Faux Gras

I only tried foie gras once before before becoming pescatarian and though I did enjoy the flavour being that it’s basically a richer form of chicken liver pâte there was always the guilt of the method of production. We tried the foie gras in a French restaurant in Washington DC after explaining to the server that we had reservations over the cruelty and the French owner thinking that we were joking and serving it to us anyway. In the UK, foie gras has actually been banned now so there was at least one good thing to come out of 2021. This is what led the Michelin starred chef Alex Gauthier who is actually vegan himself to create a vegan version of foie gras. Obviously it’s not the same as the real thing but it’s still delicious coupled with Sauternes wine and it really still feels luxurious despite being very simple to make. The original recipe has beetroot purée in it which gives it the similar pink tone of the real stuff. You may want to omit this if you want it to be less reminiscent of meat.

Serves a lot in fact maybe half this recipe if possible

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter (vegan or normal if like me, you’re not vegan)
  • 1 shallot
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 18 button mushrooms (I used 9 normal mushrooms)
  • few sprigs rosemary
  • few sprigs thyme
  • few sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp cognac
  • 200g lentils (makes about 400g cooked)
  • 150g walnuts
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp beetroot purée (I used 3 mini cooked beetroots)

Method

1.) Put the lentils in a pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer until cooked. Drain and place in the food processor.

2.) Peel and finely chop the shallot. Wash and slice the mushrooms. Strip the leaves from the herbs and finely dice.

3.) Melt the butter in a pan and cook the mushrooms and shallots until cooked.

4.) In the meantime, peel and finely chop the garlic.

5.) Add the garlic to the pan with the herbs and cook for one minute. Add the cognac and turn off the heat.

6.) Add the contents of the frying pan to the food processor.

7.) Toast the walnuts on a low heat until they’re starting to smell toasted.

8.) Add the walnuts to the food processor, along with the soy sauce and the beetroot. Blitz everything until a smooth paste is formed.

9.) Place into ramekins.

10.) Best served at room temperature with some crackers or bread and ideally some dessert wine.

Tofu Yaki Soba

Here’s another vegan recipe in honour of Cop 26. I had a vegetarian noodle dish just this weekend at the Fawlty Towers Dining experience. Their food wasn’t great but it wasn’t about the food. The actor playing Basil Fawlty was not impressed that I’d chosen the vegetarian option, though I was expecting a comment of the sort. Apologies for those who don’t know of Fawlty Towers but it’s an absolute classic in England the equivalent of Seinfeld. It’s hard to separate the nostalgia from the actuality of the show now but the experience was certainly very fun. It would be interesting to watch similar things belonging to other countries. This recipe here is a vegetable noodle dish too with a punchy Asian dressing and crumbled tofu. I have scaled up the original recipe to make a few more servings than the below.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 140g firm tofu
  • 5cm ginger
  • 1 small chilli
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 5 spring onions
  • 200g shitake mushrooms
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 100g noodles
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 100g beansprouts
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Unwrap the tofu and place on some kitchen roll on a plate. Top with more kitchen roll then put something on the top (e.g. a tin of spiced parsnip soup and a jar of capers) to weigh it down and squeeze out the water. Leave for 10 minutes.

2.) In the meantime, slice the spring onions into thin slices and wash the shitake mushrooms. Peel the carrots and use a peeler to peel them into ribbons. Peel the garlic and ginger and finely chop the garlic, grate the ginger. Finely chop the chilli, Slice up the red pepper.

3.) Put the noodles in a small pan, add boiling water, cook until soft.

4.) Dry fry the shitake mushrooms and spring onions in a wok until starting to soften. Then add the garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for another couple of minutes.

5.) Add the sesame oil and maple syrup. Crumble up the tofu and add to the pan and let it brown for 2 or 3 minutes.

6.) Stir and add the red pepper, beansprouts, carrot and hoisin sauce and fry for a few minutes until the veggies are starting to soften.

7.) Add the drained noodles to the wok, stir to combine and heat everything up.

8.) Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Chickpea Niçoise Salad

Niçoise salad is so called as it’s a salad from the city of Nice in France. I don’t believe that this really resembles at all a Niçoise. Ignoring the fact that there is no tuna or hardboiled eggs in it (unsurprising since the recipe is from ‘Bosh – Healthy Vegan’), generally most versions seem to have green beans and new potatoes. Even so, this is a tasty recipe which has elevated the protein packed chickpea to a healthy vegan fish substitute. Maybe what you need if you’ve not managed to distribute all of your Halloween treats. Sadly I didn’t have much of a Halloween this year, it was spoilt by Avanti West Coast rail service who cancelled all trains from London to the North-West after my weekend break to the Big Smoke. The original Candyman will have to wait for another week as I’m determined to see if it’s still as terrifying as it was when I watched it for the first time, at the age of twelve. In the meantime, I’m consoling myself by reading ‘Necropolis: London & it’s Dead’.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 tin (400g chickpeas)
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 small carrot
  • 2 small cornichons (or 4 capers)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 sprig dill
  • handful parsley leaves
  • 2 tbsp hummus
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 25g fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 300g mixed tomatoes
  • 2 little gem lettuces
  • 150g podded broad beans (I used frozen edamame beans defrosted in the microwave)
  • 35g pitted Kalamata olives

Method

1.) Make the tuna substitute. Peel the shallot and carrot and roughly chop those and the celery and throw them in a food processor. Add the cornichons. Zest and juice the lemon and add that also. Add the dill and parsley. Blitz until everything is finely chopped.

2.) Add the hummus, drain the chickpeas and add those too. Pulse a few times so everything is combined but there is still some texture.

3.) To make the dressing, peel and grate the garlic and finely chop the basil, setting aside the leaves. In a container of some form, whisk together the oil, vinegar and mustard. Add the basil stems and garlic to infuse with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

4.) Chop up the tomatoes and rip up the lettuce. Add to a big bowl with the olives and broad beans.

5.) Toss with the dressing to coat everything and divide between two plates.

6.) Add the chickpea mixture on top and serve.