Tag Archives: vegetarian

An App For Your Appetite

I have lots of cookery books adorning my kitchen shelf. Actually, to be more accurate, I have lots of dusty ignored cookery books sitting neglected at the back of my kitchen shelf. They have an airing on occasion when I am feeling ambitious about following a recipe. This results in my cookery book being plastered with double cream, while I stress out realising I forgot to blanch my tomatoes, that I haven’t any fresh tarragon and then give up on the whole idea.

In fact, after purchasing a cookbook I flick through to see all of the lovely ideas, only to realise my ‘cupboard staples’ are looking a bit pathetic. And Mr Jamie Oliver, as much as I admire your cheeky chappie enthusiasm for cooking, I would like to talk about your 15 minute recipes, I haven’t manage to cook one within an hour yet!

Then there is the matter of pleasing your dinner guests. I am a sort-of vegetarian, I eat fish and wear leather (obviously other types of material too!) , one of my friends doesn’t eat carbs, another friend is gluten intolerant and most are often on some kind of fat-free, sugar-free, impossible to cater for kind of diet. So, if I am to embark on a dinner party my cook books do not tend to please my crowd.

So, it was with great pleasure that I discovered that a hugely talented chef friend of mine, Laura Pope, is launching an app for the iPad with lots of healthy, easy to follow and gluten-free recipes. No more trying to balance my cook book on the top of the bread bin while I lose my place, but instead I can upload a recipe from the app and take it grocery shopping with me.

The  app, Gluten Free Me, launched this month with a follow-up iPad app scheduled for December in order to satisfy the in-laws over the festive period. The recipes are simple to prepare and full of fresh flavours and nutritious ingredients. None of the recipes contain wheat, the only two with gluten use spelt instead of wheat, how many of you are now googling spelt, its OK I had to as well. Many of the sumptuous recipes are unbelievably dairy-free, sugar-free and therefore guilt free! The app is free to download and there are eight free recipes available, with four further albums of paid-for recipes.

As a taster, Laura kindly provided me with one of her yummy dinner ideas which has given me a reason to actually use the quinoa I purchased a month ago from Holland & Barrett for a recipe that I gave up on and it has since lived unloved in the back of my cupboard. I found this recipe really easy to do and honestly gorgeous to eat, resulting in my toddler type behaviour of ‘not sharing’ once it was finished.

So go download it, give it bash and as Mr Oliver would say its ‘pukka-tukka’!

Yum yum!

Yum yum!

Griddled summer vegetables with herby quinoa 
� Laura Pope 2013
A super-healthy accompaniment to your meal or a main course in itself. Go for lovely seasonal veggies and a LOT of herbs for your quinoa.
Quinoa is a fantastic food – a ‘super food’, in fact, containing all eight essential amino acids and loads of vitamins and minerals. Also, being a seed rather than a grain, it is a great source of protein and is naturally gluten-free. All the herbs make it super-delicious – the greener, the better! Cooking your veg in a dry griddle pan (no oil) gives a far better result and you don’t smoke out your kitchen in the process – by tossing them in the oil, vinegar and seasoning after they’ve cooked, they marinate and take on the flavours beautifully. Serves 6.
  • 2 red peppers, seeds and stalks removed, cut into eights
  • 2 courgettes, cut in half horizontally and then lengthways into 1cm (��) slices
  • 1 medium aubergine, cut horizontally into 1cm (��) slices
  • Good glug of extra virgin olive oil
  • Your favourite vinegar – I love fig balsamic or a nice sherry vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (optional)
  • 200g (7 oz) quinoa
  • 100g (3� oz) rocket and soft green herbs (flat-leaf parsley, chervil, tarragon, basil, mint, coriander�)
  • I red, medium chilli (optional), deseeded and finely sliced
  • Glug of extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preparation Steps:
Cook the quinoa following the pack instructions, then drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again.
Chop the herbs and rocket roughly and mix through the cooled quinoa with the olive oil and chilli (if using) – season with salt and pepper.
In a large heat-proof bowl, mix together the oil and vinegar to get the right balance of acidity, add the garlic, if using, then season with salt and pepper.
Heat a griddle pan up really high – this can take 5 minutes – and then start to cook your veggies in batches until you get distinct griddle marks on each side. In my experience, the peppers take the longest. As each batch cooks, tip the veggies into the oil and vinegar and toss well.
Once all the veggies are cooked, leave them to marinade in the oil and vinegar for up to half an hour, then arrange on a platter with the quinoa to serve.

Make Mine A Veggie Burger Please

I’m a complicated vegetarian, in fact I wouldn’t officially call myself a vegetarian because I’ve never given up eating fish, only meat. So, you could call me a pescetarian though it doesn’t really have a nice ring to it, sounds more like I have a weird phobia. But I’m not really a pescetarian either as I went back to eating chicken when I was pregnant with the twins, although I ensure it is free range, organic, had a nice life and slaughtered in a humane way, preferably by having its beak stroked while it is put to sleep.

When I was 13, my parents took me and my then 16-year-old brother to a cottage holiday in Wales. It was a beautiful place with a natural waterfall at the end of the field which housed our little cottage. The field also contained a lot of sheep, a flock I suppose you could call it. We loved having them there, waking up to their bleating and as it was springtime, being able to fuss the little lambs as their weird eyed mothers looked on. It was all a big Disney film for me, however, I skipped out to see the lambs one morning to find the farmer backing up a huge lorry and assembling a ramp. He made some unintelligible noise at me as my Dad rushed out to bring me indoors, reassuring me that ‘the lambs were being moved to a different field or just being taken for a shearing’. But I knew what was happening, I finally understood that the reason Clarice didn’t eat lamb shank wasn’t because Hannibal Lector put her off it with his eating liver impression, but because of that noise the lambs make when they are taken away. I gave up meat that day.

Photographer Dirk Ingo Franke

Photographer Dirk Ingo Franke

Now 13-year-olds don’t do things by half, we like to make a point. If we are becoming vegetarians it means soya milk, plastic shoes and animal rights campaigning. No sooner had I unpacked my suitcase from the ‘sheep holiday’, I was then rallying my friends to paint a sheet against vivisection and joining a march on Trafalgar Square. I was trying to teach my friends the evils of McDonald’s and refusing to eat anything that had even been in contact with an animal. My Mum has been a vegetarian for over 40 years, she became a veggie in the early 70s when even Paul McCartney was eating bacon butties. As a child there were bowls of mung beans soaking in water in the kitchen way before the invention of Quorn. She was the original Veggie but never forced her views on us and used to ‘switch off’ as she prepared our meaty dinners. Following the Wales holiday, she was concerned about my sudden refusal to eat meat. She was very supportive but when I turned down her offers of lentil hotpot in exchange for my new diet of plain jacket potato she knew she had a battle on her hands to get me to eat properly.

Over the years I adopted a healthier approach to my vegetarianism, i.e. eating more vegetables and thanking the McCartney’s for Linda’s range of sausages and burgers and I did go back to fish. However, I have never returned to eating meat and especially not lamb. Now I am a Mother to 3 children and have a hugely carnivore husband. I decided to take the same approach as my Mum and allowed them to eat meat while I try to pass off my veggie food as meat to their enquiring eyes. However, what I am 100% adamant about is that I try my absolute best to only buy meat that is free range, organic and British. I do this to make sure the animal has had a certain standard of welfare before the big day comes to be carted off, but mainly to ensure the farming is at a certain standard so that the meat has less chance of containing god knows what (GKW). GKW can be animal antibiotics, bulking ingredients, a higher risk of BSE and most recently horse meat.

As the many shocked messages hit Facebook last week about the realisation that supermarket giant Tesco had sold ‘beef’ burgers containing horse meat, I can’t say I was that surprised. When buying a pack of burgers for £2 I find it hard to understand why people think they’re getting quality meat for that price. When me and hubby first co-habited we had a long debate in the meat aisle of Sainsbury’s about the price of free range chicken. I didn’t want to buy 4 chicken breasts for £3 as I knew we would buying a chicken from a battery farm that had been pumped full of GKW while alive and then pumped full of GKW pre-packaging. I tried to defend the reason that free range chicken is smaller and more expensive is because it is actually chicken and not part chicken, part pig skin and 70% water.

I don’t wish to get on my soapbox about eating meat as I know people will start pointing out that I’m wearing leather shoes, but I do wish to encourage more ethical farming. I don’t think its good enough for multi-billion pound companies like Tesco to pretend to be shocked that there is horse meat in their meat products and pointing the finger at everyone but themselves. You should get what you pay for. I think meat products such as burgers should be labelled honestly much like cigarettes; Warning: may contain horsemeat, pig skin and ground down bones. I bet more people would switch to free range meat then.

It has been said that the horse meat scandal will encourage more trips to the butchers and more home cooking. And as a sort of pescewotsit/vegetarian I actually welcome this. I personally buy organic mince to make my children’s burgers and I buy free range chicken to make my children’s nuggets. If we can encourage less processed rubbish meat and more wholesome meat-eating isn’t that beneficial for all involved, animals and people alike? I know the big argument is the cost but I find you can cook on a budget without budgeting on meat, embrace your blitz spirit, our parents and grandparents did it. I will finish with a quote from the Chief Executive of Iceland for whenever you’re thinking that cheap meat is OK. When asked why his company didn’t test for horsemeat in his beef products, even though they have started to now, he answered “I didn’t test for cat or dog either.” Quorn burger anyone?