Project Food Blog

From meat feast to meat free

When your days starts with the best full breakfast in town, it's only appropriate that it ends with something a little more veggie-tastic. And having feasted on the Full Borough at Roast yesterday (details below, I went for poached eggs)

… I wanted to create something meat free for dinner. And I had a tin of pomodori d'oro sunshine yellow plum tomatoes that had caught my eye at the back of the store cupboard the night before.

Cooking veggie main courses is all very well but to my mind, they only qualify as a main meal (and not just a side dish with delusions of grandeur) if they contain a form of protein. I'm really keen on serving protein with every meal, whether it's nuts and seeds in the breakfast muesli, cashew butter, ham or hummus if we're having a mid-morning snack of oatcakes, or simply adding some pulses or legumes to a vegetable soup of stew.

Last night, I opted for soya beans, and concocted this simple, hearty, one-pot dish. Served with crusty bread and a strong Cheddar, and followed by stewed plums and custard, I don't think anyone at the table missed the meat.

Sunshine Soya Bean Stew

1 tbsp oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tin pomodori d'oro plum tomatoes
1 tin or carton cooked soya beans (or substitute any cooked beans or pulses)
1/2 vegetable stock cube
2 springs fresh marjoram, finely chopped
Dash white wine (I freeze leftover wine in ice cube trays and keep in freezer bags)
Dash white wine vinegar
Seasoning to taste, plus a pinch of sugar to balance the tomato's acidity if needed

1. Heat the oil over a medium heat, add the onions and fry for five minutes, then add the garlic and chilli.
2. Add the beans, the tomatoes, and the rest of the ingredients.
3. Simmer for 40 minutes, adding a little water if necessary.

Speedy Shortbread

Picture the scene, we're in our pyjamas, just about to head up to bed, when my youngest announces...
 'Mum..... I 've got to make something for the class, for everybody to try.....' 

'OK cool,'  I reply, 'we'll do something on Wednesday when I pick you up early...' 

Dead silence..... then.... 'Mum, it's got to be for tomorrow, Miss forgot to do the letter on Friday...'

I take a few deep breaths, then smile reassuringly and suggest we look in the cupboard to see if we have anything....

Plain flour. sugar... Hey presto, Shortbread... (Thank the Lord!)

20 minutes later, 30 round biscuits are baking merrily in the oven, homework done and all we need to do is wipe the surface down where we rolled out the dough.

Alright a couple of them might have been a little sunkissed, but crisis averted nevertheless;  for today at least!

Here is the recipe that saved the day... 

125g butter
55g caster sugar
180g  plain flour
Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5
Beat the butter and the sugar together until smooth
Stir in the flour to get a smooth paste. Turn on to a work surface and gently roll out until the paste is 1cm/½in thick
Cut into rounds or fingers and place onto a baking tray. Sprinkle with icing sugar and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. Set aside to cool on a wire rack

Posh Mash

Just a quick one! Adding saffron to pureed or mashed potato transforms the ordinary into the sublime. You only need a few strands, and it not only creates a lovely aromatic flavour, but also adds a colourful buttercup tinge to the mash!

We ate it with pork chops, but it would also work beautifully on the top of fish pie.

Salacious Tales from Soho

Went out in Soho at the weekend to a gorgeous Tapas place called The Salt Yard on Goodge Street. We were lucky enough to get a table right next to the the pass, and we got a real sense of not only how passionately the food is prepared, but also how quickly. With 5 girls on the table, the kitchen staff may have been a bit taken aback by the raucousness of our chat, with the birthday girl regaling us with tales of Eastern European Spa treatments involving sexy male cleaners doubling up as masseurs, a cellulite treatment (Not that she has any!) involving being blasted by a water cannon, and a Thai treatement involving some very bizarrely worn paper knickers....

Anyway, we ate....

Saffron Arancini with Mussels, Crab, Squid and a Chilli Alioli

Roasted Scallops with Caramelised Cauliflower Puree, Hazlenuts and New Season Garlic

Line Caught Tuna Carpaccio with Baby Broad Beans and Salsa Verde

Courgette Flowers stuffed with Goats Cheese and drizzled with honey

Classic Tortilla

Salad Of Cherry Tomato, New Season Plums, Red Chard and a Lemon and Rosemary Vinaigrette

Manzanilla and Arbequina Olives

Selection of three Manchegos with Quince Membrillo
Chargrilled Country Style Bread with Alioli or Olive Oil

We drank....

Ca'di Ponti (Catarrato, Sicily 2009) (3 bottles)

The food was absolutely delicious, and so reasonably priced, came in at under £25 per head and that was with coffee and a generous tip. 

The evening was finished off with a couple of rounds of late cocktails at one of our favourite haunts, Milk and Honey (By God the staff are so polite there!)

and after a hilarious series of attempts to hail a cab, we were all home drinking CityLifeAcupuncture Destress Tea and asleep by 3...... ish!

Good Times x