Real vegetarian food, served in an imaginary world...

Monday, 12 June 2017

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - FRANK SINATRA

Frank Sinatra was one of the most iconic and influential singers of the 20th Century.

His renditions of My Way, In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning and Chicago are legendary, but this is my favourite:
With his Italian roots and American influences, I think he might be partial to a bit of lasagne.
Lasagne is a dodgy thing to make. Everyone has their own idea of what it should be like. This one is, however, particularly tasty, as well as being meat-free.

Serves 4

1 350g pack quorn mince
1 500g box passata
I tin chopped tomatoes
2 tsp dried mixed herbs or 2 tbsp fresh
40g butter
40g plain flour
500ml milk
salt and black pepper
100g cheese, grated
1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 lasagne sheets (see note below)

If you buy fresh lasagne sheets make sure that you have enough of the correct size to fit the dish you are using. You need three layers, so you may need to cut and join smaller sheets, although this will not affect the end result.

Make the Bolognese Sauce
Fry onion in oil for a couple of minutes. Then add garlic and fry for a couple of minutes more until golden.

Pour in the chopped tomatoes and then add the quorn mince. Pour the passata over the top and stir well until the quorn has absorbed the moisture.

Season and add the mixed herbs.

Make the Cheese Sauce
In a separate pan, melt the butter and then add the flour. 

Stir until it makes a thick paste and cook out for a couple of minutes

Add the milk, a little at a time. Stir continuously until sauce becomes creamy and silky.

Mix in 70g of the cheese and season well.

Assemble the Lasagne:
Put one of the lasagne sheets into a pan of boiling water. 
Put one third of the Bolognese mix in the bottom of a large dish. Pour about a fifth of the cheese sauce over it.
Then carefully remove the lasagne sheet, refresh in cold water and pat dry.
Place on top of the first layer.
Repeat three times.
Pour the remainder of the cheese sauce over the top and spread out well to completely cover the pasta.
Put on a baking tray and top with the rest of the grated cheese.
Cover loosely with foil (you don't want it to stick to the topping).
While it is cooking, you may wish to prepare a salad for accompaniment.
When ready, heat in the oven for 20 minutes at Gas 8/ 220C, then remove the foil.
Cook for a further 15 minutes or so until the cheese is bubbling and slightly browned.

This was my plate with my slice of lasagne and my choice of salad:
After I had arranged his portion for the photograph, Dave added an extra spoonful, thereby ruining the artistic effect but proving that he was looking forward to the meal!

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - JOHN WAYNE

Although rough, ready and certainly extreme, I am offering him his place at the Veggie Dinner Table for being in my all-time-favourite Western (She Wore a Yellow Ribbon) and, more than anything, for this spectacular quote:
“Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway.”

Wayne, born Marion Morrison as everyone knows, was often known simply as 'The Duke'. 
His career took off with his portrayal of The Ringo Kid in Stagecoach (1939) and 83 of his movies were cowboy films.

Therefore, in keeping with the good and honest tradition he embraces and personifies, I will be serving my Vegetarian Cowboy Pie.


6 medium potatoes (about 800g), peeled and cut into two-bite-size pieces
6 vegetarian sausages (defrosted if frozen) 
1 red onion, half chopped and half sliced. 
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 and a half large tin beans baked beans (or 3 small)
2tsp chilli powder
salt and black pepper
75g/ 3oz cheese, grated
1 tbsp olive oil
25g/ 1oz butter
25ml/ 1fl oz milk

Heat the oil in a pan and add fry the sausage until browned. Remove from heat and chop into slices (about 3 per sausage).
Use the same oil to gently fry the onion until soft and then add the garlic. Add the chilli powder and stir well until everything is coated.
Mix in the beans and replace the sausages. Heat until the whole mixture is almost boiling. Adjust chilli heat if you want to and season to taste. Then turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a pan of hot water and boil for about 10-12
minutes until soft. 

Then drain and allow to steam for a few minutes. 

Return to the pan. Add the butter and milk and season well. Mash. A normal 'masher' is fine. It doesn't have to be silky smooth but you don't want any lumps.

Place sausage mixture in a large bowl.
Spread the mashed potato over the top and use a fork to score. Place on a baking tray (to make it easier later to remove from the oven and to catch any drips).

If you wish, you can now cover this and keep until ready to cook. 

Grate the cheese for later.

When you are ready, heat the oven to 
Gas 7/ 200C. Bake for about 20 mins.

Sprinkle cheese over the top of the potato, return to the oven and cook for a further 10 to 15 minutes until cheese bubbles.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - LAWRENCE HARVEY

Laurence Harvey (or Zhi Mosheh Skikne – who would have guessed he was really Lithuaninan?) was best known for Room at the TopThe Manchurian Candidate and The Alamo.Watching him in the latter, I was inspired to consider him for a place at my table. 
As William B Travis, he led the small force which kept Santa Anna’s army at bay for just long enough.
With facts few and far between, the myth of how Travers, Crockett and Bowie gave their lives for Texas is a great story.

Tex-Mex food is always a favourite and would be an appropriate choice of menu, even if only to stir up a lively conversation.


350g quorn mince
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, de-seeded and chopped
2tsp chilli powder
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin kidney beans
2tbsp tomato ketchup
6 soft tortillas
100g grated cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
coarsely ground black pepper and salt to season


Heat oil in a large pan and fry onion and pepper gently until softened. 

Then add the jalapeno and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes more. 

Sprinkle in the chilli powder and make sure that all the ingredients are coated.

Add the tomatoes, then add the quorn (straight from frozen is fine). Fill the tomato tin half full of water and pour over the top of the quorn. 
Rinse the kidney beans and add them. Season and stir well. 

Bring to boil, then reduce. Simmer for about 20 minutes so that sauce thickens.

Put filling in centre of each tortilla. 

Fold over like a parcel and place side by side in dish.
You may need to squish them down a bit to make them fit.

Mix 2tbsp ketchup with 100ml hot water. Pour this over the top of the folded tortillas.
Sprinkle with grated cheese and chopped herbs.

Cover with foil. You can now leave this for as long as you like. 

When you are ready, place in the oven at Gas 7/ 220C for about 20 mins.

While it is cooking, you may like to make a mixed leaf salad.
Remove foil and place back in oven for about 10 - 15 mins or until the cheese bubbles. 

Top should be slightly crispy.

Lovely served with salad.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest – EDWARD G ROBINSON

Edward G Robinson, originally Emmanuel Goldenberg from Romania, became famous for playing the tough guy in the early gangster films.
 Although apparently, quiet and sensitive in real life, he could command a menacing screen presence, never more so than in the fabulous ‘Little Caesar’ one of my favourite films of all time.

The New York restaurants the wise guys frequented in the early gangster films seemed to serve nothing but Spaghetti Bolognese. So if Eddie came to dinner, I would like him to feel at home. 

This is a very quick and easy recipe. I even cheat by using ketchup instead of tomato puree. It may not be for purists but I have never had any complaints when I have served it.


Serves 2 – 3

300g/10½oz quorn mince, frozen
15ml/1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
7floz/ 200ml warm water from the kettle
1 large can chopped tomatoes
30ml/2tbsp tomato ketchup
10ml/ 2tsp dried mixed herbs or a handful of fresh (even better) 
10ml/ 2tsp vegetarian gravy granules
100g spaghetti


Heat oil in a large pan. Fry onion until almost soft. Then add garlic and cook for a couple more minutes until both are golden but not burnt.

Stir in the chopped tomatoes. Then add the quorn mince, just as it is so that it sits on the top.

Put 2 tbsp tomato ketchup into the empty tomato tin and fill almost to the top with warm water from the kettle. (Don't use boiling water as you will burn your hands when you touch the tin.) 

Give a quick stir and then pour over the top of the mince which will help it to defrost and break down. 
Add the gravy granules and stir

Turn up the heat a bit until it all bubbles, then reduce to a simmer. 

Chop the herbs finely.

Add the herbs to the pan with the fresh tomato and season.

Allow to simmer for at least 10 minutes. I usually make this well in advance and allow it to sit for a bit to absorb the flavours. (But if I'm in a rush, 10 minutes is fine.)

When ready to serve
Cook spaghetti according to instructions, in a pan of salted boiling water.
Make sure the bolognese is piping hot.

Place spaghetti around the edge of the plate and serve the bolognese inside it.
Sprinkle with cheese or basil leaves if you wish. 

Either sprinkle over some finely grated hard cheese like Parmesan (vegetarian versions are available) or roughly grate some cheddar.