Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No More Fruit Cake

I am sticking with my goal to enjoy the holiday season more this year but just can't do anymore sweets this week. In addition to the two fruit cakes I made the past two weeks(which were a hit at Twigs), I've been baking bread, eating fruit cake from other sources including a Chilean one that was surprisingly light and generally binging on chocolate and vast amounts of goodies both homemade and store bought. I have demolished a whole pound of rosemary cornmeal shortbread cookies from Wackym's Kitchen in the past week alone. Add some good blue cheese and a bottle of red and you have the perfect meal.

Three extra pounds gained does not sound like a lot but I live in fear of my waist size becoming larger than my inseam. We are just about there and from there it could be a precipitous slide into fogeydom. So, this week we are cooking a healthy and delicious vegan pot pie! It is a variation of a recipe I found on the web but other than the biscuit topping, it is only loosely a recipe. The combination of vegetables can be whatever you have on hand. The recipe called for broccoli and green beans but although I love broccoli, it just didn't sound authentic. It also called for vegan margarine in the biscuit topping but I used shortening. I am not sure shortening is all that healthy but the vegan margarine is 79% vegetable oil and sounds just too processed to me. Really, when was the last time you craved guar gum? What exactly is guar gum? I have never seen a guar. And it's not like I eat a lot of shortening.

Saute your vegetables until almost tender in olive oil and then place mixture in a nine or ten inch pie plate or individual ovenproof bowls or ramekins. I used onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms and potatoes. I added a bit of vegetable stock and covered the pan turned to low so that the potatoes would cook without browning. Add herbs, salt and pepper. Tarragon worked nicely here. I added frozen peas off the heat.

In a saucepan, heat three tablespoons olive oil, add three teaspoons flour to make a roux and cook for 3 or 4 minutes over medium heat . Slowly add two cups vegetable or mushroom stock while whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring to a simmer to thicken. I added a splash of Cabernet and a teaspoon of Marmite. Soy sauce or Bragg's Amino would be other options.Pour sauce over top of vegetable mixture

Biscuit Topping-Pulse 1 1/2 cup of flour, 1 1/2 tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor until combined. Pulse in 6 tablespoons COLD shortening or vegan margarine until you have a coarse meal. Slowly add 1/2 cup soy or almond milk until mixture pulls away from side of processor bowl. You have to spread the mixture on top of the vegetables with your fingers. Don't worry about covering the vegetable mixture entirely. The dough will rise and fill in any cracks.Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 or 40 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

I loved this! It tasted really substantial and not at all like you were making some sort of sacrifice. The mushrooms gave it a meaty taste, the touch of marmite as well. Reheat any leftovers in the oven or toaster oven. Zapping in a microwave gives any bread or pastry an unpleasant doughy texture.

Now that I am off to a healthy start for the week, I will not feel guilty stopping by Tillman's Roadhouse on Saturday for a hefty piece of their Chocolate Birthday Cake with homemade ice cream. It is obscenely large and rich and is a must have indulgence if you are ever in Dallas. They make their own ice creams which are always inspired but they buy the cake at Le Gateau Cakery which has the best tasting wedding cakes ever. I'll take those pounds off in January.

Good tidings to you!

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