Since I finished my latest ebook, 5 ingredients | 10 minutes, a funny thing has happened.
While I was writing the book, there were many days of cooking, testing and photographing. So pretty much everything I was cooking and eating was made from only 5 ingredients. Now this might sound that dinner at my place was a pretty Spartan affair, but reality couldn’t be father from the truth.
I can’t tell you how many times I’d come up with an idea and think to myself, ‘surely this will need something else’. But the amazing thing is that I was almost always happy with the dish in its simplicity. Night after night my Irishman and I would have the same conversation.
GB: ‘Wow baby, this is lovely. Are you sure there are only 5 ingredients?’
Me: ‘Yep. Only 5.’
I’d then proceed to rattle off said 5 ingredients. And we’d both be quite excited about how good this minimalist home cooking thing could be.
When I finished the book, I found that unless I was testing out an idea to share on stonesoup, the number of ingredients in each dish would creep upwards. Now I’m not saying I turned into some crazily complicated cheffy type of cook. I just found myself slipping in a few extra things, even though I knew they weren’t really necessary.
The funny thing was, things weren’t tasting as good as they had when I was on a strict 5 ingredients policy. Then the other night I had decided to make some chickpeas with wilted greens for dinner. An easy 5 ingredients recipe. But for some reason I decided to brown some onions first.
And what happened? I got sidetracked on Twitter or something and my onions burned. And then I got sidetracked again and the chickpeas turned into a blackened mess. Not a great kitchen moment.
Thinking about it on my run the next day, I realised I needed to start walking my talk. If I was going to write about 5 ingredients recipes, then I should be willing to cook 5 ingredients recipes. Always.
So I’ve decided to take the 5 ingredients pledge. From now on, every dish* I make is going to have a maximum of 5 ingredients. Yep, every dish. Forever.
Would you be willing to make such a pledge? Am I being crazy? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
*Just to clarify. I’m only talking per recipe, not each meal. So it’s fine to make the dish below and then serve it with a 5 ingredient side salad and finish with my 4 ingredient chocolate cake.
zucchini, bangers & mash
The thing I love about this dish is that you still get the whole comfort food vibe of bangers and mash, but it feels a little more healthy with the zucchini. And dare I say it, more delicious?
If I was making this for vegetarians, I’d substitute about 200g (7oz) crumbled smoked tofu for the sausages.
Sage is slightly unexpected here, but it works really well with the porkiness. I know it can be hard to procure, so feel free to substitute in your favourite herb. Rosemary would be a classic choice, as would thyme. Or you could stir a handful of mint in at the end for added freshness.
I like my mash nice and buttery, but understand that is a little too much for some. Feel free to tone down the butter or even use olive oil instead if you’re not keen on dairy.
If you happen to find yourself cooking for an Irish person on a regular basis, I highly recommend investing in a potato ricer for making mash. Pictured below, it’s kinda like a giant garlic press. And not only does it give almost effortless mash, it also saves you from having to peel the spuds first. The skins stay magically inside. So clever. Of course you can peel and mash the old school way if you prefer.
3-4 medium floury potatoes, scrubbed
1 small bunch sage
2 large good quality pork sausages
4 medium zucchini (courgettes), sliced into 5mm (1/4in) thick coins
2 – 4 tablespoon butter
1. Place spuds in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and a lid and bring to the boil.
2. Simmer for 40-50 minutes, or until potatoes are very tender when tested with a butter knife.
3. Meanwhile, heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan. Add sage and cook for about 30 seconds.
4. Remove sausage skins and crumble the meat into the frying pan with the sage.
5. Cook over a medium high heat for a few minutes, or until golden brown.
6. Add zucchini and cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the zucchini are melting and tender and the sausage is cooked. Taste, season and keep warm.
7. When the spuds are cooked, drain and mash through a potato ricer back into the pan.
8. Whip in butter and season well. Serve a big dollup of mash with the zucchini & sausage mixture on the side.
Stonesoup has had a bit of media coverage in the last week. There’s an interview on Kiwi radio that’s now on YouTube. Evidence that I’m not a morning person.
And a lovely interview on my friend Tresna’s wonderful new blog: foodhands.com.