Last week whilst taking an Uber from the office to Clerkenwell with some rather large boxes, my driver informed me that usually he takes charge of the 453 from Baker Street to Deptford Bridge, although he was taking a few weeks off and wanted to try something different. We both laughed when I suggested he was on a busman’s holiday, which makes a change, as generally when I say things like this I’m looked at like the undertaker who’s just lost the body.
The cabbie in question was a sensitive vegetarian and proceeded to quiz me on meat and fish free recipes. I promised to list our new vegetarian main course below for his and your benefit.
Globe artichoke, vegetarian scotch egg and stuffed onion, with roasted carrot, mashed potatoes and pistou dressing
For the artichoke: 2 globe artichokes, 1 lemon, salt and pepper, 50 g goats cheese, extra virgin olive oil
To peel the artichokes take off the hard outer leaves. Using a bread knife cut along the top half of the head and discard any hard leaves below. You should now be holding just the cup and stem. Using a teaspoon press into the furry center (the choke) and work out all the fur and discard. Immediately rub with lemon to stop discoloring. Now remove the stem, peel any outer skin working round the outside with bread or paring knife, and once this layer has been removed, again rub with lemon to stop discoloring.
Cook in simmering water for about 10 minutes, and place in a pan with a little olive oil under a low flame for 3-4 minutes. Now stuff the artichoke cup with goat’s cheese, season and bake in the oven at 180oC for 10 minutes
For the stuffed onion: 1 tbsp. marmite, 1 large onion, 1 small tomato, 80g breadcrumbs, 60g feta crumbled, 40g fresh parsley, 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, 1 small garlic clove crushed, 1 spring onion sliced thinly, unsalted butter for greasing.
Add the Marmite to 1/2 pint of water and bring to a simmer. To prep the onion trim 1/4 inch off the top and bottom, then cut in half lengthways. Remove the hard outer skin and carefully take out most of the insides, keeping only two layers of the lighter skin. Carefully separate the outer layers from each other and place in the simmering marmite stock. Cook for one to two minutes, until just tender, then drain well and leave to cool slightly.
To make the stuffing, use a coarse cheese grater to grate the tomato into a large bowl (you will be left with most of the skin in your hand; discard it). Add breadcrumbs, feta, parsley, oil, garlic, spring onion, salt and pepper. Fill each onion skin with stuffing. Pull the sides together so that you end up with a fat cigar shape. Place seam-side down in the buttered dish. Bake for 20 minutes, until soft and lightly coloured, with the stuffing bubbling.
For the scotch egg: 175g cooked chickpeas, 1 clove garlic pan fried until soft, 1/2 shallot pan fried until soft, 1 tspn. Chopped parsley, 1 tsp. coriander chopped, 2 quails eggs (boiled for 2 minutes, refreshed in iced water, and then peeled), 50g bread crumbs, 1 beaten egg, 2 tablespoons plain flour, vegetable for deep frying
Pulse the chickpeas in a blender until you get a slightly chunky purée. Combine this mix with the shallot, garlic and herbs. Wrap this around both eggs. Now coat eggs in flour, then egg and finally breadcrumbs. Deep fry for 2 minutes at 150oC then set aside.
For the roasted carrots: 2 baby baby carrots, 50g butter, and 1 sprig of thyme, salt and pepper.
Trim the stalks on the carrots, mix with the butter and thyme and cook in an oven at 160oC for 20-25 minutes, season to taste.
For the carrot crumb: 1 carrot
Slice the carrot thinly on a mandolin and then deep fry at 150oC until crispy.
For the mash: 200g potatoes peeled and chopped into large pieces, 60g butter, 20ml milk, salt and pepper.
Place the potatoes in a pan, cover with salted water and cook until soft. Now drain, mash, pass through a sieve and finally add butter, milk, salt and pepper
For the Pistou: 6 table spoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 basil leave sliced thinly (chiffonade), 1 clove garlic crushed.
Place all in a large mortar and pound together, or blitz in a food processor.