Avocado Pasta Sauce

This weekend I was visiting my Dad and Step-mum in London so didn’t do any cooking (lots of eating though!) so when I got home late yesterday evening I had an urge to get in the kitchen.

My fridge was surprisingly well stocked and included a very squishy avocado – this would have to be the base of my meal. Below is the recipe that followed, it was delicious! However, I made a rather stupid mistake of blitzing the sauce in a thin plastic tub with a raised bottom, this resulted in a few splinters of plastic ending up in my finished dish. I ate it anyway but in case you’re as idiotic as me here’s a warning: make sure you use a normal bowl or something – basically anything that isn’t going to get chopped up by your hand blender! I blame tiredness!

Serves one

Ingredients

Pasta – whatever size or shape you have. To measure, I always fill my serving bowl half way up with the dried pasta (it just about doubles in size when cooked)

½ Red pepper – this addition is inspired by @drunkenbutcher’s Macaroni cheese (see last post)

1 Avocado – by the time I’d cut the brown/black bits off I probably had ¾ avocado so I reckon you could stretch a full one to serve 2

1 small clove of Garlic – this will be raw in the finished dish so adjust according to taste

1 tablespoon (ish) of olive oil

Splash/squeeze of lemon juice – again, to taste

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Boil a large pan of water and add a good amount of salt (apparently the water should be as salty as tears 😥 ), cook the pasta according to the packet instructions – about 10 minutes usually
  2. Finely dice the red pepper, heat a separate pan and sauté in a blob of vegan margarine. You just want this to sizzle away to soften and sweeten without colouring
  3. Crush the garlic and mix with the olive oil. I used a pestle and mortar but you can use a garlic crusher, a really fine grater or a knife on a chopping board
  4. Put the garlic, oil and avocado into a suitable bowl and use a hand blender to mix to a smooth paste. This could also be done in a food processor and potentially by hand in a pestle and mortar
  5. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Taste at this point and add more lemon or garlic or seasoning
  6. When the pasta is cooked, drain and reserve a splash of the cooking water – this will help to thin the sauce
  7. Mix the avocado sauce and softened red peppers in with the pasta and loosen the sauce with as much or as little cooking water as you want. Serve!

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The Drunken Butcher’s Vegetarian Supper Club

This time last week I was in a stranger’s house with 8 or 9 other strangers filling my face with some delicious vegetarian grub, cocktails and shots of Jim Beam…. courtesy of Iain aka The Drunken Butcher and The University of Manchester Foodies Group, this was my first supper club:

First up was our complimentary cocktail; a Martini complete with green olive. Whilst we got to know each other and waited for the rest of the group to arrive Iain (@drunkenbutcher) would keep us up to date with what he was doing and answer any questions we had. It was interesting to hear about his life and how he had ended up doing these supper clubs – mainly because I would love to see myself doing them one day.

We watched Iain prepare the veg for the celery and celeriac soup and were given various tips; from where to buy the best knives to hints on preparing celery for a salad. His ability to multi-task was impressive as he juggled sautéing the base for the soup, with boiling pasta, with chopping peppers and god knows what else was going on in the kitchen.

The food was served as it was ready – no real set course pattern. Each dish was put in the middle of the table and we served ourselves, I think this is always the best way to do it and as Iain reminded us, this was a supper club – not fine dining.

First we had macaroni cheese – the cheese sauce was made with soft cream cheese rather than lots of hard cheddar which meant it stayed lovely and saucy rather than setting solid. The topping was made with a mix of grated cheddar and breadcrumbs. To add further flavour and texture and to cut through the rich cheese sauce it was served with softened red peppers and chillies (initially Iain meant to stir this through but forgot so it was served on the side – this kind of added to the charm of the night). Needless to say the whole dish was delicious – so creamy and indulgent!

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Next up was mushroom risotto. Iain is lucky enough to be married to a Finn (I think?!) and shortly after we arrived he presented the hoards of wild mushrooms which his mother-in-law had recently sent over from the forests near her home. Together with some regular button mushrooms they made a flavourful risotto which was enhanced with the ‘stock’ from soaking the wild mushrooms. Celery tops were chopped and stirred in at the last minute to add a hint of freshness too.

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Last of the savoury dishes was the celery and celeriac soup, I’d never had celeriac that I could remember but it was really tasty even though my stomach was already about to burst at this point. Chunky croutons topped with parmesan added a nice crunch.

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All the while we were eating Iain would keep us updated with what was going on in the kitchen. He often came and took a general vote of our preferences too so that he could tailor the meal, ‘do you want the brownie really gooey or more cakey’ – of course we said gooey! And although the price of the ticket (£25) only included the cocktail at the start of the night, Iain regularly offered us a beer or a shot of his favourite, Jim Beam. I declined on the beer but couldn’t resist a couple of shots!

After a little break pudding was served – chocolate brownie with cherries and peanuts served with an orange sorbet and a Jim Beam custard. The brownie was, as promised, soft and gooey. The addition of peanuts and cherries was a great idea too. The sorbet was refreshing and the custard was sweet and caramelly from the bourbon.

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By the end I was painfully full! We had been advised to bring Tupperware, I think we all forgot, but if we had there would have been plenty to take home.

Overall for my first supper club I thoroughly enjoyed it. The food was delicious and it was nice to meet some fellow foodies. I think next time I’d like to go on a weekend night when it might be more of a party atmosphere. I was also left feeling very un-vegan! Iain is actually doing a vegan night tonight so I think next time there’s a vegan one I’d love to try that!

So despite his name, The Drunken Butcher really can cook a vegetarian feast and I would definitely recommend his Supper Club to anyone looking for some good cooking and excellent grub.

To find out more about The Drunken Butcher and his upcoming events find his website here http://thedrunkenbutcher.co.uk/

Red lentil and vegetable soup

Lentil soup is my absolute favourite. I used to make it with my dad when I was younger and we’d have it on cold winter evenings, sat next to the coal fire, after a chilly walk around Easby Abbey. My dad’s version wasn’t much like the one I make now (apart from the lentils); we always kept it more like a broth with lots of chunky veg. When I came to uni I decided to blend it and now I always do, it makes the soup really creamy without adding anything naughty. Sometimes I add some spice (cumin, coriander seeds, turmeric, chilli etc) but I think I prefer it without.

This recipe makes about 2 servings

Ingredients

A splash of oil

1 white onion

2 cloves of garlic

2 peeled carrots

2 sticks of celery

2 bay leaves

Freshly ground black pepper

Red lentils – I have never weighed them but probably around 100g

2 stock cubes dissolved in 500ml of boiling water

Method

  1. Dice the onion, carrots and celery into small (1cm) cubes and finely slice the garlic
  2. In a large pan heat the oil over a medium heat and add the chopped veg
  3. Add the bay leaves and black pepper and sweat for 5 – 10 minutes until the carrots are starting to soften – don’t brown
  4. Add the lentils – there should be enough just to lightly coat the veg. Stir for around 1 minute – careful the lentils might stick to the bottom of the pan!
  5. Add the stock and top up with enough water to cover all the veg  and lentils
  6. Leave to simmer for around 20 minutes, until the carrots are soft and the lentils are cooked – you may need to keep topping up with water.
  7. Bring it off of the heat, leave to cool for 10 minutes, FISH OUT THE BAY LEAVES, and blend until smooth. Add more water if too thick and season if required

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