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

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - GEORGE ORWELL

In 1946, George Orwell published an essay in the Evening Standard in which he imagined his perfect pub, called the Moon Under Water. (If you recognise the name, it is probably because a certain large hospitality chain has used it for thirteen of its outlets in the UK.) You can read the full article here, courtesy of The Orwell Foundation. 
When devising his list of desirable features, Orwell stipulated its location (only two minutes from a bus stop), its decor (uncompromisingly Victorian) and its atmosphere (always quiet enough to talk). 
In addition, he writes: "You cannot get dinner at the Moon Under Water, but there is always the snack counter where you can get liver-sausage sandwiches, mussels (a speciality of the house), cheese, pickles and those large biscuits with caraway seeds in them which only seem to exist in public-houses." 

Zelda and Dave have had plenty of fun devising their own perfect hostelry (called the Sun Over Yardarm). Watch out for its opening as Zelda will be inviting plenty of famous guests. In the meantime, though, let's have George round here and show him that carraway biscuits are not only served in pubs.


This is such a simple recipe. 

75g each of: 
butter, cubed
plain flour
cheddar cheese, grated
2tsp carraway seeds

You can mix all the ingredients together by hand but it is much easier to whizz them all in a food processor until they form a soft dough.
Roll it into a log and cover with clingfilm.
Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Grease a couple of baking trays.
When ready, remove the clingfilm from the dough and cut it into circles of about 1cm thickness. 
Space them out as far as you can as they will spread.
Cook at 180˚C/  350˚F/ Gas 4 for 12-15 minutes. (If not using a fan oven, swap the trays over half way through.)
Allow to cool and serve.
For more Orwell-related biscuits, see Zelda's Double Chocolate Cookies for Winston Smith.

Friday, 10 September 2021

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guests - THE BOATING PARTY

 This lovely painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir could be more accurately titled After the Luncheon of the Boating Party.

 There is precious little food on the table, although the crumbs and neglected fruit suggest that a satisfying repast has been enjoyed by all. 
Let us assume then, that it consisted of the traditional four course French lunch: 
  • entrée
  • plat principal
  • fromage 
  • dessert
with wine, of course.

Zelda has worked on this premise and has recreated what would hopefully have been a lovely meal for them all to enjoy. 

Entrée - Soufflé au Fromage
Plat Principal - Quiche Lorraine 
avec Pommes de Terre Dauphinoise et Haricots à l'Ail
Fromage - Fromage Mélangé et du Pain
DessertCrème Brûlée


Soufflé au Fromage
Serves 4 - can be multiplied

60g butter
20g fine breadcrumbs
50g plain flour
½ tsp French mustard
300ml milk
salt and black pepper
4 eggs
50g grated Cheddar
50g grated Gruyere
20g grated Parmesan-style cheese

Soften 10g of the butter and grease the inside of the ramekins. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs inside to coat each one. Place on a baking tray and set aside.
Melt the rest of the butter in a pan, add the flour and cook through. 
Gradually add the milk, mixing well and stirring continuously to make a thick sauce. Take off the heat and add the Cheddar, Gruyere and mustard. Stir well and then allow to cool. 
Crack the eggs. Add the yolks to the cooled cheese sauce and place the whites in a separate bowl.
Whisk the egg whites until they are just stiff and hold their shape.
Using a metal spoon, gently stir the egg whites into the sauce, keeping as much air in as possible. 
Spoon into the ramekins. (It doesn't matter if it looks messy at this stage.)
Cook for 25-30 minutes at 200˚C/ Gas 6 until golden and risen. 
Sprinkle with the grated parmesan-style cheese.

Plat Principal

Quiche Lorraine 
Serves 8 

225g plain flour (+ extra for dusting)
115g butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
5 slices vegetarian bacon
1 onion, finely chopped
1tsp oil
75g Gruyere, grated
4 large eggs, beaten
150ml double cream
150ml whole milk
black pepper

Start by making the pastry.
Place the flour and butter in a food processor and whizz together until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the egg yolk and about 3tbsp cold water and whizz again until it comes together.
Knead gently. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
Grease and flour a 23cm flan dish. 
Roll out the pastry and use to line the dish. Be as neat as possible. Prick the base.
Chill for another 15 minutes.
Line with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans.
Cook at 190˚C/ Gas 5 for 12 minutes.
Remove the paper and beans and cook for 10 minutes more so all the pastry is golden.
Heat the oil and fry the 'bacon'. 
Remove it from the pan and fry the onion until lightly golden. 
Cut the 'bacon' into small pieces.
Spread the onion and bacon over the base of the pastry and cover with the cheese.
Whisk the eggs, cream, milk and black pepper. 
Pour into the dish and place in the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes. Remove when still 'wobbles' and allow to set. 
Serve warm.

Pommes de Terre Dauphinoise
Serves 2 - can be multiplied

450g waxy potatoes
150ml double cream
150ml milk
salt and black pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed

Peel the potatoes and cut them into very thin slices.
Put them in a pan with the cream and milk.
Season and bring to the boil.
Cover and simmer, very gently, for 10-15 minutes until just beginning to soften.
Strain the potatoes, keeping the liquid.
Put the potatoes in an oven-proof dish. Season again and sprinkle the garlic on top.
Pour the liquid back over the top. 
Cover with foil and cook in the oven at 180˚C/ 350˚F/ Gas 4 for about an hour.
Remove the foil and cook for a further 30 minutes until the top is golden and the potatoes melt in the mouth.

Haricots à l'Ail
Serves 2 - can be multiplied

8 -10 green beans
1 garlic clove, sliced finely
20g butter

Bring a pan of water to the boil, then add the beans. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, then drain.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan and fry the garlic until golden.
Add the beans and toss together. 


Fromage Mélangé et du Pain


Crème Brûlée
Serves 2 but can easily be multiplied

300ml tub double cream                               
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
2 large egg yolks
75g golden caster sugar

Preheat oven to 180˚C/ Gas 4
Pour the cream into a pan, add the vanilla pod and bring slowly to the boil.
Remove from the heat, cover and set aside to infuse for at least 30 minutes. Then remove the vanilla pod.
Beat the egg yolks and 50g of the caster sugar together in a bowl.
Pour in the vanilla-infused cream, stirring constantly.
Strain into a jug, then pour into the ramekins. 
Put ramekins in a roasting tin. 
Pour enough hand-hot water into the tin to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for 35 minutes.
Leave for at least 4 hours. 
When ready to serve, sprinkle remaining sugar on top.
Grill on high or use a blow torch to heat the sugar until it caramelises. (Dave helped here!)
Then, all you need is a cute little dog to help with the crumbs.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021


And now the next instalment of the series entitled 'I Never Thought I'd See This Many Courgettes In A Lifetime, Never Mind In One Season', also known as 'Two Of Those Plants Are Coming Up And Going To A Good Home (Someone Else's Garden) Before Next Year'.

I do love courgettes; it's just that I seem to have had an awful lot of them lately. This recipe was a great success, though. Dave asked for it to be done again and he isn't really a fan of courgettes.

Serves 2 but can easily be multiplied

2 medium courgettes
75g self raising flour
1 small egg, beaten
100ml sparkling water
pinch chilli powder
oil for frying

Wash and dry the courgettes, then cut them into batons. Place them on absorbent paper and sprinkle with salt to season them and draw out some of the moisture.
Make the batter by whisking the flour, egg, water and chilli powder together.
Place the batons in the batter and coat well.
Heat the oil and fry in batches. (Don't worry about shaking off any excess batter before placing in the oil - it will add some lovely crispy edges).
Dry on absorbent paper and serve straight away.