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

Saturday 16 September 2017

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest – HARRIET VANE

Dorothy L Sayers’ detective Lord Peter Wimsey first meets Harriet Vane in the novel Strong Poison when she is on trial for the murder of Phillip Boyes. He falls in love with her immediately but, in a very sensitive portrayal of a woman’s mental state, Sayers makes her refuse his proposals until she has been able to re-establish herself as an independent woman, successful writer of fiction and respected academic.

In Strong Poison, Vane’s estranged lover, Phillip Boyes, has been found dead from acute arsenic poisoning. He had a meeting with Harriet just before he died, but the last meal he ate was with his cousin Norman Urquhart. Although partially prepared in the kitchen, it was cooked at the table by Urquhart and shared between them, so surely it can’t be the source of the poison or Urquhart would be dead as well?

Come to dinner Harriet (and bring Lord Peter with you, too.) We can banish old ghosts and have this for dessert. I might even try cooking it at the table over a spirit lamp.


2 free range eggs
2tbsp caster sugar
1tsp butter

Separate eggs and whites into bowls.

Beat the whites into soft peaks.

Mix the yolks with the sugar.

Take a spoonful of the whites and add to the yolks. 

Then pour the yolk mixture into the whites and stir until combined.

Heat the butter in a pan.

Pour in half of the mixture.
(I actually tried this twice. The first time I put all the mixture in one pan but it was too thick to manage properly. The second time, I split it between two pans and it worked much better.)
Cook through...
...then turn and fold.

Serve with some jam, a sweet sauce of your own, or a sprinkling of sugar.

Thursday 14 September 2017

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - A E Housman

Alfred Edward Housman was a scholar and classicist, best known now for his poem A Shropshire Lad, which evokes a bygone England at the start of the Twentieth Century.
It includes this beautifully poignant, ironic section (XVII):

“Is my team ploughing, 
   That I was used to drive 
And hear the harness jingle 
   When I was man alive?” 

Ay, the horses trample, 
   The harness jingles now; 
No change though you lie under 
   The land you used to plough. 

“Is football playing 
   Along the river shore, 
With lads to chase the leather, 
   Now I stand up no more?” 

Ay the ball is flying, 
   The lads play heart and soul; 
The goal stands up, the keeper 
   Stands up to keep the goal. 

“Is my girl happy, 
   That I thought hard to leave, 
And has she tired of weeping 
   As she lies down at eve?” 

Ay, she lies down lightly, 
   She lies not down to weep: 
Your girl is well contented. 
   Be still, my lad, and sleep. 

“Is my friend hearty, 
   Now I am thin and pine, 
And has he found to sleep in 
   A better bed than mine?” 

Yes, lad, I lie easy, 
   I lie as lads would choose; 
I cheer a dead man’s sweetheart, 
   Never ask me whose.

So, for Alfred, who might be too busy to come to dinner, but who might like to join me for a ramble through the fields, I have devised these.


Serves 2

2 wraps
1 dessert apples, peeled, cored and chopped (keep in water with a touch of lemon juice if you don’t assemble the wraps immediately).
4-6 tbsp chutney or pickle of choice
2 spring onions, chopped on the diagonal
100g cheddar cheese, cut into small chunks
small amount of cucumber in chunks
salt and pepper
spread (butter or cheese)

Spread each wrap with a thin layer of cheese or butter spread.

Spread the pickle/ chutney over the top.

Mix the apple, cheese, spring onion and cucumber in a bowl and season.

Then share the ingredients between each wrap, placing it down the middle.

Roll up and serve.

Monday 11 September 2017


Potatoes from the next batch have been freshly dug up; they are washed and are sitting in the kitchen, crying out to be used. 

So here we go...

Serves 2-3

450g new potatoes
150ml double cream
100g cheddar cheese, grated
100g breadcrumbs
1tbsp olive oil

Scrub the potatoes and cut any large ones so that all are of a mostly-uniform size.
Boil for about 10-12 minutes until almost cooked right through.
Drain, allow to cool slightly and then cut into slices. Return to the pan.
Add the cheese while still warm.
Pour in the cream and mix well.
Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle the dried thyme over the top.
Cover with breadcrumbs.

When ready to serve, drizzle the olive oil over the top.
Cook in a preheated oven at Gas 7/ 220°C/ 425°F for about 20 - 25 minutes.

Makes a lovely accompaniment.
Zelda served it here with some Veggie Mince Plait

Saturday 9 September 2017

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - DALLAS ALICE

Dallas Alice? Have you heard her name before?
I wouldn’t be surprised if you have – it keeps re-appearing throughout the popular culture landscape of Americana.
In John Ford’s superb film, Stagecoach, as ‘Dallas’, she is portrayed to perfection by the brilliant Claire Trevor.
There is no disguising that she is, to quote a popular euphemism, a ‘woman of the world’, but she is so much more than that. In fact, she seems to stand for an entire line of women who have been loved and lost.
Lowell George from Little Feat resurrected her in the song Willin’ and Let ‘Em Roll by Guy Clark shows how her influence can resonate through the years.
Happy to have you at my table (and Dave is quite keen as well!) Perhaps you would like to share this Tex-Mex dish.


This is a very simple meal but the important thing here is to have all the elements ready in advance.

You will need enough tortilla chips for the amount of guests and toppings of your choice.

Toppings can vary but I have chosen:

grated cheese
sour cream
sliced jalapeno
refried beans

Salsa, guacamole and refried beans can be purchased ready-made but they are much nicer when freshly prepared.

Prepare the toppings


2 very ripe avocados
1 lime
handful fresh coriander
½tsp chilli powder
salt and black pepper
2 small tomatoes
1tbsp olive oil

Cut the avocados in half and remove the large seed from each.
Remove the flesh with a spoon and discard the skin.
Place in a blender with the other ingredients.
Blitz until at the required consistency.
Taste and adjust seasoning if required.

2 tomatoes, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
½ red pepper, chopped
1tsp chilli flakes
1tbsp red wine vinegar black pepper
2tbsp mixed herbs

Put all ingredients in a blender and whizz until chopped but still chunky.

Refried Beans

1 can kidney beans
1 small onion, chopped
50-100ml vegetable stock
1 clove garlic, crushed
1tbsp oil
salt and black pepper
1tbsp mixed herbs

Drain and rinse the kidney beans.
Heat oil and fry the onion and garlic until golden.
Allow them to cool slightly, then place in a blender with the kidney beans.
Whizz until chopped coarsely.
Add the other ingredients and whizz again. You can make it as smooth as you like (I allow it to retain some resemblance to the original beans).
Return to the pan and heat through. (If necessary, add a little hot water.)

Chop jalapenos into rings.
Place sour cream in a serving dish or glass.
Grate the cheese.

When ready to serve
Spread half the required tortilla chips on baking trays and cover with grated cheese.
Place under the grill (in rotation if necessary).
When the cheese on one batch has melted, cover with another layer of tortilla crisps and cheese.
Meanwhile, place all other toppings on the table and provide individual plates.
Transfer the nachos to a large plate and serve with the toppings. 
(You can put them all on the same plate, but I think it is good to allow guests to choose their own).