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

Friday 30 October 2020

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - BELA LUGOSI

This meal is inspired by two events.

The first, of course, is 31st October, Halloween. 

The second is the publication of a wonderful new book, written by Zelda's very talented brother.

To celebrate both, Zelda's latest dinner invitation will be going to Bela Lugosi, born Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó in Hungary, a versatile and talented actor who is best known for his portrayal of the title character in the 1931 film adaptation of Dracula.
Tonight, Zelda will be serving a vegetarian adaptation of a very Hungarian meal, with a bit of Halloween fun thrown in. 

Pepper Potatoes
Cheesy Bats

GOULASH  (2 ways)

2tbsp olive oil
300g quorn chicken-style pieces, defrosted if frozen
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
2tbsp Hungarian paprika*
1tsp cumin seeds
2tsp carraway seeds
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1tbsp tomato puree
½tsp caster sugar
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1tbsp red wine vinegar
300ml vegetable stock
sour cream 

*Do use Hungarian paprika if you can. It is worth the effort of sourcing some.

Grind the carraway seeds and cumin seeds together using a pestle and mortar. 
Heat the oil in a large heavy pan and fry the quorn pieces until slightly brown. Remove the quorn.
Add a bit more oil if needed and fry the onions and peppers.
When almost soft, crush the garlic (splendid gadget optional). 
Add it to the pan and cook for a minute more.
Return the quorn to the pan.
Add the mixed seeds and paprika, Stir so that everything is coated. 
Pour in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, red wine vinegar and stock. 
Season and bring to the boil.
Then put the lid on and simmer for 1 about half an hour.

This will give you the traditional 'soup' version.
Serve with some crusty bread and pretend you are in a wayside inn where the locals are suspicious of you and the landlord's wife tries to give you a crucifix before you continue on your journey.
To make the second 'casserole/ stew' version, take the lid off and allow to cook down for a further 30 minutes or so until fairly thick, adding a bit more tomato puree if needed.
(See end of post for serving suggestion.)

750g potatoes, peeled and cut into two-bite size pieces
2tbsp olive oil 
1tbsp flour
2tsp thyme leaves
1tsp cumin seeds
½tsp ground ginger
1tsp black peppercorns

Heat oven to 200˚C/ Gas 6
Put potatoes in a large pan and cover with cold water. 
Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the thyme leaves, cumin seeds ground ginger and black peppercorns in a pestle. Grind all together until it resembles the floor of a Transylvanian wood. 
Put the oil in a large tray and place in the oven about 5 minutes before the potatoes are ready.
Drain the potatoes in a colander and shake well to ‘chuff up’. 
Return to the pan and add the herb/ spice mix. Stir until well-coated. 
Add to the hot oil.
Roast for about an hour, turning every 20 minutes. 
Take out of the oil with a slotted spoon and dry on kitchen paper, sprinkling with salt. 
Transfer to a serving dish.


puff pastry sheet
100g grated cheddar
milk for glazing
poppy seeds to dust

You will also need a shaped cutter or be good at doing it freehand.

Unroll pastry sheet.
Sprinkle most of the cheese over the top.
Make into a ball and cut into four (to make it easier to roll out).
Place each piece back inside the brown paper, sprinkling with a little flour if needed and roll out.
Cut out shapes, retaining left-over pieces to combine and re-roll. 
Place them on a sheet of baking paper on a tray.
Brush with milk and top with the rest of the cheese. Then, sprinkle poppy seeds over the top.
Cook at Gas 6/ 200C for 12 -15 minutes.
Can be served as a sharing starter...
...or in individual servings.
Can also be an accompaniment to the main meal. 
Or as it might have looked in 1931:

Saturday 24 October 2020

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - HUMPHREY BOGART

Tonight, Zelda will be cooking dinner for one of her favourite ever actors: the great Humphrey Bogart who had a spectacular Hollywood career, playing both the 'good guy' and the 'bad guy'. He was as interesting off screen as on and was the originator of 'The Rat Pack', later made more famous by his acolyte, Frank Sinatra.

Bogart started acting on Broadway and moved into films, with his menacing portrayal of Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest garnering acclaim and leading to roles in many of the most famous crime films of the 1930s, culminating in the gangster classic The Roaring Twenties. A year later, High Sierra moved him further towards commercial success and he perfectly captured the persona of the jaded detective in a series of 'hard boiled' films such as The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep.

His two most famous performances capitalise on his reputation (and talent) for being able to play the flawed hero. One of them is The African Queen. The other is Casablanca, which Zelda will be celebrating in her choice of meal.
Casablanca is special. It was a wartime film with a heartrending love story; a patriotic, tragic, romantic epic which is still beloved of many. 

It is set in French Morocco during World War Two and centres around the events at this place:

There is more drinking than eating in the film, but Zelda thinks that this traditional Moroccan dish (made vegetarian, of course) would make a suitable meal.


1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1tbsp paprika
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp turmeric
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp cumin 
1tsp rose harissa paste
300g quorn chicken-style pieces, defrosted if frozen
olive oil
500ml vegetable stock
can chopped tomatoes
1tbsp clear honey
salt and black pepper
splash of lemon juice
100g dried apricots

250g couscous
2tbsp olive oil
1tbsp fresh coriander leaves
1tbsp fresh mint leaves
black pepper
dash of lemon juice 
500ml vegetable stock

This dish is named after the pot it is traditionally cooked in. I decided to use the tagine for serving, rather than cooking and used a crock pot for the 'dirty work'. 

Place onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor and blitz until minced. 
Blend the paprika, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon and cumin. 
Mix in the rose harissa paste. 
Add to the quorn pieces and stir until well coated. 
Heat oil in a large heavy-based pan and pour in all the spiced quorn. Cook gently until slightly browned.
Remove from the pan. Add a bit more oil to the spice mixture left in the pan and pour in the onion mixture.
Allow to soften over a low heat. 
Return the quorn to the pan and mix all together. 
Add the stock, tomatoes, honey, lemon juice and apricots.
Stir well to combine and bring to the boil. 
Season, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened. 

To make the couscous
Mix the oil and lemon juice in a bowl.
Add the couscous and stir to cover. 
Add the stock and a generous amount of black pepper
Set aside. 
Chop the herbs together.
When all the liquid has been absorbed, add the chopped herbs.

Fluff up with a fork.
Serve in a tagine with a separate bowl of couscous.

Sunday 18 October 2020

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - GUY CLARK

Guy Clark, known as The King of the Texas Troubadours, wrote some of the greatest ever country songs. 
If you don't know him, check out:
Desperados Waiting for a Train
and The Last Gunfighter Ballad
As we know he loves some Texas Cooking...

Zelda will be serving

1 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1tsp dried oregano
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp sugar
1 large tin of chopped tomatoes
2 eggs
bunch of chives, chopped
1tbsp oil 
salt and black pepper

Heat the oil in the pan and fry the onion and pepper. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for a minute more.
Sprinkle in 1tsp of the chives with the oregano, cumin and sugar.
Then pour in the chopped tomatoes.
Season and allow all to simmer away nicely. 
When slightly thickened, transfer to an oven proof dish and crack the eggs over the top with a grind of black pepper.
Place in the oven at Gas 7/ 220˚C/ 425˚F for 15-20 minutes until the eggs are cooked. 
To serve, sprinkle the remaining chives over the top.