Saturday, November 13, 2010

John P-Inspired Asparagus & Mushroom Pie



Truer words were never spoken in reference to the magical power of a freshly baked pie. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery/admiration, I can say with perfect sincerity that any recipe made by John Plummer is well worth copying and admiring, especially if it happens to be a savory pie (something that ranks high in my pantheon of food idolatry).

This recipe took its inspiration from John's first post for Vegan Mofo IV, a veganization of an asparagus pie featured in Practical Vegetarian Cookery, circa 1897, by Countess Constance Wachtmeister (whom John tells us was "an early member and ardent supporter of the Theosophical Society, which promoted ethical vegetarianism"). To paraphrase the song, "don't know much about theosophy...but I do know that I love pie," so it was pretty much a given that I'd have a go at this thing. In addition to the asparagus, I had a whole bunch of mushrooms in the refrigerator, so they were sliced up and tossed in as well, and the result was (as Agent Dale Cooper might say) a damned fine pie. Thanks, John - oh, and you, too, Countess!

John P-Inspired Asparagus & Mushroom Pie
Ingredients
~ ¼ cup vegan margarine, divided
~ 1 large onion, chopped
~ 10 oz. mushrooms, sliced
~ 1 lb. asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, tarragon, parsley
~ ½  tsp. marjoram
~ Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
~ ¼ cup flour, divided
~ 2 cups plain, unsweetened soy (or other non-dairy) milk
~ 2 bay leaves
~ Generous pinch of nutmeg
~ Pastry for 2 double-crust pies (home-made or store bought)

Directions
~ Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.
~ In a large, deep skillet, melt 2 tbsp. of the margarine and saute the onion over medium heat about 5 minutes.
~ Add the mushrooms, salt, tarragon, parsley, marjoram, and black pepper, and cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
~ Add the asparagus, stir well, and cook until just bright green.
~ Stir in 2 tbsp. of the flour, mix thoroughly, and remove from heat.
~ Heat the soy milk, bay leaves, and nutmeg until nearly boiling (about 2 minutes in the microwave).
~ In a saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tbsp. margarine over low heat, then add the remaining 2 tbsp. flour, stirring to make a roux.
~ Gradually add the milk/bay leaf/nutmeg mixture, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Cook about 5 minutes, until thickened.
~ Remove and discard the bay leaves, the pour the sauce over the vegetable mixture and combine.
~ Roll out the pastry dough and line two pie plates, then divide the filling between them.
~ Top the pies with the remaining dough, and crimp the edges to seal. Brush the tops with a little more soy milk, then cut a few small slashes in the crust to let steam escape during baking.
~ Bake uncovered at 375 degrees about 30-35 minutes, or until the crusts are basking in their own browned beauteousness. (Remember that ovens vary, so keep an eye on things and adjust baking time accordingly; mine tends to be slow.)
~ Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before slicing. We've been feeling particularly British lately, so had our pie with mashed potatoes and minted mushy peas: highly recommended.

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  2. The Countess understood the importance of encasing food - any food - in pie crust!

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