Unduly excited by a pineapple (or how to be a saddo)

I arrived home last night to find a pineapple on my doorstep.  I’ve never had a pineapple on my doorstep before.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had a real live pineapple before, only out of a tin.  So I’m very very excited by this.  Yes, I’m a saddo.

Also within the mini fruit & veg box are two portobello mushrooms (only 2?  Shame), 1 yellow pepper and 1 green pepper (bit stingy on the peppers this week too), a bag of shallots, some Swiss chard and 4 bananas.  And when I’ve emptied the box I find two free vanilla pods which are apparently a (very) belated Christmas present.  I like presents.  Thank you Riverford.

Riverford box delivery 26 February 2009
Riverford box delivery 26 February 2009

And during the week as I was telling Facebook how excited I was to be getting a pineapple in this week’s delivery, a friend warned me that when he and his wife get round to eating theirs, it’s usually gone off and so I heeded this warning (all warnings should be heeded, I reckon.   Is anything else heeded?) but I needn’t have bothered with the heedering as Riverford had very kindly added a note in the box suggesting I eat the pineapple within a couple of days of its delivery, so it’s pineapple smoothies for me this weekend.  Should power tomorrow’s 8 miler nicely.

Pineapple warning
Pineapple warning

(p.s. don’t forget there’s still time to enter the competition to win a copy of Simon Rimmer’s fantastic vegetarian cookbook – “The Seasoned Vegetarian”)

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Vegetarian Dutch pancakes

Since the last time I went to My Old Dutch in Holborn, I’ve been craving pancakes, and what better time to make them than on Pancake Day? and now I know how easy they are to make and how tasty they are, I think I’m going to make them every day.  Should be compulsory really.

Ingredients (makes 1 big pancake)
60g plain flour
1/4 pint milk (I used soya milk and it was fine)
1 egg

Method
Turn the grill on

Make the batter by beating together the flour and milk, then slowly beat in the egg (I used an electric whisk; you might want to use a bigger bowl than I did so it doesn’t go everywhere)
Heat a bit of oil in a large non-stick frying pan
Pour in the batter and cook until the underside is brown
Turn the pancake over (I was too scared to toss it.  Wimp.)
Add toppings (I used my leftover mushrooms [that I fried first in some butter and garlic], tomato, spinach and cheese)
Put under the grill for a couple of minutes
Find a big plate
Eat it and be full of pancake all night.

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Spicy broccoli and cabbage soup

Another look-in-the-fridge-and-see-what’s-left soup this week. A yellow pepper is still hanging about from the box delivery two weeks ago, and this week’s box brought me broccoli and cabbage. An onion would have been useful but I forgot to buy one. And I wouldn’t have added chili powder and curry powder but I had hardly any curry powder left.  Ho hum. Still, a very nice soup it turned out to be indeed.

Spicy broccoli and cabbage soup (serves 4)
Broccoli
1 yellow pepper
1/2 a cabbage
2,000 ml stock
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp curry powder
2 tsp chili powder
Black pepper

How I made it
Chop the vegetables
Put them in a large pan with everything else
Simmer it for about 15 minutes
Whizz it up with a stick blender
Marvel at its bubbly greenness

Spicy broccoli and cabbage soup
Spicy broccoli and cabbage soup
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Sundried tomato and jalapeno bread

The Bread Book by Sara Lewis
The Bread Book by Sara Lewis

Last night I’m trying to decide whether or not to make some bread and because I can’t think for myself, I put this pondering onto my Facebook status like the saddo I am and it gets the thumbs up from Julia and Mark and so then I have to decide what bread to make and in my fridge there’s some sundried tomatoes and some jalapenos and so I think aha, I will make sundried tomato and jalapeno bread and I adapt a recipe from The Bread Book: The Definitive Guide to Making Bread by Hand or Machine and hope for the best and in the morning I have a perfect loaf of gorgeous smelling bread and I tuck into it as fuelling for my long run.

Sundried tomato and jalapeno bread (makes 1 small loaf)

Ingredients:
325g strong white flour
1 tbsp olive oil
200 ml water
2tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 tsp fast action dried yeast
35g sundried tomatoes (blot them if in oil) / chopped
30g jalapenos / chopped

How to do it:
Put the water and oil into the tin
Add the flour, sugar and salt
Make a dip in the flour and add the yeast
Add the sundried tomatoes and jalapenos (try to avoid putting them on the yeast)
Set it for small loaf, medium crust
Press start (or time it to be ready for when you get up)
Eat it while you’re emptying the dishwasher and making a cup of tea

Sundried tomato bread
Sundried tomato bread
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Competition: Win “The Seasoned Vegetarian” by Simon Rimmer

The Seasoned Vegetarian by Simon Rimmer
The Seasoned Vegetarian by Simon Rimmer

It may be vegetable box delivery Thursday but today I have something far more interesting to blog about, oh yes.  Today it’s Planet-Veggie-is-feeling-generous-today day although strictly speaking that should be Mitchell-Beazley-is-feeling-generous-today day as my new favourite publisher has given me three copies of The Seasoned Vegetarian by Simon Rimmer to give away on this here blog.  Hurrah.

When the books arrive I have a look through and am getting hungrier browsing the recipes for small platefuls and large platefuls and spicy platefuls and brunch and soup and salads and add ons and puddings and things that sound confusing like turmeric roulade with harissa stew and things that don’t sound confusing like veggie carbonara, and the peppered mushroom and stilton pie is accompanied by a photo that is forcing me to make it for dinner one day next week and I wonder what the theme of the competition should be and I think aha, I know, I’ll have a competition where people have to name five famous vegetarian guests they’d have round for dinner and why and then I think I can’t think of any famous vegetarians except for Paul McCartney and I don’t want to invite him round for dinner in case he starts singing The Frog Song or something and so I find a list of famous vegetarians and I start scanning it and thinking na, he won’t be on here, he probably isn’t veggie and then fuck, there he is: JUDE LAW IS VEGETARIAN!!! Maybe there is a god after all and then I think oh but he’s divorced and I’m not really into divorced men and then I think oh he’s got kids and I’m not really into kids and then I think hang on, didn’t he cheat on Sienna Miller? and I think maybe I should just stick with The Meat Eater after all as he’s not divorced, hasn’t got any kids and probably won’t cheat on me with Sienna Miller and then I think well, I’ll still invite Jude along as eye candy, I just won’t sleep with him even if he begs me and I look down the list for a chef so they can do the cooking and blimey, there’s only one famous vegetarian chef/cookery writer and that’s Rose Elliot and I don’t want Rose Elliot to do the cooking as I bought one of her vegan cookbooks once and everything I made out of it was crap so I’ll have to do my own cooking and I think I’ll invite Jodie Marsh so there’s someone more Essex than me there but she’d better not get off with Jude as I might change my mind after a few drinks and I’m going to invite Hazel O’Connor as Breaking Glass is one of my favourite films and I can embarrass her by playing the soundtrack which I still have on tape and I’m going to invite Boy George as I bet he’s really funny and bitchy and he’ll probably get on well with Jodie Marsh  as she’s probably the only person in the world to wear more make up than he does and I’m going to invite Damon Albarn as we can get drunk and slag off Oasis and that’s my five dinner guests and now you have to tell me yours.

My five famous vegetarian dinner guests
Jude Law
Jodie Marsh
Hazel O’Connor
Boy George
Damon Albarn

Competition rules
List your five guests and reasons as a comment (list of famous vegetarians here)
Your five guests don’t have to be different to mine and they can be dead or alive
More than one entry is allowed
UK entries only please
End date 28 February 2009

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Broccoli and yellow pepper soup

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and The Meat Eater got me a knives set.  Not just any old knives set, but the coolest knife set in the world ever.

Voodoo knife set (aka the coolest knife set in the world ever)
Voodoo knife set (aka coolest knife set in the world)

But me being a wimp that is too scared to touch the coolest knife set in the world ever, I let The Meat Eater insert them into their holders and we go out and get the worst service in the world ever from my local Indian restaurant and the next day we go out and get the best service in the world ever from a local Italian restaurant (voted Best Pizza In London by Time Out magazine (it’s not, but don’t let that put you off going, it is very nice but the nicest is Mondragone (for pizza anyway Uffizzi may have the touch on pasta))) and later on I decide to be brave and use my new knives while I’m making my weekly soup and so I decide to use the one penetrating his right leg to chop up the vegetables for

Broccoli and yellow pepper soup (serves 5)

Ingredients:
Butter
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 yellow pepper
Broccoli
2,500ml stock
Nutritional yeast
Black pepper
Brown miso

How to make it:
Melt the butter in a large pan
Add the onion and garlic and fry for a few minutes
Add the stock
Add the broccoli and yellow pepper
Add some nutritional yeast
Add some black pepper
After about 15 minutes, whizz it up with a stick blender and add some brown miso
Don’t cut your fingers off with new knives from the coolest knife set in the world ever

Broccoli and yellow pepper soup
Broccoli and yellow pepper soup
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This week’s mystery vegetable : Swiss chard

I rescue my vegetable box from under the recycling bin (yay, they were emptied this week, unlike last week when those few flakes of snow scared off the council workers, probably due to some cr*ppy health & safety thing) and it’s full of pretty colours and I look at the list to see what’s there and apparently the stuff I don’t recognise is swiss chard and I think it looks more like pak choy to me but what do I know? but what I do know is that I’ll be having broccoli soup next week for lunch and tonight I mash up the left over robinta potatoes from last week with some of the swiss chard and I also have some of the broccoli and have that with a couple of Sainsburys meat free burgers and Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire puddings and Bisto onion gravy (yeah yeah, not exactly a cooked from scratch dinner but I can’t be a domestic goddess all the time) and while I’m making it I look in the cupboard and see the box of Paxo sage & onion stuffing and I think b*llocks, I should have made some stuffing but it takes 25 minutes and it’s too late now.  Damn.

Organic vegetable box 12 February 2009
Organic vegetable box 12 February 2009

This week’s box contents
(mini fruit & veg box)
Calabrese
Baby leeks
Swiss chard
Mixed peppers
Navel oranges
Bananas

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Leek & bean cassoulet : Veganomicon

Although I’m not a vegan, I’ve bought some vegan cookbooks in the past and they’ve all been, well, crap, basically and have been put straight back on Amazon but when I decided to be vegan for the month of July last year, I bought Veganomicon after reading glowing reviews of it.  I didn’t actually get round to using it in my veganthon (although I did remain vegan for the whole of the month, er, except for one slip up when I had some Baileys without thinking, oops) but when I did try some recipes from it, OH MY GOD THEY WERE SO NICE!  Even The Meat Eater liked the eggplant and potato moussaka with pine nut cream (even if he did say it reminded him of apple crumble.  Hmm) and the other recipes have been great and as I’ve still got leeks, carrots and potatoes to use from my vegetable box, last night’s recipe of choice was leek & bean cassoulet (with biscuits (which are an American scone like thing) in the book, but I didn’t have the ingredients to make the biscuits which was a shame as I haven’t had biscuits since my mum used to make them to have with our Sunday dinner when I was a kid).

Leed & bean cassoulet
Leek & bean cassoulet

Leek & bean cassoulet (says serves 6 but I’d have said 4, but then again, I’m a glutton)
Ingredients:
2 Yukon gold potatoes (I used the robinta potatoes that came in my delivery) cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 cups vegetable broth (stock)
3 tablespoons cornstarch (I used Cornflower)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, washed well and sliced thinly (about 2 cups) (I never wash things well or slice thinly)
1 small onion, cut into medium-size dice (I used a big onion and sliced it)
1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice (I didn’t bother peeling them)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (I used dried thyme)
Several pinches of freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less depending on how salty your broth is) (the stock I use is WELL salty)
3/4 cup frozen peas (I used 3/4 cup frozen mixed veg, couldn’t be bothered to pick the peas out)
1 (15 ounce) can navy beans, drained and rinsed (about 1/2 cups) (I used a 410g tin of cannellini beans)

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 200c
Boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes
Chop up the vegetables
Mix the cornflower into the stock
Fry the leeks, onions and carrots in the oil for about 10 minutes
Add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and cook for 1 more minute
Add the potatoes and frozen veg, then pour in the stock
Simmer for about 7 minutes
Cook in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes
Eat it trying not to burn your mouth

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Spicy vegetable soup

Originally, I was going to make spicy parsnip soup, as two parsnips (one of which was MASSIVE) were delivered in my weekly organic vegetable box and after having roasted parsnips for Christmas lunch, discovered that I don’t actually like parsnips but I later discovered that I do like them in soup.  Especially a soup that involves copious amounts of chili powder.  But on investigating the contents of my fridge, I found some other vegetables that needed using up and so today’s concoction is a mixed vegetable soup, involving copious amounts of chili powder.

Spicy vegetable soup (serves 5)

Ingredients:
2 potatoes
2 carrots
2 parsnips
1/2 a cauliflower
1 onion
2,000 ml stock
Garlic
Chili powder
Salt & black pepper

Instructions:
Chop vegetables
Cook the onion in some stock for a bit with the garlic
Chuck the rest of the vegetables in
Add the rest of the stock
Add chili powder
Add salt & pepper
Simmer for about 20 minutes
Make mince pies while it’s simmering (optional)
Whizz it up with a stick blender
Take a photo and blog about it (optional)

Spicy vegetable soup
Spicy vegetable soup
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Cheddar, sun-dried tomato and olive bread

Waking up to the smell (do I have to use a poncy word like aroma?  No one ever says aroma.  “Ooh, what a nice aroma”?  As if) of freshly baked bread is one of the nicest things to wake up to (although waking up next to The Meat Eater has its advantages sometimes. Well, someone needs to make the tea, don’t they?) and so last night I set the bread machine (no, I’m not THAT much of a domestic goddess, I am a Lazy Domestic Goddess. Hmm, I feel a book coming on) to make me some cheddar, sun-dried tomato and olive bread in time for 8am, a recipe I adapted from The Bread Machine Book, which originally called for 50g of feta cheese but, being the rebel I am, I substituted that for roughly 100g of vintage cheddar. And yes, I know you’re not supposed to put perishables in the bread machine overnight, but read what I just said about being a rebel. A rebel without a stomach lining.

Cheddar, sun-dried tomato and olive bread
Cheddar, sun-dried tomato and olive bread

And I go for my run and come back and breakfast on my freshly made bread and hot chocolate and, bloody hell, that may possibly be the nicest bread I’ve ever made.

Ingredients (for 450g / 1lb loaf):
175ml (6 fl oz) water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
350g (12 oz) bread flour
1 1/2 tsp yeast
100g cheddar
25g chopped green olives
2 tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes

Instructions:
Put all ingredients in bread tin in order suggested by your bread machine instructions
Set for white bread, medium crust
Press start
Eat and say bloody hell, that may possibly be the nicest bread I’ve ever made

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