Veggie Burger Triumph! – at last..

After various busy weekends of moving house and seeing friends I got the chance on Monday to spend a bit of quality time in the kitchen again.

A colleague recently recommended The Really Hungry Burger recipe by Anna Jones.

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My experience of making veggie burgers is limited to a particularly frustrating lesson in school where instead of being given the chance to follow a veggie burger recipe I was forced to follow the same beef burger recipe as everyone else, just replacing minced beef for Quorn mince; needless to say this did not work and I imagine there were many ‘told you so’ glares at my teacher from my 14yearoldself.

In addition to this pointless food technology lesson I have never found veggie burgers very inspiring. I often prefer the meat substitute, ready-made Quorn or Soya burgers to the bean or vegetable based burgers in many recipes.

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Partly this is down to texture, I think it is important that a veggie burger doesn’t squish out of the side of your bun when you bite into it, and vegetable and bean burgers are often too mushy for my taste. I also find many veggie burgers too heavily spiced; the classic spicy bean burger is not what I want in between my white sesame seed bun, plastic cheese, mayo and iceberg lettuce. Obviously this is down to personal preference, and maybe I’m a bit of a heathen in this respect, but I want something ‘meaty’ – savoury and with some texture.

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As well as having a cool name The Really Hungry Burger appealed to me because ingredients-wise it seemed promising. Mushrooms, thyme, parsley, tahini and soy sauce – all earthy flavours and whilst some mushy beans are required to hold the mix together, the majority of the ‘filler’ is brown rice – great for texture.

I halved the recipe but otherwise followed it pretty much to the letter (I used breadcrumbs not oats).

I wasn’t disappointed, the burgers browned up really well in the oven and held together much better than other veggie burgers, the outside of them were toasty and had a nice chew. The flavour was great, however next time I would probably slightly reduce the lemon zest or possibly leave it out all together. It wasn’t an unpleasant flavour but again I would have preferred more of a deep earthly taste than the zestyness that the lemon provides.
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I served them on classic burger buns with vegan (violife) cheese, avocado, red onion and tomato with sweet potato chips on the side. It’s a recipe I would definitely recommend you try and I’m excited to get out the ones I have in the freezer for a quick tea one evening. Thanks Anna!

Find the recipe here and give it a go! http://annajones.co.uk/recipe/really-hungry-burger

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Creamy Garlic Mushrooms on Toast

Ok this is definitely me cheating a little but I promised a recipe a day for Meat Free Week and that’s kind of a tough task when you have a life.  So tonight’s recipe is super obvious and ridiculously easy but not everyone can cook, right? (I’m moving in with a dear friend next week who last night attempted to fry an egg in a griddle pan) and many of you, like me, lead busy lives. So this is what I made for tea tonight and I think it makes a great quick, satisfying meal for any time of day.

Creamy garlic mushrooms on toast (an ode to my soon to be flatmate, Becky)

Ingredients – can anyone else not spell ingredients?! I spell it ingrediants every time I write it!!

Butter/vegan margarine

Mushrooms (obviously) – whatever you have or want; wild, chestnut, field or standard button mushrooms all work, you kind of get what you pay

1 clove of garlic – finely chopped or crushed

Salt and Pepper

A slice of good quality bread – wholemeal or granary is nice for this

Single cream / Vegan alternative (I used Alpro soya)

Method

Melt the butter/marg in a pan over a low-medium heat

Roughly chop your mushrooms into bite-sized chunks (or keep whole if the very tiny ones)

Add the mushrooms and the garlic to the pan, season with salt and pepper and wait. You need to be patient because you want the mushrooms to cook slowly, this will draw out the moisture and intensify the flavourIMG_20150322_113242

After 10 minutes or so the liquid from the mushrooms should have seeped out and evaporated, the pan should be dry and the mushrooms should have shrunk

At this stage toast your bread

Pour a little cream over the mushrooms and turn the heat down. The cream should reduce into a thick sauce

Pour the creamy mushrooms over your toast and serve.

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/