Monthly Archives: October 2013

Recipe: Pepper Sandwich

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I don’t know about you, but I rarely think about cooking something to go in a sandwich. Sandwiches are, for me, something that is made from cold ingredients and leftovers. But I was inspired by finding out there was such a thing as a Chicago Pepper and Egg Sandwich. It sounded unlikely coming from one of the big meat-packing cities of the USA, but apparently it is a thing.

Problem was, when I came to make it, I didn’t have any eggs to hand. But I didn’t let that stop me. This is a nice, juicy sandwich filling. If you wanted to make it more substantial you could spread some hummus on the bread before adding the fried peppers.

Peppers Sandwich photo DSCN0966_zps52ca03ec.jpg

Ingredients
2 peppers (mixed colours best), sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 baguette

Heat some oil in a frying pan and add the peppers and onion.
Cook gently on a low to medium heat until the peppers are softened and slightly blackened.
Add the garlic and the smoked paprika and cook through for another five minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve on a split baguette with a squirt of lemon juice over the top.

Serves 2

Recipe: Quick Cauliflower and Pea Curry

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I think one of the biggest surprises I got when I turned vegetarian was just how much quicker things took to cook. Outside of the larger dried pulses, the trick is to not overcook the vegetables rather than worry about them being undercooked.

A prime example is this cauliflower curry. If you’d suggested cooking a curry as a midweek evening meal I would have laughed at you, but you can get this one from chopping board to plate in half an hour. It’s also a waste-not-want-not dish as it uses the cauliflower leaves as well as the florets. The cauliflower is the only fresh ingredient (apart from the onion, garlic and ginger and I assume most people keep those in the fridge as a constant). Am I selling this to you yet? – it tastes great as well!

Cauliflower & pea curry photo DSCN0973_zpse10fba8f.jpg

Ingredients
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 red onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
400g tin of tomatoes
1 small-medium cauliflower florets separated
leaves from cauliflower, shredded
100g frozen peas
1 tsp black onion seeds
Fresh chopped coriander for garnish

Heat some oil in a saucepan, add the mustard seeds and let them splutter for a few seconds.
Add the onion, garlic and ginger and fry until the onion has turned golden brown.
Add the fennel, cumin, coriander, chilli and turmeric and stir for a minute or so.
Then add the tomatoes and the cauliflower.
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the cauliflower leaves, peas and black onion seeds.
Season with salt.
If the mixture is looking a little dry at this point add a splash or two of boiling water.
Cover and simmer for another 5 minutes or until the cauliflower is just tender.
Serve with the chopped coriander as a garnish.

Recipe: Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup

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What’s your favourite comfort food? Not the ‘it rained on me when I was walking home’ food, or the ‘planned outing was cancelled’ food, but the real ‘my entire life sucks, everyone hates me and I think I had something to do with it’ food. When the chips are down and all hope is gone I turn to cream of mushroom soup, but not just any mushroom soup, specifically Campbell’s Condensed Mushroom soup eaten undiluted and served over white rice with a lot of black pepper. When Superman’s otherwise engaged, the Bat Signal’s bulb has gone out and The Avenger’s satnav is leading them astray, this will save your life. Trust me on this.

Having said that, I’m eating less and less dairy nowadays, so I wanted to see if I could replicate the creamy soul-saving effects without using real cream. Soy yoghurts are out of the equation, the only plain one I’ve found has vanilla in it, which would just be wrong. The vegan milk replacements wouldn’t be creamy enough. Eventually I settled on coconut milk. I had used it in the lentil, spinach and coconut soup and had been impressed by the way it didn’t take over the dish, but made it much richer and creamier. It does exactly the same here, the creamy richness is there, but you have to really look for the coconut flavour.

The other thing that helps this recipe work is the Porcini stock cubes. Not all supermarkets keep them (I found mine in Waitrose) but if you spot them they are well worth buying. They pack a huge mushroom flavour. If you can’t find them, don’t worry, just use a good veg stock and 2 tablespoons of the mushroom ketchup.

Cream of mushroom soup photo DSCN0957_zps9d040773.jpg

Ingredients
1 leek, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
400g mushrooms, roughly chopped
500ml mushroom stock
1 tbsp mushroom ketchup
150 ml coconut milk
1 tbsp coconut milk for garnish

Sweat the leek in a little oil in a large saucepan.
When the leek is softened add the garlic and stir for about a minute.
Add the mushrooms, stock, mushroom ketchup and coconut milk.
Bring to the simmer and leave for 30 minutes.
When cooked, remove from the heat and blend until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve hot with a swirl of coconut milk for garnish.

Serves 2 (or 1 if you really need it!)

A Small Announcement

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I wish to interrupt your reading to make a small announcement:

Two Fat Vegetarians has just reached 100 followers

I’m afraid I don’t know who our 100th follower is, but they are very welcome and I hope they enjoy the blog.

You may now return to your scheduled vegetarian food blog reading.

Thank you.

Recipe: Ratatouille

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I’m under the weather at the moment and sorely in need of comfort food. Pasta and various toppings has been OK, but I had an urge the other night for ratatouille and baked potato.

I think I’ve spent 20-whatever years searching for the perfect ratatouille recipe. On the face of it, it should be simple – it’s a vegetable stew, after all. But it’s dead easy for it to tip over from perfect texture to mushy mess.

I used to bung everything in together and let it cook, but that’s a sure-fire route to crunchy courgette, leathery aubergine and soggy onion. I then tried a suggestion from one of the TV chefs (forget which one), where all the ingredients are cooked separately and then mixed together with the tomato for the final few minutes. Sod that for a game of soldiers – all it produced was a mountain of washing up and a bland dish, as the flavours never seemed to meld. And I think it’s St Delia who has a baked ratatouille – it’s OK, but, but … This is a stew we’re talking about.

So now I fry the aubergine, courgettes and peppers together for about 15 minutes, then add the onions, garlic and tomatoes, and cook on a low heat for 30-40 minutes. Trial and error has discovered that a blander oil is best. I’d usually use olive oil for everything, but it tends to overpower the vegetables. Sunflower oil is fine.

I add the seasoning at the end and then allow it all to stand for 15-20 minutes. This is a dish that I prefer not to be piping hot. In fact, it’s as good cold the next day (although it re-heats fine) piled on a baked potato, or served with good crusty bread to mop up the tasty juices.

ratatouille

Ingredients
1 aubergine (I salt it, leave it for about 30 mins and then rinse off the juices. A load of the chefs say you don’t need to. I think it makes a difference, so humour me)
2 medium courgettes
2 peppers (I prefer one red and one yellow for added colour, but this time I had two green peppers, so waste not, want not won over. And 20 years ago, green peppers was the default option!)
1 large onion (red or white)
2 large cloves of garlic
Sunflower oil
Tin of chopped tomatoes or jar of passata
Mixed herbs
Sea salt
Black pepper
Brown sugar

Chop the aubergine, courgette and peppers into bite-sized chunks or slices, as takes your fancy. I tend to cube the aubergine, do slices of courgette and strips of pepper for variety. Fry on a medium heat for 15 minutes.

Add the onion, garlic and tomatoes/passata and mix thoroughly. Cook on a low heat for about 30 minutes and then check whether the vegetables are done. I prefer stuff under-cooked, but you might want to give it an extra few minutes if you like your vegetables less crunchy.

Add a generous shake of mixed herbs, sea salt and black pepper. I also add a teaspoon of brown sugar which, I think, reduces the acidity in the tomatoes. If you don’t like using dried herbs (and I think they’re fine here), experiment with whichever fresh ones you prefer. But this is a rustic dish and it needs strong seasoning.

I then take the pan off the heat, cover it and leave it for about 15 minutes. I think you get a better idea of the flavours when this dish isn’t super-duper hot.

If you eat cheese, some grated cheddar on the top is good. Otherwise, parsley or basil is good for a garnish. Serve with baked potato or crusty bread.

Serves 3 – 4.

Recipe: Lentil, Coconut and Spinach Soup

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This soup was a surprise. I was trying to find a way of using up the coconut milk I had left over from the Tofu with Coconut and Lime I’d made earlier in the week. I was expecting something fairly ordinary that would do for a midweek supper or to take to work for lunch.

What I got was a subtly-spiced, rich, creamy soup that I would happily eat at a dinner party. With all the exotic ingredients that go into this dish, the predominant flavour is still that of the lentils, but with hints of lime, coconut and spices lingering around the iron greenness of the spinach.

Stick a fancy garnish on this one and you’ll find it has substance to back up the style.

Lentil and spinach soup photo DSCN0953_zpsf4fba8ad.jpg

Ingredients
200g red lentils
1 litre vegetable stock
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 kaffir lime leaf
100ml coconut milk
75g frozen spinach
1/2 lime, juiced
chopped coriander to garnish

In a large saucepan add all the ingredients except the spinach, lime and coriander and bring up to the simmer.
Add the spinach and let the soup come back up to heat again.
Cover the pan and let it simmer gently for 25-30 minutes for the lentils to be cooked.
Remove the lime leaf and blend the soup until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper and stir in the lime juice.
Serve with the chopped coriander as a garnish.

Serves 2

Recipe: Butternut squash risotto with goat’s cheese and thyme

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Please welcome a guest blogger to Two Fat Vegetarians today. Dave Remes is a lecturer at Birmingham City University, a freelance photographer and videographer and a father to three hungry kids! He is fanatical about food flavour combinations and has an idea for a community food programme that will hopefully go into production by the end of this year.

His recipe for us is a delicious risotto that’s just perfect for chilly autumn suppers. Thanks to Dave for this, and for the photo …

daverisotto

Ingredients
Half of a medium red onion finely sliced and diced
A good sized, whole head of garlic halved
Half a small goat’s cheese or more if you like it stronger in flavour!
Half of a medium sized butternut squash (I used the top end so didn’t need to deseed) cut into smallish chunks.
Half a pack of Arborio Risotto rice (a whole pack should feed 4-5)
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Handful of parmesan cheese freshly grated
1 litre of good vegetable stock
1 Tablespoon of olive oil for the squash
1 knob of butter and a little olive oil for the risotto
Glass of white wine or Vermouth

Method
Turn the oven to 200°/gas mark 4 and lightly coat the butternut squash chunks in olive oil and season with salt and pepper (Maldon sea salt flakes are good as you don’t need as much to add flavour)

Halve the head of garlic, retaining the outer skin layers, and lightly rub olive oil on both sides over the cut segments. Place the two halves in the oven skin side down.

Place the squash in a roasting tin and place in the oven with the garlic for about 30 minutes (the squash will cook quicker so keep an eye on it).

After they have been roasting for 15 minutes, start the risotto.

Fry the onion in a knob of butter, with a small dash of olive oil to stop it burning, in a large frying pan until translucent.

Add the risotto rice and stir into the onion for about a minute to coat the rice all over. Add the glass of wine and keep stirring to burn off the alcohol., and when this starts to dry up a little turn the heat down fairly low and start ladling a spoonful of stock every few minutes over the rice.

The idea is to wait for each ladle full to get soaked up into the rice before adding the next. Make sure that you keep stirring every so often to agitate the starch in the rice.

(Before the next stage add a large ladle of stock to give you time in between stirs so the risotto doesn’t dry up).

After 30 minutes take the squash out of the oven and pour into a food processor. Take the two halves of the garlic and with a spoon put the sticky, roasted garlic into the processor too.

Add about a teaspoon of fresh thyme to the processor, along with half a ladle of stock, or just enough to loosen up the mixture. Blitz until a fairly smooth consistency is achieved and set to one side.

The stock should be more or less used up by now – the consistency should look a bit porridge-like, but the rice should still have some bite to it.

Take the pan off the heat and stir in the butternut squash mixture until the risotto looks a deep orange colour and crumble in the goat’s cheese until mixed throroughly. Add a handful of grated parmesan cheese and maybe a splash of olive oil to serve.