A Very Vegetarian Evening


When I think about it, as much as I hate the horizontal rain, and the epic winds (especially today), I really like living in Wales. I’m just on the edge of Snowdonia, so I get the best of both worlds, I get beautiful mountains and the sea all in one teeny package. And being the hopeless romantic that I am I don’t half indulge my inner needs by being late for many things by staring at the cap clouds over the mountains near my house. I say this only because I was sad walking home that I couldn’t see the sky, or any interesting clouds for that matter. I’m not what you would call a blue-sky thinker (not the corporate rubbish, actual blue sky!), I love the sun, but there is something really quite hypnotising about clouds. I can’t bring myself to say that I enjoy a completely blue sky without one single little cloud there. Anyone who knows me reading this will understand how much I go on about clouds, and how many times I have been late to meet people because of it (punctuality, one of my many undeniable qualities). After losing my best friend in a car park for a good while because i’d been talking to her one minute, got infinitely distracted taking pictures of clouds, I guess it can get kinda annoying.

 
There is a relevance I promise. Though I don’t usually bore people with my day to day ramblings, it is sometimes nice to understand, to a certain degree, where the inspiration for my food comes from. Without sounding pretentious of course! I was thinking about stylised food, about beauty, essentially. The food magazines and books that you buy that are plastered with all this sexy looking food, the curves and swirls of chocolate Photoshop shiny, the colours of fruit hyper-real. It’s beautiful, yes, but if/when you recreate it and it goes horrificly wrong (as many of my endeavors have) and it doesn’t look as pretty, you get this kind of sinking disappointed feeling. And that’s no fun. Obviously it directly correlates to all the airbrushed covers (blah blah blah i’m not here to talk about feminism), but you still come out of reading Good Food or a book that a Michelin star chef has written feeling seedy and dirty like you’ve visited a brothel. Well, I do at least.
You dirty, dirty bitch!

Just a thought. Moving on…
Slight change of plan, I was meant to be talking about Asian food in this post, but in light of recent conversations I decided to change it. I apologise, I will make up for it soon though!
I went out for a meal not too long ago at this nice looking place, and I had a brief conversation with some of the people I used to work with about my blog, and the lack of vegetarian food that I write about. I’m sorry to any veggies reading this. So I shall dedicate my somewhat belated post to the heroes of vegetarian food. As a person who loves vegetables, I very much appreciate their versatility and beauty of them, and how much they are neglected when it comes to shop-bought vegetable food. If you don’t like or can’t eat cheese or quorn, you’re pretty much screwed when it comes to possibilities from supermarkets unless you create your own stuff. So I shall indulge my vegetarian nature and leave you with some lovely recipes.
Now, I watched a cooking programme by Nigel Slater not too long ago, and he mentioned about the amount of people that don’t like cauliflower, and i’d genuinely never noticed until then, and now I can’t stop.
If you’re lucky enough to live in quite a diverse area, that sells loads of different types of vegetables, then you can afford to play around with different types of cauliflower, romanesco if this crazy beautiful green one that looks every so slightly like a fractal or the purple ones that look like they’ve been injected with liquid funk. But the humble white cauliflower is the one I always use, and it’s just as lovely. And before you even think about chucking the leaves from the outer bit, don’t you dare! People always throw them away, but if they’re young you can make half onion-half cauliflower leaf bhajis and they are absolutely gorgeous.
So if you tried boiled “boring” (it actually pains me to say that cauliflower is boring because I love it) as a child, maybe try something a bit different to change it up a bit.
Spiced Sesame Cauliflower
Enough for 4-6 as a side dish
 
1 head of Cauliflower
1 large White onion
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
 1 Tblsp Sesame seeds
1 Tblsp Sesame oil
2 cloves Garlic
Half a thumb sized chunk of fresh ginger, about 1″
1 a chilli
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
Seasoning 
Olive oil.
NB – Now, before we start – this isn’t mind blowingly spicy for me, but spicyness is obviously down to personal taste, so if you don’t like things too hot, take out the chilli flakes, and maybe you use only half a chilli, but still keep some in otherwise it loses it’s warmth and it dulls the flavour.
 
– This is super easy, cut up your onion into standard half rings, and warm up a fairly deep frying pan to a medium (that has a lid!), with olive oil, and fry your cumin seeds until they start to crackle and release some kicking scents. – Then add your onions, turmeric and a pinch of salt and cook until your onions are golden, add the chillies, chilli flakes, crushed garlic, sesame seeds and grated ginger. If you’re using chillies, leave the seeds in, when you’ve got a mix of textures and you want heat, what’s the point in taking them out!
– Add your cauliflower, cook, covered with the lid, for about 5 minutes, until soft but not mush.
– Serve hot with a sprinkling of fresh coriander.
 
I do like spicy cauliflower recipes. This one is really simple and isn’t too crazy on hard to find ingredients, which is nice sometimes! I never had this kind of thing when I was little, I used to have the traditional way, steamed or boiled with a bit of butter over my grandad’s house, who grows the most amazing vegetables may I add.
As lovely as aubergine and squash is, they’re not top of my list when it comes to vegetables, if i’m being entirely honest, i’m not a massive fan of aubergines unless it’s heavily spiced of in some kind of baba ghanoush/mutabbal.
I’m actually gonna go with my old school favourite. I rarely eat chilli nowadays with meat, and unless you have a lovely hunk of braising beef lying around (which most of us don’t, that may be a little odd), this is utterly perfection for me. It’s rich, it’s spicy, it’s very hearty and there’s nothing I like more then getting an entire bag of cheap salted tortilla chips and going to town on it!
Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, most of it is spices as you can see, they should be in your stock cupboard, because you need spices in your life!
This is most definitely freezable! Freeze it in portions if there’s not 6 or more of you and take it for lunch or a quick meal during the week.
You’re lucky, i’ve never given this recipe out before 
Jessi’s Secret Recipe Chilli
Serves – the 5000 (or 6 – 10 hungry people!)
 
2 red onions
1 red pepper
1 – green pepper
3/4 cloves of garlic
1 medium sized – medium heat chilli
1x can of Kidney beans, drained (unless bought in chilli sauce)
1x can of Cannelini beans, drained
1x can of Pinto beans, drained
1x can of Black Eye beans, drained
1x can of Baked beans
2x cartons (about 1kg-ish) passata (sieved tomatoes)
About 1 quarter- 1 half a bar of good quality dark chocolate
1 Tablespoon of each:
Cumin
Ground Coriander
Paprika
Oregano
1 Teaspoon of each:
Chilli flakes
Cayenne pepper
Olive Oil
Seasoning
Wholegrain rice and Tortilla chips to serve
 
– This is very much a leave to cook, and it really gets better with age!
– Chop the onions, the pepper, the chilli, and crush the garlic all ready to cook.
– Heat up a relatively deep sauce pan to a low-medium heat, with a good glug of olive oil and fry the onions until softened, then add the peppers, cook together until the peppers have begun to soften, turn down the heat to low, and add the garlic and chilli. Don’t burn the garlic!
– It’s just a case of chucking everything in now. Add all the other ingredients bar the chocolate and stir.
– Cook for a good 3 hours until everything starts to reduce and the sauce begins to thicken, stirring once every half an hour or so.
– Add the chocolate and stir it in, and cook for a further hour or so.
– Serve piping hot with tortilla chips and wholegrain rice.
 
You lucky, lucky souls!
That recipe is actually one of my favourite recipes of all time, it’s super healthy, bar the small amount of chocolate, and it’s ridiculously cheap. In harder times I have actually made one batch of this last me nearly 2 weeks! Hooray for spending less than 5 pounds for almost a fortnight of food. Suck on that students! Also, even if you’re not vegetarian this is so yum you won’t miss meat (Honestly! I’ve tested this out on even the most devout meat eaters!)
 
I hope you’ve enjoyed the revised edition. I will get round to exploring the Orient a little more soon. But i’m getting rid of prospective topics, as it’s cheesy…and I forget…and i’m fickle. I’m very open to suggestions for next week/fortnight’s edition!

Just on a parting note. I will very soon be at my first 1000 visitors to my blog, and with my few-and-far-between loyal readers, hopefully it will be sometimes soon after this is posted. So a big thankyou that you have seen something in this that is worthy of your time to read :)!


Peace
JR
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