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

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - ELSIE WRIGHT

What a lovely idea! We all want to believe in fairies. My Mum and I even added a 'secret door' to a tree stump in the garden once.

In 1917, Elsie Wright, along with her cousin Frances Griffiths, produced a series of pictures which seemed to prove that these little creatures really did exist. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was convinced. 

So, these are for Elsie:


For the buns
125g butter, softened
125g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
150g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder

For the topping
About 6tbsp strawberry jam
100g butter, softened
200g icing sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
1tbsp milk
Sugar strands

Line a 12 hole cake tray with paper cases.
Cream the butter in a bowl until soft. (Use an electric mixer, if you  like, as I did, to make it easier.)
Add the sugar and vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, then mix in the flour and baking powder.
Spoon into the cases.
Cook for 8-10 minutes at 190°C/ 375°F/ Gas 5 for about 10 minutes until springy and golden.
Allow to cool for a while, then place on a rack to finish cooling, the cut the tops off each bun. (You can enjoy eating them).
Spread the jam over each bun.
Make the buttercream by combining the softened butter with the icing sugar, then mixing in the vanilla extract and loosening with the milk. 
Place on top of the jam.
Decorate with the sugar strands.

Vegetarian Delirium - ORANGE VEGETABLE CURRY

This is a lovely warming meal for Autumn. It is quite similar to the Chickpea and Sweet Potato Curry but is packed with extra veg. Orange vegetables tend to be sweet, so make a lovely flavour combination with the spicy sauce.

2 medium carrots
1 small butternut squash
1 medium sweet potato
2 large potatoes
1 large red onion
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
500ml vegetable stock
2tbsp oil
2tbsp curry paste 
handful of fresh coriander

Peel and chop the veg.
Heat most of the oil in a large pan and start to gently fry the carrots, butternut squash and sweet potato.
Meanwhile, start to boil the potato in a separate pan.
Heat the rest of the oil and gently fry the onion.
Add the curry paste to the onion and cook for a couple of minutes more. 
Then add this to the pan of vegetables and stir well to coat.
Pour in the stock and bring to the boil.
Drain the potatoes and add them too.
Allow all to simmer for about 15 minutes until the veg is soft.
Add the chickpeas.
Mix all together and cook for a few more minutes.
Season and add the sour cream.
Stir well and allow all the flavours to develop.
Lovely with Easy Peasy Naan Bread

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

UNFINISHED BUSINESS - A Meal for Hayley Mills

This is a great recipe from Hayley Mills, tested as part of the Murder, She Wrote project and chosen for the cookalong.

Hayley Mills starred in Unfinished Business, an episode in Season 3. 
She is best remembered in the UK as a member of a famous acting family and an acclaimed child actress, although she also had a successful adult career. 

Zelda has previously had her son, Crispian, for a Fantasy Veggie Dinner

Hayley submitted this recipe to a magazine, claiming that it made 'a great centrepiece surrounded by your favourite Sunday-lunch vegetables.'


225g/ 8oz red lentils
2 large onions, peeled and chopped finely
1 clove garlic, crushed
1tbsp vegetable oil
180g wholemeal breadcrumbs
100g cheddar cheese, grated
1tbsp fresh sage
1tbsp fresh thyme
1tbsp fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium free-range eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F/ Gas 4
Rinse the lentils under the tap, put them in a pan and cover with three times their volume of water. Bring to the boil.
Simmer until cooked and the water has evaporated. This will usually take about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the herbs.
Heat the oil and fry the onion gently until soft. Then add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes more.
Place in a bowl with the breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, salt and pepper.
Add the cooked lentils and the eggs. Mix all well together.
Place in a greased loaf tin (or one with a liner).
Hayley says to cook for about 40 minutes until firm (but I thought it needed 50).
Allow to cool, then remove from tin. 
Slice and serve
It makes a great alternative to the usual roast.
Here, served with Crispy Potatoes with Rosemary, broccoli and some gravy.

MR PENROY'S VACATION - A Meal for Joan Leslie

More test cooking for the Murder, She Wrote project.

Joan Leslie was 63 when she starred in Mr Penroy's Vacation, but in the 1940s, she was one of the best known teen stars in Hollywood. 
She provided a recipe for 


She certainly liked to make life easy for herself in the kitchen.
She says, "Either use a prepared pie crust or make your own." However, making her own entails blending a cup of grated cheese with a 'package of pie crust mix'. I did look for one of these 'packages' in the supermarket, but none were to be found, so I actually did have to make my own.
She also says to use 3 inch cutters to make the pastry rounds but this would not give the tall 'frilly' sides shown in the illustration with her recipe.

Here, then is the recipe with the addition of instructions to make the pastry for the pie crusts:

250g plain flour + extra for rolling
100g butter + extra for greasing
125g cheddar, grated as finely as possible
cold water as needed

Mix the butter with the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. 
Stir through the cheese.
Combine with cold water, a little at a time, mixing together with your hands until you have a firm dough.
Make into a ball and chill for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, grease the holes of the muffin tin and cut 12 circles from greaseproof paper using a pint glass as a template.
When the pastry is chilled, cut it into quarters and roll each out on a floured work surface. 
Cut circles with a diameter of about 4 inches/ 10 cm.
Place the pastry in the tin, prick with a fork, line with the paper and fill each hole with baking beans.
Bake at 425°F/ 220°C/ Gas 7 for about 10 minutes.
Remove the beans and paper. Replace in the oven and cook for about 5 minutes more until the pastry is dry and golden.
Allow to cool slightly, then remove from the tin and cool fully on a rack.

Then fill with chosen fillings.

I used 

  • Cheddar and Coleslaw
  • Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil
  • Veggie Sausage, Spring Onion and Pickle

MURDER BY APPOINTMENT ONLY - A Meal for Jayne Meadows Allen

Zelda has been doing some test recipes for the Murder She Wrote project by Jenny at Silverscreen Suppers. 

Jayne Meadows was born a century ago in 1919. 
She had a wide career in film and television. 
She starred in Murder by Appointment Only, part of Season 2, playing the owner of a cosmetics company.  

Jayne Meadows' recipe featured bean curd/ tofu, something, as a vegetarian, I cook with regularly. It turned out, however, not to be vegetarian at all as it featured pork. This meant finding some alternative ingredients. 

I made the dish twice. 

The first time I used vegetarian mince, as minced pork was in the original recipe. As you will see, I wasn't at all happy with the look of the finished dish. The mince was a bit dark. I could have used other veggie alternatives but I wanted to see what it would be like with mince. 

½lb minced pork = 200g quorn mince. I used quorn mince which takes on the flavours of the sauce. 
2 boxes bean curd = 1 pack tofu (396g). Jane Meadows didn’t specify the size of the box, but 1 pack of tofu is a sizeable amount.
2 scallions = 2 spring onions chopped, finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4tbsp soya – not needed
2tsp chilli sauce
½ cup stock = 120ml vegetable stock. Because the quorn will absorb moisture, I added an extra 200ml.
1tbsp cornstarch, dissolved
1tbsp sherry
4tbsp oil – only needed 2tbsp oil.  I used sunflower oil.

Because I was using quorn, I didn’t need to fry any pork first, but I did fry the tofu first to make it crispy. This means that the order of cooking has changed from the original recipe. I have also specified any further preparation needed.

Cut the tofu into four and then slice each quarter into three rectangles.

Heat 2tsp sunflower oil in a pan and fry the tofu until crispy. Turn to ensure even cooking. 

Then remove from oil, set aside to dry.
Fry the garlic in the remaining oil, then add the stock, the quorn mince, and the spring onions.
Thicken slightly with the cornstarch and add the sherry. Stir in the chilli sauce and replace the tofu.
This, to be honest, looked a bit unappealing, mainly because of the mince. Yes, it does soak up the chilli flavour, but it really doesn’t seem necessary. 

I, therefore, decided to make it again without the mince. I also added extra ingredients to add flavour layers.
This is version 2:

1 pack (396g) tofu
2 spring onions, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small piece ginger, finely grated
1 red chilli, seeds included, finely chopped
2tsp cumin seeds, freshly ground
120ml stock
1tbsp sherry
1tbsp red wine vinegar
handful of fresh coriander

Cut the tofu into quarters, then slice each in three. Put the rectangular slices on absorbent paper on a plate. Cover with more paper, another plate and top with tins to squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
Then, heat the oil and fry the tofu slices on each side. 
Remove and drain.
Then, using the same oil, fry the garlic, chilli, cumin and ginger.
Pour in the stock, sherry and red wine vinegar. Add the spring onions.
Replace the tofu. 
Allow to simmer and thicken slightly.

Here are the two versions, side by side. I know which I prefer!
The second version was much better and I would cook this again. 
Serve in bowls, topped with the coriander and extra spring onions.
Good with noodles.