Friday, 15 May 2015

The food of love

Mary McCartney grew up in a wellknown vegetarian home – and her recipes capture the rare magic of a meat-free diet

Written by Mary McCartney
Hello. I’m back with my second book and lots more ideas, ingredients and recipes that I’m really excited about. There are just so many great vegetarian options that I want to share with you.

When I was thinking about how to pull all these ideas together, I was struck by how important food is in terms of my own memories, of those magical moments that stand out over the years. Sharing a meal with family and friends is an opportunity to relax together, to laugh together and to bond together. Some of my happiest memories revolve around food, and I’ve tried to recreate those memories for my own children.

So what I decided to focus on for At My Table was specific occasions. For me, food is such an important part of turning events into something special. It’s the love and passion that you put into cooking for people, which is repaid with great conversation and an empty plate – and lasting memories.

When we were growing up as a vegetarian family, we never felt we were missing out at mealtimes. But time and again, I come up against the idea that, without meat, a meal – and certainly a special or celebratory meal – is not complete. I hope that this book will show that there are endless and exciting possibilities for meat-free cooking, and enthuse all home cooks to try something new.

I hope you enjoy.

At My Table: Vegetarian Feasts For Family And Friends, by Mary McCartney; photography by Mary McCartney (Chatto & Windus, £20).

Buckwheat Pancakes (GF, V+), pictured above 

Makes 14-16 pancakes, approx 9cm in diameter (you can freeze any leftovers)

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

I recently started testing gluten-free flours and was surprised to find that buckwheat flour contains no gluten, thinking the name implied otherwise. These pancakes are fantastic, and folding in the whisked egg whites ensures they retain a light taste. The maple syrup completes them and makes them irresistible. I usually serve four per person.

120g buckwheat flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs, separated
200ml milk (almond or soya milk for dairy-free option)
1 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil
10g butter, or 2 tsp coconut oil, for cooking
maple syrup, for drizzling on top

Preheat your oven to 160C/gas mark 3. Prepare a baking tray with foil to wrap the pancakes in, to keep them warm while you cook the rest of the batch.

Sift the buckwheat flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder together into a medium mixing bowl and make a well in the centre of the flour. Using a wooden spoon or hand whisk, mix the egg yolks and milk together in a medium bowl, and then gradually pour into the well of flour, beating all the time to avoid lumps. Stir in the tablespoon of melted butter or oil and continue to beat until your batter is a smooth, creamy consistency.

In a separate, medium mixing bowl, use a hand whisk or electric mixer to whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gently fold these whites into the batter, using a metal spoon and being careful not to beat all the air out of the mix – this will ensure light, fluffy pancakes.

Preheat a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add a little butter or cooking oil to form a light glaze over the base of the pan. You can tell if it is hot enough to start cooking your pancakes by dropping a tiny amount of batter into the pan – if it sizzles, you are ready to go.

Pour the batter into the pan – 2 tbsp per pancake, or if you have one to hand, a quarter-cup measure is ideal. This should make pancakes about 9cm in diameter. Depending on the size of your pan, you can probably cook in batches of four. But don’t overcrowd your pan, as it will make it more difficult to flip the pancakes over. When small bubbles start to appear on the surface of the pancakes, gently lift the edges with a spatula and check that the underside is golden brown. Then flip them over and cook until the other side is golden too and the pancakes are cooked through. Whenever the pan goes dry, add a little extra oil or butter and re-glaze the base before continuing. As you go, transfer the cooked pancakes to the baking tray, cover with foil and place in the oven to keep warm until all the batter has been used up.

Serve the pancakes drizzled with maple syrup and maybe some fresh berries or chopped banana. If you have some pancakes left over, you can wrap them in foil and freeze them – reheat from frozen, in a warm oven, as required.

Black Bean Burgers (GF, V+)

Makes: 6 burgers (approx 8cm wide and 1.5cm thick)

Prep time: 20-30 minutes
Cooking time: 5-10 minutes

I make these with black beans because they are packed with protein and fibre. If you don’t have black beans, then kidney beans are a great alternative. I love them sandwiched between a burger bun with all the toppings – sliced pickles, tomato, onion, lettuce, Thousand Island dressing (or mayo and ketchup) and mustard. Never skimp on the toppings!


400g tin black beans or kidney beans, drained
2 tbsp light olive oil, or 30g butter, for cooking 
1 medium red onion, finely chopped 
140g mushrooms, finely chopped 2 tbsp tamari (for glutenfree option) or soy sauce
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, or 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 spring onion, finely chopped 
½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
4 tbsp buckwheat flour (for gluten-free option) or plain or spelt flour
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes, or ½ tsp Marmite (optional)
black pepper, to taste
3 tbsp vegetable oil (if not cooking on the barbecue), for frying

Put the beans into a large bowl and roughly mash them with a potato masher, or blend them in a food processor for a few seconds. You want them to keep some texture, so do not over-mash them.

Heat the olive oil (or butter) in a medium frying pan, then sauté the onion for 3 mins. Add the mushrooms and tamari (or soy sauce) and fry for a few more minutes, until most of the mushroom juice has evaporated.

Stir in the garlic, herbs, spring onion, chilli flakes and mashed beans, then allow the mixture to cook for about 2 mins, stirring often. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and leave to cool slightly before mixing in the flour, nutritional yeast flakes (or Marmite) and black pepper to taste.

Divide the mixture into six portions and, using your hands, mould each portion into a patty shape (about 1.5cm thick and 8cm wide). To fry the burgers, heat the 3 tbsp vegetable oil in a medium-to-large frying pan and cook the burgers over a medium heat for about 2 mins on each side, or until golden brown all over.

If cooking on the barbecue, chill the burgers in the fridge or freeze them for a couple of hours. Then grill on both sides until golden brown and cooked through.

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