Friday, July 20, 2007

Meatless Meals

The second 'tip' is to do with avoicados. -put unripe avocados in a bag with a banana and they will ripen almost overnight - this I did, and unbelieveably, two were ready to eat the very next day, and the day after we ate two more. They had ripened perfectly, no brown bits inside, the flesh just buttery enough. Whether this worked because the bananas were also ripe (over-ripe in fact) but a tip worth remembering.

Here are some ideas using pulses. I always cook my own, drain, drizzle with a little oil (helps to keep them separate) then freeze in small bags. But of course canned beans are fine.
Tuscan Bean Stew: serves 4
3 tbslp olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 small courgettes, sliced
2 carrot, diced
2 x 400 cans chopped tomatoes
450g (can or home-cooked) butter beans, drained
half a pint (225g) vegetable stock
4 oz (100g) Parmesan cheese, or finely grated vegetarian cheese
Put the oil in a pan and fry the onion until softened, stir in the garlic, celery, courgette and carrot and fry for a further five minutes. Add the tomatoes, beans and stock. Simmer for 15 minutes. If necessary, season to taste with pepper, then serve in bowls with a scattering of cheese on top.
Note: a tip given on a recent TV cookery programme was to remove only the brown papery skins from an onion and keep on the first layer of onion proper, even though it may appear slightly discoloured. Said to be the best part (probably nutritionally). I always used to discard this first layer (but kept to add to stock), now I will use it.

Hob-top Bean Coulash: serves 4
2 tblsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 onion, thinly sliced
8 oz (225g) mushrooms, stalks removed and then quartered
2 tblsp tomato puree
2 cans (or 600g home-cooked) cannellini type beans (could use a can of pinto and/or mixed beans)
12 fl oz (350ml) vegetable stock
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp mustard powder
pinch cayenne
1 tsp caraway seeds
bay leaf, salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and cookdfor five minutes, stir in the garlic and cook for a further five minutes then add the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste, then simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with mashed potato.

Scotch Eggs (without using sausage meat) makes 6 (V)
1 onion, grated
2 x 300g cans green lentils (or cook your own to that weight)
2 tblsp olive oil
1 tblsp fresh parsley, chopped (or other herb)
2 tblsp grated cheese (vegetarian or other hard cheese)
salt and pepper to taste
6 hard-boiled eggs, shelled
2 eggs, beaten
fkour and fresh breadcrumbs, or see tip below
Put the oil in a pan and add the onions and cooked lentils. Fry gently for 20 minutes. Then mash or give a quick pulse in a food processor. Remove from the heat, add the herbs, cheese and season to taste. Cool then divide the mixture into six and pat each into a flat cake. Place a hard-boiled egg on each and mould the pattie round the egg to coat. Dust with flour, dip into the egg and then the crumbs. You can repeat this egg and crumb coating again if you want them really crispy.
Fry eggs (best no more than three at a time) in deep hot oil until golden brown. Serve hot or cold.
Tip: Change the flavour of the mixture by adding curry powder , or paprika, or even a pinch of chilli powder. Fry these along with the onions and lentils.

BeanFeast on Toast: s2rves 2
1 x 420g can baked beans
1 tsp curry paste
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tblsp mango chutney
1 tblsp sultanas
1 tbslp flaked almonds
Heat a tblsp oil in a pan and add the onion and curry paste. Stir and fry together until the onion is softened. Add the beans and the rest of the ingredients, mix well together, heat through and serve on hot toasted (preferably brown or granary) bread.

The following recipe was intended to be made using a bread machine, but of course can be made by hand. The two methods are given separately below the list of ingredients.
Courgette Bread : makes a medium sized loaf
5 tblsp buttermilk or yogurt
2 fl.oz (55ml) water
5 oz (175g) courgette, grated (you can leave the skin on if you wish)
13 oz (375g) strong white bread flour
3 oz (75g) wholemeal bread flour
1 tblsp each sunflower, pumpkin and millet seeds
1 1/2 tsp each salt and sugar
1 1/2 oz butter
1 1/2 tsp easy-blend instant dried yeast

to make using a bread machine:
depending upon the machine instructions, either put the yeast in first followed by the flour and lastly the liquids (in this case water and buttermilk/yogurt, or do that is reverse order. Add the sugar , salt, butter and seeds to the flour, and also add the courgette with the liquid. Set the machine to the basic/normal setting, medium crust then start to bake. Remove at the end of the baking cycle and turn out to cool. If you wish, brush the top with a little melted butter and sprinkle over toasted sesame seeds.
Note: Instead of using seeds, make the load using white and granary flour adding a few chopped nuts if you wish.

To make and bake by hand:
Put the flours in a bowl with the sugar, salt and the yeast. Add the liquids and the courgette and mix well. Knead thoroughly adding the seeds. Put into a greased loaf tin and leave to rise (takes about one hour), bake in a moderate to hot oven until cooked (takes about 40 - 45 minutes).

Finally, a recipe for cheese scones - use either vegetarian or 'ordinary' cheese.
Savoury Scones: makes about 30
1 lb 2oz (500g) plain flour
1 oz (25g) baking powder
pinch salt
1 oz (25g) butter
about half a pint (300ml) full cream milk, or use buttermilk
2 eggs
6 oz (175g) finely grated Parmesan or vegetarian cheese
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tblsp milk
Sift the flour with the baking powder, add the salt and rub in the butter until like fine crumbs. Mix together the eggs, milk and most of the cheese (keep back 1 oz/25g))cheese ) then add this to the flour. Stir together then lighlty knead with floured hands to a softish dough. Roll out to 3/4" thick and cut into rings using a 2" scone cutter. Place on a greased baking sheet and leave to stand for an hour.
Brush the tops with the egg yolk and milk glaze and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake in a moderately hot oven (100C, 375F, gas 5 ) for 15 - 20 minutes until risen and golden. Serve hot or cold.
Tip: After cutting scones, place them on the baking sheet bottom side up. This helps them rise with straight sides. Also dip the scone cutter in flour each time before cutting and avoid twisting, this also helps them keep upright. Use both tips and you could end up with a batch of scones all standing perfectly to attention.