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

Saturday 31 August 2019

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - CHRISTINA ROSSETTI

Christina Rossetti was born in 1830, part of a highly artistic family. 
In fact, Zelda has already cooked a meal for her brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti
He used her as a model in some of his paintings, and she rubbed shoulders with members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

She wrote many poems, still much loved today, including In the Bleak Midwinter, later set to music and still sung at Christmas. 

Her most enigmatic poem is Goblin Market and, if she came for a meal, Zelda would use this as her inspiration. (But watch out as there may be a high price to pay for accepting fruit from the goblins.)

Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry: 
“Come buy our orchard fruits, 
Come buy, come buy: 
Apples and quinces, 
Lemons and oranges, 
Plump unpeck’d cherries, 
Melons and raspberries, 
Bloom-down-cheek’d peaches, 
Swart-headed mulberries, 
Wild free-born cranberries, 
Crab-apples, dewberries, 
Pine-apples, blackberries, 
Apricots, strawberries;— 
All ripe together 
In summer weather,— 
Morns that pass by, 
Fair eves that fly; 
Come buy, come buy: 
Our grapes fresh from the vine, 
Pomegranates full and fine, 
Dates and sharp bullaces, 
Rare pears and greengages, 
Damsons and bilberries, 
Taste them and try: 
Currants and gooseberries, 
Bright-fire-like barberries, 
Figs to fill your mouth, 
Citrons from the South, 
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye; 
Come buy, come buy.” 


For the pastry:
250g plain flour
125g butter + a little extra for greasing
125g caster sugar
1 egg
1tbsp milk

For the fillings:
60g blackberries
60g gooseberries
60g redcurrants
60g blueberries (N.B. You can use other fruits - these were from the garden or the lane.)
4tbsp caster sugar
6tbsp seedless raspberry jam

Makes 12 tarts

First, make the pastry
Grease the holes in a muffin tin.
Put flour, sugar and butter together in a mixer and whizz until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the egg and mix again with a little cold water to make a dough which comes away from the sides.
Wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
Roll out on a floured surface, cut out 12 discs slightly larger than the holes. 

Place them in the muffin tin. 
Prick each case, line with greaseproof paper circles and fill with baking beans.
Cook at 200°C/ 400°F/ Gas 6 for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and paper. Turn the oven off and replace the pastry in it. Leave for about 20 minutes more until the pastry feels dry.
Roll out the scraps and cut 24 leaf shapes. Score them and place on a lined baking tray. Brush with a little milk.
Place in the oven for about 5 minutes.
Wash each set of fruit and place in a pan with 1tbsp caster sugar. Heat gently until soft and sweet. 
Place in separate bowls. Adjust sweetening if needed.
Make a glaze by melting the jam with 1tbsp water over a low heat.
Brush the insides of each case with the glaze.
Then fill with the chosen fruit. 

Pour another spoonful of jam over the top. 
Add the leaves and leave to set and cool. 

Thursday 29 August 2019

A Meal for...WOODSTOCK Fifty Years After

The Woodstock Festival happened in August, 1969. So, Ten Fifty Years After, here is a meal to remember the iconic event. 
Warning: this post will contain several music-related puns for geeks like Dave. Feel free to ignore them and just enjoy the food.

The Guests:
Like the later Live Aid concert, the event will occur in two places.Unlike the later Live Aid concert, it will also occur at two different times.
From New York State, 1969: 
Country Joe McDonald: Performed the greatest protest song ever written. It doesn't matter whether you agree with him or not. Forget Dylan, this is how you do it.
Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane: Singer. Model. Nice outfit. Great song.
Joe Cocker Launched a thousand comedy routines. Kicked The Beatles to touch. 
Janis Joplin: Strange girl. Even stranger clothes. Good voice, though.
Jimi Hendrix: Last to perform, but first in everyone's memory, thanks to his solo rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.
And from Kirkby in Ashfield, 2019:
Dave: Knows all there is to know about Woodstock. If he put all the records he owns which are related to it and its participating artists end to end, they would stretch from Havens to Hendrix (i.e. the first performer to the last). This is, by the way, what he says is his 'festival look', but it's really just a way not to get changed after work. 
The Food
While researching the food of 1969, it became clear that, although this year may have contained musical highlights, this was not echoed in the culinary field.
Fondue parties were popular and tinned pasta was flying off the shelves. It was the dawning of the age of Aquarius convenience.
Starters in America at this time, were very French or very fishy; cocktails were all the rage (and not just to drink). Gage and Tollner's in New York served 'Crabmeat Cocktail' and 'Little Neck Clan Cocktail'. The only alternatives were what we now look on as novelties, such as half a grapefruit with a glacé cherry in the middle. In the light of such unappetising appetisers, Zelda decided to make some retro canapes to have with drinks, and then organise a meal which included famous convenience foods of the decade but with a modern (and tasty) twist.
Hot Dogs were served on the concert site, but the organisers vastly underestimated the number of hungry people who would be there. Realising that the snacks were in high demand, they were sold at four times the going rate. Annoyed at the long queues and high prices, festival-goers eventually showed their frustration by burning down two of the stands. Luckily, we had no such problems this year.

The Menu
Stuffed Baby Tomatoes
Mini Egg and 'Bacon' Pies
served with Pretzels

Hot Dog Quilts
Jazzy Mash 
Crispy Fried Onions
served with Squeezy Mustard

Butterscotch Angel Delight with Toffee Popcorn Shards.

The Recipes

As well as fitting the brief, this also utilises the produce which is now overflowing in Dave’s greenhouse.

8 baby tomatoes
100g cream cheese
handful of chives
salt and black pepper

Take the top off each tomato. Scoop out the seeds and retain the tops. 
Snip the chives into small pieces. Mix with most of the cream cheese and season.
Spoon into the tomato halves and replace the tops.
Spread the rest of the cream cheese on a plate and use it to anchor the tomatoes.


150g plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
1tsp salt
100g butter, cut into small chunks
1tbsp olive oil
3 slices vegetarian bacon, defrosted if frozen
50g Parmesan-style cheese, grated finely (vegetarian)
50g cheddar, coarsely grated
3 eggs
200ml double cream

Makes 12 pies

First make the pastry. Put the flour and salt in a food processor with the butter. Whizz until it makes a fine crumb. Add 1-2 tbsp of water and whizz again. Remove and form into a firm dough. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Grease the holes in a muffin tin.
Cut 12 circles from greaseproof paper, using a small glass as a guide.
Roll out the dough on a floured work surface.  Cut pastry circles using a beer glass and line each hole in the muffin tin.  The pastry will not reach all the way up.
Put in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 200°C/ 350°F/Gas 6. Line each tart case with a circle of greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. 
Bake for 10 mins, then remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5 mins until golden.
Make the filling by beating together the eggs, cream and black pepper.
Heat the oil and cook the ‘bacon’ until crispy. Chop into small pieces.
When the pastry is ready, scatter in the grated cheddar and the bacon, distributing them evenly between each case. 
Pour over the eggy mixture and top with the Parmesan-style cheese. (It doesn’t matter if it slops down the sides as this will allow the egg to combine seamlessly with the pastry.)
Bake for 15 minutes.

The egg will have risen but will soon collapse to a normal shape. 


Serves 2 – can easily be multiplied

4 vegetarian hot dog sausages, defrosted if frozen.
½ 400g sheet pizza dough
sea salt

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Cut 6 strips of dough and lay them out on the sheet.
Fold alternate strips back and place a sausage on the remaining strips.
Replace the first strips and fold back the other three.
Place the next sausage and repeat until all sausages are used.
Cut two additional strips. Lay them over each side of the trellis and use to seal the edges. Cut off any remaining dough.
Sprinkle with salt.
Cook in oven at 190°C/ Gas 5/ 375°F for about 15 minutes.


2tbsp plain flour
½tsp garlic powder
1tsp coriander
1tsp cayenne pepper
salt and black pepper
3 large onions, peeled and sliced finely
sunflower oil for cooking

Put flour, seasoning and spices in a large, sealable freezer bag. Shake to mix.
Place onions in a bowl of water. Drain, then add to the bag. Shake again so that all are coated in the flour.
Keep to one side for at least 10-15 minutes.
When ready to cook, heat oil in a shallow pan, about 1cm deep.
Add the onions and fry, turning occasionally.
Cook until brown and crispy. Then drain on absorbent paper.


Serves 2 but can easily be multiplied

250g milk chocolate
250g white chocolate
50g toffee popcorn

1 packet of Butterscotch Angel Delight
300ml cold milk

Place the chocolate into separate bowls. 
Melt each over a pan of simmering water.
Line a tray with baking parchment.
Pour in most of the white chocolate, then most of the milk chocolate. Swirl all together.

Sprinkle the popcorn on top, then drizzle with the remaining melted chocolate.
Place in the fridge to chill.
When fully set and hard, slice into shards with a large, sharp knife.

N.B. Cut up the remainder into small pieces to make lovely sweet snacks for the next few days.
Make the Angel Delight according to packet instructions. One 47g packet will usually serve 2 people. 
Place the chilled milk in a bowl. 
Sprinkle over the powder and whisk.
Pour into glasses and chill to thicken.
Add a 'shard' to each to serve. 

Put it all together and we're gonna have a whole lotta fun!