Many years ago when I was at uni, (just turned 18) I had a vegetarian coming for dinner. It was my very first vegetarian ever, what would they eat? What would we talk about? What would I wear? And would I need to give them a bath before dinner just so the other guests wouldn't be sick from the smell? OK the last point may be been a little dramatic but a meal without meat that was unheard of, what was I going to do?
I thought OK a salad, that's vegetables, but every salad I knew was coated in a fairly decent amount of crispy bacon. There was a split second where I thought of using a can of meat substitute, but that looked remarkably like a can of Pal dog food.
In the end I found a recipe for a Chinese vegetable soup, that had fried rice squares that when added to the serving bowl hissed and sizzled for theatrical effect. That was our winner, perfect!
I spent the good part of the day in the kitchen preparing the soup. The rice needed to be cooked and shaped in a tray and then cut to size. There were also some ultra exotic vegetables involved that were a bit pricey but this was a special occasion, bok choy, oh how times have changed.
After the, what seemed like hours of finely julienning vegetables, making sure the flavours were right, and even testing the rice for appropriate sizzle, my friend arrived. (no bath was required in the enjoyment of this meal)
My friend loved the soup, the rice block spectacle was a hit and she was really appreciative for all the effort I had made.
Then things took a turn for the worse.
She said "this is so delicious, what stock did you use?" I replied "oh just a chicken stock powder, it's only a powder so doesn't have meat in it"
She requested to see the packet and low and behold 8% chicken meat and fat.
I thought I had done so well but one little naive error scored me a lecture about the poor bloody little chickens. The fact she loved the other 92% should have counted for something, normally that is a great pass mark. Well that was dinner over, and I can't remember if I had a dessert or pretended there was none just to end the evening.
So naturally I am a little more skilled when it comes to vegetarian cooking now, let me tell you about that time I cooked for a vegan........!
After the recent accusation of my "hoity toityness", I have developed a strong allergy to the highfalutin so I can guarantee this recipe is 100% Falutin free.
Mushroom Pate on Witlof
- 500g mixed mushrooms, (Portobello, Swiss Brown, button, the mix is up to you)
- 5 french shallots
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar or verjuice
- 5 sprigs of thyme
- 100g walnut crumbs
- 3-4 witlof
- 150g feta crumbled
- Olive oil
- Chop mushrooms into 1/2 cm pieces
- Finely chop the shallots and garlic
- Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil to a hot fry pan
- Add the shallots and garlic and cook to soften
- Add the mushrooms and stir to ensure they are coated in the oil
- Add the vinegar or verjuice.
- Lower the temperature and let the mushrooms cook down
- Add the thyme leaves and season to taste (remembering the feta will also add some salt)
- When the mushrooms have cooked down, take off the heat and stir through the walnuts
- Let cool in the fridge
- Separate the witlof into individual leaves
- Fill the witlof leaves with the mushroom mix and sprinkle with some feta.