Vine and Dine – Curried coconut beggar’s purses

We had a break fromVine and Dine for holidays but even so I couldn’t believe how quickly this one snuck up on us. This was our second recipe from Candle Cafe for this series of challenges. I always love wrapping food up in filo pastry because even though it’s pretty easy to do it makes the food seem fancy.

The book didn’t give me any clues about what to serve the purses with, so I decided on simple kale which I flavoured with a bit of curry to keep in with the theme. That probably would have been enough but of course Matthew wanted an extra carb so I sauteed a few cubed potatoes alongside it.

I hate it when recipes just call for a sheet of pastry because they come in all sorts of shapes, and mine were clearly smaller than the ones used in the book. No problems, I just used two together instead of folding one in half. Everything else was very straightforward.

The picture shows one purse but we actually ate 2 each!

The filling was a lovely hint of curry and spice which wasn’t too overpowering and not too coconutty either. The filo was crisp against the rich filling and the seitan gave it a lot of body. I really liked it and it was yet another good example of these challenges making me try recipes I probably wouldn’t have tried otherwise. I’m dying to see how Tami got on with it as she doesn’t like coconut so it was very brave of her to even try it.

The wine was far less successful than the food! Here’s Matthew’s take. (I told him to get off the fence and tell us what he really thought of the wine……).

With the filo parcels we chose a Portugese red from the Douro, port country, a Quinta da Esteveira 2008, which set us back £8.49 from Vinceremos. This wine is organic and made biodynamically – itself a cause of some controversy among vegans. Past years seem to have been quite successful. The web site says it is sturdy, slightly spicy, and tasting of figs and raisins, or alternatively ‘lush berry fruit with hints of liquorice and a wonderful long smoky finish’. You could have fooled us. This was quite simply the worst bottle of wine we’ve shared this year. Any flavour there might have been was drowned under a sea of tannins, despite our decanting and giving it plenty of time to open up. It was the definition of badly made wine. Monty Python could have done a sketch about this wine: ‘This bottle has one word on it, and that word is ‘beware!’ Pity, because I stand by the thinking, which is that the length of a good Douro red would have worked with the beefy seitan, and the herbiness of some of them, the sort of sage and rosemary, with slightly sweet berry fruits would have complemented the coconut and been sharp enough to cut through the buttery filo pastry. We nearly opened one of our old favorites, a VDP Cite de Carcassonne Méditation a bargain £9.50 from Vintage Roots, which would have worked as planned“.

Vine and Dine – Seitan Picatta

We moved to Candle Cafe for our next Vine and Dine pair of challenges. Again, this is a book I’ve had for quite a long time but only made a few things from. I approached it with caution though as I find that recipes in restaurant cookbooks generally tend to be less well tested and prone to mistakes than those where authors have real kitchens and are usually cooking for family amounts of people rather than crowds. Our first pick was the seitan picatta because it seems to get a lot of attention on forums and blogs – both the recipe and the dish in the restaurant. So much so it was surprising that neither of us had ever made it. I chose the garlic mashed potatoes and the sauteed mixed greens as hearty accompaniments.

It was a very easy meal considering the depth of flavours it contained. With both the potatoes and the greens I used the methods but didn’t follow the amounts because really – 6 potatoes is going to give you 8 side dishes of mash? Not in this house. And I don’t like recipes which talk in bunches – your bunch of greens could be double or half the size of my bunch of greens. It didn’t really matter though – I just used the amount of potatoes and greens I’d normally use for 2 people and guessed at quantities for the rest of the ingredients.

I plated this up rather inelegantly for what was actually a very elegant tasting meal.

Just a note on the white wine in the dish – I have been using Sainsbury’s House Dry wine for cooking recently – it states on the label that it is suitable for vegans and at £3.79 per bottle, and with a screw cap, it’s great to have around for sploshing into food.

Here’s Matthew’s verdict on the wine we drank though:

The wine we chose to go with the Seitan Piccata was once again chosen on the principle that if you haven’t got a clue about how on earth to match the flavours in the dish, you might as well make sure you are drinking something you really enjoy. So we went for wine which we normally drink with Sunday roast, a Battle of Bosworth Shiraz Viognier, a sort of Aussie Côte Rôtie from the McLaren Vale, the Mediterranean of South Australia. We had the 2007. You get meat flavours including bacon from the Shiraz, toned down and smoothed by the perfume of the Viognier, and with loads of lovely chocolate and brambly berry fruits, plum and licquorice. It sells for £14.50 from Vintage Roots and makes roast potatoes and gravy taste even more like the food of the gods if that’s possible. Shame we weren’t eating roasties. The difficulty with matching the seitan was not the lovely pile of mashed potato on the side, but the challenge was to find a wine that blended harmoniously with both the meatiness of the seitan and also the salty sea flavours of the capers and the sour lemon in the sauce. This was great wine and great food but the two definitely didn’t meet. It was a good idea to get a big flavour, but we did need something that had a bit more of an acidic note. White wines are more acidic than red, but then you’d lose the match with the fake meat and potatoes, so perhaps a cool climate red would have been a better bet, if you can find a vegan one. Vintage Roots new Chilean blend, Etnico, which is Syrah Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and only about £7.75 might do a job for you?

Don’t forget to check out Tami’s blog and see if anyone else managed a good wine match with this really difficult dish!