Sunday, December 29, 2013

Mushroom Potato Puff Pastry Pizza

On the one hand, this recipe's non-standard combination of mushrooms, potatoes, traditionally "English" herbs, and - GASP - rectangular puff pastry sheets may technically disqualify it as "pizza" for some purists. On the other hand, ask me if I care (spoiler alert: I don't, because it is awesome). For one thing, using puff pastry as a base - as opposed to a yeast-raised crust - is not only faster and easier than the traditional approach, it ensures that all the entree-size pieces are corner pieces, and what right-minded person wouldn't want that? Of course, you could also cut the finished product into smaller slices to serve as a swanky hors d'oeuvre: your call. For another thing, it's equally delicious hot or at room temperature; for yet another, no matter how you slice it the whole enterprise takes about an hour from start to finish, which is about as close to instant gratification as it gets for homemade pizza. So what are you waiting for? Buon appetito! (Or something.)

Mushroom Potato Puff Pastry Pizza
~ Two sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
~ 1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
~ 2 tbsp. olive oil
~ 4 medium sized potatoes, cooked and sliced thinly
~ 4 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1/2 tsp. salt, ground sage, ground rosemary, marjoram
~ A few grinds black pepper
~ 2 cups grated vegan mozzarella (I used Daiya)
~ 1 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk

~ Preheat the oven to 375 fahrenheit and lightly coat two baking sheets with cooking spray.
~ Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and cook the sliced mushrooms over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, until they have released their liquid and begun to brown slightly. Transfer to  palate and set aside.
~ In the same skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the sliced potatoes; cook, stirring gently, for about 5 minutes.
~ Add the minced garlic, salt, ground sage, ground rosemary, marjoram, and pepper and cook a few minutes more. Stir in the cooked mushrooms, remove from heat, and set aside to cool.
~ In a saucepan, combine the vegan mozzarella and the soy milk and cook, stirring frequently, over medium-low heat, until the cheese melts, and you have a smooth sauce. Remove from heat.
~ Arrange the thawed puff pastry sheets on the prepared baking sheets; gently fold in the edges and crimp to form a rim.
~ Divide the mozzarella mixture evenly between the puff pastry, using a spatula to spread the sauce right to the edges.
~ Divide the mushroom/potato mixture evenly between the tarts and sprinkle with a little extra rosemary.
~ Bake at 375 for about 30-40 minutes, until the pastry has puffed up and everything is golden brown (ovens vary wildly and mine tends to be slow, so keep an eye on it).
~ Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing. (NB that in the unlikely event of leftovers, they will reheat nicely in the toaster oven.)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Festive Ginger-Garlic Sweet Potatoes

This twist on the ordinary, quotidian mashed sweet potato is almost too simple to be called a "recipe," but too good not to share. In fact, if you're still looking for a holiday side dish, these babies would be perfect; I'm planning to serve them at this year's Christmas dinner along with my tourtière, old-school green beans almondine, and roasties. (NB this picture will also include bread, a big salad, and a lake of gravy.)

Festive Ginger-Garlic Sweet Potatoes
~ 2 tbsp. coconut oil
~ 1 heaping tbsp. each: minced garlic, grated ginger
~ 2 lbs. sweet potatoes, diced
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ Dash each: nutmeg, cayenne
~ 1 cup "no chicken" broth
~ 1 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk

~ In a large saucepan, melt the coconut oil and sauté the garlic and ginger over medium heat for about a minute, until fragrant. 
~ Add the diced sweet potatoes, salt, nutmeg, and cayenne, and stir to coat. Continue cooking for a few minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
~ Pour in the broth and the soy milk, cover the pan, raise the heat to high, and bring just to a boil. 
~ Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for about 25-30 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are very soft. 
~ Remove from heat and mash the sweet potatoes until whole business is smooth. Taste for seasoning, return to heat, and cook for another few minutes before serving hot.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tourtière à la Végétalien

I love having pie for dinner.  

Pastiesquichesshepherd's pies, pot piesvarious vegetable piesonion tarts, mushroom 
tarts, even a two-crust pizza - all are welcome on my table and in my stomach. Which is why I must begin this post by admitting that I've only tasted a traditional French Canadian tourtière once, and that was many years ago.  I never repeated the experience because I found it pretty horrible: greasy, heavy, boringly under-seasoned, and basically not worth the trouble of eating. To my mind, this constitutes a minor tragedy, since A. a savory pie is (or should be) a beautiful and delicious thing, and B. people were misguidedly excited about this nasty mess. 

Years went by, and while casting about for Christmas dinner ideas, it occurred to me that it might be time to revisit this réveillon dish, with the twin goals of making it more interesting, and removing the startling variety of dead animals that occur in the many regional interpretations available on the internet. (I'll spare you the details, but trust me: it ain't pretty.) Taking my usual conflationary approach, I set to work and constructed a "good parts" version, adopting elements I liked from several traditional recipes and blithely ignoring the rest. 

Aside from the sage, the flavor profile is quite different from English-style meat pies featuring marjoram, thyme, rosemary, etc., and I'll admit to being slightly alarmed by the quantity of cloves, allspice, and traditionally "sweet" seasonings called for in many tourtières. But my skepticism was completely ill-founded, because with a few tweaks and the application of a little common sense, the combination of flavors worked beautifully, and the result was a pie that was not only delicious, but passed muster with my Canadian partner.

So I call that a success, and one that has earned its place on our table this December 25th - only this time I'll make two, since it's even better as leftovers. (NB: although tourtière is often served with relish or ketchup, we had ours with a double batch of  two-pepper golden gravy from Vegan Diner, to which I added a dash of sage, and substituted 2 tsp. of "no chicken" bouillon for the soy sauce and salt. I recommend this approach highly, but the gentle reader should obviously do as they think best!)

Tourtière à la Végétalien
~ Pastry for two-crust pie (homemade or store-bought)
~ 2 tbsp. canola oil
~ 1 medium onion, small dice
~ 1 stalk celery, minced
~ 1 carrot, grated
~ 1 tsp. each: sage, celery seed
~ 1/2 tsp. each: salt, ground cloves, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon
~ A few generous grinds of fresh black pepper
~ 2 large potatoes, cooked and roughly mashed
~ 1 package veggie meatballs, baked and mashed (I used Nate's)
~ 1.5 cups "no chicken" broth
~ 1 tsp. Marmite
~ ¼ cup brandy

 ~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a deep pie plate with half the pastry, reserving the other half.
~ In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and sauté the onion, celery, and carrot for about 10 minutes, until quite soft.
~ Add the garlic and seasonings (salt through black pepper) and cook another minute or two.
~ Add the mashed potatoes and meatballs and stir to combine thoroughly.
~ Heat the "no chicken" broth to almost boiling and stir in the Marmite until it dissolves. Add this liquid to the skillet, mix well, and continue cooking another 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until the mixture is fairly smooth and uniform.
~ Begin adding the brandy by tablespoonfuls, stirring with each addition. Continue cooking 5 minutes more, and then remove from heat and set aside to cool for 10-15 minutes.
~ Spoon the cooled filling evenly into the prepared pie crust, smoothing with a spatula. Top with the remaining pastry, making sure to crimp the edges tightly to seal.
~ With a sharp knife, make a few small gashes in the top crust so steam can escape as the pie bakes.
~ Bake, uncovered, in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
~ Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Butternut Squash Lasagna

I made this lasagna for our Thanksgiving main dish, and it went beautifully with the usual holiday suspects (in this case mashed potatoes, roasted root veggies, stuffing, gravy, etc.) while adding a little extra pizzazz to the mix. It was a bit time-consuming - because I was basically making it up as I went along - but future batches will come together more quickly, thanks to this recipe! As it was, I made and assembled the casserole the day before, refrigerated it overnight, and put it in the oven about an hour before dinner with excellent results, so bear that in mind next time you need something for a holiday meal or potluck, or are just pressed for time while prepping a big, multi-course meal.

Butternut Squash Lasagna
~ 1 lb. no boil lasagna noodles
~ 2 lbs. butternut squash, cut into cubes
~ 1-3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
~ 1 small onion, diced
~ 4 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1/2 lb. frozen spinach, thawed
~ 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in hot water at least 30 minutes
~ 1 lb. extra firm tofu
~ Juice of 1 lemon
~ 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
~ 2 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 tsp. each salt, basil, oregano
~ A few grinds fresh black pepper
~ 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

~ Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
~ Arrange the cubed squash on the baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and coat with 1-2 tbsp. olive oil. (I just do this with my hands: moisturizing!)
~ Roast at 400 degrees, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes, until browned and tender. Remove from oven and set aside.
~ In a skillet, heat a tbsp. of olive oil and sauté the onion over low-medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. 
~ Add the garlic and spinach; stir to combine and continue cooking for about 5 minutes longer, then remove from heat.
~ In a food processor or high-speed blender, combine the remaining ingredients (cashews through nutritional yeast) and blend until smooth.
~ Place the cooked squash in a large mixing bowl and mash until almost-but-not-quite smooth. Add the onion/spinach and cashew/tofu mixtures and mix well to combine.

~ 1-2 tbsp. Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine)
~ 2 tbsp. flour
~ 4 cups plain, unsweetened soymilk
~ 2 cups shredded vegan cheese (I used 50/50 Daiya cheddar and mozzarella)
~ 1/2 cup vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast
~ 1/2 tsp. each: salt, marjoram, sage, white pepper
~ Dash nutmeg
~ 1 tbsp. hot sauce (I like Frank's)

~ Wipe out the skillet you used for the onions and melt the margarine over medium-high heat. 
~ Add the flour and a little of the soy milk to make a roux. Raise the heat to medium and gradually add the remaining milk, shredded cheese, parmesan, and remaining ingredients, stirring with each addition until the cheese melts and you have a smooth sauce.

~ Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit and coat a large, deep casserole with cooking spray.
~ Ladle about a cup of sauce into the bottom of the casserole and spread evenly.
~ Arrange sufficient lasagna noodles to cover the bottom of the casserole (this will probably take 3-4 sheets), and spread half the filling over them, smoothing with a spatula.
~ Pour half the sauce over the filling and top with another layer of lasagna noodles. Add the remaining filling, another layer of noodles, and the remaining sauce, making sure to spread it evenly over the whole business. If you have time, set the assembled lasagna aside to let everything mingle and get to know each other a bit before baking. (NB at this point I covered the casserole with foil and refrigerated it until the next day, which worked fine so bear that in mind if you want to prepare something ahead.)
~ Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees fahrenheit for 30 minutes, until bubbling (I put a cookie sheet under my casserole to catch any drips).
~ Raise the oven temperature to 400, remove the foil, and bake uncovered for another 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and bubbly.
~ Remove from oven and allow to sit at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Potato & Mushroom Breakfast Curry

Cornflakes? We don't need no stinking cornflakes!

Actually, cornflakes are all right, but sometimes a girl wants a change, you know? And of course you don't have to eat this curry for breakfast; it would be just as good at lunch, dinner, or in the middle of the night. But if you're looking for some serious morning fuel with a bit of a twist, I can't recommend it highly enough. A few days after Thanksgiving, I woke up craving a departure from the past week's glut of traditional western holiday foods, and a plate of curry sounded perfect. So I headed to the kitchen, surveyed the options, and by incorporating prosaic brunch ingredients like mushrooms, onions, and potatoes with subcontinental seasonings, I came up with a sort of diner-y breakfast hash/masala dosa hybrid. With parathas and spicy pickle on the side, it was everything the most jaded tastebuds could desire, and sufficiently filling to keep us going all afternoon. Best of all: there were even leftovers for the next day!

Potato & Mushroom Breakfast Curry
~ 4 large potatoes, cooked and diced
~ 1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
~ 1 tbsp. coconut oil
~ 1 tsp. each: cumin seeds, mustard seeds
~ 1 large yellow onion, diced
~ 1 tbsp. each: grated ginger, minced garlic
~ 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, garam masala, fenugreek powder, coriander, ground cumin, chili powder
~ Dash each: cinnamon, cayenne
~ 3/4 cup frozen peas
~ 1 cup lite coconut milk
~ 1/2 cup fresh, chopped cilantro

~ Coat a large, deep skillet with cooking spray and cook the mushrooms over medium-high heat until browned (about 7-8 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove from pan and set aside.
~ In the same skillet, melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat; add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook for a minute or two, until the seeds begin to sputter and pop. (Don't put your eye out!)
~ Add the onions, ginger, and garlic, and cook 7-10 minutes, until the onions are softened and beginning to brown just a little.
~ Stir in the toasted sesame oil and then add the diced, cooked potatoes. Mix to combine, and cook another minute or two.
~ Add the salt, garam masala, fenugreek powder, coriander, ground cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, and cayenne. Stir thoroughly to coat the vegetables with the spices, and continue cooking another 5-7 minutes, until the potatoes are starting to brown a bit. Make sure to stir often to prevent sticking.
~ Add the reserved, cooked mushrooms, frozen peas, and coconut milk. Mix well, and continue cooking for 10 more minutes, until the peas are bright green and the mixture thickens slightly.
~ Mix in the chopped, fresh cilantro and serve hot with parathas, naan, or other Indian bread. (And don't forget the pickle!)