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

Friday 27 March 2020

A Meal for ... A Foodie Friend

Coronavirus has temporarily put a stop to Zelda's lovely lunches out with a very dear 'foodie friend'.
Until they resume, here is a version of a dish which we enjoyed recently. My pasta was filled with butternut squash, as recreated here. The crab-filled version is up to her (but her cooking skills are, I know, up to the task).

Serves 2

For the pasta
150g 00 flour
1 large free-range egg + 1 extra yolk
pinch of salt
a little water if needed

For the filling
250g butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and chopped into 2cm cubes
salt and black pepper
1tbsp olive oil
20g hard cheese
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced finely
splash of milk

For the sauce
1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
100ml white wine
30g butter
1tsp olive oil

For serving
20g parmesan-style cheese, grated very finely
basil leaves
black pepper

Start with the filling
Place the cubes of butternut squash in a large bowl. Drizzle over the olive oil and season.
Place in a tray and roast at 200°C/ 400°F/ Gas 6 for about 20 minutes.
Add the onion slices to the same bowl so that they are also coated.
After 20 minutes, add the onion to the butternut squash and roast for 10 minutes more.
Allow to cool a little, then place in a blender with the cheese and a splash of milk.
Blend until fairly smooth but still has some texture. Then set aside.

While the butternut squash is roasting, make the pasta
Blend the flour, eggs and seasoning with a little water if needed.
Start with a fork, then use hands to make a ball.
Turn onto a floured surface and knead until silky.
Divide into four, wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Then, roll out and pass through a pasta machine (or roll by hand) to make four long, thin strips.
Add spoonfuls of the mixture to two of the strips.
Moisten around each ball of filling, then place the remaining strips over the top.
Shape and cut into separate ravioli.

Now make the sauce
Heat the oil and cook the garlic.
Add the lemon juice and white wine. Bring to the boil and allow to reduce by half.
Pass through a sieve to remove the garlic pieces and return to the pan.
Add the butter, season and turn off the heat as soon as the butter is melted.

Heat a saucepan full of salted water.
Add the ravioli. It will be cooked when it rises to the surface.
Remove with a slotted spoon.
Place in a bowl or on a plate and pour over some of the sauce.
Top with some of the cheese, black pepper and some basil leaves.

Wednesday 25 March 2020


If you make the Butternut Squash Ravioli, chances are you will have some of this delicious vegetable left over. Use it to make an equally delicious soup.

200g chunks of butternut squash

½ red onion
1tbsp olive oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
500ml vegetable stock
salt and black pepper

Roast the squash in most of the oil for about 20 minutes. 

Heat the remaining oil and fry the onion.
Add the stock, then the carrot and squash.
Bring to the boil and then simmer for about half an hour.
Blend and return to the pan. Season to taste.

Friday 20 March 2020

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - KIEFER SUTHERLAND

Zelda was privileged to see Kiefer at Rock City a few weeks ago, playing his country music. 

It took her back to the 1980s when she first fell for him as Ace in Stand By Me and David in The Lost Boys.

There is a famous scene in the latter where, in the sunken hotel, framed by a poster of Jim Morrison, they eat Chinese food, and the noodles are not what they seem.

Serve with some very special wine...


Serves 2 (Zelda and Kiefer)

1 pack tofu
2tbsp soy sauce
oil for frying
vegetables of choice (I used finely sliced onions, chopped green pepper, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts)
half a portion of Satay Sauce

Rinse and dry the tofu. Cut into cubes.
Place in a bowl with the soy sauce and leave to marinate for at least 20 minutes.
Then, fry in a little oil on a high heat until browned.
Drain on kitchen paper.
Heat noodles in a pan of boiling water.
Fry the vegetables in a little oil.
Add the tofu.
Add the noodles and a few tablespoons of the satay sauce.


3tbsp peanut butter
1tbsp tahini
2tbsp soy sauce
pinch of salt
1tbsp honey
1tbsp rice wine vinegar
3tbsp water
3tsp curry powder
black pepper

Mix together in a saucepan over a low heat until combined. Will serve 4.

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Crispy Curried Cauliflower with Lemon Dip


115g gram flour
3tsp curry powder
salt and black pepper
1 egg, beaten
175ml sparkling water
1 head cauliflower, leaves removed, chopped into pieces
sunflower oil for cooking
150g natural yogurt
2tbsp lemon juice

Cook the cauliflower in boiling water until almost tender. 
Then drain and allow to cool. (It will become more tender as it cools.)
Make the batter by mixing 100g of the gram flour with 2tsp of the curry powder and the beaten egg. Season well.
Add the cauliflower to the batter.
Heat the oil (about 2cm deep).
Fry the cauliflower in batches. You should have some batter left over.
Place on kitchen paper to drain, along with any scraps. (At this point it will be fairly lightly covered.)
Add the other 15g flour and 1tsp curry powder to the remaining batter to make it thicker. Then put the cauliflower back in.
Make the dip by mixing the yogurt with the lemon juice and seasoning with black pepper.
Change the oil if needed. Then re-fry the cauliflower pieces. This time they will be spicier and crunchier.
Drain on paper.
Serve on a plate with the dip.

Tuesday 17 March 2020


2-3 parsnips (or as many as you have left over)
spray oil

Peel the parsnips and then keep slicing off strips with the peeler.
Place the strips in boiling water for 2 minutes.
Spray the baking trays with oil.
Place the parsnip strips on baking trays in ring shapes. 
Spray a bit more oil over the top.
Place in oven at Gas 4/ 180°C/ 350°F
Dry on kitchen paper.
A super-tasty, healthy snack. 
Similar to Parsnip Ribbons.

Friday 6 March 2020


4oz/ 110g split red lentils
1tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped finely
4oz/ 110g apples, peeled and chopped (about 3 apples)
salt and black pepper
1tbsp tahini

Put lentils in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer until soft.
Meanwhile, fry onion and apple gently until soft.
Mash the apple mixture, then add lentils, tahini and seasoning.
Mix well and leave until firm.

Monday 2 March 2020

A Meal For...THE 1950s

I was recently given this wonderful old book.
It is true that some of the recipes are fairly uninspiring and it is easy to see why English cuisine was not highly respected 70 years ago. But, it is a snapshot of an age and there are plenty of examples of good, wholesome food which make the most of a limited number of ingredients.
I was able, therefore, to put together a two course vegetarian meal by mixing and matching ideas from within its pages. 

Mixed Hors d'Oeuvre

Main Course: 
Pasty Envelopes with Mushroom Stuffing
Cheese Pudding

Served with: 
Duchess Potatoes 
Braised Carrots
Baked Stuffed Onions
Parsley Sauce

N.B. I have kept all ingredients, measurements and methods as close as possible to the originals, making changes only when necessary for number of portions or updating ingredients.

Hors d'Oeuvre
Hors d'Oeuvre - a popular way of presenting a first course, especially when entertaining. The book says they should be small, attractive and appetising.
I made two selections.
Plate One
Radish flowers
Macaroni and Sauce
Cheese Straws
Cheese Sauce

Radish Flowers
Cut several times across each radish and leave in cold water for half an hour.

Macaroni and Sauce
Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water.
Drain and allow to cool.
Mix with ketchup and chopped parsley.

Cheese Straws
3oz/ 85g plain flour
2oz/ 55g grated cheese
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
½ tsp mustard
1½oz butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1 egg yolk

Mix the flour with the salt and cayenne pepper.
Rub in the butter and then stir in the cheese.

Add the yolk, the mustard and a little water and mix to make a stiff dough.

Roll it out and cut into straws and a couple of rings.
Place on a greased baking tray
Bake at at 425°F/ 220°C/ Gas 7 for 
5 – 7 minutes until golden and firm.

Allow to cool.
Then assemble.

Cheese Sauce
Use half one portion of white sauce (the rest will be used later in the meal)
Add 2oz/ 55g of grated cheese, ½tsp of mustard and a few drops of vinegar.

(White Sauce)
1 onion
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 bay leaf
8 peppercorns
1pt milk
2oz/ 55g butter
2oz/ 55g flour

Chop the vegetables into small pieces.
Add to the milk with the garlic, bayleaf and peppercorns.
Bring to the boil and let stand.
Strain and discard the vegetables.
In a separate pan, melt the butter and cook the flour for a couple of minutes.
Add the strained milk, stirring slowly.
Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. 

Plate Two
Grated Carrot
Milk Rolls
Tomato Salad
Curry Sauce

Milk Rolls
1lb/ 450g plain flour
½ tsp salt
2oz/ 55g lard*
½oz yeast = 7g dried yeast
½pt/ 280ml milk, heated until tepid
beaten egg to glaze

*Lard is obviously not vegetarian, but there are vegetarian alternatives such as ‘Trex’ in the UK. For ease, I have still referred to it as ‘lard’ throughout.

Mix the flour and salt and rub in the ‘lard’.
Add most of the milk to the yeast and give it a minute.
Then add it to the flour and mix to make a soft, elastic dough (with more milk if required).
Knead and allow to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
Knock back and knead again.
Shape into rolls and allow to prove for 20 minutes.
Glaze with the beaten egg.
Bake at 450°F/ 230° C/ Gas 8 for 20 to 30 minutes.

Tomato Salad
4 tomatoes
½ onion, chopped finely
salt and pepper
2tbsp oil
1tbsp vinegar
chopped parsley
Slice the tomatoes thinly.
Top with the onion and the seasoning.
Mix the oil and vinegar together and pour over.
Sprinkle with parsley.

Curry Sauce
½oz/ 28g cooking fat (again I used ‘Trex’)
1tbsp chopped onion
1tbsp chopped apple
1tsp curry powder
½oz 28g flour
½pt/ 280ml stock
pinch of salt
1tbsp chutney
1tsp table sauce (I used brown sauce)
1tbsp sultanas

Melt the fat and fry the onion lightly, then add the apple, along with the curry powder and flour. Cook for a minute more.
Gradually add the stock and the salt.
Bring to the boil. Skim off any residue from the top. Then add the remaining ingredients.
Simmer with the lid on for about an hour, stirring frequently.

Main Course:
Pastry Envelopes with Mushroom Stuffing
Cheese Pudding
Served with:
Parsley Sauce
Duchess Potatoes
Braised Carrots
Baked Stuffed Onions. 

Pastry Envelopes with Mushroom Stuffing (based on Fish Envelopes but filled with mushrooms instead)

You need:
¾lb/ 350g of shortcrust pastry
¾lb/ 350g of filling
salt and pepper
egg to glaze

First make the Shortcrust Pastry
8oz/ 225g flour
½ tsp salt
4oz/ 125g fat (lard or cooking fat mixed with margarine) – I used stork
Sieve flour and salt. Rub in the cut-up fat.
Mix in the water with a knife, then use fingers to make a firm dough.

Then make the Mushroom Stuffing
4oz/ 125g mushrooms
1 onion
1oz/ 30g margarine
1tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper
2oz/ 60g breadcrumbs
beaten egg to bind

Chop the mushrooms and onion finely.
Fly in the fat for a few minutes.
Add the parsley, seasoning and breadcrumbs and bind with a little beaten egg.

Then roll out the pastry and cut into six squares.
Put mixture in the middle of each.
Dampen the edges and fold the corners to the centre, envelope fashion.
Cut leaves from the pastry scraps.
Brush the undersides with water and place over the joins.
Glaze with beaten egg.

Bake at 450°F/ 230°C/ Gas 8 for 15-20 minutes.

Cheese Pudding
6 slices of bread and butter
2 eggs
1 pint milk
4oz/ 120g grated cheese
1oz/ 30g breadcrumbs
2tbsp piquant sauce
a little mustard

First make the piquant sauce by mixing together
2tbsp mustard
2tbsp brown sugar
2tbsp tomato sauce
2tbsp red wine vinegar
1tbsp oil
1tbsp Worcester sauce (I used Henderson’s Relish which is vegetarian)

Cut up the bread and butter.
Arrange in a greased ovenproof dish.
Beat the egg, and add the milk, seasoning, mustard, sauce and three quarters of the cheese.
Pour over the bread and allow to stand for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and the breadcrumbs.

Bake at 350°F/ 180°C/ Gas 4 for 35-45 minutes until risen.

Parsley Sauce
Use half of the white sauce made previously.
Chop 2tbsp fresh parsley.
Add it to the sauce with a dash of vinegar.

Duchess Potatoes
Peel and chop potatoes.
Boil in salted water until soft.
Drain and allow to steam.
Mash with pepper, margarine and a little milk.
Pipe onto a greased tray.
Brush over with beaten egg.

Cook at 230°C/ Gas 8 / 450°F for about 10 minutes.

Braised Carrots
Scrape and cut into even slices lengthways.
Place in a pan and cover with cold water. 
Bring to the boil.

Drain. Heat butter, add the carrots and fry until golden brown.
Add ½ pint/ 285ml vegetable stock and a pinch of caster sugar.
Cook gently for about 30 minutes until tender, adding more stock if required.

Baked Stuffed Onions
4 even sized onions
2tbsp breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
4 oz/ 110g grated cheese
a little of the white sauce

Peel and boil the onions for about 25 minutes.
Drain and scoop out the insides with a knife and spoon.
Mix together the breadcrumbs, seasoning and most of the cheese.
Add a little white sauce to moisten.
Fill the onions.
Put in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Bake at 220°C/ 425°F/ Gas 7 for 30 - 40 minutes until the onions are tender when pierced.