This last month has been rather crazy. I’ve hardly been home and have had very little time to cook at leisure, or to experiment. Consequently, this morning I was feeling uninspired about my blog… what was I going to talk about today? Usually it’s a process of narrowing down all the stuff I’d like to talk about but today nothing concert was manifesting in my cotton wool brain.
Luckily, while I was downloading the photos from this weekend, I can across the above photo and inspiration came flooding back. This picture was taken shortly before the lid was placed on this ratatouille inspired hot pot. It was part of a sublime meal prepared by my step Dad who is mean force in the kitchen.
I just rang him up to chat through the dish and this is more or less what he did.
He laid out all the veggies and a few other interesting ingredients he had in the house on the kitchen counter – courgettes, mushrooms, bell peppers, shallots, tomatoes, butternut, sweet potato, nuts, raisins, apples, lemon and ginger.
He got an appropriately sized heavy bottomed pot and large pan out. He started by frying individually in olive oil some of the ingredients which need a longer cooking time. He started with the shallots peeled and whole, once they had browned a little they went into the pot, then he fried smallish cubes of butternut and sweet potato and once they had browned a little, they also went into the pot. While he fried the mushrooms whole in some oil and salt, he roughly chopped up the courgettes, bells peppers and a peeled and sliced apple and added them raw on top of the already fried ingredients.
Into the pot went a handful of raw nuts and raisins, roughly chopped garlic, slivers of ginger and lemon zest. He sprinkled this with Ina Paarmans lemon pepper sprinkle, dried sweet basil, salt, some hot chilli sauce and a glug of olive oil. He placed a large sprig of rosemary on top, then scattered in the fried mushrooms and some chopped raw peeled tomato.
The pot was then gently heated up and when a good steamy sizzle was reached (I would happily add a glug of white wine, stock or water to stead up the steaming and prevent burning here) he put the lid on, left this for a few more minutes and then switched off the heat, leaving the retained heat to cook the dish for a further hour. The lid cannot be opened at this stage as it will release the heat needed to cook the dish.
Once he was nearly ready to serve, he opened the pot up and heated it through, gently moving the ingredients around for the flavours to combine a little.
This was served this with baked potatoes and sour cream. What a heavenly meal!