So the cooking task for this weekend was a three course vegetarian lunch for five, with no lentils (that could be detected), blue cheese or mushrooms, to celebrate new year with Jonno, Anne, Ollie and Frances. I had a lovely hungover Saturday afternoon reading recipe books (my favourite way to spend an afternoon, bar virtually none...), before going with sweetcorn chowder to start with, chocolate brownies with hot chocolate sauce to end with and vegetarian shepherd's pie with goat's cheese mash in the middle. All three gave me a chance to try out my much anticipated and deeply exciting food processor, a thing of joy which will make my kitchen life much easier.
The sweetcorn chowder was lovely, especially in fairly small portions as a starter. It said it would serve six - more like 12 as a starter, so when doing this again, I'd halve the quantities. The soup was lovely as is without the tortilla topping if you're watching your diet - but I'd check the seasoning depending on what sort of stock you're using as this needed salt and pepper in quite large quantities with Marigold bouillon. It'd be loads healthier and just as nice with a little bit of chopped chili as a garnish rather than the crisps, and I added in a bit of extra garlic and a chili into the soup itself at the processing stage.
You can see the recipe for the shepherd's pie here . It worked fine as a main course for five and would probably serve six if pushed (as it's really filling, and if you're having a starter and pudding you can serve less of it with a green salad). It was incredible fiddly to do though, took up three pans, a mixing bowl and loads of implements and then into another dish to bake and serve. Definitely not one for a school night. I'll keep this as my veggie special meal for guests - but my pumpkin and mushroom four cheese lasagne is slightly less faffy to make. Good to have another option though, and if you have pulse-haters, they'll hardly notice anything in the filling other than the black-eye beans which are pretty and retain their looks during cooking.
These were lovely, especially served with some Mackie's vanilla icecream and a few strawberries. Don't make the mistake of trying to make people eat two, though, or only the men will make it to an empty plate.
It was nice to have the opportunity to think through a bit more about feeding people, and I realise I am quite lazy about relying on a decent cut of meat or fish to make an interesting meal. Now I've got loads of different pulses in I've got another reason for preparing a little bit more before getting to the stove - but it does undeniably take longer to put together. A small feeling of dread hits me when any recipe calls for overnight soaking...