deceptively meaty meat-free spag bol

A very late night last night, waiting to take the Christmas cakes out of the oven. Here they are in all their glory…

This isn’t too dissimilar to the ‘before’ photo in a makeover feature in a women’s magazine. Think of these cakes as two badly lit ladies, devoid of makeup and in desperate need of decent haircuts, awaiting their transformation. Next time you see them they will be – literally – looking good enough to eat.

My first thoughts are that the oven was a little too hot – see how they have cracked on top, and risen quite a bit? The round one took two and a half hours, as the recipe said, the smaller one was probably in the oven for about an hour and a half. I tried to keep the temperature constant, but our oven is rather old and crotchety so you never can tell. I don’t think this will be too much of a problem as I can just slice the domed tops off to make them level before covering them. This will give me an excuse to use a new gadget: the cake levelling wire I bought at the Cake show recently.

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Exciting news – I had my first comment posted by a reader today. It included a request for a recipe for spaghetti. So here’s my take on spaghetti bolognese, a recipe I concocted a few years ago for my sister, who is vegetarian. Committed carnivores – PLEASE don’t be put off by the lack of meat! I challenge you to tell the difference once you taste it…

Suzy’s Spaghetti Bolognese

splash of olive oil

1 red onion, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed or very finely chopped

300g (1 bag) frozen Quorn mince (you could also use ‘fresh’ if that’s all you can find…I think it comes in 350g packets)

400g tin chopped tomatoes

squeeze of tomato purée

squeeze of tomato ketchup (secret ingredient)

splash of Worcestershire sauce

fresh basil leaves or dried herbs

red wine – about 1 glass

(teaspoonful of pesto – optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Sauté the onion and garlic until soft but not browning. Add the Quorn mince and stir to break it up. Add the chopped tomatoes then half fill the empty tin with water – add it to the pan. Add all the other ingredients. Stir. Simmer over a low heat for 15-20 minutes, adding a little more water or wine if it looks like it is becoming too dry. The sauce should thicken and darken in colour. Serve with spaghetti or your favourite pasta.

This is much less fatty than a bolognese made with beef, and because the Quorn can be cooked from frozen it’s a hassle-free, quick supper that you can rustle up at a moment’s notice.

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I’ve been working on an amazon affiliates store for green apple sorbet…let me know what you think!

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