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
Ingredients
~ 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

Directions
~ 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

IT'S ALIVE!!!!!


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!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Tofu Katsu Curry


Speaking as a person who rarely fries things, I begin with the caveat that this recipe is a bit of a project, but it is also completely worth the trouble. I have now made this dish three times, and it's proved so popular that I've taken to doubling it. We had the latest batch with roasted green beans and carrots on the side, but it makes a delicious and satisfying meal all on its own with some steamed white or brown rice.

Tofu Katsu Curry
The Sauce
~ 1 tbsp. canola or other neutral oil
~ 1 yellow onion, chopped fine
~ 4 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 tbsp. fresh, grated ginger
~ 2 tsp. curry powder
~ 1 tsp. each: ground fenugreek, garam masala
~ A few grinds of black pepper
~ 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
~ 2.5 cups "no chicken" broth
~ 2 tbsp. soy sauce
~ 1 tbsp. agave nectar
~ 2 tsp. rice vinegar
~ Cooked white or brown rice to serve
~ Chopped scallions and/or shredded carrot for garnish

Directions
~ In a large saucepan or wok, heat the oil and cook the onion on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, ginger,  and dry seasonings; cook one minute more.
~ Add the flour, stir to coat and then pour in about ½ cup of vegetable stock; stir until the flour has dissolved, then add the soy sauce, agave, and remaining stock.
~ Bring the mixture just to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens.
~ Stir in the rice vinegar and taste for seasoning.

The Tofu
Ingredients
~ 1 package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
~ Corn starch for dredging
~ 1 cup (or a little more) plain, unsweetened soy milk, whisked with 1 tbsp. of corn starch
~ Panko crumbs for dredging
~ Canola or other neutral oil for shallow frying

Directions
~ Heat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and place a foil-lined baking sheet inside.
~ Cut the tofu vertically into approximately 1 cm slices (between ¼ and ½ inch). Place on a  dry tea towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
~ Set up your dredging station with three wide, shallow bowls containing (respectively) corn starch, milk mixture, and panko. Dredge the tofu slices in the cornstarch, dip briefly into the milk, and then press each slice into the panko until thoroughly coated. Put the slices on a large plate as you finish coating them.
~ Line a large plate with paper towels, and pour about ½ inch of canola oil into the skillet over medium-high heat. When a piece of tofu breading thrown into the pan floats to the top, you're ready to fry.
~ Fry the tofu pieces for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown and crispy. Drain the cooked slices on the paper towels before transferring to the oven to keep warm until ready to serve.

To serve: place individual servings of rice in wide shallow bowls and top with crispy tofu, sauce, and chopped scallions and/or shredded carrots. You will probably have more sauce than you need, but why be skimpy?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Asparagus and White Bean Bisque


This absurdly good soup was inspired by two factors: my propensity for overbuying vegetables, and a recent post on Isa Chandra Moskowitz's blog. This past weekend we hosted a family holiday, and while grocery shopping I easily bought twice as much food as necessary, which is crazy but 100% predictable because I do the same thing every single time. So it was that after the leftovers were eaten I still had two bunches of asparagus in my refrigerator, awaiting a destiny that became clear when I saw this "garlicky white bean and asparagus soup." Since I am as incapable of following another person's recipe as I am of buying a normal amount of food, I made significant alterations to the prototype, and happily share the creamy, delicious, and ever-so-green results with you here.

Asparagus and White Bean Bisque
Ingredients

~ 2 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 large onion, chopped
~ 1 large potato, diced (I used Yukon Gold)
~ ¼ cup minced garlic
~ 2 bunches asparagus, chopped (leave the tips about 1” long and set aside)
~ 1 tsp. kosher salt
~ 2 tsp. each: marjoram, tarragon
~ ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
~ A few healthy grinds black pepper
~ 1 15 oz. can navy, great northern, or other white beans
~ 6 cups “no chicken” broth
~ 1 cup chopped, fresh parsley

Directions
~ Get a non-stick skillet very hot and cook the asparagus tips for 4-5 minutes, until bright green and slightly charred. Season with salt and black pepper and set aside.
~ In a large, deep pot, cook the chopped onion and potato over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden but not brown.
~ Add the garlic, asparagus, dry seasonings, and about a cup of broth. Stir well, cover the pot, and allow the vegetables to steam for about 5 minutes.
~ Add the canned beans with their liquid and the remaining broth. Bring the mixture just to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer, Continue cooking for 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
~ Add the fresh parsley and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Serve hot, garnished with the charred asparagus tips.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Scotch Broth

Here in the northeastern USA, we are currently experiencing the sort of extreme winter weather that inspires hysteria in the news media, with bizarre coinages like "bomb cyclone," "thundersnow," and "wintercane." In times like these our best defense is always soup; I'd been thinking about veganizing my mother's Scotch Broth for awhile, so I hit the kitchen and today's recipe is the happy result. Since the traditional dead sheep was off the table - what kind of asshole eats a lamb? - I used mushrooms for that "meaty" je ne sais quoi. Swede/turnip is also conspicuously absent (we are not fans so I didn't have any), but if you've a mind to just chop up a cup or so and add it with the other root vegetables. This is a very hearty, filling soup that's perfect for a cold night snuggled up in your pjs while the bombogenesis rages outside.

Scotch Broth
Ingredients
~ ⅔ cup barley
~ ½ cup each: green split peas, yellow split peas
~ 1 lb. mushrooms, diced
~ 1 tsp. each: thyme, marjoram
~ 1 tbsp. each: canola oil, vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance)
~ 1 yellow onion, diced
~ 1 large leek, chopped
~ 2 parsnips, diced
~ 2 carrots, diced
~ 2 stalks celery, diced
~ Freshly ground black pepper
~ ½ tsp. white pepper
~ 1 tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
~ 2 tsp. Marmite
~ 2 bay leaves

Directions
~ Rinse the barley, green peas, and yellow peas in a colander, then cover with water and soak for at least a few hours (the longer the better; I did this first thing in the morning). 
~ Get a non-stick skillet screaming hot and cook the mushrooms over high heat until brown and crisp. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
~ In a large, deep pot, heat the margarine and oil and saute the onion for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, until softened but not browned.
~ Add the leek, parsnips, carrots, celery, and dried seasonings; continue cooking for ten minutes.
~ Drain the barley and the green and yellow split peas and add them to the pot. Stir to combine and add the broth, Worcestershire sauce, Marmite, and bay leaves.
~ Cover the pot, raise the heat to high, and bring just to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally, until the peas are soft. (You can add a bit more water if it looks too thick, but you're going for a hearty texture here.)
~ Stir in the cooked mushrooms, taste for seasoning, fish out the bay leaves, and serve hot with crusty bread.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Peppery Glazed Tofu


Welcome to winter! It's been an extremely busy autumn around here, and between teaching, various professional and personal obligations, and staring in open-mouthed horror as the world burns down, I haven't had much time to conduct or write about kitchen experiments. But people need to eat, and the other night I decided to try my hand at Yotam Ottolenghi's black pepper tofu, which I'd been eyeing for awhile. As is often the case with his recipes, the prototype is needlessly elaborate, deploying multiple steps, esoteric ingredients, and a shedload of unnecessary fat - oil for frying and 11 tbsp. (?!) of butter? For four servings? - on its circuitous mission to destroy the kitchen. 

My version is less messy, more pantry-friendly, and much easier on the arteries and waistline. Besides dialing back the grease, I thought a glaze/sauce would be a nice addition and departed radically from the original recipe, which wound up being more inspirational model than actual source. But I'm happy to report that the results were hugely successful; served with steamed, short grain brown rice and stir-fried green beans, this made a totally delicious and satisfying dinner. My one caveat is that it was gobbled up so quickly that there were nearly no leftovers, so if you're serving four or more hungry people you might want to double it. (I will certainly do so next time!)

Peppery Glazed Tofu
Ingredients
~ 1 package firm tofu, drained and pressed
~ 2 tbsp. cornstarch
~ ½ tsp each: salt, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder
~ 2 tsp. canola oil
~ 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
~ 1 small red onion, chopped fine
~ 4 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 tbsp. grated ginger
~ 1 tbsp. each: soy sauce, rice vinegar, hot sauce (I used Sriracha)
~ 1 cup water mixed with 1 tsp. “no chicken” bouillon ~ 3 tbsp. tomato paste
~ ½ cup ice water whisked with 2 tsp. cornstarch


Directions
~ Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with non-stick foil and place in the oven.
~ Slice the block of tofu in half horizontally, and cut into approximately 1” cubes.
~ In a bowl with a lid, combine the 2 tbsp. cornstarch, salt, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, garlic powder. Add the cubed tofu, cover the bowl, and shake to coat the tofu thoroughly.
~ Place the tofu cubes on the preheated baking sheet, shaking off and reserving any excess coating as you go. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until golden and crispy, turning at the halfway point. Remove from the oven and set aside.
~ In a large skillet or wok, heat the canola and sesame oils over medium-high heat and cook the chopped red onion for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook another minute or so, until fragrant.
~ Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and hot sauce and cook for a few minutes more before adding the broth and tomato paste.
~ Stir well, raise the heat to nearly boiling, and then turn the heat to medium-low and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes, until somewhat reduced in volume.
~ Add the ice water and cornstarch mixture and whisk thoroughly.
~ Add the cooked tofu and any leftover reserved coating and mix well. Continue cooking for ten minutes more, taste for seasoning, and serve hot over steamed rice.