Monday, August 12, 2019

Peach, Cherry, and Blueberry Cobbler

It's that time of year when the farmers markets are overflowing with goodies, and we invariably buy too much fruit because we can't help ourselves. Sadly, it's also that time of year when  it's usually too hot to bake, but this morning I got up early enough to justify turning on the oven and transforming our glut of dirt candy into this splendid cobbler (or crumble, or buckle, or whatever. These distinctions exhaust me). Compared to most such recipes, I use relatively little sugar - fruit is sweet, kids! -  and not much fat, so this dish is as good for breakfast as dessert, accompanied by yogurt rather than vanilla ice cream. (Or not; it's your call!)

Peach, Cherry, and Blueberry Cobbler
The Filling 
~ 6 ripe yellow peaches, cut into chunks
~ 1 pint fresh blueberries
~ 1 pint fresh cherries, pitted and halved
~ 3 tbsp. flour
~ 2 tbsp. brown sugar
~ ½ tsp. each: salt, ground cinnamon, ground ginger
~ ¼ tsp. nutmeg

~ In a large mixing bowl, combine all in gradients and set aside (easy, right?)

The Topping
~ 1.5 cups white whole-wheat (or all-purpose) flour
~ ⅓ cup brown sugar
~ 2 tsp. baking powder
~ ½ tsp. each: salt, ground cinnamon
~ 1 ¼ cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 2 tbsp. vegan butter, melted (I use Earth Balance)
~ 1 tsp. vanilla extract

~ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and coat a 9 x 13" casserole with cooking spray.
~ In a large mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.
~ In a beaker, whisk together the milk, butter, and vanilla extract.
~ Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and combine well to make a smooth batter.
~ Transfer the filling to the greased casserole and distribute evenly.
~ Pour the batter over the fruit by large spoonfuls, and then use a rubber spatula to smooth it out. NB it doesn't need to be perfect or cover the fruit completely; this is a fairly no-frills affair.
~ Sprinkle the top with little sugar (if you like), and bake in the center of the oven at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.
~ Remove from heat and allow to rest at least 20 minutes before serving. This is equally good warm, room temperature, or as refrigerated leftovers!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Urad Dal with Crispy Shallots

A little over a month ago I stepped on a cracked sidewalk and fractured my ankle. (I should note that I also taught both of my classes before going to the ER because 1. they were our penultimate meetings of the semester, 2. I really thought it was just twisted, and 3. that's what I'm like.) Needless to say, being injured is inconvenient and uncomfortable, and one of the many things it's impeded has been my ability to cook, since for the first couple weeks I was on crutches and couldn't stand very long. Thankfully I have a lovely, helpful partner who has taken care of pretty much everything, which includes keeping us fed

So while I have produced a few things (notably last week's Lancashire butter pie), I've mostly been confined to a kitchen chair and acting as sous chef. But this past week a cupboard inventory yielded a container of black urad dal, and I was inspired to try my hand at Dal Makhani, a North Indian dish traditionally made with butter and cream. After a little Googling I was able to conflate and tweak a few recipes to produce an extremely hearty curry that needs nothing but rice to be a complete meal, and which I hope you'll enjoy as much as we did. (NB that in addition to reducing the fat - a lot - and substituting non-dairy alternatives, I eschewed the kidney beans many versions call for, and added a garnish of crispy shallots because I had a ton of them that needed using.)

Urad Dal
~ 1.5 cups urad dal, rinsed and soaked overnight
~ 1 tbsp. each: coconut oil; vegan butter
~ 1 large onion, diced
~ 3 cloves garlic, minced
~ 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
~ 1 tsp. each: kosher salt, asafoetida, cumin, garam masala, smoked paprika, chili powder, fenugreek
~ ½ tsp. each: cardamom, cayenne pepper
~ 1 15 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes
~ 4 cups water or stock (I used Better Than Bouillon "no chicken")
~ 1 15 oz. can full-fat coconut milk
~ Chopped fresh cilantro

~ In a large, deep pot, melt the coconut oil and butter and cook the onion over medium heat (stirring occasionally) for about 10 minutes, until soft but not browned.
~ Add the garlic, ginger, and dry spices and cook another few minutes; stir in the tomatoes and cook 10 minutes more.
~ Add the drained urad dal and water or stock, bring just to a boil, and then turn the heat to low and cook for about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. (NB this may take a bit longer; you want the dal to be very soft but to still retain some shape.)
~ When the dal is soft, add the coconut milk and cook another 5-10 minutes.
~ Taste for seasoning and serve topped with rice or naan, topped with chopped cilantro and crispy shallots (below).

Crispy Shallots
~ 1-2 tbsp. canola oil
~ 10 large shallots, sliced
~ 1 tsp. kosher salt

~ In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and cook the shallots until crispy but not burned (this should take about 10 minutes). Sprinkle with salt and set aside.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Lancashire Butter Pie

"I had another look and I had a cup of tea and a butter pie."

Today's post marks my triumphant return to the kitchen, after several weeks laid up with a fractured ankle. The recipe itself is so easy and so good that it's absurd I've never made it before, particularly considering my well-known obsession with savory pies and pastries of all types. But there it is and here we are, and I will definitely be making this pie on a regular basis from now on. 

Traditional in Lancashire (where it is also known as "Catholic pie" or "Friday pie," due to its lack of meat), butter pie is basically just layers of potatoes, onions, and - you guessed it - butter baked in a pie crust, which cannot possibly be anything but A Very Good Idea. Veganizing the prototype was a complete doddle: I substituted vegan butter for the dairy variety, and added a sprinkle of thyme. Because I am 1. lazy, and 2. not great with pastry, I used a prepared pie crust for the base; I also took the advice of a Lancastrian blogger who suggested using puff pastry for the top, which produced the beauteous golden specimen in the photo above. 

Considering the simplicity of its few ingredients, the finished product had a lovely and surprisingly complex flavor; the softened onions completely permeated the potatoes, and the whole thing was comforting and more-ish without being podgy. All in all an unqualified win, and highly recommended!

Lancashire Butter Pie
~ 1 prepared single pie crust (homemade or shop-bought; your call)
~ 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (Pepperidge Farm is vegan)
~  4 tbsp. cold vegan butter such as Earth Balance, Miyoko’s, etc.
~ 2 large yellow onions, cut into crescents
~ 4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into approximately 1/6” slices
~ Salt, pepper, thyme

~ Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
~ Parboil the potatoes in plenty of salted water for 6-10 minutes, until they are just soft but still holding their shape. Drain immediately and set aside to cool.
~ In a large skillet, melt 3 tbsp. of the butter and cook the onions over medium-high heat, stirring often to make sure they don’t brown. Sprinkle with salt, fresh black pepper, and about a ½ tsp. thyme and set aside.
~ To assemble, layer 1/3 of the cooled, sliced potatoes in the bottom of your pie crust; dot with 1 tsp. of cold butter and season with salt & pepper, and follow with half the cooked onions.
~ Repeat these layers, ending with the last 1/3 of the potatoes, the last tsp. butter, and more salt & pepper.
~ Roll out the puff pastry and lay it over the top of the pie, crimping the edges to seal. If you have extra puff pastry around the edges, you can trim it away and cut it into decorative shapes (or not).
~ Brush the top crust with about 2 tbsp. plain, unsweetened soymilk. If you are using decorative puff pastry bits, you should dunk them in the milk and then apply them to the top of the pie. Prick several times with a fork and place on a baking sheet.
~ Bake in the center of the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 40-45 minutes, until the crust is golden and puffy.
~ Remove from the oven and allow to rest 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Sunday, May 12, 2019


Greetings, friends! This is Elizavegan’s partner (never - under any circumstances - to be known as  "Elizahegan"). I’ve had a few guest posts on this blog before, and am doing this one to check in and let you know that the Elizavegan is still in business, though powerfully busy with a PhD, substantial teaching load, and many other things. For the last few weeks, she has been laid up with an ankle injury; in the interim, I’ve been doing most of the cooking. 

Generally, I perform somewhere between 2% and 10% of the domestic kitchen detail, depending on our respective levels of busyness. Everyone is happy with this arrangement because Elizavegan loves making food, and I enjoy performing minor sous-chef duties like stripping kale, chopping onions, washing pots, and refreshing drinks. 

But in the past few weeks it’s been fun to dive back in with the inspiring help of this great little blog. As her recovery has progressed, we’ve gone from passive to active collaboration: when her ankle was really bad, she would sit still and help me with advice and support, but as it’s started healing, she’s occasionally been standing up and doing some late-stage fiddling, which inevitably makes the stuff 100% better.

Anyway, here are a few classics I’ve made over the last few weeks, and at various times during this past (busy!) semester:

Avgolemono Soup: I believe this is by far the most visited recipe on the blog.

Risotto alla Milanese: Aside from the obvious stirring of rice and broth that is the essence of risotto, this is a very easy dish.

Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese: What can I say? Everybody raves, everybody loves, you will never be disappointed. Mac and cheese as it exists in the mind of God, if God doesn’t eat animals!

American Chop Suey: This is beautifully trashy and stupidly easy. THE thing for that night when you want dinner within the hour, and not a difficult hour at that!

On Greek Easter, I even made Pastitsio, which is one of my all-time favorites. Our omnivorous family devoured it with enthusiasm, especially our highly honored 1.5 year old guest, who snorked them down in quantity while exclaiming “NOODLES!!!” Definitely check that out for a Greeky treat.

More fun collaborations to come; stay tuned!