Having been out of action recently with my annual chest infection, (it just doesn’t seem like I’ve had a proper year without one), it has forced me to remain out of the kitchen and away from the development of my cookbook. Boo! On the plus side, it meant that I was looked after by the culinary excellence of my lovely wife so actually, hooray for chest infections!
When I’m ill I don’t want to eat a thing and even my favourite dishes wouldn’t rouse my tastebuds into anything more than an apathetic “meh.” But when I’m on the road to recovery, my tastebuds start to stir and start shouting loud and clear “COMFORT FOOD!” Now I’m not one to deny my body what it needs – if I did I may have a relapse and my chest infection might return and I most certainly wouldn’t want that now would I?
So in order to sate the tongue gods, (and the belly god who heard what the tastebuds were saying and thought it would join in just for a laugh), I thought I would cook a vegan version of the ultimate in comfort food: Homity Pie.
Now I learnt all about Homity Pie when I first started my life in kitchens in Trog’s Restaurant in Brighton where it was one of their signature lunch dishes. People would come far and wide for this plateful of heaven because it was just so damn delicious. For those of you unfamiliar with this delicious creation, Homity Pie is basically mashed potato, peas, spring onions, cream and lashings and lashings of cheese; the cheesier the better in fact. I have also had it in other establishments where they cook it with a shortcrust pastry base but personally, I think that is carb overload and should come with free liposuction for dessert so I prefer it without.
I never made Homity Pie without cheese before and I tend not to use non-dairy cheese in my meals as I don’t actually like it, (unless it’s on a pizza), so I set about using different ingredients to provide the flaours and I have to say, I’m really rather proud of the result. One of the upsides of not using cheese and cream is that it is much healthier for you but every bit as delicious so your brain will revel in how naughty its being but your waistline will be tearfully thanking you for the mercy you’ve shown it.
If you want to be a goody two shoes, you can serve it with steamed vegetables or a fresh salad but personally I prefer to serve my Homity Pie with a side serving of Homity Pie. I don’t know why they compliment each other so well but they just do. Weird……
So now I’m better and back to full health, (all thanks to comfort food and nothing else), I have been integrating fresh vegetables, salads, nuts, pulses & grains back into my diet and I feel great and ready to take on the world. Oh hang on, I’m starting to feel a little tickle in my throat again and slightly feverish – maybe I need to break open the potatoes and other delicious comfort foods again, y’know, just to head off any further illness……honest!
Take care and remember:
“Don’t be scared, it’s just food!”
The Caper Tree
This is so quick and easy to make but so delicious, especially on a drizzly day. Minimum effort, maximum reward. Perfect!
7 Medium Potatoes (peeled & quartered)
200g Frozen peas (cooked)
2 Cloves garlic (Peeled & quartered)
3-4 tbsp Soya Cream
2-3tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3-4 pinches Engevita or other yeast flakes (Big pinches!)
3-4 Spring onions (Chopped)
To taste Salt & pepper
Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time (20 minutes)
Place the potatoes into a saucepan. Add the bayleaf, garlic and a few sprinkles of salt. Boil for approximately 20 minutes or until cooked.
Drain the potatoes and either mash them or put them through a potato ricer into a bowl.
Turn on your grill to high.
Add the soya cream, peas, olive oil, yeast flakes and spring onions. Mix well until creamy and smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and more cream or oil if too dry.
Spoon into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle on a little more yeast flakes on top and drizzle with a little more olive oil.
Place under a hot grill until golden brown and the top starts to bubble.