The Musette: vegan green pie

This is a quick and easy recipe which uses (vegan) pre-prepared filo pastry sheets, plenty of greens and some vegan cheese. Of course, you can also easily make a non-vegan version.

Ingredients (serves 4 hungry cyclists)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 150g (2 cups) kale, chopped
  • 200g (3 cups) cooked spinach (I used frozen)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, minced
  • 250g (1 cup) vegan ricotta
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed organic lemon juice
  • 100g (3 1/2 oz) vegan feta cheese, crumbled
  • 10 sheets filo (phyllo) pastry, defrosted

Method

1.Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas mark 5 (375°F/350°F fan).

2. In a medium-sized frying pan on medium heat, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until translucent (approx. 10 minutes).

3. Add the kale and cook until wilted, add salt and pepper and defrosted spinach (eliminate as much liquid as possible) and allow to cool.

4. Mix the salad onions with the ricotta, feta, nutritional yeast, nutmeg and lemon juice. Add to spinach mixture and thoroughly combine.

5. Using a non-stick circular or rectagular baking pan (depending on the size and shape of your sheets of pastry, layer at least six sheets of filo, brush each with a little olive oil. Place a damp cloth over the remaining sheets of filo dough so they don’t dry out.

6. Pour the spinach mixture into the middle of the filo dough in the pan and level. Fold up the hanging edges of the filo sheets, then brush with a little olive oil. Cover with the remaining four sheets, tucking them well into the sides of the pan. brush a little olive oil over the top sheet.

7. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before serving with some salad and my tomato and chilli jam.

8. This will sit happily in the fridge for a couple of days but it rarely hangs around that long.

The Musette: aubergine and tomato curry

Sometimes you just feel like something spicy, even when it’s hot outside. The advantage of this curry is that it’s quick and can be made from items I generally have in my fridge and store-cupboard. I love aubergines (eggplants) but I have to be careful how I cook them as they absorb fat like blotting paper. In this dish they can either be roasted under the grill (broiler) or cooked more quickly in the microwave. So, when speed is of the essence……

Of course, dishes such as these tend to taste better the next day, so be sure to make plenty!

Ingredients (serves 4 hungry cyclists)

  • 2 large aubergines (eggplants), cut lengthwise down the middle
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 4 fat cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 thumb ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, finely sliced (optional)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly chopped coriander to garnish

Method

1. Set oven to grill (broil) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

2. Place aubergine flesh side down on prepared braking tray. Place under grill (broiler) and cook for 30-35 minutes, or until charred slightly and the flesh has softened. Remove and scoop out flesh with a spoon onto a cutting board. Roughly chop and transfer to a bowl.

3. Alternatively, cook on high in microwave for 5-6 minutes, until the flesh has softened.

2. In a large frying pan (skillet), heat the coconut oil on medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until softened and slightly golden.

3. Add garam masala, chili and coriander powders and fry for 15 seconds until fragrant.

4. Add garlic and ginger, and fry for a further 15 seconds until slightly softened. Add tomatoes, (and pepper if using) and cook for 10-15 minutes until they have completely softened. The tomatoes should be jammy in texture and a deep burnt orange colour, with the coconut oil rising to the surface.

5. Add eggplant and salt to taste, and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

6. Remove from heat and garnish with fresh chopped coriander.

7. Serve alongside hot flat breads and a selection of pickles.

8. Any leftovers will sit happily in the fridge for a couple of days or freeze for a month.

The Musette: Bosh mezze cake

A crowd coming round on a Monday night? I raided the cupboards and fridge and had all the ingredients for this recipe to hand which I followed to the letter. It was very tasty – nothing left over – but I thought it could be improved upon. So the second time I made it I did improve it, but also learnt a few important lessons!

Ingredients (feeds 8 hungry cyclists)

  • 2 large aubergines (eggplants) cut into round discs
  • 2 fat courgettes (zucchini) cut into round slices
  • 1 small jar grilled artichokes, drained
  • portion Hummus (recipe here)
  • portion Moutabal (recipe here)
  • portion Tapenade (recipe below)
  • 1 flat bread (cut to the size of the cake tin)
  • handful finely chopped coriander (cilantro)
  • portion 100g (1/2 cup) basmati rice (cooked & cooled) or portion mujadara (recipe here)
  • tomato chilli jam (recipe here)
  • portion falafel mix (recipe here)

Tapenade

  • 200g (4 cups) whole black olives, preferably niçoise or kalamata
  • 3 tbsp capers, well rinsed if packed in salt
  • 2 anchovies, well rinsed if packed in salt, roughly chopped
  • 1 fat clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tbsp organic lemon juice
  • 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

Method (for tapenade)

1. Remove the stones from the olives with a pitter or a sharp knife. Put in a food processor with the capers, anchovies, garlic and thyme, and whizz to a rough puree. Squeeze in the lemon juice and, with the motor still running, add the oil.

2. Alternatively, pound the garlic, anchovies, capers and thyme together in a pestle and mortar until smooth, followed by the olives, leaving these slightly more chunky, then gradually add the oil and lemon juice, pounding between pours.

3. Taste, and add pepper and more lemon juice if necessary.

Method for Mezze Cake

1. Put all the falafel ingredients into a food processor, blend to a thick paste and put to one side.

2. Cook the rice or mujadara and leave to cool.

3. With a sharp knife, cut the flat bread to the shape of your cake tin.

4. Cut the aubergine (egg plant) and courgette (zucchini) into to 1cm thick slices and griddle on both sides of each slice until they’re cooked through. I just brush them with olive oil on both sides.

5. Place the flatbread in the base of the cake tin.

6. Carefully and creatively layer each ingredient to build the cake (it’s your cake, add what you want, when you want or see video in link below for guidance! Make sure the top layer is the falafel mixture). I started as per the video with hummus dribbled with chilli jam as per photo above, then added layers of vegetables covered with tapenade and moutabal with my mudjara rice layer in-between.

7. Bake the cake at 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan) for 30 minutes until golden on top. Take the cake out of the oven and leave for 10 minutes or so before decorating with a further layer of hummus and some more griddled vegetables (I found that this step isn’t strictly necessary) before slicing and serving.

8. Serve with chopped coriander (cilantro) more chilli jam or whatever else you’d like.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. Feel free to replace any of the home-made components with shop bought ones or indeed replace anything you don’t like with something you do.

2. The first time I made this in a square rather than round tin and it kept its shape so much better.

3. Remember to press all the layers together tightly before adding the falafel layer. The second time I made it I left the mixture as falafel balls. It loooked smarter, didn’t require topping with further hummus but it was a big mistake as the falafel top layer helps the cake keep its shape and makes it easier to cut.

4. As it’s a mezze cake, I generally serve it with some refreshing tabouleh which is heavy on the parsley and mint.

5. The following day, the cold left overs make a delicious wrap.