Today has been a bit of a ‘you win some, you lose some’ kind of day. The former, because all of our eating has been both interesting and inarguably vegan… but the latter because naughty Si lured me off the wagon and I had a drink or three with dinner.
For most of today I’ve been by myself, as Si was out playing with the London Musical Theatre Orchestra. I did pop into town myself, for a mooch round Spitalfields market and to see if there were any spices in Tiger that we might find handy. Alas, the answer to that was ‘no’, but I did manage to fall into Collectif when they were having a 75%-off sale – got me 96-quid’s worth of clothes for around £20. Win!
All that excitement left me ravenous, but I couldn’t find anything vegan that I wanted in the market. No matter, there’s a big Response opposite Liverpool Street station, so I nipped in to investigate whether they had anything from the Wicked Kitchen range we explored during Veganuary.
In fact they had an impressively large selection, and I chose something I didn’t try in Jan: a hoisin mushroom wrap. Sadly I don’t think I’ll be having it again – the filling was skewed more towards hard grated carrot than mushroom, and more to the point it was just so wet! Very embarrassing trying to eat it on the tube – every time I took a bite, sauce dripped out the bottom of the wrap. It had a nice savoury aftertaste, but that’s all the good I can find to say about it. Such a shame. Though maybe Si and I can recreate it with a slightly more edible version.
Back home, it was time for housework and grocery shopping, which quickly built up an appetite. Dinner was going to be very late, as Si was out till half 8ish, so I had a light lunch (second lunch? Or just a follow-on from the meagre fare that was the mushroom wrap? Let’s say the latter, it makes me sound like less of a nombag) – the last two vegetarian sausages leftover from Si’s rescue breakfast, a portion of cauliflower rice, and I also roasted some of the cauli leaves beside the sausages, dusting them with salt so they turned into beautiful soft chewy stems and dark crispy leaves. Beautiful!
The plan for dinner was another attempt at mushroom stroganoff, this time with Si’s help. He suggested using dried mushrooms to amp up the flavour, and soy cream in place of vegan yoghurt. I duly went out to the shops – and found to my delight that my beloved Lidl hasn’t closed down after all – but man alive was it hard work trying to find dried mushrooms! No supermarket seemed to stock them, and at my wits end I started planning an alternative meal to offer Si – but then, a stroke of luck: I live close to a big East London market, which has a load of Asian and ‘Oriental’ (self-labelled) grocery shops around it. The first one proved fruitless, but in the second I found a big bag of dried shitake mushrooms for four pound something. We’re back in business!
The other big win of today’s shopping involved a trip to Iceland. I’ve heard great things about their ‘No Bull’ meat free range – it was mentioned very favourably in articles talking about the new ‘bleeding’ vegan burger that Marston’s is serving – and have been meaning to check it out. Two burgers only cost £2, so a packet is now residing in our freezer, beside the chips left over from when Si’s kids visited, awaiting a night in when we don’t fancy cooking from scratch.
I was definitely in the mood for scratch cooking tonight, though, and while waiting for Si I did a bit of experimenting with a recipe I had seen in the guardian: cauliflower ceviche. I’d told Si about this earlier (and was roundly mocked for pronouncing it ‘ke-veesh’ – but I maintain that as it has no fish in it, and therefore isn’t ceviche, I am totally fine to make up a new name for it. Which is definitely what I was doing rather than not knowing how to speak Spanish).
It’s such a simple recipe: you soak some finely chopped red onion in cold water for a minute or so, just to take a bit of the bite off. Meanwhile cut thin slices of cauliflower and put them, finely chopped jalapeño, a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of cumin seeds in a bowl. Drain the onions and add them in too, then cover the lot with the juice of two limes and mix well.
If you leave this at room temperature for an hour or two (ie until a hungry Si returns!), the cauliflower will have gone lovely and crisp, and you’re left with a hot, sharp, acidic snack – almost like a lime pickle – which Si declared ‘beautiful’ before nomming most of it.
And what of dinner? We put the dried mushrooms in a measuring jug and poured boiling water over them. While they soaked, we cooked half an onion (finely chopped) and lots of garlic, then added thinly sliced button and mini-portobello mushrooms. The soaked shitakes were blitzed in the before they were added to the pan too, and everything was left to cook down, with a dash of sherry (that’s how it began…), to create the thickest, most mushroomy mixture you will ever taste. Stir through chopped parsley and soy cream, serve over brown rice, and presto! A beautifully rich, creamy, almost risotto-like mushroom stroganoff.
It was absolutely beautiful – though we were a bit naughty and enjoyed it with a couple of glasses of our homebrewed apricot and blackcurrant wines. A sort of emd-of-week-one treat. We’ll be back on the wagon tomorrow, honest…
Today I ate/drank:
- Tea with cashew milk
- Wicked Kitchen hoisin mushroom wrap
- Two veggie sausages, cauliflower rice, roasted cauliflower leaves
- Fizzy squash
- Handful of raw cauliflower
- Pickled cauliflower ceviche
- Mushroom stroganoff with brown rice
- Glass of blackcurrant wine
- Two glasses of apricot wine