Vine and Dine – Blue Plate Special Wheat Meat Loaf and Gravy

I pestered Tami for ages to let us do American Vegan Kitchen for Vine and Dine. Matthew has been saying for a long time that he wants to do a roast dinner with gravy to wine match, and as luck would have it, this meatloaf is one of the very few savoury dishes I haven’t made from that book, so everything fitted together nicely. I’ve made the Southwestern version, but for some strange reason, this one slipped past me both during testing and since I’ve owned the book.

Normally we use Vine and Dine as a way of getting to know a new or unfamiliar cookbook, but this certainly wasn’t the case here for me. I know Tami’s style and the sort of flavours she likes so I knew I’d like this.

The homestyle gravy was the winner of this meal for me. Deliciously savoury with a backdrop of red wine but not so strong as to turn it into a red wine sauce – I hate getting red wine or even worse tomato style sauces when I am promised gravy! The actual meatloaf itself could have been a bit firmer, but the sort of gluten we buy in the UK is notoriously finicky and so I’m passing that one off as an ingredient difference.

I served this with roast potatoes (proper British style basted ones), leeks and broccoli. I also turned the leftover meatloaf and gravy into a sandwich, which was almost better!

I’ve heard people criticise American Vegan Kitchen because the recipes use a lot of ingredients. I think they must be comparing them to all the quick and easy or low fat books which have come out, because I don’t find them too long, and it definitely doesn’t mean that the recipes are difficult. This was one of the easiest recipes for meatloaf I’ve tried, in fact. And, like all Tami’s recipes, being big on ingredients mean being extremely big on taste and flavour – making them perfect for wine matching. Here’s Matthew’s verdict:

Wine match for a Sunday Roast
Hmm, meat loaf, roasties and veg. Probably won’t call for a white! We’ve had a tradition of opening the big Aussie wines with this style of food, because it’s the closest vegans get to those really meaty plates that you mostly drink fine wine with. In this case it was a Brothers in Arms no.6 Shiraz Cabernet 2005, £14.40 from Tanners and certified cruelty free! Lots of good flavours in this one. All the sorts of summer fruits we eat in muesli, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, also vanilla, chocolate, oak, and a good herby background from the Cabernet. It’s grown in Langhorne Creek, in South Australia, which apparently has the oldest known Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the world growing there. So stonkingly big, and really quite delicious with seitan. This combination should be listed in wine-food matching pages…


Vine and Dine – Beer battered tempeh fish with tartar sauce

We’ve moved to Spork Fed for the next round of Vine and Dine. I’ve only made a couple of things so far and I’ve not been blown away by either of them so I’m glad to give it another go.

I chose the beer battered tempeh for our first go. I have no idea what this is doing in the appetizer section but there’s almost nothing that can’t be improved by frying so I thought that if any recipe would win me over it’d be this one.

I started having problems straight away when the recipe called for 2 packages of tempeh without specifying package size. I hate recipes that do this as package sizes quite often vary. A quick check on Twitter told me that they are generally 8oz, which is what I had, so that was OK, and after that it was all plain sailing. I made half of everything for 2 of us. This made a large amount and would have served 3 comfortably but we ate it all. Like almost all batter recipes I’ve ever made, there was plenty of batter left at the end. I could probably have used a quarter of the batter recipe and still had enough.

I’ve beer battered many time before but never used tempeh. I thought it worked brilliantly and was a very good texture indeed. The tartar sauce was also a complete success, especially cutting through the greasy batter. I went the whole hog and served it with some chips and also some mushy peas. Incidentally if you ever see a recipe for mushy peas that uses fresh or frozen green peas then shun it immediately as proper mushy peas are only ever made with dried marrowfat peas. I think they’re probably a UK only thing and I got mine from the chip shop; I’ve never tried to make my own as I only eat them with batter and that’s a habit I could do without getting into!

This would definitely not be a regular meal. I had to roll around the sofa moaning gently after I’d eaten it because I was so full – but it was a delicious treat and a perfect antidote to all the “fat is evil” blogs that are scaring people at the moment.

Here’s Matthew’s wine report (I was sorely tempted to use my editorial powers here but I didn’t!):

Liz’s white wine horizons are not wide. In fact they are more accurately described as tunnel vision. Basically, if it isn’t as sour as a grapefruit and sharp as a lime, then she prefers new world Sauvignon Blanc. Since we are on the topic, this means we keep Vintage Roots going virtually single handed with the quantities of their Adobe SB that are quaffed in the Wyman household. In the unlikely event we were dining in the kind of restaurant where the wine list comes in several volumes, she wouldn’t trouble the sommelier for long trying  to choose the exact correct vintage white burgundy to have with the fake chicken. So what to drink with tempeh mock fish and chips? At last an opportunity for experimentation with her white wine taste buds. We decided to go local and organic, with a Sedlescombe 2010 dry white, from East Sussex, yours for 1195 English pennies, also from VR. Have you tried any of the really super whites coming from this part of the planet? This one was spot on with the food, just slightly off dry but a good sharp acid to stand up to the tartare sauce. Apparently the grape varieties are Solaris, Rivaner and Bacchus. Any fellow scifi buffs will understand the full weirdness of quaffing something called Solaris. And don’t you think Bacchus is a superb grape name that should be encouraged? You would do equally well with the other English wine VR stock, the Horsmorden white, which is drier and a bit more chalky than the Sedlescombe and equally moreish, and the complete absence of fruit other than citrus means you might even tempt Liz into a glass.

Partial Credit: