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

Monday 26 December 2022

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - SYLVIA PLATH

Sylvia Plath, literary icon of the 1960s, is Zelda's latest dinner guest. 

She only lived to be 30, but her short stories, poems and exceptional novel, The Bell Jar, ensured her place as one of the most respected writers of the 20th Century. 

Mushrooms, one of her most famous poems, is an extended metaphor for the struggle she - and other women - had to be heard and taken seriously.

Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot's in the door.


Serves 2 - 4 

4 quorn fillets
600ml vegetable stock
2 leeks, cleaned, split in half and roughly chopped
6 chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2tbsp olive oil
25g butter
1tbsp plain flour
150g low-fat soft cheese
4tbsp double cream

Heat the stock in a saucepan and poach the quorn fillets for about ten minutes.
Remove the fillets and set aside, keeping the stock warm.
Meanwhile, place the leeks and mushrooms in a large pan with the butter and oil.
Cook over a low heat until softened.
Add the flour and stir well to coat. 
Then add enough of the stock to make a gravy which just covers the vegetables.
Stir in the soft cheese and add the double cream. 
Replace the fillets and heat through, allowing the sauce to thicken a little.
Serve with rice, potatoes or additional vegetables of your choice.

Saturday 24 December 2022


 Serves 2 (can be multiplied)

4 Quorn fillets
1 red onion, peeled and chopped finely
1tbsp oil
2tbsp soft cheese
5tsp cranberry sauce
vegetable stock

Heat the stock and add the quorn fillets. Poach for about 10 minutes.
Remove and dry.
Cook the onion gently in the oil until soft.
Transfer to a bowl and mix with the soft cheese and the cranberry sauce.
Cut 2 squares of cooking foil. Lay one on the table and place one of the fillets in the middle. 
Top with half of the cranberry mixture.
Place another fillet on top and roll up lengthways. Pinch and twist the ends to make a cracker shape. 
Repeat and then place both on a baking tray.
Cook at Gas 7/ 220˚C for about 20 minutes.
Place on plate to serve if accompanying with veg and trimmings. 
Or, unwrap in advance and serve with a mix another 2tsp of cranberry sauce with some hot water.

Monday 19 December 2022


Great for a party.

To make
Paneer Sticks
Sticky Sausages on Sticks
Potatoes with Coriander Seeds
Chilli Chickpeas
Yogurt Dip with Red Onion and Coriander

Serve with
Bombay Mix
Mini Poppadoms
Naan Breads (cut into smaller pieces)
Mango Chutney
Lime Pickle
Yogurt and Mint Dip
Cubes of Hard Goat's Cheese on Sticks

Paneer Sticks
150g plain yogurt
2tbsp harissa paste
1tbsp lime juice
2tsp dried mixed herbs
2 packs paneer cheese

Cut each pack of paneer into 18 chunks, giving 36 in all.
Mix the yogurt with the harissa, lime juice and herbs.
Use to coat the panner in two batches.
Place three chunks on each skewer (six skewers in all).
Place under a hot grill, turning to ensure even cooking.
Remove from the skewers.
Allow to cool and place on the cocktail sticks.

Sticky Sausages on Sticks
vegetarian cocktail sausages
2tbsp Mango Chutney

Mix the mango chutney with a little hot water in a bowl.
Cook sausages according to packet instructions. Take out ten minutes before end and place in the bowl.
Place back in oven for the rest of the cooking time.
Allow to cool and serve on sticks.

Chilli Chickpeas
1 can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and dried
2tbsp olive oil
1tsp chilli powder

Place everything in a bowl and use hands to make sure that the chickpeas are well coated.
Spread on a baking tray and cook for about 30 minutes at Gas 6/ 200˚C, turning half-way through.

Yogurt Dip with Red Onion and Coriander
4tbsp natural yogurt
1 small red onion, very finely chopped
handful of coriander leaves and stalks

Mix the yogurt with the onion and coriander stalks and most of the leaves.
Top with the remaining leaves.

Potatoes with Coriander Seeds
2tbsp oil
2tbsp coriander seeds
1tsp chilli powder
1tbsp tomato puree
100g hot water
potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes (about 500g)

Par boil the potatoes until almost soft. Drain and set aside to steam a little. 
Heat the oil and add the coriander seeds. 
Fry until they start to pop, then add the chilli powder, tomato puree and hot water and mix all together well.
Add the potato pieces and stir to coat, keeping on the heat.
They are ready when they are soft and dry.

Serve on platters.

Sunday 9 October 2022

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - ADRIAN MOLE

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ by Sue Townsend was published in 1982 and recounts the events of a hapless teenage boy in 1981-2. My friends and I were of a similar age and we loved reading it and quoting parts of it. I put it aside as I grew up myself but then, about ten years ago, I re-read it, along with the rest of the books in the series which  had been published since. I thought it would be a bit of nostalgia but I realised just how much I had missed first time round, particularly the literary references and highly intelligent in-jokes.

This is an entry from March:
Cleaned toilet, washed basin and bath before doing my paper round. Came home, made breakfast, put washing in machine, went to school. Gave Barry Kent his menaces money, went to Bert Baxter’s, waited for social worker who didn’t come, had school dinner. Had Domestic Science – made apple crumble. Came home. Vacuumed hall, lounge, and breakfast room. Peeled potatoes, chopped up cabbage, cut finger, rinsed blood off cabbage. Put chops under grill, looked in cookery book for a recipe for gravy. Made gravy. Strained lumps out with a colander. Set table, served dinner, washed up. Put burnt saucepans in to soak. Got washing out of machine; everything blue, including white underwear and handkerchiefs. Hung washing on clothes-horse. Fed dog. Ironed PE kit, cleaned shoes. Did homework. Took dog for a walk, had bath. Cleaned bath. Made three cups of tea. Washed cups up. Went to bed. Just my luck to have an assertive mother!

Let's have Adrian round to dinner then, and make the crumble for him. 

Apple Crumble

400g cooking applesjuice of half an orange
50g caster sugar
175g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
75g butter, cut into chunks
75g brown sugar

Peel and slice the apples.
Place in a dish.
Sprinkle over the caster sugar and spritz with the orange.
Mix the flour with the baking powder.
Rub the butter into the flour.
Stir in the sugar.
Place the topping over the top of the fruit.
Cook at Gas 6/ 200˚C for about half an hour.

Lovely with a bit of custard.

Friday 7 October 2022

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - NICK RHODES

Zelda has already cooked a meal for Simon Le Bon... it is time to entertain his bandmate and Duran Duran founder member; the the arty keyboard player and songwriter Nick Rhodes.
Many a poster like this, graced Zelda's wall in the 1980s. 
Apparently, he particularly likes Italian, Indian and Lebanese vegetarian food, so this should suit him nicely.


Spice Mix made of:2tsp garam masala
2tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground turmeric
1tsp chilli powder

350g quorn mince (frozen is fine)
1 large white onion, chopped finely
1tbsp Marmite
2tbsp Bisto granules
2tbsp plain flour
sunflower oil spray
300ml hot water
1 red onion, chopped finely
1tsp crushed garlic
1 green chill, seeds removed and finely chopped
thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 bunch fresh coriander
1 large can chopped tomatoes
1tbsp tomato puree
200ml vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk

Serves 3-4

Spray a large pan with oil and add the onion.
Cook gently until soft and just changing colour.
Add the garlic, mince and water. 
Stir in the Marmite, Bisto and half of the Spice Mix. Bring to the boil.
Simmer until the water has evaporated.
Allow to cool, then place in a food processor and blitz until smooth.
Transfer to a bowl.
Use the flour to coat your hands and form the mixture into balls. (It should make 12 large ones).
Place them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
Spray them with a bit more of the oil and cook in the oven at Gas 6/ 200˚C for about 30 minutes, turning halfway through.
Start the sauce by spraying another pan with the oil and frying the onion. 
Add the garlic and chilli and cook for a minute or two more. Coat all in the spice mix.
Add the ginger, the stalks of the coriander and pour in the tin of tomatoes.
Stir in the tomato puree, the vegetable stock and the coconut milk.
Bring to a simmer and allow to keep cooking until reduced to the required thickness.
When ready to serve, place the koftas back into the sauce and heat fully.
Serve in bowls with some rice and the coriander leaves.