Sunday, 15 April 2012

Not Quite Veg Everyday but trying - Herby Peanutty Noodly Salad, 'Vegeree', and (oh yes) a yummy chicken casserole

So after the combined stress of Friday's duck incident plus the shoe shopping trip and yesterday's bakethon, I think I would have been forgiven if I'd fed the family on fishfingers all weekend. There's nothing wrong the fishfingers, I should add, but, ever the glutton for punishment, I forewent the easy option and carried on as planned.

Friday night, we had 2 of the Veg Everyday salads - the dressed lentils I've cooked before for the Husband and I, and also the herby Peanutty Noodly salad. This is a kind of Asian type salad, and very delicious. I followed the recipe to the letter, very easy and quick, and great flavours. I did serve it with some salmon (which I rubbed with a little sesame oil and soy sauce and baked in the oven ) because I needed to make room in the freezer for the cakes, so it didn't quite fit with the meat-free ethos, but then again, salmon's pretty healthy, the kids love it and we shared 3 portions between 4 of us. Blue wasn't too keen on the lentils, but Pink loved both salads.

I have to say that Vegeree on Saturday night was less of a success. Hugh advocates using roasted aubergines and courgettes to replace the smoked haddock. I love smoked haddock, but wass quite keen to give this a go to see what it was like. I have to admit that the Husband is fairly vocal in his dislike of aubergine - which generally acts as an encouragement to me to try and get it into the diet without him noticing - to see if I can somehow trick him into saying "Wow, that was lovely". He's even growing aubergines this year, and I wondered if this was evidence of some sort of aubergine detente, but apparently not. "I couldn't get them to grow last year" he responded through gritted teeth "so I'm going to MAKE the b******* grow this year if it kills me". So a question of personal honour rather than a change of heart on the aubergine front.

Anyway, back to the Vegeree. Sorry Hugh, but this is not the recipe to make him have a change of heart. I actually liked it. The rice cooked really nicely and I liked the flavour of the veg mixed with the rice, but I was alone. I'll accept that it didn't look particularly appetising, despite my best efforts - and I'd even fried up a leaning tower of poppudums to try and trick them all into getting excited about it. They were - for a minute...

Blue and the Husband managed to force it down with liberal helpings of Geeta's mango chutney (if you haven't experienced Geeta's, I urge you to try it sometime - I especially like the lime and chilli pickle) but Pink was pretty much immoveable. She picked at the rice and ate a couple of poppudums but no more.

Leaning tower of poppudums - sadly not fooling anyone

Today we had a lovely day. We took Daisy out for a picnic and a walk in Micheldever Woods near Winchester. The leftover salads from Friday evening were still pretty tasty, and I'd found some of the New York Crumb cake from a few weeks ago which I'd squirreled away on the freezer to supplement the otherwise fairly uninspired sandwiches (ham and tomato, cheese and watercress, nutella...) and the one bag of crisps I'd found.

I was hoping for a fairly stress free walk given that there are as far as I am aware, no duckponds in Micheldever Woods. Unfortunately, while there are no ducks, there are wild boar. I'll draw a veil over that particular incident, although you'll be relieved to hear that I didn't have to change the dinner menu to include pork.

On the menu this evening, chicken and mushroom casserole with cider - from River Cottage Everyday. It's an odd thing, but since focussing more on vegetarian food, I've found it harder to think of meat meals, so I was looking for inspiration. The added bonus of this recipe was that I had the cider on tap - home-brewed from our own apples, and not bad either.

Anyway, this is a mega casserole - fry off floured chicken pieces, and add to a casserole along with sauteed mushrooms. You deglaze the pan you browned the chicken in with 250ml of cider, add this to the casserole dish with the chicken and top up as necessary sp that the chicken is half covered. Add bay leaves and thyme and into the oven at 140C . I cooked mine for 45 mins, then turned over the chicken pieces and cooked for another 20 mins. Then the best bit - remove the chicken and mushrroms nad set aside then add 2 tsp of dijon mustard (the recipe says English but I find it too strong for Blue and Pink) and 5 tablespoons of double cream, whisk up then pour over the chicken and top off with some chopped parsley.

I served it with mash, steamed swiss chard from the garden and some spring greens (from the shop). Clean plates all round, a portion of casserole left to go in the freezer for the Husband to eat in a couple of weekend's time when I will be taking the children to my parents', leaving him to fend for himself, and, best of all, cream to go with some stewed apple for pud.

A great way to end the Easter hols. Back to the madness tomorrow...


  1. The casserole sounds lovely! Very similar to the one we had yesterday except ours had white wine instead of cider & mustard.

  2. I don't have much success with aubergine either - have tried to hide it, mash it etc (because I love it)...but never get away with it. I do have a great aubergine and lentil curry recipe which I can just about get my husband to eat!
    Your Easter sounds like it was full on - I'll have time for a proper read and catch up when we get home x

    1. what is it with men and aubergine? I'd love the curry recipe sometime - is it in a book you can point me to? I saw that Hugh has an aubergine curry which I was thinking about trying (no - I don't think I will ever learn...)

  3. Hello, sorry, not really related to this post but I found your blog via a comment you left me, thank you. Really enjoyed your post and had a quick snoop round your blog, look forward to visiting again and reading more (just about to add your blog to my blog roll).

    Read your profile, we're just over the border in Wiltshire :-)

    On my way to bed now but look forward to reading more soon, Jo x

    1. Thanks for your comment - any feedback is great so thanks for stopping by - would love it if you came back!


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