Restauranting is not always easy for vegetarians. You can’t always go vegetarian. You go where friends can also eat. Vegetarians often find only one choice on the menu. And it ends up a risotto, omelette or salad.
Now lack of variety has made me look for other meals. I am no chef. I am an ordinary home cook but will cook each night from cook books. Can ordinary cooks succeed using recipes created by chefs? Have chefs left out secrets? Perhaps I’m a poor cook.
This is a record of what I cook and where I found it. Eating out is still valid. If I find anywhere with good vegetarian choices, I’ll record them.
Spiced Chick Pea and Tomato Soup
from Sarah Brown’s Vegetarian Cookery, Hutchinson Australia, 1989
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔
With most of the ingredients available in the pantry and a cookery book that has clear, simple instructions (there were only three steps for this soup) this was a good one to start with. And it had ingredients I enjoy: tomatoes, spices, chick peas.
I did add just a touch more of the hot chilli powder to the spice mix than was specified. I like the heat of chillies.
The soup turned out to be flavoursome and really spicy with a little bit of lippy burn.
Beans in Leek Sauce
from The Bean Book, Rose Elliot, Fontana/Collins, 1979
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔
Goodness knows where this book came from but it was on the shelf. It’s a paperback and the contents look really interesting. There’s lots of information on the bean family and how to cook them. Overall the recipes look as though they’re a little old-fashioned but some old favourites are still viable and often very tasty. Possibly there’s a place for a new book on beans with more current ingredients.
I was a little wary of this particular recipe though it sounded as if it would be a good blend of flavours. The cooking was relatively easy and straightforward though I had to remember to soak the haricot beans the night before.
I was able to use a new saucepan for the first time. On the weekend my partner had bought a saucepan set so trying it out was an extra joy. The saucepan is a handsome one, stainless steel, glass well-fitting lid and slightly taller than the usual pan. It was a pleasure cooking with it.
The recipe suggested that a good accompaniment to the Beans in Leek Sauce was baked potatoes so I par-boiled some potatoes, smashed them with a quick punch t break them up and then put them in the oven with butter and olive oil to brown and crisp.
Mushroom Bruschetta Mista
from The Vegeterranean: Italian Vegetarian Cooking, Malu Simões & Alberto Musacchio, Simon & Schuster, 2008.
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔
Somewhat concerned about how the Beans in Leek Sauce was beginning to look I grabbed this book to see what I could add to it
It’s an interesting book with a terrible title and I can’t wait to try some other recipes from it. The chefs tell about the food from the Country House Montali near Perugia, Italy. Interspersed with the recipes are accounts of the countryside and the work at the hotel.
I chose to make mushroom bruschetta. The recipe was a little confusing in the way it was set out but came clearer as I read right through to the end.
With the beans and potatoes and two slices of bruschetta, the plate didn’t turn out looking too bad. The bruschetta was tasty. The potatoes golden and crunchy. But the haricot beans were a disappointment. They had a slightly sweet taste — possibly from the leek or from the gruyere which I used because it was already handy in the fridge — that somehow didn’t blend together into a proper whole. It was edible but only just. I had saved half for the next day but ended up feeding it to the trash can.
Fortunately I had put together a salad to go with the meal and that brightened things up a little.
As some of these books may be out of print if anyone would like a particular recipe, email me (email@example.com) and I'll send an abbreviated version. Of course, the whole book would be better; it's loaded with other goodies.
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