What I made tonight

Everything made from scratch.

Mmm corn tortillas, refried beans, sauteed peppers, guacamole, sour cream and Cholula, how I love thee.

I also made some last-minute Mexican-inspired couscous as a filler. Red didn’t seem keen, but I think it was pretty tasty, personally.

Spaghetti and Beanballs with Charred Red Pepper Sauce

I have made the beanballs from Veganomicon a couple times now, and it wasn’t until dinner tonight that I was convinced that they’d go into my recipe arsenal.  I’ve stayed pretty close to the original recipe, but I’ve made some changes to ingredients and preparation methods and have decided that they turn out best cooked they way I made them tonight.  Also, the charred red pepper tomato sauce complemented the taste of the beanballs quite well.  Overall, tonight’s dinner got top marks.

beanballs and red pepper sauce

I’ve outsourced the photo-taking responsibilities to Red, since he just got a new digital SLR.  He was unaware that the focal point of the dinner was, in fact, the beanballs, so they’re sort of marginalised in the pic above.  Put your pitchforks away; he’s learning.

Ingredients

  • 1 tin kidney beans, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest (or a squeeze of lemon juice)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp HP sauce (or steak sauce)
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • porridge oats as needed to firm up the mixture whilst kneading (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp oil

Step One Preheat the oven to 190C.  Mash the kidney beans with a potato masher until all beans have been smashed.  The beans should not be completely smooth, though.  There should still be identifiable kidney bean parts (mostly the skins).

Step Two Add the rest of the ingredients except the oats.  Mix with a fork.  Add oats little by little with one hand while combining and kneading the mixture with the other.  Continue adding oats and kneading until the mixture is soft but firm and holds together.

Step Three Form walnut-sized balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and flip the beanballs over.  Put back in the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve with a marinara sauce over pasta or in some bread as a beanball sub sandwich.

And now for the Charred Red Pepper Sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 1 red pepper, charred and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dry basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • a zig of agave nectar (about 1/4-1/2 tsp)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped roughly

Step One Hold the red pepper over a gas hob with some tongs to char the outsides a bit.  You can also do this in the oven by placing the pepper on a baking sheet under the grill.  Don’t blacken it too much.  Also, you can just skip this step completely if you want.  Just make sure you fry the red pepper a bit longer than you would otherwise in step two.

Step Two Heat the oil in a small-to-medium-sized pot and cook the onions for 4-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.  Add the red pepper and cook for 1 more minute.

Step Three Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot except the fresh chopped basil.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  As soon as the sauce has come to heat, lower to a simmer and cover the pot.  Simmer over the lowest heat setting for 10-15 minutes.  Stir the fresh basil in through the mixture at the very end of the cooking time and remove from the heat.  Serve over pasta.

Mmm o’clock.

Sloppy Lentil Joes

Mmm mmm… I love Sloppy Lentil Joes night.  As this is easily made in the slow cooker, I don’t make it as much as I ought to because, well, it requires the foresight of buying ingredients the day before.  But now that the British summer is upon us and our oven of a fifth-floor flat is only getting hotter and hotter, I’m trying to break out the slow cooker as much as possible for dinners, as it doesn’t heat up the flat as much as cooking on the hobs would. Plus, I had two loaves of bread we unneccessarily bought from Whole Foods that we needed to make our way through before they went stale or mouldy.

I got this recipe from Robin Robertson’s Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow CookerUsually, I adapt recipes to create yields for one or two people (for me and Red, that is), but these Sloppy Lentil Joes are so delicious that I follow the whole recipe so I have leftovers for an entire week of lunches.  You’d think this would get boring, but it doesn’t.  While they’re supposed to be served Sloppy Joe style (on a bun/bread), these lentils are just as tasty eaten directly out of a bowl with a spoon.  Or, if you’re like me just now, straight out of the serving spoon whilst transplanting the leftovers from the crock pot to the tupperware.  Sneaky late-night snack WIN!

Sloppy Lentil Joes

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 small red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1.5 c dried brown lentils, picked over
  • 1 400g tin crushed tomatoes
  • 3 c water
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Step one Heat oil in pan over medium heat and cook onion and pepper covered for 5 minutes or until softened.  Add chilli powder and stir to coat.

Step two Transfer the onion/pepper mixture to crock pot and add the rest of the ingredients, stirring to combine.  Cover and cook on Low for eight hours.

Yields 4-6 servings (but I think it yields more like 6-8.)

”Chicken” Spaghetti Casserole

Hm, so Red installed Windows 7 on my computer for early testers.  It has this new thing that when I press the apostrophe key it inserts a quotation mark instead if it feels that’s really what I want.  I don’t know how I feel about that.  I just now got used to using apostrophes for quotation marks when I’m scare quoting something (or quoting anything at all, really, as that’s the British way of punctuation.  At least, it was… perhaps now it’s moving over to all-quotation-marks- all-the-time). [Wait a minute, NO!  When I go to put a quotation mark in properly, it inserts a DOUBLE QUOTATION MARK!!!!1!!  Man, that’s going to be hella annoying until Microsoft releases a patch.  What the fuck?  When I hit the apostrophe key once, nothing shows up.  When I hit the apostrophe key once (without anything appearing) and then the “C” key I get a ç.  Fuck’s sake.  I will have to investigate this, as finishing the rest of my critical evaluation (which I should be doing now instead of posting this blog entry) will prove to be infuriating without a solution.] Crisis averted.  It had something to do with a default keyboard setting being US-International.  Who uses funny European-language characters anyway?  Peh.

 

Anyway, yes.  I made the always crowd-pleasing ‘Chicken’ Spaghetti Casserole last night for dinner and took some pictures.  I’m realizing that the camera on my Blackberry simply will not do for taking pictures in the future, as the pictures make the dinner look a bit shit.  But trust me when I say that Red always eats it with relish, as do I.  

The recipe is (very) freely adapted from something in Leah Leneman’s Vegan Cooking for One.   

 

Ingredients  jj

  • Half bag of Quorn ‘chicken’ pieces
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 servings’ worth of dried whole wheat linguine
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 8-oz soya milk
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter substitute
  • 1-2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • nutritional yeast (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step one: Boil water in small pot.  Break your dried pasta into thirds.  Drop thirded pasta into water and cook as per package instructions, minus 2 minutes (you should stop cooking a little bit before the pasta reaches al dente, as you’ll be putting it in the oven later and you don’t want it to come out overcooked).  Drain

Step two: While pasta is cooking, chop red pepper and spring onions.  Melt vegan butter in another pot and then put your red pepper in.  Stir fry for about 3 minutes.  Put in your spring onions.  Stir fry for about 1 more minute.  Add your chicken pieces and cook for another 2 minutes or so (if you’re cooking from frozen, if not, just cook until the chicken is warmed through).

Step three: Stir in the whole wheat flour.  Then slowly add the soya milk bit by bit, stirring continuously, until it forms a thickened sauce.

Step four: Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add nutritional yeast if you want.  Stir to combine.

Step five: Add drained pasta and stir until well mixed.

Step six: Transfer mixture to oven-safe dish and smooth off the top.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the entire surface area.

Step seven: Bake or grill in preheated oven until the top is crispy looking.

Step eight: Enjoy.  Rue the fact that you have more mess than usual to clean up in the kitchen.  Or feel happy that, as the cook, you’re not the one in charge of the cleaning.

'Chicken' Spaghetti Casserole