The Shed

If I can't eat it I don't want to know. Unless it gets me drunk.

Category: Recipe

A vegetarian pie that isn’t ‘alf bad.

I have finally cracked it; a vegetarian pie that doesn’t make you weep for the meaty dream your pastry could have contained. I’m not saying you’d fall over yourself to order it above mssrs Steak and Kidney, but really decent vegetarian pie filling has eluded me for a while, so I feel like sharing.

The problem is gravy, or to be precise, lack of. Gone are the days when chucking a tin of Campbell’s condensed mushroom soup over a load of parboiled brassicas would do*. Filling a pie with tasty roasted vegetables is all well and good, but without a bit of ooze it’s all a bit one dimensional, texturally speaking. Here’s my way around it.

*having watched CDWM recently I realise, with a shudder, that those days are still alive and kicking in some kitchens.

Aubergine, sweet potato, garlic mushroom, roasted pepper, lentil and goats cheese pie (phew)

Serves 6
½ quantity of this pastry (or 125g shop bought puff pastry)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
Olive oil
120g green lentils
500ml vegetable stock
1 large aubergine, cut into 1cm rounds, which are then cut into quarters
2 peppers, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
50g butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Portobello mushrooms
Handful flat leaf parsley
A little oregano
150g goats cheese (nothing fancy, chevre log will do) cut into chunks

Heat the oven to gas mark 7.

Roast the sweet potato in the pie dish with some oil, salt and pepper. When the potato starts to soften at the edges, add the peppers and onions and roast for a further 30 minutes. Rinse the lentils then simmer them in stock until they’re tender. The stock will gradually reduce which helps to make the ‘gravy’. While the lentils are cooking, cook the aubergine pieces over a high heat, in a heavy based frying pan. You’ll need to use a tiny bit of oil, and salt and pepper. Remove the auibergine from the pan and set to one side. In the same pan, over a low heat, melt the butter and gently cook the garlic until it softens. Turn the heat up a little and add the mushrooms, parsley, and oregano and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Once all the components are ready, add the mushrooms, aubergines and lentils to the pie dish, and mix. If you have quite a lot of stock left, add in just the lentils and further reduce the stock before adding. Season with plenty of pepper, add the goats cheese, and check to see if it needs any more salt. Roll out and add a pastry lid, ensuring you cut couple of air holes, before baking the pie for 15 minutes or so, until the pastry is crisp and golden.

Thai sweet corn noodle soup

Yet another bad iPhone pic

It’s the night before pay day and the wallet is bare. There is an assortment of ingredients in the fridge, none of which quite go together. Smoked mackerel, halloumi, feta – it’s all salt, no subtlety. There, hiding at the back, is a jug of grade Awesome chicken stock, the kind that needs slicing once cold. Let dinner begin.

This is proper store cupboard cooking, so long as your store cupboard (or freezer) includes some thick, gelatinous chicken stock made from a flavoursome free-range chuck. The slow cooking of the onion, ginger, and garlic is crucial and shouldn’t be hurried.

A particularly satisfying dish to eat alone, slurping to your heart’s content.

Serves two (or one, twice)
2tbsp groundnut oil
1 white onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3cm piece of ginger – you want quite a lot – finely sliced
1tsp chilli flakes
750ml bestest ace chicken stock
300g sweetcorn (frozen / tinned / whatever)
1tsp palm sugar
Pinch salt
2 handfuls cook noodles
Handful fresh coriander, chopped
4-5 mint leaves, finely chopped
Fish sauce, to taste
Lime segments

Heat the oil in a saucepan big enough for all of the ingredients, and cook the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli flakes over a low heat until soft, sticky, ever so slightly golden and sweet. This will take about 30 minutes, and you may need to loosen with a tbsp or two of the stock (rather than more oil) if the contents get too sticky and start to catch on the pan. Add the chicken stock and sweetcorn, and simmer for a few minutes. Taste, and sweeten to your liking – start with a tsp of palm sugar and add more if desired. Add a small pinch of salt – the salting of the dish comes with the fish sauce – along with the noodles, and fresh herbs. Ladle into bowls before adding fish sauce and lime juice to taste.