Nac Mac Vegan: adventures in rabbit food


Edinburgh Farmers’ Market

Filed under: Ingredients, Shopping — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 11:33

The location for the farmers' market is spectacular, especially on a good day like this.

The location for the farmers' market is spectacular, especially on a good day like this.

The Edinburgh Farmers’ Market is a weekly event, which is unfortunately on the wrong side of town for us. The withdrawal of the number 17 bus has made getting there by public transport impossible, and the fact that it’s on top of a car park isn’t an encouragement to use public transport either. So, when we go, unless we’re feeling really fit, we take the Volvo and then buy enough veg to justify it.

At first sight, the market doesn’t have much to offer the vegan, with an excess of meat stalls, and a couple of cheesemakers. They even have leaflets on the market information stall from the Meat Marketing Board promoting industrially-produced meat! But it’s not all unhealthy stuff, don’t worry.

Phantassie organic vegetables

Phantassie organic vegetables

Phantassie is an organic vegetable farm in East Lothian, and they are at the market a couple of times a month. This time round I bought red spring onions, smoked garlic, pea shoots (a green leafy veg), broad beans, white turnips and shiitake. Another regular is East Coast Organics, another East Lothian farm, who are at the market every week. Their stall provided me with a bunch of onions, another of carrots (carrot greens make good soup), one of radishes, a knobbly cucumber (good for Japanese recipes), a red kohlrabi and yellow courgettes. Meanwhile, my partner bought some fantastic plum tomatoes on the vine, and some baby plum tomatoes from the adjacent J & M Craig (one of the last remaining Clyde tomato growers) stall. The aroma from them is fantastic.

A couple of my favourite stalls weren’t there today. Ardnamushrooms grow shiitake and other fungi, and were the source of our organic shiitake block, an experiment in very local food we’d be glad to repeat some time. Carrolls Heritage Potatoes are only there on the first Saturday of the month, when tatties are in season, but they produce potatoes that I like — ones that taste of something. They have blue potatoes, purple potatoes and loads of flavoursome spuds from days of yore. I note they are now selling online, though, and have a stockist in Leith (if I can bear going into a fishmonger — I might have to send himself).

Cheery staff at the Good Soup Group.

Cheery staff at the Good Soup Group.

All that shopping can be hard work, so we had a couple of snacks whilst there. I ignored him having his pig in a bun (which he complained wasn’t very good – ha!) and chose a spicy noodle soup from the Good Soup Group — the noodles were rice noodles, making the soup both vegan and gluten free. Special dietary requirements seem to be a particular concern at the Good Soup Group, and they try to source everything locally wherever possible. And then there’s The Chocolate Tree, lurking ready to ruin all of your healthy eating intentions. They do a massive range of chocolate bars, vegan chocolate hazelnut spread and vegan chocolate sorbet. The cones for the sorbet are not vegan, but they are more than happy to serve it to you in a cup instead. Messy, and delicious, afterwards my face resembled that of a three-year-old after a bath in cocoa. And I don’t care!



Quick springtime pasta

Filed under: Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 15:48

I’m on my travels at the moment, and staying with friends who are feeding me really well. Today’s lunch was taken from BBC Good Food magazine, not sure which issue – the original recipe wasn’t vegan, but making it so is completely trivial. It claims to serve 4, but that would be as part of a full meal. It serves about 3 really, or two hungry people who know they’re not going to eat for a bit.

1 tbl olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed (much more was used!)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
(generous) handful fresh basil, chopped
400g spaghetti (4/5 of a standard package)
290g jar chargrilled artichokes, drained and cut into bite-size pieces
(generous) handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

We used the oil from the artichokes for frying, and when boiling the spaghetti.

Put on a pot of water to boil before you start getting everything together.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan (or wok, in this case), add the garlic and cook for a minute until lightly coloured. Pour in the the chopped tomatoes then stir in the basil. Bring up to the boil then turn down the heat and gently simmer for 10mins or, in the real world, until the spaghetti is done.

Hopefully the water has come to the boil by now, so cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet. Drain.

Add the artichokes to the tomato sauce until heated through, then either add it to the spaghetti, or add the spaghetti to it, depending on which pan is bigger! Stir in most of the chopped parsley (leave a bit for garnishing). If the sauce is a bit dry, add a drop of water at this point and re-heat. Serve immediately, garnished with the rest of the parsley.

Possible variation: As my other half almost certainly doesn’t like artichokes, I’m going to try the same technique using wild mushroom antipasto and/or roast aubergines and peppers.


Odd tomatoes and ersatz roast

Filed under: Ingredients, Products, Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 22:01
A sliced marmande tomato

A sliced marmande tomato

We recently obtained some marmande tomatoes, an unusual looking beastie that is said to taste really good. My other half googled for recipes using them, and found Oven-roasted Marmande Tomatoes, a staple in the south of France, apparently. We had all the ingredients except the fresh herbs (well, technically we have fresh rosemary, growing in the garden, but it was dark) so I decided to give it a go. It was pretty straightforward. I roasted them for longer than specified, but that’s because I have a strong dislike of half-cooked tomatoes. The recipe is highly recommended, and is likely to become a staple in this household whenever we can get hold of interesting tomatoes.

We were at a loss as to what would go with it until I remembered that we’d bought a Redwood Foods Cheatin’ turkey style roast with cranberry and wild rice stuffing when Real Foods had been selling them off after the festive season, and that it was still in our freezer. What’s more, it cooked at close to the same temperature as the tomatoes – result! I tend not to like fake meats (I never liked the real thing), but they make a useful compromise with my meat-eating partner. He declares that it is quite nice, though a little dry. I’d worried that I’d overdone the olive oil in the tomatoes, but he felt that was good with the roast.

But the tomatoes were the stars of this meal. I shall have to see if Waitrose still have them.


Quick Tomato Soup

Filed under: Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 14:39

Makes two meal-sized bowls or about 4 starter sized portions.


1 400g tin tomatoes
1 medium onion, finely chopped.
3 cloves garlic (or to taste), crushed and chopped.
1 tinful stock, or 1 tinful water plus 1 tsp stock powder.
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika.
1 bay leaf.
Basil to taste.
Approx 1 tbsp Olive oil.

Making it

Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil. Add the tin of tomatoes and bash them about a bit to break them up. Add stock, bayleaf, paprika and basil, bring to the boil and simmer for as long as you can. Blend if the tomatoes haven’t collapsed of their own accord and serve with a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.

This comes out somewhere inbetween a soup and a broth. If you want it richer, add more tomatoes, or less stock; if you want a broth, add more stock.


Bryngoleu Stewed Nuttose

Filed under: Historic — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 13:29

The most recent addition to my collection of old vegetarian cookbooks is The Bryngoleu Cookery Book by Lily L. Allen, published in England in 1906. It focuses around menus, rather than catergorised recipes, and today’s lunch was based on one part of one course of one of the dinner menus (they didn’t half eat a lot back then!). I had to veganise part of it, as you will see

First, the original:

A delicious stew can be made thus:—Run some walnuts through the nut mill and brown them in butter in a saucepan, add a grated onion, half a tin of tomato rubbed through a sieve, and vegetable stock to make a thick gravy. Add pieces of cooked Nuttose or other nut meat and, last of all—about twenty minutes before serving, some forcemeat balls prepared from bread-crumbs, parsley, sweet herbs, lemon-peel, seasoning, butter reduced to oil and one egg to bind. The balls must be fried in butter before they are added to the stew.

And now, my modernised, vegan version.

A handful of walnuts, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes with basil
The remains of a tin of Nuttolene (about 1/3 of a tin)
Vegetable stock powder
Olive oil for frying

Fry the walnuts and onion in olive oil until the nuts start to brown. Add the tinned tomatoes and the vegetable stock powder, and simmer. Make the balls (see below). If it begins to stick, or get too thick, add a splash of water. When the balls are ready, add the Nuttolene and the balls, and stew another 10 minutes or so. The sauce should be dark and thick.

1 thin slice wholemeal bread, beginning to go a bit stale.
1 tbl olive oil
1 tbl wholemeal flour
water to bind.
Herbs to taste
Yuzu (Japanese citron peel seasoning)

Turn the bread into breadcrumbs using a Swiss chopper, food processor etc. Add the flour and herbs, then rub in the olive oil. Add just enough water to bind it and form into four small flattened balls. Fry the balls slowly in olive oil until nice and golden. Add them to the stew to finish.

This served one as a complete meal. Originally it was served with Yorkshire pudding, cabbage and potatoes as part of a substantial three course meal – in that circumstance, it would be two generous portions at least.


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.


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:


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.

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!).


Make-it-up-as-you-go-along chimichanga-type thing

Filed under: Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 14:15

Last week, I was stuck in the house with no cash, and very little food in stock. This is what I came up with – it will feed one hungry person and scales up nicely.

1 tin tomatoes
1 small onion
garlic to taste
1 chipotle chili (or to taste)
1 tsp cumin
2 cloves
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 pack tempeh
Olive oil for frying.

1/2 cup strong wholemeal flour
1 tbl olive oil
approx 1/4 cup water.

Chop the onion and garlic and fry in a saucepan with olive oil on a low heat. Chop up the chilli and add to the pan. Grind the cumin and cloves and add to pan. Add the tomatoes and smash them up a bit. Bring to boil and then cover and simmer on a low heat for a long time until the tomatoes are reduced.

Meanwhile, mix up the flour, olive oil and enough water to make a dough and knead it for 10 minutes or so, adding more flour as needed. Wrap it up, or put it in a sealed container and forget about in the refrigerator.

Get a wok or karhai, and fry your tempeh until it’s a nice golden colour. When the tomatoes have reduced, add the tempeh and the paprika to the saucepan and mix well. Keep it on a low heat.

Retrieve your dough, and roll it into a ‘perfect’ circle at least 30cm (12″) in diameter. Sprinkle flour on the surface of your wok, which you remembered to keep warm, and gently lower the dough into it. Slowly bake it for five minutes or so.

Take about half the filling and place it in the centre of the dough circle. Fold over the edges to make a parcel. Raise the heat and add olive oil to fry it, flipping at least once.

Put your parcel on a plate, smother it with the remaining filling and your favourite barbeque sauce and eat!


Nuttolene and Green Pepper Curry

Filed under: Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 23:08

This is something I invented for my tea tonight, and it turned out quite well:

Nuttolene and Green Pepper Curry

1 tin Nuttolene
2 small onions
1 green pepper
2 tsp curry paste
1 tin chopped tomatoes
oil for frying

Chop onions finely and fry in oil until soft. Add the curry paste stir-fry on a medium heat for a minute or so. Add the tomatoes, and an equivalent amount of water (use the tin as a measure, and get the rest of the tomato juice while you are at it), and turn the heat back up. Extract the Nuttolene from the tin without removing any of your fingers. Dice it and add to pan. Chop the pepper, add to pan. Bring to boil and simmer until done, which is when the oil separates from the tomatoes. Serve with organic brown basmati rice – feeds two hungry ones.

Notes: Nuttolene is a peanut-based canned savoury ‘nutmeat’ thing made by Granose. I’m sure there will be a US equivalent. I use Patak’s Madras curry paste, which I actually saw in the US last time I was there…

Create a free website or blog at