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

Thursday 26 August 2021

TREVOR HUDSON'S LEGACY - A Meal for Michael Learned


Zelda has been happy to do some more test cooking for the Murder, She Cooked project, by Jenny at Silver Screen Suppers, this time with a recipe courtesy of Michael Learned.

(Miss) Michael Learned will always be remembered for her role as Olivia (Ma) in The Waltons, but she had a cameo role in Season 5 of Murder, She Wrote

I guess she was kept very busy with her acting. At some point, she came up with this idea for cooking zucchini (courgettes), but, unfortunately, she forgot to check for clarity, so it's hard to know what she intended it to look like.

I've had a few attempts and ended up with three very different dishes. 

Version 1
For my first dish, I used a white onion and a tin of chopped tomatoes.

1 brown onion, chopped

2 medium courgettes, sliced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1tbsp olive oil
25g butter
salt and black pepper

Heat the oil and butter in a pan.
Add the onions and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes.
Add the courgette and garlic and cook for a few more minutes until everything has just started to soften.
Pour in the chopped tomatoes and season. 
Stir well, then cover and simmer gently for about 20 minutes to thicken.
Makes a fairly good side dish.
The finished dish looked OK and a good scoop of it could be a side to accompany another meal. It was, though, a bit bland, a little bitter and more 'sloppy' than I would like. 
Dave said that he would eat it 'to be polite' if he was served it at a friend's house but, if I didn't mind, he would prefer some extra potatoes instead. 

Version 2
The second time, I used red onion and added a little sugar to be sure that it wasn't bitter. We also had some new tomatoes ready in the greenhouse, so I used some of them instead of the tinned ones. I halved the size of the courgette pieces. Some basil seemed a good addition, too, to 'up' the Mediterranean vibe.

1 red onion, chopped
2 medium courgettes, sliced and cut in half
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1tbsp olive oil
25g butter
salt and black pepper
pinch of sugar
1tbsp chopped basil leaves

Heat the oil and butter in a shallow pan. 
Cook the onions very gently until just starting to change colour.
Add the garlic, sugar, tomatoes and courgettes.
Cook for a few minutes until it all starts to soften. 
Season and add the chopped basil and stir all together, over a moderate heat, until the tomatoes begin to break down and the juice comes out.
Cover and simmer for a further 20 minutes.
Place in a bowl and, if desired, serve with some extra basil leaves. 
The verdict this time: much better! This is the one I would be happy to serve. Again, it would need a sympathetic main meal to accompany, but it really was quite yummy. 

Version 3
I thought, as Michael had given us the option of making this a main meal, it would only be fair to try that, too. As a vegetarian, I used cooked veggie burgers but it would be just as easy to use the hamburgers suggested.
Michael was as vague about the cheese as she was with most of the other ingredients, so I used grated cheddar. 

This will serve 2, but I would add something else such as side salad or some peas. The ingredients are exactly as Version 2, with the exception of the additional basil leaves. You will also need 2 burgers and a large handful of grated cheese.

Follow instructions for Version 2. Meanwhile, cook the burgers and cut them into chunks. 
Add them to the pan with the courgettes and stir all together.
Transfer to a heat-proof bowl and cover liberally with the grated cheese.
Place under a grill for about 5 minutes until the cheese bubbles. 

So there we have it - Michael Learned's Zucchini three ways. 
Version 3 was fine; it would be good for one of those meals where you have things to use up or when you are pushed for time, but it's not a show-stopper (not even on Walton's Mountain). 
Version 2 is definitely the one to go for if you fancy making this. 

Other test recipes for Murder, She Cooked include:

Wednesday 25 August 2021


Another recipe celebrating the lovely courgette (and also because we have a glut of them at the moment).

This is, one of Zelda's favourite veggie burger recipes.

 Makes 4 burgers

1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 large courgette, grated
1 medium carrot, grated
1tbsp ground cumin
1tbsp ground coriander
100g breadcrumbs
2tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
a little plain flour
3tbsp olive oil

Chop the onion roughly - it is best texture-wise. 
Grate the courgette with the carrot.
Heat 1tbsp of the oil and fry the onion until almost softened.
Add the carrot and courgette and cook gently for a further 8-10 minutes.
Turn the mixture into a bowl and allow to cool.
Add the breadcrumbs, parsley, spices and egg, and stir to combine.
Shape the mixture into four burgers and place on a lightly-floured plate. Chill for about half an hour.
Heat the rest of the oil and fry both sides for 5-6 minutes until browned.
Serve in a bun, with burger cheese, chopped lettuce and garlic sauce or with fries and beans.

Wednesday 18 August 2021

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - ROSAMUNDE PILCHER

Rosamunde Pilcher wrote many novels in her 95 years.

In 1987, she published The Shell Seekers, a beautiful evocation of an elderly woman's memories of her time in Cornwall during World War II, and her need to preserve the legacy of her artist father. 
Zelda would like to have her to dinner for a meal which evokes memories of its title.


125g (or about 12 shells) conchiglie rigate
200g soft cheese
1 onion, finely chopped
4 large chestnut mushrooms
25g butter
handful of walnuts, chopped
2tbsp fresh herbs - I used coriander, parsley and basil
250ml tomato sauce (from a jar or home-made)
50g cheese, grated
black pepper

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the pasta shells. Cook according to packet instructions, then drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter, then gently cook the onion and mushrooms until soft. 
Allow to cool, then place in a bowl.
Add the soft cheese, walnuts and herbs. Season with the black pepper. 
Place a layer of the sauce in the bottom of the dish.
Fill each shell and put them on top.
Pour over the rest of the sauce and top with the cheese.
Cook at Gas 7/ 220˚C/ 425˚F for about 25 minutes.
Serve with extra basil.

Sunday 8 August 2021


This is so tasty.

The following is what you need for one but it is very easily multiplied.

1 crusty cob
1x 100g individual circular goat's cheese
2tsp caramelised red onion chutney
1tsp olive oil
black pepper

Cut a hole from the cob to fit the cheese. Scoop any bread from inside it.
Brush the inside with the olive oil.
Place in the oven at Gas 5/ 190˚C for about 10 minutes.
Remove and put the chutney into the hole.
Remove any rind from the top and bottom of the cheese and push it in, too. 
Cover all the bread with foil.
Replace in the oven for 15 minutes.
Remove the foil and then cook for a further 5 minutes. 
Sprinkle with black pepper.
Serve with a little green salad. Look at that cheese ooze!

Sunday 1 August 2021

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guests - THREE MEN IN A BOAT

Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K Jerome, is one of Zelda's favourite books, with its gentle humour and evocation of a by-gone time. George, Harris, J and Montmorency the dog take a short boating holiday on the Thames, but they find that life on the water is not as relaxing as they had anticipated.
Here, in Chapter 14, they attempt to prepare potatoes:
George gathered wood and made a fire, and Harris and I started to peel the potatoes. I should never have thought that peeling potatoes was such an undertaking. The job turned out to be the biggest thing of its kind that I had ever been in. We began cheerfully, one might almost say skittishly, but our light-heartedness was gone by the time the first potato was finished. The more we peeled, the more peel there seemed to be left on; by the time we had got all the peel off and all the eyes out, there was no potato left — at least none worth speaking of.

I think, if they came to dinner, it would be a good idea to show them a lovely way of cooking potatoes without peeling them. (Just substitute the wood fire for the oven. Cover them in two layers of foil and place them directly in the ashes. Check after half an hour.)


4 or 5 medium size baking potatoes
50g parmesan style cheese, grated finely
1tsp cumin
1tsp paprika
1tsp garlic granules
salt and pepper
2tbsp olive oil

Wash the potatoes. Then place a metal skewer through the centre, lengthways.
Starting near the top, cut down to the skewer. Twist the potato and keep cutting in a spiral, cutting right to the skewer each time.
Pull apart slightly like a spring.
Mix the spices with the cheese and the garlic granules, plus the salt and pepper.
Coat all over with olive oil.
Rub with the seasoning and push it into the spiral.
Cook at 190°C/ 375°F/ Gas 5 for about 50 minutes.
Serve with the skewers in. (Carefully remove them to eat.)
Lovely with some chilli, corn on the cob and sour cream.