Happy 2013! (And a New Year mushroom and chestnut stew…)

It’s been such a long time since my last post! The run-up to Christmas was a never-ending stream of pub trips and parties (with a bit of running thrown in for good measure) and then I headed down to Somerset for an extra-long Christmas break with my family. We celebrated Finnish Christmas and English Christmas (with a couple of Aussie bits too), and we did plenty of eating, drinking and being merry. I’m now back at work and attempting to get over the culture shock! What do you mean, I’m not allowed to flump on the sofa with the cat and a handful of Ferrero Rocher for a sneaky afternoon snooze?

We also did plenty of excellent cooking over the festive break, and I rounded things off with this excellent (if I do say so myself) mushroom and chestnut stew, which was our New Year’s Eve veggie option. My sister and I bought my mum a slow cooker for Christmas, so she made a (by all accounts delicious) beef in beer using that, and my mushroom and chestnut offering was perfect – hearty, rich and gorgeously tasty. We had both stews with Mum’s amazing dumplings, new potatoes, bread (just to complete the carb-fest!) and broccoli. And plenty of fizz to see in the new year!

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Mushroom and chestnut stew

Serves 4

1 red onion, sliced

1 white onion, sliced

1 punnet chestnut mushrooms, quartered

1 punnet shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 punnet (usually 3-4 mushrooms) portabello mushrooms, sliced

1 large glass red wine

1 vegetable Knorr Stock Pot

1 pack vacuum-packed chestnuts (or my dad actually found a bag of fresh chestnuts going cheap in the supermarket, so we roasted our own – I probably used 10-12 chestnuts)

A little water

Salt, pepper, sage and thyme to taste

1. Fry the onions in a large ovenproof saucepan with a little olive oil (I used garlic olive oil) on a gentle heat for 10-15 minutes, until they become translucent and just start to go brown at the edges.

2. Add all of the mushrooms and fry until they start to release their juices.

3. Turn up the heat, add the red wine and simmer for a couple of minutes to bubble away the alcohol.

4. Add the Stock Pot jelly thing, chestnuts and a little bit of water to loosen the mixture (remember that the mushrooms will carry on releasing liquid as they cook) and season with the salt, pepper and herbs.

5. Bring to a simmer and then transfer to a low oven (around 150C) and cook for 1-2 hours until bubbling and thick and gorgeous.

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