January 6, 2012

river cottage – veg every day.

Repack of previously released individual articles.

Renowned carnivore and enthusiastic exponent of the hog roast Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall loves animals – both alive and on his plate. Now Hugh has challenged himself to spend the summer as a vegetarian, to see just what simple pleasures are being overlooked.

Meat and fish have been at the heart of the British menu for decades. The demand for so much meat and fish is leading to health problems across the world, for both humans and animals, as well as impacting on the quality of the meat and fish we eat. But there’s a simple way to help ease the situation – Hugh wants people to eat more veg. Travelling the UK in search of committed veggies who love their food, Hugh learns all about a new world of flavours from all corners of the globe.

Episode 2
The second episode in his new series is all about the garden. Hugh and the team revel in the first sweet roots of summer. Hugh and Gill head into the kitchen to cook beetroot tarte tatin, a simple summer salad with pearl spelt, new potatoes, baby carrots, peas and broad beans. Hugh then catches up with his smallholding pals at Bramble Farm in Bristol.
At River Cottage restaurant Tim is still trying to win over customers with his meat-free meals, going back to basics with a classic Italian snack – broad bean bruschetta. Hugh goes on the hunt for some meat-free protein, and once again pushes the boundaries of the edible, climbing monkey puzzle trees to reach their precious nuts. And Hugh and head gardener Mark convince the local horticultural show to judge their entries on taste rather than looks – but find themselves up against a green-fingered man of the cloth.

Episode 3
Hugh prepares to cook meat-free fodder for a celebratory feast, but faces a battle with the slugs who are tucking into his vegetable patch with vigour! He’s catering for a wedding and has convinced the couple, Louise and Phil, to have a vegetable banquet. Hugh visits Jagdish Ghelani, owner of Indigo restaurant in Leicester, who regularly prepares south Indian speciality feasts for over 450 people. Back at River Cottage Hugh begins perfecting his curries with a fresh homemade aubergine and bean curry. He also knocks up some stuffed courgette flowers.

Episode 4
Hugh’s commitment to a summer without flesh takes a hit when he joins a fishing trip and has to pass up the fresh mackerel sushi. So he visits Sachiko in Birmingham, where a Japanese chef introduces him to the vegetarian ways of Buddhist monks, and cooking techniques entirely dedicated to wowing the palate out of any yearning for meat or fish. Back on track, Hugh plunges back into traditional English summertime and prepares a full cricket tea without a pork pie in sight.

Episode 5
Hugh immerses himself in the pleasures of wild swimming with vegetarian triathlete Colin Hill. Colin has swum the English Channel, the Bosphorus and the Hellespont, and he puts pay to any suspicion that a meat-free diet lacks power. But his pasta heavy diet lacks imagination – pasta and ketchup, anyone? So Hugh whips up some delicious carb-loading dishes that provide plenty of flavour as well as energy. Hugh also makes a campfire lunch for a team working with heavy horses to clear a forest. And Tim and James go head to head in the kitchen to provide the tastiest dishes in a summer veg showdown, whipping up a saffron speltotto, fresh pasta with fennel, and the classic melanzane parmigiana.

Episode 6
Hugh is well into his summer without meat. But even though he’s turned veggie life goes on, and it’s time to take two of the River Cottage sheep to slaughter. But Hugh now reckons when it comes to cheap delicious seasonal food, vegetables can’t be beaten. To prove his point he accepts a challenge thrown down by the landlady at a local pub. He has to try out his veggie dishes, on a limited budget, for a dedicated meat-loving crowd of locals. Foraged mushrooms and the season’s first golden squashes are delicious, as well as cheap, but will the beetroot and chocolate, and pea and mint ice creams be a step too far?

Episode 7
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall has spent four months dedicating his time and attention to vegetables. In this final episode his experiment of not eating meat ends and it’s fish he first turns back to. Still keen to share the vegetable love, Hugh invites a group of local children who hate veg to join him in the garden, and attempts to win them over with pizzas and garlic butter. James at the River Cottage restaurant cooks a mouth-watering pumpkin and blue cheese pastie. Hugh throws a vegetarian autumn feast and the table is stacked with stuffed squashes, sweet aubergines and even vegetable puddings – a testament to just how easy and delicious meat-free cooking can be. Last in the series.

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