Thursday 10 April 2008

A Long-winded Nut Roast Post

Yesterday a friend was surprised that I don’t know my mobile phone number. I am the reluctant owner of a mobile phone. They have their occasional uses but I particularly dislike texting. I much prefer email which allows me to write more. You see I am not good at brevity (and I blame texting for the demise of punctuation).

So it was with trepidation that I accepted Mrs W’s tag for a Six Word Memoir. Mrs W has a delightful enthusiasm for sugarless and gluten free recipes and has also kindly awarded me an E for Excellent award which I plan to pass on at some stage. But first to the six words.

Six words! That’s not much. It feels like sending a text. Lonely words are so vulnerable to misinterpretation. They want long loopy lagging sentences to give context and meaning. I want many more than six words for my memoir. Six words cannot encompass the complexity and texture of my life. Finally I thought about blogging and how it is really a dance of revealing and concealing. So I thought that with help I might manage to find six words to reveal/conceal myself. Of course the aid of my lovely assistant E was enlisted.

While he washed up and I made dinner we tossed words around. Words that made us laugh. Words that made him shake his head in despair at having married me. Words that delighted us. With so few words to chose, they had to be appeal to the ear and the eye, to be pleasing to say, to contain layers of meaning, to encapsulate both my essence and my desires. With E’s help I arrived at a stark list of six words. Admittedly I created a couple in my yearning to be able to just sandwich words together like the Germans do. So here they are for your entertainment, if not clarification:

- quirky
- ramshackle
- lacto-ovo-choco-vegetarian
- bookish
- intense
- giraffophile

Thanks Mrs W for the challenge and I am passing this tag on to:
- Holler - the soup goddess
- Wendy - the wonderful wannabe wedding cake baker and so much more
- Katie - of the gorgeous and delicious baked goodies
- Lysy - munchkin musings on tempting morsels
- Romina - passionate vegan eating for one
- Neen - pleasing post-colleagiate ponderings

I have chosen bloggers who might like a bit of fun with a playful tag, who if they have the time and inclination, write six words about themselves, pass the tag on to six others and link back here. And now on to the nut roast.

Well you were warned by the title that this post is long-winded. It suits my friend the nut roast who is full of complexities. While thinking about how hard it is to write six simple words, I thought about how hard it is to be simple when it comes to nut roast. It will never be meal to make quickly with just a few ingredients. Once you have the nut roast planning underway you find you then need to think about a sauce and side vegetables. But I think about my mum who said a roast dinner was one of the easiest things she could make because she just put everything in the oven.

No, nut roasts aren’t simple but neither are they demanding. They are happy with what you have to offer. Leftover vegetables. Any mixture of nuts lurking in the pantry. Remains of a jar of wheatgerm that you never thought you’d see the end of. All will be welcomed. The sum is indeed greater than the parts.

The nut roast I made on the weekend was a parsnip nut roast I found on the web some time ago. The parsnip is a complex wonder that lives in the shadows of its more popular cousin. It has a sweet nutty taste and smooth creamy texture which were a fine addition to the nut roast. I was curious to see how easy it is to veganise the nut roast and substituted soy flour for egg with great success.

I found inspiration for accompaniments in a British book of vegetarian menus, called Green Feasts by Richard Cawley. It is full of gorgeous photography and interesting food. I served my nut roast with gravy, mash, Yorkshire pudding and Brussels sprouts. It felt very appropriately British, although the gravy and mash had Mediterranean influences. A wonderful wintery meal that won the praises of the Grim Eater.

The mash was lovely albeit a bit dry, the gravy was fantastically rich and the Yorkshire puddings were an odd experience. I have long dreamed of making Yorkshire pudding to transport me into a world I only know through television and books. I thought they would have the dense substance of bread rather than the lightness of a quiche. It is the nicely browned edges that deceived me but instead of being solid all through, these baby puds were hollow inside. I might have believed I got the recipe all wrong but E assured me they tasted right. I liked them but wouldn’t rave about them. At first I thought they might be good pre-dinner bites, which Cawley noted was how they were originally served, but then I saw that the batter had to sit for 1 hour. Mine only sat 15 minutes and was still quite light. Sadly I like the idea of Yorkshire pudding more than the actuality but will probably make them again. Maybe I will come to love them.

Despite the fancy nature of the gravy and mash, this is a good retro menu that I would recommend to anyone who is wondering how to serve a nut roast. I am putting this nut roast in to my Neb at Nut Roast event. I will look forward to hearing from you about your nut roasts before 18 April and seeing how you recommend (or experiment with) serving them.

Parsnip Nut Roast
(from Able and Cole)
Serves 4

1 tablespoon oil
2 onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
150 g toasted cashew nuts
150 g dry breadcrumbs
1 generous tbsp soy flour (or 1 egg)
3 medium parsnips, peeled, and chopped
1 teaspoon thyme and rosemary, finely chopped
150 ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180°C ( 350°F, gas 4). Place the parsnip with a little water in a small saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes or til soft. Drain and mash. While parsnip is cooking, fry onion in a little butter for about 5 minutes til soft and golden brown. Stir in garlic and herbs and turn off the heat. I left them in warm frypan while I ground the cashews in the food processor and placed the remaining ingredients in large mixing bowl. Stir together all ingredients to a thick mixture and spoon into a greased and lined loaf tin. Use the back of a spoon to smooth the top and bake in oven for about 1 hour. Mine didn’t crisp much on top but was firm and beginning to brown around the sides when it was done.

Notes: I served this with gravy, mash, Yorkshire puddings and Brussels sprouts. The leftovers were served with pasta and tomato sauce and E said it tasted so like meaty spag bol that it might be 'feef' which was what he thought one might call faux beef! But it was much much better than beef!

Onion and Sundried Tomato Gravy
(from Green Feasts)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
55g (2oz) sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped
575ml (1 pint) vegetable stock
3 tbsp single cream
Salt and pepper

Fry onion in the oil in a smallish saucepan for 5-10 minutes until well browned but not burned. Add sundried tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Blend using a food processor or a hand held blender. Add cream and season. Reheat gently to serve. The recipe wisely suggests serving in a gravy boat (but I didn’t).

Mashed Potatoes with Olives
(from Green Feasts)

675g (1½lb) old potatoes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp cream
30g (1oz) pitted green olives, chopped (mine were piemento stuffed)
30g (1oz) pitted black olives, chopped
30g (1oz) parmesan cheese, finely grated
Salt and pepper

Peel potatoes and cut into chunks. (The recipe suggests boiling in their skins and then removing the skins but this seems too fiddly for me.) Bring to the boil in a medium saucepan and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or til tender. Mash potatoes. Add remaining ingredients and stir vigorously with a spoon. The stirring helps to smooth the lumps and apparently helps whip some air in. Serve hot.

Notes: I found the mash a little dry and would probably add some milk next time. If you have leftover mashed potato it is always lovely on toast, especially with a lick of promite (or vegemite or marmite). The next morning I fried up some onion and cabbage and made a botched attempt at bubble and squeak which I served with leftover gravy.

Yorkshire Puddings
(from Green Feasts)
Makes 18-20 small puddings

115g (4 oz) plain flour
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
300ml (½pt) milk (or half milk and half water)
2 tbsp vegetable oil

I didn’t really follow the recipe very well. It said to beat eggs and half the liquid with flour and salt for 2-3 minutes and then gradually beat in the remaining liquid and sit for an hour. I put all the eggs, liquid, flour and salt in together and blitzed with my hand held blender for 2-3 minutes and let it sit for 15 minutes.

I used muffin pans and did use a drop or two of oil in each pan to grease the muffin pans. (In the recipe they used bun sheets which I am not familiar with.) These go in the preheated oven til very hot (at least 5 minutes – but I just forgot about these while doing other things).

Beat batter again and pour into muffin pans or your bun sheet. It is very very runny. The recipe says 1 tablespoon of batter per pudding but I just divided it among 9 muffin cups (I halved the recipe). The muffin cups should only be half filled as they rise quite a bit. Bake in 220 C oven for 15 – 20 minutes til well risen and nicely browned. Alternatively you could put it in a roasting tin and bake for 30 – 40 minutes if you wanted a large Yorkshire pudding.

On the Stereo:
The Best of Wagner: Naxos


  1. That gravy certainly sounds good. You will no doubt be pleased to hear that I have made a nut roast for your event! I will be posting it soon.

  2. Love the combination of brevity and length!

    You left off lovely-warm-and-funny.

    Green Feasts sounds great - I'd love to peek into your amazing vego library some day - and as for that parsnip roast? That's my dinner tonight sorted!

  3. Mmm. Parsnip roast! I have some parsnips that might go bad soon, so I'll have to try this. =)

  4. Hmmm. Six words. I'll have to think about that. I'm requesting a few days extension... D gets home tomorrow from his conference, and I'll definitely need his input! :) Thanks for thinking of me!

  5. I agree--six words is so few, and it's so difficult to choose just the right ones! You've done brilliantly, as always.

  6. Longwinded here was great fun!
    I would call those pop-overs. They sound and look like you did a perfect job on them.
    The dinner plate looks heavenly! Parsnip is always a favorite here.

  7. I am absolutely fascinated by that first picture. The texture of the roast looks amazing. Will be trying out a nut roast on Sunday for your round up. :)
    And I'll certainly get to the tag. 6 words...

  8. Thanks for the tag - wow six words is going to be quite a challange!

    I loved your words, especially lacto-ovo-choco-vegetarian.
    Its amazing what six little words can reveal about a person.

  9. thanks Lisa - the gravy was excellent indeed - will look forward to your nut roast!

    thanks Lucy - very kind - I decided that the only way to cope with brevity was by writing a long post - Green Feasts is an interesting book - maybe we should be setting up some book swapping!

    thanks Romina - this is a great way to use up your parsnips!

    thanks Neen - it is a challenge but a fun one - take as much time as you like!

    thanks for the fun and for your kind words Mrs W

    Thanks Half Cups - so that's what popovers are! there is just so much to learn about isn't there!

    thanks Wendy - I actually didn't mind that there were still a few unmashed lumps in the nut roast as it sort of gave it an interesting texture - will look forward to your nut roast

    thanks Katie - I am wondering if I can use lacto ovo choco vegetarian on the plane so I get a vego meal AND chocolate :-)

  10. I've posted my nut roast Johanna. I did email you, but as I haven't heard back from you, I'm leaving a short note here. Hope you like it.

  11. You do have a way with words, well done.

    This nut roast looks great and I am eagerly awaiting your roundup!

  12. thanks Lisa - I found your email in my spam folder - one of the mysteries of email! Looks fantastic!

    thanks LisaRene - I am also looking forward to the round up - there are some great nut roasts have been sent to me and quite a variety!

  13. Thanks for tagging me Johanna! But, oh the pressure is on to make that nut roast!

  14. Somehow my comment yesterday got thrown into the blogosphere ether. . . so here I am again! I loved this post, especially "ramshackle," which made me laugh (with a twinge of recognition!).
    This nutroast also sounds very good. I've grown to love parsnips in recent years, so this is one for the bookmarks!

  15. thanks Holler - would be lovely if you make a nut roast but no worries if you don't - at least I know you have had the pleasure of making them :-)

    thanks Ricki - how frustrating if your comments are lost with no home! Oh isn't it wonderful to be ramshackle (that's my excuse for not tidying up!) And yes try the parsnip - it's fantastic in the nut roast.

  16. Hey! It took me a while, but I finally answered your six-word memoir on my blog. And posted a photo of our new cruet for you!

  17. I realise that this is a realllllly old post, but you've made me want to attempt nut roast for ages - I'm going to give this one a whirl tonight since I have all the ingredients :)


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