A little bit British

Tonight’s dinner was inspired by Fry’s Country Mushroom Pies. I’ve never been a big pie eater, preferring to eat pasta then Aussie Beef Pies and Sausage Rolls. I have always equated meat pies to unhealthiness and thought it to be more like a tradey’s food. My mothers ex-husband was a tradey, so meat pies and ice coffees were a typical daily lunch from the snack truck. But since I have stopped eating meat I have been open to look at foods like this in a different light. So when I saw this product on sale at Coles, I thought I would give it a go.

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This is not a meat pie, but rather more like a vegan version of a mushroom & chicken pie. Mushroom & Chicken Pie is a British classic and is one of the most popular pies in Great Britain. It has pastry on the top and bottom, the top being puff pastry and the center holds the chicken and mushroom in a nice creamy sauce. They are commonly bought from fish and chip shops across the country. Pies-Box-Country-Mush

So after trying out Fry’s Country Mushroom Pies I think I would definitely purchase it again. I made this dinner for Marco, my mother and her partner Ted and they all really liked it the pie. They all said they liked the puff pasty top and the pie filling was nice and creamy and tasted just like it had meat in it. I thought it was good too. Only thing I can say was there wasn’t that much filling. The picture on the box and on the website makes it look really full, but it doesn’t all ooze out when you cut it. However, I think if it was really full it may have been too much and I would of felt too heavy after eating it. The pastry top was also really nice tasting and was not greasy at all. It was easy to make. The packet instructions said 20 mins  in the oven, but for my oven took about 25-30 mins. All in all it was a easy main to prepare and great for a lazy vegan dinner.

Before baking

Before baking

After baking

After baking

To get into the spirit of eating a British classic I thought I would prepare some sides to go with it. So I made Lemon & Thyme Roasted Chat Potatoes, Carrots & Garlic and Mushy Peas. For the roasted vegetables I didn’t add the lemon, thyme and garlic until 15 mins before they were ready. A lot of recipes suggest added fresh thyme when you first put in the potatoes, but I saw on a Jamie Oliver show recently, that he recommends not added them till towards the end, as the oven will burn them to a crisp. It turned out really well this way. The lemon flavor was also really nice and everyone said they preferred this flavor to my usually roasted vegetables. Below is the recipe.

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Lemon & Thyme Roasted Chat Potatoes, Carrots & Garlic (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1kg chat potatoes

5 carrots

1 garlic clove

olive oil

sea salt & pepper to taste

1 lemon

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Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Cut the potatoes in halves, chop the carrots in chunks and place in a baking tray. Coat with olive oil, sea salt & pepper, and cook for 30 mins or until you can at least get a fork through the potatoes.DSC02609

3. In the mean time remove skin from garlic and juice the lemon.

4. After 30 mins add the garlic, lemon juice and thyme. Add more olive oil if the potatoes and carrots are too dry. Cook for a further 15 mins or until vegetables are slightly browned.

*Serves 4

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As for the Mushy Peas, I got the recipe from here. I really love this recipe. It was my first time making mushy peas and they just tasted so fragrant and delicious. Only thing I had to change was use shallots instead of eschalots, nutlex instead of butter and used vegan chicken stock. Only thing I would do differently next time is make more, because this portion size was not enough. It was so morish. It was also really easy and quick to make.DSC02612

Firstly I cooked diced shallots and garlic in nutlex for few minutes.

Then add the stock and brought it to a boil. After that I added the peas and cooked them until they were soft.

Once the peas were soft, I added the apple cider vinegar and mint leaves and cooked for 1 more DSC02614minute.

Lastly, used the bar mix to make the peas mushy and then it was ready to go.

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Another vegan product I just tried today is Macro Moroccan Pumpkin Dip (Free from Dairy). It is also gluten free and free from artifical colours, flavours or preservatives. The fact that their are no artifical preservatives is really great since most of the dips available have something in it to last longer. I do prefer to make my own hummus and other dips, but when you are in a hurry its always great to have good products like this on hand.

Today I made a snack pita with this dip. I just used half a pita bread and filled it with the pumpkin dip, cucumber, baby spinach and mint leaves and toasted in the sandwich press. It was a great healthy snack to have between lunch and dinner.

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‘Chicken’ Schnitzel with Roasted Cherry tomato Sauce, Creamed Spinach and Rosemary Sweet Potato Thins

I was so excited to try Fry’s Golden Crumbed Schnitzels. Schnitzel has always been one of my childhood favorites  My mum use to fry up a whole batch of chicken schnitzel when I wasFRYG162C a kid and we would have the leftovers in sandwiches for days. My Nona always makes veal cutlets, which are always on hand in case one of her sons stop by and are hungry

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Wiener Schnitzel, Kartoffelsalat & Krautsalat. ( Pork Schnitzel, with potato & saurkraut)…This was just Marco’s portion of schnitzel)

When I visited Vienna in June, we had the best Wiener Schnitzel ever, from Schnitzelwirt. They were huge and they gave us to 2 each. Due to the language barrier we didn’t realize how much food we had ordered. But that was a normal portion. Now I have had the best and I have committed to not eating meat, I am happy I tried it there, but I’m not really craving it like I use to. Besides the meat factor, it is an extremely unhealthy fried food that I shouldn’t be eating. At home I rarely fry. I only started dabbling in pan frying and the occasional deep fry recently. Mostly because I am scared of the hot oil and because I have always felt crappy after fried food.

Fry’s Schnitzel’s are quite good for a mock meat brand. I baked mine, even though they recommend grilling is the best option. They are crispy and not oily. They have a slight chicken taste and have a really nice crust. I recommend it for all, even if your non vegetarian. Marco really liked it and it definitely satisfied our craving for crumbed meat.

I served it with a Roasted Cherry tomato Sauce, so that it would be like a Chicken Parmigiana   without the cheese. Even before I stopped eating meat and cheese I never order Chicken ‘Parma’ out. It is a pub classic here in Australia. But I always find that it is really dry. I only like this kind of thing home made.

For the sides I tried to make a Creamed Spinach. Marco hates his mum’s creamed spinach. I have tried it years ago and its not to bad. She makes it with cream and eggs. I think it must be a Serbian recipe. He has only started trying spinach again with me in last few years, as this ‘mushy’ spinach is one of his dreaded childhood foods. He didn’t love my creamed spinach, but he said it wasn’t too bad. It didn’t have a strong spinach taste, which is probably why he didn’t mind it. For the sweet potato I cut them really thin and cooked them with fresh rosemary. If you don’t have any rosemary growing, buy a big bunch and freeze it. It freezes really well and goes crispy when you roast it.

‘Chicken’ Schnitzel with Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce (nf)

Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

450g cherry tomato

5 garlic cloves (unpeeled)

sea salt

ground cayenne pepper (optional)

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Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Wash and cut in half all the cherry tomatoes.

3. Take a baking tray and add cherry tomatoes, whole garlic cloves and sprinkle with sea salt and cayenne pepper. Cook for 15-20 mins, so that garlic is soft.

4. Blend the garlic and tomatoes together into a sauce.

5. Heat sauce in a small pot and adjust seasoning. Add a pinch of sugar, if the sauce is too acidic.

*Serve on top of schnitzel (enough for 4)  or add to hot pasta.

Creamed Spinach (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion

3 leaves of silver beet spinach

1 tablespoon vegan butter

3/4 cup unsweetened plant milk (rice or oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon arrowroot flour

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Method:

1. Heat a pan with oil and then cook onion for 4-5 mins or until browned. Put to the side.

2. Remove all the green leaves from white spine of the spinach and wash. Then cut into thin ribbons.

3. Remove onion from pan and place in the spinach. There should be enough water on them from washing them, otherwise add a little bit in the pan.Cook for 2-3 mins or until soft. Strain if there is a lot of water released from the spinach.DSC01107

4. In pan heat butter and add onion & spinach.

5. Mix lemon juice and arrowroot with soy milk, then add to the pan. Heat through until thickened. Adjust seasoning and serve.

*Serves 2 as a side.

Rosemary Sweet Potato Thins (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

4 medium sweet potatoes

3 springs of rosemary

olive oil

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Method:

1. Preheat oven 180 degrees.

2. Cut sweet potatoes in long thin pieces. Remove leaves from rosemary sprigs.

3. Take a baking tray and place baking paper on top. Add sweet potato, rosemary leaves and sea salt. Cook for 30-40 mins or until cooked.

* Serves 4 as a side.

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Bean Thread Noodle & Vegetable Stirfry

Bean Thread Noodles are my favourite noodles. They are gluten free, quick to prepare and not heavy, so you feel great after you eat them. When I have a busy study day downloadand I want a quick lunch I usually make this dish. Its very quick, healthy and satisfying. Even though the individual packed noodles look small,  after you cook them they look like a lot more then what you started with. But never fear they are not fattening, so don’t feel guilty eating them all. They are also extremely cheap here in Australia. You can buy them from Asian supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths. I know they are usually about $0.97 for a 5 pack from the big supermarkets. At the Asian supermarkets you can also find other starch noodles made of potato, peas and mung bean starch. They all taste great, well rather they don’t have much taste at all, but they soak up what every else you are cooking with it.

I also discovered a great chicken substitute that is vegan. You can buy it from the big supermarkets or health food shops in the frozen section. It is download (1)Fry’s Chicken Style Stripes. My boyfriend and his little nieces and nephew didn’t even realise they weren’t eating chicken, when I made it a couple of weeks back. According to his niece ‘this is what chicken taste like when chickens eats lots of vegetables’. I doesn’t taste exactly the same, but its closer then tofu. Of course its not an every day thing to eat, but its a nice comfort when you are craving chicken.

The ingredients for this recipe can be altered. The vegetables are all optional, depending on what you have in the fridge. For me onion, garlic and ginger are a must and the rest doesn’t matter, so long as you have some leafy greens in there as well. As for the soy sauce, sweet chilli and oyster sauce (vegan), add as much as you like. I usually start with a little bit then add more depending on the taste. Basically more soy sauce for salt, more sweet chilli or sugar (if you don’t have for sweet chilli  for more sweet or to balance the salt and more oyster sauce for more flavour. To make this perfect you need to be quick and not let anything cook for too long, otherwise the vegetables will go limp and the noodles will all break up.

Bean Thread Noodle & Vegetable Stirfry (gf, nf)

Ingredients:

3 packed thread bean noodles (1 per dish)

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 red onion diced (or other)

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 small knob of ginger, diced

2 baby leeks, chopped

2-3 stalks of celery, diced

2 carrots, chopped into match sticks

1 small red capsicum, diced

1 handful of mushrooms, diced

1 large zucchini, chopped into match sticks

2 big handfuls of baby spinach

1-2 tbsp soy sauce

1-2 tbsp vegan oyster sauce

1-2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

1 tbsp of mirin (optional-its sweet)

200 grams Fry’s Chicken Style Stripes (1/2 packet) (optional)

Method:

1. Boil water in the kettle and take a large bowl. Soak the noodles in the bowl with boiled water.

2. Heat coconut oil in a wok, then add garlic, onion, ginger and leeks. Cook for 2 mins, continuously stirring so all gets cooked evenly.

3. Add the carrots, celery and capsicum and vegan chicken strips. Cook for 3-5 mins

4. Add zucchini and mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 mins.

5. Add noodles and spinach, and add the sauces and stir through. Once you have the flavors and strips have cooked through you can serve.