Vegetarian Classics Simple Dishes For Every Occasion

All posts tagged Vegetarian Classics Simple Dishes For Every Occasion

Tidying up 2014’s goals, starting 2015’s

Published February 4, 2015 by Storm

Ending my recipe challenge with a flurry of treats

I may not have found time to write about doing so but I did find time to keep trying new recipes throughout December. My final three efforts of 2014 were Turkish Delight, French Chocolate Cake, and Beer and Mustard Bread.

I’ve been wanting to try making the Turkish Delight since being given Gifts From The Kitchen a few years ago, it just took me a while to brave my first attempt. This was a mixed success, it tasted good but I definitely didn’t have the texture right; boiling for longer at the final stage is obviously required but it had reached the point that I was struggling to stir it and was getting blisters. The recipe was reasonably easy to follow and although it is time consuming and wasn’t a great first attempt I probably will try again some time as I do love Turkish Delight. 

The French Chocolate Cake, from the simply titled Chocolate, was a greater success; just as well as I was baking this as a gift. It was more complicated than my usual ‘throw all the ingredients in the food processor then chuck the mix in a sponge tin’ approach to cakes, but the recipe was well written and easy to follow and the results were (so I’m told) good.

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Beer and Mustard Bread, from The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Bread Machine Baking, was very easy to make; using the bread machine still feels a bit like cheating but it’s a nice sort of cheating. I baked this as part of a Boxing Day buffet and I think it’s fair to say it was good as I’ve never seen a loaf disappear so rapidly. Possibly the perfect bread to eat with cheese.

Which leads into

2015 Goals

  1. Try a new recipe from one of my cookery books each month.
  2. Try a different bread recipe every time I bake.
  3. Learn something new with each knitting project I do (the two projects I’m carrying over from last year are exempt from this).

January saw me start all three of these goals!

The recipe I tried was Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin from Vegetarian Classics. I cheated and used a bag of broccoli and cauliflower florets rather than chopping my own, this was a mistake as they weren’t well enough matched in size so I had to choose between extra firm cauliflower or soggy broccoli. I wasn’t particularly keen on the yoghurt and cheese mix used a a sauce either, I think I would have preferred simple grated cheese or a more classic cheese sauce, the yoghurt flavour dominated. Not one I’m going to be making again.

The bread was far more successful than the supper dish. Chickpea and Peppercorn Bread from the same lovely book as the Beer and Mustard Bread. This doesn’t use gram flour (which you might expect) but combines white flour with tinned chickpeas. The chickpeas blend into the dough and create a rich bread with a moist, slightly heavier crumb. It’s delicious and filling; it also seems slow to go stale, I baked it on Saturday and it hasn’t started to dry out yet (maybe that’s partly thanks to the bread bin I was given for Christmas). I will bake this again but will probably omit the peppercorns to give myself more choice what I eat with it.

The knitting was the first of a string of selfish projects, a hat for myself.

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The pattern is Sandra Dee’s Nymandus Draculea and the yarn is King Cole Galaxy. King Cole seems quite a fine DK so I used 4mm needles, not the 6mm called for in the pattern, and put in an extra pattern repeat. The new, to me, technique was cabling; little, baby cables where just one stitch crosses another, but there were quite a lot of them. The cables don’t show as well as they might in a slightly heavier and plainer yarn, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing! I know that I was a bit clumsy with my cables at first, though they got neater as I became more used to doing them, so having a yarn that distracts from the slight unevenness of my cabling isn’t such a bad thing. It took me about ten evenings to knit, I might have finished a little faster but I decided not to work on it when I was tired as I didn’t want to risk too many mistakes (feline assistance led three or four dropped stitches I needed to rescue without adding sleepiness into the equation). I’m happy with my hat, I might even knit it again in slightly chunkier yarn, and, having bought more yarn than I needed, I have the next project queued to start using galaxy; the Railway Modeller will just have to get used to me in stripes!

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Midnight Spud Feast

Published September 24, 2014 by Storm

Sometimes I need to plan better, or not to let myself get distracted from my original plans. On Monday I got home from work at a sensible time planning to make Creamy Potato Gratin with Herbs from the dinner party section of Vegetarian Classics; somehow the evening sped by and I ended up opting for a quicker to prepare option for supper. Last night I got home from work at 10:30pm and decided that, since I’d bought the cream and cheese on Monday, I ought to make my gratin despite the time. 

This wasn’t a difficult dish to make but I underestimated the preparation time; I think it took as long to chop and grate ingredients as to actually bake the gratin. If I’d wanted to speed up the process I could have used the food processor to cut the potatoes into matchsticks and to grate the cheese but I tend to avoid using noisy gadgets late at night.

I used a goats’ gouda in place of the gruyère the recipe called for, very flavoursome but not too goaty for the Railway Modeller. My herbs in this instance were a simple mix of parsley and thyme, I had those in the fridge and didn’t fancy going out in the dark and wet to cut anything else from the garden, and I was fairly generous with the black pepper and nutmeg.

We didn’t eat until just after midnight but it was worth the wait. Both our plates were cleared too well for the cats’ liking, I had a second helping I probably didn’t need, and neither of is is objecting to the fact that we’ll be eating gratin again for supper tonight. Although the recipe suggested a wider selection of herbs we both felt the flavour was just right as I’d made it. Some of the potato in the centre was very slightly firmer than would have been perfect; I think cooking it in a shallower dish with a larger base area than the casserole dish I used would avoid that next time.

I’d better not make this too often though, with all that cheese and cream it’s a slightly wicked supper!

5 out of 5 for clear instructions and ease of cooking

5 out of 5 for flavour

Extravagant Asparagus

Published June 10, 2014 by Storm

Still in season, still locally grown, I had to try another asparagus dish this week. The indulgence levels crept even higher this time though, with fennel and baby leeks amongst the vegetables creeping in with some double cream to accompany the asparagus. Following it with strawberries was pure decadence.

Pasta with Spring Vegetables

I didn’t quite follow the recipe as written; Vegetarian Classics would have had me boil each of the vegetables, one after another, in the same pan of water then keep them warm while cooking the pasta and the sauce, instead I steamed them together and cooked the rest of the dish towards the end of the steaming time. My approach worked perfectly well and seemed simpler.

The sauce called for fresh mixed herbs so I raided the garden. In addition to the suggested parsley, thyme and sage I used lemon thyme and oregano. The lemon thyme particularly worked to compliment the fennel and asparagus and even in less extravagant suppers I will be combining those flavours again. Asparagus and lemon thyme omelette is crying out to be created.

As is often the case with vegetarian cookery books, Parmesan was the recommended garnish for this dish; I’ve said it before and will no doubt find myself saying it again but Parmesan is not vegetarian. I have had this cookery book for 10 years so perhaps more recent publications have finally started getting this right! I’d have been substituting on the cheese anyway as cows’ milk doesn’t like me but it does irritate me when vegetarian recipe books specify non-vegetarian ingredients.

3 out of 5 for clear instructions and ease of cooking (too much faffing about as written)

5 out of 5 for flavour

Spaghetti Squash and a Sample of Simnel

Published April 1, 2014 by Storm

Baked Squash with Parmesan Goats’ Cheese

This is the closest to cheating at my own challenge I’ve come since I started in January. I have been baking squashes since a friend introduced me to cheese topped baked butternut squash when I was eighteen. This week’s recipe just about counted as a new dish as, on the rare occasion I’ve been able to buy them, I’ve always baked my spaghetti squashes with a stuffing; for this recipe you bake the squash on it’s own then season with a herb butter and top with grated cheese. 

I wanted to try something new with spaghetti squash, really I did. The problem was I worked in reverse this week. Up until now I’ve chosen a recipe then raided my store cupboards and shopped for the ingredients. This week I got excited about squash and bought one, confident that I would find spaghetti squash recipes in abundance in my library, and then discovered that of all my books only Vegetarian Classics Simple Dishes for Every Occasion had even one recipe for me to try.

I was slightly surprised by the seemingly short cooking time given but I assumed that it was because the squash wasn’t bursting with stuffing. Towards the end of the cooking time recommended I concluded that my doubts were in fact well founded and I gave my squash an extra twenty minutes. It was edible but still a little crisper than I would prefer. I still like spaghetti squash but I’ll go back to cooking them my way.

4 out of 5 for ease of cooking.

3 out of 5 for flavour (I made a poor choice of cheese though).

Simnel Cake

A couple of weeks ago I baked a Simnel Cake to a recipe from Vegetarian Cooking Through The Year. On Sunday I added the marzipan ready for us to enjoy a sweet treat. Adding the marzipan did provide some mild stress! I obviously made my marzipan eggs a little on the small side as, when I tried to brown them under the grill as instructed, two of them softened too much and dropped through the rack and into the base of the grill pan. The errant eggs were retrieved and all eleven made it onto the top of the cake.

We like this cake. I really like this cake. It reminds me of my Gran’s cakes, though I can’t put my finger on exactly what makes it like one of hers. I think we’ll be having a Simnel Cake for Laetare Sunday every year from now on.

This also gets 4 out of 5 for ease of cooking.

4.5 out of 5 for flavour.

Bulgar and Lentil Pilaf

Published March 11, 2014 by Storm

Minimal preparation and only one pan

I’m conserving my energy at the moment, by next week I should have plenty but at the moment I’m at a low ebb; this pilaf, from Vegetarian Classics Simple Dishes for Every Occasion, looked like it would suit this weary cook nicely. With only one onion and a few mushrooms to slice, and minimising the washing up by being a complete meal cooked in only one pan, it doesn’t get much less strenuous to cook from scratch.

It’s almost all in the spices

Unusually, the aroma of the spices sautéing with the onion drew The Railway Modeller through to the kitchen to tell me how good it smelt. Uncertain as to whether The Railway Modeller would like bulgar, he doesn’t think he’d ever tried it, and knowing he doesn’t share my liking for lentils I was heating something else up for him but I promised him some of the pilaf to try as well.

Once everything was simmering in the pan with the stock it could more or less be left to itself. With an almost finished knitting project on my needles, which I’m keen to wear before it warms up too much, and the next knitting and crochet projects crying out for me to start them I was quite happy to let the pan simmer away with little attention beyond an occasional stir. My dinner didn’t suffer for my neglect, it was ready in the expected time with both bulgar and lentils cooked to perfection.

Almost too much of a good thing

The recipe suggested that it would make four portions as a main dish, you could probably get five or six portions out of it if you were serving it with a good salad or planned a dessert. Personally I think I’d prefer this pilaf as a side dish, it would compliment a nice, fruity tagine very well. The Railway Modeller seemed to like the balance of spices in it and I don’t think he objected to the bulgar but I’d need to come up with a lentil free version for him to try it again.

5 out of 5 for ease of cooking

4 out of 5 for flavour

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