Nac Mac Vegan: adventures in rabbit food

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.

01/10/2010

Curry Udon

Filed under: Japanese, Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 12:35

Yesterday, the Japan Centre sent me a link to their Japanese Curry Udon recipe. It’s almost vegan. The main problem with it is the tsuyu. All the commercial bottled tsuyu contains fish, as far as I’m aware. Last night’s tea was based on this recipe, and this is my version of it.

For the curry:
2 cubes of hot Golden Curry roux
400ml water
1 onion, chopped in chunks
1 carrot, cut into chunky triangles
2 small potatoes, cubed
4 cherry tomatoes, or one ordinary one, chopped
a handful of dark tvp chunks
vegetable oil for frying

For the soup:
400ml konbu dashi, or 400ml water and half a sachet (4g) instant dashi powder.
2 tsp shoyu
2 tsp mirin (use a cheap one here)

2 bundles dried udon, or two packets of fresh udon

Put the tvp chunks to soak in plenty of warm water about 15 minutes before you need them, then drain well.

Put plenty of water into a large saucepan and start to bring it to the boil. Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan and fry the onions, carrots, potato, tomato and tvp chunks for a few minutes until the onions are however you like them. Add 400ml water, bring to the boil and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through.

By now, the water in the big pan should be boiling so add a dash of oil and the udon, and boil them until they are tender. Drain, put into cold water, then drain again.

Meanwhile, put the soup ingredients into a smaller saucepan and bring them to the boil. Simmer very briefly and remove from heat.

Back to the curry, when the vegetables are tender, add the cubes of roux one at a time and stir until they are completely dissolved. Add the soup and mix thoroughly.

Divide the noodles between two large bowls, then ladle the curry soup on top of them, and serve. It can be quite messy to eat.

Notes
You need to choose your curry sauce carefully – there are at least two varieties of Golden Curry, one of which contains beef and the other of which is vegan. The vegan one helpfully had the words “No meat contained” splashed prominently on the packet and seems to be made for the US market. Go for the hot variety, as Japanese curry is incredibly feeble compared to what we’re used to in the UK.

It would be much easier to make this by adding the soup ingredients to the vegetables right at the start, and that’s what I plan to do in future.

You can vary the curry ingredients according to what you have. The version given is a close interpretation of the classic Japanese curry. They have regular cubes of beef in theirs, and the TVP chunks are exactly right in this. Tofu, unless deep fried, doesn’t work too well, but gluten is good. I always add the tomato as it has a dramatic improvement without the flavour becoming too obvious.

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.

11/12/2009

Latkes

Filed under: Jewish, Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 12:53

Latkes in the pan

Latkes in progress.

It is, apparently, That Time of Year and this morning Neil Gaiman lamented on Twitter Alas I will not get to cook latkes until I get home on Weds, when I’ll try to solve the world latke shortage singlehandedly. I don’t have that problem, and they’re one of my partner’s favourite comfort foods. They’re a complete pain if you don’t have a food processor with a grater attachment, but that’s what spouses are for! Most recipes contain egg, but it’s a really straightforward substitution. I do not bother peeling the potatoes and use wholemeal flour, but still, latkes are only good for your mental health.

3 or 4 medium or large potatoes (you need about half a kilo, or just over a pound in old money)
1 medium onion
2 tbl plain wholemeal flour
2 tbl gram flour (chick pea flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
black pepper to taste
frying oil

Grate the potatoes reasonably finely into a bowl – I used a Microplane “coarse” grater for this (or rather, my partner is volunteered for this task). Do not discard the liquid that comes off. Grate or mince the onion and add to the potato. I also mince the bits of potato that didn’t get grated and add that to the mixture. Mix the flours, sugar and pepper together well, making sure to be rid of all the lumps, then add to the potato and onion. Mix it all up well.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Traditionally olive oil is used, allegedly in memory of the miracle at the centre of Chanukah – the day’s oil lasting 8 days. My Reform mother-in-law uses butter, (she also makes her latkes quite coarse and large, more like hash browns – heretic!); I use a blend of olive oil and margarine because it tastes good.

Drop tablespoonsful of the mixture into the oil — you should get four in an average pan — and cook the latkes over a low to medium heat until they are a lovely golden colour. Remove, drain and eat promptly. The quantities given make about 12 – you will probably need to stir the mix again between batches.

Appelmoes (UK English seems to lack a word for this stuff, but Americans call it “applesauce”. I mostly see it in the Netherlands though, where it’s really popular, and the Dutch word is the one I know) is a traditional accompaniment. I like them with a bit of black pepper, and yuzu is really good on latkes. Himself is trying to convince me that Omnomnomnom is some kind of traditional invocation, but I don’t believe him.

03/05/2009

An unexpected vegan treat

Filed under: Eating out — Tags: , , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 09:21

Inside M Manze, Bermondsey

Inside M Manze, Bermondsey

The London Randomness Guide threw me an irresistible option yesterday – something so intriguing that I couldn’t not try it. It told me of Manze’s pie and mash shops. Now, pie and mash is a very traditional food among the white working class of London, and is essentially what you think it is: a meat pie served with mashed potato and either liquor (a non-dairy parsley sauce) or gravy, and the only other things pie and mash shops tend to sell is eels, either stewed or jellied. So, nothing much there for the vegan, right? Well, according to the Randomness description of M. Manze:

Vegetarian pies are available, but there’s a 10-minute wait while they heat one up. According to the Manze’s website, the vegetarian pies, the mash, and the liquor are all suitable for vegans.

The website also mentions that the gravy is suitable for vegetarians. It was a no-brainer, and soon I found myself, and two meat-eating companions, on a bus heading down Tower Bridge Road. The shop is exquisite, with tiles, and marble table tops, with the only change in the last 80 years or so being the sympathetic addition of some stainless steel surfaces in the food serving area. Manze is no dodgy establishment, and they pride themselves on keeping up with all modern hygiene standards, and even some up-to-date ingredients, whilst maintaining a traditional atmosphere and flavour.

I ordered the one vegetarian pie, one mash and one liquor, plus sarsaparilla to drink. The food only took five minutes, if that, and this is what I got:

Vegan pie and mash, with liquor.

Vegan pie and mash, with liquor.

Now, I’m not from London, but I’m from a working class background, and that just says to me “food”. One of the others, of more refined origin, opined that it resembled school dinners. Obviously private schools have better dinners than we did! We all tucked in, and none of us was disappointed. The veggie pies are made with a soya-based mince to resemble the meaty ones as closely as possible – none of those effete vegetables here. The pastry was a little tough at the edges (does chewing it count as exercise?), but the mash was made of potatoes – real ones, that tasted of something – and nothing else. The liquor was interesting, mildly herby and was really good with the potato. This is the only recipe I’ve found so far, with a very superficial search, and making that vegan will be trivial.

Overall, I never expected to find food like this in a vegan form, especially not in such a traditional shop, and it was solid comfort food that kept us going all day whilst touristing around London, and it was a joy to eat. I’ll be back on my next visit, and I’m only waiting that long because the shop’s not open until after I get home (Sundays and bank holidays being in the way).

M. Manze Pie and Mash shop, 87 Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 4TW. Open lunchtime only, Mon-Sat. Closed Sundays and bank holidays.

20/11/2006

Germanic potato salad

Filed under: Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , , — Feòrag @ 09:26

This is the potato salad referred to in the previous post.

5 (ish) medium potatoes
1-2 tsp of Lidl’s freeze dried salad herbs, or equivalent [*]
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs cider vinegar
1/2 to 1 tsp mustard, depending on taste
black pepper

Boil the potatoes whole and in their jackets until tender. Plunge into a couple of changes of cold water, drain, allow to cool some more and then slice. If the skin comes off, munch it – it’s good for you.

Put in a large bowl with the salad herbs, and leave while you mix the dressing.

Mix the olive oil, vinegar and mustard. The quantities here make too much, but it’s as small as I can get it easily [**]. Pour over as much dressing as you want, grind some black pepper into the bowl, and mix well. Refrigerate until needed.

[*] The ingredients listed are parsley, onions, chives, shallots and garlic.
[**] If you are going to eat some, and leave the rest in the fridge overnight, bung all the dressing on as the oil seems to help it not dry out.

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