I like to cook. Sometimes my daughter likes to eat.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Eating low on the food chain

We've been enjoying some outstanding vegetarian food lately, two from the redoubtable Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks, and two old favorites.

Last night it was cold, a real Fall evening. MZ took a long nap, we had work to do and by the time I realized we would need dinner, I also realized I hadn't made it to the meat market. I had all the ingredients for a recipe I'd been wanting to try, a vegetarian chili loaded with legumes and whole grains. It seemed the perfect dinner for a cold night, and lo, I also had all the ingredients for her lovely-sounding apple cake, thanks to a bag full of apples our neighbor dropped by.

Both recipes came out great, definitely something we'll make again:
I made it exactly per the recipe, using the recommended veg bouillon. For a garnish, I stirred 1 t lemon juice and 1 t salt into a bowl of nonfat Greek yogurt. It was delicious, although her oregano oil sounds pretty tempting, too.

This has a nice biscuit quality. I made it in a ceramic tart pan, and it took 35-40 minutes. I'm not fond of apples and cinnamon, so I used 1 t ground cardamom and 1/2 t ground cinnamon, but other than that followed the recipe exactly. Perfect with some agave-sweetened whipped cream.

These followed on the heals of two other winners, a surprisingly satisfying tofu-based onion "quiche" that we've enjoyed for years and a twist on the Greens tofu salad which is also a family favorite.

Brother Ron's Alsatian Onion Pie
This quiche-like pie comes from a vegan cookbook called Friendly Foods, by Brother Ron Pickarski, a Franciscan friar. Since I'm not vegan, there are certain time-consuming meat-imitating recipes in this collection that I'll never make, but so many recipes really shine that it's been worth packing and unpacking for the last 15+ years. I've made a few additions over the years, and this remains a favorite. It's savory and very satisfying, I don't miss the eggs and cream at all.

Right now I have a surplus of sweet potatoes from our farm box, so this time I quartered and sliced a small sweet potato, steamed it in the microwave while I sauteed the onions, and tossed it in. I also had chanterelles instead of shiitakes, so in they went. Both went beautifully with the other flavors. I usually use a frozen whole wheat pie crust, which increases the baking time, but if you make your crust and bake it in a tart pan, this will cook in just 30 minutes.

2 T vegetable oil
5 dried shiitakes, soaked in warm water till softened, stemmed and thinly sliced
3 large onions, quartered and thinly sliced
1 t minced fresh thyme
1 cup soy milk
2/3 cup firm tofu, crushed by hand
1.5 t kosher or sea salt
1/4 t black pepper, freshly ground
1/8 t nutmeg
2 T unbleached flour
1 T whole wheat couscous
1 whole wheat pie shell

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line the frozen pie shell with foil or parchment, and add pie weights. Bake 8-10 minutes, till the crust has browned just a bit.

Lower oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil on medium heat, add the onions and 1/2 the salt. Saute the onions till translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the thyme and mushrooms, stir and remove from heat.

Whisk the soy milk, tofu, salt, pepper, nutmeg and flour until smooth. Add the onions and the couscous, stir to combine and pour into the prepared pie shell. Bake for 40-55 minutes until filling is set. Test by pressing lightly with a knife, if liquid pools, bake longer.

Greens' Tofu Salad
This next recipe is another long-time favorite from a cookbook I've been carting around since my first apartment. I love this cookbook, the soups and tarts are delicious, as are the salads and sides. Far from vegan, The Greens Cookbook leans on cheese and nuts for protein and I tend to avoid the main dishes because they can be so heavy. There are only 2-3 tofu recipes, all of which are excellent. This tofu salad is wonderful on whole-grain bread. I've successfully substituted 1.5 T curry powder, some minced ginger and 1/2 t rice vinegar for the herbs, sherry vinegar and capers.

18 oz firm tofu
5 T bell pepper, finely diced
5 T celery, finely diced
4 T carrot, finely diced
2 T scallion or red onion, minced
2 T fresh herbs: parsley, thyme, marjoram or a combination
1/2 t Dojon or whole grain mustard
2 t capers or cornichons, chopped
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 t nutritional yeast (optional)*

Rinse tofu, then wrap in a clean kitchen towel and twist to wring out excess moisture. Place the now-crumbled tofu in a bowl and combine with the rest of the ingredients through the cornichons. Stir lightly, then add mayonnaise as needed until you reach the desired consistency.

Wonderful on a sandwich of whole grain bread with lettuce and sliced tomatoes. This keeps about one week.


Blogger Julia Smith said...

We just went apple picking today so I am always looking for new apple recipes. I can't wait to try your apple cake. The chili sounds great too. I wish my girls would eat beans that weren't refried or in the form of hummus.

8:38 PM


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