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)
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

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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)

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

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

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

1,500 ml stock
Black pepper
Nutritional yeast
Brown miso

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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Cauliflower and red pepper soup

This week’s soup of choice (is it really a choice when I use whatever comes in my weekly organic vegetable box delivery?) is Cauliflower and Red Pepper Soup.  Although, strictly speaking, it should be called Cauliflower and Half-Red/Half-Green Pepper Soup, but apart from that being a less catchy title, it’s also a bit pedantic.  And I’m not pedantic at all.  Oh no.  Not me.  Honest.

Chop up three shallots
Chop up the cauliflower
Chop the half-red/half-green pepper
Cook the shallots in 500ml of stock
Add the cauliflower and half-red/half-green pepper
Add 1,500ml more stock
Add whatever seasonings you like; in my case chili powder, nutritional yeast, brown miso and black pepper
After about 20 minutes, whizz it up with a hand blender
The end.

Cauliflower and red pepper soup
Cauliflower and red pepper soup

Contents of this week’s box
(mini fruit & veg)

Portabello mushrooms
Red peppers
Avena mandarins

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