The wonderful Stirring Slowly had been on my list for a while, but being an inherently lazy cook, when it comes to new recipes and meal inspiration more often than not I turn to Instagram or the internet and the mecca that is jamieoliver.com. But this recipe book is a game changer.
On the day it arrived it just so happened that I had all the ingredients for roasted sticky plum chicken with pickled cucumber (I mean, when does that ever happen?). A perfect late summer dish when the plums are still sweet and the cucumbers British. One recipe in and I was already consumed, thumbing pages and trotting off to the greengrocer for ingredients.
As it happens, when you have a young baby, lots of people want to come and visit. Which means cake. Lots of tea and cake. Funnily, one of my main reasons for buying the book was Georgie’s blondie recipe; I’ve heard great things but am still yet to make it. When you have recipes for malted milk chocolate and raspberry tart and pumpkin and ginger layer cake it is easy to become distracted. Whole afternoons disappeared while my four-month old baby slept; I probably should have been doing the washing, tidying the house or looking around nurseries. Instead I baked.
As I sit writing, perched on the table next to me is a still-warm-from-the-oven fennel and sausage muffin from Stirring Slowly. It’s a moody autumn day outside and the kitchen is filled with the warming aroma of fennel; it’s a herb I’ve come to love and a spice I don’t use enough. I’ve included the recipe below, not because it’s my favourite but because it’s comforting and versatile: breakfast, snack or paired with a lunchtime bowl of soup.
So I’m slowly working my way through what Jamie Oliver calls a ‘new modern classic’; Georgie’s total understanding of flavours makes for dishes which I will go back to time and time again; each recipe is balanced and restorative and although she does not proclaim herself to be overly health conscious (I’m looking at you banana loaf with peanut butter frosting), there is a wholesome quality to her cooking and in the blend of ingredients, both of which are influenced by her Greek-Cypriot heritage.
I urge you to get yourself a copy immediately so you have enough time to work your way through it before Georgie publishes her next book! Also have a look at her blog; Georgie is more than an accomplished cook, she is a wonderful writer. She is also a mother who has suffered tragic loss and her story is inspiring and heartwarming.
Next up, the Jerusalem artichoke and thyme barley risotto.
Fennel & Sausage Muffins
1 garlic clove
1 tsp fennel seeds
200g good-quality sausages, Italian if possible
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
150ml olive oil
1/2 bunch spring onions
350g plain flour
1.5 tbsp baking powder
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
275ml full-fat milk
200g mature cheddar
a few sprigs flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 180°C/GM4 and line a muffin tray with cases
Peel and finely chop garlic, grind fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle and place a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat. Squeeze the sausage meat out of the skins and place in the pan with the garlic, chilli flakes, fennel seeds and a glug of olive oil. Break up with a wooden spoon and fry until crisp and golden. Spoon the sausage meat on to a plate and leave to one side to cool.
Trim and finely slice the spring onions. Place most of them in a large bowl with the flour, baking powder and seasoning. In a jug whisk together the eggs, olive oil, milk and buttermilk.
Add most of the cooked and cooled sausage to the flour (reserving the rest to sprinkle on top of the muffins). Make a well in the middle and pour in the wet ingredients, then finely chop the parsley, add to the bowl and gently fold everything together. Do not over-mix or your muffins will be tough! A few lumps are ok.
Divide the batter between the cases and top with the remaining spring onions and sausage and grate over the remaining cheese. Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Leave them in the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool.