Could I be a vegetarian?
The short answer to that question is no. Here is why; I like meat too much. Where I can I will only buy organic, free range meat from butchers or suppliers who know exactly where their meat has come from and what kind of life the animal has led. These are people who are genuinely passionate about their product and you can tell this by the way they handle the produce and their understanding of all cuts and how they can be used. Waste not want not is my motto and if you can use the whole animal, why not?
As someone who works in the food industry I come face to face with the enormity of the food production world, ethical/unethical food production and the amount of food that gets wasted on a daily basis. This all scares me! I am however lucky to work for a company that mandates we only use free-range eggs, wherever possible to use English seasonal ingredients and to support local producers of products such as cheese, charcuterie, baked goods and rare breed fresh meat among other things.
To be honest I am a walking, talking juxtaposition as someone who believes in animal welfare but eats meat. How can I do that? Well it is a difficult question to answer. And I am not going to get into a debate about omnivorous diets vs vegetarian diets or who is right and who is wrong. We each lead our own lives and are entitled to our own beliefs. All I am going to say on the topic is this; Yes the environment is under far too much pressure to continue intensive farming practices such as feedlots in the USA and some other countries around the world. We have to find a way to educate consumers that a chicken consists of more than the breasts, a cow is more than a steak and a goat is more than just its milk. We need to increase our vegetable consumption but also be aware of how these are farmed and how we can improve our farming practices in all areas so that we farm alongside nature and not diminish it. So, now that all this has been said this blog is not here to be a lecture but to stimulate some discussion and look at good food whether it be meat or plant based.
Kyle is not always happy about this but I do try and enforce at least 2 vegetarian meals a week in our household. A: because we get so many veggies in our box on a weekly basis I need to find a way to use them up and B: I like to think we are doing our bit for the planet. One Friday a couple of weeks ago Kyle had made dinner for us and he got a bit carried away with the vegetables. We had heaps of mashed potato left over along with an assortment of greens including onions, leeks, carrots, cherry tomatoes and courgettes. Sunday lunch came around and I was sniffing around the fridge looking for inspiration and I thought "veggie burgers." Et voila! My epic veg burger was born. They were so delicious Kyle even had 2! I pimped them out with hummus, avocado and tzatziki. Who could resist?
So to answer my own question again; No I could not be a vegetarian but I do enjoy a vegetarian meal. I also would like people to know that vegetarian and vegan meals can be delicious as with all food when you put some love and care into it.
Nix's Fabulous Veggie Burgers - serves 3 or 4
2 - 3 cups left over, precooked vegetables - potatoes of any kind are a must, sweet potatoes would be good too. If you prefer you can use a tin of chick peas or cooked lentils.
2/3 cup plain flour
250 gr panko bread crumbs or fresh bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Burger bun of your choice, I had cheese rolls
Toppings of your choice - I used tzatziki, hummus, avocado, siracha and butter lettuce
2 Tbsp oil for frying
1 Tbsp salted butter
Mash all the vegetables together in a large bowl. In another bowl beat the eggs together, in a second bowl season the flour with salt and pepper or if you'd like add a bit of Cajun spice, in a third bowl pour in your bread crumbs.
Take about 1/3 to 1/2 a cup of the mashed vegetables and shape it into a patty. Repeat until you have 6 patties. Press each patty lightly on both sides into the seasoned flour, transfer to the bowl with the beaten egg and coat with egg and then finally roll your patty in the bread crumbs until well coated. Shake off any excess crumbs and place on a clean plate. Repeat until all your patties are coated in crumbs. Put in the fridge and chill for up to 30 minutes. This helps set the mixture so that it is easier to work with.
Heat your oven to 180°C/356°F/ Gas Mark 4. Grease a baking tray. remove the vegetable patties from the fridge. Heat a large, heavy based frying pan with the oil of your choice and the butter. Once the butter has melted and the oil has reached a medium high heat gently place your patties one at a time in the pan. Fry until the crumbs are golden brown and crisp. Approximately 3 -4 minutes on each side. Remove from the oil drain on paper towel and then place on your baking tray and into the preheated oven. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until piping hot all the way through.
While the patties are baking layer your burger buns with your chosen toppings. Once out of the oven place a patty on each bun and serve immediately.
Don't worry this WILL get messy. It is a burger don't be shy, just tuck on in. A light white wine is exactly what you need to go with a veg burger like this. I paired my burgers with the Ailala Treixadura, 2016, Reibeiros Do Avia. Light refreshing, a hint of fennel and peach blossom. Delicious!
I'd love to hear about the combinations you come up with for your vegetable burgers. Drop us a line and let us know.
Are you over Eggs Over Easy?
Saturday morning and the husband needed a good breakfast before going out to play rugby. Yes, Kyle has upgraded from fiance to husband in recent months. Hooray! We got married in July for those who are interested. Weekend breakfast food in our household changes on a weekly basis depending on inspiration and what we have in the house at the time. I can't be bothered with a fry up every week, although "eggs over easy" do have their place in life. I had been to Borough Market on Friday afternoon to buy groceries for dinner. "Just a simple supper for two," she says, and I had various bits and bobs left over that I could not let go to waste.
So what did I have left over I hear you ask? Eggs, matured Emmental, flour, milk, butter, pain au Levain and mixed baby salad leaves. A veritable feast waiting to happen. My mum used to make baked eggs on the odd occasion on a Sunday evening for a light supper and I just love the oozy, cheesy, delicious goodness. I had and still do have a habit of dunking a spoon in the cheese sauce and tasting it, for quality control purposes of course, before pouring the sauce over the eggs.
Its a super simple recipe. Perfect for cold weather breakfast/brunch or a quick and easy Sunday night supper. You can flex the recipe up or down depending on how many people you are feeding or how hungry, greedy, you are.
Cheesy Baked Eggs - Serves 2
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
2 Cups whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Cups grated hard cheese - I used a matured Emmental but you can use Cheddar, Gruyere or any cheese that you fancy
A sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg
4 eggs - preferably organic or at least free range
2 large slices sourdough bread, toasted in a griddle pan
Handful of washed, mixed leaf salad
Olive oil to drizzle
Lemon Juice, just a squeeze
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees centigrade, fan assisted or 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Gently bring your milk to the boil in a small pot on the stove and then remove from the heat. In a separate pot melt your butter, then add the flour and stir until it makes a paste. This is called a roux. Cook the flour mixture for 2 minutes. Gradually add your warmed milk to the roux and keep stirring until you have a smooth, creamy sauce. Cook on a low heat for 5 - 10 minutes. Do not stop stirring! Season with salt, pepper and a sprinkling of nutmeg. Add 1 cup of cheese at the end and allow it to melt and mix through. Remove your sauce from the heat.
In a deep oven proof dish spread a thin layer of the cheese sauce, about 2 cm should be enough. Make little wells with the back of a spoon in the sauce at even intervals. This allows your eggs to stay in place when you crack them in. Crack each of your eggs into the little wells you have made and then cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese evenly over the top and bake in the oven for 12 - 15 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is golden and crisp. The eggs will be cooked through. Any longer and you may land up with bouncing balls. But again if you like firmer eggs take them to 18 minutes in the oven.
On a plate place your toasted sourdough and then scoop 2 eggs onto the toast with the surrounding gorgeous cheese sauce. Add a handful of washed salad leaves on the side, drizzle with about 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil and half that of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. If you want to take it up a notch you can sprinkle some freshly chopped red chilli over your eggs or just add a dash of hot sauce.
A warning; you will be so excited to tuck in that you will forget that it has just come out of the oven. It will be hot, so please don't be like me and burn your mouth!
Enjoy your breakfast/brunch/supper and we would love to hear about any variations you have made to the recipe.
Good food is very often, even most often, simple food. - Anthony Bourdain