Good food shouldn’t just be about the gourmet cordon bleu stuff. You should be able to relax and have fun with food. Hot dogs are about the best for that. If you’re a vegetarian, that pinkish-brown tube of hot pig products with dubious smokey flavour is off the menu. Unless you go for the veggie version that is!
There are two version up for tasting here – Tofu Weiner by Taifun and Quorn hotdogs. The Taifun product is vegan, whereas the Quorn product isn’t.
I cooked both of them the same way, boiling as per the packet instructions.
The tofu-weiner is on the left, the Quorn hotdog is on the right.
The tofu weiner has a good smokey flavour, but little other taste otherwise. The texture, once past the skin, is very soft, which isn’t a good substitute for the real thing, but there is something to chew there.
The Quorn hotdog doesn’t have as strong a smokey flavour, but does have a good savoury flavour in addition to the smokiness. It also has a firmer texture, much closer to the real thing.
As with most mock meats, I wouldn’t put either on my regular shopping list, but if I really wanted a hotdog, either would be acceptable in a finger bun with ketchup and mustard. If you want hotdogs on cocktail sticks stuck in a foil-wrapped potato for a 70’s party – I’d go with the Quorn ones, they stand up better on their own.
I first came across Quorn sausages before I was a vegetarian. Quorn features heavily in the Slimming World diet because it is so low in fat. I would eat Quorn mince, Quorn ‘chicken’ pieces and Quorn sausages as a way to lose weight.
As with most vegetarian meat substitutes texture is everything, the appeal is not just the taste, but the mouthfeel to replace the meat you’re missing. The sausages tasted savoury enough but had a very solid, smooth texture. They felt as processed as the cheapest banger or the little sausages in tins of sausage and beans. And that’s how I usually ate my Quorn sausages – cut into pieces and microwaved with a tin of baked of beans – a safe and filling food.
I was intrigued to find a couple of new varieties in the chiller cabinet recently. Quorn Chef’s Selection sausages. They come in two flavours: Wild Garlic and Parsley, and Best of British.
I’ll pass over the marketing genius who came up with ‘Best of British’ as a flavour with a quick eye-roll.
The wild garlic and parsley sausages are on the left. Raw, they have the same solidity as the ordinary quorn sausages, but it looks like they’ve tried to give some texture to the body of the sausage.
I gave them their best shot and fried them, and I have to say they do fry to a nice golden colour. There’s a very fine ‘skin’ which crisped up to give slightly more of a normal sausage feel. However, the texture inside was as homogenous as before, although slightly looser in feel. In terms of flavour, Best of British appears to mean pork sausage of the cheaper end of the market, savoury but very bland. The Wild Garlic and Parsley sausage had a garlicky-oniony flavour, but there was no hint of parsley, and I wouldn’t use this sausage as a means to introduce anyone to the delights of wild garlic.
In summary, they’re OK. They’d be fine as part of a cooked breakfast. I’d be careful about cooking with them though. I’ve already had a problem with them turning to mush in a cassoulet and I think the softer texture might be their downfall in stews or anything that requires long cooking.
It must be the weather getting colder, but I fancied a bean stew this week. I wanted to try my hand at a veggie version of cassoulet. Now, I know a cassoulet without duck or meat sausage is not a real cassoulet and I believe Raymond Blanc just suffered a sudden unexplained twinge at the mere concept, but there are some nice veggie sausages out there that seemed making it worth a go.
Quorn have recently come up with a new Chef’s selection range of sausages (of which more later) and I used the wild garlic and parsley sausages in this recipe.
I made this in the slow-cooker, but I wouldn’t do so again with these sausages. They disintegrated and went mushy after the long cooking. It was still tasty, but the texture wasn’t there. I have made adjustments in the recipe so it shouldn’t happen again.
110g pinto beans
1/2 onion, chopped
2 veg sausages, cut into pieces
300 ml water
1 tsp veg stock
1 tsp marmite
Soak the pinto beans overnight then drain and rinse.
Soften the onion in a little olive oil in a saucepan until translucent.
Add the beans, sausages and the rest of the ingredients. Add a pinch of thyme and some black pepper, but no salt yet as it makes the beans take longer to cook.
Bring to the boil and then reduce to a slow simmer.
Cover the pan and cook for 2 hours until the beans are tender.
Stir in salt and serve.
Runner beans with tarragon and lemon
I got the idea for this recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘Veg Everyday’, but he cooks the beans for 20 minutes, which is way too long for me.
1 clove garlic, chopped
6 runner beans, destringed and chopped on the diagonal
pinch tarragon or 1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
Squeeze lemon juice
Soften the garlic in some olive oil in a saucepan.
Add the runner beans and the dried tarragon (if using) and stir in the hot oil for a minute.
Pour in a few tablespoons of water and simmer the beans for five minutes until they are tender but still bright green.
If you’re using fresh tarragon now is the time to add it, along with a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper.
Give it a good stir and serve.