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

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - MARCEL PAGNOL

Marcel Pagnol was a French novelist, playwright and film maker.  It is as a novelist, that Zelda would like to celebrate him today and invite him for dinner. 
L'eau des Collines (The Water of the Hills) is the collective name for two brilliant novels set in Provence: Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources. They are best known now as the inspiration for two French language films of the same name, made in the 1980s. The films are beautiful, but the novels are sublime. Zelda likes to re-read them at least every few years. 
The cassoulet is a famous French 'peasant dish'. It must be made with white beans but then whatever meat is available is traditionally added. Why not, therefore, add vegetarian alternatives, if the finished dish tastes great?


2tbsp olive oil
2 slices vegetarian bacon, defrosted if frozen
2 vegetarian sausages
1 quorn fillet or 50g chicken-style pieces
1 onion, sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
300ml vegetable stock
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed
1tsp dried thyme
2tbsp tomato puree
½tsp smoked paprika
100g coarse breadcrumbs
2 bay leaves

Serves 2

In a large ovenproof pan, heat 1tbsp of the oil and fry the bacon. Remove from the pan and cut into pieces.
Add the rest of the oil and cook the pepper and onion until it starts to soften.
Cut the sausages and quorn fillet into chunks and add to the pan as well. Stir together until all are slightly browned but not burnt.
Return the bacon to the pan.
Add the tomatoes and butter beans.
Top up with the stock, add the tomato puree, thyme, paprika and bay leaves and mix all together well, over a low heat.
Put the breadcrumbs over the top.
Cook at Gas 7/ 220°C/ 420°F for about 40 minutes until the breadcrumbs form a golden brown crust.
Lovely served with mashed potato

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - CAPTAIN KRONOS

Hunters, in the traditional sense, are not the natural friends of the vegetarian cook. So this may seem an unlikely one. 
Yet, myths and fables provide valued ingredients for the lovers of literature, and a woman like Zelda who appreciates stories of vampires, can find inspiration in one of the Hammer Films which she watched with her brother, another huge vampire film fan. 

Captain Kronos, played by Horst Janson in the 1974 film, is called to a village to investigate a series of mysterious deaths, where the victims are drained of their youth. It's a great 'swashbuckling adventure'. 


2 quorn fillets, defrosted if frozen
4 vegetarian bacon rashers, defrosted if frozen
6tbsp ketchup
2tbsp brown sugar
1tbsp white wine vinegar
1tbsp paprika
½ tsp garlic granules
pinch cayenne pepper
50g cheese, grated

Wrap each fillet in two pieces of bacon. (This follows the usual recipe for Hunter’s Chicken. Don’t expect it to look the same at this point, but it will be worth it in the end.)
Cook in the oven at Gas 7/ 220°/ 425° for 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by mixing the ketchup, sugar, vinegar, garlic granules, paprika and cayenne pepper in a small saucepan. Heat all gently over a low heat.
Pour the sauce over the quorn and bacon and sprinkle the cheese over the top.
Return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Lovely served with Jazzy Mash and Herby Baked Mushrooms

Vegetarian Delirium - HERBY BAKED MUSHROOMS

250g mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2tbsp olive oil
1tbsp balsamic vinegar
1tsp mixed herbs

Slice mushrooms and place them in a single layer on a baking tray. 
Cook at Gas 6/ 200°C/400°F for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together the garlic, oil, vinegar and herbs in a bowl.
Place the cooked mushrooms in the same bowl and stir all together.
Pour away the liquid (which will have come out of the mushrooms) left on the baking tray.
Place the coated mushrooms back on the tray.
Replace in the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more.

Makes a lovely side dish.

Good with Hunter’s Chicken.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Vegetarian Delirium - EGGY BREAD

Serves 2

2 medium eggs
1tbsp milk
2 slices bread
20g butter

Whisk the eggs and milk in a bowl.

Soak each slice of bread on both sides until saturated.
Heat 10g butter at a time until it froths.
Cook on both sides until lovely and brown.
Cut in half to serve
Lovely with a veggie brunch of vegetarian sausages and beans

Tuesday, 17 December 2019


2 medium onions
4 – 5 carrots
1 large sweet potato
3 medium potatoes
3 parsnips
1 medium swede
1tbsp oil
½tsp curry powder
3 litres vegetable stock
50g suet
100g self raising flour
pinch of salt

First make the stew
Peel all the vegetables and chop into similar sized pieces.
Place potato pieces in a bowl of water and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large pan with a lid.
Fry the onion gently. Then add the curry powder and fry for a minute more.
Pour in the stock. Then add all the vegetables apart from the potato.
Bring to the boil.
Place on a low heat and simmer, covered for about half an hour.

Meanwhile, make the dumplings
Mix the suet, flour and salt.
Stir in about 5tbsp water to make a firm dough.
Cut into 8 pieces.
With lightly floured hands, roll each into a ball.

About 25 minutes before serving, add the drained potato pieces and bring back to the boil.
Place the dumplings on the top.
Replace the lid and simmer for about 20 minutes until stew is fully cooked and dumplings are light and fluffy.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Vegetarian Delirium - BREADED MUSHROOMS

250g button mushrooms
2 eggs, beaten
100g panko breadcrumbs (other types will do, but these are really crunchy)
100g plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
sunflower oil for frying
Wash the mushrooms, rather than brush them, as the extra moisture will help the coating to stick. 

Set out three bowls or plates for the eggs, flour and breadcrumbs. 
Place each in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. 
Heat the oil, then cook the mushrooms, in batches if necessary. 
Turn as necessary and remove when crispy and golden.
Can be served with a dip of choice.

Monday, 2 December 2019


How sad, last week, to hear of the untimely death of Gary Rhodes. He made cooking seem fun and accessible, and he also did a great deal to elevate British cuisine and give it back its pride.
This is his recipe for what he called 'Vegetarian Sausage Rolls'. I have re-named it as it is a fantastic alternative, not a substitute, and deserves acclaim in its own right.

As Gary, himself, said: "If you're wondering what a vegetarian sausage roll is: simple, fantastic; that's what it is."

I have to say, these little beauties are absolutely delicious. They conform to Gary's own standards, by taking a British classic and giving it a 'twist', in this case the cayenne pepper. 

Indulgent and spicy, these will definitely be making these again (and again). 

I have re-ordered the instructions slightly to make it easier to have everything ready when needed. I have also added conversions for amounts and cooking temperatures. The rest is all Gary's. 


To make the pastry: 
175g self raising flour
75g vegetable suet
pinch of salt 
about 6-8 tbsp water

To make the filling:
175g strong cheddar cheese
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1tsp cayenne pepper

You will also need: 
1 egg, beaten
knob of butter for greasing

Start by preparing the filling.
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. 
Set aside until needed.

Make the pastry.
Mix all the ingredients together until you have a pliable dough.
Place it on a floured surface and work it to mix in the suet and give it a smooth texture.
Make it into a roll and cut it in half.
Dust the surface and roll out the first half until you have a rectangle of about 10" by 4" (25cm by 10cm).
Brush water around the border.
Place half the filling inside and press down.
Roll it up from the long side.
Dust again and lightly roll through the flour to seal the base.
Cut into 5.
Repeat with the other half of pastry and filling.
Place all on a buttered baking tray. 
Brush the egg wash over the top of each.
Cook at 220°C Gas 7/ 428°F for 15-20 minutes or, until as Gary says they: "Go all squishy and the juices run. They might not look the most shapely in the world, but they are the most flavoursome."
Allow to cool on rack.
Serve as part of a picnic, or as part of a meal.