Quorn and red onion bolognese

Ok, my last plug for Leith’s Vegetarian Bible for the time being.  I’ve used this book a lot in the last week, and this recipe is one I’ve used lots in the past.  Good carbo-loading food (not that I run much anymore).

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 leek, thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
300g/11oz Quorn mince
1 x 400g/14oz can tomatoes
290ml/1/2 pint vegetable stock
2 tablespoons tomato puree
2 tablespoons mushroom ketchup

To serve

340g/12oz spaghetti
freshly grated Parmesan-style cheese

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, pepper, carrots and leek. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook over a low heat for 10-15 minutes until softened.
  2. Add the Quorn mince to the vegetables and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.  Increase the heat and allow the Quorn to colour slightly.
  3. Add the tomatoes (these can be liquidized for a smoother consistency, if liked), stock, tomato puree and mushroom ketchup.  Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the liquid is well reduced.  Adjust the seasoning to taste.
  4. Meanwhile, bring  a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.  Add the spaghetti and cook, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes until al dente.  Drain thoroughly and rinse the spaghetti under hot running water.  Drain well.
  5. Place the spaghetti in a warmed serving dish and pour over the Quorn bolognese sauce.
  6. Serve with Parmesan-style cheese sprinkled on toip of the sauce or handed separately.
Quorn and red onion bolognese
Quorn and red onion bolognese

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Asparagus and leek filo pie

Hmm, seem to have had a Leith’s Vegetarian Bible themed week last week.  Here’s another.  This was really nice but I really should have served it with some new potatoes.  Ah well, there’s leftovers in the freezer so next time I will serve it with the potatoes from the garden which are very small and freshly harvested so near enough new in my eyes.

Ingredients (serves 4)

450g/1lb asparagus
6 tablespoons olive oil
450g/1lb leeks, trimmed and sliced
2 table spoons plain flour
150ml/1/4 pint dry white wine
290ml/1/2 pint vegetable stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon lemon juice
85g/3oz Emmenthal cheese, grated
3 tablespoons double cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large sheets of filo pastry
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5.
  2. Trim the ends off the asparagus and using a potato peeler, pare off the tough outer skin at the base of the stalks.  Bring a large shallow pan of water to the boil.  Cook the asparagus for about 5-7 minutes, depending on the thickness of the spears.  Remove the asparagus from the cooking water, drain carefully and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan, add the leeks and sweat gently for 10 minutes or until softened.  Add the flour and cook for 30 seconds, then add the wine and bring to the boil.  Add the stock and bring back to the boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the sauce is thick.  Remove from the heat and add the thyme, lemon juice, cheese, cream, salt and pepper.
  4. Cut the asparagus into 5cm/2in lengths.
  5. Pour half the sauce into a shallow ovenproof dish.  Cover with the asparagus and pour the remaining sauce on top.
  6. Brush each sheet of filo pastry with the remaining oil and place on top of the vegetables in layers.  Trim off the excess pastry round the edges; brush the top with oil and score with a lattice pattern.  Scatter with the sesame seeds (I used pinenuts instead).
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, lowing the oven temperature if the pastry shows signs of browning too much.
Just out of the oven
Just out of the oven
Asparagus and leek filo pie
Asparagus and leek filo pie
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Sicilian aubergine parmigiana

Another one from Leith’s Vegetarian Bible.  This was very nice, but slicing and frying so much aubergine was a bit tedious.  It’s also another book that calls for parmesan but to give Leith’s credit, after some investigation, in the beginning of the book they state  that they refer to the generic name for cheese and for parmesan they recommend Twineham Grange Italian Style hard cheese (as do I).

Ingredients (serves 6)

150ml/1/4 pint olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 x 400g/14oz cans of chopped tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
900g/2lb aubergines
45g/1 1/2 oz plain flour
85g/3oz Parmesan-style cheese, freshly grated
55g/2oz currants
55g/2 oz pinenuts, lightly toasted
170g/6oz provolone or mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
12 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

  1. Make the tomato sauce: put 2 tablespoons of the oil and the garlic into a large, deep frying pan.  Put over a medium to high heat and as soon as the garlic starts to sizzle, add the tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes until well reduced and thickened.  Remove from the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Trim the stalks from the aubergines and cut them crossways into thin slices.  Season them well on both sides with salt and pepper.  Mix the flour and 45g/1 1/2 oz of the Parmesan-style cheese together in a shallow dish.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F gas mark 6.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan.  Dip a few aubergine slices into the flour and cheese mixture, shake off the excess, and fry over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes on each side until crisp and golden.  Lift on to kitchen paper and leave to drain.  Fry the remaining aubergine slices in the same way.
  4. Layer half the aubergines, tomato sauce, currants, pinenuts, provolone or mozzarella cheese slices and basil in the bottom of a 2.2 litre/4 pint shallow ovenproof dish.  Season with pepper, then repeat the layers once more, ending with a layer of cheese.
  5. Sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan-style cheese and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until golden and bubbling.
Sicilian aubergine parmigiana
Sicilian aubergine parmigiana

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Another vegetarian pizza

After experimenting further with the pizza base quantities, it’s now perfected I think.  After quartering the original recipe, we now have a base that’s not too thick and not too soggy.  Hurrah.

Pizza base (makes 1 large pizza)

1/2 teaspoon dried yeast
3/4 cup bread flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup water, plus
1/2 tablespoon water

Put the ingredients in the order listed in your bread machine.  Select the dough cycle and press start (takes about 1 hour 30 minutes).  After it’s finished, roll it around in an oiled bowl and cover for about 30 minutes.  Roll it out and add your toppings.  Cook for about 20 minutes at 220C.

For this week’s toppings, we had tomato sauce (leftover from the previous pizza and stored in the freezer), mushrooms, olives, onion, red jalapenos, fresh tomato, egg, mozzarella and cheddar.

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Thai vegetable omelette

Leith's Vegetarian Bible
Leith's Vegetarian Bible

This recipe, from Leith’s Vegetarian Bible, was so amazingly nice that, after eating it, I didn’t want to eat anything else ever.  I just wanted to eat this every day.  I don’t eat a lot of eggs; they have a bit of a squeamish factor for me as they’re a bit too close to an animal for my liking, but I eat them occasionally for a change.  And I’m very glad I made this.  Gorgeous.

Ingredients (serves 2)

4 eggs
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tablespoon water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
110g/4oz French beans
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
1 small carrot, very finely shredded
55g/2oz beansprouts
1 stalk of lemongrass, outer leaves removed and finely chopped
1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 small clove of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon soft light brown sugar
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice or white wine vinegar
15g/½ oz butter
a few sprigs of fresh coriander, to garnish

  1. Beat the eggs with the chilli and water in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top and tail the beans and cut them in half.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok or heavy frying pan, add the spring onions, carrot, beansprouts and beans and stir-fry for a few minutes.  Add the lemongrass, ginger and garlic and fry for 1 further minute, then stir in the sugar, soy sauce and vinegar.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Melt the butter in a large omelette pan or non-stick frying pan.  When foaming, pour in the eggs.  As the egg sets around the edge of the pan, hold the pan handle and use a palette knife to draw the cooked egg to the middle, while tipping the runny egg to the edge of the the pan.  Repeat once or twice until the omelette is set at the sides and underneath but is still a little runny on top.  Pile the vegetables over half of the omelette.  Fold the other half on top.  Slice in half crossways and serve scattered with coriander.
Thai vegetable omelette
Thai vegetable omelette
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Trofie pasta Liguria (with pesto, green beans and potato)

Delia's Vegetarian Collection
Delia's Vegetarian Collection

Another Delia recipe.  She’s one of those annoying chefs who either a) think parmesan is vegetarian; or b) can’t be bothered to state parmesan-style cheese in their recipes.  This is one of my pet hates.  Parmesan is NEVER vegetarian.  If you eat parmesan, you are not vegetarian, unless you consider a dead calf’s stomach lining to be vegetarian that is.  Anyway, rant over and on with the recipe.

Ingredients (serves 2)

6 oz (175g) trofie pasta
120g pesto, bought or home made
3 oz (75g) dwarf or fine green beans, or fresh shelled peas
3 oz (75g) Anya salad potatoes
2 1/2 oz (60g) Parmesan-style cheese

  1. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box.
  2. Meanwhile, if you are using beans, trim and cut them into lengths, about 1 1/2 inches (4 cm).  Wash and slice the potatoes next, leaving the skins on; they need to be fractionally thicker than a 50p coin.
  3. After the pasta has cooked for 10 minutes, throw the beans and potatoes in to join the pasta.  (If using peas, give them slightly less cooking time.)  Now give the ingredients another stir and bring the water back to the boil, then boil for another 8 minutes.
  4. Drain the pasta, potatoes and beans (or peas) in a colander, not completely, as it needs a little water still clinging to it.  Then tip everything back into the saucepan, add the pesto sauce, and stir it pretty niftily to give everything a good coating.  Finally serve with the parmesan-style cheese in a bowl to sprinkle over.
Trofie pasta Liguria (with pesto, green beans and potato)
Trofie pasta Liguria (with pesto, green beans and potato)
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Name & shame: Resolute Digital

I received an email today, here it is:

We represent, La Cense Beef, a leading producer of organic, grass-fed beef and thought that your audience might be interested in learning more about this company and its products. We’d be interested in getting a write-up and or link from your site.  Please let us know if something is  possible.
Sam Enriquez
Resolute Digital
228 Park Avenue S, #19255
New York, NY 10003
Phone: 646-822-1296 x 703

Did he/she even look at the site?  There’s a clue in the name for f**k’s sake!

I didn’t know they made people that stupid.

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This week’s Graze box

After receiving my free box, I was going to cancel my order as it seemed a bit extravagant getting fruit, nuts and seeds delivered to my house instead of just nipping down to the road to the shop like a normal person, but three weeks on and I think I’m addicted.

Last week’s graze box was munched before I got around to taking any photos, so this week I get my camera and take a photo before diving in.

graze 011And in this week’s box I’ve got fresh pineapple (with a handy little wooden fork type thing to eat it with, and also a wet wipe for cleaning up afterwards – do they think of everything?)

graze 013

some Japanese rice cracker mix

graze 014and some wild pecan halves (you can see the little wooden fork type thing for eating the pineapple with above them).

graze 015

That’s this afternoon’s munchies sorted then.

If you’d like a free box, with the second half price, go to www.graze.com and enter the code HQTGF3GB.

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Spinach and ricotta pasta

Woo hoo, don’t get too excited, but here’s a meal I made up myself, and not copied out of a book.  OK, so it’s only spinach and ricotta pasta, which is hardly new and original but I had leftover spinach and leftover ricotta from the spinach and ricotta soufflés I made the other day so I  thought spinach and ricotta pasta would do me just fine for lunch.  And very nice it was too.

Because it’s my own made up recipe, I haven’t got strict measurements.   So, what I did was to get about 100g of penne on the boil, then melt some butter (about 50g) in a frying pan, add spinach (it was about 100g I think) and garlic (1 clove) and fry until the spinach does that wilt down to nothing thing that it does so well.  When the spinach is all wilty, add some ricotta – I used about 3 really big tablespoons’ worth – and mix it up with the spinach.  Grate some Emmenthal or cheese of your choice and add some of it to the spinach and ricotta mix, along with some fresh basil (about 1 tablespoon) and freshly ground black pepper and salt.  When the pasta’s ready, add it to the frying pan containing the spinach, ricotta and Emmenthal.  Pour it into a bowl.

Spinach and ricotta pasta pre-cheese and basil on top
Spinach and ricotta pasta pre-cheese and basil on top

Sprinkle the rest of the Emmenthal on top, along with a few leaves of fresh basil to make it look pretty.

Spinach and ricotta pasta with cheese and basil on top
Spinach and ricotta pasta with cheese and basil on top


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Spinach and ricotta souffles with fonduta sauce

deliaI’ve never made a soufflé before.  I’ve never even eaten a soufflé before.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve even seen a real live soufflé before, only on the telly.  And it was seeing one on the telly recently that made me want to make one.  So off I went to good old Robert Dyas and bought myself a couple of ramekins to make them in.  This recipe is from Delia’s Vegetarian Collection, so what could possibly go wrong?

I decide to take a before photo

Souffle unrisen before it went in the oven
Souffle unrisen before it went in the oven

to compare the difference between that and after it had been cooked, as I think soufflés are supposed to rise, aren’t they?

Souffle, er, still unrisen after it had been in the oven
Souffle, er, still unrisen after it had been in the oven

Hmm, oh well.   Still, it tasted very nice and I served it up with a veggie sausage, mushrooms, new potatoes and the fonduta sauce.

There is a sausage hiding behind the souffle
There is a sausage hiding behind the souffle

Spinach and ricotta souffles with fonduta sauce
(serves 8 )

For the soufflés:

2 lb (900 g) young leaf spinach

2 oz (50 g) ricotta cheese

4 large eggs, separated

2 oz (50 g) butter, plus a little extra for greasing the ramekins

freshly grated parmesan for dusting the insides of the ramekins and sprinkling on top of the soufflés

10 fl oz (275 ml) milk

2 oz (50 g) plain flour

freshly grated nutmeg

pinch cayenne pepper

salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the fonduta sauce:

7 fl oz (200 ml) crème fraiche

6 oz (175 g) Fontina, Gruyere or Emmental, cut into very small cubes

a good pinch cayenne pepper

a squeeze of lemon juice

You will also need eight 1 1/2 inch (4cm) deep ramekins, with a base diameter of 3 inches (7.5 cm), and a large baking sheet.

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375F (190C), and pop the baking sheet in to pre-heat too.

First of all, butter the ramekins and lightly dust the insides with parmesan.  Then thoroughly wash the spinach in several changes of cold water and pick it over, removing any thick, tough stalks or damaged leaves.  Next, press the leaves into a large, saucepan, sprinkle in some salt (but don’t add water), cover and cook over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes.  Just let it collapse down into its own juices and then give it a stir halfway through.  Now drain the spinach thoroughly in a colander, pressing it very firmly with a sauce to extract every last bit of juice, it needs to be quite dry.  Then chop it fairly finely.

For the soufflés, put the milk in a saucepan, then simply add the flour and butter and bring everything gradually up to simmering point, whisking continuously with a balloon whisk, until the sauce has thickened and becomes smooth and glossy.  Then turn the heat down to its lowest possible setting and let the sauce cook very gently for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.  Now remove the pan from the heat and transfer the sauce to a large bowl.  Next, beat the chopped spinach and the ricotta into the sauce with the egg yolks.  Now season with salt, pepper, a generous amount of nutmeg and the cayenne.  Beat the egg whites in a large clean bowl until stiff, then using a large metal spoon, fold one spoonful into the spinach sauce to ‘loosen’ it.  Now carefully fold the remaining egg whites into the spinach mixture before dividing it equally between the 8 ramekins.  Sprinkle the tops of the soufflés with a little parmesan and bake on the baking sheet for 25-30 minutes, or until well risen and slightly browned on top.

While the soufflés are cooking you can make the fonduta sauce.  Put the crème fraiche into a small saucepan with the cheese and slowly bring it up to simmering point, with the cayenne and a good squeeze of lemon juice, whisking as the cheese melts.  The soufflés need to be served hot and puffy from the oven.  Make an incision into each soufflé with a knife and pour in a little sauce, then hand the rest around separately in a jug.

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