Aubergines, asparagus; swings and roundabouts

I get up this morning and have a look at the Riverford website to see what vegetables they’re going to deliver to me today, and it says aubergine. Hurrah. I like aubergines. I like them so much I even announce to all my Facebook friends that I was looking forward to getting an aubergine. Yes, I’m that sad. Although, to be honest, I wasn’t as unduly excited as I was when I was expecting a pineapple.

However, when I get home, I don’t find an aubergine in the box, I find asparagus. This doesn’t unduly concern me as I like asparagus. I think I like it as much as aubergine but I had already planned my Quorn recipe for the aubergine so now I’ve got to think again and I try not to think too much if I can help it.

And so, later on, I have another look at the Riverford website to see if it really did say aubergine and either they changed it when I wasn’t looking or it never said aubergine in the first place, as it says asparagus again now and after consulting the BBC website to see what’s in season at the mo, it would appear that I am stupid or blind or a combination of the two, as aubergine’s aren’t even in season until July.

Mushrooms... asparagus...  oh yes, we are liking this box...
Mushrooms... asparagus... oh yes, we are liking this box...

Contents of box
Swiss chard
Portobello mushrooms
Gala apples
Fairtrade bananas

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Vegan leek and mushroom soup

Gulp, my last food post was over a month ago.  I have eaten since then, honest.  In fact, I’ve made a couple of great recipes from the wonderful Veganomicon, when I make them again, I’ll blog them.

I’ve also been making my weekly soup and having my weekly organic veg box delivered although with my imminent move to the country, my time has been filled mostly with making lists of things to do, and then not doing them.

But as I was deserted this morning by The Meat Eater citing reasons of wanting to ride motorbikes and jump out of aeroplanes, after customising my Twitter background (@jogblog if you want to follow me), I decided to make my soup early and after investigating the contents of my fridge, decided upon leek and mushroom soup.  With added potatoes and spring greens (the spring greens were a surprise, I was expecting spring onions.  Similar?  I don’t think so).

Serves 4
1 large onion
2 leeks
130g spring greens
200g mushrooms
150g new potatoes
2000ml stock
2 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp chili powder
Salt & pepper

Cook the onions and mustard seeds in some stock for a few minutes.  Add everything else.  After about 20 minutes, blend it.
Go back to ignoring your to do list.

Leed and mushroom soup, pre-whizz
Leek and mushroom soup, pre-whizz


Leek and mushroom soup, post-whizz
Leek and mushroom soup, post-whizz

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Fiona Oakes: Vegan, marathon runner, superwoman

Fiona is running the London Marathon this year
Fiona is running the London Marathon this year

You’ve probably heard of Fiona Oakes.  She’s the founder of the Tower Hills Animal Sanctuary, where she cares for over 400 animals without making a single penny for herself (in fact, every month the feed bill exceeds donations by £2,200).

And as if that wasn’t enough, in her “spare” time she trains for marathons.  Lots of them.  And not only that, she’s bloody good at them too.  This year Fiona will be running London Marathon on 26 April.  But she won’t be at the back with the fancy dress brigade, she’ll be at the start with the elite women where she’s hoping for a top 20 place.

Please visit her website and do all you can to support her, she really is an inspiration.

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Leek and potato soup (vegan)

I saw lambs today.  Titchy, tiny ones.  They were very cute. That has absolutely nothing to do with this blog but I just thought I’d mention it.

So, after seeing lambs (titchy, tiny ones) I escaped the countryside (nasty thing the countryside, completely pointless, whoever invented it needs taking outside and giving a good kicking) and came home and made soup.  Leek and potato soup to be precise.

Ingredients (serves 5):
3 medium sized potatoes
5 smallish leeks
2,500ml stock
Bit of dried garlic
Bit of dried thyme
Salt and ground black pepper
If you got your potatoes from a manky local shop, cut off the manky bits then chop them up into smallish pieces (I never bother to peel potatoes)
If you got your leeks from an organic veg box scheme, wash off half the field that they’re covered in
Put the stock and potatoes in a large pan
Add the leeks
Add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper
Boil for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft
Remove from heat and blend
Remind yourself to take camera with you on your next visit to Kent in case of any lamb-based emergencies

Leek and potato soup
Leek and potato soup

By the way, I’ve given The Meat Eater user privileges on this blog, so watch out for his guest Delia’s Chocolate Marbled Energy Bars blog post shortly.

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Rice & mushroom parcel: The Seasoned Vegetarian by Simon Rimmer

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.)

The Walthamstow Mushroom Mountain
The Walthamstow Mushroom Mountain

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.

A few holes
A few holes

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.

Feeds two?  As if.
Feeds two? As if.

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
50g butter
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

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.)

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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

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)
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)

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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