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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What’s in the box?

My favourite day of the week arrives and I’m at work with a hangover after celebrating Gary’s 40th last night with wine, lager, vodka and champagne and I’m wondering if my vegetables will get stolen as my recycling bin hasn’t been emptied and one of the spare recycling bins still has two pairs of trousers in it that the clothes thieves didn’t take when they took the other clothes that were in the bin and the other bin is full of snow but when I get home the organic vegetable delivery people have emptied the bin that was full of snow and now the bin is hiding my vegetables.

Organic vegetable box delivery 5 February 2009
Organic vegetable box delivery 5 February 2009

And today I’ve got purple sprouting broccoli (took me a while to work out what it was before I saw the purple bits), robinta potatoes, leeks, carrots (yawn), cauliflower and parsnips (spicy parsnip soup for lunch next week then, hooray).

I love my vegetable box.

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Broccoli and potato soup

I’ve been very slack in posting this recipe.  Although is it a recipe if the measurements aren’t precise, or is it just a cross my fingers, shut my eyes (bit dangerous in the kitchen, that one, then again cooking with fingers crossed is probably a bit dangerous too) and hope for the best kind of thing?  Anyway, this week’s soup was broccoli and potato.  Nice.

Broccoli and potato soup
Broccoli and potato soup

Ingredients:
Shallots
Garlic
Potatoes
Broccoli
Cabbage
1,500 ml stock
Black pepper
Nutritional yeast
Brown miso

Instructions:
Cook the shallots and the garlic in some stock
While the shallots are cooking, chop the potatoes and vegetables
Bung it all in the pot with the shallots and garlic and the rest of the stock
Sprinkle in some nutritional yeast
After about 20 minutes or so when the potatoes are soft, whizz it up with a stick blender
Add a bit of brown miso
Put off  blogging about it for five days

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Creamy mushroom ragout with nutmeg mash

Hurrah, yesterday was Thursday and Thursday means organic vegetable delivery day.  And I couldn’t blog yesterday because yesterday was also go to the pictures and see Slumdog Millionaire (how can they promote a film that is riddled with death, violence and heartbreak as a “feel good movie”?), then go to Prezzo with our cheapskate’s “two for one main meals” voucher and eat deep fried mozzarella, bruschetta and pizza and drink red wine day and I get home and my vegetable box from Riverford Organic Vegetables is waiting for me, hidden as usual (until the local E17 vegetable thieves read this) under my recycling box and this is what awaits me

Organic vegetable box delivery 29 January 2009
Organic vegetable box delivery 29 January 2009

and there’s bananas (hooray) and apples (boo) and mushrooms (yay yay yay yay yay yay yay) and sweet potatoes (just about scraped into the plural there, what with there only being a not very generous two of them) and broccoli (that’s next week’s soup sorted then) and cabbage (oh fuck, not another “what am I supposed to do with this then?” week) and I go to work and think hmm, what shall I have for dinner tonight and I remember I bought some potatoes from the shop in the week and so I put mushrooms and potatoes into the wonderful BBC Recipe Finder and it gives me eight recipes to choose from and I opt for the Creamy Mushroom Ragout with Nutmeg Mash and go to Tesco on the way home and buy some double cream as it’s the only ingredient I’m missing apart from the sherry but I buy some red wine to use instead and I think shall I make the amount for 4 and freeze some or quarter it to make the amount needed for the sad-spinster-of-the-parish-who-lives-alone-with-her-cat  portion and I weigh the mushrooms on my shiny new scales and it says I only have 205g of mushrooms and the recipe calls for about 900g so I have to go for the lonely old woman portion and so I quarter everything else while I’m making it and so according to the recipe I need about 100g of cabbage but when I get to fry the cabbage, I decide there’s too much and only use about half of it and it all comes together nicely and it looks like this

Creamy Mushroom Ragout with Nutmeg Mash
Creamy Mushroom Ragout with Nutmeg Mash

and I sit down to eat it and oh my, it’s REALLY REALLY NICE.  Yum.

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Kuhn Rikon Electronic Scales

Last night I decided to make some mince pies and to make them with my new shortcrust pastry mix that I bought, instead of the ready rolled stuff.  (The Meat Eater said “you still have to roll it though, don’t you?  “No”, said I.  “There’s a clue in the name – ready rolled”.  Sigh.)

So off I dutifully trotted to the kitchen to weigh out the pastry mix, as I’m told that flour and bread and general bakery stuff like cakes (mmm, cakes) have to be measured precisely and so I turned on my scales, but they didn’t respond. “Come on stupid scales, Eastenders is on soon and I haven’t got time for this”.  But the scales were not to be coaxed into action.  Waa.  So I threw caution to the wind (i.e. I’d had a bottle of wine and couldn’t really be arsed about measuring precisely) and got out the measuring jug and sort of guessed how many grams (I think it was grams, the jug is presently in the dishwasher being pounded by jets of scalding hot water and bits of dishwasher tablet, so I can’t check) and added some water (three tablespoons to be precise, and I can be precise about that bit, three tablespoons is easy) and made my pastry which came out perfectly and made my mince pies (why I’m making mince pies is the subject of a future blog post) and thought “hurrah, I get to go shopping for kitchen gadgets tomorrow” and so I went to work and at lunchtime, braved the rain and the wind and the cold and the sleet and the snow and the hailstones and the tornadoes and the building site workers and went to that little bit of heaven called Robert Dyas (ok, it’s not very posh but I don’t work on Oxford Street any more.  Damn, just as I was getting on first name terms with the staff in Selfridges too) and bought myself a shiny new electronic silver set of scales for the bargain price of £9.99 which is a lot better than the fifty English pounds my broken ones cost me.  Maybe there’s something in this High Street shopping after all.  Looky, new scales.

Kuhn Rikon Electronic Scales
Kuhn Rikon Electronic Scales

And while I’m in Robert Dyas, I’m very good and only buy a Trust Mini USB2 Hub and not the electric cheese grater or the bobble remover that I really really need too and I get home and make myself some veggie spaghetti bolognaise and I put the spaghetti in the pan and I think I won’t weigh it as, if it’s under 100g, I’ll only put some more in and I’m trying not to be such a glutton but then I think oooh, but I REALLY need to try out my new scales and so I weigh the spaghetti and it’s only 69g and I think aah, that’s not even an amount for a starter but I have an iron will and put the spaghetti back in the pan without getting more out of the packet.  Hardcore.

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