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

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guests – THE MARSAUD FAMILY

This should be a blast from the past for anyone who learnt French in the 1980s when the phrase ‘écoutez et répetez’ would be heard in classrooms throughout the land, as we followed the adventures of Monsieur and Madame Marsaud, along with their offspring Jean-Paul, Claudette and Marie-France.
It must have taken them ages to do anything as they had to keep stopping to tell us what they were up to and then had to wait while we repeated it back to them.
And all this was done without the benefit of an interactive whiteboard, a CD player or even a cassette recorder. Teachers would wheel a large contraption into the classroom and play each lesson on a reel to reel tape player. Accompanying textbooks were provided with pictures of the family and handy vocabulary reminders.
So, as a thank you to them for getting so many of my generation through their French O’ level exams, I would cook them these lovely French-inspired pastries. The recipe serves 2 so for all six of us I would multiply it by ‘trois’.

Serves 2
1 pre-rolled puff pastry sheet
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 leek, sliced thinly
75g cheddar cheese, grated
25g butter
75ml double cream
salt and pepper
1 egg yolk or milk to brush

Boil the potato until just soft.In a different pan cook the leek in the butter and add the cheese. Add the cooked potato.Stir in the cream and season with salt and pepper. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile cut 2 large circles and 2 slightly smaller ones from the puff pastry (I made the large ones with a cereal bowl).Place the small circles on a baking tray and top with as much of the filling as you can, leaving a border. Then cover with the second pastry circle. Crimp the edges.Score the top with a spiral pattern and chill.

When you are ready to cook, heat the oven to 180C/ Gas 6.Brush with the egg yolk mixed with a little water or with milk. Then cook for 30-35 minutes until crisp and golden.


I love the modern way of serving salads where you toss everything together and add a dressing but there are times, especially when serving to older or more traditional people where such a bowl can almost inspire fear, so I always keep this one on standby. I provide a dressing too, but pour that over when it is on the plate so that it can be an optional extra.
I would not usually serve iceberg lettuce in a fresh salad but here it fits the bill. 


1 iceberg lettuce
½ cucumber
1 carrot
2 tomatoes
2 spring onions
handful of cress

Remove the outer leaves from the lettuce, then chop and slice, rinse and spin dry, and place in the bottom of a large salad bowl.
Slice the cucumber thinly and line the outer edge of the bowl, placing the remainder in the middle.
Slice the tomato and intersperse with the cucumber.
Wash the spring onions, and chop. Spread around the ring.
Grate the carrot and sprinkle over the top,
Wash the cress and sprinkle on top of the carrot.

Serve with a dressing of your choice on the side.

Wednesday 22 March 2017


This is a real veggie staple. It can be a quick snack or a side.
Here is a fool-proof method for a delicious dish.

1 cauliflower cut into florets
500ml milk
4tbsp flour
50g butter
150g cheddar, grated

Boil water and add the cauliflower florets. 

Cook for about 10m and then test to make sure cooked but not too soft.
Drain and place in bowl.
Heat butter in a saucepan and add flour. Mix together and cook for 1minute.
Add splash of milk and mix again. Keep adding milk and stirring until sauce thickens.
Add most of cheese.
Pour cheese sauce over cauliflower.
Cook at Gas 7 for about 20m.
Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top. Then place under the grill.
When the cheese bubbles, it is ready to serve.

Nothing else to do but get a big spoon and dive in!

Saturday 18 March 2017

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - RUMPOLE OF THE BAILEY

Rumpole is a man who speaks his mind; in the books and screenplays by John Mortimer he makes a living by speaking his mind, but this is also the reason why he only makes a meagre living in the law, and is never promoted to Head of Chambers or made a QC.
His battles in court are legendary but pale in comparison with the way he spars at home with Hilda (“She Who Must Be Obeyed”).
Rumpole is known for his plain tastes – in ‘Rumpole a la Carte’ he demands ‘steak and kidney pud’ in a posh restaurant – so I think that good old Toad in the Hole might appeal to him.
This is a veggie version, but it’s hard to tell. 


Serves 2 – 3

6 Quorn sausages
100g plain flour
2 medium eggs
280ml skimmed milk
2tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200C/ Gas 6
Grill or fry sausages until brown but not cooked through.
Sift flour into a bowl and add eggs and milk. Whisk to a smooth batter and season well.
Place dish in oven with olive oil and heat until hot.
Place sausages in dish and pour in the batter.

Cook for 30-35 minutes.

Serve with mashed potatoes and caramelised red onions (and a glass of 'Chateau Fleet Street', of course!)

Wednesday 8 March 2017


If you think you can't make bread, think again... 

This recipe uses a basic recipe for flatbreads:

200g self raising flour + extra for dusting
1 tsp cumin powder
150ml natural yogurt

But just makes them thicker and cooks them under the grill.

Sift flour into a bowl.
Sprinkle in the cumin.
Add the yogurt with enough water to form a soft dough.
Divide the dough into about 4 equal pieces and shape into ovals.
Lightly dust a baking sheet.
Place the flatbreads on it and sprinkle over a little more flour.
Cook under the grill for 3 – 5 minutes.
Then turn and grill the other side.
For flatbreads, see Zelda's recipe.