Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Viva Veggies

The other night we had a power cut at home. It followed a very short but rather extreme winter storm with high wind, pouring rain and some loud thunder and lightning. First we thought it would be really quick, as we were assured engineers were already on site when we called the electricity company. But it started to get dark, and still no sign of electricity. It was rather nice and atmospheric to have the house lit with candles, and the Culinary Consultant soon started snoring on the sofa. But I started worrying about what would happen with all the stuff in the fridge, not to mention the freezer in case we would have a longer power cut. And then I realised we have an even bigger problem - the snakes! They are dependant on electricity to keep their tanks warm. So we started to plan for what we could do in case the power cut would be long. Over the Christmastime, I know there were households without power for days. Luckily the power came back on after about six hours, several of which we actually spent at a friend's house enjoying wonderful Cosmopolitans. But after the incident we made a contingency plan for future power cuts. We will buy hot water bottles and get some equipment so that we can boil water even without electricity to keep the little ones warm comfy in case of an emergency. Things I never thought I would do: make plans for snake re-heating.

The power cut was a great reminder that it is always good to keep some emergency food at home you can eat even if you don't have any electricity at all to heat things up. Crackers, jams, tinned food... Although I guess we could have driven off to the nearest Tesco in case of an emergency, but you never know. It could be extreme weather, or something else weird. We already learned last summer during some problems with the water supply that having a few gallons of drinking water always stocked in the garage is a great idea. And there are probably a few other things we should stock up on, such as a few flashlights and batteries for them. So remember to keep safe out there and plan for unexpected emergencies. Particularly, we are so dependant on electricity that it becomes quite hard to imagine life without it, but extended power cuts do happen. 

Well, after the above public service announcement, on to more interesting subjects. Such as today's yummy dish. Looking back at my food diary from the last few years, I used to eat much more veggie dishes than I do now. I guess having a dedicated carnivore in the house has shifted my cooking to include meat or fish at almost every meal. I'm not sure I'm happy with this, I would love to eat more vegetarian. The Culinary Consultant will eat anything I put in front of him, but I know he prefers a meal which contains something from the animal kingdom. 

I got this recipe from a friend and she said this was the best vegetarian dish she had ever had. So obviously I had to try it out. And tell you all about it!

Viva Veggies (serves 4-6 as a side):
1 bunch broccoli
1 bunch cauliflower
2 tbsp butter
225 g (1/2 lb) mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tomatoes, sliced
55 g (1/4 cup) butter, melted
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

The howto:
Precook broccoli and cauliflower until tender crisp. Sauté mushrooms in 2 tbsp butter. Grease a 20x20 cm (9x9 in) dish. Mix mayo, sour cream and parmesan and mix the sauce with the veggies. Transfer to an oven proof dish and cover with tomato slices. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix melted butter with breadcrumbs and sprinkle over tomatoes. Although not in the original recipe, I sprinkled some additional grated parmesan on top. The original recipe instructs to cook for 20 minutes at 160 C (325 F), I cooked for about 30 minutes at 180 C to get to my desired result.

The verdict:
As my friend suggested, this was a rather tasty meal. I'm not sure I would go quite as far as calling it the most delicious vegetarian dish ever, as there was a oven roasted aubergine I had in an italian restaurant once which is pretty hard to beat. But this was definitely delicious. I particularly liked the topping with the cheese and buttery breadcrumbs. I also liked the combination of mayo and sour cream, it was tasty and yummy but at the same time refreshing because of the slight sourness. And the Culinary Consultant ate it without complaining, so I think it had to be quite good as he prefers things from the animal kingdom.

I made this as a light (well, light as in no meat, but not necessarily light as in low calorie) lunch and served it with bread. This makes a good lunch or veggie main on it's own, but both me and the Culinary Consultant agreed that it would also make a wonderful side to any meat or fish dish. This will definitely go on the list of dishes I will make again. The only change I will make is to add a bit more mushrooms, but I guess the proportion of mushrooms to cauliflower and broccoli depends on the size of your bunches of veg. Mine were rather big so there was a lot of cauliflower and broccoli compared to the mushies, but that is of course easily remedied. I very warmly recommend you try this, it's very yummy!

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