#2 in my Summer Season of recipes comes from Vanilla Black – Fresh Flavours from your Vegetarian Kitchen (Saltyard Books)
A book that features a selection of mouth-watering and stunning vegetarian dishes from the Michelin recommended restaurant of the same name, Vanilla Black, and one half of it’s founding duo, Andrew Dargue.
Vanilla Black is a delight, not just for vegetarians, but for all foodie lovers alike. It is indeed a refreshing and exciting menu for vegetarians, but it is the creativity and wholesomeness of the dishes that has me hooked.
I have picked three of my tastiest, and tried and tested, recipes from the book. All really simple and perfect for summer entertaining and dining. Why don’t you give them a try, and even check out this stunning cookbook. it is definitely a staple in my kitchen now.
Charred Asparagus and Quail’s Eggs
A stunning starter, or light lunch option. Serve with peashoots and an elderflower cordial or cocktail.
For the dressing
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1h tsp caster sugar, plus more for the peas sprinkle of sea salt, plus more for the peas and to serve
100ml sunflower oil (you can use olive oil, but we find it overpowering), plus more for the asparagus
For the rest
2 packs of 12 quail’s eggs (you only need 20, but if some break at least you will not run short)
2 bunches of asparagus
250g frozen peas
Whichever side of the marmite fence you sit on, this side dish is both delicious and nostalgic. A fan of marmite since I was a child, it’s trajectory from simple toast through to chocolate, cheese and more will never be too much of this larder staple for me.
2 tsp sea salt
500g little potatoes (the ready washed bags are great)
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the salt and potatoes. When they are cooked, in 15-20 minutes, drain off the water. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6.
Warm 2 tbsp of water in a plastic bowl in a microwave – or take it from a recently boiled kettle – then mix in the Marmite; this will help it to distribute evenly.
Put the potatoes on a roasting tray and dress evenly with the Marmite, giving a good mix to coat the potatoes while being careful not to break them up.
Pop into the oven and roast for 8-10 minutes, giving a quick turn halfway through. Watch them, as they can easily catch and burn.
The Marmite should bake on to the potatoes and make them sticky.
Serve, but be careful, as the Marmite can make the potatoes very hot.
Lemon and Lime Meringue
This light and refreshing dessert is the perfect ending to a summer’s evening.
1 quantity of Meringue, unbaked
150g plain flour
115g caster sugar
35g unsalted butter
30g desiccated coconut
65g coconut oil
12 tbsp lemon curd, preferably home-made
finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon or lime
Follow the recipe for the *meringue, making sure that all your equipment is clean and that you add the sugar gradually. When it has become smooth and glossy, put it into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle.
Take a piece of baking parchment and a cutter which is 8cm in diameter – or thereabouts – and, using the cutter as a template, draw six circles on the parchment with a pencil, making sure you leave a couple of centimetres between them. Now turn the paper over; you should be able to see the circles on the other side.
Using the circles as a guide, pipe peaks of meringue about 2cm high around the circles, making sure each peak touches the next. Continue like this in ever-decreasing concentric rings until the circle is full of peaks which are touching.
Place in the oven and cook as directed on page 113. When cooked and cooled, store the meringues in an airtight box until needed, for up to 1 day (pop them back in the oven for 10 minutes on a low heat if they go soft).
For the crumble, preheat the oven to 180°C/ fan 160oC/gas mark 4. Put the flour, sugar, butter, coconut and coconut oil in a blender and pulse until it is well mixed but still crumbly. Place a piece of baking parchment on a baking tray and tip on the crumble mix. Push it together to make a mass, but don’t compact it too hard, as it needs to be crumbly.
Place the 8cm cutter over the top to check it will be big enough for six circles.
Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and use the cutter to make preliminary circles (it is easier to get sharp circles when part-cooked than when fully cooked). Return to the oven and cook for another 20-25 minutes or until golden.
Remove the crumble from the oven and, using your cutter, just go over the circles again to make sure they will come apart later. Leave on the tray until completely cooled, then, using a palette knife, carefully remove the six circles and keep in an airtight box until you are ready, or for up to 3 days. You can eat the scraps – that’s a little treat.
Use a grater to finely grate the zest from the lime into a bowl, then slice the lime in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Mix in the lemon curd; this is now your lemon and lime curd.
To serve, take a small amount of lemon curd mixture, about the size of your fingernail, and place in the middle of a plate. Put a coconut crumble on top of this (the lemon curd is the glue sticking the crumble to the plate, you see). Do this for the rest of the crumbles; be careful, they are fragile.
Next divide the lemon and lime curd between the crumbles and smooth down with a knife, making sure you push right to the edge. Now top each with a meringue crown. You may notice that the crown is about the same size as the crumble base, so it looks nice and neat.
Sprinkle with the lemon or lime zest, allowing some to fall on to the plate, then serve.If you wish, add a spoon of whipped cream.
2 egg whites
1h. tsp cream of tartar pinch of sea salt
100g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 100°C/fan 80°C/gas mark 4
Line a baking tray with baking parchment
Whisk the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt using an electric whisk, gradually incorporating the caster sugar. It will become smooth and glossy, holding its shape.
Spoon the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a fluted nozzle, then pipe the meringue on to the prepared baking tray in six 9cm discs.
Bake for a good 2 hours, or until crisp and firm. Allow to cool completely on the tray before serving.