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

Saturday 24 March 2018

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - ROBERT DOISNEAU

What an amazing photograph! That was the way to capture a moment.

Le Baiser de l’Hotel de Ville was one of the most iconic photographs of the Twentieth Century. 
(I don’t care whether it was or was not staged.)

Doisneau's name was made famous after the publication of this image of a couple embracing on a Parisian street.

Starting as a draughtsman, he later became a camera assistant and then a photographer in his own right. 

He was a soldier and a member of the French Resistance.

The Croque Monsieur first appeared on French menus in 1910 so would have been familiar to Doisneau. He might like to enjoy this with me while we look at his beautiful evocation of reckless passion (like vegetarian ham and cheese in harmony).


Serves 2

4 slices vegetarian ham
100g gruyere cheese, grated
4 slices fresh bread from a crusty loaf (or 2 large, each cut in half)
40g butter at room temperature
2tsp Dijon mustard
125ml milk
125ml double cream
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 small onion, peeled and chopped finely
2 bay leaves
20g plain flour

Heat the milk and cream together in a small saucepan. Add the garlic, bay leaves and onion. When nearly boiling, turn off and leave to infuse for about 10 minutes.
Then pass through a sieve and discard all the bits.
Melt 20g of butter in a pan and add the flour. Cook through and then add the milk from before, a bit at a time, stirring well. Then add 1tsp of the mustard. You should now have a thick sauce.
Spread the slices of bread with the rest of the butter.
Place them – buttered side up – under a grill until toasted and golden.
Then, turn the slices over and spread each with a little of the remaining mustard, followed by a thick layer of the sauce.
Cover each with grated cheese (use about two-thirds)...
...and then a slice of the ‘ham’.
Place two slices together to form the sandwiches.
Cover each sandwich with more of the sauce and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
Cook in oven at Gas 7/ 220°C/ 425°F for about 20 minutes, or until piping hot and golden.

Monday 12 March 2018

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - LORD BYRON

George Gordon, Lord Byron
Why? Well, where do I start?

What about here with an example of one of his wonderful poems:

So, We’ll Go No More A Roving
So, we'll go no more a roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a roving
By the light of the moon.

Or, maybe, because his heart is buried just down the road from Zelda, in Hucknall...

...near his beautiful ancestral home, Newstead Abbey (where Zelda can be seen with friends Stuie and John and Roxi).

Or, for the fact that he wrote the best epitaph to a pet, ever seen.

Or, perhaps, because he looked like this:

According to BBC History: At Cambridge University, his horror of being fat led to a shockingly strict diet, partly to get thin and partly to keep his mind sharp. Existing on biscuits and soda water or potatoes drenched in vinegar, he wore woolly layers to sweat off the pounds and measured himself obsessively. Then he binged on huge meals, finishing off with a necessarily large dose of magnesia.

So, should I give him a fat-free, low calorie meal or something he could binge on?  
I have decided that we will eat Potato Biscuits to assuage his guilt and then drink red wine from a skull and plan a revolution.

Potato Biscuits
120g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
60g butter melted
150g mashed potato (If using leftover mash, warm through before using)
240ml buttermilk
salt and pepper to taste

Cut greaseproof paper to size and place on a baking tray.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
Add the melted butter, mashed potato and buttermilk 
and mix well until a soft dough has formed which does not stick to the sides. (Add more flour if needed.)
Place on a floured surface and roll out into a rough square, about 1cm thick. 
Cut into circles (Zelda uses a beer glass)...
...and place each on the baking tray.
Bake at Gas 5/ 190°C/ 375°F for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.
These are lovely just as they are. (Hopefully His Lordship will think so, too)
If you fancy keeping some for later, chill and fry in oil. 
Great with a cooked breakfast – Byron still invited!

Friday 9 March 2018

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - SIMON LE BON

In March 1983, Rio earned Duran Duran their first Gold Album award. 

Now 35 years – yes, 35 years – later, Zelda would like to invite Simon le Bon for a meal.
Inspired by a lyric from the title track of Rio, Zelda is delighted to serve...


Serves 4 (but can easily be reduced to serve fewer or multiplied to serve more).

260g tin of cherries in syrup
300ml double cream
100g more dark chocolate
1 tub of cherry ice cream (Make it from scratch if you want, but Zelda sees no need to go to all that trouble.)
N.B. Check whether the cherries have stones in and remove them if they do. 

Start by making the brownies: (For quickness, you can skip this step and buy ready-made if you want, but home-made treats add a special something. See here for the recipe.)
Then assemble the dish:
When ready to serve, take four individual bowls or glasses.
Place 2 cherries at the bottom of each bowl.
Add a few crumbs from the brownies.
Then spoon a bit of the juice over the top.
Add a scoop of ice cream. (Don't worry if the glass looks mucky; you can clean it up at the end.)
Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks...
...then layer it over the rest.
Grate the final 100g of dark chocolate and sprinkle it over.
Finish with a cherry.

Unfortunately, Simon couldn't come today, but Dave and Stuie gave it a whirl.

Tuesday 6 March 2018

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest – BOBBY FARRELL

Roberto Alphonse Farrell was born in Aruba in 1949. He later moved to Germany and was chosen to be part of Boney M (although, it now transpires, he sang on few of the studio tracks).

However, Farrell, came into his own in live (or mimed) performances.
Boney M had a string of ‘cheesy’ hits in the 1970s, perhaps the best known of which is Rasputin, a very groovy if factually incorrect retelling of the life of the Russian monk.
Rasputin died on 30th January, 1916 in St. Petersburg. In 2010, Farrell died in the same city, also on January 30th. Spooky?

Let’s just look at the Top of the Pops performance of Rasputin…

So, let Zelda turn the clock back and have Bobby for a cheesy 70’s dinner.


Serves 4

(This makes the standard 'cheesy filling'. You can add other fillings if required.)

For the batter:
125g plain flour
1 egg
Pinch of salt
250ml milk
For the filling:
200g soft cheese
4tbsp milk
150g cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper
(+ other items if required)
For assembly and cooking:
4tbsp oil
2 eggs
100g fine golden breadcrumbs (shop-bought work best)

Begin by making the batter
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl.
Make a well and crack in one of the eggs. Then add the milk, whisking to incorporate a bit at a time. Allow the batter to sit for 30 minutes if possible.
Make the pancakes
Heat a little of the oil in a small pan.
Pour in ¼ of the mixture (about a ladleful).
Cook until golden, flipping when ready to cook the other side.
Transfer to a plate.
Repeat until all cooked.

Then make the filling:
Place the cream cheese in a small pan and heat slowly.
Add the cheese and black pepper and stir until you have a thick sauce.
(At this point you can mix in any other cooked ingredients you require, e.g. spring onions or vegetarian bacon pieces.)

Assemble the pancakes:
Take a pancake and lay it flat. Spoon ¼ of the cheese mixture into the centre.
Fold in half and press the edges to seal. (If it does not seal easily, use a little of the remaining egg.)
Repeat with the rest of the pancakes and mixture.
Place the breadcrumbs on a plate and whisk the remaining 2 eggs in a shallow bowl.
Coat each pancake in the beaten egg and then in the breadcrumbs. Repeat if necessary.
Heat the rest of the oil in a pan and fry each filled pancake for 2-3 minutes, turning halfway through, until golden.
Then place on a baking tray covered with greaseproof paper
Cook in oven for about 10 minutes at Gas 6/ 200°C/ 400°F. 
Then turn each one over and cook for a further 10 minutes.
You should now have lovely crispy pancakes which remind you of the packaged convenience food of the 1970s, but will be much better for you! 
Bobby and I will eat ours with some sweetcorn and spring onions.