Sophie and Mango have got into the pleasing habit of trying out vegan recipes together on a Wednesday evening. This is not exactly a recipe blog, but a catalogue of trial and error, showing our successful and less than successful cooking adventures.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Potato & Tomato Thing and Crumble

An improvised meal that turned into a four course feast.

Sophie came round for dinner before we went to watch Age of Stupid at Lewes Rd Community Garden. I prefer the straight documentary style of film, but I can see why they were trying to make a more entertaining type of climate change film with a bit of heartstring tugging thrown in. There was a lot of interesting stuff there, especially the Nigeria sections and the bizarre story of the oil industry geologist from New Orleans who stayed behind during the hurricane to rescue people in his boat. I like Spanner Films as they also made the McLibel film and they helped me out with some footage I needed a couple of years ago. They're definitely coming from a grassroots perspective. However, the 'what to do about it' message from the film seemed to be 'put pressure on the government', which is a fruitless endeavour in my experience, because the government are a bunch of gangsters.

Anyway, back to the food. I had a load of the same almost over-ripe tomatoes from the shop I work in that Sophie used in her pasta. So I made

Potato & Tomato Thing

Lots of very ripe tomatoes
Fresh rosemary
Three large potatoes

I sauteed the onions, garlic and rosemary, then roughly chopped the tomatoes and continued to sauter / simmer until they fell apart, then transfered to a large deep baking dish. I made a white sauce from tahini, miso and water and poured that over the top. Then I sliced up the potatoes, dipped them in oil and laid them out on the top. I baked it for about 45 minutes at 180C. A simple, improvised recipe, turned out rather nice.

Sophie turned up with some salad stuff and a corn cob that was desperate to be used up. The way the timing worked out, we ate each bit separately so ended up with 4 courses: salad, corn cob, potato thing and...

Blackberry and Apple Crumble

My friend Antonia spent several days in the summer filling up my freezer with blackberries picked from our local area. When another friend gave me a bag of cooking apples from his garden, it was time for crumble.

Half a carrier bag of frozen blackberries
Three large cooking apples
Handful of dried apricots
Handful of dried dates
Good pinch mixed spice

Equal parts wheat and rye flour
Rolled oats
Sunflower seeds

I put the blackberries on a gentle simmer to defrost without having to add water, then sliced up the apples and chucked them in with the dried fruit, chopped, for a bit of extra sweetness, and the mixed spice. I left the lid on until sufficient water had come out into the pot to prevent it from sticking, then left the lid off to reduce.

I didn't really know how to make crumble, so I guessed. I used a fork to rub the oil into the flour, then mixed in some oats and seeds, and finally molasses diluted with water. It looked like it might be crumble, but maybe a bit too crumbly. I baked the whole lot at 180C for about 25 mins or so. The topping was still a little tending to fall apart when it came out, but the taste and texture were good, if you don't mind crunching the occasional blackberry seed. The crumble consolidated a lot the next day, becoming more like what I imagined.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

An Italian affair (or two)

It's been a tasty few weeks here at the not-so-Wednesday-anymore kitchen.

The week before last I discovered this recipe for stuffed pasta shells via one of the vegan communities I'm a member of on LiveJournal. I knew immediately that this was what I had to eat for my next meal. No substitute would be accepted. Except of course that I couldn't find any giant pasta shells at 6pm on a Saturday night. So I made do with medium-sized pasta tubes, maybe 3/4" long and just under 1/2" diameter.

Let me tell you now, these are not big enough. It was only vaguely entertaining trying to scoop tofu 'ricotta' into these little tubes - as though made for the task, I found some miniature spoons in our cutlery drawer (I believe they are in fact 1970's coffee spoons) which made it marginally less difficult. However I think we'd have been a lot less frustrated, and certainly fuller far quicker, with the proper shape and size of pasta.

We also messed with the sauce a little bit, being that we had no onions, but plenty of courgette. Plus we poured the sauce over the pasta prior to baking, instead of after baking as in the original post. Such heresy.

It was really rather good, however, and neither of us regretted the seemingly endless 15 or so minutes of pasta-stuffing whilst we were stuffing our faces with it. I won't bore you by writing the recipe out again, seeing as it's already up on the link.

This week I acquired my very own copy of Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan With a Vengeance. Mango and I were both very excited - Isa is some kind of deity among vegan cooks, author of the magical and ubiqitous Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, amongst others. So this week, and on Wednesday no less, that's where we got our recipe.

Orecchiette with kalamata tapenade and cherry tomatoes

225g orecchiette (that means pasta. Any kind will do, really.)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
450g cherry tomatoes (they are yummy but any tomatoes will do if you can't afford/don't happen to have cherries!)

175g pitted kalamata olives
3 tbsp capers (I balked at the price but it really was worth it)
2 cloves chopped garlic
Handful fresh parsley
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil

First, make the tapenade by chucking everything in a blender.

Put the pasta on to boil and then saute the onions and tomatoes in the oil for about 7 minutes (make sure you use a big pan - I didn't and had to swap over for the next step). Reserve 125ml pasta water before you drain it. Add the pasta to the tomatoes (hence the tip about the pan) and saute for a few seconds. Then stir in 250ml tapenade (we seemed to have about the right amount, though Isa says the recipe makes enough for double quantities) and the pasta water until it's heated through. Then eat it.

I'm just going to throw in a quote from the recipe blurb here, as I like it and it seems to apply to us pretty well: 'This recipe is for 225g pasta, which is supposedly four servings. If you are like most people I know, four servings = two servings, so plan accordingly.' We always think there's going to be too much food - and yet somehow we always manage to eat it...