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


  1. Hi Jacqueline, thank you very much for asking to appear on your blog. I had a wonderful time creating the recipes and my husband and I really enjoyed the eating!

  2. Brilliant! You should work for vegsoc or cookveg - you'd be good value as you could devise recipes, cook them, and provide pictures too. What are they waiting for?