This is a Sponsored Post in association with Stoves
A few weeks ago I drove down to Longleat House in Wiltshire where, in the old kitchens of the house, two state of the art Stoves ovens and induction hobs have been fitted next to the still-working Victorian black leaded ranges. I was there to film the method for a recipe that I have developed exclusively for Stoves’ Staying In In campaign, and you can see the film we made further down this post.
I was so pleased when Stoves asked me to work with them on this project – it’s all about celebrating the joy of not going out, but not just plain old staying in either. This is about Staying In In, making Staying In a Thing – going the extra mile, instead of letting one’s fingers call up supper on an app or delving in the depths of the freezer for a ready meal.
It’s about the pleasure of actual cooking, and the happiness of serving of delicious food in the comfort of your own home (helped, of course, by appliances that make cooking a breeze). Any of you who have read my cookbook will know that this is exactly where my heart lies: in the joy of feeding family and friends.
When I was developing this recipe I wanted a dish that wasn’t too simple – something you could serve to make a meal feel like a proper occasion, but equally doesn’t require esoteric technique or hours in the kitchen.
I’m particularly pleased with this dish as it can be hard to come up with a vegetarian option that doesn’t rely on the old standbys of pasta, curry or a bake, and that isn’t spiced. Not that I don’t love all those things, but it’s nice to have a different kind of flavour profile on a plate of vegetarian food.
I wanted it to look pretty too – sophisticated enough to serve for an entertaining meal with friends. The above mentioned dishes are always delicious but hard to make appealing to the eye as well as the palate.
One of the issues with vegetarian food can be a lack of texture so I’ve created a dish here with all sorts of textural contrasts, that will look very pretty, impressive and grown up on the plate, but which is surprisingly easy to cook, and with ingredients that can be found in any supermarket or grocery store.
Traditionally we tend to use tofu in Asian dishes with soy sauce as a primary flavouring, but its spongy texture takes up any kind of marinade beautifully, so I’ve used lemon here, and baking tofu rather than deep frying dries it out to give a great chewy texture on the outside contrasting with a softer middle.
Instead of rice, I’ve chosen to pair the tofu with a classic waxy potato, the Charlotte (but any new or salad potato, for example the Ratte, will work here), as the smooth texture will work better with the tofu than a more floury alternative, and they stand up well to being steamed then crisped.
One thing that seems to get left out of many vegetarian dishes is a sauce to moisten and bring the food together, so I’ve added in a delicious pea puree.
This dish is gluten-free, and can be either vegan or vegetarian: if vegan, you can swap the cream for an equal measure of canned coconut milk (shake the can before opening to mix it thoroughly), and swap the butter for a vegan spread or coconut oil in the mushrooms.
And here is the finished video:
CRISPY LEMON TOFU WITH A PEA PUREE, CHARLOTTE POTATOES, ROASTED GARLIC BUTTER MUSHROOMS,
TOASTED HAZELNUTS, AND PEA SHOOTS
This quantity serves four but can easily be halved, or doubled.
750 grams beancurd (usually two packets, depending on brand)
2tbsps rapeseed oil
Large pinch of salt
400grams Charlotte or baby new potatoes
200gms frozen petit pois
75ml single cream
300gms button mushrooms
3 cloves garlic
50gm room temperature butter
A good handful of fresh soft green herbs (I like any or all of parsley – curly or flat, chives, chervil, oregano, marjoram.)
Salt and pepper
For the garnish
50gms whole hazelnuts, skinned and roughly chopped
1 pot mustard and cress
A bag of pea shoots, or a bunch of watercress
Optional: Edible flowers – borage or pansies
two roasting dishes
1 frying pan
Food processor or stick blender
Lemon zester or fine grater
Remove the tofu from its tray, rinse and pat dry with kitchen paper or a tea towel.
Finely grate the rind of the lemon into a small bowl. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze each half into the bowl, removing any pips. Add the 2 tbsps of rapeseed oil and a good pinch of salt, and mix together.
Cut each piece of tofu in half. Then slice each half across diagonally. Then turn the pieces on their side and slice each triangle width-wise. If they are very thick, slice in half again. You are aiming for at least three triangles per person. (The size of tofu blocks varies from brand to brand to don’t worry if you have too many – I usually cook them all and then offer any over for second helpings.)
Place the tofu triangles in a large shallow dish and pour over the lemon marinade and put to one side.
Cut the potatoes in half, or into 2cm/1” thick pieces if the potatoes are large. (Do not peel.) Place in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a simmer. (This will take approximately 5- 7 minutes. You’ll find that with the Stoves Induction Hob that pans heat up much quicker; a huge blessing.) Then cook for a further ten minutes until the potatoes are almost cooked. Drain, and leave to steam dry.
Whilst the potatoes are cooking, line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Take the tofu from its dish, divide between the two trays, and pour over the lemon juice marinade. Place in the Stoves oven and set the timer for thirty minutes.
Peel and finely chop or press the garlic. Place in a small bowl or mortar with the 50gms of butter. Throw in the chopped herbs and mash this all together. (If you haven’t been able to soften the butter in advance, throwing it all into a food processor and pulsing several times will achieve the same effect,)
Remove the stalks from the mushrooms caps and, using a teaspoon, fill each cap with the garlic butter mixture. Cover the mushroom baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Then remove the foil and cook for a further ten minutes.
Pour the frozen petit pois into a saucepan and cover with boiling water. Cook for five minutes, or until the peas are tender, then drain the peas and reserve.
Whilst the peas are cooking, place a dry frying pan on the hob, heat, and tip in the chopped hazelnuts. Shake the pan to make sure they don’t catch and quickly brown them for 2-3 minutes, and then remove from heat and tip out onto a plate.
(Using the Stoves Induction Hob is perfect for cooking things that might catch: any sign of over-browning, and the heat can be immediately reduced and the ingredients saved from burning.)
If using watercress, wash, and pick over the leaves, removing any large stalks or wilted pieces. Leave to dry in a sieve or colander lined with kitchen paper. If using pea shoots, you need to know that they wilt dramatically the moment they hit the fresh air, so don’t open the packet in which they are sealed until just before you put them on the plate.
Tip the drained peas into the food processor bowl with the single cream. Blitz until you have a smooth green purée. Add salt and black pepper and taste to check the seasoning. (If you think the puree is too thick, thin it with a little more cream.) Scoop out the purée with a spatula into a small saucepan, cover, and leave to one side.
Take the drained potatoes. Place a large frying pan on the hob with 2tbsps of oil. When the oil is hot place each potato piece in flesh side down (tongs are helpful here) and cook the cut side only for 2-3minutes until they are crispy and browned. Then carefully remove the potatoes onto a dish lined with kitchen paper.
Put the pea purée onto the hob and heat through, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t catch.
Take both the mushrooms and tofu out of the oven.
Place four plates on the counter and spoon over the pea purée into the centre of each plate. Divide the tofu and mushrooms equally between each plate. Add the potatoes, and then scatter over the chopped hazelnuts, pea shoots or watercress, a sprinkling of mustard & cress (and edible flowers, if using) to serve.