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30th April 2024 - Aaron Bulging
Culinary Masterclass 2 - Vegan Victuals
The class contemplates the merits of lovage in a Chimichurri
One for the Vegans today [ cue anaemic cheers ]!
The roast cauliflower is pretty tasty, though I think I might have burnt my spices a little.
Everything is served prettified with pomegranate and toasted pumpkin seeds: Because we're cooking in college kitchens we had catering pomace olive oil to use.
Which apparently is extracted using industrial solvents from the olive pulp left over after all the good stuff has been pressed out.
Kind of the direct opposite of Extra Virgin - it tastes every bit as good as you might imagine.
You don't have to use it though 🙂

Vegan food can be made marginally less unappetizing with addition of vegan cream (alternative) or vegan butter both of which are almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the real thing.

You will end up with an enormous amount of spicy grease left over from roasting your cauliflower, which you can use to great effect in a decidedly non-vegan roast.
Shush, don't tell the vegans!

Vegan butter Vegan Cream
Vegans. What can you do, eh?
Spicy Roast Cauliflower
Good enough for carnivores!
An excellent accompaniment.
Butternut Squash Purée
A colourful side dish.
Cauliflower Leaves
Well, they're edible. So, entirely suitable for vegans.

Spicy Vegan Roast Cauliflower
vegan veg main
Pick any powdered spices you like to flavour the roast. Aaron went with smoked paprika, madras curry powder, and crushed chilli flakes.
I added some garlic powder (which is not uncommon for these kinds of roasts) and a dash of BBQ flavouring.
I should think cumin, turmeric, garam masala would all work fine.
Though definitely not cheese!
Did I mention this dish is vegan?

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 200-220°C/Gas Mark 6-7.
Trim the leaves and keep them for another dish (unless, like, you have something better to eat) and cut away the excess stalk.
In an ovenproof dish, mix your choice of powdered spices with enough olive oil to make a thin slurry. Add a good dash of salt and smear the mixture generously all over the cauliflower. Make sure to drizzle it into the internal cavities. Cover the dish tightly with tin foil and bake for 45 minutes, until the cauliflower is easily pierced with a knife.
I found my spices were slightly burned, so you might consider adding a splash of water to the dish - especially if your cauliflower is quite small.
Uncover the cauliflower, add a lump of butter, and baste thoroughly. Return uncovered to the oven for a final 15 minutes, basting occasionally, until the cauliflower develops a nice crust.

Serve on butternut purée dressed with chimichurri and pomegranate seeds.
Pretty good, honestly! Once dressed whole it looks like a Christmas pudding too.
And honestly, if you used real butter, who would know?

Fried Cauliflower Leaves
vegan veg side
Not, I would say, the tastiest of the leafy vegetables. But edible.
You may want to cut up the larger ones, perhaps halve lengthways, or into bite-sized pieces.

Serves 4

Char the smaller whiter leaves on a hot plate or over an open flame.
Throw the larger leaves into a dry frying pan over medium heat and allow to heat up until they begin to colour, then lubricate with a spoon or two of chimichurri.
Continue frying and shaking the pan until the stalks are softened but still retain some bite.

Serve dressed with pomegranate and pumpkin seeds.
Yep. Edible.

Vegan Butternut Squash Purée
side veg vegan
The vegan cream and butter add a pleasant silkiness, but I'm sure you could make it without.

Serves 2

Peel and de-seed the butternut squash and roughly chop it into mirepoix. Not too large and not too fine.
Simmer in cream and water for about 30 minutes until soft.
Strain and discard the cream, then push the squash through a sieve with a spoon.
Season and whisk in a little butter to enrich the purée if you like.
Pretty reasonable.
Other vegetables are available for the same treatment - pumpkin, sweet potato, cauliflower, kohlrabi, maybe carrots.

veg vegan sauce
Chimichurri is a herby South American condiment that is often served alongside steak and beef dishes.
Its origins seem obscure though immigrants are often implicated and the similarity of the sauce to Sicilian salmoriglio and its name to the Basque word for hodgepodge - tximitxurri - are frequently observed.

It seems to have begun life in Argentina, Uruguay or Paraguay and originally always included parsley, garlic, salt, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Quite frequently dried oregano and red pepper flakes were added.
The sauce has now spread throughout South and Latin America in infinite variety.

Aaron skipped the traditional vinegar in his version, added quite a lot of chives, and offered some lovage around to include. Which is definitely unusual.
Try making it with any herbs you like, use different oils, vinegars, fruit juices or rind. A dash of smoked paprika or cumin can be nice too.

Mince or crush the garlic and finely chop all the herbs.
It's definitely best to do this by hand - chimichurri is supposed to be a little coarse and chunky. But you could use a food processor if you really need to.
Mix with a generous quantity of olive oil.
Season with the dried oregano, chilli flakes and salt to taste.
Pretty and tasty. Must be South American!

Non-Vegan Spicy Roast Pork
main meat
As a carnivorous alternative to a spicy cauliflower you can use the same method, and indeed even the same spicy oil left over from roasting a cauliflower, to roast a piece of pork.
I (or rather my brother) chose a piece of shoulder.
I think you could also use belly, but loin will probably dry out too much for this method.
It came rolled and tied, so I left the skin on rather than untying the parcel and risking it falling apart like a cheap pig suit.
The skin just turns to hard leather though, so you will need to remove it at some point - before or after cooking.
The choice is yours.

Serves 4-6

Find a roasting tin which just fits the pork joint. Mix your spice and seasoning selection with the oil in the tin and generously smear it all over the joint.
You could leave it overnight to marinate at this stage, if you like.
Add a splash of liquid; water, stock or perhaps wine, to the pan to prevent burning. Cover and roast at Gas Mark 4-5/180-190°C for a couple of hours until the meat is nice and tender.
I actually used the vegan cream left over from straining out my butternut squash purée as my liquid.
I also speeded things up by bringing my lubricated joint to a simmer on the stove-top in an oven-proof pot, before putting it in the oven.
But you don't have to.
Uncover, baste the joint adding a knob of butter if you like, then continue to roast, basting occasionally, for another half an hour to get a nice surface crust.

Slice and serve with some crème fraîche-enriched mash, Chimichurri, butternut squash purée, charred Cauliflower Leaves, and Becherovka Radishes with pomegranate seeds.
If you like.
Pretty good pork!