Tuesday, 29 January 2013

House Full of Cake!

My house is currently awash with baked goods! I had a birthday on Friday and three people made absolutely amazing cakes...

As much as I love cooking, cake decorating seems to be a completely different set of skills - every attempt from me seems to end in nothing but irrational rage and a big sticky mess - so naturally I am filled with wonder and awe at the following and had to share:

This stained glass-effect monster was made by my boyfriend...

 My mum did this one. Clearly the ability to make flawless marzipan roses is not hereditary, as I can definitely not do that.

My friend Glenn made this one - it's a mouse in a wheel of cheese, except he only had pink icing rather than yellow... actually better that way, as it looks a bit like a Clanger....

As about a third of my diet is cake at the moment, I think it would be best if the meals interspersing this cake-feast were as healthy possible... expect next few posts to be Very Healthy Indeed.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Aubergine and Feta Tart

I'm afraid this is the complete antithesis of health, involving copious amounts of cheese, oil and pastry, so if you're on a January health kick, STEP AWAY.
However, for those of us who appreciate a bit of winter padding to stave off the cold, this tart is about the most delicious thing you can do with an aubergine. 
I adapted this from a recipe in Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries II (which came free in the paper - good old Observer) - http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0007256035 - and it normally serves four people, but because me and my boyfriend are pigs, we just ate the lot between the two of us. Judge us or follow suit, your choice. Enjoy!

Veggie feta sourcing tip - check the label just to make sure, as supermarkets change suppliers and recipes all the time, but Sainsburys Taste the Difference feta is veggie, as are Tesco and Co-op own brand.

What you need

3 medium aubergines
150g vegetarian feta 
few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic
1 320g sheet puff pastry (bought or, if you think you're 'ard enough - I'm not - home made)

What to do

First of all, pop two of the aubergines into the oven at 200C. They want to be left whole, but puncture them with a fork first or they might explode all over your oven, and nobody wants that. Leave them in for half an hour until they're soft and crinkly, then take out and let them cool down enough to handle.

Meanwhile, roll out the pastry onto a baking tray and score it with a knife a couple of inches from the edge - like a massive vol au vent. Put the pastry in on the shelf below the aubergine until brown - normally about 15 - 20 minutes. When done, leave to cool (don't worry about having a kitchen full of cold pastry and cold aubergines, it's all going to go back in the oven in a bit) then flatten the middle bit where you haven't scored with the nearest utensil to hand.

Crush the 2 cloves of garlic, fry off briefly until light brown, then take off the heat. The two cooked aubergines should now be cool enough to handle, and the skin should come off really easily with your hands. Cut the flesh into chunks, add with the garlic into a bowl, and mash it with a fork (or a stick blender if you have such a thing) into a pâté-like consistency.

Slice your remaining aubergine quite thinly and fry the slices until golden, which unless you have a giant pan will probably have to be in batches. Aubergines are infamous for soaking up a ridiculous amount of oil, and my way round this is to brush the actual slices with oil rather than oiling the pan. 

Now, assemble your tart! Spread the garlicky aubergine paste over the flattened middle bit of pastry, then lay on your aubergine slices in a visually pleasing manner. Crumble over the feta and add the sprigs of thyme.

Pop it in the oven (still at 200) for 10 - 15 more minutes, enough for the feta to soften and brown a bit.

Done! Hope you give it a try!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Beans 'n' Greens Stew

It's cold outside, it's Monday tomorrow... let's dilute the misery with a stew. This one is dead easy and is pretty adaptable to whatever you've got in the fridge. It's also vegan!

I made it with dumplings this time - 50g veg suet, 100g flour and some water - but it's just as good with a hunk of bread, or even on its own.

Serves a generous 2 (or 2 normal portions with leftovers)

What you need

an onion
a clove of garlic
a carrot
a stick of celery
a leek
250ml veggie white wine
250ml veg stock (vegans double check for sneaky lactose)
a bay leaf
a tbsp tomato puree
3 tbsp puy lentils/green lentils
a small tin of whatever beans you want - I used cannellini
100g-ish of leafy greens - I used curly kale but spinach, winter greens etc. would be fine

What to do

Start heating up a couple of tablespoons of oil in a saucepan, chop the onion and pop it in. While it's softening, chop the carrot and celery into small chunks and slice the leek. This always takes me forever as I'm a very slow chopper so if you're the same put the onion on quite a low heat!

When the onion's soft but not brown, add all the veg you've just chopped, and the garlic (crush or chop it first!). Leave it to cook for a bit - 5 or 7 minutes - on a medium heat then add the bay leaf, wine, stock, tomato puree and lentils. Give everything a good stir and leave it to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Finally, add the beans (get rid of the can water first) and greens. Leave it to simmer for 5 more minutes, for the beans to heat and the greens to wilt down.

Done! Bowl it up and enjoy :)

My First Post!


My name is Vicky, and I'm a veggie living in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

I went veggie when I was 11-ish (exact age is lost in the mists of time!) and, as the only veggie member of my family, I had to learn to cook for myself pretty quickly. I'm no culinary genius and there have definitely been some mistakes, but I've loved learning more about food and am keen to share my own recipes as well as those I've tried from elsewhere.

 I think vegetarian food has moved on so far from the old 90's options of nut loaf (hence my blog title!) or vegetarian lasagne, and yet people still often ask me what vegetarians eat. As tempting as it is to give a sarcastic answer (erm, think of all the things that aren't meat.... and you've answered your own question) it's probably better to answer that by showing you.

 I hope that you'll try the recipes and ideas that I post, I'll do my best to make them cheap, easy, delicious and sometimes even healthy.

Enjoy, and if you do try something don't forget to tell me what you think!

Vicky xx