CommitmentNow.com: Why did you decide to write Stew!, an entire cookbook on stews? What makes stews so special?
Genevieve Taylor: My publisher, Absolute Press, had an idea for a book on stews and they asked me to write them a proposal for the book. Lucky for me they loved it, and so began my adventure in stew-making. Stews are perfect cooking for today’s busy world, in the majority of cases taking no more than a few minutes to assemble, then they are let to quietly do their thing whilst you get on with yours. I just love them, a few simple ingredients thrown into the pot and, cooked slowly over time: some sort of amazing culinary alchemy seems to take place.
CommitmentNow.com: How is a stew different from a casserole or a soup?
Genevieve: Essentially a stew is no different from a casserole or a soup. All you are doing is cooking something solid in something liquid – that’s the bottom line. I think loosely you could say a stew was cooked on the hob, a casserole in the oven. But in Stew! I have left the definition fairly, but deliberately, vague.
CommitmentNow.com: What is the secret to making a good stew?
Genevieve: In the vast majority of cases it’s simply time that holds the secret to a good stew. But starting with the right cuts of meat really helps - fatty, fibrous cuts that turn to melt-in-your-mouth tender meat when slowly, slowly cooked is the way to go. And where the ingredients are low in fat, such as some of the fish stews, then I often ask that people add it at the end of cooking for example in the form of some delicious olive oil. I think in today’s health conscious times people forget that fat can be delicious and—in moderation—good for you too. Finally, I am a strong believer in seasoning. Taste your food as you cook, learn when and when not to season. Not only with salt and pepper but with herbs, spices and citrus too. Adding these ingredients, especially at the end of cooking, can wake up our senses and are invaluable to the canny cook’s repertoire
CommitmentNow.com: The most common stew is Beef Stew. Can vegetarians enjoy stews, too?
Genevieve: Absolutely they can. I don’t know the percentage of vegetarian recipes in the book but there are loads. Some of my favourite stews are based around dried pulses which, when cooked long and slow and seasoned properly, produce some of the most exquisite textures you can possibly eat.
CommitmentNow.com: What is your favorite stew?
Genevieve: That is too tricky to answer!! I live and breathe cooking, I spend my life either eating, or thinking about eating, or writing about cooking and eating. I like too many things to have one favourite. I have many favourites from the book, but I really adore spicy food so the Fragrant & Aromatic Chapter was a big hit with me when it came to testing my recipes.
Genevieve Taylor is a writer and food stylist with her own catering company. She is also a novice henkeeper, and writes the food blog An Egg a Day. Visit Genevieve at http://www.genevievetaylor.blogspot.com/ or http://www.genevievetaylor.co.uk/