With September, comes a wave of new fruit and vegetables from the garden. The squash, carrots, figs and apples, which have been slowly emerging over the past couple of weeks, are coming into their own. Each day brings a new box of apples, so its time to make lots of compotes, tarts, salads, chutneys and anything else I can think of.
I’ve also been making some foccacia and experimenting with different flours. Believe it or not, my best foccacia this week was made from a mixture of rye and wholemeal flour with only a little bit of white to give it a lift. The rye flour here has a lovely softness without being overly heavy, so I have also been using it to make cakes. My apple and walnut cake went down a storm!
The highlight of the week however, was my vegan moussaka, which was a bit of an experiment but thankfully, it worked wonderfully. I can’t bear the thought of a sticky, glupey white sauce, full of butter and white flour, which gets lashed over moussaka and lasagne. I wanted to create something lighter and more nutritious. Whilst working in France recently, holistic chef and friend Hayley North, showed me how to make raw lasagne, which is totally divine! In order to get the richness of a white sauce, cashew nuts and nutritional yeast flakes are combined to give a lovely creamy, cheesy flavour, while a ‘meaty’ tomato sauce is achieved by adding walnuts to the tomatoes. Nutritional yeast flakes in the vegan world are a precious ingredient as they impart that cheesy flavour giving depth and richness to a dairy free dish. So, although my moussaka was not raw, it followed the same principles as the raw lasagne. The combination of baked aubergine and courgetes from the garden, along with a rich and chunky tomato sauce and a creamy, cheesy white sauce, was simply wonderful! Now, I just need to do it again and this time document what I’m doing!
So, here ends another week. The sivanandas are leaving and in come a group of Americans who have requested lots of very traditional Italian food. I wonder how my vegan moussaka will go down with them! But what I’ll do is serve it and see if they even notice the difference! Watch this space for a full report back and a vegan moussaka recipe which, by next week I will have nailed!
250g rye flour
150g wholemeal flour
100g unbleached white flour
10 g fine sea salt
15g fresh yeast
3 tblsp olive oil
Mix flour and salt together
Mix the yeast with 350 ml of warm water, then add to the flour mixing to a soft dough Add in 2 tblsp of the olive oil
Place on a board and knead until soft and pliable
Place in a bowl and leave to double in size (about an hour) and then knock back. At this stage, leave for another 30 mins if possible.
Oil a shallow tray and place the dough in the tray, gently pressing into a rectangle. Cover with cling film and leave for 30 mins more.
Once risen, press dimples into the dough, sprinkle with olive oil, olives, salt and rosemary and bake for 15 mins at 200c and then turning down the oven to 180c to finish