As I flipped through a pile of new cookbooks that had just arrived in the newsroom, my eye went right to “Mildreds: The Cookbook.” The simple cover features a sketch of the restaurant that has been a vegetarian mecca in London since 1988, but the inside pops with bright photos of vegetarian and vegan dishes featuring fresh produce.

Although I love vegetables, I’m not vegetarian and my meat-loving husband most definitely is not. I hesitated: Would any of the recipes be a hit at my house?

A quick flip through the book assured me that, yes, we could get behind this one. Plus, the authors promise delicious vegetarian recipes for “simply everyone.”

Jane Muir opened Mildreds with the late Diane Thomas in Soho at a time when most places with vegetarian menus still had a distinctly 1960s hippie vibe. Mildreds focused on affordable, fresh and colorful international vegetarian food. Muir said she and Thomas deliberately stayed away from the brown food in earthenware pottery that was more common in vegetarian restaurants at the time.

The book’s introduction is written by Muir and chefs Daniel Acevedo and Sarah Wasserman, who also wrote the recipes.

“Nowadays, vegetarian cooking really is for everyone, whether you still enjoy tucking into a steak, or prefer a completely vegetarian diet,” they write. “Vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts and seeds have now taken their rightful place in the kitchen and have stolen the limelight.”


The recipes are grouped by course, but the appetizers – enticing dishes like stuffed baby eggplants and spring vegetable pakora – could also work as entrees. Vegan and gluten-free recipes are marked as such, and the chefs point out that many recipes that aren’t gluten-free can easily be adapted to fit food restrictions.

With the air taking on a bit of early fall chill, many recipes have been added to my to-try list: Black Bean Chili-Filled Baby Pumpkins with Toasted Coconut Rice, Wild Mushroom and Ale Pies, and a Wellington made with roasted portobello mushrooms, pecans and chestnuts in place of the standard beef.

I couldn’t resist the Lapsang-scented Mushroom Stroganoff. The description promises a fun twist on a classic Russian recipe with a slightly smoky taste from the tea. Which would have been great if I had been able to find the tea. It proved hard to find at grocery stores near my house, though some Portland tea purveyors, including Dobrá Tea and Whole Foods carry it. The recipe was still tasty without it – the dill was a great complement to the rich cream and earthy mushrooms – and I’ll be sure to buy the tea before I make the stroganoff again.



The recipe calls for corn flour, which is the British way of saying cornstarch. Lapsang souchong tea has an aggressive smoky taste, which adds complexity and depth to the stew that would normally come from the beef. Like the original dish, this stroganoff is quite rich. Serve with rice pilaf.


Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 pounds mixed mushrooms (such as ceps, cremini and meadow), trimmed

Light cooking oil (such as canola, peanut and sunflower)

2 lapsang souchong tea bags

21/2 cups boiling water

2 tablespoons butter


2 onions, finely sliced

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

2 tablespoons corn flour

13/4 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard


2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup sour cream

1 bunch of dill leaves, chopped

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the mushrooms into even, bite-sized pieces. Drizzle a little oil into a roasting pan, add the mushrooms, and toss together thoroughly to coat. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender but have not yet begun to shrivel. Set aside.

Put the lapsang souchong tea bags into a bowl, cover with the boiling water and let stand to infuse for 4 minutes. Remove and discard the tea bags and set the tea aside.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onions and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and paprika and fry for another 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the corn flour and stir together well. Pour in the tea and heavy cream, then stir in the mushrooms, mustard and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has begun to reduce and thicken slightly.

Add the sour cream and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the stroganoff is thick and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide between serving plates and scatter with dill.

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