I seem to be having themed meals recently. The week before last was Italian (home made pizza, sweet potato & mushroom lasagne, mushroom & asparagus pasta); last week was Mexican (white bean chili, spicy bean enchiladas) and now this week seems to be taking on a Quorn theme as on Monday we had Quorn chicken style tikka masala and tonight’s offering was Quorn beef style teriyaki. And very nice it was too.
Ingredients (serves 2)
300g Beef Style Quorn Pieces
75ml groundnut oil
50ml soy sauce
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
½ an orange, juice and zest
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
125g dried egg noodles
½ red pepper, thinly sliced
50g mushrooms, thinly sliced
6 spring onions, sliced diagonally into 1cm pieces
½ lemon juice
2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
Place the Quorn pieces into a bowl and add 50ml of the groundnut oil, the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, orange juice and zest and rice wine vinegar. Leave to marinate while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet, drain and set aside.
Place a wok over a medium heat and add the remaining 25ml of groundnut oil. Add the Quorn and marinade and cook for a few minutes. Add the red pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the mushroom and spring onion and cook for 2 minutes more.
Add the lemon juice and coriander.
Add the drained noodles and combine in the wok with the other ingredients.
As much as I love cheese, after last week’s cheese-covered meals, I go through my cookbooks looking for an appetising cheese-less recipe and I pick up The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook that I haven’t used for years and I see this recipe and think ok, that looks healthy, it’s got beans in it and it even tells you not to peel the potatoes which appeals to a lazy slob like me and so I give it a go and here it is without its potato hat
and here it is covered in potato, not cheese
and after it’d been cooked and plated
and it was delicious and easily veganised by swapping butter for vegan margarine.
Sweet and sour mixed bean hot-pot (serves 6) Ingredients
450 g/1 lb unpeeled potatoes
15 ml/1 tbsp olive oil
40 g/1½ oz / 3 tbsp butter
40 g/1½ oz plain wholemeal flour
300 ml/½ pint passata
150 ml/¼ pink unsweetened apple juice
60 ml/4 tbsp each light soft brown sugar, tomato ketchup, dry sherry, cider vinegar and light soy sauce
400 g/14 oz can butter beans
400 g/14 oz can flageolet beans
400 g/14 oz can chick peas
175 g/6 oz green beans, chopped and blanched
225 g/8 oz shallots, sliced and blanched
225 g/8 oz mushrooms, sliced
15 ml/1 tbsp each chopped fresh thyme and marjoram
salt and freshly ground black pepper
sprigs of fresh herbs, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Thinly slice the potatoes and par-boil them for 4 minutes. Drain the potatoes thoroughly, toss them in the oil so they are lightly coated all over and set aside.
Place the butter, flour, passata, apple juice, sugar, tomato ketchup, sherry, vinegar and soy sauce in a saucepan. Heat gently, whisking continuously, until the sauce comes to the boil and thickens. Simmer gently for 3 minutes, stirring.
Rinse and drain the beans and chickpeas and add to the sauce with all the remaining ingredients, except the herb garnish. Mix well.
Spoon the bean mixture into a casserole.
Arrange the potato slices over the top, overlapping them slightly and completely covering the bean mixture.
Cover the casserole with foil and bake for about 1 hour, until the potaotes are cooked and tender. Remove the foil for the last 20 minutes of the cooking time, to lighly brown the potatoes. Serve garnished with fresh herb sprigs.
I’m not a fan of packaged food, preferring to display to The Meat Eater my domestic goddess prowess by cooking from scratch but tonight I showed him my packet opening prowess instead. And I’m definitely not a fan of sauces that state they’re suitable for vegetarians and then tell you to use it with meat but I was offered a free curry sauce and therefore all my principles swiftly went out of the window.
A pouch of Bibijis Tikka Masala arrived for me in the post, I opened the envelope and was greeted by a not very inspiring package.
Still, it’s the taste that counts, not the packaging although I’m not sure it would tempt me in the supermarket. The packaging lists the ingredients (all natural) and nutritional information (including fat and calorie content which is very low).
After I’ve read the cooking instructions (cook some chicken (I substituted this for Quorn Chicken Style Pieces), pour the sauce over and simmer for 15-20 minutes) I read on the wrapper about their Unique Chilli System® where you can control the heat of the sauce by taking the whole chilis in there out to make the sauce milder, or leave in to keep it hot. Is there really a whole chili in there, I wondered? I cut open the resealable bag and peeked in.
Yes, there was a chili in there. Hurrah. I peered further into the sauce to see if I could see any more but so far only the one chili.
I cooked the Quorn Chicken Style Pieces in a wok and poured over the sauce and out fell two more whole green chilis.
While this was cooking, I boiled some rice (white; yes, yes I know… brown is healthier… but white is nicer) and about 15 minutes later dinner was served.
The verdict: Smell: Fresh and appetising
Appearance: Not great when first put in pan but looked good on the plate
Taste: Salty, but not unpleasant. Heat just right, not too hot and not too mild, although tikka masala isn’t supposed to be hot anyway (according to The Meat Eater – my curry knowledge is limited). The whole chilis were nice and fresh.
Texture: Good texture with just about the right consistency but a bit gungy in places, could be it needed a bit more stirring.
Colour: A natural looking orangey red.
Overall: Very nice but not as good as the real thing.
Available in fine food outlets and available to order online at www.bibijis.com
I am out of leftover homecooked food in the freezer so decide I will make a couple of recipes out of my new cookbook The Seasoned Vegetarian by Simon Rimmer and as usual, it’s the ones with cream and cheese that take my fancy and tonight’s recipe of choice is Rice & Mushrooom Parcel. Although it has no cream in it, or cheese, but it does have mushrooms. And puff pastry. What more does a girl need? Ah, wine. Of course.
So armed with my cookbook, a glass of wine and my brand new-ish set of knives, I set about making this rice and mushroom parcel that I am informed feeds two. I’m not sure which two people Mr Rimmer is talking about when I see the pile of mushrooms that I slice. The two fat ladies, perhaps? (Notwithstanding the fact that one of them is a dead fat lady. No, not dead fat, as in I’m a Scouser and talk funny, dead as in dead. No more. An ex-fat-lady. Ceased to exist. etc.)
After I’ve spent five minutes of my life that I’m never going to get back slicing 600g of mushrooms and an onion, I pull out of the drawer my big frying pan and wonder if it’s going to be big enough for The Walthamstow Mushroom Mountain and decide it probably won’t be and therefore it will take longer than the five minutes Mr Rimmer reckons it’s going to take for the onions and mushrooms to cook. Still, Eastenders isn’t on yet so all is good.
But before I start on this frying a mushroom mountain exercise, I have to hard boil two eggs. HELP! I’M STUCK! I don’t know how long it takes to hard boil an egg. I decide it’s about 10 minutes, which is handily how long it’s going to take to boil the rice I also need to cook. Synchronisation, like swimmers. Except in egg-form. And rice-form.
After about 10 minutes or so, I decide the mushrooms and onion have cooked enough and I pour it into a bowl along with the chopped hard boiled eggs and rice (that is a pretty yellow colour thanks to the turmeric).
Now it gets tricky. It’s always tricky when pastry’s involved. Even if it’s ready-rolled pastry.
I get the pastry out of the packet and the recipe says put the mushrooom and rice filling mixture down the middle of the pastry. BUT THERE’S F*****G TONS OF IT! Still, undeterred I pour the mixture onto the middle of the pastry. Now it says to wrap the pastry around to enclose the filling. Wrap it like a Swiss roll or just fold it over? I’m confused. I decide on the Swiss roll approach and not too much filling oozes out of the sides and I even get to squish down the edges that I have brushed with egg. There are, however, a few holes. Ho hum.
But I decide not to try and patch the holes up and put it in the oven and after 25 minutes I decide it’s ready and there’s no way it feeds two, more like four, as it’s massive, even for a glutton like me.
And hurrah, it’s delicious. And definitely one I’ll be making again, although I think it’ll be nicer without the egg so won’t be adding that again. If The Meat Eater’s lucky, I might even make it for him one day.
Rice & mushroom parcel
(taken from The Seasoned Vegetarian by Simon Rimmer)
250g ready-rolled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
50g basmati rice
pinch of turmeric
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 onion, finely chopped
600g brown cap mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp each chopped fresh parsley and tarragon
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
few sesame seeds, to sprinkle
Method For the parcel filling, cook the rice in salted boiling water with the turmeric and lemon zest for about 12 minutes until just tender, then drain.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan and gently fry the onion and mushrooms for about 5 minutes until soft. Tip into a bowl.
Stir the cooked rice, herbs and chopped hard-boiled eggs into the onion and mushroom mixture and season with salt and pepper.
Cut the pastry into a rectangle measuring 30 x 20 cm (12 x 8 cm inches). Place the filling mixture down the middle of the rectangle, brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg, then wrap it around to enclose the filling and press the edges together to seal. Roll the parcel over so that the long seam is underneath and brush with egg wash.
Place the parcel on a baking sheet and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6.
Sprinkle the pastry with sesame seeds, then bake for 30 minutes until crisps and golden. Serve hot cut into thick slices.
(Note. I used lemon juice out of a bottle, dried tarragon, no parsley and no sesame seeds, and I didn’t leave it to chill for 30 minutes either. And I haven’t died or been struck by lightning. Yet.)
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)
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.
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.
This week’s box contents
(mini fruit & veg box) Calabrese
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).
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)
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
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
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
and I sit down to eat it and oh my, it’s REALLY REALLY NICE. Yum.