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I’ve been wanting to try Zilli Green since it opened in February.  Not least because it has been the subject of wildly varying reviews, from the good, to the bad and the downright uglyAldo Zilli runs several restaurants and bars, as well as being a tv chef.  He decided to open a vegetarian restaurant after adopting a healthy lifestyle and appearing on ‘Celebrity Fit Club’.  He doesn’t cook in the restaurant himself, leaving the honours to head chef Enzo di Marino, a long-standing vegan.  I checked before going that everything on the menu is veggie, including all the cheeses (and yes, that includes the parmesan!)

Zilli Green

Zilli Green

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snailSlugs and especially snails just love our garden!  We’re vegetarian and try and live in peace with all the creatures in the garden, who, after all, are just doing what they can to survive the same as the rest of us!

I would be happy to share what we grow with the various animals living in our space, but some of them have never learnt the concept of sharing, and slugs and snails have been known to destroy whole crops – lettuces, courgettes (zucchini), french beans, you name it.

So, as we won’t kill the creatures, we have desparately tried various methods over the years to try and keep some of our crops for ourselves.  We certainly haven’t found foolproof methods of doing this (and success varies from year to year frustratingly!), but I have picked up a few methods that make life a little easier.

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It’s a great time of year in the garden, and even from our tiny vegetable plot we can conjure a meal from something picked fresh – 20 minutes from plant to plate!  This week we ate the last of the broad beans and created this lovely light pasta dish which allowed the full freshness of the beans to really shine through.

broad beans

fresh broad beans

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We had a flyer through our door today, as we often do, advertising a fast food restaurant, this one a kebab house.  Now don’t ask me why, but I picked it up and looked at it, rather than transferring it straight from the floor to the recycle bin.

I was amused to see that there was a ‘Vegetarian’ selection which was comprised of the following:

Hummus in pitta bread with salad
Pot of hummus
Salad in pitta bread
Chips in pitta bread
Side Salad
Chips in pitta bread and salad (I’m not joking, this is true!)
Chips and cheese
Onion rings

I did enjoy this, but found myself wondering, you’re a kebab house, what’s wrong with felafel???

So for the Teddington Kebab House and any other kebab houses out there who don’t know a felafel from a chip butty, I’ve found a selection of tasty felafel recipes from my fellow bloggers that should provide some inspiration!

Forest Street Kitchen features the recipe from Moosewood, which to me is the traditional felafel recipe – chick peas, garlic and parsley thrown together with some lemon juice and spice.

Louise and Edwards Kitchen turn to Annabel Langbein, who favours split green peas as the base of the recipe with chick peas an optional extra.

What’s for dinner meanwhile, uses fava beans (broad beans), which seems a good choice at this time of year as they should now be ripe in the garden.

So there you are, no more excuses, felafel here we come!

phil vickery seriously good gluten free cookingPhil Vickery is a tv chef and ambassador for Coeliac UK, who’s spoken out about the need for more gluten-free food to be available.

This book’s strength is that it contains lots of new ideas that just happen to be gluten-free, rather than concentrating solely on trying to reproduce other recipes without the usual gluten.  Having said that, there are recipes for cakes, bread and pastry, which contain special ingredients, but this makes the book suitable for people living gluten free as well as others looking for inspiration to feed gluten-free friends, without the need for too many unusual ingredients.

But I’d like to get a gripe out of the way early on!  The book has a chapter of vegetarian recipes, but not only does Phil commit the very regular sin of including parmesan cheese without explaining that ‘parmesan’ is never suitable for vegetarians, but he also includes anchovies in one of his recipes.  He really would have been better off not having a veggie section if his expertise in dietary requirements doesn’t spread to vegetarianism!  Especially as there are vegetarian recipes throughout the book, so these recipes could have been included elsewhere.

Still, I’ve tried a couple of the recipes and have a list of several more I’m keen to turn my hand to, so there’s lots here to enjoy. 

The Bramley Apple and Pear Crumble was very successful – actually I made an apple and raspberry crumble, but obviously the topping was the same.  The recipe instructs not to pack down the crumble, but I think I preferred it pressed, as the result was less floury and like a crumble of old, but that’s probably a matter of taste.

I used his recipe for a gluten-free flour, using chestnut flour instead of the alternative of fine cornmeal (maize) and then made a half quantity of his pizza base, which I topped with tomato and courgette.  This was also very successful, although, next time I will make the base thinner than I did on this occasion and place it on a pre-heated tray, in order to make the base crisper.  But this was a minor quibble – the pizza went down a storm!

gluten free pizza

Gluten Free Pizza by Phil Vickery

75g chestnut flour
125g brown rice flour
50g cornflour

Pizza Base
1 tsp sugar
150g gluten free flour
150ml lukewarm water
7g sachet of dry yeast
1tsp xanthan gum
1 level tsp gluten-free baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tblsp olive oil

Dissolve the sugar in half the warm water, stir in the yeast, mix well and set aside for 5 minutes for the yeast to start to work and froth.

Place the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl, add yeast mixture and oil and mix well, adding the remaining water a little at a time.  Mix through until you have a smooth, fairly wet dough.

Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for about 15 minutes.

Preheat the over to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.

I then flattened the dough onto a greased and floured baking sheet.

Bake the pizz for 8-10 minutes and then remove to add the toppings of your choice.

I made a tomato sauce with 1 small onion finely chopped, 1 clove garlic finely chopped, cooked in a tblsp olive oil, add 1 tin chopped tomatoes, 1 tblsp tomato puree and heaped tsp dried basil.  I cooked that for about 10 minutes to thicken it.

I spread that on the pizza, then grated on some emental cheese and topped that with thinly sliced courgettes (zucchini) and quartered cherry tomatoes.

Return the pizza to the oven, and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until bubbling and golden.

I topped the pizza with fresh basil leaves and served straight away with a large salad.

It was delish!

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