Old Friend: “I’m in town next weekend if you’re free.”
WFTTD: “Great, come to us and I’ll rustle up some supper.”
Old Friend: “OK thanks. By the way I’m vegan now. Bye!”
Three decades ago as a student I entered into a shopping / cooking sharing arrangement with a vegan friend in my halls, and memories of my margarine and soy milk bechamel for a veggie lasagne haunt me still. I have not knowingly prepared a full on vegan repast since.
Still, the bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunity, and all that.
And in this case opportunity took the form of a cauliflower curry – more on which later – and all the trimmings. Sharwood’s green label mango chutney [the best mango chutney money can buy IMHO] is mercifully free of any animal ingredients, and I found some poppadoms which were vegan, gluten free, GM free, in fact so free of anything it’s a wonder they existed at all. But cooling, creamy, cucumberful, yoghurty raita?
Challenge Opportunity time!
Time, in fact, for tahini. Turns out this sesame seed paste is a vegan staple for producing creamy dressings and so forth when cream itself is considered beyond the pail. I’d say “who knew?”, but lots of you probably already do.
You will need
- A cucumber
- Half a red onion
- The juice of half a lemon
- A small handful of mint, and the same of dill
Finely chop the red onion and leave to sit in the lemon juice for half an hour or so. I spiralised my cucumber, because spiralising is the most zeitgeisty way of reducing a whole vegetable to smaller, more fork-friendly parts, and because I like playing with the spiralising thingy, but do feel free to just chop it into pieces of your desired size. Chop the herbs, add to the cucumber pieces, and tip in the onion and lemon juice. Mix well. Add the tahini a tablespoonful at a time, stirring to mix – I used about four tablespoons. The lemon juice will cause the tahini to thicken slightly, so add a splash of water here and there as you go until you achieve your preferred consistency. Season with salt to taste, and chill.
This worked so well that I’ll do it again, for vegans and omnivores alike. Until I meet a vegan who is sesame intolerant, when we’ll be looking at a whole new set of opportunities.
With thanks to my good friend RJ for sharing his vegan know-how and advice.
Posted in Easy, Vegan, Vegetarian [or Vegetarian Version]
Tagged cucumber, curry, dill, lemon juice, mango chutney, mint, poppadom, raita, recipe, red onion, salt, sesame, tahini
Who’d have thought we’d be wanting salad recipes in October? I’d planned to pack this away with the barbecue and pull them both out next summer, but the weather says otherwise…
It all began with the cucumber pickle. Susie’s cucumber pickle, which had recently arrived at the shop and which was so good that a meal had to be created around it. It would make a great accompaniment to burgers or other barbecued meats, but I plumped that day for poached salmon. And I love potato salad with poached salmon but wanted something with a bit more poke to stand up to that pickle. Coronation potato salad was the answer.
If you’ve ever made Chicken Elizabeth, the correct name of the dish devised for the coronation of Elizabeth II by the Cordon Bleu cookery school, you’ll know that it’s not bright turmeric yellow as we usually see now, but a purpley burgundy colour thanks to the reduction of red wine and apricot jam which is added to the mayonnaise. But having changed the principal ingredient from chicken to potato I’m sure you won’t mind if I take a few liberties with the rest!
These quantities are a rough guide which you can adjust to vary the levels of spice, sweet and sharp. For around 250g of baby new potatoes I used:
- 2 tbsps mayonnaise
- 2 tbsps natural yoghurt [for a vegan version use 4 tbsps soya yoghurt]
- 1 tbsp Sharwood’s green label mango chutney
- Half a tsp of ground turmeric
- 1 to 2 tsps curry powder
- Half to 1 tsp chilli powder
- Half a tsp of ground coriander
- A few finely sliced spring onions
- Juice of half a lemon
- Some chopped coriander or flat leaved parsley to garnish
Mix everything except the chopped herbs together, taste, season and adjust. You might want to add the curry and chilli powders in half teaspoon increments as you can always add more, whilst removal is more problematic. Add the cooked and cooled potatoes and stir to combine, adding the chopped greenery at the end.
Normal autumn service [casseroles and the likes] will undoubtedly be resumed shortly.
Posted in Easy, Recipe, Vegan, Vegetarian [or Vegetarian Version]
Tagged barbecue, chilli powder, coriander, coronation, curry powder, Diamond Jubilee, Elizabeth II, jubilee, lemon juice, mango chutney, mayonnaise, parsley, potato, potato salad, recipe, soya yoghurt, turmeric, yoghurt
By slavishly following post heart attack dietary advice for over twenty years my late father ate so much smoked mackerel that he came to loath it with a passion. But then my parents always treated even the most casual advice from someone with a white coat and stethoscope as something not to be simply heeded, but rather carved in tablets of stone and set upon an altar. Ironic then that when the family recently gathered at the home the of my eldest brother, for the sole purpose of relocating our dear departed parents’ mortal remains to a dedicated area of woodland in the Lancashire hills, that I should be treated to a lunch of smoked mackerel pate.
The fraternal recipe, borrowed from a farmer neighbour, consisted of just smoked mackerel and cream cheese [with I suspect a fish to cheese ratio of c.2:1] simply blended together. And quite delicious it was too. If you want a more straightforward approach than what follows then I can highly recommend it.
For this version though I wanted to exploit the indulgent richness of the triple cream Delice de Bourgogne, and I couldn’t resist a bit more phaffing about too [as my dad would have called it!]. So the choice is yours, farmhouse or fancy. Either way it’s a piscine treat, just don’t eat it every day for decades if you don’t want to get bored…
Six to eight people will have more than enough
- 280g smoked mackerel fillets, boned, skinned and roughly flaked
- 140g Delice de Bourgogne [or similar such as Jean Grogne or Vignotte]
- 2 tbsps creamed horseradish [as heaped as you like]
- 3 tbsps soured cream
- Juice of half a lemon
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- A good grind of black pepper
To finish [optional]
- Melted butter
- Flat leaf parsley, some chopped and a few whole leaves
- A few capers or a few preserved green or pink peppercorns
- A pinch more cayenne
Remove the delicate bloomy rind from the cheese carefully with a sharp knife so as to minimise any cheese loss. I’d never bother to do this if just eating the cheese but the flavour of the outer layer isn’t what you want here. Then just tip all the pate ingredients into a food processor and give it three or four good blitz pulses. The texture is up to you – for a coarser pate blitz less, for smoother blitz more. Check the seasoning and spoon into one big dish or a number of small ramekins. Chill.
You don’t need to top this but it does look pretty and takes no time at all. Mix the chopped parsley into the melted butter and gently pour or spoon a thin layer over the pate. Add the capers or peppercorns, and press a few whole leaves of parsley artfully into the butter. Once the butter has begun to set [after just a minute or two in the fridge] sprinkle over a little more cayenne pepper. If you do this when the butter is too liquid the little red jewels will all disperse instead of sitting prettily on the top.
Serve with bread or toast, and few more capers or some cornichons or gherkins on the side.
Posted in Easy, Pescatarian, Recipe
Tagged black pepper, bread, butter, capers, cayenne pepper, cornichon, cream cheese, Delice de Bourgogne, fish pate, gherkin, green peppercorns, horseradish, Jean Grogne, lemon juice, mackerel, parsley, pate, pink peppercorns, recipe, smoked mackerel, soured cream, toast, Vignotte
Whilst to some of my younger readers this will clearly mark me out as some sort of antediluvian anachronism, I can actually remember a Britain before McDonalds. The golden arches didn’t make it to our sceptred isle until 1974, fully 6 years after I first landed, and it would be many years more before Ronald showed his face in the provincial backwater that was my childhood home.
Colonel Sanders on the other hand was quicker off the mark and KFC opened its first UK outlet in Preston in 1965. I don’t think the one I remember, a roadhouse style takeaway on Preston New Road, was the ground-breaker but it seemed always to have been there. We didn’t use it often – it was enough of a drive for the food to get cold before we got home, and being ‘foreign’ was clearly not intended for everyday consumption – but it was my first real introduction to the then exotic world of the fast food takeaway.
Perhaps because of this childhood association fried chicken still holds a special place in my arteries, and is one of the few fast food staples that I might still crave before 2:00 a.m. and whilst stone cold sober. The colonel’s spice mix is of course as secret as the recipe for Coca Cola [apparently not even the factories who make it know the exact proportions, which I would have thought could prove to be a tad awkward, manufacturing-wise?] but it’s not actually that difficult to cook up a reasonable facsimile at home. Many of the myriad American recipes available online use frankly frightening amounts of MSG but even if this did figure in the Colonel’s own mysterious mix you don’t need it. Plenty of good old fashioned salt and pepper does the trick.
Of course you can’t have fried chicken without some sort of slaw. When making this I had crunchy celery and apple to hand [as in a Waldorf Salad] and hey presto, Wal-Slaw was born! The sweet-corn is another classic fried chicken accompaniment so into the salad it went. A buttered baked potato finished off the finger lickin’ feast.
- Half a small red cabbage, finely shredded
- Half an apple, diced
- A shallot, finely diced
- One carrot, grated
- A small tin of sweet-corn kernels (not Colonels!)
- Two sticks of celery, finely sliced
- The juice of half a lemon
- A splash of malt vinegar
- Sufficient mayonnaise to bind
First dice the apple and toss in the lemon juice and vinegar. Then just throw everything else in and stir in the mayonnaise to your liking. Season and chill.
Philip’s Fried Chicken [PFC]
- 6 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
- 4 tbsps plain flour
- 1 soupspoon cornflour [optional]
- 2 medium eggs, beaten
- 2 tsps salt
- 2 tsps ground black pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp celery salt
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 stick of celery broken into four [optional]
- Vegetable oil for frying
Soak the chicken thighs in the beaten egg and allow them to wallow for a while. Place the flour [and cornflour if using], seasoning and spices into a zip-lock plastic bag and shake well to combine. Throw the chicken pieces into the spiced flour, zip up the bag and shake well to coat them evenly. Rest the whole lot in the fridge for a few minutes whilst you heat up the oil and shake again.
In a heavy, lidded skillet or frying pan heat about half an inch of vegetable oil. The depth needs to be such that once the chicken is in the oil will not reach higher than half way up the side of the pan. To see when the oil is hot enough for frying insert the handle of a wooden spoon – when the oil forms lively bubbles around the handle you’re ready to go [NB very vigorous bubbling means the oil is too hot, allow it to cool a little and try again]. Using tongs gently place the chicken pieces into the oil, skin side down, and add the celery pieces if using – it may be an old wives’ tale but this is supposed to help to crisp the chicken.
Cover and cook for nine to ten minutes, checking from time to time that the underside isn’t browning too quickly – if it is, lower the heat. Again using tongs turn the pieces and cook for another nine to ten minutes but this time without the lid. When all the chicken pieces are beautifully golden brown all over remove from the oil and drain. Some say this is best done on brown paper such as a grocer’s bag but kitchen roll will do too. Let the chicken cool for a few minutes before you dig in to avoid southern fried lips, a less appealing dish by far.
Posted in Easy, Recipe, Writing
Tagged apple, black pepper, cabbage, carrot, cayenne pepper, celery, celery salt, chicken, chicken thigh, coleslaw, Colonel Sanders, corn, cornflour, egg, flour, fried chicken, garlic powder, KFC, lemon, lemon juice, malt vinegar, mayonnaise, oregano, paprika, red cabbage, salt, shallot, slaw, southern fried chicken, sweet-corn, thyme, vegetable oil, vinegar, Waldorf Salad