Thursday, October 05, 2006

Contradiction in Terms

It's recipe time again and it's another veggie one. I'm starting to play games with myself on the veggie recipe front, seeing how far I can push it. I love French cuisine, indeed if I were to only have one cookery book it would have to be Elizabeth David's "French Provincial Cooking". The difficulty is that the French are not noted for being very vegetarian friendly and this presents a problem when cooking for Tinseltroos. One of my favourite French dishes is cassoulet, with it's unctuous mixture of sausage, duck confit and bacon it's one of the greats. For my veggie "cassoulet" this is what I did:

Peel and cube two parsnips and a butternut squash. Spread them over a baking sheet, sprinkling them with chopped rosemary and olive oil. Put them into an oven at about 170oC for half an hour or so.

Meanwhile cube an aubergine and some large mushrooms and sauté them in a fair amount of butter and more olive oil. This is my faux meat part of the dish so we want to crank up the protein, fat and umami as far as possible. Add two tins of flageolet beans. When the aubergine starts to turn golden, set aside.

In a stockpot fry 4 crushed cloves of garlic and two finely chopped onions until translucent. Add 6 chopped tomatoes and a good squirt of tomato puree. Add a good fistful of chopped flat-leaf parsley. Pour in about a third of a bottle of red wine (I recommend drinking the rest as you cook) and three quarters pint of vegetable stock. I'd favour an earthier flavoured red in this dish; jammy reds like Shiraz/Syrah would be a bit much I think. Bring to a gentle simmer. Add the roasted veg and the sautéed veg, and leave to simmer for half an hour or so. Reduce the liquid to a good sauce like consistency.

You can now set it aside if you plan to eat it later or you could go headlong onto the final stage...

In an earthenware dish pour the main stew element. On top of this pour breadcrumbs and grated Gouda cheese, plus a little more salt and pepper. Put into the oven at 170oC until the top starts to go golden brown. Serve. We had Wychwood Brewery's Hobgoblin Ale which was a winner though more red wine would be more traditional. Though I say it myself, it was pretty bloody good, and there's lots left for me tonight too.


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