Veggiestan – Sally Butcher

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This is the first Vegetarian only cookery book I’ve cooked from. I borrowed it from my future mother-in-law quite some time ago and haven’t gotten round to cooking from it.

I like the down to earth writing of the author of this book – it’s a very modern writing style.

In searching for this week’s recipes I only got to page 80 before I’d shortlisted 20 recipes – and then stopped. This book compliments all the Ottolenghi books – and many of the recipes are strikingly similar but with slight twists. The middle eastern style of cooking really suits me. I hope I can go there on a holiday once we’ve sorted our boat out !

I particularly like the ‘suggestions’ of how to modify the dishes and customise them to your own tastes.

Anyway all this week’s recipes are going to come from this book. I’ve plumped for lots of simple to make, smaller dishes as I don’t have a lot of spare time this week. I hope you enjoy them !

This week I’ll be making:

  • Turkish Pizza Bread
  • Spinach Fatayer
  • Afghan Leek Pies
  • Beetroot and Orange Salad
  • Cucumber and Pomegranate Salsa
  • Waldorf Salad
  • Fatoush
  • Herby Omelette Thingies
  • Onion and Herb Salad
  • Fried Eggs With Dates
  • Figs and Halloumi
  • Cheese Baked Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes
  • Tomato, Fennel and Arak Soup

I’ll also make Mung Bean Casserole – but I have to wait for those to arrive from souschef.co.uk, they take a few days to deliver based on past experience.

Couscous and Moghrabieh with Oven Dried Tomatoes

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Moghrabieh is big couscous. I got some in my Ottolenghi food box for Christmas this year – and this is the first time I’ve used it. I have some dried limes too – I just haven’t found a recipe that uses them yet!

You can find this recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s – The Cookbook, BTW – the book is full of awesome recipes which I will hopefully come back to sometime soon.

I wasn’t intending on making this yesterday – but it was one of very few things where I knew I had all the ingredients. Both of us were off work with ‘the flu’ and spent most of the day sniffing and coughing and feeling sorry for ourselves. By 4pm we realised we really should eat something but the cupboards and fridge were somewhat bare. We’d made a mistake in not doing our shortlisted order with Ocado on the Sunday and were paying the price today. We’d have to wait until tomorrow for a grocery delivery. Modern day shopping really does make you lazy! We have a reasonable excuse. Our nearest grocery store is 12 miles away in Henley and you just can’t beat the quality of the groceries that Ocado delivers.

This is quite easy to make – but will take two hours to be ready (minimum). Even longer if you make the Labneh that is recommended as an addition. Labneh takes a day to make at least – I cheated and used some feta. Feta is a handy swap for some cheeses as it means you can reduced the amount of salt you put in food. And I always have feta.

You have to slow roast a lot of tomatoes in a balsamic glaze and wait for them to ‘dehydrate’ – I left them on the lowest setting of my oven.

While you wait for the tomatoes, caramelise some onions. Then prepare the Moghrabieh until it is al dente. Drain and leave to cool. Then prepare the couscous in some vegetable stock. You have a lot of time to do this. Those tomatoes take a long long time! We even went for a nap.

Once the tomatoes are ready, mix the couscous, moghrabieh, onions and tomatoes in a serving dish – including all the tomato juice and some Nigella seeds and mix a little. Add some Nigella seeds and more Olive oil as a topping and you are done. Dress with cheese if you want !

This makes a lot of food. So either reduced your quantities, invite your friends round – or be prepared to eat it for a few days!

I swapped couscous with bulgar wheat – because I forgot to check I had all the ingredients. I don’t think it makes any difference – they are quite substitutable apart from the preparation time.

This is one of those recipes that you should be able to make any time of year as there are no seasonal ingredients to worry about. It’s also great because you will always have leftovers for work the next day! Just make sure you get really tasty tomatoes!

In hindsight I should prepared more tomatoes. They are the centre of the dish and I don’t think I had enough of them in relation to the grain. Other than that this dish is spot on.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

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I knocked this up as a snack during the day yesterday. I had gone to the fridge to see what I could possibly make for dinner and there really wasn’t much in there. This week’s selection of recipes had yet to be ordered from Ocado so we were somewhat short of food. I did however have a lot of tomatoes!

I couldn’t remember what I’d even bought them for and then remembered that Natoora had an offer so I’d bought them without a real use in mind. That said I love tomatoes so they weren’t going to be wasted.

These Slow Roasted Tomatoes are from the ‘One Good Dish’ cookbook by David Tanis – and they are very easy – they just take a long time to be ready.

Cut some tomatoes in half. Drizzle with Olive Oil, Sliced Garlic and Basil and bake until they are done. I did them at 150 degrees C for and hour in a Halogen oven and they took on a really sweet taste.

You’re supposed to have them with fish, but we just munched them while we waited for our ‘proper’ dinner to be ready.

Tasty things don’t need to be difficult. This was easy – you just need good tomatoes – like Natoora!

Gorgonzola and Walnut Crostini

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I’ve been waiting to make this for a few days but didn’t have any bread !

We got the munchies on Sunday whilst tidying up – so I decided to put this together. And it’s pretty easy.

Brown some onions slowly so they get nice and brown and sweet – and then add some rosemary and leave to cool down.

Toast some bread on both sides – then add the gorgonzola, walnut halves and onion – and grill again until the cheese melts.

I didn’t have any crostini – so I just used a sliced up baguette – but it was very good. Definitely one to do again. Another awesome Ottolenghi recipe.

Fried Leeks

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This seemed good until I read the recipe a bit closer and I was dubious that it would work.

After boiling some leeks until they are soft and patting them dry, you dip them in egg and breadcrumbs and fry.

You also make a pickled red pepper topping – and a yoghurt, sour cream sauce. You then plate the fried leeks with some sauce and peppers – and a few chopped spring onions.

Unfortunately leeks aren’t good carriers of egg – and in the end the breadcrumbs and eggs just ended up being separate entities in the pan.

It still tasted good – very good in fact – it just didn’t look great. I don’t think I’d make them again just because I like my food to look good.

I still haven’t made an Ottolenghi dish I haven’t enjoyed – I just didn’t like the presentation of this one – but that’s probably just my fault.

Sweet Potato Fritters

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I love sweet potatoes. They are colourful, sweet, and have nowhere near as much starch as a regular potato.

This Ottolenghi dish is quite different in preparation to the leek fritters I made the other day – even if they do look the same.

I roasted my sweet potatoes until they were soft (I find you get a more intense flavour). I think the book suggests you boil or steam them.

Once you’ve drained and let the potatoes cool down you add a spice/chilli mix and mash to a quite thick puree.

You then fry them in 5cm wide x 1cm thick patties (mine are always larger) until they really brown – almost to the point where they look burned (like a good bubble and squeak).

You serve them with a yogurt dip (like most of the street type food in the Plenty book).

These are awesome – you really should make these. If they were just for me I’d add more chilli.

Two Potato Vindaloo

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Most people see the word Vindaloo and think – HOT!!!!! – I don’t want anything that hot. Unless you’re like me and buy insanely hot chilli sauces just so you can inflict them on your friends and colleagues.

If you go on the title you’ll probably avoid this dish – until you check the ingredients list and realise it can’t possibly be hot. Yes there are spices – and yes there is one red chilli – but it’s just a regular red chilli – not a Scotch Bonnet or Ghost Pepper.

Vindaloo – means Wine and Potatoes. (vin = wine) (aloo = potatoes) and was created by the Portugese (and not the Indians as you might originally have assumed. The dish evolved and the wine was typically substituted for vinegar.

This dish conforms to all those rules – only in this case we have sweet potatoes and waxy potatoes (mine were new potatoes) cooked in a tomato and spiced sauce with garlic and white wine vinegar – along with a red pepper.

I made a lot of this. More than 3 meals worth and – as it says in the book – it just gets better the longer you leave it. This is the third day – and the spices have just made the dish even better.

Ottolenghi has some amazing recipes in the Plenty book – it’s one of the best books I own. This dish is excellent – although I think a contrasting dish alongside would be good.

Leek Fritters

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So we ran out of food midweek. This only ever happens when we are oncall for work and can’t go out !

Anyway I decided to dig out my copy of Yotam Ottolenghi – Plenty.

This was the first book I scoured for recipes and struggled to eliminated anything I didn’t want to cook. In the end I made half the things in the book – including the Leek Fritter dish. Sadly I forgot to take a photo at the time – hence me making it again.

This isn’t a quick dish – but it is worth the effort. It certainly fills a hole and is very tasty.

All you do is sauté some leeks and shallots and once they have cooled down toss them in a spiced batter and egg white mixture.

Fry them like pancakes and they go all fluffy in less than 5 minutes – mainly due to all the self raising flour and baking powder.

These are really yummy – especially with the yoghurt and sour cream dip which has been blended with garlic, coriander, parsley and lemon juice.

They must be good. My mother in law loved them!

A definite keeper – and you can make these in advance – and take them to work the next day and reheat.

Polenta Pizza with Crumbled Sage

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This dish took ever so slightly longer than most. I actually had to cook something this time!

Cook up some polenta and when it’s done pop it into a round pizza type dish about 2cm deep. I think mine is less as I used a bigger dish. Let the polenta cool down so it solidifies – you want it to resemble a pizza dough somewhat. I left mine outside as a frost was on the way. Fortunately the local wildlife didn’t get at it!

Then simply top with Mozzarella and Parmesan, olive oil, dried chilli flakes and fresh sage (that you have dried – not dried sage) and bake in an oven until it’s bubbling.

I dehydrated my sage in an halogen oven – to book suggests leaving it on a window sill for a few days – but who has time for that during the working week!

I got sucked into the vortex that is talking to my in-laws whilst making this and by the time it was ready it was too late to eat it – so it’ll have to do for lunch tomorrow. Hence the uncut pizza picture.

There’s no reason for it not to be yummy with the amount of cheese in it. Just be careful not to over salt the polenta as the parmesan is pretty salty already.

UPDATE:

We had this for lunch and it’s just too heavy. I think if you could halve the Polenta and put a bit more flavour in it than just salt then it might work – but for now I’m going to give this a miss.

Quick Scallion Kimchee

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This won’t be ready for another 72 hours. Not sure what a not quick kimchee is – having never made one. But there you go.

You simply trim several bunches of spring onions (scallions) and marinade in a dressing of ginger, garlic, chilli flakes, fish sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar and sesame oil and seeds.

I’ve never had this before but I’m guessing it’s going to have quite a kick given the amount of chilli flakes in it.

Another incredibly quick and easy recipe to prepare from One Good Dish by David Tanis.

UPDATE:

We ate this after it had marinated for 3 days.

Half a cup of chilli flakes is going to give you some idea of how hot is was!

It would be lovely in a burger – or with something meaty. I had it ‘as is’ and it was a bit much! The leftovers I cooked in an omelette, and that was amazing!