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

Tuesday 1 August 2017

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

Firstly, the historical context of the chosen meal:
This is a vegetarian version of a very traditional dish.
It was named ‘cottage pie’ at the end of the Eighteenth Century but had probably been cooked in some form or another before then. At this point in time, potatoes became more widely used as a staple food for the masses, so would have been available for the topping. (The very similar ‘Shepherd’s Pie’ would have been made specifically with lamb, rather than any meat which was available.)
Secondly, a personal justification:
William Wordsworth is one of our greatest poets. Tintern Abbey is a work of genius; I love the Lucy poems and Animal Tranquillity and Decay is inspirational. But how is William Wordsworth remembered? By one poem alone, and that is often misinterpreted. Daffodils is not a pretty poem about flowers any more than Van Gogh’s Sunflowers is a pretty painting about flowers.

So, Zelda would like to bring him forwards in time, have him to dinner, cook him a ‘peasant meal’ and reassure him that, even though he will become a marketing ploy for the Lake District, there are plenty of us out there who know his true worth.


Serves 3 – 4 as part of a main meal

900g potatoes (about 6 – 8)
300g vegetarian mince
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 large can chopped tomatoes
300ml vegetable stock
3tbsp Bisto (it is vegetarian)
1tbsp oil
Handful of chopped mixed herbs, fresh if possible
100g grated cheese (optional)
50g butter
50 – 100ml milk
salt and black pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks. Place in a saucepan of boiling water. Bring to the boil and then simmer until soft.

Meanwhile, fry the onions in the oil. 

When golden, add the chopped tomatoes and tip in the vegetarian mince.

Pour the stock over the top. Stir well and add the Bisto (thickening agent).
Season and add the herbs. Allow to simmer and reduce.
Pour into the bottom of the dish.
When the potatoes are soft, drain and allow to sit for a couple of minutes.
Then, mash with the butter and the milk, added a little at a time. Season well.
This should be made almost to your preference, but just that little bit softer.
Take spoonfuls of the potato and place on top of the ‘meat’ mixture in the dish. Cover it all and then use a fork to scrape over the top.
Cook at Gas 7/ 220C for about 25 minutes, until top browns and sauce underneath is bubbling.
If you like (and we usually do) top with the grated cheese and cook for a further 15 minutes.

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