Thursday, 3 May 2012

A Sort-Of Roast Dinner

Is a great way to feel indulgent and healthy at the same time.

I've never made a 'proper' roast dinner, but last weekend I had a craving for roast potatoes, so it had to be done. Though I warn you, this is not a roast dinner as you know it.

Firstly, I didn't bother with making gravy. I've never really been a fan - it often makes everything soggy and all taste the same, which completely defeats the point of having different elements to the dinner. If you want that just make soup. (ELEANOR I DO LIKE GRAVY. I just have to be in the mood for it :D )

Second, there's no meat. Zosia and I are both vegetarian, so instead I made something up with Quorn fillets. Quorn can be the most boring and un-appetising thing in the world - which is why I always try and cover it with as much flavour as possible. In this case, I made a sauce by melting some strong cheddar in a pan with some milk, fresh parsley, salt and pepper and a dash of lemon juice. I then coated three quorn fillets (defrosted) in said sauce before covering them in breadcrumbs and pan frying them in a bit of olive oil.

They weren't as pretty as I'd hoped - mainly because we don't have a food processor so instead of using proper breadcrumbs I had slices of bread cut up as small as I had the patience to make them... and they were reluctant to stick. But despite the fact that this caused the breadcrumbs to have more resemblance to croutons they were dead yummy, so I consider that a success!

Element number two was cheesy leeks, which my Mum makes at home adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe (Jamie Oliver's Cheesy Leeks). YUM. This also provides a sauce, so in my opinion makes up for having no gravy.

- 400g leeks, washed and chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1tsp French mustard (I like the wholegrain stuff - it gives a gorgeous texture)
- 50-75g cheddar cheese
- 100ml single cream
- salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 200°C. Put a large saucepan on a medium heat and add a glug of olive oil followed by a knob of butter. To this add the garlic, and when the garlic begins to colour add the leeks. Turn up the heat and cook for approx. 10 minutes, until the leeks have softened.

Remove from the heat. Season and add the cream and mustard, and half of the cheese. Mix together and transfer to a baking dish (leek layer approx 2.5cm). Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden and bubbling. 

I think the necessary greens should be made as good as possible. As I'm sure was the case for many, over-cooked, watery vegetables were heaped on to my plate so often as a child during school dinners that it's an achievement in itself that I haven't been put off them for life.

And so, following the rule of good-ness, there was tender-stem broccoli, french beans and curly kale, which were all stuck in a saucepan with a bit of butter (and olive oil), seasoning and a squeeze of lemon juice. The broccoli and beans were cooked for about 8 minutes, the kale for 4-5. And boy was it good. I can't decide if my favourite thing was the taste or being able to tell Mum about it so she'd stop worrying that I'm not getting enough iron (I'M FINE MUM).

And finally, the roast potatoes. The entire reason for making this dinner. And I'm sad to say - they did not work. 

This is partly my own fault, as having never made them before I had a moment of stupidity and didn't think to peel the potatoes first, though in my defence, the recipe I was following (from The Vegetarian Student Cookbook: Great Grub for the Hungry and the Broke) said nothing of this, and talked with great enthusiasm about 'crispy little skins'! However, we did get some very nice jacket potatoes which Zosia was kind enough to be enthusiastic about, so that was something. I will be trying this recipe again at a later date, and I am determined to make it work! 

So watch this space.

Croutons anyone?

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