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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #20 Baked Camembert and Garlic Bread

I do like a bit of Camembert, and it turns out it tasted even better baked! I am not sure if it is meant to be as melted as mine turned out or if this is what Jamie Oliver had in mind, but damn it tasted good.
Garlic bread is also ridiculously easy to make and tastes so much better than the shop frozen shop bought ones, and as it works out cheaper as well there is no excuse not to at least give it a try.

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What you need: A whole Camembert, a few sprigs of thyme, two or three garlic cloves, olive oil, a baguette or two, garlic paste, a few chunks of butter, a few fresh basil leaves, some dry oregano

1: Take the Camembert out of its packaging and either place it back in the box if wooden or put in a baking tray with some baking paper (I did this rather than the box thing as I was a little concerned it might catch on fire).

2: Drizzle the Camembert with olive oil and cut a few slits in the top, in which you will put the sprigs of thyme and two/three garlic cloves. Set the oven to a medium heat and cook for 20-30 minutes until it is starting to brown

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3: Whilst the Camembert is baking, heat butter in a sauce pan. When the butter is melting, add a few spoonfuls of garlic paste (amount will depend on how garlicy you’re feeling) stir and cook for a few minutes. Then add the basil and cook for a minute or two more. Be careful not to let the garlic burn so make sure it stays on a medium/low heat. Cut the baguettes in half and apply the garlic butter generously, make sure all the baguettes get a bit of basil!

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4: Sprinkle the baguettes with oregano and bake in the oven for 10-20 minutes until crisp and smelling delicious

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5: Enjoy as a decadent starter or a slightly more acceptable main course.yeees

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #19 Kale, Spinach and Cashew pies

When I was planning my Christmas Dinner I wasn’t really sure what main to make. Most Vegetarian or Vegan Christmas recipes are all about nut roasts or some variation of toad in the hole, neither which I’m particularly crazy about. I had never made a pie before Christmas Day, but I am really glad I took the plunge because it turned out really well. I was a little concerned about the egg factor as pretty much every pie recipe calls for at least one egg, but it turns out warm butter works fine, and even though I had some moments of doubt here and there it turned out to be one of the easiest things I have ever made.

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What you need: A rolling pin, a flat chopping or bread board, a pack of frozen puff pastry, a few dollops of salted butter, about five big handfuls of fresh kale and spinach, a few chopped mushrooms, two chopped chillies, garlic paste, olive oil, cashew nuts, one small onion, cheddar cheese (optional) a few baked potatoes (optional), a few small muffin tins (optional, you can make this as a long pie or small pies)
Spices: Salt, Pepper, Chilli flakes, a few sprinkles of thyme and oregano

1: Prepare the filling. Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan and add a spoonful or two of garlic paste and the chopped chillies. After a minute or two, add chopped onions and fry until the onions are translucent (around 5-7 minutes). Add the mushrooms, cashews and potatoes (if using) and sauté for a 2/3 more minutes, then add the kale, spinach, salt, pepper and spices and cook on a medium/low heat for a further few minutes.

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2: Defrost the pastry in the fridge the night before cooking, then on the day remove from its packaging and if completely defrosted roll out with a rolling pin. If making small pies, use the pie tins to cut the pastry into circles, or if not just roll out until flat

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3: Heat butter in a small sauce pan and when melted coat both sides of the pastry. Then bake the pies in the oven for five minutes or until they are starting to puff

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4: Add the filing and place pies in the oven on a medium heat (around 150/gas mark 5/6) for 10-12 minutes. If adding cheese add it after this time and then bake for a further 30 minutes or until the pastry is starting to brown and is sufficiently puffed.

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5: For best results enjoy with my roast potatoes and some onion gravy

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas#18 Roast potatoes

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I hope you are all enjoying the festive season. The last few days have been quite exciting in the recipe department; on Christmas Day I made the entire Christmas dinner for me and my family. I may have gone a tad overboard as I ended up making a feast for at least 20 people when there were only 3 to feed, and so naturally we had to eat it all over Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I may have to start seriously going to the gym and eating zoodles every day when the new year starts, but I got to try out so many new recipes and feed people so I’m pretty happy about how it all turned out. I’ve made so much food over the past few days that I’m having to split this into a few parts, so for now feast your eyes on my super easy and uber tasty roast potatoes and look out for my first ever attempt at veggie savoury pies (so easy), baked Camembert and so much more coming soon.

Roast potatoes 

Roast potatoes are very easy to make, and yet somehow everyone still seems to have their own way of making them. I personally like to cook them with some chopped chilli’s and mushrooms or peppers as I think it adds to the taste, also obviously olive oil rather than goose fat and some nice fresh herbs. As always please feel free to play with and add to the recipe, and let me know how you make your own potatoes.

Note: I would normally add Rosemary, but unfortunately I forgot to buy any. If you have any add it, but they were fine without.

What you need: Peeled and chopped potatoes, olive oil, a handful of chopped chillies, a few chopped mushrooms, a large pot and a roasting tray
Spices: Fresh Thyme, salt, pepper, a handful of chilli flakes (optional)

1: Peel potatoes and chop them into chunks; I like mine a little smaller than most people but that’s just me.

2: Boil potatoes with a little salt for around 10-14 minutes

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3: Whilst potatoes are boiling, pour a little extra virgin olive oil on the roasting tray. Add chopped chillies, mushrooms and a few sprigs of thyme and toss with a few pinches of salt

4: Add the potatoes and toss all the ingredients together, adding salt and pepper to taste

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5: Bake on a medium heat for about 40 minutes/ until the potatoes are crisp and brown

6: Enjoy on their own or as part of a festive/Sunday feast!

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It’s Christmas!!!

It’s officially Christmas Day! Tomorrow I’m going to attempt to cook a vegetarian Christmas lunch/dinner and if successful will share the recipes and pictures with you lovely people, but for now I would just like to wish everyone on wordpress and the  world at large a very merry Christmas and a fantastic new year. I love Christmas. Not because of the religious aspect (Churches are pretty, but I am not a Christian) or because of the extended family thing (most of my larger family live in a far away country so my Christmas is quite a small affair), but because I do believe Christmas is a wonderful time of year. It encourages us to spend time with our families and loved ones; in this age of Netflix and commuting and eating on your own (with Netflix) and being basically glued to our phones all the time, a lot of us may not realise how little we actually see some of the important people in our lives, like our parents or grandparents (if applicable). For one day it’s nice to spend that little bit of extra time with other human beings, because ultimately these are the times you will remember and you need to make the most of it. Also winter is (at least in theory, although global warming’s kinda messing with that at the moment) cold and depressing in this country, and it’s good to have some festive lights and decorations to perk up the otherwise dismal time of year.

 

Have a fantastic Christmas, and wish me luck for this dinner!

Disclaimer: Pictures sadly do not belong to and were not taken by me.

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The Winters Tale Review at The Garrick theater

So yesterday I went to see The Winters Tale, a Shakespearian play directed by Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh, starring Kenneth Branagh and Judy Dench. The show had full star reviews from several major publications so one would assume it would be a pretty good show.

It was not.

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I think because The Winters Tale is in itself a confusing and I believe badly told story that makes absolutely no sense, that meant the actors found it hard to engage with the play and portray their characters properly. I’m not really sure if the acting was bad because of the play, or if they play was bad because of the acting, but something was definitely wrong.  I am not sure if Kenneth Branagh has a unique acting style or if he was genuinely forgetting his lines throughout the play, but there were several awkward pauses and sometimes it really felt like the actors were just saying words and didn’t really have any idea what they were saying, which would have made sense as most of the time I had no idea what they were saying either.

I vaguely managed to get the gist of the story, which involved a seemingly normal guy turning into a crazy and jealous monster within the space of a few minutes and then doing a complete 360 before the end of the first act, people dropping dead for no logical reason, being turned into statues and then being revived by Judy Dench, and some rather surprising but very welcome folk dancing. I was confused that the actors were dressed in Victorian attire and had a Christmas tree on set whilst the story was meant to be set in Ancient Rome; the play started with the actors walking through the audience singing a Christmas song, and yet the play was also vaguely set in Ancient Rome with the characters visiting an oracle and believing in multiple Gods. That alone would have been okay if the acting was convincing, but a lot of the soliloquy’s made no sense, partly because sometimes the actors spoke too quietly to be audible  (keep in mind we were on the bottom level so were closer to the stage than most of the audience) but mostly because through several quite large chunks of the play there didn’t seem to be a connection between the actors and the text. Sometimes they seemed a lot more like people reading a script than actors portraying a character. They did use different voice levels, sometimes whispering and suddenly screaming, but it wasn’t effective because as there wasn’t a great sense of character and so it was hard to feel the emotion. I didn’t really understand why they were randomly screaming and whispering. It was hard to understand or relate to the random bursts of emotion, especially as they seemed quite sporadic.

Kenneth Branagh did have a few strong moments, but for most of the play I literally thought he kept forgetting his lines. Judy Dench gave a good performance as she is a great actress, but even she couldn’t force the story to make sense. The actress who played Perdita, the abandoned royal baby who miraculously survives a bear attack when the men who left her there are torn to pieces, was actually pretty good; she was lively and the dancing scenes in the second act was one of the significant high points  of the play.

The play wasn’t a complete disaster. However, the play itself ended on an exceptionally weak note, which was a fault of the actual play rather than the production although I do feel they could have executed it better.  Hermione, the wife who suddenly drops dead just after the gods say she is innocent is somehow brought back to life by Judy Dench’s character and they all presumably live happily ever after. It was quite sudden and not particularly well explained, you don’t even see Branagh’s character meet his long lost daughter. This is probably not the fault of the directors of this play as I imagine it was quite close to the original. What this play has confirmed for me is that Shakespeare really isn’t all that. Whilst some of his plays are very good, i.e Macbeth and Midsummer Nights Dreams, that doesn’t mean every single thing he ever wrote was fantastic. If the play I saw yesterday was anything close to the original written by Shakespeare, it really is not a very good play. It felt like two different stories pushed together with a very hurried happy ending that was not properly explained, and as Shakespeare goes I wouldn’t really recommend it.

And yet somehow this play got a standing ovation. I feel this is because it was Shakespeare, and people assume that Shakespeare is both very good and very hard for us modern people to understand. Therefore, the more difficult one of his plays is to understand the more authentic it must be. However, this is not true. A Greek tragedy or a Shakespearean play can have challenging language, but if the original play flows reasonably well and if the actors deliver good performances you do not need to be a scholar to appreciate and understand it. This story in itself was, to me at least, very badly written, and the fact that the actors performances tended to suggest they didn’t understand the text either left me very underwhelmed and slightly bemused. Shakespeare can be good, but it is definitely not always good. In total, I would give it 2.5 out of 5 stars.