Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mushroom and Barley Tourtière

Barley and mushrooms combine with warm spices and maple syrup to make a wonderfully delicious vegan version of a French Canadian classic.  Barley gives structure to the filling and complements the mushrooms' taste and texture.  You can make the filling the day before to let the flavours really blend together, and to save you some time on baking day.

Makes a 10" pie
- pie crust
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 onions, diced
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp ground fennel
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp rubbed sage
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp coriander
- pinch nutmeg
- 8 cups chopped assorted mushrooms (I used oyster, cremini, and portabello)
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/3 cup vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup red wine (or more vegetable stock)
- 2 cups cooked pot barley (cooked in vegetable broth is best)
- 1.5 cups diced potato, boiled for 3-5 mins, until slightly tender
- salt and papper to taste
- plain soy milk for brushing

1. Make your pastry, chill, etc.
2. Cook the barley according to the directions on the bag.  Generally, 1 cup of uncooked barley will yield almost 4 cups of cooked barley.  I like to have extra on hand to throw into soups and the like throughout the week.
3. Boil your potatoes while the barley is simmering.  Rinse with cold water and set aside.
4. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Sauté onions and celery for 5-7 mins, until softened.  Add garlic and spices and cook for 1 min more.
5. Add mushrooms, soy sauce, maple syrup and stock.  Mix well and cook for about 5 mins, stirring regularly, until mushrooms have released their water and have cooked down.
6. Add red wine and cook for 5 mins.  Add barley and potato and mix well.  Cook for another 5 mins or so, stirring very regularly.  The mixture should be moist but not soupy.  When you drag your stirring utensil along the bottom of the pot, liquid should not immediately fill the void.
7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Adjust spices as needed.
8. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the fridge to cool down.
9. Make the pie as per usual.  Brush the top crust with plain soy milk and place in the fridge.
10. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the bottom third of the oven.  When oven is up to temperature, brush the top crust once more with soy milk.  Bake for about 50 minutes, or until top crust is golden brown.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Peas and Pasta Soup

This recipe (a spin on an Italian soup with peas and pancetta) is fairly simple in that it does not have a lot of ingredients, and so its success relies on making sure those ingredients are top quality.  Making your own veggie stock is ideal, and making your own pasta is essential unless you are lucky enough to live in a place that sells eggless fresh pasta.  The key to the pasta is making a firm dough and giving the noodles some time to dry before they go into the broth.

- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 cup finely chopped firm or extra firm tofu
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ketchup
- 1/4 tsp liquid smoke

- 2 tbsp margarine
- 1 onion, small dice
- 3 cups peas, frozen or fresh
- 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 8 cups vegetable stock
- salt and pepper to taste

- 1 recipe fresh pasta, rolled out to #4, cut into wide strips

1. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a frying pan over med-hi heat.  Add tofu and fry, stirring regularly, until golden brown on all sides.  Add salt, ketchup, and liquid smoke and mix well.  Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Heat margarine in a stock pot over medium heat.  Sauté onion for 5-7 mins, until softened.
3. Add peas, parsley, and stock.  Bring to boil over high heat.  Add pasta and tofu and cook until paste is tender.  Season to taste and serve.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cream of Tomato Soup

This soup is thick and rich and creamy and perfect for a soup and sandwich lunch on a cold winter's day.  It does take a little time to make, but the flavour and the texture that comes from reducing all the ingredients down is well worth the wait.

- 2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes (or plum tomatoes)
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 stems of fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup diced carrot
- 1/4 cup red lentils
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 can light coconut milk
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Make a tomato paste: Place chopped cherry tomatoes in a small saucepan.  Bring to bubbling over medium heat and cook, uncovered, for 10-12 mins, until thickened and tomatoes have broken down.  Mash with a spoon as they cook.
2. Use a spoon to push the tomato mixture through a fine sieve until just the skins and seeds are left behind.  It will yield about 3/4 cup.
3. While tomatoes are cooking, sauté onions with a large pinch of salt over medium heat in a large pot for 5-7 mins, until softened.  Add garlic, thyme, carrot, and lentils and sauté for 2 mins more.
4. Add stock, canned tomatoes (juice and all), and the cherry tomato paste.  Bring to bubbling over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered for about 40 mins, or until liquid has reduced by a third and veggies are barely covered.  REMOVE THYME STEMS.
5. Blend with an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender, until very smooth.  Return to heat and add coconut milk.  Mix well.  Heat through, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve.