Recipe: Devilled Mushrooms

Standard

I’m not sure why devilled kidneys came into my mind a couple of weeks ago, but they did. I’ve never actually eaten them, but they show up occasionally on tv programmes looking back to the ‘glories of the English country house breakfast’ or equivalent. I’m partial to strong flavours for breakfast and something hot and spicy appealed to me. Just not with the dead animals, obviously. Mushrooms, big chunks of juicy mushrooms seemed to fit the bill.

This is a version without cream or butter, which tend to show up in devilled recipes. Although it has a weekend breakfast/brunch feel to it, it is lightning quick to make and could be done for a weekday breakfast if you felt like it. You’re not trying to cook the mushrooms down, just heat them through so they stay firm and juicy.

 photo IMG_1161_zps6g5hgpz4.jpg

Ingredients
250g (or a pack) Chestnut mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1/2 tsp English mustard powder
1/4 tsp chilli powder/flakes
2 tbsp mushroom ketchup or vegetarian Worcestershire Sauce

Heat a little oil in a frying pan on a high heat.
Add the mushrooms, mustard powder and chilli and stir so that all the mushroom are coated in the spices.
Add a splash of water to the pan to help the mushrooms start to cook.
When that water has boiled off and the mushrooms are cooking, add the mushroom ketchup and mix thoroughly.
Season with pepper and taste for salt.
Serve over toast.

Serves 2

Restaurant review: Saffron

Standard

Photo 26-07-2016, 13 09 59

Clifton Village is the trendy place to be in Bristol, and isn’t short of cute places to eat or to lounge around for coffee. Saffron proved to be a great find to recover from retail therapy and to gather energy for the next round.

The menu has a distinctly Mediterranean feel to it, although the all-day brekkies looked pretty impressive. But given we’d had a thwarted trip that day to Bristol Lido (park in Weston-super-Mare and walk the rest), we wanted tapas.

And we inhaled it, accompanied by moans and whimpers of appreciation. If you’re veggie, there’s plenty of choice – I can recommend the halloumi in honey with a tomato sauce very highly. The stuffed vine leaves (dolmades) filled with mushrooms, rice and squash were lightly seasoned and came with a cool and creamy tzatziki sauce. The only slight disappointment was a rather bland baba ganoush, which could have been smokier.

I sneaked a taste of the Mediterranean lentils (seasoned with cumin for sure), spinach pie (think it’s called Spanakopita) filled with leek, feta and spinach, and the hummus. I must have looked plaintive and under-fed, as I got to scrape up the last traces of the latter. I can confirm I’d order all three like a shot next time.

Three plates and warm flatbread came in at well under a tenner (£7.95), with very friendly service. And you’ve got to love places that offer you iced water without being asked. Bargain.

Saffron: 4a Boyce’s Avenue, Clifton Village, Bristol BS8 4AA. Tel: 0117 329 4204.

Recipe: Leek, spinach and pea risotto

Standard

Risotto is one of my favourite comfort foods, and I almost licked the plate when a friend and I inhaled bowls of spinach, leek and pea risotto (but made with barley) at Taurus Crafts near Lydney. So my mission was to recreate it at home. And it turned out to be about the easiest dish ever …

Except, I didn’t have any barley, so it was bog-standard risotto rice called in to play. What with a handful of frozen peas and two twirls of frozen spinach, it required a minimum of chopping. I approve thoroughly. Next time I might be inclined to try it with fresh thyme in.

If you make too much and can resist it cold, you can have risotto balls shallow-fried the next day. If you’re vegetarian, put a chunk of melty cheese in the middle; if you’re vegan, try them with salsa.

IMG_2066

Ingredients (serves two, or one plus generous leftovers)

Half a leek

Knob of butter or tbsp of olive oil

120g of risotto rice 750ml of vegetarian stock (you may not need all of it)

Handful of frozen peas

Handful of fresh spinach, or a couple of lumps of frozen

Vegetarian-style parmesan

Sea salt

Black pepper

Finely chop the leek and soften in the butter or oil. Add the rice and stir to coat it. Once it starts crackling, add the stock gradually. Stir often to stop the rice sticking.

Once the rice is almost cooked (keep testing it), throw in the peas and spinach – and remember that if you’re using frozen spinach that it will release liquid. Once the liquid is absorbed and the vegetables cooked, remove from the heat and season with salt and black pepper.

If you’re vegetarian, add the parmesan substitute; if you’re vegan, try some nutritional yeast flakes. You can add a knob of butter or vegan spread to make the dish even more creamy. Let the risotto rest for a few minutes, then serve.

Recipe: Veggie ‘pulled pork’

Standard

Don’t worry – we haven’t gone over to the dark side and started eating meat again! This jackfruit burger recipe comes courtesy of Sharon’s friend Lou Licourinos, who is an inventive veggie cook (and an awesome artist as well!)

Prep time
10 mins

Cook time
45 mins

Ingredients (serves two)
1 20 oz can of young jackfruit (in brine NOT syrup)
1 tsp. olive oil
½ onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. chili powder
1½ tsp smoked paprika
250mls veggie stock
2 tablespoons vegan BBQ sauce
Buns or corn tortillas
Veggie coleslaw

Pulled pork jackfruit image

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees or gas mark 6. Drain and rinse the jackfruit, remove the hard core from the outside rims and cut each piece in half. Remove seeds and pat it as dry as possible. The seeds tend to pop out like peas and are about the same size as a pea.

Saute the onion in olive oil over medium heat for about five minutes until translucent, then add the garlic and saute a minute or so longer.

Dry fry some smoked paprika for a few minutes in a separate pan until you can smell it roasting.

Add the jackfruit and spices including the smoked paprika and stir until the jackfruit is evenly covered.

Add the vegetable stock cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

Use a fork and spoon to mash and divide the jackfruit until it looks similar in
appearance to pulled pork.

Spread the jackfruit out on a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and cover with bbq sauce.

Return the jackfruit to the oven and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the jackfruit is lightly browned.

Serve in a bun or taco with avocado, coleslaw or soured cream.

Recipe: Asparagus and Lemon Soup

Standard

Asparagus season is just starting. One of the things I miss about moving from the Surrey countryside to London is that I no longer have a ready supply of locally grown English asparagus. I’m making do with Spanish-grown spears at the moment. As usual, being on my own, I end up having to buy more than I can comfortably eat at one time. That is where this recipe comes in. It’s a good way of using up the remains of bunches and spears that have just started to get a bit droopy.

It has a lovely, fresh taste – spring in a bowl. But be careful with the flavourings, not too much garlic and not too much lemon – you should be able to really taste the asparagus.

 photo IMG_0612_zpstis891iu.jpg

Ingredients
300g asparagus spears, trimmed and sliced small
750ml light vegetable stock
4 tbsp small soup pasta shapes
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
1 sprig mint
1/2 lemon, juiced

Place all the ingredients apart from the lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Simmer for 5 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.
Remove the mint sprig.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the lemon juice a bit at a time until the soup has a fragrance of lemon in the background.
Serve immediately.

Serves 2

Recipe: Greek Stuffed Peppers

Standard

I have been enjoying Rick Stein’s trip around the mediterranean sea from Venice to Istanbul. Although he’s famous for fish, he has also been featuring some vegetarian recipes. And this one, from Greece, was a lunch favourite for the crew, apparently.

Stuffed peppers, are nothing new for veggies, of course, but these are sunny and light-flavoured while still being substantial enough as a lunch dish on their own.

 photo IMG_0606_zpsv1uwlhaw.jpg

Ingredients
2 large red peppers
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tomato, skinned and chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
150g long-grain rice
200ml vegetable stock
pinch chilli flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1 small packet of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 sprigs mint, finely chopped
lemon juice (optional)

Remove the ‘lids’ from the peppers and scoop out the seeds.
Place upright in a roasting tin. Keep the lids to one side.
Heat some oil in a saucepan, and sweat the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent and softened.
Add the chopped tomato and tomato puree and simmer for a few minutes.
Add the rice, vegetable stock, chilli and herbs, season with salt and pepper stir thoroughly and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes the rice should have absorbed most of the stock, but it should still be a fairly wet mixture.
Spoon the rice mixture into the peppers and replace the ‘lids’.
Season with salt and pepper.
Pour 100ml of just boiled water into the roasting tin and cover with kitchen foil.
Put in a preheated over, 180C for an hour.
After an hour, remove the foil and put back in the oven for a further 30 minutes
Serve hot, room temperature or cold with some lemon juice drizzled over the top.

Serves 2 for lunch

Recipe: Lemony Lentil & Spinach Soup

Standard

This recipe is based on one from A Lebanese Feast of Vegetables, Pulses, Herbs and Spices by Mona Hamadeh (review to follow). I have had to adapt it because a) I didn’t have the green lentils it originally called for and b) I really don’t like swiss chard. I did buy the chard for this recipe, but when I was cutting it up I gave it a quick taste and ick! if I want something that earthy, I’ll go lick an earthworm or something! So, no chard, but I had some fresh spinach to hand so I used that instead. Please use chard if you do like it.

This is a lovely soup. The strong lemon flavour seems to pull the sun into the soup, giving promise of warmer days to come. It’s freshness and warmth suit the uncertain spring weather. A keeper, I think with the possibilities of a change of vegetable to suit whatever is available.

 photo IMG_0594_zpsvervnh5y.jpg

Ingredients
1 large onion, chopped
250g split red lentils
1 l vegetable stock
250g fresh spinach, finely chopped
2 lemons, juiced

Soften the onion in a little oil in a large saucepan.
When the onions are translucent, add the lentil and vegetable stock.
Bring to the simmer, skim off any scum from the surface, cover and simmer gently for 25 minutes.
Add the chopped spinach and lemon juice.
Stir vigorously to break up the lentils.
Simmer for another 5 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately.

Serves 4