Mushroom Paté


MUSHROOM PATÉ

2 Portabella Mushrooms, finely chopped
10 Shitake Mushrooms, 3/4 Cup trimmed and sliced
1 Leek, white and light green parts only, well rinsed and finely chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon Dried Rosemary, ground
1/3 Cup Red Bell Pepper, finely minced
3 Tablespoons Brandy
2 teaspoons Parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Chives, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Arrowroot Powder or Cornstarch

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan and add the garlic and leeks.
Once the leeks are soft, add the mushrooms, salt, pepper and rosemary.
Sauté over a medium high setting until the mushrooms are tender and have begun to dry.
Add the peppers and brandy continuing to sauté for 2 minutes more.
Toss in 1 teaspoon of the parsley and remove from heat.
Cool then add to the food processor pulsing to chop.
Firmly press mixture into ramekins.

To make the chive gelée for the topping, add 1/3 cup of water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
Add the chopped chives and remaining parsley.
Dissolve the arrowroot powder in 1/4 cup cold water and add, stirring to thicken.
Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Spoon an even layer over the prepared mushroom paté and refrigerate until set and ready to serve.

Samosas


Aloo Chana, also known as potato chick pea curry… and the other night’s dinner. No matter how hard we try, there never seems to be a proper ratio of basmati steamed to the amount of curry in the pot. (Let alone room in our stomaches.)
So needless to say, it’s great for a community meal but when it comes to left overs, there’s never enough to justify making a whole new batch of rice. Conundrum? No way, it’s an excuse to make this little awesome appetizer of samosas!

Super simple with a spoonful the leftovers sealed in a spare won ton or gyoza wrapper.
Served up with something sweet to cut the heat, like tamarind or mango chutney.

Vegan Crêpes With Bananas Flambé


A gift of the French culinary experience, it is said that these thin pancakes originated from a lack of wheat to bake bread.
Also of French cooking tradition, it’s believed that it is difficult to make. I thought so myself for quite sometime as there are only three main ingredients, eggs, milk and flour. Not exactly vegan.

I’ve wanted to serve these for many brunches as the batter rests well or the crêpes themselves may be made ahead.
Crêpes are come in two varieties, sweet and savory and match wonderfully with guests. Served as an appetizer, a dessert or for breakfast, with a bit of practice, crêpes may be made large or small and stuffed with a variety of fillings.

So pretty, formal, but really quite easy to make. Try them at your next brunch.

VEGAN CRÊPES

Recipe makes six to eight 8″ crêpes

1/2 Cup Unbleached, All Purpose Flour
1 1/4 Cups Soy Milk
Replacer for One Egg
pinch salt
1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
1-2 Tablespoons Margarine or spray oil as needed, for cooking

Combine the flour. salt and egg replacer in a large bowl or blender. Whisk to sift.
Add the milk and oil. Whisk just to combine.
Do not over blend.
Refrigerate while you prepare your filling, or over night.
Preheat an 8, non-stick pan to a medium high heat.
Once a drop of water spatters, spray to coat the pan or add 1/2 teaspoon of melted margarine.
Ladle in about 2 Tablespoons of the batter. Swirl the batter across the pan to form a thin, round layer.
Flip the crêpe over once it begins to appear dry on the top. The other side will be done when you see some light browning on the edges.

For Todays Filling:
While the batter was cooling, I opted for the ripening bananas on my counter top.

BANANAS FLAMBÉ

2 Bananas
2 Tablespoons Margarine
3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
2 Tablespoons Brandy
1 Match (These last two are optional for breakfast, but make a blast of an impression for dessert.)

Peel and slice the two bananas on the diagonal, about a 1/4″ thickness.
Heat a large skillet to medium high, melt the margarine then add the bananas.
Toss to coat and cook to soften slightly, about 1 – 2 minutes.
Add the syrup, covering the bananas evenly.
If using, pour over the brandy, stand back and touch a flame to the edge of a soaked banana. This is best done with an audience, and a lid for the skillet close by.

To wrap, add a few spoonfuls of the filling to the center of each crêpe.
Fold over opposite sides toward the middle then roll upward from the bottom.

Killer Tomatoes


This months theme of Waiter, there’s something in my…, hosted by Cook Sister is all about getting stuffed. Stuffing fruit or vegetables to be specific, so how could I refuse this challenge? There are so many options but I thought I would venture back to my culinary school days.

Duxelles are a traditional French stuffing of finely diced mushrooms, cooked with shallots and onions until they have given up all of their moisture. Pretty simple, but is there any wonder why the French are known for their food?

I really like using the Tomato. The balance of using the juicy, light tasting tomato with the intensified mushroom that’s created is wonderful. This may be served with a salad or as a side dish to accompany smoked tofu, vegan mac n’ cheese, quiche or even, dare I say it, grilled meats.

KILLER TOMATOES

4 Vine Ripened Tomatoes
20 White Mushrooms, minced
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Shallot, minced
2 Tablespoons Red Onion, minced
2 Tablespoons White Wine (Check your source as not all wine is vegetarian)
1 Tablespoon Parsley, minced
4 – 5 Fresh Basil Leaves10 Fresh Oregano Leaves
1 – 2 Tablespoons Breadcrumbs
1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast Flakes, optional
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Wipe and trim each of the mushrooms. Lay the mushroom stem down and Using your palm, crush then finely dice the mushrooms. Otherwise a food processor may be used but crushing by hand is very consistent, not to mention therapeutic.
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil to a medium high and sweat the onion and shallots.
Add the garlic, followed by the mushrooms and wine.
Stirring occasionally, cook the mixture until it is dry.
Check, and adjust the seasoning with the salt and pepper as necessary.
Wash and core the tomatoes. Cut away the top so you may easily fit a spoon to empty out the pulp and seeds.
Fill each tomato with the mushroom mixture.
Combine the breadcrumbs and nutritional yeast and top each of the tomatoes.
Place the tomatoes onto a baking sheet and bake at 350ºF (175ºC) until heated through. (approximately 10 minutes)
Serve with an optional drizzling of olive oil.

Variations:
Use serve them as h’ors d’oeuvres. The amount of duxelles will also stuff approximately 12 cherry tomatoes.
Try substituting different mushrooms. They will produce a more dense, rich or woodsy flavor, depending on what you choose.

Asparagus Portobello Lasagna


On my quest to veganization, I’ve discovered that one of the most common and easiest meals to make that satisfies the herbivores and non a like, is pasta.

Here’s the thing though, you can only make spaghetti so many times and pasta just goes so well with cheese. Making satiating pasta to please vegan company is a bit more challenging.
…And we all know how I love a challenge.
I was reading Ruth’s Presto Pasta Nights over at Once Upon A Feast. There have been some great submissions from the pasta nights of past so it got me thinking… what could I do with the bunch of fresh asparagus I just picked up from the market?

ASPARAGUS PORTOBELLA LASAGNA

1 Bunch Asparagus
1 Portobello Mushroom
2 Tablespoons Margarine
3 Tablespoons Unbleached All Purpose Flour
11/2 Cups Soy Milk
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Mustard Powder
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
8 – 10 Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2-3 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast Flakes (optional)

Brush any dirt from the mushroom trim and slice it into 1/8″ thick slices.
Wash and snap the ends from the asparagus.
Steam until just fork tender and rinse in cold water. Trim to 3″ lengths and set aside.
Boil the noodles as to their package direction and drain when al denté. Drizzle lightly with oil.
In a large saucepan, melt the margarine on a medium heat. Stir in the flour, remove from the heat and whisk in the soy milk.
Return and reduce heat to low. Add the salt, garlic, mustard, cayenne and black pepper, stirring occasionally to incorporate and thicken the sauce.
Adjust seasoning as necessary and remove from the heat. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Assembly

This will make 8 – 10 individual lasagna pieces.
In a 9×12 glass baking dish, lay about 3″ of one noodle in the top corner, allowing the remainder to hang over the outer edge.
Spoon some of the sauce evenly to cover the bottom of the noodle.
Place 2 slices of the mushroom followed by 3 pieces of asparagus.
Bring the noodle over to cover, spoon more sauce followed by 3 more asparagus pieces.
Flip the last of the noodle over the asparagus, creating an “S” shape.
Spoon another dollop of sauce on the top of the noodle.
Repeat until no room remains or the noodles have run out.
Sprinkle everything with the nutritional yeast flakes.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for approximately 3o minutes.
Remove foil and return to oven to brown the top for an additional 10 minutes, or 2 minutes under the broiler, watching carefully.

Guacamole


With the thought of guests and summer on its way, guacamole is a classic.

I’ve seen about a million different variations of the recipe, the traditional Mexican Guacamole only has a few ingredients, the obvious being avocado, then onion, chilies, fresh tomatoes and salt. I’ve heard some controversy over the tomato. I am of the nay side…

Like everyone else though, I thought that I’d add yet another variation. There is something not only distinct about lime flavours in Mexican dishes but the citrus in combination with cilantro is fresh and crisp. It also keeps the avocado from browning which is a bit more appealing.

This version is light but complex. A truly great combination of flavours, if I do say so myself.

Having generation birthday gathering arriving at my doorstep, I’ve mashed a little more than my usual consistency. But if the delightful soft chunks of avocado makes you happy, go with it!

Either way, grab a tortilla, a carrot or use it as a spread on your next sandwich.

SUMMER GUACAMOLE

3 Avocadoes
1 Red Grapefruit
1 Lime (juice of)
3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1/2 Jalepeño pepper, seeds and membrane removed, minced
2 Tablespoons Red Onion, Minced
2 Tablespoons Red Pepper, Minced
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, Chopped
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Pepper to taste

Method

Slice the avocados around lengthwise, twist and separate.
Remove the pit by knocking the knife into the center and turn to lift it out.
Scoop the fruit from the peel and set aside.
Peel the grapefruit with a knife, removing the pith along with the peel.
Cut away the segments, chop and reserve whatever juice is collected.
Set aside.

In a food processor, or by hand, finely chop the onion, peppers and garlic. Add an give the cilantro a quick whirl or a rough chop.

In a separate bowl, roughly mash the avocado and add half of the chopped grapefruit. Stir in the onion and pepper mixture and the salt. Stir in the lime juice and check the consistency and flavour.

Add the remaining grapefruit to your liking and adjust the seasoning.