Today I had my first vegan dinner guest! By which I mean my first person to cook a vegan meal for that isn’t Jones – my sis is a self-proclaimed carnivore, definitely not a vegan. She’s been round keeping me company as Jones is off galivanting at a beer festival (one of our pre-agreed days off teetotalism), and as tea-time ticked round, I thought I’d try out one of the recipes I’ve been planning on making for Jones: mushroom stroganoff.
And boy, I’m glad I tested it out first! Because it turns out that the vegetable stock cubes I have in the cupboard aren’t vegan friendly. Honestly, who puts milk in stock cubes? The meaty stock cubes don’t have milk in them, but they do have beef and chicken… boo and hiss. What would Jones do…? Time to improvise! Instead of veggie stock I made a flour and cornflour slurry and stirred in a load of garlic, soy sauce, pepper and salt for flavour. I also redoubled the herbs that went into the mushrooms – but I’m getting ahead of myself.
First off, I popped some conchiglie dried pasta in a pan, and set that cooking. While it was simmering away, I sliced up a box of button mushrooms very finely and dry-cooked them in a shallow pan until they started to reduce their juices. Once there was a fair bit of liquid in the pan, I added ground coriander, garlic powder, black pepper, thyme, and rosemary, and crushed in three cloves of garlic, letting everything bubble away and cook down. There was also meant to be a finely-sliced onion, but my last one had gone mouldy so it went into the bin rather than the pan. Double boo and hiss.
When the mushrooms were cooked, I popped them into a bowl and then added some soy sauce to the pan, stirred it around, and scraped the lovely garlicky liquid into the corn slurry (really must think of a nicer word for that!). Then into the same pan went some chestnut mushrooms cut into thick slices, which I allowed to cook down just a little bit before adding a cup of the corn slurry and a dash more soy sauce.
When that had reduced a bit, in went more garlic powder, black pepper, and a big spoonful of smoked paprika – the resulting liquid was a bit alarmingly paprika-y, but when I poured in the rest of the corn slurry all was well again. The cooked mushrooms went back into the pan, and everything got a good stir together.
The final touch was meant to be a couple of spoonfuls of vegan sour cream, but I couldn’t find any in Tesco or Holland and Barrett, so more improvising! I used some of vegan yoghurt, but it was a bit alarmingly sweet – thankfully a wee bit of vegan mayo and a bit more garlic and black pepper took the edge off that. Stir through the pasta, a bit of chopped parsley, and we were good to go!
You know what? Not too bad. It didn’t have the meaty umami flavour I was after – a post-dinner Google says that cumin and sweet paprika might be my friend here. I’ll try that when I make it for Si! But the consistency and creaminess of the sauce was spot on, and the mushrooms were lovely and tender. You wouldn’t mistake it for beef stroganoff, but it’s pretty tasty nonetheless.
And sis’ verdict? ‘It needs chicken’… ‘I don’t like the leaves’… but also ‘this is ok’. Close enough!
Rather more positive was the reaction to our ‘Happy Ribena’ blackcurrant wine, which I gave her a taste of after dinner (I didn’t have any, still being good!). Em was initially a bit alarmed by how boozy it smelled (‘My eyebrows are retreating up my forehead to get away from the fumes!’) but says it tastes nice, like Vimto, but very strong. That’s good enough for me!
The rest of the day was a rather simpler affair for food – we went out shopping to buy the ingredients for the vegan-friendly ‘rescue breakfast’ that I’m going to cook for Si tomorrow morning to take the edge off his beer-festival-fueled hangover, including a lovely loaf of sourdough bread – I sampled a little of this for lunch, spread with some of yesterday’s artichoke spread (as Si seems to have nommed the last of the white bean spread) – I think it will do just the ticket tomorrow.
Today I ate/drank:
- Tea with cashew milk
- Three pieces of sourdough with artichoke spread
- ‘Chocolate’ tea
- Mushroom stroganoff
- Orange squash
- Chocolate almond milk
- Nothing in particular! Though I did rather fancy some sweet chilli salmon fillets that I saw on the ‘yellow sticker’ shelf in Tesco…