

To make the polenta, click through this sentence to see the recipe via Google Books.

“Italian Beef Stew with Yellow Peppers and Olives” and “Creamy Parmesan Polenta” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

“Venetian Stew” from “Nigellissima”

Anna: I knew this was going to be yummy.

Peter: Why?

Anna: Because it is beany and pancetta-y, salty and a bit sweet. What I didn’t realise was how quick and easy it was going to be.

Peter: You did russle it up pretty quickly. It’s perfect for a cold autumn night.

Anna: Monster portions though! You will have plenty for lunch tomorrow while I’m out.

Peter: I’m happy with that. How did you manage to stop the polenta from going hard immediately?

Anna: Another Nigella tip. She increases the normal proportions of water to polenta in this recipe to ensure it stays soft and creamy. Genius. I would like this again.

Peter: That’s good, as so would I.

“Venetian Stew” from “Nigellissima”

“Veal with soft polenta” from “Fast, Fresh, Simple”

Anna: There’s something very calming about listening to two hours of Simon on Classic FM while blogging.

Peter: Yes, I’m learning all sorts of things I never knew, though you keep correcting the DJ so clearly you know more.

Anna: I only corrected one thing, she got the name of the Academy of Ancient Music wrong.  I spent much of my misplaced childhood at AAM concerts so I should know.  Anyway, the food. How did you find cooking this tonight my lovely chef-husband?

Peter: I think it benefits from having everything out and ready before you start as the whole process is very quick.

Anna: Did our Donna suggest you do this, or is it something you decided to do?

Peter: I brought that tip to this recipe.  It was very quick and I found it hard to know when the polenta was cooked but that’s because I’ve never made polenta before.

Anna: You’ll know for next time…..

Peter: This was double cheese polenta, posh cheesy mash.  The veal was good with the prosciutto. And I think they complemented each other well.  Go easy on the portions though, if you don’t have a big appetite.

Anna: I really liked this. I need double cheesy food at the moment and it hit the jackpot. We had it with spinach to add a veg component, and I think this would make a lovely meal for a weeknight dinner party.  The veal was a bit pricey, but you could substitute it for turkey escalopes if you wanted to.

Peter: Or pork chops! On a practical note, this dish only uses two pans which is good. And the recipe is easy to follow.  But I found it off-putting that there were 4 recipes on each page, and the photo was on a different one. That’s just my opinion.

“Veal with soft polenta” from “Fast, Fresh, Simple”

A vegetarian feast of four mushes from “Plenty”

Anna: Tonight I was having my Ogilvy ladees round for dinner, and what a happy coincidence that we’re doing the Ottolenghi book this month as Tiff and Kate D are veggie!

Kate W: I’m not.

Anna: No, but you’ll have to pretend you are for tonight.  There are only enough sausages for Peter.  Anyway, choosing a menu was actually quite hard once I got down to it, but I settled on “Hummus with ful” (or ‘you crazy fool’ as it became known over the evening) and “Sweetcorn polenta”.  I chose the hummus for two reasons: because it would be nice to eat slowly while drinking and chatting, and because I’d been introduced to ful in the last year by a work colleague and I loved it.  Plus, Tiff has lived in the Middle East so I figured she could give an honest opinion.

Tiff: I will.

Anna: The polenta was a bit of a random choice.  Not something I would ever go for in a million years, but in for a penny as they say.  It wasn’t until I started cooking that I realised that this was going to be a meal of four mushes.  Four slightly different coloured mushes.

Kate D: We’re in the mood for mush! Continue reading “A vegetarian feast of four mushes from “Plenty””

A vegetarian feast of four mushes from “Plenty”