Festive Pecan-Chestnut-Mushroom Wellington!

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I wanted to try something different for this Thanksgiving holiday and BOSH’s mushroom Wellington caught my eye. I liked their concept but found it needed a few tweaks to suit my tastes and North American realities (e.g. Portobello mushrooms where I am in Canada are about 4x larger than their UK cousins and our garlic in southwestern Ontario is at least twice as strong as what’s available more broadly).

I also simplified the assembly, gave some actual measurement to a few ingredients, such as the amount of pie dough needed, and added a few more directions to save unseasoned cooks from incinerating their creations.

My end result is a festive, pretty and not very mushroom-y creation. I found the dish was a little dry so I served it with gravy.

You will need a food processor for this recipe.

Ingredients:

Ingredients.jpg

For the mushrooms:

2 portobello mushrooms – cleaned and stems removed and very gilly pieces removed (I don’t like the gills!)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1 tbsp fresh thyme chopped or 1 tsp dried thyme

2 Tbsp olive oil

A sprinkle of salt

Few grinds black pepper

For the filling

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion finely chopped

1 Tbsp fresh thyme chopped or 1 tsp dried

½ tsp poultry season

1 ½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground pepper

1 cup white wine

1 tsp brown sugar

2 cups cooked chestnuts

2 cups pecans

2 slices seeded bread ( I used 3 slices of Ezekiel bread since it’s a smaller loaf)

1/2 cup vegetable stock (or water, or even soy or almond milk)

For the Wellington case:

750 grams of vegan pie crust

About ½ cup flour for rolling out the dough

I buy frozen pie shells because they’re so inexpensive (and I cannot find just vegan pie dough). I let the shells thaw for at least 20 minutes, then use my hands to wad them up into a ball and then roll them out on a floured surface.

If you’re inclined to make your own pie dough from scratch, here’s an excellent recipe.

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Directions 

The mushrooms
Heat your oven to 395F.

Place the mushrooms on a baking tray, stem side up. Sprinkle with the olive oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.

Bake the mushrooms for 15 minutes then set aside and allow them to cool.

Leave your oven on.

While the mushrooms are roasting and cooling, make the filling and prepare the crust.

For the filling

Heat the olive oil in a medium sized frying pan. Add the diced onion and fry until it’s translucent.

Add the thyme, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Add a cup of white wine and cook on low for about 10 minutes, letting the wine bubble and reduce in volume almost entirely. Add the brown sugar and let the mixture caramelize.

Transfer this mixture to a large bowl.

Place the pecans and bread in a food processor and whiz into crumbs. Add to the bowl of onions.

Place the chestnuts and mushrooms in the food processor and whiz until they are like crumbs. Add to the bowl with the onions and pecan mixture and pour in the broth. Stir everything to combine and set aside.

Sprinkle flour on a clean smooth surface and also dust a rolling pin with flour. Take half of your pie dough and roll it out forming a rectangular sheet.*

Place this dough sheet on a large rectangular cookie sheet.

Spoon the mushroom-pecan-chestnut filling running length-wise down the middle of the sheet of dough. You will need to mound the filling and compress it into place with your hand.

Sprinkle your work surface and rolling pin with more flour and roll out the other half of the pie dough to form another rectangular sheet. Place this sheet on top of mushroom-filling mound to form the top crust of your Wellington.

Trim off the edges of the pastry with a sharp knife to form an oval. You can use any excess dough to cut shapes to decorate your Wellington with.

Seal the edges of the dough where the crusts meet with a fork.

If you’re decorating your Wellington with dough shapes (hearts, leaves, stars etc.), add them to the Wellington now. You can adhere them with a little bit of water dabbed onto the Wellington and the dough shape with the tip of your finger

Use a knife or fork to cut slits or holes into the Wellington to let steam escape.

Cover your Wellington in foil and bake for 20 minutes at 395C (See? I told you not to turn off your oven for a reason). After 20 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking the Wellington for 10-20 minutes more depending on your oven. You want a golden finish, with no burning.

Use a bread knife to cut your Wellington into slices.

*Super lazy, easy, just as yummy option if you use premade pie shells like I do– leave two of the pie shells in their pie pans. Fill each pie shell with half the mushroom-pecan-chestnut filling. Roll out the other two pie shells and cut them into tops for the pies. Use a fork to seal the top and bottom crusts. Cut slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake your mushroom Wellington as per the directions above.

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Mushroom risotto – classic and comforting

mushroomrisotto

I used to make risotto all the time before I adopted a vegan diet. But I was very leery of how much I’d enjoy a vegan risotto. No butter? No cheese? Turns out it’s no problem. This version is flavourful, creamy and vegan. If you have 30 minutes you have time to make this dish and wow yourself and a friend.

Making risotto is a bit of an exercise in faith. You just have to believe it’s going to work because halfway through the process, the pan will look like a messy failure. But it always turns out.

This recipe makes 2 generous servings or 3 appetizer size servings.

Ingredients

1 cup Arborio rice (must be Arborio rice)

3 cups vegetable broth

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp vegan margarine

1 shallot finely minced (or 1 clove garlic minced and ½ onion minced)

1/3 cup (or so) of dry white wine

3 cups of mushrooms – I used a mix of white and cremini) sliced

½ cup fresh or frozen peas. If using frozen, thaw the peas.

1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 green onion or 6 chives chopped (optional)

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1/2 to 1 tsp ground black pepper

Truffle oil and chopped pecans for garnish (optional)

Directions

Heat the broth in a saucepan so it’s at a low simmer.

In a large frying pan or skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they release their liquid and are browned. Put the mushrooms in the pot of broth.

In the same pan you fried the mushrooms in,melt the vegan margarine. Add the shallot (or onion and garlic, if that’s what you’re using) and sauté until translucent.

Add the rice and stir until it’s coated with the margarine and shallots and turning a light golden colour.

Add the white wine and stir together.

Now the magic. This step will take about 20 minutes.

One ladle at a time (about ½ cup), add broth to the pan of rice. Try to just add broth and not the mushrooms.

Stir the rice until the broth is all absorbed by the rice. At first the rice will quickly absorb the broth and at the same time it will release its starch, creating a creamy base. As the rice cooks, the broth will absorb more and more slowly. Patience. Listen to music. Ladle. Stir. Ladle. Stir.

In about 20 minutes your rice will be done and all your broth should be used up. The rice will be al dente.

Add the mushrooms you reserved in the broth, the peas, the chives/green onion, pepper and nutritional yeast and stir together.

I garnished my risotto with truffle oil and some chopped pecans.

SUGGESTION: If you have never tried truffle oil, I highly recommend it for a touch of richness and decadence. Yes, the oil is pricey. BUT you can buy a very small bottle and it will last about 18 months, if you keep it at room temperature out of the light. Only a teaspoon on a dish like this will have you feeling like a gourmet chef!

Mushroom barley soup

MushroomBarleySoupI get a cheap thrill fooling non-vegans into thinking they’re eating meat.

This soup is as savoury and dark as any beef broth. However, in this case the beef is still very much alive enjoying his or her life happy in a field somewhere.

My recipe is based on an ancient Moosewood cookbook, but with my own riff to make it more flavourful and less laborious.

Ingredients

300 g sliced mushrooms (about ¾ of a pound)

2/3 cup dried mushrooms – any kind. I buy them in a huge bag for very cheap at a Chinese grocery and use them for making stocks

3 cups water

3 cups vegetable broth

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 onions diced

3 cloves garlic minced

2 ribs celery diced

2 medium carrots diced

2/3 cup dried barley

1 Tbsp tomato paste (you can freeze leftover tomato paste in 1 Tbsp portions and keep it in a freezer bag so you always have tomato paste for recipes like this)

1 bay leaf

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 tsp dried thyme

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup cheap red wine or sherry or port (I always keep cheap port – so cheap it comes in a plastic bottle! – for cooking and marinating)

Directions

In a large pot bring the vegetable broth and the water to a boil. Break up your dried mushrooms into fingertip sized pieces and place in the boiling stock/water. Simmer for 15 minutes and remove the pot from the heat.

In the meantime in a stock pot, dice up and slice your other veggies. Saute the onion, garlic, celery and carrots until the onions are translucent – about 5 minutes.

Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms release their juices. I like to cook this right down so some of the mushrooms start to brown a bit. Add the dried mushrooms/stock/water mixture and an additional 1 cup of water and all the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 40 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and enjoy!

A vegan shepherd’s pie to die for… except no one actually does

ShepherdsPie

I have always loved shepherd’s pie. It’s a gorgeous, classic comfort food. Now here’s a version that’s just as delicious as the original AND vegan.

While the ingredients list and steps may seem long, I promise this is a simple recipe that will make you feel like a gourmet when it’s done.

My next door neighbour, a venerable German lady and an excellent cook, came by to sample the dish and declared it to be buttery and sinful. I couldn’t ask for higher praise.

Ingredients

For the mashed potatoes

4-5 potatoes. I use Yukon Gold or any white fleshed potato. Scrub them well, remove any eyes, all or some of the skin and then dice.

1 white turnip peeled and diced. Trust me on this – the turnip gives the buttery flavour to the potatoes.

3 Tbsp vegan margarine

1/3 to ½ cup unsweetened soy or almond milk

Salt and pepper to taste

For the filling

½ cup beluga (black) lentils or any kind of lentils except red lentils, which get mushy.

3 stalks celery sliced

1 small onion diced

2 carrots sliced

1 parsnip sliced (if you don’t like parsnips, then just go with 3 carrots)

2 cups mushrooms sliced (I used cremini)

½ cup green peas (I used frozen)

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 ½ cups vegetable broth

2 Tbsp tomato paste

1 Tsp fresh thyme (or go w/ dried if that is what you have, but use only ½ teaspoon)

1 Tsp fresh sage (or go w/ dried if that is what you have, but use only ½ teaspoon)

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (make sure your brand is vegan. I used Lea and Perrins)

A splash of red wine (about ¼ cup)

I Tbsp flour or arrowroot (for thickening the sauce)

1 tsp salt

Black pepper to taste

Directions

Boil the cubed potatoes and turnip together until they are soft. This takes about 15-20 minutes. Drain off the water. Add the margarine and milk and mash everything together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Put the lentils in a small pot with one cup of water. Put a lid on the pot and bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside.

In a large skillet or large pot (you want a wide based vessel), sauté the onion, celery, carrot and parsnip in the olive oil. Sauté on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and sauté some more until the mushrooms have released their liquid.

Add the tomato paste, flour, wine and half the broth. Stir well so the flour and tomato paste are blended well in the broth. Add the remaining broth, thyme, sage, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, cooked lentils and peas and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let simmer uncovered until the liquid has reduced by about half. This will take about 15 minutes.

When the filling is ready, pour it into a very large pie dish or other casserole dish. Top with the mashed potatoes and place under the broiler for 10 minutes until the potatoes are golden.

Dig in and enjoy!

Mushroom stroganoff…. the Russian revolution of good taste continues

Stroganoff

One of the first meals I ever made was for a dinner party my much-older sister was hosting. I was 11. She was having friends from university over and asked me to cook beef stroganoff. It was one of the most heart-stopping (literally – beef, butter, sour cream, egg noodles) dishes I’ve ever made. And so good.

Here’s a mushroom stroganoff that’s cleaned up its act and yet is as creamy, rich and satisfying as my original dish. My recipe is heavily based on the one by Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Note – you do have to do some prepping at least 2 hours before you want to start cooking because the cashews need to soak and the tofu needs to marinade.

Ingredients

225g / 8 ounces of fusilli or rotini pasta

¾ cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours

1½ cups vegetable or mushroom broth

12 ounce package tofu

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp red cooking sherry

3 Tbsp A-1 sauce

1 tsp salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon smoky paprika

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

4 cloves garlic, minced

225g cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (about ½ pound)

1 tsp dried thyme

½ cup dry white wine

2 Tbsp tomato paste
Directions

Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.

Make the tofu

To make the tofu, cut the block into 8 equal slices. Place on a clean, lint-free towel and cover with another towel and press to squeeze out the liquid. Use the whole flat of your hand and press evenly.

Place the tofu in a shallow dish. It’s okay if the tofu is stacked in 2 layers.

In a small bowl or glass mix 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp cooking sherry and 1 Tbsp  A-1 sauce. Pour over the tofu and place the dish in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

When the tofu has marinated, place it on a small baking sheet in a single layer. Pour any remaining marinade over it. Bake at 450 for 30 minutes. When it’s done, remove from the oven, let cool a bit and then cut into bite-size strips.

Make the sauce

Place the soaked, drained cashews, the broth, 2 Tbsp A-1 sauce, the balsamic vinegar and the salt and pepper in a blender and blend until you have a creamy sauce. Set aside.

In a large pan or pot (you want a nice wide bottom on the vessel for sautéing… if your bottom is nice and wide too, well that’s just fine!), heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic until they’re translucent. Add the thyme and paprika and heat through.

Add the mushrooms and fry until the mushrooms release their liquid and then start to brown. This can take about 10 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and wine and stir. Then add the cashew-based sauce and heat through. You might want to let the dish simmer for a few minutes to let it thicken though my sauce was already very thick. Add the sliced tofu and mix to combine

Serve over the pasta. Tell your friends you’re having stroganoff. Offer to share…. Enjoy!