Monday, 26 March 2012

Good Vegetarian Versions of Meat Products

There are plenty of 'substitutes' around, in fact so many and such good examples that I don't feel they should be considered substitutes now. They are just a version, and very handy some of them are, too, since most relevant recipes work equally well with them.

Here are some of the vegetarian versions often dished up in our kitchen.

Linda McCartney sausages
I always have two types of these. The OM likes the Linda McCartney (plain) vegetarian sausages but is less keen on the Italian or tomato-added type. They're based on cereal and vegetable protein. These are currently £1 for 5 (sometimes 6) at Iceland, and some supermarkets match this price periodically. I like them too, but prefer ....

Tesco Meat Free
Lincolnshire Sausages

... the Lincolnshire type which most large supermarkets offer. These are Tesco's Meat-free Lincolnshire Style, which are soya based. The offer shown here, typically tempting multi-buy, is 2 packs for £3, which makes them 25p each.

We usually roast sausages with a splash of oil in a moderate oven for 35 mins, adding some quartered red onions for the last 20 minutes. The OM makes a good toad-in-the-hole with two of each kind, accompanied by a great onion gravy.

Garden Gourmet Vegetarian
Chargrilled Burgers 
Not so keen on vegetable-based burgers as they don't seem to keep their shape that well and have little 'chewability'. Tesco used to stock quarterpounder chargrilled burgers, which were favourite, but these seem to have vanished, leaving only the thinner types although I like those too. Currently we're enjoying these Garden Gourmet Vegetarian Chargrilled Burgers - packs of 4, each 75g (a little under 3oz), soya and wheat protein. Good in a bun or a folded slice of toast, with chilli relish, onion, and maybe cheese.

Asda's packs of 8 meat-free burgers, again soya and wheat proteins, are good, each just under 60g (fraction over 2oz).

Fillets and Chunks
Quorn Fillets
Quorn fillets (frozen) look like small chicken breasts, and are just as versatile. They can be shallow fried, baked in sauce and so on, and are low-fat and low-calorie. They also do a good pack of 2 lemon and cracked black pepper escalopes. Quorn is made from mycoprotein, which belongs to the family of fungi and which is fully approved by the Vegetarian Society.

Other Quorn products worth a go include their mince, which makes a shepherd's pie that my rellies couldn't tell didn't contain beef mince. "But we know you wouldn't use real mince!" Quorn chunks are like cubes of chicken which are good in a stir-fry or a sauce, or as a filling for pasties. I have a number of my own recipes for these products including Budapest and Mater versions.

We recently found also that Asda's own soya mince, tried in a shepherd's pie, is excellent, too.

I realise of course that I am backing some products here from the large supermarkets, and probably the producers supply smaller shops and the other supermarkets with identical or slightly adapted versions. But if the concept of similar-to-meat is acceptable, then these are all very good, and have a place in our freezer.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Yurrrk! Veg Words I Totally Eschew

Although I'm forever reading about vegetarian food - articles, recipes, competitions - some particular terms will always put me off. Here are some of them:
Any recipe title that ends with bake. Vegetable bake, pasta bake - just sounds as though it becomes one solid mass which  you'd have to cut with a knife to serve.
Recipes described as stew. Reminds me of school stew which would have tough chunks of cheap meat or what appeared to be vertebrae with a few bits falling off them. (I was a meat eater while at school.) Stew seems to suggest that anything going has been thrown into a pot with too much liquid, and it will lack flavour.

Couscous - ridiculous I know, but I hate saying this word and have never found it to be, let's say, delightful.

Served on a bed of ... Just means 'on'. Bed of rice, bed of salad, bed of mash. I don't especially like main     course food served on other food - the firmer item will be made soggy by the less firm. Side by side would be prettier and more appetising.
From the OM's greenhouse
Arrabiata - or, to give this pasta 'sauce' its scientific name, tomato slop. I will NEVER order this in a restaurant. It is cheap, lazy, insulting and usually tasteless.

Death by Chocolate is not what you'd call an appealing name. I've never eaten it but I bet it's lovely.

Heat but do not allow to boil. How hot? Lukewarm? Hotter? You can't know it's nearly boiling until it boils 
     and then it's too late.

A lifelong interest in cooking? From one hour old? Lifelong interest in food, well that's different.

     and finally,

THE VEGETARIAN OPTION on a menu. What will it be? I can't commit until I know. Why can't you commit? On second thoughts don't bother - it's probably one from the list above.

Friday, 9 March 2012

She's Here! Guest Gina's Wonderful 3-Course Meal.

 Delighted to welcome guest blogger Gina Dickerson, a keen vegetarian cook as well as a novellist. She has designed an amazing 3-course meal especially for this post, and the pictures - her own - are as good as any I've seen. So without further ado, over to Gina.

Firstly I’d like to say a massive thank you to Jacqueline for asking me to guest blog. This is my first ever guest blog and I’m rather excited! I thought I’d throw together a three-course meal including my family’s all-time favourite; cheesecake. I didn’t want to dig out old recipes so I decided to start afresh and make the meals up as I went along.

Roasted Pepper soup with Sunburst rolls
I love soup as a starter and absolutely adore baking bread. Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe:

Sunburst Rolls (makes 4 large rolls/8 smaller rolls):
Sunburst Rolls
  240ml tepid water
  440g strong bread flour
  40g wholemeal bread flour
  1 sachet dried yeast – fast action
  ½ teaspoon salt
  1 ½ teaspoons of cracked black pepper
  1 ½ teaspoons of mustard (check suitable for veggies)           

   1 teaspoon sugar**
   Sea salt and cracked black pepper for seasoning                                       
   1 beaten egg for glazing
   Extra flour for dusting

    Olive oil for greasing

Step 1: Pour the water into a mixing bowl and add the mustard.
Step 2: Next add in the flour, sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons of black pepper, ½ teaspoon of salt, and yeast.
Step 3: I like to use dough hooks with an electric whisk to mix the dough. Mix thoroughly then turn out onto
       floured board and knead until the dough springs back when prodded with a floury finger.
Step 4: Shape into four balls and snip into the edges of the dough-balls with scissors, make six incisions.
Step 5: Line a baking tray/sheet with baking paper, coat lightly with olive oil, sprinkle cracked black pepper
       and salt onto the tray then place the cut dough on top. Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
Step 6: Preheat oven to gas mark 6/200° Celsius 
Step 7: Once the rolls have doubled in size glaze with a little of the beaten eggs on the tops of each then 
       sprinkle with some more cracked black pepper and sea salt
Step 8: Bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until the rolls sound hollow when tapped. Tip: I turn
       my rolls over towards the end of cooking to check the underside is a nice, golden colour.

Roasted Pepper Soup

Roasted Pepper Soup
  1 pint of vegetable stock (I cheated and used stock cubes)
  3 roasted and skinned, large, red peppers
  3 roasted and skinned, large tomatoes
  Handful of fresh basil leaves
  Handful of fresh chives
  ½ teaspoon of Cayenne pepper
  2 tablespoons of tomato puree 
  Cracked black pepper and a pinch of salt for seasoning
  Optional – cream to swirl as a finishing touch                                   
  Tablespoon of olive oil for roasting the peppers and tomatoes

Step 1:Roast the peppers and tomatoes in a little olive oil until soft and the skins just split. Remove from the

      oven and pop them into a food bag (I like the thick freezer bags), tie the bag and leave to sweat for at
      least ten minutes as this makes the skins very easy to remove.

Step 2: Make up the stock and add the pepper, salt, and Cayenne pepper. I like my soup to have a lot of black
Step 3: Squirt the tomato puree into the stock and stir.
Step 4: I never chop basil leaves with a knife; instead I tear them into pieces by hand. I was told by an Italian 
     lady that if the leaves are chopped it impairs the potency of the flavour. Snip the chives into small strands 
     using a clean pair of kitchen scissors. Don’t add the herbs yet.
Step 5: Once the peppers and tomatoes are skinned drop them into a blender and add the stock mix, blend 
     until smooth then finally add the herbs and blitz lightly.
Step 6: Heat the soup, serve, and enjoy!

Leek & Onion Patties with Salsa and Vegetables
For the main course I wanted to try something which looked colourful and tasted great. 

This recipe does make a rather large bowlful, perfect if you want some left over to add to a salad lunch the next day. If you’d prefer a smaller amount, simply halve the quantities. It will keep in the fridge for up to two days.

  1 large pepper, diced (I use either yellow or green)
  ½ a large onion, diced
  100g tomatoes, you can use any type, just chop them up into similar chunks like the pepper and onion
  20g of cucumber, diced
  90ml of lemon juice
  30ml of Cyder vinegar
  50ml of wine white vinegar
  Optional: 20g of grated vegetarian cheese
  1 chopped chilli or 1 teaspoon of chilli powder
Place all ingredients in a bowl, stir well then leave to infuse in the fridge. Bring to room temperature and drain slightly before serving.
Leek & Onion Patties
with Salsa and Vegetables
Leek & Onion Patties
This will make two generous patties. Not recommended if you don’t like getting gloopy hands when cooking!
    80g diced leek
    40g diced onion
    The scooped insides of 300g grams of baked potatoes
    20g breadcrumbs (fresh or ready-made)

    20g grated vegetarian cheese

    2 teaspoons of chopped chives

    1 teaspoon ground pepper

    ½ teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon cumin    
    1 teaspoon chopped parsley                                                                                                                        
    Extra breadcrumbs for coating                                                                                                                         
    1 beaten egg for dipping
    Olive oil for shallow frying
    2 thick slices of baked tomato
Step 1: Lightly sauté the onions and leek in some heated olive oil.
Step 2: Rough mash the insides of the potatoes in a bowl.
Step 3: Transfer the leeks and onions from the oil into the bowl of potato, not letting too much oil drip into it.
Step 4: Mix the cheese, chives, pepper, salt, cumin, parsley, and 20g of breadcrumbs into the potato mix.
Step 5: Form the mixture into two balls and pat down to resemble a “burger” type of shape.
Step 6: Dip the patties into the beaten egg, taking care to cover all sides.
Step 7: Carefully coat the egg covered patties in breadcrumbs by dipping them into the breadcrumb bowl.
Step 8: Ensure the pan of olive oil is heated and gently lower the patties into the hot oil. Leave for 1-2 minutes
      before carefully turning over. Shallow fry until both sides are only lightly golden.
Step 9: Drain the patties, if required, on a little kitchen towel and transfer to a very lightly oiled baking tray and 
      pop in the oven, gas mark 5/ for 15 minutes to ensure the patties are piping hot before serving. Ignore this 
      step if you would prefer to deep fry your patties and serve immediately.
Step 10: Garnish the patties with a slice of oven-baked tomato. Don’t overcook or the tomato will turn to mush!

I completed the meal with baby corn, whole baby carrots, and sugar snap peas.

Orange Choc Cheesecake

I made this recipe using Italian Mascarpone cheese, which is not really cheese at all as it is made in a way similar to yoghurt. It is suitable for vegetarians because it does not contain animal rennet. Mascarpone is very versatile and can be used in sweet or savoury dishes. This dish will make two large individual cheesecakes or four good-sized ones.
Orange Choc Cheesecake
  250g Mascarpone
  1 teaspoon golden syrup
  Juice of 1 fresh squeezed orange or 2 teaspoons of natural orange essence
             (not faux-flavouring). Take care not to add too much liquid or the 
             cheesecake will not be set
  50g vegetarian margarine/butter
  2 tablespoons of icing sugar**
  3 digestive biscuits
  4 ginger biscuits (or equivalent of your own, homemade biscuits)
  100g Chocolate for melting. I choose milk chocolate although you could use 
             any type or even more quantity wise if desired!

Step 1: This is the bit I enjoy the most. Bash the biscuits into crumbs. I use a 
     strong food bag and crush/bash the biscuits with a rolling pin.
Step 2: Melt the margarine/butter, remove from the heat and stir in the biscuit 
     crumbs and golden syrup.
Step 3: Spoon the biscuit mix into cases (I use non-stick silicone cupcake cases) and press down firmly. You
      want the base to stay together when serving!
Step 4: Scoop the Mascarpone into a bowl and smooth in the orange juice/essence.
Step 5: Add the icing sugar to the Mascarpone and stir in well.
Step 6: Carefully spoon the Mascarpone into the cases, on top of the biscuit base, and chill until firm enough to 
      remove from the cases.
Tip: Popping the cheesecakes into the freezer will make it easy to “pop” them from their cases. Just remember to ensure they are not frozen when serving.
Step 7: Melt the chocolate and drizzle into shapes on baking paper. Be adventurous! I made chocolate lattice 
      pieces, buttons, zigzags, and anything else that sprung to mind. Leave these to set then decorate 
      cheesecakes just before serving.

** Remember to check that the sugar is suitable for vegetarians. Some white, brown, and confectionery sugar is made using bone char from cattle. The bone char is particularly used in some refined sugars and in some white, cane, sugar to give it the “whiteness”. However most white sugar made from beet is fine for vegetarians as it’s normally not whitened using bone char. SilverSpoon products are all suitable for vegetarians but I am not sure of other brands.

So, that’s it, my three-course-veg-tastic meal. I really enjoyed creating it and now I’ve typed it up I’m feeling rather hungry!
Many, many thanks to Gina for this post. If I could do the decs on the dessert myself I'd be a happy blogger!
Gina's blog is at and website . There are two links for her novel Lies Love Tells: and

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Famous Vegetarians from Past and Present

Arthur Russell Brand
by Eva Rinaldi
So many vegetarians to find, from well into the BC years onwards. When this topic was mentioned to friends, immediate responses were Adolf Hitler (who probably wasn't), and Mahatma Gandhi, George Bernard Shaw and Albert Einstein who almost certainly were, and Sir Paul McCartney. Some of those listed here are well-known for their dietary habits, others perhaps less so. But I had great fun finding out!

(All of the pictures are from and all are licensed for creative commons use.)

Early Roman Poets
Virgil (70-19 BC)
Horace (65-8 BC)
Ovid (43 BC to 17/18 AD)

Early Greek Philosophers/Mathematicians

Pythagoras of Samos (550-495 BC), mathematician - remember the theorem!
Plato (approx 424 to 348 BC) was both
Plutarch (approx 46-120 AD), became a Roman citizen, philosopher, historian and biographer

Gustav Mahler
by Jean Pierre
Gustav Mahler, Austrian/Hungarian (1860-1911)
Gustav Holst, British, (1874-1934)
Philip Glass, American, born 1937
Isadora Duncan
by Secom Bahia

Found only one of special note - Sir Stafford Cripps, labour  
     chancellor of the exchequer (1859-1992)

Isadora Duncan, American (1877-1927), died when a scarf became
                                entangled in a car wheel.

More Recent Poets
Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
Lord Byron, English Romantic 1788-1824
Percy Bysshe Shelley, English Romantic (1792-1822)

Other Writers
Mary Shelley (1797-1851), best-known for gothic novel Frankenstein - the monster was vegetarian, too!

Leo Tolstoy, Russian (1828-1910)
Franz Kafka (1883-1924), best known for The Trial and Metamorphosis. Most work published after his death
Spike Milligan, KBE (1918-2002), also comedian
Antoni Gaudi
by thierry ehrmann
J M Coetzee, Australian, born 1940
Other Arts
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), not famous for his code                                                 
Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926), Spanish architect, best known for work in Barcelona houses, 
        Park Guell, and unfinished cathedral La Sagrada Familia  

Billie Jean King, American, born 1943
Martina Navratilova, American (originally Czech), born 1956

Martin Shaw as Insp
George Gently
by microraptor

And Others ...
John Harvey Kellogg, American doctor, keen on nutrition (yes,
         the  cereal) and exercise
Martin Shaw born 1945
Joanna Lumley, born 1946
Jeff Beck, rock guitarist, born 1944

and finally,
Lisa Simpson
by pop culture geek