Sunday, 30 June 2013

Black Bean and Mushroom Burgers

I’ve been feeling decidedly worse for wear for the last week; Mr Simply Veg and I have both had colds but, looking on the bright side, it’s been a good excuse to stay indoors and watch Wimbledon; not that I need any excuse! C’mon Andy – let this be the year!

Food for Wimbledon has to be quick, easy to prepare and capable of being eaten from a tray whist seated on the sofa in front of the TV – nothing that needs a knife and nothing with a sauce that will end up all over me and the furniture if the match gets exciting…!

On Friday afternoon, while I was waiting for Andy Murray to enter the fray again, I made up a black bean and mushroom burger mix and left it in the fridge to firm up a bit before cooking. It was all a bit “make it up as you go along”, but surprisingly tasty; an amalgam of the best bits of two or three other recipes to which I added a grated carrot and some of our herbs which are growing like crazy. Best of all, the burgers didn’t fall apart in the pan (yes, I know you've been there!) and I have the picture to prove it.
I was going to serve them in ciabatta rolls with some spicy wedges but the tennis was getting a tad intense so we finished up just having the patties with some of our new potatoes and Little Gem lettuces from the garden. A nice easy dinner and Andy won...what's not to like?

125g chestnut mushrooms
1 large onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tin black beans
100g wholemeal breadcrumbs
125g carrot, grated
2 tsp sun-dried tomato paste
1 tbsp oregano, finely chopped

1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
black pepper
1 egg, beaten

a little olive oil for frying

Finely chop the onion and mushrooms and fry in the olive oil until golden. Set aside to cool.

Empty the beans into a sieve, rinse and drain well then put them in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher until broken down; add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with a fork. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Divide the mixture into four or six, depending on how large you’d like them to be, and shape into patties.

Fry for 8-10 minutes each side.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Eating at Vanilla Black

It was my birthday last week (yep…21 again - ha!) and, as I've mentioned before, we don’t have a decent veggie restaurant locally so we tootled up to town for the day and had an astonishing lunch at Vanilla Black.

Having become used to only choosing the solitary ‘vegetarian option’ in restaurants I felt quite giddy with excitement at being faced with an entire menu! How exciting!

A selection of homemade breads and salt-flaked butter appeared without being requested – always a nice touch.

My starter of Brie Ice Cream, Pickled Plums and Mulled Custard with Sherry Vinegar and Cracked Hazelnut was very good. Had the ice-cream been a little less frozen, which deadened the flavour somewhat, it would have been excellent; however, the pickled plums and mulled custard were to die for. Mr Simply Veg was very happy with his bowl of Whipped Jacket Potato and Crispy Shallots with Tomato Syrup and Wensleydale Cheese.

My main course of Seared Seaweed and Cabbage with Pickled Potatoes, Soda Bread Sauce, Pickled Mustard Seeds and Foraged Seaside Vegetables tasted as amazing as it sounds and included a little heap of samphire which I love and which is served far too infrequently in my opinion. Mr S-V’s main of Double Baked Ribblesdale Pudding and Smoked Croquette with Pineapple Pickle and Poached Hen Egg was a little like a cheese soufflĂ© served with a perfectly poached egg and a tangy pineapple chutney which offset the richness of the pudding.

I don’t usually eat desserts, I’m more of a savoury type, but as it was my birthday I thought I’d force myself…spoonsful of Chocolate, Port and Yoghurt Sponge with Fig Jelly, Dried Chocolate and Fig and Port Sorbet (mine) and Smoked Paprika Fudge, Malt Loaf and Builder's Tea Ice Cream with Crispy Pear and Smoky Pear (Mr S-V’s) were passed back and forth across the table amidst much smacking of lips while we both “Ooh-ed" and "Ahh-ed” with appreciation.

After excellent coffee we left, replete.

If I was being really picky about Vanilla Black I would say there is an over-reliance on cheese as a protein element and, conversely, a few of the dishes may be a bit protein-light for someone who worries about that type of thing, but.... if you're within travelling distance, go; it’s a proper restaurant rather than a cafĂ©-style establishment, good service without being in your face and some really unusual combinations of flavours in their beautifully presented food.

All-in-all a very worthwhile excursion; if it was nearer it'd be hard to stay away.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

A Couple of News Items

Good luck with persuading people of this, chaps...! There’s more chance of me becoming an international supermodel than there is of getting Mr and Mrs Average to embrace the idea of meatless meals.

Most people, with a few honourable exceptions, are too blinkered and small-minded to give up having lumps of dead animal on their plate. They ridicule veggies because it makes them feel better about themselves; they know they're defending the indefensible but they'll continue to justify their meat-eating by saying they only eat free-range, ethically-reared, organic animals who've had a really happy life. Happy, that is, until they were carted off to the abattoir…

I also happened to read something else today which should put an end to the old chestnut “Humans are naturally meat-eaters – you can see that by our teeth. We need to eat meat” that gets endlessly trotted out as though it’s an indisputable fact. It’s not a fact and it’s not indisputable – meat came very late to the party; up until 3.5million years ago we lived in forests and ate a diet of leaves and fruits from trees, shrubs and herbs, much the same as chimpanzees do today.

Sounds like quite a nice diet actually!