Nac Mac Vegan: adventures in rabbit food

26/05/2011

Patra buttie

Filed under: Experiments, Indian — Tags: , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 17:13

This is my own concoction, and it represents a truly British dish, needing the right combination of immigrant groups in sufficient numbers to have shops providing for them.

Patra is an Indian speciality made by spreading a spicy gram flour batter on taro leaves, rolling it up Swiss roll fashion and steaming it. It is available from Indian groceries in two forms in the UK. The easiest to find is canned but it is also available frozen, and this is, in my opinion, much better. The amount of patra you need depends on the size of the patra (the frozen is smaller) and the size of your slice of bread.

Polish shops have a range of ketchups. The “extra hot” one illustrated is not as spicy as it claims but has a nice tang. You can always spice it up by going to a Chinese or North American grocery and getting a hot chili sauce to add to it.

To make one sandwich:

between 3 and 5 slices of patra
2 slices wholemeal bread
Polish “extra hot” tomato ketchup
1-2 tbs olive oil
½ tsp white sesame seeds
½ tsp cumin seed
a pinch of asafœtida (hing)

Heat the oil in frying pan and add the spices. Cook for about thirty seconds before adding the patra and turning the heat down. When cooked, it goes a lovely golden brown colour – after a few minutes you will have to flip the slices.

Meanwhile, take one slice of your bread and put lots of ketchup on it. When the patra is done, arrange it on this slice of bread, add some more ketchup and bung the other slice over it. Cut in two and eat.

24/12/2010

Savoury Strudel

I was attempting to make apple strudel last night and had five sheets of pastry left over. I was also hungry, so decided to experiment and make a mushroom strudel. Except I only had three mushrooms left, so had to add the potatoes.

5 sheets filo pastry, defrosted.
at least a cup vegetable ghee
Approximately a dozen small new potatoes
3 mushrooms
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic, or to taste
¼ cup ground almonds
2 tbl sesame seed
2 tbl olive oil
1 tbl flour
1 cup vegetable stock
Ground black pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 180°C, maybe 200°C if not fan-assisted.

Slice the potatoes very thinly and parboil. Set to one side.

Slice the mushrooms and onion thinly. Crush or chop the garlic finely. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the mushrooms, onion and garlic for a few minutes. Add the ground almonds and the flour and fry for a minute or so more or until the flour darkens. Turn the heat down, and gradually add the stock, stirring all the time, until you get a thick creamy sauce. Bring to the boil – it should thicken slightly – then add the cooked potatoes and black pepper to taste and set to one side.

Melt the ghee in a small saucepan and leave on the lowest heat.

Place a clean tea towel on a flat surface. Put the first sheet of filo on top of this and brush it all over with the melted ghee. Place your next sheet of filo on top of this and repeat, until all the sheets of filo are used up. Sprinkle about 1½ tablespoons of sesame seed all over the top sheet. Allowing about 5cm (2″) at the end, and about half that at the edges, spread the filling in a rectangle at one narrow end of your pastry. It should cover about a third to a half of the surface area. Using the tea towel like a sushi mat, lift up the narrow end and gently roll the pastry into a large Swiss roll. Place onto a greased baking sheet with the “join” underneath.

Brush the top with more melted ghee and sprinkle over the remaining sesame seeds. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until it is nicely browned. Don’t forget to switch off the heat under the remaining ghee!

Notes
I used vegetable ghee for this, but you could use a baking margarine. The fat level is important to make this recipe work, so it needs to be a hard margarine such as Tomor Hard Block. I liked how this recipe turned out, but am thinking of experimenting with olive oil next time. To slightly reduce the fat content, the top could be brushed with soya milk instead of ghee.

Use a flavoursome stock. I used a Kosher parve beef-style consommé, sprinkled onto the sauce at the boil, and stirred in. I would also have used more mushrooms and fewer potatoes, but that’s what I had.

04/12/2010

Spinach with pine nut dressing

This is a variation on a traditional Japanese dish, using pine nuts instead of sesame seed. The dressing can be made with practically any kind of nut or seed, but I had some pine nuts to use up, and they worked really well.

A bag of spinach (200-250g)
30g pine nuts
1 tbl shōyu
1 tbl mirin

Toast the pine nuts in a frying pan, no oil, until mid-brown. Grind them as fine as you can and mix in the shōyu and mirin. Put to one side.

Thoroughly rinse the spinach and wilt by boiling it in as much water as sticks to it. Rinse in cold water, and gently squeeze out as much liquid as you can. You will probably have a sausage shaped lump of spinach at this point. Cut it into short lengths of about 2cm, and separate the pieces as you put them in a bowl. Mix in the dressing and leave for a while before serving at room temperature.

This recipe can be made gluten-free by using proper tamari instead of shōyu. You should use a high quality mirin, such as Clearspring’s Mikawa Mirin, for this dish – it’s worth it.

25/01/2010

Haggis and Tattie Pakoras

It’s Burns’ Night, when it is traditional to eat haggis, tatties and neeps while drinking whisky. Instead, I created a dish which represents modern Scotland in all its diverse wonderfulness.

First you need to catch your haggis. The vegetarian haggis (Haggis herbivorii) has been increasing in numbers of late, and researchers think that h. herbivorii makes up 25% of the haggis population in Scotland. They are primarily urban creatures, so one should not be hard to find. They have expanded their territory from their traditional haunts in the corners of wholefood shops, and can often be found lurking in supermarkets. Some have reported success in breeding them in captivity.

I managed to bag the commonest subspecies, the MacSween Vegetarian Haggis (h. herbivorii macsweeniensis) for this recipe, which makes lots.

approx. 500g vegetarian haggis
half a dozen medium potatoes
1½ cups gram flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp ajwain seed
1 tsp dried chillies, or to taste
1½ cups water

Give the seeds and chillies a good bashing in a mortar and pestle then stick them in a food processor or a bowl with the gram flour, baking powder and turmeric. Add about half the water and mix well, then add the rest of the water as you continue mixing until you get a smooth batter. Put it to one side.

Cut the potatoes up into small pieces and parboil about 5 minutes. Drain and allow to cool a bit. Meanwhile, skin your haggis and break the flesh into small pieces – around the size of a hazelnut. Put the pieces in a bowl as you work, and dust them with flour (gram, wheat or rice) to stop them breaking apart too much.

Add the potatoes and mix. The haggis will break up a bit. Don’t worry. Add the batter and mix some more. Do not despair as the haggis breaks up some more. It really doesn’t matter as long as there are some nice lumps.

Heat vegetable oil or vegetable ghee in a deep fat fryer (for the sensible), a frying pan, or a wok. When it is hot, turn the heat down a little – the pakora need to cook fairly slowly about five minutes a side. Put tablespoonsful of the mixture into the oil and deep fry until both sides are a dark orangey brown. Don’t overfill the fryer. Remove when done and drain. Eat as soon as they are cool enough with a dipping sauce — a good cheating pakora dipping sauce is a mixture of mint sauce and tomato ketchup. They will keep quite well and freeze if you don’t eat them all.

If I had been able to get a neep smaller than a beach ball, I would have used some, also parboiled, instead of half the potato.

I challenged myself to go a month without drinking alcohol, so whisky was not on the menu. Instead, I drank some of this rather fine Braes O’ Gowrie Sparkling Elderflower from those nice Cairn O’Mohr people.

31/05/2009

Nutmeat and rice hash

Filed under: Experiments, Historic — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 20:12

Having made the 1911 nutmeats, I now have to find something to do with them! Fortunately, the same book I used has a good number of recipes. Because I had the ingredients to hand, I opted for the Trumese and Rice Hash, the instructions for which read Use boiled or steamed rice in place of potato in the preceding recipe. So, making that substitution, here’s the original recipe:

Put trumese and double the quantity of cold [cooked rice] … through food cutter, using the next coarsest cutter…. Mix carefully. Simmer without browning, chopped onion in oil. Add the mixed trumese and [rice], pour consommé or nicely seasoned gravy over and set in the oven to heat, and brown over the top….

The onion may be mixed with the trumese and potato, all put into a baking dish, nut butter stirred with a cream with consommé poured over and the hash baked for ¾-1 hour. Finely sliced celery, celery salt, or any of the sweet herbs, powdered, may be substituted for the onion. sage may be used occasionally with the onion.

Well, first impression is that that would be pretty bland, so I added one or two things to the consommé. There’s also the problem of nut butter, as it could mean one of two things in this period — either peanut butter as we understand it, or a solid vegetable fat made from nut oils. The former made more sense to me. Here’s what I did:

2 cups cooked brown rice, defrosted if necessary.
1 can trumese, cut into fine dice.
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tbl peanut butter
1 tsp vegetable stock powder, or to taste
1 tomato
a small amount of water
vegetable oil for frying

Preheat the oven to about 160°C. Chop the onion finely and fry gently in the oil until opaque, then add the garlic, trumese and rice. I also had the end of a carrot, so I chopped that and added it too. Give it a good stir and let it heat through. Blend together the peanut butter, water, tomato and vegetable stock until you get a medium creamy sauce. Mix it all together, transfer to a large shallow baking tin and stick it in the oven for about 40 minutes. This is what came out:

Trumese and rice hash, fresh out of the oven

Trumese and rice hash, fresh out of the oven

If you like crispy bits on your rice, you’ll adore this, as it’s the aforementioned crispy bits surrounding a moist centre. But it was still bland even though I’d added the tomato and used brown rice. Whilst I won’t make this exact recipe the same way again, I can see a lot of promise for the basic dish — it’s not difficult to use herbs and spices, or a more strongly-flavoured stock. It would work with tofu (go for the smoked or hazel nut varieties), or any of the commercial fake meats out there, and leftovers could be added to it as well. Using cooking rings on a baking tray would give a more refined presentation.

This amount would serve four with plenty of vegetables and maybe a sauce.

23/03/2009

Microwave tofu experiment FAIL WIN

Filed under: Experiments, Japanese — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 14:39

I need yosedoufu—a very soft tofu made in a bowl, usually as needed—to make bukkake soba (yes, that’s the real name of the dish), but it’s not the sort of thing you can get here. I was wandering around the web when I encountered (in context, I’m not going to use the phrase “came across”!) this Japanese recipe for making tofu in a microwave, which looked as if it was just what I needed and used ready-made soya milk as a basis.

The sort of soya milk you need

The sort of soya milk you need

I gathered together my ingredients and equipment. I chose Plamil Organic soya milk. It’s important that soya milk used for tofu contain nothing but soya and water, and the recipe suggests that it needs to be at least 10% soya beans. The Plamil milk is 14% soya. The only other similarly simple brand I could find was a Provamel variety that was only 8% soya beans. As well as that, I needed nigari, of which I had two types in stock – a liquid Japanese brand, and a more natural-looking mix of salty stuff and water from the wholefood shop over the road:

Two types of nigari

Two types of nigari

The recipe appeared to be using the Japanese liquid type, so I went with that. I used a microwave saucepan, as that was large enough to hold 500ml of soya milk. The instructions were to mix the soya milk and nigari while cold, then divide between single portion bowls and microwave for 4 mins 30s in a 500w oven. I kept it all in the pan, and set my 850w oven to 600w, then microwaved it for 3mins 30s.

It did not turn out as tofu. I let it stand, and it didn’t curdle at all. Eventually, when it was cooled, I added a second teaspoon of nigari and repeated the process. The nigari was out-of-date, but it’s a mineral, so I can’t see why there’d be a problem. When it had heated, I checked the temperature and it was over the 75°C needed for coagulation to work. Again, it was liquid, so I let it stand. I checked again when it had dropped below the coagulation temperatute and I did not have tofu. I did, though, get fresh yuba! Which I ate, there and then.

Fresh yuba.

Fresh yuba.

Next I plan to use the more natural nigari and see what happens. (Update: this worked. Now to make bukkake soba.)

22/02/2009

1913 Nut Galantine

Filed under: Experiments, Historic — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 19:32
The cover of Sidney H. Beard's "A Comprehensive Guide-Book to Natural, Hygienic, and Humane Diet"

The cover of the book from which this recipe was taken

Sidney H. Beard’s A Comprehensive Guide-book to Natural, Hygienic, and Humane Diet was published in 1913 by an organisation called The Order of the Golden Age (note this site uses Javascript menus which do not actually work!), an explicitly religious vegetarian group. Although basically Christian, the influence of Spiritualism and Theosophy is apparent in the Order’s publications. My copy of this book is currently working its way through Distributed Proofreaders (assuming there was a back-up!) and will hopefully appear on Project Gutenberg soon.

This recipe is rather oddly named. Your actual galantine is a deboned bird rolled around a stuffing, poached, allowed to cook and then decorated and coated in aspic. Beard’s galantine is a nut and pasta roast, which he recommends be served cold with a salad, though he also regards it as being good warm. His original recipe isn’t vegan, but is trivially made so:

Take ½-lb, ground walnuts, ¼-lb. cooked spaghetti, 2 onions, 1 small tomato, 1-oz. butter, 1 dessertspoonful of Carnos, a little stock, pepper and salt to taste. Fry the onions and tomato in the butter, and then add the other ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes. Put into a greased mould, cover with a greased paper, and bake in a slow oven for 1 hour. Turn out when cold and serve with salad and Mayonnaise sauce. This dish may be served hot as a roast with red currant jelly and browned potatoes.

The observant will note that there is just not quite enough information there! How should I cut the onions and tomatoes? What size and type of mould do I need? What is a “slow oven” anyway? What’s Carnos? That last question is straightforward—it was a fake meat extract and can be replaced with yeast extract. For the others, I made an educated guess and this is what I came up with:

Ingredients
225g mixed nuts (I had no walnuts on their own)
100-125g pasta (any sort – I used wholemeal macaroni)
2 onions
1 small tomato
a generous forkful of vegan margarine
2 tsp Marmite
approximately ¾ cup water
a big pinch of stock powder
black pepper

Method
Cook the pasta until al dente according to the instructions on the packet. While this is cooking, grind the nuts finely, and cut the onions and tomatoes into 1cm dice. Drain the pasta when ready and put to one side.

Turn on your oven and start to pre-heat to 150°C. Heat up the margarine slowly in a large frying pan and put in the onions and tomatoes. Fry until they are nice and soft then add the cooked pasta, ground nuts, Marmite, water and stock powder. You might find it easier (i.e. I should have done this) to boil the water and dissolve the Marmite and stock powder in it first, before adding the mixture to the pan. Grind as much black pepper as you like into it, and then simmer for 15 minutes.

Grease a 1 Kg loaf tin (I think this is a 2lb loaf tin in old money), pausing to moan at your partner who put it away whilst still wet, causing a rust patch to form. Put the mixture in the loaf tin and cover with greased paper—Waitrose’s own brand baking parchment is siliconised, and doesn’t need greasing. The oven should have heated up by now, so put it in and try to ignore it for an hour.

Not the prettiest of dishes, but it tasted good.

Not the prettiest of dishes, but it tasted good.

Results
It felt quite soft when it came out of the oven, but firmed up a little as it cooled down. It crumbled a little when I got it out of the tin, mostly in the form of pieces of pasta. It wasn’t very photogenic, but I took pictures anyway! It does not slice easily when warm, and I would consider preparing it as individual portions if making it as a roast. The outside was dark brown and crisp, the inside paler and softer. It tasted good though, the pasta giving it a bizarre, slightly chewy texture. A solid, satisfying winter dish which would go well with any sort of vegetable, though a sauce is necessary—I had potatoes and peppers in a simple white sauce, but a tomato sauce, or a gravy would go well.

09/04/2006

Butterbean and Broccoli Soup

Filed under: Experiments, Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 16:57

This recipe is a little approximate – it’s what I had for lunch.

1 good handful broccoli, plus the stem from an entire head.
approximately 500ml (a pint) of stock
1 tin butterbeans, drained
6 cherry tomatoes
1 medium onion
crushed garlic to taste
a pinch of rosemary
half a teaspoon of oregano
Olive oil for frying (optional)

Cut the broccoli into small florets, separating out the stems. Chop the stems. Fry the onions and garlic with the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the stock, cherry tomatoes, broccoli stems and herbs. Bring to the boil and simmer until the broccoli stems are cooked and the tomatoes have burst. Take a hand blender, or transfer it to a blender, and blend the contents of the pan. Add the broccoli florets and butterbeans, and cook until the broccoli is done to your taste – around five minutes. Serve with bread and season to taste.

Low-fat alternative: rather than frying the onions and garlic, just add them to the stock with the tomatoes and broccoli stems.

12/02/2005

Okara patties

Filed under: Experiments — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 14:47

I made some soya milk today and faced the usual problem of what to do with the left-over pulp. I decided to play, and this is what I came up with:

Ingredients:

Okara from 1 litre soya milk (about ½ to 1 cup)
2 cherry tomatoes
1 small onion
3 brown cap mushrooms
1 clove garlic (or to taste)
1 tbsp mixed seeds (Food Doctor fennel and caraway flavour)
3 tbsp gram flour (aka chick pea or garbanzo bean flour)
2 tbsp wholewheat flour
Splash of soya milk
Olive oil for frying.

Note: all tbsp are heaped.

Method
Mince the vegetables and garlic, and add to the okara in a mixing bowl with the splash of soya milk (which happened to be in the bottom of the soya milk maker, and is not necessary) and the seeds. Add the gram flour and then the whole wheat flour a spoon at a time, mixing well between each seed. You should end up with a fairly stiff batter. Stop if you reach this stage before using up all the flour! If it’s not stiff, add more flour a tbsp at a time, alternating between the gram and wheat fours, until you are satisfied.

Fry ’em in olive oil until nice and golden – a heaped tbsp of batter makes a nice-sized patty. The result is somewhere in-between a latke and a pakora, and this recipe makes five (typical!).

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