Saturday, 23 February 2013

Week 4- Meat-Free Menu

Don't be afraid of your veg!
This has not been a good week for eating meat- unless you can be completely sure of its provenance and the integrity of your supplier (which alas few of us can.)
I don't have a problem with eating unusual meat- I've eaten horse, bull, donkey, goat, frog, deer and rabbit to name a few- but I've always done so knowingly.

Nobody likes a cheat- and that's how many people feel at the moment- cheated.

Time to explore other ways of eating-  and raid the vegetable rack!
Who could this be?

I live facing the English Channel- and swim and canoe in its icy waters. I can watch the fishing boats coming into the shore at high tide in the early morning- so close I can make out the fishermen's faces. (Then I remember that they can probably see me too- and that it's time to put on a dressing gown!) So I am also happy to eat fish caught in these waters right outside my window.

My menu this week then is a chick pea quiche (I like it's French title- Quiche Aux Pois Chiches- try saying that after a glass of wine!), followed by grilled mackerel with sweet and sour vegetables and a fruit fool with almond croquants.

For the quiche, bake a shortcrust pastry case blind and then add thinly sliced bell pepper (red, green or yellow), the contents of a tub of red pepper hummus (use the recipe tab at the top of this page to make your own simply and cheaply) mixed with 3 lightly beaten eggs. Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees) until risen and golden brown.
Serve warm, drizzled with some olive oil mixed with a teaspoon of paprika and some green salad leaves.

Quiche aux Pois Chiches!

For the sweet and sour veg- cut a selection of root veg into chunks. I used swede, parsnip, carrot and potato- along with a red onion (quartered). Heat a tablespoon of oil in a roasting pan in the oven and then tray bake the veg until soft and caramelized- 20 minutes or so.(Swede benefits from par-boiling before baking.) Mix the cooked veg with sweet and sour sauce to coat it. (If you had any left in the freezer from the Chinese New Year feast, as I did, then use that up.) If not, the sauce is easy to make- 1 cup of tomato juice, 1 cup of pineapple juice (or the juice from a can drained in), 1 tablespoon of rice wine or cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons of brown sugar boiled together until syrupy.

Grill your mackerel fillet for 3-4 minutes on each side until the skin is crispy and lay it on a bed of vegetables.

The acidity of the sweet and sour sauce goes really well with the mackerel. Try it.

Grilled Mackerel with Sweet and Sour Veg
For dessert, I made a compote of 2 apples, 2 pears from the fruit bowl and some blackcurrants from the freezer. (A compote is basically fruit stewed with a little sugar and water.)
When cool, I folded in 3 large tablespoons of Greek yoghurt and served it in glasses with croquant crumbs and biscuits for texture. (The recipe for almond croquants is in blogpost 'My Big Fat French Christmas.')
Fruit Fool with Almond Croquants

Now for the leftovers.

If you opened a can of pineapple for your sauce, then why not use up the pineapple rings in an old fashioned Pineapple Upside Down Cake?

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Line a 20 cm cake tin with greaseproof paper. Melt 50g of butter together with 50g of brown sugar and heat until boiling and beginning to reduce.
Pour it into the base of the cake tin and lay your pineapple rings in it (glace cherries optional!)
Make a basic sponge mixture by creaming 125g of butter with 125 g of caster sugar, mix in two beaten eggs and a tablespoon of milk, then beat in 125g of self raising flour. (Or use a sponge mix).
Pour the sponge mix over the pineapple and bake in a moderate  oven (170 degrees) for 25-30 mins or until it is risen and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool and then turn out carefully onto a plate. 

Delicious with creme fraiche.

If your roasting tray bake of veg was more than you needed- save some for either a minestrone soup or Bubble and Squeak cakes.


For the former, place all your leftover veg, finely chopped into a large saucepan. I used the leftover root veg plus some Savoy cabbage and some cavolo nero (or black kale) and some leftover baked beans (yes really!)Soften in a little vegetable oil and minced garlic, then add any leftover passata or tomato juice and 1 litre of vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and then add a handful of soup pasta to the pan. Continue simmering until the pasta is cooked and then serve in bowls with garlic bread and grated cheese.

Bubble and Squeak is one of the joys of leftover cuisine: just take any of your leftover veg (although it is always good to have some potato in there), mash together thoroughly and shape into patties.Fry in a hot pan with a teaspoon of oil and serve with anything you like- poached eggs, a fry-up, scallops, haggis... you name it!
Bubble and Squeak
Wee sleekit bubble and squeakin beastie

Here it is - with haggis, mashed potato and whisky gravy- served up for Burns Night but good for any night of the week.

Vegetarian haggis is simple to make: grate 2 carrots then pulse together in a food processor- 2 shallots, 1 clove of garlic, 50 g mushrooms, a pinch each of cayenne or paprika and salt, 1/2 tsp ground mixed spice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, a grating of nutmeg, 1 can of brown lentils (drained), juice and zest of 1/2 lemon, a sprinkling of thyme and a small can kidney beans (drained). Tip into a bowl, mix in the grated carrot and add 1 egg and 50g of oats. Shape into patties and fry like little burgers.

Or you could use meaty haggis if you want.
At least with haggis you know you're eating mucky bits- instead of only finding out afterwards!

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