The dog house

A peek into Jas­mine Hem­s­ley’s kitchen

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page - Jas­mine Hem­s­ley is a cook and food writer; jas­mine­hem­s­ley. com

Ilive in a live-work space in Ele­phant and Cas­tle in Lon­don. The kitchen is in the mid­dle, with a full wall of win­dows op­po­site it. They look out on to a rail­way arch and huge block of flats, though, so while there is nice nat­u­ral light it’s only at spe­cific times of day.

We have three res­cue dogs – Ar­juna, Bheema and Julie (1), who is sit­ting here on a chair I got at a Wim­ble­don car boot sale for £8. I’m a mag­pie for colour and char­ac­ter – I love a car boot. My par­ents trav­elled and loved things that could tell a story; I come from a fam­ily of col­lec­tors.

I par­tic­u­larly love big, bold, mas­cu­line pieces. The clock (2) is French vin­tage, from the Fifties or early Six­ties. It was orig­i­nally de­signed to hang out­side a jew­eller’s, so it has a ro­bust ex­te­rior case.

On one side of the kitchen there’s an or­ange retro kitchen unit (3) – an eBay find. The oth­ers were orig­i­nally very dark brown, and when we stopped do­ing the Hem­s­ley and Hem­s­ley ca­ter­ing, I cel­e­brated by paint­ing them white.

I also re­placed my knives with a set of Vin­ers (4) – the old ones were com­pletely bashed, and I re­alised that the kitchen block I kept them in was a re­ally un­hy­gienic thing.

The slow cooker (5) is from Nether­ton Foundry – I dis­cov­ered them in my early 20s and I still use this pot two to three times a week. I have two salt and pep­per sets I love by Alessi

(6) on the right, and Tom Dixon (7) on the left.

I live near two florists, and I’m al­ways sal­vaging any­thing they throw away – I go past the bins ev­ery day, and my part­ner Nick knows to pick stuff up for me too: bou­quets, bam­boo used on shoots, all my Christ­mas trees, and my mother’s too … In the sum­mer my flat be­comes an or­chid hospi­tal. They’re so pop­u­lar in ho­tels, but with­out proper care, they fade, so I res­cue them. When you see 20 or­chids up­side down in a bin, you can’t help it … I have about 50 plants (8), and my vases (9) are in con­stant ro­ta­tion.

The ce­ramic dogs are Mex­i­can can­dle­stick hold­ers and have names – Ja­son and John. My best friend says they’re the ugli­est things she’s ever seen.

I’ve been learn­ing about spices (10) for the past five years, as a means of pro­tect­ing your­self on a daily ba­sis. And since I’ve learnt that cof­fee doesn’t re­ally agree with me – it sends me loony – I use my cof­fee pot for hot wa­ter, which is a very im­por­tant Eastern medicine rem­edy.

When I dis­cov­ered ayurveda, the old­est heal­ing sys­tem in the world, it was 2001 and health was all about fit­ness: puni­tive gym ses­sions and re­stric­tive eat­ing pro­grammes, low-fat and low­cal. Ayurveda, on the other hand, was a whole new lan­guage. And the gamechang­ers for me were the power of the gut – re­cently ac­knowl­edged in the west as the sec­ond “brain” and cen­tre of im­mu­nity – and the im­por­tance of di­ges­tion. The idea is that ev­ery meal is an op­por­tu­nity to for­tify your body and boost en­ergy.

My mis­sion is to in­tro­duce ayurveda and im­part a deeper un­der­stand­ing of its prin­ci­ples and styles. For ex­am­ple, why milk and sugar, which have be­come the out­casts of modern health philoso­phies, can be good and nour­ish­ing in their whole form when prop­erly pre­pared, and why, ac­cord­ing to an­cient ayurveda, an­i­mal foods such as meat and stock have a place in our diet.

Since ev­ery per­son is uniquely dif­fer­ent, as well as ever-chang­ing, it is all about nat­u­ral guide­lines. Th­ese in­clude the fol­low­ing:

• Fresh is best

• Don’t eat the same foods for more than two meals in a row.

• Eat in mod­er­a­tion.

• Say yes to real fats and nat­u­ral sweet­en­ers, ac­cord­ing to how you feel on a daily ba­sis.

• Re­spect the food, the time of day, the sea­sons and your di­ges­tive ca­pa­bil­ity.

• Let veg­eta­bles and fruit make up 50 to 60 per cent of your daily food in­take.

• You can eat all kinds of foods, but min­imise those that are not help­ful for your con­sti­tu­tion – eat them once a week, for ex­am­ple.

• Cooked foods are eas­ier to di­gest.

• Stick to warm or hot drinks and food.

Cru­cially, though, it’s about re­con­nect­ing to your own in­tu­ition at your own pace. De­cid­ing what works for you is just one of the joys of this phi­los­o­phy.

Pink pep­per lamb hot­pot with sautéed red cab­bage and mint

In­spired by Lan­cashire hot­pot, this recipe ren­ders a med­ley of in­gre­di­ents, in­clud­ing tougher cuts of meat, into a melt-in-the-mouth, easy-to-di­gest dish. I’ve added pink pep­per­corns, which are one of my lat­est favourite flavours in the spice pantry. Slightly sweet and rem­i­nis­cent of ju­niper berries, they are of­ten paired with mild-flavoured white fish and as­para­gus, but here they shine with sweet squash, turnips and lamb.

Be­cause lamb can of­ten be quite fatty, I like to serve hot­pot with a sauteed red cab­bage salad, its pink colour of­fer­ing a nod to the pink pep­per­corns that have dis­ap­peared into the lay­ers of the hot­pot. It’s also per­fect with mint for fresh­ness and a chutney or two.

Serves 6

500g diced lamb, mut­ton neck fil­let or shoul­der

Salt and black pep­per

1½ tbsp but­ter, melted, plus ex­tra for greas­ing

½ large but­ter­nut squash (about 600g), peeled and cut into 5mm slices 150g turnips, cut into 5mm slices 1½-2 tbsp pink pep­per­corns, crushed 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked

2 bay leaves

1 large leek, sliced into 5mm rounds 500ml bouil­lon stock

For the red cab­bage

1 tbsp ghee

1 tsp black mus­tard seeds

300g thinly shred­ded red cab­bage 15-20g mint leaves, chopped

½-1 tbsp lemon juice sea salt, to taste

1 Pre­heat the oven to 160C/325F/gas 3. Sea­son the meat lightly.

2 But­ter a 24cm high-sided casse­role dish and ar­range a third of the sliced but­ter­nut squash and turnips in the bot­tom. Sea­son with a lit­tle of the crushed pink pep­per­corns and sprin­kle with thyme. Lay the meat on top and add the bay leaves, then sea­son in the same way, fol­lowed by the leek, also sea­soned with pink pep­per­corns and thyme.

3 Ar­range the re­main­ing slices of squash and turnips on top of the leek like over­lap­ping fish scales, and sea­son with salt and pink pep­per­corns. Pour enough stock over the top to come just up to the base of the top­ping (lift up a piece to check), then brush with the melted but­ter.

4 Cover and bake for 2 hours, then un­cover and bake for another 30-40 min­utes, or un­til the top is golden and crisp.

5 Around 10 min­utes be­fore the end of the cook­ing time, make the sauteed red cab­bage. Heat the ghee in a large fry­ing pan and add the mus­tard seeds. Saute them un­til they be­gin to pop and be­come fra­grant. Add the red cab­bage and saute for 10-15 min­utes, or un­til just ten­der, adding 1-2 tbsp wa­ter if needed.

6 Toss through the other in­gre­di­ents and serve im­me­di­ately along­side the hot­pot.

▲ East by West: Sim­ple Recipes for Ul­ti­mate Mind-Body Bal­ance by Jas­mine Hem­s­ley is out now, pub­lished by Blue­bird (£25).

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