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

Sunday 9 December 2018

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guests - MOLE AND RATTY

Following on from last year's Christmas meal for Ebeneezer Scrooge, this time Zelda is inspired by another childhood memory, and another episode from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (see her meal for Mr Toad). This one occurs when Mole and Rat are out in the snow in December. Mole has been enjoying staying at Rat's house in the riverbank since the previous spring, but a sudden smell makes him yearn for a visit to his own home:

Poor Mole found it difficult to get any words out between the upheavals of his chest that followed one upon another so quickly and held back speech and choked it as it came. 'I know it's a—shabby, dingy little place,' he sobbed forth at last, brokenly: 'not like—your cosy quarters—or Toad's beautiful hall—or Badger's great house—but it was my own little home—and I was fond of it—and I went away and forgot all about it—and then I smelt it suddenly—on the road, when I called and you wouldn't listen, Rat—and everything came back to me with a rush—and I WANTED it!—O dear, O dear!—and when you WOULDN'T turn back, Ratty—and I had to leave it, though I was smelling it all the time—I thought my heart would break.—We might have just gone and had one look at it, Ratty—only one look—it was close by—but you wouldn't turn back, Ratty, you wouldn't turn back! O dear, O dear!

Of course, Ratty does turn back and insists that they find 'Mole End'. 

While they are there, the rodent carol singers visit. 
After some initial concern that there will be nothing to offer them, they manage to serve up:

Captain's Biscuits 
German Sausage 
Savoury Comforts 
Hot drinks

So, she thought that it would be good, this Christmas (170 years after its publication) to serve up a similar vegetarian meal. 

CAPTAIN'S BISCUITS    (A very basic stand-by. They would be something like this, so let's get them over with first!): 

100g plain flour (+ extra for rolling)
50 ml milk

Mix the flour into a smooth paste with the milk.
Divide it into small balls.
Squash each ball until you have thin rounds.
Place on baking trays. 
Bake at 200°C/ 390°F/ Gas 6 for 10-12 minutes. 
Mine were quite soft and floury, but I gather the idea would now be to store them for weeks until needed. 

Then, I thought we would use a bit of artistic license for the serving of the German Sausage and mustard, by making some buffet-sized treats based on hotdogs. 


Makes 8 but can easily be multiplied.

4 slices of cut white bread
4 vegetarian Frankfurter-style sausages, halved
1 small onion, peeled
1tbsp olive oil
squeezy mustard
8 cocktail sticks

Cut the crusts off the slices of bread and then, using a rolling pin, flatten each one until thin and pliable.
Cut two rectangles from each slice, keeping the edges as neat as possible. (Make the width of each just longer than each half-sausage and the length long enough to roll up - you might need to do a bit of trial and error at the preparation stage.)

Prepare a serving plate by creating a design around the edge with mustard.
Slice the onions into sections and peel apart so that you have 'petal-like' pieces. Allow 2 per hotdog. 
When ready, to serve, gently heat the oil and place a pan of water on to boil. 
Put the sausages into the water. Bring back to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. 
Cook the onions until brown and soft. 
Then drain on some absorbent paper. 
Squeeze some mustard onto each bread rectangle.
Place a couple of pieces of onion in the centre of each one. Then top with a sausage piece. 
Roll them up and secure with a cocktail stick.

Kenneth Grahame does not specify what the Savoury Comforts are, so I have used my imagination here:


Cut white bread (allow 2 slices per person)

Cranberry sauce
Butter or spread

Put spread on the bread and then cover half the slices with the cranberry sauce.
Slice the brie and place on the remaining slices.
Pair them up and cut each round diagonally into four triangles.


1 small bag (about 20) small potatoes
1tbsp olive oil
salt and black pepper

Wash the potatoes and prick with a fork. Then place in a bowl with the oil. Stir to coat and season.
Place in a baking tray and cook at 180C/ Gas 4 for about an hour, but check and turn every 20 minutes. 


200g cous cous
boiling water
half a red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp hot chilli sauce
juice of 1 small orange

Place the cous cous in a jug and top up with water to about 2cm above its own level.
Stir with a fork and leave to hydrate. 
Meanwhile, fry the onion and pepper...
...and place in a bowl. 
Add the now fluffy cous cous along with the orange juice and the chilli sauce and stir well.

And to finish, all guests, including field mice, love a cheesecake:


250g digestive biscuits
100g butter
500g soft unflavoured cheese
100g icing sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
200ml double cream
50g milk chocolate

Crush the digestive biscuits, either in a food processor or (as I did) in a bowl with a rolling pin.
Melt the butter and add to the biscuit crumbs.
Place it into the base of a spring-form tin with a diameter of about 18-20cm. Press down well with the back of a spoon so all the crumbs are compacted. 
Refrigerate for at least half an hour.
Mix the cream cheese with the vanilla and sifted icing sugar.
Add the double cream and whisk together.
Finely grate 15g of the chocolate and mix this in.
Spoon the mixture over the base and smooth.
Place back into the fridge and chill for at least three hours.
To serve, remove the cheesecake from the tin.
Use a knife or a large-hole grater to make shavings with the remaining chocolate and sprinkle these over the top of the cheesecake.

Accompany with beer (and wine) and hot drinks such as tea, coffee, hot chocolate etc. for a thoroughly warming treat.

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