I’m a food editor, recipe developer and writer originally from Newcastle and now living in sunny Forest Gate. I’m currently food editor at M&S Food and have written about restaurants, travel and food for publications including The Independent, London Evening Standard and Mr Porter. I love living in Forest Gate and the flourishing independent food and drink scene here, so expect my contributions to be centred around everything this brilliant area has to offer when it comes to eating, drinking and cooking.
It’s become a Sunday ritual to potter around Leytonstone Farmer’s Market on Cann Hill road. Whatever looks good shapes my cooking for the rest of the week. Right now it’s dusky emerald-coloured cavolo nero, candy-striped squash and beetroot, and knobbly mottled celeriac. This Sunday there was a new discovery: exotic-looking blue oyster and furry lion’s mane mushrooms from the Merit Mushrooms stall. I fried them over a high heat and served with a soothing broth of grains and butter beans, spiked with a herby spicy garlic oil to ward off the winter chill. The giant celeriac I bought is still taunting me from the bottom of the vegetable drawer, daring me to find a way to use it.
Brothy beans with mushrooms and chilli oil
OIive oil, for cooking
1 carrot, diced
1 leek, diced
1 shallot, finely sliced
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tin butter beans
200g mixed grains, such as farro and barley
3 dried chillies, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
A few sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
1 tsp Marmite
400g mixed mushrooms, roughly torn
2 tsp cider vinegar
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the carrot, leek and shallot along with a sprinkle of salt and sweat for 10-15 minutes, until soft and sweet. Add the stock, butter beans with their liquid and grains and cover with boiling water. Crumble in the stock cube, bring to the boil, then simmer until the grains are tender, adding more water as needed.
Meanwhile, add 3 tbsp olive oil to a frying pan and heat the chillies and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes over a medium heat until the garlic is soft but not coloured. Add the rosemary, stir and remove from the heat. Set aside in a bowl.
In the same pan, heat a splash more oil and fry the mushrooms over a medium-high heat without moving too much, tossing now and again, until gnarly and golden. Season and toss with 1 tsp vinegar.
Stir the marmite and remaining vinegar into the beans, to taste.
Serve the broth topped with the fried mushrooms and chilli oil.