Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gathering Information

With the Sunday roast being almost a thing of the past, for economy - and even to make a change - we should consider serving up a vegetarian 'roast' now and again. Don't let the vegetarians alone eat all such good dishes, we should plan to include many meatless dishes within the weekly menu. Not only will they taste good, they will do us good.
Vegetarian 'Roast' with gravy: serves 4 (V)
6 oz (175g) brown rice
salt and pepper
1 oz (25g) dried porcini (or other) mushrooms
1 oz (50g) butter
3 large carrots, grated
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 lb (450g) button mushrooms, chopped
1 tblsp chopped rosemary leaves
6 oz (175g) Brazil nuts, toasted and chopped
3 oz (75g) pine nuts, toasted
4 oz (100g) walnuts, chopped
10 oz (275g) Cheddar cheese, grated
2 eggs, beaten
Boil the rice in salted water for 30 or so minutes until al dente. Meanwhile soak the dried mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes, then drain, pat dry and chop. Drain the rice .
Melt the butter in a frying pan and stir in the carrots and onion. Saute for 5 minutes then - in the order given - stir in the garlic, chopped button mushrooms, the chopped porcini mushrooms, rosemary and the rice.
Cook until softened, then puree the lot in a food processor.
Tip the mixture into a bowl and add the nuts, the cheese and the eggs. Season to taste and pour into a greased loaf tin and bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for an hour and a half or until firm. To serve, turn out onto a serving plate and cut into slices. Serve with gravy (recipe below).
vegetarian gravy:
1 oz (25g) butter
1 carrot, diced
1 leek or onion, diced
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 pint (450ml) vegetable stock
3 tomatoes, deseeded and diced
Melt the butter in a pan and saute the carrot, leek and celery until softened. Stir in the garlic and herbs. Add the stock and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Strain and add diced tomato to the gravy and serve immediately, over the slices of 'roast'.
Tip: do not discard the veggies left in the strainer, for they can be blitzed with more vegetable stock to make a pureed vegetable soup.

This next recipe is for the alternative Christmas pud, and can be made several hour (or even days) in advance as it is a frozen dessert called a bombe. The centre of this pud is an orange sorbet, but it could be ice-cream and probably easier if you bought this rather than make it yourself. The outer 'case' is assembled at home. As it feeds a goodly number of people, for the average sized family, just cut the ingredients by half and use a smaller bowl.
The Alternative Christmas Pud: serves 10 (F)
6 oz (175g) mixed dried fruit
3 oz (75g) no-soak apricots, chopped
1 x 250g tub Mascarpone cheese
7 oz (200g) cold custard (or use bought custard)
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
grated zest of 1 large orange
4 tblsp of orange juice (or use orange liqueur)
1 x 284ml whipping cream
1 x 500ml tub orange sorbet
If necessary chop the apricots to the size of the raisins and other dried fruits, then put all into a bowl with the orange juice or liqueur (or half of each) and leave for at least an hour (or overnight) to allow all the liquid to be absorbed.
Beat the mascarpone cheese until softened, then beat in the custard, sugar, vanilla and orange zest until well blended. Whip the cream and using a metal spoon, alterntely fold into the cheese mixture with the fruit.
Tip into a 3.5 pint (2 ltr) pudding basin, then press into this a smaller basin (approx 18 fl oz/500ml) until the cream/fruit mixture comes up to the rim. If necessary place a weight in the small basin to hold it in place. Freeze for several hours (pref. overnight) until firm. To remove the smaller bowl, pour in hot water, swirl it around for 3 seconds, then twist and remove. Fill the centre with the orange sorbet, cover and return to the freezer. Freeze for at least 2 hours but can be made up to 3 weeks in advance of serving
To remove the bombe from the bowl, dip the bowl into very hot water for 2 - 3 seconds, then invert onto a place. Decorate with imitation holly sprigs, cranberries and segments of clementines (membrane removed).
Tip: defrost the sorbet for 10 - 15 minutes before spooning into the bombe as this makes it easier to handle.