Interview with a Foodie - A Glug of Oil
We’ve been chatting to some of our favourite food bloggers and foodie experts, finding out what inspired their love of cooking and dining. We’re asking them for their top tips, hacks and insights – so, hopefully you’ll come away with a few bits of inspiration.
This week, we’re talking to Jan Bennett from A Glug of Oil. For the last 12 years, Jan has been blogging about her love of cooking, trying out new recipes and fiddling with kitchen gadgets. Read on for more…
Where did your love of cooking begin?
Ah, now this is going to show my age! As a kid, I used to watch the TV cooking show ‘The Galloping Gourmet’ with Graham Kerr. I absolutely loved it with all the fancy dinners he cooked.
I think the show ran from 1969-1971 which is probably, why at the time, I thought the dinners were fancy. I remember he used to pick one person from the audience to dine with him.
How have your recipes changed since you first started developing them?
I like to think I’m a lot better now with pairing which foods go together. But, with that said, every day is an experiment in my kitchen!
What's your go-to dish?
Homemade pasta sauce served with pasta, it’s quick and easy and can be on the table in less than 30 minutes. I’ve usually got some in the freezer so it’s a great time-saver.
How do you find time to balance meal preparation with everyday life?
Well, I’m lucky enough to have retired early from work which means I do have time to cook every day. When I went to work, I was part-time so I’ve always had time to do what I love, and that is to cook.
What's your top hack for cooking?
Freezing root ginger, I cut into smaller sized knobs and freeze it. That way you always have fresh ginger when you need it; it defrosts in no time and although it looks a little squishy it doesn’t lose any of its taste.
Where is your favourite place to dine out?
The Golden Ball Inn, it’s a seriously lovely old pub in Ironbridge, Shropshire. It was first established in 1728 and the food is always excellent, and all the staff members are friendly, we love it there.
Where do you find inspiration for your food?
I love reading restaurant menus, magazines, food blogs and watching TV cooking programmes. Or, if I see a new food product, a pie or a ready-meal in a top well-known food hall here in the UK, I read the packet, make a mental note of the ingredients, and go home and have a go at making it myself.
Where do you source most ingredients and are there any unusual places you would recommend?
To be honest, I mostly shop in supermarkets for everyday cooking. But if I’m looking for say Chinese ingredients then I go to a nearby Oriental supermarket. They sell all sorts of weird and wonderful ingredients and I could easily spend half a day in there looking at it all!
Are there any dishes you have yet to perfect but want to in 2020?
Now that’s a tricky one, where to begin? I suppose it would be pastry, have you seen my pies? I am certainly no baker and my pies, oh dear; let’s just say look very rustic!
What kitchen gadgets could you not do without?
Have you got all day for this?! I do love a good kitchen gadget or 50. First up, has to be my all-singing all-dancing multi-cooker. It’s the bee's knees of multi-cookers and can pressure cook, reduce, sear, sauté and steam as well as slow cook. Not surprisingly it is actually made by Breville, but that’s going to sound like an advert, it’s not meant to be, I’m just saying.
Then there’s my blender, mandolin slicer, sous-vide machine, yes indeed!
Do you have a favourite season for recipes?
It has to be the summer if we actually get a summer here in the UK! I really love Mediterranean food. It’s simple, delicious and packed full of flavour.
How do you factor in healthy eating into your recipes?
My brother-in-law often pops round for dinner, but he doesn’t like or eat any vegetables whatsoever. He won’t eat mushrooms, tomatoes, peas, carrots and spinach, the list goes on.
But when he comes here, he eats them and has no idea - well unless he reads this, of course. I hide them in pasta sauces and cottage pie by whizzing them up in a food processor so they’re finely chopped. Once that’s done, I add them in, and he’s none the wiser!
What is your top food trend for 2020?
Lots of lovely locally-grown vegetables, although we’re not vegetarian, we are eating a lot more veggies and go meat-free at least twice a week.
Huge thanks to Jan for taking the time to answer our questions! We hope her responses have inspired you to take on new challenges in the kitchen. And, if you’re looking for more recipe tips and kitchen ideas, you’ll find the full range of Breville products, whatever you’re in need of, on our homepage.