Sunday, 17 November 2013

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - Laurence Harvey

Laurence Harvey (or Zhi Mosheh Skikne – who would have guessed he was really Lithuaninan?) was a very fine actor, best known for Room at the Top, The Manchurian Candidate and The Alamo.
Having just watched him again in The Alamo, I was inspired to consider him for a place at my table. As William B Travis, he led the small force which kept Santa Anna’s army at bay for just long enough.
With facts few and far between, the myth of how Travers, Crockett and Bowie gave their lives for Texas is a great story.

Tex-Mex food is always a favourite and would be an appropriate choice of menu, even if only to stir up a lively conversation.
I have included a similar recipe before (see If the Nighthawks at the Diner were Vegetarian) but this time I am also utilising the fresh chilies and tomatoes I picked straight from the greenhouse.


Serves 2 – 3

300g Quorn mince
1 onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, crushed or chopped very finely
1 can kidney beans
1 fresh jalapeno chili pepper, chopped
1 fresh scotch red bonnet chili pepper, chopped
1 fresh 1 tsp mixed herbs
100ml vegetable stock
1 can tinned tomatoes
6 fresh tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp olive oil
4 – 6 tortilla wraps

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion. Cook gently for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic and chili peppers and cook for a couple of minutes more.
Add the tinned tomatoes and then the Quorn mince. Pour the vegetable stock over the mince to break it down and stir everything together well.
Add tomato puree and herbs.
Rinse kidney beans and add to the pan.
Bring everything to the boil. Turn down and allow to simmer for at least ten minutes and, ideally, about half an hour.
Cut tomatoes into quarters and add, then continue cooking for another ten minutes.

Serve in tortilla wraps.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - Vincent Price

Something a little different here at Zelda's Zecrets, as this time the recipes are not my own. In fact, they were created by the wonderful Vincent Price. But I could still fantasise that he was coming round to enjoy them, cooked by my own fair hand...
October 31st was a very special evening, as I took part in the Vincent Price Halloween Cookalong.

The event was organised by the very talented Jenny at Silverscreen Suppers and The Vincentennial Cookblog.  It involved some of us with cooking/ film obsessions reproducing a selection of Vincent Price’s dishes and watching House on Haunted Hill. Fellow Cookalongers will be listed at the end of the post - all well worth checking out.
As well as the universal Pumpkin Pie, I was allocated Champignons Grillés Marie Victoire (with its rather more pedestrian title of Broiled Mushrooms Mary Victoria in brackets).

Vincent Price, as well as being a hugely successful actor, noted especially for his ability to play the extremely suave but slightly unhinged, was also an enthusiastic and accomplished cook. He even had a TV series called Cooking Price-Wise which is well worth a view if you can track it down. The accompanying book contains dishes from around the globe. With his wife Mary he also wrote A Treasury of Great Recipes.

On Thursday, I had to be well prepared in advance as I had tickets to watch a lecture on Richard III and then a performance of the play during the afternoon. So, after immersing myself in the seductiveness of evil, I returned home to put the final touches to my meal.
My given recipe, Champignons Grillés Marie Victoire, was very tasty. I thought it might make a suitable starter but another time I would definitely serve it as a side-dish (as Vincent actually intended). It was easy to cook, although I couldn’t, as specified, keep the pan 6 inches from the heat so I curtailed the cooking time slightly. 

The mushrooms were still hot, soft and tasty. The shallots and butter gave an extra dimension but, as a starter, we (sorry to say) missed the garlic. I would serve this again as an accompaniment to another dish; Vincent suggests barbecued steak but I will find a suitable vegetarian alternative. 

And so, onto the Pumpkin Pie. As with so many of these old recipes, a certain amount of flexibility is required to turn the recipe on the page into the food on the plate. I think I made a ‘rookie error’ in that, caught up in the heat of the moment, I purchased a big old pumpkin so that D could carve it into a spooky face. Some of these pumpkins are grown more for their size than their flavour (waist rather than taste). Vincent actually suggested buying canned mashed pumpkin but that was not an option in Nottinghamshire. I diligently cooked and mashed the flesh which D had scraped out before sculpting his masterpiece. 

Incidentally, in the spirit of ‘waste not want not’ I also roasted the seeds and made soup for the next day. I’ll be making dresses from curtains next. 

The pie took longer to cook than Vincent envisaged and (probably because of my inferior pumpkin) tasted less ‘pumpkiny’ than I was expecting. However, it was still delicious and we indulged in huge slices.

I have copied the recipes below, along with any of my adjustments in brackets.
This was a fabulous project to be involved with and it led to a thoroughly enjoyable evening and a fantastic meal.

And then there was House on Haunted Hill to finish it all off. So, presumably Frederick Loren will now be looking for a new wife. Well, if applications are open…

Check out the blogs...

Sally at My Custard Pie
Erica at Retro Recipe
Catherine at Battenburgbelle
Brian at Caker Cooking
Angela at Glamorous Glutton

(If I have missed you out, please let me know and I will be pleased to add you too.)

And the recipes...

Serves 6

18 large (how large is large?) brown mushrooms (I used chestnut) lightly scrubbed (I brushed them clean)
5tbsp butter
1tsp finely chopped shallots (I used 2 shallots)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

Remove mushroom stems.

Heat 2tbsp butter in a large skillet (pan).

Place mushrooms, tops down, in the butter.

Blend 3 tbsp softened butter with the shallots and the salt and pepper. Fill the mushroom caps with the mixture.

Broil (grill) 6 inches from the heat for about 5 mins (My griller was only 3 inches from the gas so I cut the time to 4 mins).

Turn off broiler (griller) and allow mushrooms to sizzle for 5 minutes more.

Baste mushrooms with any juice in pan. Serve without spilling contents of caps.

Makes about 8 servings

1 X 9 inch unbaked pie shell
350g / 1.5 cups mashed or canned cooked pumpkin
3 eggs well-beaten (I used free-range)
350ml/ 1.5 cups heavy cream (double cream)
145g/ 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp mace
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Make the pie shell with a high scalloped edge, refrigerate several hours. (I used pre-made sweet pastry and rolled it to the thickness of a £1 coin)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F / 220 degrees C .( I used Gas 7)

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin with eggs, then the cream, sugar, salt, and spices.  

Blend well, then pour into the chilled pie shell.  

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F / 175 degrees C (I used Gas 4) before serving (I needed to keep it in the oven at this temperature for about 45minutes before the filling set).

Friday, 20 September 2013

If Wallace and Gromit were Vegetarian…

We all know how much Wallace loves his cheese. Hopefully he would like this tea-time snack, too.


Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a light lunch

4 slices wholemeal bread, thickly sliced
85g/3½oz hard cheese, grated
5ml/1tsp dried thyme
30ml/2tbsp pickle or chutney
black pepper

Toast the bread slices lightly on each side.
Mix the cheese and thyme together and season to taste.
Spread the pickle on the toast and divide the cheese evenly between the four slices.
Return the toast to the grill and cook until the cheese is browned and bubbling.

Cut each slice into halves diagonally.

If TRINCULO were Vegetarian…

The Shakespearean Fool is the one person who can tell the truth and get away with it. He is there for more than just comic relief, although he can provide some of the funniest moments in a play.
In The Tempest, Trinculo along with Stephano and Caliban, is responsible for the most enjoyable part of the action.
As a servant, he would have to eat whatever was on offer but for today, I will treat him to this…


Serves 4

450g/ 1lb gooseberries.
75g/ 3oz caster sugar
500g/ 1lb 2oz freshly made custard
150ml/ 5floz/ ¼ pint double cream

Top and tail the gooseberries. Then heat gently in a saucepan with the sugar. When they are soft, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Put the gooseberries in a blender and whizz until you get a lovely mush. Push through a sieve to remove the pips.
Add the custard and stir well.
Whip the cream and then combine with the gooseberry mixture to make a marbled effect.

Pour into dishes and chill.

Monday, 9 September 2013

If JACK KEROUAC were Vegetarian…

Jack Kerouac: author, poet, voice of a generation…

On the Road is his greatest work, a spiritual search for understanding, belonging and adventure.
"Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road."

With all that time spent travelling, he would need a tasty snack to pack up and take with him.


Serves 4 - 6

175g/6oz plain flour
Salt and pepper
75g/3oz butter
30ml/2tbsp cold water
2 eggs, beaten
150ml/¼pt single cream
75g/3oz cheese
1tbsp cut chives
200g tomatoes, sliced thinly

Mix the flour and salt, then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the water gradually until the mixture forms a pastry which comes away from the sides of the bowl.
Make into a ball and cover with film. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes.
Roll out and line a 20cm/8inch flan dish which has been greased and floured. Prick the base all over with a fork.
Refrigerate again for 20 minutes. Then line with baking parchment and fill with baking beans.
Cook for about 10 minutes at Gas 7/ 220C/ 425F.
Remove the beans and parchment and cook for about 5 minutes more until pastry feels dry. Allow to cool.
Make a layer of tomatoes and sprinkle over the chives.
Mix the eggs, cream and cheese and season. Pour over the other ingredients.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C/ Gas 6/ 400F for about 25 mins until set and risen.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest – WINSTON SMITH

Winston Smith can hardly be thought of as a hero. In 1984 he struggles to find and retain his originality in a world of bureaucracy.
Chocolate is rationed and the amount allocated keeps diminishing, despite the Party’s reassurance.
I think he would love to have the indulgence of this luscious dessert.

Makes about 12

50g butter
50g granulated sugar
40g light brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 free range egg
125g plain flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
175g plain chocolate drops
175g white chocolate

Heat oven to 180C/ Gas4.
Cream the butter with the sugars and the vanilla extract.
Add the egg, flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix well.
Break the white chocolate into chunks and add to the mixture with the chocolate drops.
Make sure everything is well-mixed.
Put large spoonfuls of the mixture, spaced well apart on large greased baking tray.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly brown and still soft in the centre.

Place on wire rack to cool.

If ATTICUS FINCH were Vegetarian...

To Kill A Mockingbird is a classic.

Social commentary can be a tricky business. But if you can filter your views through the eyes of a child, you can create a way of witnessing, assimilating and portraying the most horrific of events and create a literary classic at the same time.
Scout Finch reveals the trial and conviction of Tom Robinson almost as an afterthought, a way to show the brilliance of her father. Her energies are firmly focused on the Radley House and whether Boo is friend or foe.

I often find it difficult to like the film if I have loved the book, but Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch pushes all such prejudices aside.
So, I could have decided on all sorts of meals here, cooked by Calpurnia, drenched in maple syrup, but instead, here is a good old corn recipe…


Makes 6 large wedges

200g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
2tsp salt
1tsp black pepper
2 free range eggs
280ml milk
200g cooked sweetcorn
oil for frying

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.
Beat the eggs with the milk and stir this into the dry ingredients.
Add the sweetcorn and stir
Mix everything together well.
Heat a little oil in a pan and pour in mixture. Turn over carefully to cook both sides.

When both sides are golden, tip onto plate and cut into wedges.

If LAURIE LEE were Vegetarian…

Laurie Lee, the well-loved author and poet, is best remembered for his autobiographical work Cider With Rosie.

Never to be forgotten, that first long secret drink of golden fire, juice of those valleys and of that time, wine of wild orchards, of russet summer, of plump red apples, and Rosie's burning cheeks. Never to be forgotten, or ever tasted again...

Here, then is a vegetable pie which incorporates those flavours.

It serves 2 - 4, depending upon the size of portion.


175ml/6floz stock
280ml/½pint sweet cider
1tsp brown sugar
2 carrots, chopped
2 large parsnips, chopped
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets
¼cauliflower, cut into florets
1tbsp wholewheat flour
2tbsp chopped parsley
1 medium onion
salt and pepper
250g/9oz puff pastry

Heat oven to 200˚C/400˚F Gas Mark 6
Slice the onions and fry until golden.
Mix the stock with the cider and sugar and put into a large pan with the carrots and parsnips.
Cook until just tender, remove the vegetables and put to one side.
Add the broccoli and cauliflower. Cook until tender. Remove and reserve with the other vegetables.
Mix the flour with a little water, add to the cider and cook until thickened, stirring all the time.
Cook for 2-3 minutes, remove from the heat and add the parsley.
Place vegetables in a greased dish and season well.
Put the pastry on top of the dish and slash with a sharp knife.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest – Algernon Moncrieff

I should change this to Veggie Tea Guest, really as cucumber sandwiches would be served at tea time.

These  rolls are not dainty so probably would not pass in society. But they taste far better than traditional
cucumber sandwiches so Algernon (who consumes all the tea before the arrival of his aunt, Lady Bracknall) would find it even harder to resist these.

Any soft cheese will do – splash out on Brie if you like, but I love it with Dairylea (a processed soft cheese marketed especially for children in the UK).


Serves 4 as a light snack (1 roll each)

4 bread rolls
140g/ 5oz (or thereabouts – this equates to 8 ‘triangles’) soft cheese
butter or butter spread
¼ large cucumber
salt and pepper

Slice each roll in half and spread lightly with butter (or substitute). This is an important step – do not neglect this as it enables the cheese to be the filling.
Share the soft cheese between each.
Slice the cucumber as thinly as you can and place on each half. Season with salt and pepper.

Re-assemble each roll and cut into smaller pieces if required.

Monday, 12 August 2013

If Jonathan Harker were Vegetarian...

When Jonathan Harker arrives in Transylvania, he is taken in by Count Dracula’s hospitality, before realising that he is a prisoner in the castle. Perhaps if he had consumed a few of these garlic-laden treats, he would have fared better.

Serves 4 – 6

For the pastry
125g/ 4oz plain flour
125g/ 4oz wholemeal Flour
150g/ 5oz butter, in small pieces
1 large free range egg

For the filling
850g/1lb 14oz potatoes, peeled and chopped for the pan
3 onions, chopped roughly
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2tbsp olive oil
25g/ 1oz butter
175g/ 6oz cheese, grated
250ml/ 9floz double cream
1tbsp fresh herbs

First make the pastry.
Put flours and butter into food mixer and whizz until it resembles fine breadcrumbs (or mix between fingers).
Add egg and whizz again.
Tip out and form into a ball. Chill for about 10 minutes.
Grease and line two loaf tins.
Take pastry from fridge, then cut in half and roll each half out into a large rectangle.
Line each tin. Cover and replace in fridge.

Then make the filling.
Boil the potatoes until just tender, then drain and cool slightly. Cut into small chunks.
While the potatoes are boiling, heat oil and butter in a pan and add onions.
Fry onions on a very low heat for about 15 mins, then add garlic and cook for a couple more. Then add the potatoes to the pan. Stir and add 100g/ 3½ oz of the cheese and the herbs.
Allow to sit and soak up the flavours.

Later (I try to leave it at least a few hours) assemble the pie.
Take the pastry out of the fridge and pour the potato mix in, sharing equally between the two cases.
Drizzle the cream over each one and top with the remaining 75g of grated cheese.

Cook in oven at Gas 6 for 45 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly and then cut into portions.