I've been a vegetarian for over 23 years and have learned a lot about cooking for myself and other people. I've also had experience through various organisations I have been involved with over the years, of catering for groups ranging from 10 to 200, often with minimal facilities and restricted budgets. Don’t get me wrong, there are times like anyone with a full time job and other commitments when coming home from a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is spend ages standing in the kitchen making a meal. On these occasions beans on toast (made with some nice bread) and a little grated cheese over the top can taste like the best meal in the world.
However with inspiration gained from many sources, I have learned to love cooking and creating tasty meals. Some of my inspiration comes from TV chefs and cookery writers and my travels in the merchant navy in the late 70's and early 80's. However my most import inspiration was my Mother who not only worked full time, always came up with good, economical food to feed a family of 4.
While we were not what I would consider poor, I grew up in a working class home and there was never money to waste, so the art of using leftovers was learned at a young age. My mother was a creative cook and many of my favourite food memories of childhood are of meals created out of what a lot of families might consign to the waste bin today. Given the financial problems facing many families at the moment I think some of the frugal use of food I grew up with holds as well today as it did during my childhood.
These Blog's are just my way of spreading some of that inspiration to those of you taking the time to read these ramblings of a self confessed vegetarian foodie.
Only this evening I made potato pancakes, (or as my wife who grew up in Scotland calls them 'Tatty Scones') from some left over mashed potato an egg, some milk, and a few desert spoons of self raising flour.
Recipe: Makes 6-8 pancakes depending on size.
Some Left over mashed potato - about 8oz (220g)
1 medium Egg
1-2 fluid oz (20-30mls) Milk
a nob of softened butter or Margarine (or if preferred a desert spoon of oil)
4-5 desert spoons of self raising flour
Salt and pepper to season
Put the left over mash in a bowl with the egg and enough milk to get a consistency resembling lightly whipped double cream.
Mix in the flour adding gradually so that the mix becomes a little firmer but will still drop from a spoon and spread a little when settling on a surface.
Heat up a heavy frying pan (non stick or cast iron are best) and put in some of the butter or margarine (to prevent burning you can add a little oil to this or use all oil). When the butter/oil is shimmering but not smoking drop a table spoon of the mixture into the pan and allow it to settle a little into about a 2 inch/5cm round, if there is enough room in the pan you can cook 2-3 at a time but do not over crowd. Leave them to firm up and start to set on the surface when little bubbles appear after about 2-3 minutes you can turn the pancakes over and cook the other side.
Once cooked remove to a warm plate with some kitchen paper to soak up the excess oil, repeat until all the mixture is cooked. best eaten warm as a snack on there own with a little butter and grated cheese, or as part of a full English breakfast (veggie or not), they make an excellent alternative to fried bread.