Vegetable Gratin with Butterbeans 

  
I love a good cheese sauce gratin. I’ll smother anything tbh with a blanket of mustardy cheesy goodness. Perfect fuel for these dreary January days. Use any combo of beans and veggies you want. It’s a fab way to use up spare cooked vegetables so don’t feel you have to prep them from scratch. 
For 3-4 portions you need

  • 1 can drained Butterbeans
  • 600ml milk
  • 50g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 150g grated strong cheddar
  • 50g grated Parmesan style veggie friendly cheese
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder
  • 2 tsp French mustard (pref Maille)
  • Cooked vegetables eg 3 sliced carrots and 1 head broccoli 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Begin by steaming the veggies until tender. Leave to cool. 
  2. Make the cheese sauce by adding everything apart from the cheeses and beans to a pan and heating gently. Bring to the boil then simmer for 1-2 mins. Remove from the heat. 
  3. Add 2/3 of both cheese and mix until melted and the sauce is smooth. Season with freshly ground black pepper. 
  4. Tip the slightly cooled veggies into an ovenproof dish. Scatter over the beans and distribute vaguely evenly. Pour over the sauce then sprinkle with the remaining cheeses.
  5. Bake in a 200 degree oven for 20-25 mins until browned, bubbling and delicious. Serve with potatoes of your choice. 
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Perfect Potato Dauphinois 

 

We’ve inherited a milk glut so I’m working my way through recipes that will deal with it. As it’s Sunday, we needed something to be the centrepiece of our evening meal. And this recipe made enough for leftovers tomorrow for a speedy working Monday dinner, win. 

For six portions you need

  • 900g new potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2 onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 150ml milk
  • 300ml double cream
  • 100g strong cheddar, grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

The secret to making a good gratin, that doesn’t need weeks in the oven, isn’t in danger of burning and always ensures fully cooked potatoes is: par boil the potato slices in the milk/cream mixture. I couldn’t believe it when I stumbled across this piece of advice. For years I’d been struggling with gratins either taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r to cook or having to deal with undercooked veg. Not a nice thing in a potato. 

So with that in mind to make this you simply:

  1. Slice the potatoes and onions (extremely carefully!) with a mandolin to ensure even wafer thin slices. 
  2. Place the potatoes and onions into a pan containing everything else apart from the cheddar. 
  3. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for ten minutes. 
  4. Once par cooked, tip into a baking dish, cover with cheese and bake at 160 for 30-40 mins.
  5. Serve as you wish. We had carrots, cauliflower, peas and nut roast. Yummy. 

Nut Roast with Cashews and Almonds (v)

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Who doesn’t love a nice nut roast? My son and I can’t resist them. I’ve been promising for ages that I’d make him a proper roast dinner and finally I did. The roast is a doddle to make and freezes well. You can basically use any combination of nuts and herbs you like. This is what I had lying around in my store cupboard.

For 8-10 slices you need

  • 250g mushrooms
  • 2 onions
  • 125g almonds
  • 125g cashews
  • 200g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs

In a food processor, first make the breadcrumbs. Empty into a bowl and then pulse the nuts until coarsely chopped. You want a combination of finely chopped and large chunks for texture. Tip into the bowl. Add the onion and mushrooms to the processor and puree until finely chopped. You need the water to come out of both of the veggies to help hold the roast together.

Once everything is chopped or blitzed, mix together with the seasoning and herbs. Pack into a 2lb loaf tin lined with greaseproof paper and bake in a 180 degree oven for 30-45 mins. It will darken in colour when cooked and the outside will form a nice crust. Serve as part of a smug bastard veggie roast dinner. It’s also great as the centre piece for a vegan/veggie Christmas dinner and as a stuffing for those who might be eating meat.

Bottom of the fridge veggie lasagne

So called because I needed to use up the veg box… I’ve been craving a nice veggie lasagne for a while now and this was a total success. My new lasagne dish triumphs again (I never used to be able to make a decent lasagne!).

For 4-6 servings you need
Tomato sauce
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 can chopped tomatoes
150ml red wine
2 tsp veggie stock powder
salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp mixed herbs
1 tbsp veggie worcester sauce
1 tbsp tomato ketchup

9-12 sheets lasagne pasta
1/2 tub mini mozzarella balls
4 slices jarlsberg cheese
1/2 head broccoli cut into florets
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 red pepper, diced

You can use whatever veggies you want in this, but I like carrots and broccoli in mine.

Begin by making the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic and heat through. Add the tomatoes and all the seasoning ingredients along with the red wine. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer until slightly thickened. You want a tasty sauce but which is wet enough to cook the pasta whilst in the oven so adjust with some water if you need to.

Layer up the lasagne by placing sheets in the bottom of a dish, covering with 1/3 of the sauce and then topping with some chopped mozzarella. Continue with the next two layers, finishing with sauce over the top. Cover with the sliced cheese and the remaining mozzarella.

Bake in a hot oven for 40-50mins until the pasta is cooked and the cheese is melted and yummy. Serve with a green salad. Yummo.

Probably The Most Awesome Vegan Pie Ever (v)

OK, OK, I am feeling rather smug after tonight’s dinner marvel, but it was delicious. Really, really delicious. And it was also very easy to make, and used up some of the veg that has been looking sadly up at me from the bottom of the fridge for the last week. Because it’s vegan, there’s no cream in the recipe, just some soya milk which makes a lovely creamy sauce. And this makes it a healthy choice too if you’re watching the calories, what more do you need to convince you to try it 😉

For 4-6 portions you need
1 sheet puff pastry, rolled out to .5cm thickness
1 leek, finely sliced
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
2-3 parsnips, ditto the carrots
4-5 mushrooms cut into chunky slices
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1/2 pint soya milk plus a little extra for glazing the top of the pie
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp stock powder
2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsely
salt and pepper

Begin by sauteeing the vegetables in the oil in a large pan. Cover with a lid and allow the veggies to steam fry for 5 mins or so. Remove the lid and increase the heat a little to evaporate off the mushroom juices.

Sprinkle over the flour and stock powder and allow to cook out. Add the mustard and slowly add the soya milk until it’s all absorbed and the sauce is nicely thickened. Season and add the parsley.

Place the vegetables and sauce in a pie dish. Put the puff pastry on the top and seal the edges. You don’t have to use a pie funnel but it will help to cook the inside out if you have one and prevent a soggy pastry lid. Crimp the edges of the pie and brush the top with a little extra soya milk.

Bake the pie in a hot (180 degree) oven for 30-40 mins until the pastry is golden, crispy and cooked through. Serve with baby jacket potatoes, steamed cauliflower and lashings of yummy gravy. Nomtastic.

Cowboy Stew (v)

I don’t know where the name Cowboy Stew comes from I have to confess. I first made this as a student so I think it’s probably something to do with the fact that it contains beans and sausages and everyone knows that’s what cowboys eat. Whatever, the etymology of the name is less interesting than the recipe. It’s the perfect sort of dish for horrible weather like what we had today: wet, soggy, cold, blustery. This warms you from the inside and tastes lovely at the same time. Result.

For 4 portions you need
1 pack Linda McCartney sausages
1 tin baked beans
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin drained black eyed beans
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 punnett mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 red and 1 green pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chilli powder
salt and pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp each of hendersons relish (veggie worcester sauce), soya sauce and mushroom ketchup

Begin by sautéing the onion in the oil for about 5 mins. Add the mushrooms and cook till the juices have come out. Add the peppers and garlic and fry for another 1-2 mins. Add everything else apart from the sausages and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 mins. Meanwhile fry the sausages until browned. Add the sausages to the pan of stew and cook for a further 10 mins till steaming hot. Serve with mounds of buttery mash, or whatever carb you feel like. Perfeck.

Veggie Dawgs

I love veggie hot dogs. I used to love normal meaty hot dogs but I think veggie ones are even nicer as there’s no lips and arseholes to worry about in the sausage. And L declared today that “nothing beats a hotdog on a Saturday” so what more excuse do you need…?

This might not seem like a particularly challenging recipe but I plead with you to do the onions as directed below. This way you’ll end up with perfect burger van onions (minus the e-coli). And you have to use French’s mustard. Or else.

For 2 people you need:

4 finger rolls, split
4 veggie hot dog suasages
tomato ketchup
proper american french’s mustard
1 onion
A little vegetable oil
A small knob of butter
Freshly boiled water

Begin by preparing the onion. Peel and then cut in half through the poles. Slice finely and place in a frying pan (preferably not a non stick one) with about 1-2 tsp vegetable oil. Cook gently for 10 mins or so. Once the onion starts to soften add the butter and 1=2 tbsp boiled water and bring to the boil. Immediately reduce the heat and leave them to cook out. Add a little more water if the onions aren’t that soft. After about another 10mins add the butter and turn up the heat slightly to brown them.

Meanwhile heat the sausages in a pan of boiling water for 3-4 mins. Drain and place in a hot dog bun. My preferred serving suggestion is a layer of ketchup, a layer of mustard, the sausage, some more ketchup and mustard and finally the onions. Enjoy.

Fruit with Toffee Fondue Sauce

This is an easy way to use up any leftover sauce from a sticky toffee pudding.

For 4 people you need:
Assorted fruit – we used melon, mango, apple and clementine

Toffee Sauce made from
275g golden syrup
225ml double cream
275g light soft brown sugar
100g butter
1/2 tsp vanilla

Boil the sauce ingredients for 5 mins till golden and bubbling. Chop the fruit roughly and dip in to the sauce. This is an excellent way to get children (and adults!) to each fruit 🙂

Speedy Microwave Syrup Sponge Pudding

I felt all Jamie last night as I managed to get a two course meal on the table in under 30 mins. Go me…

For 4-5 portions you need:
125g margarine, self raising flour and sugar
2 eggs
splash milk
3 tbsp golden syrup

Blitz together the marge, milk, flour, eggs and sugar. Place the golden syrup in the bottom of a pudding basin/pyrex bowl and scrape the batter on top. Cover with cling film and nuke on high for 3 mins 30 secs. Serve with lashings of custard.

Pasta Bake with Three Cheeses

Another one to use up the milk glut…

For 2-3 people you need:

200g pasta
1 pint milk
1.5oz butter
1.5oz flour
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp french mustard
1 cup mature cheddar, grated
4 slices emmental
1/4 cup grated parmesan
4-6 cherry tomatoes, halved

Cook the pasta. Meanwhile make the cheese sauce by placing the milk, butter and flour in a pan and heating gently. Bring to the boil and mix thoroughly to ensure a smooth sauce. Add 2/3 of the cheddar and the mustards. Season to taste. Drain the pasta and mix in the sauce. Pour into a gratin dish and top with the remaining cheeses and tomatoes. Bake in a hot oven for 30 mins or so till golden and bubbling. Serve with a simple green salad.