Q is for Quiche (with a Hash Brown Crust!)

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Q is for Quiche (with a Hash Brown Crust!) (0002-18)

Originally I’d planned on making a quiche from either Vegan Brunch (Classic Broccoli!) or Betty Goes Vegan (Quiche Lorraine!) to represent the letter Q – and then Shane brought home a ginormous, 3-pound bag of hash browns. (I needed one whole cup for another recipe. Yeah.) With freezer space at a premium, I got the idea of making a quiche with a hash brown crust. So I hit the internet and, lo and behold: it’s been done before. Yay!

This recipe is a mashup of the hash brown quiche recipes found online and a Spinach Mushroom Quiche I made for VeganMoFo last year. Because I have a slightly oversized pie plate – 10″ versus the standard 9″ – I increased the amount of hash browns used from three to four cups, and added an extra teaspoon each of margarine and olive oil. If you have a smaller pie plate, just use three cups hash browns and two tablespoons each of margarine and olive oil. The salt is optional, but tasty. I like my potatoes with a little sodium, you know?

For what it’s worth, I don’t think I’ll ever make a quiche with a traditional crust again. The hash browns are the perfect complement to the quiche’s egg-like filling. It’s basically the fanciest means of eating breakfast foods for dinner. Universally recognized as a mature and responsible adult, yo.

Q is for Quiche (with a Hash Brown Crust!) (0001)

Hash Brown Quiche

4 cups hash browns
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon margarine
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, roasted and diced
1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed, diced, and pressed to remove excess moisture
1 pound firm tofu
1/2 cup plain nondairy milk
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons chives
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese (optional; I used cheddar Daiya)
1-2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
vegan parmesan cheese to taste (optional; see recipe here)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 450F.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the hash browns, margarine, olive oil, and salt; mix well. Grease a 10″ pie plate. Transfer the potato mix into the pie plate and press down firmly, on the bottom and sides, until you have an even “crust.” Bake at 450F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the potatoes start to turn golden.

(Pro tip: if the top of the crust isn’t browning fast enough, set the oven to broil and leave it in for an extra minute or two. Be careful not to burn the sides, though! But if you do, just cover them up with the quiche filling; no one needs to know!)

3. As the crust is baking, prepare the filling. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the onions until soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and mushrooms and continue to cook on medium heat until the mushrooms are browned to your liking. Stir frequently. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

4. In a food processor, combine the tofu, nondairy milk, nutritional yeast, mustard, chives, garlic powder, and salt. Process until smooth. Sample the batter and add any extra seasonings to taste.

5. In a large bowl, fold together tofu, mushrooms, spinach, red peppers, and cheese (optional). Pour the mixture into the pie crust; top with the tomato slices and a bit of vegan parmesan cheese if desired.

6. Bake at 375F for about 45 minutes, or until the quiche is firm and lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

 
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B is for “Bow Ties Are Cool” Greek-Style Bow Tie Pasta

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

B is for 'Bow Ties Are Cool' Greek-Style Bow Tie Pasta (0003)

 

I know, I know! Two Doctor Who references in two days – what is this, a Whovian VeganMoFo? Actually, that sounds pretty awesome, but I’m afraid not. Next year, maybe?

So this is a pasta dish that I’ve been meaning to try for months now, and VeganMoFo gave me a pretty handy excuse. I absolutely adore the combination of garlic, lemon, tomatoes, red peppers (roasted! is there any other kind?), Kalamata olives, and spinach, so much so that I put them on all the things; see, for example, my Greek-tyle couscous, pizza, and potato recipes. The spinach in this one is chopped into small bits, on accounta wilted spinach leaves give me the heebie jeebies. But if you’d rather leave them intact, just add ’em to the veggies at the end and cook for several minutes.

Of course you can serve this on top of any shape pasta your heart desires: gemelli, rigatoni, elbows, shells. But bow ties?

 


 

“Bow Ties Are Cool” Greek-Style Pasta

Ingredients

16 ounces bow-tie pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced into halves
4 ounces spinach, fresh
2 roasted red peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces (if home roasted, include the oily juices!)
1/2 to 1 cup Kalamata olives, depending on how much you like Kalamata olives (I LOVE THEM!), pitted and halved
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (dehydrated, not those packed in oil)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon peel
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Directions

1. In a food processor, process the spinach until paste-like. Set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook on medium for several minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant and lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook for another five minutes. Add the spinach, roasted red peppers, Kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, lemon juice, lemon peel, and salt and pepper and continue to cook on medium, stirring well. Once the tomatoes have started to become tender, cover and simmer on medium.

3. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.

4. When done, toss the pasta with the veggies and parsley. Serve warm!

 

B is for 'Bow Ties Are Cool' Greek-Style Bow Tie Pasta (0004)

 
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A is for Apple Pie Ice Cream

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

It’s that time again, folks: VeganMoFo, where vegans (and the veg-curious) the world over gather to drool over their favorite foods. This year I’m doing an alphabet theme, Vegan A to Z, where I try to hit all 26 letters of the alphabet while cooking/baking/eating my butt off. Let’s kick things off with – you guessed it – the letter A!

A is for Apples! In this case: Apple Pie Ice Cream. Made with frozen bananas, so no ice cream machine required!

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Always start with ice cream, and Always take a banana to a party.

In all seriousness, this dessert is as tasty as it is healthy. Basically you start with a half a batch of my apple pie insides, and blend them with a few frozen bananas. It’s that easy!

 

A is for Apple Pie Ice Cream (0010)

 

Apple Pie Ice Cream

(Makes about a quart of ice cream.)

Ingredients

4 overripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
brown sugar or another vegan sweetener, if needed
a splash of nondairy milk or creamer, if needed

3 medium-sized apples, cut into slices 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 vanilla bean (or a teaspoon vanilla extract)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
a dash of allspice
2 tablespoons margarine, cut into small pieces

Directions

1. Begin by preparing the apples. Preheat the oven to 400F. After you’ve cleaned and peeled the apples, cut them into slices about 1/4″ thick. Consistency is more important than the size; try to cut them as evenly as possible so that they bake at the same rate. The thicker the slices, of course, the longer the bake time!

2. In a medium sized bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, brown sugar, cornstarch, vanilla bean, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice; mix well.

3. Transfer the apples to a small baking dish. Dot with the margarine. Bake, uncovered at 400F for about 45 minutes, or until the apples are soft and tender. Stir halfway through so that all the apples bake evenly.

4. When done, allow the apples to cool. Transfer the apples (and their juices!) to an airtight container and refrigerate for 6-8 hours or until cold. You can make and store the apples up to a day before blending the ice cream.

5. To make the ice cream: Put the apples in the food process and pulse until chunky.

Tip: If you’d like your ice cream chunky, set a few apples slices aside. Cut them into smaller pieces and mix them into the ice cream at step #8.

6. Add the (frozen) bananas iand pulse until smoothly blended. Most likely you’ll need to stir them by hand several times, as the frozen chunks tend to gather and become “stuck” on one side of the bowl. If necessary, add a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer to get things moving!

Alternately, you can allow the bananas to defrost on the counter top for 30 to 60 minutes beforehand, so that they’re easier to work with. Before putting them in the food processor, break them up into smaller chunks with a butter knife.

Note: Since introducing extra liquids (such as non-dairy milk) into the mix results in a slightly icier finished product, I prefer defrosting to non-dairy milk. If you’re in a hurry, pop the bananas in the microwave for 20 to 45 seconds instead. The juices from the apples should help in this regards.

7. Sample the batter and add a bit of sugar or other spices if desired.

8. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container. Enjoy immediately as soft serve, or pop the ice cream in the freezer for an hour+ for a firmer dessert. Store any leftovers in the freezer in an airtight container. If the frozen banana ice cream proves too hard to scoop, microwave it for ten seconds to help loosen it up (or let the container sit on the counter for ten to thirty minutes prior to eating, depending on room temp).

 

A is for Apple Pie Ice Cream [with granola] (0006)

Doubly amazing when topped with fresh apples, cinnamon, and a handful of Apple Cinnamon Granola.
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year fourteen, more difficult than year thirteen

Monday, September 10th, 2012

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Oh, Ralphie. Just last week you spent the entire afternoon digging for critters in the field by the pond while I read, walking home alongside me – no leash or lead required – once the sun started to disappear beyond the horizon. This morning I had to carry you down the hall because you couldn’t see well enough to navigate through the throng of dogs on your own. Even if there were no other dogs, I might have had to carry you anyway; you seemed so confused and directionless. Unable to get your bearings.

And it happened so suddenly! I mean, I know that your vision is slowly going – normal age-related degeneration, fuck that! – and I’ve always expected that you’d be totally blind in the last months or even years of your life (particularly since you’re in otherwise excellent health and will most likely live a good long time, even for a dachshund; praise dog for that). But this! This was so fast and unexpected, like a tidal wave. One moment you can see (well enough, anyway); the next, nada.

I hope it’s something fixable, like a slipped lens or whatnot. It has to be, right? Because I’m not ready for you to be completely blind, not yet. Of course we can make you feel comfortable and secure and loved; that’s not it, not it at all. We just have so much more to do together, you and I. Lazy afternoon digging and sunny walks in the park. Staring into your eyes, cuddling and petting you, and knowing that you’re looking right back at me, seeing the love in my eyes.

You’re on your way to the ophthalmologist with dad right now. I hope you’re calm and comfortable and not disliking the car ride too much. Don’t be scared. Don’t ever be scared; dad and I are frightened enough for the three of us. We’ll be here for you though, always, doing the best we can.

Good luck, my little man.

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(More below the fold…)

Fancy Schmancy Tomato Tarts

Friday, August 17th, 2012

2012-07-27 - Tomato Tart - 0007

 

I have a confession to make: the package of phyllo dough sitting in my freezer is at least several years old. Possibly we’ve owned it even longer than our home, which we purchased in 2006. It moved here with us from another state, yo! Anyway, I bought it with the bestest, most optimistic of intentions – making some super-yummy vegan pastries, probably – but was quickly intimidated by the prospect of handling this thin, delicate dough. And so it sat.

As it turns out, phyllo dough isn’t all that awful to work with. Sure, it’s a little fragile and delicate (a problem most likely compounded by my phyllo dough’s advanced age), but with a little patience and some luck (and a glass or two of wine, maybe?), you too can make a fancy schmancy tomato tart. Or, you know, insert your pastry of choice here.

This foodstuff is supposed to be an appetizer but, seeing as I’m not about to throw a cocktail party any time soon, I decided to serve it for dinner, along with a healthy portion of scrambled tofu. You’re encouraged to slice and dice all the ingredients beforehand – to placate the ever-fussy phyllo dough, natch – so you’re stuck guesstimating how many onions and tomatoes you’ll need. I ended up with a whole lotta extras, but was able just toss them in with the scrambled tofu. For the win!

 

2012-07-27 - Tomato Tart - 0013

 

Fancy Schmancy Tomato Tarts!

(Adapted from this recipe at What’s Cooking America.)

Ingredients

Cooking spray
7 to 10 sheets phyllo dough
5 tablespoons margarine
3 tablespoons vegan Parmesan cheese (optional; see below for recipe)
1/3 onion, thinly sliced
About six Roma (or similarly sized) tomatoes, thinly sliced
Mozzarella Daiya cheese (or the vegan cheese of your choice)
Salt and pepper to taste
Basil to taste

Directions

1. At least eight hours before starting this recipe, put your phyllo dough in the fridge to defrost.

2. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and coat lightly with cooking spray.

3. Prepare your ingredients before removing the phyllo dough from the fridge. Place 5 tablespoons of margarine in a large mug. Microwave for five seconds at a time until melted. Slice the onion and tomatoes. Place your vegan cheese on the counter to defrost, if necessary.

4. When ready, unroll the phyllo sheets onto a flat surface. Very carefully, remove the top sheet from the stack and place it on the parchment paper. Using your fingertips, brush about a teaspoon of margarine onto the sheet, spreading it out as best you can. Don’t worry if you rip the sheet of dough, as you’re going to stack several more on top! If desired, sprinkle a bit of vegan parm on top.

Tip: As you’re working, cover the stack of phyllo dough with a damp towel to prevent it from drying out.

5. Take another sheet of dough from the stack and layer it on top of the first. Brush a bit of margarine on top and add a touch of parmesan if you’d like. Repeat this process until you have a base of dough about seven pieces thick. If a few of the pieces of dough stick together as you remove them from the stack, don’t worry – just treat them as one! This happened to me several times, which is how my stack ended up ten sheets thick instead of seven.

6. Layer the final sheet on top. Brush with melted margarine and sprinkle with the remaining vegan parmesan. Sprinkle the onion slices on top, followed by the mozzarella Daiya. (About a half a cup – be careful not to go too heavy, though! This is a thin tart!) Arrange the tomato slices on top in a single layer, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with basil, salt, and/or pepper to taste.

7. Bake at 375F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cheese is melty and the crust, golden brown. Remove and let cool for about five minutes. Slice using a large, sharp, non-serrated knife.

Meant as an appetizer, this makes about 20 3″ square servings … or six large pieces, if you’re enjoying it as a side, like moi.

 
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(More below the fold…)

Book Review: The Tent, Margaret Atwood (2007)

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

“your tent is made of paper”

four out of five stars

Reminiscent in look and style of Good Bones and Simple Murders (1994), The Tent (2006) is a short collection of Margaret Atwood’s stories, prose, and poetry – much of it more recent, some of it previously published elsewhere (including “The Walrus,” “Harper’s Magazine,” and several special fundraising anthologies). As with three-poled tents, THE TENT is “supported,” in a manner of speaking, by three sections of related material.

While the stories are varied and diverse, time is a central theme, with lives bending, flexing, and twisting around the stuff. Time is not always linear, but folds and flexes (“Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey…Stuff,” in Doctor-speak.) Time “folds you in its arms and gives you one last kiss, and then it flattens you out and folds you up and tucks you away until it’s time for you to become someone else’s past time, and then time folds again.” [“Time Folds,” page 148.] Time softens and broadens, reunites and tears asunder. Time both binds and separates us all.

As with most anthologies, some of the pieces are more memorable than others. Most are complex, hinting at layer upon layer of meaning, the intricacies of which the reader can only begin to grasp. (Such is Margaret Atwood!) As per usual, those stories I love the best feature nonhuman protagonists (“Our Cat Enters Heaven” – and gets his testicles back; “Thylacine Ragout”; “The Animals Reject Their Names and Things Return to Their Origins”) or are retellings of classics, be they fairy tales or Shakespeare (“Encouraging the Young” – right into my gingerbread house; “It’s Not Easy Being Half-Divine”; “Horatio’s Version”; “Nightingale”). Nostalgic, heartbreaking, and not a little cruel, “Bring Back Mom: An Invocation” is another favorite, as is “Post-Colonial”: “It’s a constant worry, this we, this them.” [page 100]

Though I prefer Atwood’s novels to her shorter works, The Tent and other such collections are helping to tide me over until the release of Mad Adam. Let’s hope that she doesn’t take quite as long as dear Horatio!

Perfect for: hardcore Atwood fans, or lovers of feminist poetry and eclectic short fiction. Keep it on your nightstand for some impromptu, late-night reading.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined.)