Monday, 29 June 2015

Riverford's Vegetarian Recipe Box Reviewed

We've received and enjoyed regular Riverford veg boxes in the past, though not currently as Mr P's veg plot is so productive. So it was very nice to be offered one of their new vegetarian recipe boxes to use and, if appropriate, review. The box contains three recipes, each said to serve two people.

All ingredients (apart from olive oil, salt & pepper) are included amounting to about 12 per recipe, and items to put in the fridge are clearly marked. Fresh veg/salad/fruit are neatly arranged either side of the middle compartment which contains all the cans, spices, oils etc in three sections to match the three recipes. Wherever possible, all ingredients are organic.

Each dish was very good, with both of us impressed. Instructions are very clear; however, the timings given to prepare and cook were always less than it took in my kitchen - and I am generally considered a fast and efficient cook! Quantities were generous (there were leftovers of everything) and all fresh foods were in very good condition. One other point - each recipe recommends preparing within 5 days, so once the box arrives the cook/s will need to bear this in mind when planning.

Here are the Thrilling Three, with brief comments (I can answer any other queries via the comments box):

Jerk Chickpeas & Roasted Peppers with Callaloo (spinach & coconut sauce)
This made two meals for us with some of each of the three components left over.  Greatly enjoyed it.

Broad Bean, Beetroot & Spelt with Sheep's Cheese, Radish & Mint
Of the three, this was my favourite. I even - for the first time ever - obeyed the instruction to remove the skins from the cooked broad beans! The mix was perfect, and the sheep's cheese crumbled over the top was really creamy - it's on my shopping list already.

Japanese Sesame Beans with Carrot & Aduki Miso Noodles 
I didn't toss the noodles/carrots/aduki beans which is why it looks different
This was Mr P's favourite of the three, and distinctively Japanese rather than Chinese. I was unsure about the quantity of water to add to the aduki beans and carrots, and found using only half the amount was perfect. I enjoyed this and used chopsticks with it, noodles notwithstanding.

*             *             *             *             *             *

There were no individual parts of the instructions which were difficult to understand or follow, so it's a case of 'anyone can do this' - although those who don't cook complex dishes that often may need to allow plenty of time.

So thank you, Riverford - this was good fun to complete and eat. I can certainly recommend it to anyone who wants to produce restaurant-quality vegetarian meals for two.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Tofu in Cider with Apple, Mushrooms & Garlic

Looking through this recipe, there are lots of possible substitutions to suit various tastes - see last section, though the details here are how I like it best. Can easily be made vegan.

Should take around 45 minutes all told, and it helps to prepare the first few ingredients before starting to cook (e.g. up to and including the mushrooms). This dish is relatively low in calories for a main course, and is cooked using one large frying pan and one ring on the hob. It would also work well in the slow cooker, adjusting the timescale of course.

Wish I'd snipped that large leaf.
Tofu in Cider with Apple, Mushrooms and Garlic - serves 2
1 tbsp oil
180g firm tofu, cut into bricks around 3 x 1.5 x 1cm
1 tsp oil
1 medium red onion, peeled & diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
2 tbsp fresh herbs such as thyme leaves or snipped sage or coriander
1 medium apple, cored and diced (no need to peel)
140g medium-sized mushrooms, trimmed & quartered
230ml vegetarian-suitable dry cider (or apple juice)
1 good tbsp Dijon mustard
100ml double cream (or 80g full fat cream cheese)
80g baby spinach leaves, washed
s & p
small handful of chives (or garlic chives), finely snipped

1  Heat the first measure of oil in a large frying pan. Meanwhile blot the tofu well
    in layers of kitchen paper before frying it gently for about 10mins, turning once,
    until lightly browned both sides. Remove from the pan.

2  Heat the second measure of oil in the pan and sautee the onion and garlic for
    5mins, stirring from time to time.

3  Add the herbs, apple and mushrooms and cook for a further 5mins, stirring

4  Add the cider (or apple juice), the mustard and the tofu; simmer 5mins.

5  Mix in the cream (or cream cheese) and spinach, and season well. Cook for 
    another couple of minutes until heated through and the spinach has wilted.

6  When serving, sprinkle each plate/bowl with the chives.

Alternative ingredients
•  Good with Quorn chunks in stead of tofu, or indeed with Quorn fillets kept whole.
•  Low fat cream cheese could be used, but tends to end up a little weaker.
•  Same with low-fat yogurt. Full fat would be OK.
•  White onions work as well as red, but just don't look quite so pretty.
•  Creamed horseradish could replace the mustard.
•  Chives might be replaced with very finely sliced onion, fried until crisp. 
•  For vegan version, check the cider and if dodgy, use apple juice. Substitute the
        cream/cheese with suitable cream such as Alpro.

Added Extras
Rice (preferably whole-grain), mash with parsley, or crusty bread.
Dry white wine or white grape juice - more apple juice might be a step too far.