Author Archives: lartonmedia

About lartonmedia

I'm a journalist and lecturer with a passion for writing, music, books, sport and the theatre. I co-edit Crime Review and am half of Two Fat Vegetarians.

Photos gone AWOL

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We’ve been a bit quiet of late for various reasons, but we have some cunning plans for new blog entries …

If you’ve been browsing the archives, you may have noticed that some photos on recipes have gone AWOL. You can blame Photobucket for this, who want to charge stupid money for third-party hosting. So please bear with us while we think of a way around it.

 

Restaurant review: Saffron

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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

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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.

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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’

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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.

2015 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog. And it’s great to see that people still revisit some of our old favourites! Thanks for supporting us – and have a very veggie 2016.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 42,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Review: Loxley’s

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Eating out in Stratford-upon-Avon can be hard on the nerves. You either get over-priced fast food places with Bard-related names (I wonder if the Titus Andronicus spare rib joint would catch on …), soulless pubs with faux beams, or over-priced restaurants with ideas way above the chef’s talents. And you often end up bolting your food so you don’t miss curtain up.

So Loxley’s in Sheep Street is one to remember for the future. It’s close enough to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre’s HQ to cater for the theatre-goers – and that’s about the first question the friendly staff ask you, mindful of kick-off times.

Don’t expect a vegetarian extravaganza, though – and we’ve got yet another kitchen that thinks Parmesan is veggie. It’s not an absolute deal-breaker for one half of your blog team (who is usually, ironically, ultra-fussy on small print). The other half of the team asked for the dish in question to be served without it, which was done without drama or raised eyebrows.

Loxley’s isn’t especially cheap (main courses come in at about late teens and early 20s), but the pre-theatre set menu (£13.95 for two courses and £16.95 for three) turned out to be decent value.

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There were two vegetarian choices among the starters. The heritage tomato and goat’s cheese salad, served with basil and balsamic vinegar, was perfect – zingy tomatoes that tasted like they’d just wandered in from the garden, paired with a sharp, creamy cheese. Anth confirmed that the soup (the tomato the waitress had told us about turned out to be confusingly disguised as pea – fortunately with no ham in) was good. It came with two hefty chunks of toasted bread.

The single veggie main course was that restaurant stalwart – Mediterranean vegetable risotto. At least there wasn’t a squash or sun-dried tomato in sight. It came buried under a herb patch of rocket and, although a touch on the bland side, certainly wasn’t terrible. Some better stock would have elevated it no end. By the look of the main menu, the Mediterranean vegetables appear in a supporting role with polenta.

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If you’re not rushing off for culture, Loxley’s would be a reasonable place for a pleasant night out, with its relaxed décor, nooks and crannies where you can plan to take over the universe, and good-humoured young waiting staff who chat happily to you. The main menu offers a couple of vegetarian options (and yes, of course Parmesan appears again), along with an enticing-sounding antipasta board to share (ooh look, sun-dried tomatoes!)

Loxley’s isn’t a world-shattering find for vegetarians, but it’s pleasant, friendly and convenient – and not everywhere in Stratford can say that.

Loxley’s
3 Sheep Street
Stratford-upon-Avon
CV37 6EF
Tel: 01789 292128

Recipe: Courgette and tomato tian

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This used to be one of my mainstay recipes – something hearty enough to have as a main course with mashed potato or good bread, or as a vegetable side dish if you’re feeding the 5,000.

I have a feeling the original recipe comes from St Delia, but it’s based on a French tian. So it was appropriate dish to make for friends on a holiday in France. It was dressed up with pig products for the meat eaters, and also served with a very good cheese bread. And it’s easy enough to make it vegan by leaving out all the cheese.

Serves four
Two large courgettes
Three or four large tomatoes
Cheddar cheese
Large onion
A couple of cloves of garlic
Veggie Parmesan for topping
Olive oil
Sea salt, black pepper, mixed herbs

Chop the onion and garlic and soften in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Spread in the base of a large oven-proof dish.

Slice courgettes thinly and fry for a couple of minutes in the garlicky oil to soften them slightly.

Slice the tomatoes and cheese thinly.

Arrange alternate upright rows of courgette, tomatoes and cheese so it looks kind of like roofing tiles. Season with salt, black pepper and mixed herbs. Sprinkle over the veggie Parmesan.

Cook in a medium oven for about 15 or 20 minutes until the tomatoes and courgettes have softened, the layers of cheese have melted and the veggie Parmesan layer has gone slightly crispy.