Lentil Lancashire Hotpot

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The autumn feeling is coming in Berlin and this calls for more hearty food. The last few weeks have been tough as we get into the new school year and the inevitable tiredness also means we look towards comforting food. Lancashire Hot Pot is a traditional English dish made with lamb but it is the crispy sliced potato topping that I really associate with the dish from my childhood. Here the filling is made of chana dhal which retains a little bite and is made rich and succulent with mushrooms, wine, tomatoes and lots of herbs. It can be a meal in itself or served with piles of green veg like cabbage, broccoli and kale. I also made a thick gravy to serve it with.

Ingredients 

Serves 4 as a main course

250g dried chana dhal

A large onion, finely chopped

A large carrot, finely chopped

10 medium mushrooms sliced

2 large, ripe tomatoes chopped

a tablespoon tomato puree

A clove of garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

Dried thyme and oregano

100ml red or rose wine

1 vegetable stock cube

100ml of water

3 large potatoes very thinly sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer until starting to soften but still having a firm bite. This will take about 30-40 minutes.  Meanwhile, sautee the onion, garlic, carrots and mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes to soften. Add the drained, just cooked, lentils and all of the rest of the ingredients, except the remaining oil, and the potatoes. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes until the lentils are properly cooked but not mushy. If you prefer, you could cook them softer. Season to taste and spoon the lentil mixture into the bottom of a wide shallow dish. By using a wide dish, you get a larger surface area to layer your potatoes and there is a better chance they will crisp up. Toss the potato slices in the remaining olive oil. Then layer them carefully over the top of the lentil mixture, overlapping the slightly. You can chose to have one or two layers deepening on how filling you want it to be. Season the potatoes. Place the dish into a medium oven for about 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and brown and crispy on top.

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Button Mushroom and Chickpea “Chasseur”

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Chasseur is the French term for hunter. Chasseur dishes are normally made with game cooked slowly in wine until the dish is sweet and rich. Fortunately, during the hunting season, there is also an abundance of mushrooms for us vegans to enjoy. Mushrooms are another food that help build our immune system and should be eaten every day during the winter. I found some delightful, tiny, button mushrooms which cried out to be the main feature of a dish. This would also be great with the addition of whole, tiny onions. The chickpeas could be replaced with white beans. This could be served with crusty bread or mashed potatoes.

Preparation time 15 minutes. Cooking time 1 hour.

Serves 4

Ingredients

300g of button mushrooms left whole

Two large carrots cut into circles 1cm thick

A large onion finely chopped

A large aubergine cut into 3cm dice

A tin of chickpeas

150ml of white wine

A large tomato chopped finely

A crushed clove of garlic

Two teaspoons of fresh thyme

Half a tablespoon of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a casserole dish and add the onion, garlic and aubergine. Stir for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and place into a medium oven for about an hour. You can add a little water if it starts to dry out but try not to water down the dish sauce too much. The aubergine should be soft and starting to melt before the dish is removed from the oven.

Mushroom and Red Pepper Quiche

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I love the smell of this baking in the oven. It is really delicious and equally good hot or cold.
This is only the second vegan quiche I have made and I was pleased with the progress I have made since the first one. Like last time, I used a packet mix for the pastry adding olive oil instead of margarine or butter. It works really well. I do not like vegan cheese much but it works well in this.

Serves 6
Preparation time 15-20 minutes cooking time 30 minutes

Ingredients
Enough vegan pastry to line a quiche dish
200ml of soya cream
A packet of firm tofu
125g of vegan cheddar cheese
5-6 chestnut mushrooms gently sauted
Half a red pepper roasted in the oven
A teaspoon of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Line the dish with the pastry. Spoon over the mushrooms so they cover the base of the quiche. Add the cream, tofu and cheese to a blender and blend till smooth. Add the thyme. Season to taste. If it is too thick, you can let it down with a little soya milk. Pour the mixture over the mushrooms. Slice the roasted pepper into finger and use to decorate the top of the quiche. Cook the oven at 180 degrees until the pastry is golden round the edges and the filling has risen and firmed.

Raw Mushroom and Pine Nut Salad

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I stole this idea from Twelve Apostles restaurant in Berlin where I ate something similar last weekend. There it was made with rocket but I used a crispy Lollo Rossi lettuce instead. Pine nuts are expensive but they are really delicious and transform this salad to something quite special.

Serves 4
Total Preparation and Cooking Time 10 minutes

Ingredients
Three large handfuls of crispy lettuce leaves roughly chopped
A medium carrot very finely sliced
Five mushrooms shaved finely
A handful of pine nuts
A tablespoon of honey mustard dressing or another sweetest salad dressing
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a cast iron frying pan and toast the nuts evenly, shaking the pan to stop them from burning. When cool combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl.