If you’re vegetarian, eating at Michelin-recommended Vanilla Black is an absolute must any time you find yourself in London. A quick look at their website will give you the idea – we’re talking vegetarian food like no other.
However I must admit that when I was offered a copy of their new book* for review, I did rather jump to the conclusion that it would be one of those arty farty cookbooks that are lovely to flick through but no one ever actually cooks anything from. I don’t have a sous-vide cooker or dehumidifyer – how could I possibly re-create Vanilla Black’s food at home?
How wrong I was! In a stroke of genius, this book* takes all the brilliant aspects of Vanilla Black’s Michelin-recommended food, (quirky but fabulous flavour combinations, unexpected use of ingredients, and so on). but incorporates them into home-cook’s relaxed and enjoyable recipes – a good mix of dinner-party slightly show-offy dishes with plenty of everyday suppers and weekend baking and preserving.
My copy is now FULL of post-it-notes in recipes I intend to have a go at, including parsnip cake with Horlicks icing and toasted hazelnuts, (yes really – wow!!); red onion, vintage cheddar and sage pasty; portobello mushrooms, red wine and roast garlic lentils; cheddar and chutney bread & butter pudding with greens; peanut butter cheesecake with salted toffee sauce….. the list goes on.
If you’re vegetarian and enjoy cooking, get yourself a copy immediately*. You won’t be disappointed.
Here’s a recipe from the book to try whilst you’re waiting for it to arrive. Every bit as delicious as it looks, this savoury broad bean, spring onion & lemon cheesecake would be a stunning dinner party starter, or even a main course for a relaxed summer lunch. Big thanks to Andrew Dargue from Vanilla Black and Saltyard Books for a review copy, and permission to reproduce this recipe here. Enjoy!
- For the base:
- 75g plain flour
- 25g toasted porridge oats
- 50g unsalted butter, chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the filling:
- 250g broad beans, shelled weight (about 750g with the pods)
- 8 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
- a little sunflower oil
- 2 eggs
- 325g cream cheese
- 2 tbsp whipping cream
- finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
- large punnet of pea shoots or watercress
- Preheat the oven to 160°C / fan 140°C / gas mark 3.
- Rub together the flour, oats and butter until the mixture resembles crumbs, or just pulse-blend in a food processor. Season with the salt and pepper.
- Line a 20cm springform tin with greaseproof paper and press the oat mixture into the base, making sure tat there are no gaps. This will save any custard escaping later. Line with another sheet of greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans or raw rice. Blind-bake for 12 minutes, until slightly golden. Set aside.
- Set a large pan of water to boil with 1 tsp salt. Have a bowl of cold water ready. When the water boils, add the beans, cook for 2 imnutes, then using slotted spoon, remove and add to the cold water to stop the cooking. When they are cooled, we peel them.... this is a bit fiddly and time-consuming so you will be OK to use them as they are if you like, unless you have some spare time. Drain and set aside. Preheat the oven to 140°C / fan 120°C / gas mark 1.
- Fry the spring onions in a little oil until just soft.
- Beat the eggs and mix in the cream cheese, cream and lemon zest. Now carefully fold in the broad beans and spring onions and season well. Spread evenly over the base and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until set. Allow to cool a little so it is easier to cut, or cool completely and serve cold.
- To serve, carefully release from the tin, slice and serve with a mound of pea shoots. This works well with a tomato and mint salad on the side.
*Disclosure: these are Amazon Affiliate links – if you order the book via any of these links I will receive a small commission.