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

Thursday, 14 February 2019

A Meal For... Another VALENTINE'S DAY

Two year's ago, Dave gave Zelda a lovely Valentine's meal by making a pizza from from scratch. He found it a lot of effort and, to this day, blames Rick Stein for the TV magic that made it appear you could do it from start to finish in a few minutes (being unaware that dough needs time to prove). 
This time, with eyes wide open, and inspired by the latest Jamie Oliver series set in Italy, he promised Zelda a fresh pasta meal (and asked to be known throughout as Nonna David).
Zelda, therefore, provided him with a recipe and all the ingredients and stepped back to watch, camera in hand.


4 free range eggs
400g tipo 00 flour (+ extra for dusting)
salt and black pepper
handful fresh basil leaves
1tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
zest and juice of 1 lemon
180g cream cheese
50g parmesan-style cheese  (+ extra to serve)
splash of milk

First, make the pasta
Place the flour in a circle on a clean work surface and crack the eggs into a well in the middle. ("How much is 00 flour?")
Whisk the eggs lightly with a fork and start to draw in the flour to mix with them.
Use your hands to mix it all together.
Make into a ball and knead until silky(ish) 
Divide into four and cover with a clean, damp cloth.

Put a pan of salted water on to boil and, when ready, roll out one at a time into strips which are as thin as possible. ("It's a wonder Nonnas haven't got arms like Billy Two Rivers.")
Use a heart-shaped cutter... make the pasta shapes.
When all are ready, place in the boiling water.

To make the sauce
Prepare all elements in advance.
Crush the garlic, grate the zest from the lemon, finely grate the parmesan-style cheese. ("Like sanding a rough old board.") 
Heat the oil in a large pan.
Turn to a low heat and cook the garlic until just golden.
Add the cream cheese and a splash of milk and stir to make into a sauce.
Add the lemon and a shake of salt.

Allow the pasta to cook – it usually only takes about 3 minutes. It will rise to the top when done.
Drain it but keep about a mug of the cooking water.
Add the pasta to the sauce with some of the reserved liquid if needed. Mix all together.
Place in a bowl and top with the black pepper, basil and more parmesan-style cheese. ("That's my cooking done for the next year!")

Sunday, 3 February 2019


Zelda has just returned from a very lovely week, enjoying the sunshine in Lanzarote.  

Now, back home, with the snow outside, she is inspired to cook some of the food she enjoyed in the Canary Islands.


500g new potatoes
1 onion, peeled and sliced
150ml olive oil
3tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
6 eggs
salt and pepper

Peel potatoes if required or give them a quick scrub and then slice.
Heat oil in a pan and add the potatoes and onion and season.
Turn down to a very low heat and allow to stew gently for about 20-30 minutes, turning a few times as needed.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs gently, season and add the parsley.
When cooked, drain the potatoes and onions through a colander, retaining the leftover oil.
Add the potatoes and onions to the egg and stir until coated.
Return the oil to the pan and heat, then add the egg mixture.
Make sure the pan is on a very low setting. Draw the edge in with a spatula to make sure that all the liquid egg from the surface has been cooked. 
When set, cover with a plate, invert and replace in the pan.
Cook for a couple of minutes on the other side.
Repeat if needed.

Then turn the heat off and allow to settle for about 5 minutes.


500g small potatoes (all as similar in size as possible)
2tbsp sea salt

Wash but don’t peel the potatoes.
Place in a pan and just cover with water.
Add the sea salt.
Boil for 15 – 20 minutes (until a soft knife can be inserted easily).
Drain any excess water and then leave in the pan until all the remaining moisture has evaporated. 
Serve with Mojo 'sauces'


(This is a really spicy version. For a milder one, use fewer chilli peppers and scrape out the seeds)

5 cloves garlic, peeled
4 red chilli peppers, heads removed
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped coarsely
1tsp ground cumin
pinch of salt
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
5 tbsp olive oil

Place garlic, peppers, cumin and salt in a blender.
Whizz until you have a paste.
Add the white wine vinegar.
Then, with the motor whirring on the slowest setting, add the olive oil a bit at a time.
To make a thicker sauce, add a handful of fresh breadcrumbs and whizz again until combined and fairly smooth.


2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped coarsely
1tsp ground cumin
large bunch of coriander, mainly leaves, ripped
pinch of salt
2tbsp white wine vinegar
4tbsp olive oil

Place garlic, pepper, cumin, salt and coriander in a blender.

Whizz until you have a paste.
Add the white wine vinegar.
Then, keep the motor on the lowest setting, and pour in the olive oil slowly.
Serve both sauces in bowls to accompany the potatoes, alongside the omelette.

Monday, 21 January 2019


Another recipe, inspired by Zelda's new Jamie Oliver cookbook, with some adaptations. Also see Red Cabbage and Orange Salad.

2tbsp olive oil
100g rustic, large breadcrumbs
2tsp chilli flakes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
15g fresh herbs, roughly chopped
8 sundried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
160g dried spaghetti

Start off by cooking the spaghetti in boiling salted water.

Heat the olive oil in a separate large pan and fry the breadcrumbs and 1tsp of the chilli flakes until the breadcrumbs are golden. 
Then remove them from the pan.
Place the tomatoes in their oil and the garlic in the same pan and fry gently until the garlic is golden. 
Add the herbs.
Drain the spaghetti, reserving some of the cooking water.
Add the spaghetti and a little of the starchy water to the pan and combine.
Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle the breadcrumbs and the remaining chilli flakes over the top.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - MARLON BRANDO

Marlon Brando has been in some of my favourite films, including: On The Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Godfather and One-Eyed Jacks.
We all know that Brando loved pasta.
Somebody: The Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of Marlon Brando by Stefan Kanfer, contains an account of a time when the man himself dined with JFK:

As Marlon attacked the pasta, Kennedy challenged him: 'Marlon, have you gained weight? Looks like you've put on a few.'
'Nary an ounce.'
'Kennedy grinned. "Then the CIA sent up some wrong information.'
Marlon bet the president that JFK weighed more than he did. A bathroom scale was brought into the room. Brando checked in at 187 pounds. Kennedy was eleven pounds lighter.
'Get some food into this man,' Marlon told the other guests. 'You can't lead the country at a hundred seventy-six.'

So, for Marlon, here is a very tasty pasta dish which would certainly help anyone to put on a few pounds.


serves 4

12 tubes dried cannelloni
5 slices ‘ham’
150g spinach
150g ricotta
½ red pepper, chopped finely
1 small red onion, chopped finely
1tbsp olive oil
1garlic clove, crushed
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 sundried tomatoes
1tbsp mixed herbs
salt and pepper
50g hard Italian cheese (vegetarian)
fresh basil leaves

Wash and drain the spinach. 
Place in a saucepan and stir until wilted.
Put in a bowl and add the ricotta.
Cut the vegetarian ham slices and add to the ricotta mixture. Season well.
Heat the oil and fry the onion and pepper. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more. 
Then add the chopped tomatoes and the mixed herbs. Season to taste.
Slice the sundried tomatoes finely and add to the sauce.
Place a ladleful of sauce into a dish.
Either use a spoon, or (as I did) place ricotta mixture in a bag and cut the corner. Fill each tube.
When all are filled, place in the dish.
Pour over the rest of the tomato sauce.
Grate the hard cheese over the top.
Cook at Gas 5/ 190°C/ 375°F for 25-30 minutes until the pasta is soft and the sauce is bubbling.

Serve with basil leaves.