Friday, 18 October 2013

An Oscar Wilde Moment : Spicy Vegetable Patties.

I wish you could smell my kitchen right now. It's just like Christmas...All cinnamon and clove-ish...The Michaelmas Fair has been and gone.  Even the straggling  Runaway Fair. The mornings are dark till really late...Sometimes it never seems to get light at all...But the lamps make the house cosy and hobbit-like. 

I asked 'A' to bring my computer down so I can work on the kitchen table today. Do a big batch of cooking without burning anything.  I get so engrossed working upstairs in my study lately, that I totally forget everything else, until I detect the awful, acrid smell of burning...Usually something sweet that sticks to the pan like glue. 

Sunday afternoon the wind was howling, rain drumming against the windows. We brought winter clothes down from the loft because snow's forecast next month. It was fun trying everything on again. Like having a whole new wardrobe. 

There was a clothes-free space on the bed. It was just about my size, with a lamp burning next to it, and my book  close by. 'A' was downstairs marking maths papers...I couldn't resist. It was an Oscar Wilde moment. I curled up on the bed in the middle of the afternoon and read for a whole hour. It was so good.

The point is, that once I'd finished my book, looking round for something else I started reading a 1930's recipe book 'Balance Meals with Calorie Values for the Ordinary Household'. I'd bought it for the vintage book section of the shop but I can't let it go now.  I keep obsessively reading the recipes. Almost every one of them has carrots, turnips, or swede. No avocados, red or yellow peppers, hardly any choice...Just local seasonal veg.

The best bit is, I kept finding little tissues of paper ephemera in it. Recipes: like baking parchment with a handwritten list of ingredients, small desk calendar pages with printed ones, or carefully cut out from a 1939 newspaper.  

Anyway, it encouraged me to buy a swede that I never got round to using, until it was so shrivelled up poor thing, it look like it needed botox...No way, was I going to throw it away. It became the basis for these little vegetable patties that evolved from a few different recipes, and are my favourite things at the moment. 

Spicy vegetable patties

  • One small Swede
  • Two large carrots
  • Four brown mushrooms or one small Portobello
  • One or two cloves of garlic, or more if like me you love it 
  • Fresh or dried chilli to taste
  • Fresh ginger
  • Small spring onions/scallions
  • A handful of fresh coriander
  • Some left over cooked rice, couscous or quinoa...about a cupful
  • Third of a cup of spelt flour or breadcrumbs
  • Frozen peas, sweetcorn or any kind of cooked eyed ones are lovely for this
  • Four eggs
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground coriander
  • Ground turmeric
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 200c
  2. Wash peel and cut up the swede and carrot into small pieces. Cook in salted water or stock until tender.
  3. Whilst they are cooking chop the mushrooms. Peel and crush or finely chop the garlic and grate the ginger. Peel the spring onions and slice finely and chop the coriander.
  4.  Once the root vegetables are cooked if using any frozen vegetables pop them into the pan along with the cooked vegetables for a few minutes to defrost. Drain and put into a large bowl.
  5. Add the crushed garlic, grated ginger,mushrooms and other ground spices and seasonings including the chillies. Mix well. 
  6. Add the rice and flour or breadcrumbs if using and any cooked beans or pulses.
  7. Beat the eggs in a small bowl and then add these to the mixture. Combine all the ingredients together.
  8. Oil a couple of baking trays and form the mixture into little patties. Cup measurements are useful for making equal sized ones. My mixture made fourteen substantial pates. 
  9. Bake for about twenty minutes or so until the patties are golden brown, turning half way through.
These are a great way to use up left over cooked vegetables, couscous, rice or quinoa. I'd saved some Persian black eyed bean rice that I'd made the night before to add to these. The smoky flavour of the beans worked really well with the earthy spices and root vegetables. 

They are awesome in a bread bun with sweet and sour chilli relish  or pitta pockets with yoghurt dressing, perfect with this crunchy coleslaw salad. 

...and now I can see the sun peeping out of a big white cloud...

...have a great weekend...



  1. after checking what swede is for me (rutabaga) I find I'm hungry for one of those patties. I do wish I could smell your house, because I know I would like what you are cooking! Isn't it fun to come across bits of paper that where written by a stranger? Love that!

    1. I didn't know that you had a different name for swede...I love the you call autumn 'fall' and courgette, 'zucchini'. I must remember next time I write a recipe with swede.

      I know I love those little bits of social history that sometimes get hidden in books. In face when I was at uni one of the other students bound a book that she made entirely of notes left in library book from the campus library. It was beautiful.

  2. what a cozy delicious post deb, i almost feel like i am in your kitchen. i didn't know what a swede was either (thank you karen!) love your book and your lovely afternoon!

    1. I wish you were Lori...that would be perfect.

  3. Yum ... I wish I could smell your kitchen too (cinnamon and clove are two of my favourite fragrances). Your cooking is always delicious Debby, and I do so love the way you write ... I can feel the seasonal shifts through your words.

  4. That's so kind of you to say Tracey. I always feel a bit embarrassed about my writing. Your comment means a lot to me.

  5. Is there anything you can't put in a patty! I do so love this sort of all-in cooking and as we shiver through an unseasonal cold snap here those patties and your luscious pudding look very inviting.

    I loved reading about your 'Oscar Wilde moment' too. You'd love it at our place as those moments (hours) are the rule rather than the exception here especially on weekends (or perhaps your joy sprung more from the 'stolen' nature of the moment;).