Saturday, November 20, 2010

An Experiment

As you may or may not have noticed, I've been a little, ummm, absent for the past couple of days. In all honesty, I think I'm gonna have to scale this project back a bit. For some reason, it's no problem to cook every night, but cooking and then writing about it every night has gotten a little overwhelming. Going forward, I'm going to shoot for about three or four updates a week.

A few days ago, I was talking with a friend/co-worker of mine about this project. As I've mentioned in the past, I work from home. As a result, my co-workers are spread far and wide. My friend lives up in Canada near Ottawa. In the years that we've worked together, we've spent a lot of time talking about all kinds of stuff, both work-related and not. We've given each other civics lessons, he got me hooked on hockey (I'm one of the few Minnesotans that probably couldn't even stand up on ice skates, much less whack around a frozen piece of rubber with a stick while skating backwards).

So we were talking a little about MoFo, and the subject of Canadian cuisine came up. Honestly, it's something I knew very little about. Other than poutine, there wasn't any other thing I could name. He mentioned Tourtiére, which I'd never heard of. After a little bit more discussion (and a long taunting about how his fantasy hockey team was much better than mine) he agreed to give me his recipe if I agreed to make a vegan version of it... today I gave it a try.

Here's what I came up with:

Getting Started: Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes are used in both the crust and in the filling for this recipe, the need to be fully cooled for the crust, so get this out of the way a couple hours before you really get started.
  • 3 Medium Potatoes roughly chopped
  • 2 Whole Cloves Garlic (because Mashed Potatoes without garlic is wrong)
  • 1 Tbsp dairy-free Margarine
  • 1/4 Cup Plain Soy Milk
I have strong opinions on a lot of food-related things, but it's hard to go wrong with mashed potatoes. If you're feeling up to it, peel the skins off the potatoes. I am a lazy man, so I left the skins on.

Boil some water in a pot, toss in the potatoes and garlic and boil for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Drain. Put the potatoes/garlic in a medium-sized bowl and mash with the Margarine and Soy Milk and mash until mashed.

Put a lid on the container and put the potatoes in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to cool completely.

The Crust

Mmmmm, the crust. The best part of anything. I've never been very good with crust, but damn do I love it.
  • 1 1/2 Cup Unbleached White Pastry Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Cup chilled dairy-free Margarine, cubed
  • 1 Cup cold Mashed Potatoes
  • 1/4 Cup Plain Soy Milk
Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together for about 20 seconds. Drop the cubed Margarine and fold in with a pastry blender. Go until the bits of margarine are about the size of a small pea. Next, add the Mashed Potatoes and mix. Add the Soy Milk slowly while mixing. The dough is going to be pretty loose, but you don't want it to get too sticky, and you don't want to over-mix. When it's about the consistency you want, roll it into a ball in the bowl, cover, and put it in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes.

The Filling, Part One

At this point, it's a good idea to start pre-heating your oven to 450 degrees F.
  • 24 oz Soy Crumbles, I used Boca crumbles
  • 1 1/2 Cups diced Onion, about 2 small-medium onions
  • 1 stalk Celery, diced
  • 2 (or more) cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Apple, diced, I used a Breaburn
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
Long story short: put all this stuff in a big pan and sauté until it's done, about 10 minutes. Put it in a bowl and put aside.

The Filling, Part Two

  • 1 cup Sliced Crimini Mushrooms (buy extra so you can eat them while cooking)
  • 1 Tbsp Dairy-free Margarine
  • 1/4 tsp Tamari or Soy Sauce
  • 1 pinch Nutritional Yeast
Sauté the Mushrooms with the Margarine until they begin to sweat. At that point, add the Tamari and Nutritional Yeast, continue to sauté until all the moisture has evaporated away. When done, add this to the bowl of filling from part one.

The Filling, Fin

  • 1 Cup chilled Mashed Potatoes
  • 2 tsp White Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground Nutmeg (tip: don't be an idiot like me, buy it ground)
  • 1/2 tsp ground Cloves (ditto)
  • 1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper
Add this to the bowl of filling you've been accumulation and mix until things look, you know, mixed.

Now, your dough has been chilling for 30 minutes and your oven is getting nice and warm. On a floured surface, roll half of the dough out until it's big enough for a nine inch pie pan. Line the pastry in, you guessed it, an oiled nine inch pie pan. Press the filling from above into the pie pan. Roll out the second sheet and cover the filling with it. Brush a little bit of Soy Milk onto the top and cut some small holes in the crust.

Next, put the pie in the oven for 10 minutes at 450 degrees F. When the time is up, without removing the pie, lower the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 45 minutes longer.

While the pie is baking, if you're anything like me, your kitchen will be destroyed. I was thinking about making some sort of Swedish Chef joke here, but there's a point when comedy comes too close to real life and just isn't funny anymore. Now's a good time to start cleaning up.

The Wife's reaction: This crust is really good. You should remember how to make that for future recipes. The filling is good, it's not quite what I expected, though. If I were to order it in a restaurant, I'd be glad I did, but I don't know that I'd order it very often.

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