I should give this post a sub heading of ‘Feeding a Crowd When They Have Allergies and One is a Vegan Without Making Everyone Feel a Bit Miserable.’ Catchy huh?
This weekend I’ve done the thing that stresses me out the most, I know this is going to sound odd given I love to cook. I really love to cook and I love to eat even more! The bit that stresses me out is deciding what to cook. Here is all the criteria I’m trying to meet for our meal:
- This is a meal to feed friends that have been in my husband’s life for 25 years – make it special.
- Don’t show yourself up Sophie, you write a cooking blog so if the food is shocking you will never live it down (these are old enough friends to rip the mick out of you something chronic.)
- No children declare your food disgusting and make their parents feel embarrassed. I embarrass easily and nothing makes me want to curl up and die more than other people’s embarrassment. Am I aiming way too high here? On the other hand I’ve learned not to care if the kids hate my food. It’s a treat day so they can will up on crisps and icecream – so shoot me!
- Feed 6 kids (age 1-8) and 6 adults without breaking a sweat whilst the guests are in the house. If I can manage this I can have a glass of prosecco. Prosecco and a stressed host will make for a disastrous afternoon and will be embarrassing (see point 3.) The only way I can do this is with a one pot meal!
- I am doing Veganuary this month and I don’t want everyone to go home and moan about the vegan food.
- I have a reputation to uphold for feeding guests too much.
Eventually after a week of pawing recipe books I came up with a mushroom hot pot by winging it with a bit of this and a dash of that. Do I sound really annoying if I put on the interweb thingy it was pretty damn tasty!
I’m not going to say this is an quick recipe. It’s quite involved to prepare but I’m pleased to say minimal effort once everyone arrives, this leaves you to indulge with prosecco (see point 4.) All these ingredients give depth of savoury flavour and a delicious texture so will hopefully be worth the effort.
The recipe includes barley which is wheat free but not suitable for coeliacs. You could substitute the barley with 1 cup of cooked brown rice.
For the mushroom layer:
1/2 cup pearl barley
2 cups mushroom stock made with a Kallo cube – you can use vegetable stock as an alternative
250 pouch cooked green lentils
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion – diced small (approx 5mm cube)
1 stick celery – diced small
2 carrots – diced small
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme – stripped from the stalks (use 1/2 if using dried)
200g punnet mixed fancy mushrooms – diced small
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley – finely chopped
1 punnet chestnut mushrooms – sliced approx 5mm thick
1 dsp tamari soy sauce – suitable for coeliacs but use normal soy sauce if you can’t eat soya. If you can’t eat soya or wheat leave it out!
1 dsp Geo Watkins mushroom ketchup – you can use more soy sauce if you don’t have this or cannot eat gluten or leave it out
For the potato layer:
5 large potatoes – peeled and sliced thinly (as thin as you can manage)
1 onion – finely sliced into half moons
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
In a lidded saucepan bring the barley and stock to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes.
In a large shallowish lidded pan (I love my Le Creuset one that was a gift about 15 years ago but they seem to cost an absolute fortune now) fry the onion, celery and carrot in the olive oil until soft but not coloured. This will take about 15 minutes with the lid on.
Add the garlic and thyme and fry for a minute, stirring. Next add the chopped mushrooms and stir, browning for 10 minutes until all the mushroom liquid is released and they have shrunk. Add the soy sauce and mushroom ketchup.
Stir in the parsley, lentils and cooked barley, including the barley cooking liquid.
In a separate frying pan fry the sliced mushrooms in a little olive oil until they have lost all their liquid and have browned slightly. Once they are cooked layer on top of the mushroom and lentil mixture. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.
Next arrange half the potatoes over the mushrooms, season, sprinkle over the onions and garlic followed by the remainder of the remainder of the potatoes and season again.
Put the lid on top and bake at 170c for 40 minutes.
Check the potatoes are getting softer by poking with a knife. If the knife goes in easily remove the lid and cook uncovered for another 40 minutes or until golden brown. The magic of this dish is you can turn the oven off, put the lid back on and leave until you are ready to eat. This leaves you to have chat and enjoy time with your pals!
Serve with my rainbow christmas veggies. Hopefully you’ll have some red cabbage in the freezer to make life a bit easier. I did do a meat dish as well but I’ll share that recipe another day.