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

Wednesday 14 November 2018

FIVE GO DOWN TO THE SEA - A Meal for a Cornish Holiday

The Famous Five books are full of references to food.

This week, five - four humans and a dog, of course - have gone down to the sea.

It is appropriate, therefore, that we had a meal described in Enid Blyton's twelfth Famous Five novel, from 1953, where they visit Cornwall and encounter wreckers:

The high tea that awaited them was truly magnificent. A huge ham gleaming as pink as Timmy’s tongue; a salad fit for a king. In fact, as Dick said, fit for several kings, it was so enormous. It had in it everything that anyone could possibly want. “Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, radishes, mustard and cress, carrot grated up – that is carrot, isn’t it, Mrs. Penruthlan?” said Dick. “And lashings of hard-boiled eggs.” There was an enormous tureen of new potatoes, all gleaming with melted butter, scattered with parsley. There was a big bottle of home-made salad cream. “Look at that cream cheese, too,” marvelled Dick, quite overcome. “And that fruit cake."

As this is a vegetarian meal, we were never going to eat a ham which 'gleams' like Timmy's/ Archie's tongue. There is now, however, a whole range of vegetarian substitutes. I chose a Quorn roast and some vegetarian ham-style slices.

Hard boiled eggs were easy to include. 

Our usual cream cheese is defined as "a soft fresh cheese made from milk and cream" and from my research it looks as though this was the same as in 1953, although 'Philadelphia' probably wasn't synonymous with it back then, but to replicate the meal Dick described, I placed a wedge of it on the table along with some Brie.

Then I added the same accompaniments as those mentioned in 1953:


green lettuce leaves
2 medium onions
3 medium tomatoes
6 small radishes
1 carrot
handful of mustard and cress leaves

Rinse and dry the lettuce. Then shred the leaves. Place in the bottom of the bowl.
Peel and slice the onion.  Wash and slice the tomatoes and radishes. Mix together and add to the bowl.
Peel and grate the carrot on top.
Sprinkle the mustard and cress over the bowl.


2 free-range eggs, hard-boiled, yolks only
2 tbsp mustard
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
150ml/5fl oz double cream  
150ml/5fl oz olive oil
Pinch of salt

Take the yolks from the eggs and place in a bowl.
Add all of the other ingredients, apart from the oil and salt, and mix well, passing through a sieve if necessary to remove any lumps.
Then gradually add the oil, stirring well until the salad cream is smooth and emulsified. Then season with the salt.

For new potatoes, all gleaming with melted butter, scattered with parsley, see New Potatoes. When served, place knobs of butter on top and sprinkle over the parsley.

The meal also included fruit cake, so it would be rude to omit it.


225g/ 8oz self raising flour
110g/ 4oz butter, chilled and cubed
110g/ 4oz sugar
225g/ 8oz mixed fruit
1 egg, whisked
5tbsp milk

Sieve the flour into a bowl and then rub in the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.

Then add the fruit, milk and sugar and stir everything together.

Place in lined 6” round cake tin and smooth the top.

Cook at 180°C/ 350°F Gas 4 for about 1hr to 1¼ hours. It is cooked when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

And what did we wash it all down with?

Friday 2 November 2018

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - WILFRED OWEN

This month we commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War.

Wilfred Owen died on 4th November 1918, just one week before the armistice. He had wanted to be a poet prior to the war, but after he had almost drowned in mud, held a dugout in an advanced position, seen comrades blinded and killed, been treated for shell shock and been awarded the Military Cross, he had the subject matter to match his talent and ensure his reputation.

Move him into the sun—
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields half-sown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know. 

Think how it wakes the seeds,—
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved—still warm—too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
—O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?

Food in the trenches consisted mainly of bully (corned) beef, and stews.
Soldiers relied upon packages from home for any extras, such as chocolate. 


Trench cake was a popular present. The recipe uses no eggs (as they would have been in short supply) and was republished recently to encourage people, and school children in particular, to try it out.
The measurements were given in pounds and ounces, so I have also included modern equivalents which keep the same ratios. 
My cake didn't rise as much as a modern one would do, so I was relieved to see other efforts online which were all of a similar height.

½lb (220g) plain flour
4oz (110g) margarine, cut into small pieces
1tsp vinegar
¼pt milk
3oz (85g) brown sugar
3oz(85g) currants
2tsp cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of ginger
grated rind of 1 lemon

Grease and flour a cake tin.
Rub the margarine into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the sugar, currants, cocoa, nutmeg, ginger and lemon rind. Stir all together well.
Dissolve the baking soda in the milk and vinegar, and add this to the dry ingredients.
Mix everything together.
Place in the cake tin.
Bake in a moderate oven (180°C/ 350°F/ Gas 4) for about an hour and a half.
Allow to cool a little, then turn out of the tin and allow to cool fully.

This is a teatime dish from the start of the 20th Century. 
It did not specify which type of lentils to use, so I picked red lentils as they are the easiest to cook. 

8oz (225g) cheese, grated 
5½oz (155g) red lentils
3oz (85g) breadcrumbs
4oz onions, chopped finely
1tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Rinse the lentils and then place in a pan with about 100ml water. Add the onion. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, adding a little more water halfway through if required.
Place all the other ingredients in a bowl.
When the lentils are soft and have absorbed the water, take off the heat.
Add them to the bowl and mix well to make a paste.
I have served it here with bread, which would make it more special, as bread had become a luxury item.

This is where the recipe ends. However, as I was making it, I realised that the ingredients were very similar to those for a cheese and lentil loaf bake. So, I thought that it would be even more of a treat for Wilfred if I made him one of those:


Ingredients as above + 1 egg.

Add the egg to the mix.
Grease and line a loaf tin and pour in the mixture.
Bake at Gas 5/ 190°C/ 375°F for about 50 minutes.
Wait a few minutes, then turn out onto a plate.
Can be served hot or cold. 
I allowed it to cool, cut it into slices and served it with some fresh salad.

For an alternative First World War themed meal, see Zelda's choice for Baldrick.