Monday, September 29, 2008

Creamy Lemon Dill Stew: A Dish in Process

I like the idea and taste of this dish, but the execution/method needs work. I envisioned a creamy stew with a lemony zing complemented by the unique flavour of dill. As far as taste goes, everything worked. The potatoes and asparagus blended well with the spices, while the chickpeas provided an earthy undertone (and the tofu packing an extra protein punch). The problem lay with the cream sauce. I knew that lemon would make soy milk curdle, but I figured it would all come together when I thickened the sauce with flour. Not so much. The sauce remained "grainy" and so the dish did not look all that great.


Rather than post a recipe, here is the basic idea of the dish. I started by parboiling baby yellow potatoes, and sauteing a sliced leek and some garlic in olive oil. I added cubed tofu and chickpeas, the potatoes cut into large chunks, and asparagus. I then added about 1/2 cup lemon juice and 2 tsp of dill, and then 2 cups of soy milk. After seasoning with salt and pepper, I blended flour in some water and added it to thicken the sauce.

Does anyone know how to make a creamy sauce with lemon? I assume there is a way to mix the two since I have seen vegan lemon cheesecake and lemon curd. Maybe it needs to be blended first and then added?

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why not make a creamy sauce with lemon zest instead of the juice...that way you get an intense lemon flavour..

If you're not a fan of zest in your food, you could always simmer the soy milk with the lemon zest and then strain it

Anonymous said...

Adding acid to cream usually doesn't produce the curdling that happens with acid and milk. Maybe soy cream would work? Or, add lemon zest instead of juice for a lemony taste. Or, forego the soy milk altogether and add just thicken the lemon (and water? Veg broth?) liquid w/flour water. I love trying to figure out new recipes!

Bex said...

I don't have an answer for the curdling but the flavor usually don't go off with the curdling. Blending should solve the problem, breaking down the lumps. Or trying a non-soy option.
It sounds like a good idea, I look forward to trying it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you can find some ideas with this recipe: http://www.randomgirl.com/recipes.html#cauliflower

Perhaps using a cashew cream instead of soy milk will help. You may not even need the flour for thickening. When I make the above soup, I usually decrease the amount of corn starch because I think cashew cream thickens considerably when you heat it.

Great site!!!!!!

Jenn said...

Maybe rely on the zest for the primary flavour instead of the juice?

Vegetation said...

This sounds yummy! Sorry about the curdling. Being soy free none of my milk curdles. You could try just using oat, almond or cashew nut milk in place of the soy and you won't have the curdling problem (raw cashews and water blended with lemon make a particularly thick and creamy sauce and you shouldn't even need the flour if you use enough cashews).

vegan addict said...

You could try using cashews to create a creamy sauce. It might work to blend the cashews with lemon juice in a food processor and then add whatever other ingredients you decide on. If cashews are blended extremely well, they become smooth and creamy, plus they have a mild taste which might work with your recipe. Good luck! This sounds like a lovely fall meal!

tiffany said...

i'm not sure if this would work, but what if you added the lemon to the flour and create a lemon/flour/water (if needed) type of thickener?

it sounds good in theory...


hope you find a solution!

Naryllek said...

Maybe you could use lemon zest for flavor (instead of lemon juice).

Even with the grainy sauce, your stew sounds delicious :)

Lily Girl said...

I have three ideas. Perhaps if you were able to cut the quantity of lemon juice, but keep the flavor by incorporating a generous amount of lemon zest, you could mitigate some of the curdling from the acid. Also, you might try a different non-dairy milk; I've noticed that hemp milk does not curdle nearly so much. Finally, waiting until the very end to add the lemon juice, after you've incorporated the flour into the milk, might also help keep the milk from reacting so strongly to the acid.
Hope those ideas help, it sounds like a yummy dish!

Mark said...

Hey Vegan Dad, I love your blog and your recipes. You've actually helped my boyfriend get into veganism with your posts. Thanks man!

Ok, re: creamy sauce with lemon. I have found the low fat content of Soy Milk is the real problem, I have tried cooking a creamy lemon sauce with Edensoy Cream (it can be hard to find though, and you have to use a double-boiler on the lowest heat). Instead, I go the easy route and use a lemon pepper seasoning (provided you don't mind using black pepper in a white sauce) and finish the dish by garnishing with lots of lemon zest...

Hope this helps! And, if you get some good vegan-tips, let us know!

Mark said...

ooops, I meant Belsoy cream, not Edensoy.

http://www.belsoy.ca/products/_en/product5.html

pc crochets said...

I'm no chef, but 1/2 c of lemon juice seems like a lot. Maybe 1-2 TB or lemon zest instead?

Love reading about your creations!

Mom said...

The sauces I know have 2 tbsp - 1/3cup of lemon juice and 1 tsp - 1 tbsp lemon rind blended into egg - and then added to milk SO
you could try blending less lemon juice and some rind with some pureed tofu and then into the milk and cook.

Anonymous said...

Why not use the lemon zest instead?

Calimaryn said...

This is such a great idea. Have you considered using lemon zest to impart that tangy flavor rather than juice? You might need a healthy couple of tablespoons minced finely to do the trick but it may not curdle the soy milk! Good luck with the experiment.

JohnP said...

I wonder if you should switch out the milk? I find oat milk and almond milk are much less likely to curdle. In any event, it sounds good!

Natjenn said...

I wonder if you would get the same lemon flavour using zest instead of juice? This would avoid the curdling factor.

Claire said...

i think both of those examples (the desserts) used a silken tofu, which of course is solid or gelataneous when heated. It's probably wanting liquid form, heated, and creaminess altogether that is the problem.


Hmmm....i know i do a tofu alfredo that blends the flavors together beforehand, then you stir it with the hot noodles right away, but it cools and thickens quickly. you could try extra oil with that idea, or what about a high protein flour (chickpeas) and oil based sauce? i could give it a test run and let you know- i have bean flour.

i love questions like this. if i could, i would do a vegan "good eats" show. do you know that one, with alton brown, up north?

whew, meta-comment.

Claire said...

what about a base like your vegan mac and cheeze?

Donna said...

Hi - Love your site. Here's how to create a creamy sauce with a lemony flavor. Don't know if you use Mimicreme but I order it by the case and use it all the time. It's the perfect vegan sub for cream. I make a great lemon cream sauce with it for pasta (just thin it with lemon and a little olive oil or margarine - doesn't seem to curdle if you apply heat plus oil or margarine, plus some lemon zest to boost the flavor of the lemon). You could also try this with soy creamer but I don't like the taste of soy as much as the undertone of nuts that Mimicreme has. Let me know how it turns out.

Angela said...

I like using pureed white beans in my cream soups, thinned with a little veggie broth.

I like the zest ideas, I wonder if you could steep the zest with a tea bag, so there are no surprising bites?

Angela said...

Another thought I had, you could puree some of the soup and add it back to it, not beans or milk required!

Janet said...

The dish sounds delicious. There are so many great suggestions already, so I'll suggest something a bit different...maybe you could cook the potatoes in lemon water so they absorb the lemony taste, and then do your creamy dill sauce without the lemon?

Anonymous said...

VeganDad, add your lemon juice at end of your cooking time, just before serving. You will probably need less to acheive the same taste and you should not have any problem with curdling. If you want to use cashews instead of tofu, blend your nuts with the soy milk. This will give you a richer tasting sauce, but remember that cashews have natural thickening properties when heated. You will need far less cashews than tofu. Personally, I have made vegan sauces using lemon juice and soya creamer with no curdling problems, but I always add it at the end of the cooking time. To make a creamy salad dressing I add lemon juice directly to soya creamer without cooking it and it helps thicken the sauce and does not curdle it.

Anonymous said...

What about using dried lemon powder? No worry about the little pieces of zest and it has lots of lemon zing! Someone gave me a bag as a gift and I love it...I am not sure where she got it (an Indian spice store I think), but I found this link which looks similar to what I have:

http://www.andrefood.com/ZenCart/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=193

Anonymous said...

Two suggestions:

Start with a roux – 1 part margarine to 1 part flour (I'd guess for 2 cups soy milk and used as a cream soup base, 1 or 2 tablespoon each of margarine and flour) and cook a few minutes on low to get rid of the raw flour taste and get them well blended. Next, add in the non-dairy milk and cook until it begins to thicken a bit. Then, add and blend in the lemon juice and cook a bit more to re-thicken a bit. Add to the rest of the stew ingredients. Heat though

Make a white sauce for a base. Then I’d take some of the white sauce (perhaps a two or more tablespoons) and add and blend in the non-dairy milk. Let that then add the lemon juice and let it cook a bit more and re-thicken a bit. Then add in the cooked veggies and tofu. Heat through.

Anonymous said...

I should have included ...

I have had success making lemony cream sauces starting with a white sauce and adding the lemon juice (usually the freshly squeezed juice of one lemon) after the sauce has thickened, blending in well with a whisk, and heating it through and it re-thickens. I think adding the lemon juice last, after the flour and non-dairy milk (and the bit of fat from the margarine) have already done some of their magic, is a key.

~ DeniseC

Emma said...

I don't know if you've figured out a way to make this cream sauce yet, but citric acid would work. I am Indian and we always have dried granuals of cirtic acid in our pantry. Add a LITTLE bit to the sauce at the end and you'll get the perfect lemon flavor without the crudle.