I Still Dream of Organon

I’m not sure why but in the last couple of weeks I have been on a bit of a vegan tip. I guess it was a perfect storm of friends over for dinner who are thus inclined and me rising to a challenge. The challenge for me isn’t the non meat bit. If I really think about it, I am mostly veggie inclined. Almost everyday I consume a bag of rocket and snack on raw tomatoes or seeds. Although I do love to throw a bit of goats cheese in with my rocket much to my children’s disgust.

Of all of the things I have prepared over the 9 years my kids have been with me, for some reason goats cheese seems to send them into utter panic.  The smallest hint of something that might look like said cheese either in, on or near a plate of their food, they all look suspiciously at me. “Is that goats cheese?” “Did you see that? It looks like goats cheese!” “Its goats cheese, it is I swear it is..No I’m not eating that!”. It has its upside though. I tell them we are moving to France to raise goats and make cheese when the most severe of threats is needed. Works every time.

Anyway I digress…I was saying that not eating meat is not a problem for me. But dairy, cheese and butter! Thats where I start to trip. How do you bake with no eggs or butter? Ok so you can substitute butter with oils but eggs? I would love to know what to use instead?

Also I just couldn’t live without cheese. Its one of the few food stuffs that literally makes me happy. I could walk away from cakes and biscuits and chocolate and all things sweet but a piece of Manchego or Brie or Cheddar or Roquefort……

Right so I think we are all clear. I am a rubbish vegan. I did however manage to create a vegan pie this week. I was pretty pleased with myself because the pastry was an inspiration that just came to me. It worked really well. The proper vegan approved and thats all that counts really.

Have a great week and I leave you with some pics of said pie and also some photos of very non vegan scones that the kids from Somerfield Playground in Tottenham made with me. More to come from those fab kids next week!

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Mushroom and Aubergine Pie (v)

(Serves 4)

This is delicious and filling and creamy and the pastry is something that I will use now even if I am making a non vegan pie.

Ingredients

For the Pastry

  • 100g white flour
  • 100g spelt flour
  • Handful of mixed seeds
  • Generous pinch of maldon sea salt
  • 50g coconut oil
  • Cold water to mix

For the Filling

  • 1 large aubergine (cut into chunks)
  • 450g mushrooms (chopped roughly)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
  • Juice of half lemon
  • Handful of crushed walnuts
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 250mil soy cream
  • 2-4 tbsp Olive Oil
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Few sprigs of thyme

Method

Turn the oven to 180c. Make the pastry first. Mix your flours seeds and salt and then add the coconut oil. Rub with your fingertips until the coconut oil is mixed thoroughly and you get the usual breadcrumb texture. Then add a little cold water (about 3 tblsp) and mix with a knife,  You want the pastry to come together add a little cold water at a time to make this happen. Pat into a ball cover with cling film and place in the fridge.

In a large frying pan add the olive oil. Fry off the aubergine in batches if need be until soft and browning. It will take take about 10mins. Decant onto kitchen paper and then add a little more oil and add the mushrooms. The trick with mushrooms is to leave them alone, let them cook gently and release their water. Add a little salt and pepper halfway through the cooking time (about 5 mins) and then turn and cook for a further 5 minutes until they are soft. Then add the aubergine and the garlic and thyme. Stir gently and add the soy cream and the chili flakes then squeeze on the lemon juice. One last stir and take off the heat.

I used a ceramic pie dish (one I think traditionally used for crumbles). It needs to be deep and around 6 inches wide. Really it doesn’t matter. You could use a large pudding bowl if you wanted. Decant the pie mixture into the dish of your choice.

Roll out the pastry to around 3mil thick and wide enough to cover the dish. Place on top of the filling and either cut or roll the edges to seal the pie filling in.

I used a little of the soy cream which was in the pot mixed with a bit of water to wash the top of the pastry.

Place in the oven for 25 to 30mins until the pie mixture is bubbling and the pastry is turning a golden brown. Serve with greens or a lovely autumn salad.


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I Can Read You Like A Magazine

My favourite time of year has arrived. Autumn rocks! Squash, Chard, Game, Pumpkins, Mushrooms, so many fab ingredients available and when you are feeding a bunch of hungry kids on a shoestring. All cheap and filling and versatile. Well ok all game isn’t that cheap, but rabbit is. I often chuck a bunny in a pot with red wine and baby onions and carrots. Served with mash and some kale sautéed with a few fennel seeds and some crushed garlic.

Halloween arrived and I spent the weekend at The Eastern Curve Garden in Dalston. It’s a 3 minute walk from my apartment and the kids love it there. Lola often takes herself up there when her brother and sister are driving her mad and she “needs some space away from these kids”. She is nine!

The Garden organised a pumpkin carving extravaganza. The kids carved their own pumpkin, I drank a couple of glasses of wine and chatted to my friend Chloe about her new venture next summer that I am totally excited to be part of. She is organising a midsummer Scandi Feast check out her website and come and join us for a weekend of wonderful food and cooking demos hosted by some fabulous chefs. Perfect. We then returned for the grand lighting of the pumpkins the next night. Unfortunately Rufus dropped his pumpkin which resulted in him having a total meltdown. He refused to adopt another one and we all had to leave before they lit them all up.

Rufus recovered from the trauma in time for us to bake some enormous muffin sized cupcakes for our lovely friend and manager at The Pub on The Park. It was his birthday party and leaving do. We made double chocolate cupcakes with salt caramel icing. They turned out perfect. I was happy too because my last bake for TPOTP was a disaster. Less said about that the better.

I leave you today with my recipe for Eggplant Parmesan. It’s an American Italian dish which takes a bit of time to prepare but it is worth the work. I made it this weekend at my lovely friend Sam’s house with her brood. We walked the kids for a couple of hours and assembled this delicious combination of breadcrumbed eggplant and freshly made baked tomato passata and a nutmeggy roux. It takes about an hour to prepare, half an hour in the oven and 7 minutes to be consumed by the plague of locusts that are our children. I leave you with a few pics including my neighbour Will’s fabulous game stew. Apologies for lack of photos of the Eggplant dish.  I had to get it in the oven before one of the kids started chewing on my leg.

Have a wonderful week.

Eggplant Parmesan LorenzosCupcakes pumkin2 Pumkins WillsStew

Eggplant Parmesan

Serves 6

This recipe takes some time to assemble, yet it is worth it. A great alternative to the usual Sunday roast. You don’t have to make your own passata, we just had lots of tomatoes hanging around.

Ingredients

For the eggplant bit

  • 6 aubergines – sliced lengthwise around 3mm thick
  • 500g breadcrumbs
  • 150g parmesan cheese
  • 400g plain flour
  • 4 eggs
  • Big slug of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the passata

A shop brought one is totally fine too.

  • 12 medium tomatoes
  • 1 head of garlic, split into separate cloves unpeeled
  • Large slug of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the Roux

  • Big nob of butter – about 2 tablespoons
  • Plain flour – same quantity as the butter
  • 300 mils whole milk – give or take more or less
  • A grating of fresh nutmeg

Method

It’s a bit of a factory line to begin with but the repetitiveness is somehow comforting. I had to stop Sam from eating the breadcrumbed aubergine as they were disappearing faster then I was frying them.

If you are making the passata, then first throw all the ingredients into a roasting dish and cook for half an hour at 180C until the garlic is soft and the tomatoes are bursting at the seams. While that is roasting you can get on with frying off the slices of aubergine.

In 3 separate dishes place the flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Grate a little parmesan into the bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper. Season the flour too.  Throw some olive oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Using one hand only (or you will gloop up both hands and it all turns into a mess) take a slice of aubergine, dip in the flour shaking off the excess, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs. Repeat with all the aubergine and fry a batch at a time turning when each side is golden.  Then set the slices aside on a large plate covered with kitchen towel. You may have to wipe out the pan half way through with kitchen towel and add a bit more olive oil as the aubergines tend to suck up the oil.

Next take your roasted tomatoes and place in a food processor with the blade.  Squeeze out the garlic from its paper. Add those too the processor as well and whizz. Then check for seasoning and place in a saucepan and heat gently. If you feel you need a bit more quantity then add a tin or half a tin of tomatoes but make sure you cook the passata for 15mins or so to cook out he rawness of the added tomatoes.

Finally make the roux. Add the flour and butter to a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir thoroughly until it all comes together in a lump. Then slowly pour in a little milk. Stir until absorbed then repeat until all the milk has been incorporated  and you get a mixture the thickness of custard, stir over the heat for a further 5 mins to cook the rawness of the  flour. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg.

Right now you have all your elements ready you can assemble the dish. This is much like assembling a lasagne, just using the aubergine slices instead of pasta sheets.

In a large deep roasting dish. Add a ladleful of passata, then a layer of aubergine, then a ladleful of passata and a ladleful of roux, then grate some parmesan on the roux and add a layer of aubergine and repeat the process. Make sure the top layer finishes with the roux on top. Then give a really generous grating of parmesan. Place in the oven for half an hour at 180C until the top is golden and bubbly. Serve with a big salad. Heaven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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