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

Tuesday 24 September 2019

UNFINISHED BUSINESS - A Meal for Hayley Mills

This is a great recipe from Hayley Mills, tested as part of the Murder, She Wrote project and chosen for the cookalong.

Hayley Mills starred in Unfinished Business, an episode in Season 3. 
She is best remembered in the UK as a member of a famous acting family and an acclaimed child actress, although she also had a successful adult career. 

Zelda has previously had her son, Crispian, for a Fantasy Veggie Dinner

Hayley submitted this recipe to a magazine, claiming that it made 'a great centrepiece surrounded by your favourite Sunday-lunch vegetables.'


225g/ 8oz red lentils
2 large onions, peeled and chopped finely
1 clove garlic, crushed
1tbsp vegetable oil
180g wholemeal breadcrumbs
100g cheddar cheese, grated
1tbsp fresh sage
1tbsp fresh thyme
1tbsp fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium free-range eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F/ Gas 4
Rinse the lentils under the tap, put them in a pan and cover with three times their volume of water. Bring to the boil.
Simmer until cooked and the water has evaporated. This will usually take about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the herbs.
Heat the oil and fry the onion gently until soft. Then add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes more.
Place in a bowl with the breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, salt and pepper.
Add the cooked lentils and the eggs. Mix all well together.
Place in a greased loaf tin (or one with a liner).
Hayley says to cook for about 40 minutes until firm (but I thought it needed 50).
Allow to cool, then remove from tin. 
Slice and serve
It makes a great alternative to the usual roast.
Here, served with Crispy Potatoes with Rosemary, broccoli and some gravy.

MR PENROY'S VACATION - A Meal for Joan Leslie

More test cooking for the Murder, She Wrote project.

Joan Leslie was 63 when she starred in Mr Penroy's Vacation, but in the 1940s, she was one of the best known teen stars in Hollywood. 
She provided a recipe for 


She certainly liked to make life easy for herself in the kitchen.
She says, "Either use a prepared pie crust or make your own." However, making her own entails blending a cup of grated cheese with a 'package of pie crust mix'. I did look for one of these 'packages' in the supermarket, but none were to be found, so I actually did have to make my own.
She also says to use 3 inch cutters to make the pastry rounds but this would not give the tall 'frilly' sides shown in the illustration with her recipe.

Here, then is the recipe with the addition of instructions to make the pastry for the pie crusts:

250g plain flour + extra for rolling
100g butter + extra for greasing
125g cheddar, grated as finely as possible
cold water as needed

Mix the butter with the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. 
Stir through the cheese.
Combine with cold water, a little at a time, mixing together with your hands until you have a firm dough.
Make into a ball and chill for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, grease the holes of the muffin tin and cut 12 circles from greaseproof paper using a pint glass as a template.
When the pastry is chilled, cut it into quarters and roll each out on a floured work surface. 
Cut circles with a diameter of about 4 inches/ 10 cm.
Place the pastry in the tin, prick with a fork, line with the paper and fill each hole with baking beans.
Bake at 425°F/ 220°C/ Gas 7 for about 10 minutes.
Remove the beans and paper. Replace in the oven and cook for about 5 minutes more until the pastry is dry and golden.
Allow to cool slightly, then remove from the tin and cool fully on a rack.

Then fill with chosen fillings.

I used 

  • Cheddar and Coleslaw
  • Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil
  • Veggie Sausage, Spring Onion and Pickle

MURDER BY APPOINTMENT ONLY - A Meal for Jayne Meadows Allen

Zelda has been doing some test recipes for the Murder She Wrote project by Jenny at Silverscreen Suppers. 

Jayne Meadows was born a century ago in 1919. 
She had a wide career in film and television. 
She starred in Murder by Appointment Only, part of Season 2, playing the owner of a cosmetics company.  

Jayne Meadows' recipe featured bean curd/ tofu, something, as a vegetarian, I cook with regularly. It turned out, however, not to be vegetarian at all as it featured pork. This meant finding some alternative ingredients. 

I made the dish twice. 

The first time I used vegetarian mince, as minced pork was in the original recipe. As you will see, I wasn't at all happy with the look of the finished dish. The mince was a bit dark. I could have used other veggie alternatives but I wanted to see what it would be like with mince. 

½lb minced pork = 200g quorn mince. I used quorn mince which takes on the flavours of the sauce. 
2 boxes bean curd = 1 pack tofu (396g). Jane Meadows didn’t specify the size of the box, but 1 pack of tofu is a sizeable amount.
2 scallions = 2 spring onions chopped, finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4tbsp soya – not needed
2tsp chilli sauce
½ cup stock = 120ml vegetable stock. Because the quorn will absorb moisture, I added an extra 200ml.
1tbsp cornstarch, dissolved
1tbsp sherry
4tbsp oil – only needed 2tbsp oil.  I used sunflower oil.

Because I was using quorn, I didn’t need to fry any pork first, but I did fry the tofu first to make it crispy. This means that the order of cooking has changed from the original recipe. I have also specified any further preparation needed.

Cut the tofu into four and then slice each quarter into three rectangles.

Heat 2tsp sunflower oil in a pan and fry the tofu until crispy. Turn to ensure even cooking. 

Then remove from oil, set aside to dry.
Fry the garlic in the remaining oil, then add the stock, the quorn mince, and the spring onions.
Thicken slightly with the cornstarch and add the sherry. Stir in the chilli sauce and replace the tofu.
This, to be honest, looked a bit unappealing, mainly because of the mince. Yes, it does soak up the chilli flavour, but it really doesn’t seem necessary. 

I, therefore, decided to make it again without the mince. I also added extra ingredients to add flavour layers.
This is version 2:

1 pack (396g) tofu
2 spring onions, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small piece ginger, finely grated
1 red chilli, seeds included, finely chopped
2tsp cumin seeds, freshly ground
120ml stock
1tbsp sherry
1tbsp red wine vinegar
handful of fresh coriander

Cut the tofu into quarters, then slice each in three. Put the rectangular slices on absorbent paper on a plate. Cover with more paper, another plate and top with tins to squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
Then, heat the oil and fry the tofu slices on each side. 
Remove and drain.
Then, using the same oil, fry the garlic, chilli, cumin and ginger.
Pour in the stock, sherry and red wine vinegar. Add the spring onions.
Replace the tofu. 
Allow to simmer and thicken slightly.

Here are the two versions, side by side. I know which I prefer!
The second version was much better and I would cook this again. 
Serve in bowls, topped with the coriander and extra spring onions.
Good with noodles.

Thursday 19 September 2019


225g cheddar, grated
25g butter
2tbsp Henderson’s Relish
2tsp mustard
1tbsp plain flour
2tbsp ale
4 slices fresh, crusty bread

Put the bread under the grill.
Heat the butter in a pan, then add the cheese, flour, mustard, ale and pepper. Stir all together well.
When bread is toasted on one side, turn it over and spread with the cheese mixture.
Place back under the grill until bubbly and golden.


3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1tbsp olive oil
25g butter
1 sprig rosemary, washed and leaves removed

Place the potatoes in a pan. Cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about ten minutes until just soft. 
Drain and leave to steam.
Heat the oil and settle it in the corner of the pan.
Fry the rosemary leaves until crisp. 
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
Add the butter to the oil. Then sauté the potatoes over a low heat for about 10 minutes.
When brown and crispy, drain and dry.
Place in a bowl and sprinkle the rosemary leaves over the top.