Since I had loads of vegetarian setting agents left over from my jelly experiments, I decided to have a go at some other recipes to use them up. On the back of the VegeSet packet is a recipe for vanilla panna cotta, so I decided that would be a good place to start. You can find the recipe on the VegeSet website.
This makes a lovely creamy panna cotta with a delicate flavour and a fantastically wibbly texture.
Filled with confidence at the success of this recipe I decided to have a go at something different. Inspired by Whisk Kid’s post for a beautiful Blackberry, Coconut, Lime and Macademia Cake I went for a coconut flavoured panna cotta and made a blackberry and lime sauce to go with it.
Coconut Panna Cotta with Blackberry Lime Coulis (Serves 4)
400ml coconut milk
400ml double cream
1 heaped teaspoon of VegeSet
50g caster sugar
2 limes (juice and zest)
75g granulated sugar
75 ml water
- Mix 400ml cococut milk and 400ml double cream in a saucepan with 50g caster sugar.
- Sprinkle over 1 heaped tsp Vegeset and whisk together. Turn the heat on and heat the mixture until it is almost boiling, whisking all the time.
- Transfer into ramekins or moulds and put into the fridge to set.
- To make the Blackberry Lime Coulis, put the zest and juice of 2 limes into a pan with 75g granulated sugar and 75ml water. Heat gently until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Bring the mixture to the boil, then lower the heat. Reserve the best blackberries to decorate the plates and tip the remaining blackberries into the syrup. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool slightly.
- Serve the panna cotta with a handful of blackberries and some of the coulis.
The coconut flavour is very subtle and the unusual blackberry and lime combination work really well together.
One of my guilty pleasures is watching cookery programmes on television, even if, as a vegetarian, I’m not likely to cook many of the recipes myself. I’m spoilt for choice at the moment and this week I’ve been watching Celebrity Masterchef, Lorraine’s Fast, Fresh and Easy Food, Hairy Dieters and I’ve recorded the Great British Bake-off to enjoy tomorrow.
I’ve been inspired this week to attempt pesto sauce. The opening scenes of Lorraine’s Fast, Fresh and Easy Food showed a quick recipe for pesto and on Celebrity Masterchef there was a challenge to produce pesto, without the guidance of a recipe, using a pestle and mortar. So, I checked for a recipe, dug my pestle and mortar out and set to. On further investigation I found that the name pesto sauce is derived from the Italian for ‘to pound or crush’, so a pestle and mortar is the best option for authenticity.
The first problem I came across was that my mortar was too small. (Okay, I admit it – I had to check online to see which bit was the pestle and which bit was the mortar!) I was only making enough pesto for two people, but I couldn’t get it all in. I relectantly had to decant to my mini food processor. The smell when making it by hand was amazing though. Perhaps I need to invest in a larger pestle and mortar.
Traditionally pesto sauce contains parmesan cheese. Parmesan is not vegetarian. I recommend getting some Twineham Grange Vegetarian Pasta Cheese from Bookham Fine Foods, which is an excellent substitute. There’s an interesting article from the Guardian, No parmesan please, we’re vegetarian, about the issues surrounding parmesan cheese and the fact that it is not suitable for vegetarians – definitely one to keep an eye on when eating out.
Pesto (serves 2)
½ garlic clove
A pinch of sea salt
20g basil leaves
45ml olive oil
25g Vegetarian parmesan style cheese – I recommend this one from Bookham Fine Foods
25g pine nuts
- You need to prepare all your ingredients first, so you have them ready, Blue Peter style to add them on demand. I promise you, I wouldn’t say this if it wasn’t necessary – it’s not my style to be organised in the kitchen, but here you need to be.
- First of all, gently toast your pine nuts. Keep an eye on them and don’t let them burn.
- Grate your vegetarian hard cheese finely and tear the basil leaves up.
- If you are making this in a pestle and mortar, mix ½ clove of garlic with a generous pinch of course sea salt. Add in the basil leaves and 50ml olive oil, a spoonful at a time, and muddle together.
- Mix in the vegetarian parmesan-style cheese and the toasted pine nuts. Work into a lovely fragrant paste.
- If your pestle and mortar are just too small, you can whizz everything up quickly in a food processor.
This is, of course, lovely served with pasta.
Asda have their own brand of Vegeterian Gel sachets. They contain agar as the setting agent. A packet, which contains 3 sachets, cost me 89p for a 30g.
Black Forest Jelly (Serves 4)
500 ml cherry juice (from concentrate sold in Asda)
1 sachet of Asda Vegetarian Gel
100g dark chocolate plus extra for decorating
100ml whipping cream, plus extra for decorating
- Pour 500ml cherry juice into a small pan. Sprinkle over 1 sachet of Asda Vegetarian Gel. Stir well until the gel has dissolved completely into the liquid. Turn the heat on under the pan and gently bring the liquid to the boil, stirring occassionally. Allow to boil for 2 mintues.
- Pour the mixture into the bottom of 4 glasses and leave to set for about 1 hour. (This jelly doesn’t need to go into the fridge to solidify).
- To make the chocolate layer whip 100ml whipping cream until firm. Melt 100g dark chocolate and gently stir this into the whipped cream. Carefully pour over the top of the jelly and place in the fridge until serving.
Acidic fruit juice can need more gelling agent to help it set, so you may want to adjust the amount of Vegetarian gel used if you wanted a firmer set jelly. In this recipe it’s nice to have a softer texture to the jelly. You can see this one has plenty of wobble to it.
Dr. Oetker make Vege-Gel which contains carageenan and locust bean gum as gelling agents. It cost me £1.59 for a 25g pack which contains 4 sachets from Sainsbury’s.
Coffee Jelly (Serves 4)
500 ml strong black coffee
1 sachet of Vege-gel
Whipped cream and a sprinkling of cocoa powder to decorate
- Make sure your 500mlo black coffee is cool. When the liquid is at room temperature, pour into a small pan. Sprinkle over 1 sachet of Vege-gel and stir thoroughly, making sure the Vege-gel is dissolved. Turn the heat on under the pan and bring the liquid to the boil, stirring occasionally.
- Pour the mixture into 4 glasses or cups and leave to set for about 1 hour. (This jelly doesn’t need to go into the fridge to solidify).
- Top with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cocoa powder.
This produces a nice jelly texture that isn’t too firm.
VegeSet is a vegetarian setting agent made by Just Wholefoods, containing carrageenan. It cost me £1.79 for a 25g pack from my local health food store.
Mango Jelly (Serves 4)
500 ml mango juice
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 heaped teaspoon of VegeSet
Lime wedge to decorate
- Pour 500ml mango juice and 2 tsp lime juice into a small pan. Sprinkle over 1 heaped teaspoon of VegeSet. I like to use a small sieve or strainer to do this so I can make sure I get a thin layer of the Vegeset distributed across the top of the liquid. Turn the heat on under the pan and gently bring the liquid to the boil, stirring all the time.
- Pour the mixture into the bottom of 4 cocktail glasses and leave to set for about 1 hour. (This jelly doesn’t need to go into the fridge to solidify).
- Decorate with a wedge of lime. Best eaten on the day it is prepared.
Acidic fruit juice can need more gelling agent to help it set, so you may want to adjust the amount of VegeSet used if you wanted a firmer set jelly.
This jelly is a bit more wobbly than jelly made with agar flakes.
If you don’t feel like making your own jelly from scratch, Just wholefoods have a range of vegetarian Jelly Crystals in different flavours that you could use.
Agar flakes are a Japanese ingredient made from sea vegetables. They are also called agar agar. A 28g box cost me £5.89 at my local health food store, so it’s not a cheap ingredient. A tablespoon of agar flakes weighs about 2 grammes, though, so the cost of the agar in this recipe is about 42p, which isn’t bad.
Orange and Cranberry Jelly (Serves 4)
250 ml orange juice
250 ml cranberry juice
½ tablespoon plus ½ tablespoon agar flakes
Sliver of orange peel to decorate
- Start with the orange juice layer. Pour 250ml orange juice into a small pan. Sprinkle over ½ tbsp agar flakes, but do not stir. Turn the heat on under the pan. Heat without stirring for 1 minute. Turn down the heat and simmer the liquid for 3 minutes, stirring occassionally until the flakes dissolve.
- Pour the mixture into the bottom of 4 cocktail glasses and leave to set for about 30 minutes. (This jelly doesn’t need to go into the fridge to solidify).
- Next repeat the process with the cranberry layer. Pour 250ml of cranberry juice into a small pan. Sprinkle over ½ tbsp agar flakes, but do not stir. Turn the heat on under the pan and heat without stirring for 1 minute . Turn down the heat and simmer the liquid for 3 minutes, stirring occassionally while the flakes dissolve.
- Pour the cranberry juice over the orange layer, which should now be solid. Leave to set at room temperature. Decorate with a sliver of orange peel. Best eaten on the day it is prepared.
This recipe produces a firm jelly, without much wobble.
It is a bit of an unusual texture.
Welcome to my blog, where I’m going to record my adventures in vegetarian cooking.
I’ve picked jelly as the theme for my first blogging experience. I love desserts, and if I’m eating out I usually pick my pudding before deciding what I will be eating for the rest of my meal. As a vegetarian, I personally think there’s nothing more disappointing than finding you can’t eat a dessert because it contains animal ingredients. In the supermarket I often find myself putting back tempting desserts because they’re not suitable for vegetarians. Desserts should be for everyone – there’s just no good reason for them not to be vegetarian.
There are a range of different products that you can use in place of gelatine to set your jelly and I chose four to try out.
I made four different jellies using agar agar, VegeSet, Vegegel by Dr Oeteker and Asda’s own make called Vegetarian Gel.
There’s a seperate blog post for each of the recipes, but I thought I’d summarise the results of the jelly experiment here.
I found that vegetarian gelatine substitutes are strong stuff and you don’t need to put your jelly in the fridge to cool. It will set at room temperature in about an hour. The substitues also produce a different texture to non-vegetarian jellies. I found that agar agar particuarly produced a very solid, firm jelly. The ingredients ranged in price from £5.89 for the agar agar to 89p for the Asda branded product.
I’d recommend having at least one of these products in your cupboard for producing delicious veggie-friendly desserts. Making your own jelly from fruit juice means you can be adventurous with the flavours and have some fun.