Completely Board Post #9: Walnut-Mushroom “Meatball” Sandwich

Veg-am's Completely Board - Vegan Month of Food 2014


I posted a pin for a walnut-mushroom meatball sub 2 years ago.  It was finally time to try it out.

I had one dilemma. Finding vegan, gluten-free, soy-free sub rolls.  In the last couple years I discovered Schar burger rolls so I decided to check their sub rolls and similarly shaped products.  They all have soy in them.  In fact, they’ve changed the burger rolls and they have soy now too.

So, what’s an industrious gluten-free girl to do?  Make my own!

For 7 years baking my own yeasted bread attempts have been disastrous. (did you ever see this post from Thanksgiving 2007?)  I don’t try it much because I just can’t take the disappointment.  But, I was determined to give it a go.  I found a recipe for a beautiful gluten-filled roll and set out to deglutenize and make them for myself.  It was a disaster.  They were flat, crumbly, and didn’t even taste that good.  Into the trash they go.

It was time to drop back and punt.  AREPAS!  I love them with pretty much anything you can fill them with.  So, instead of a meatball sub, I had a meatball sandwich, but it was delicious! (The recipe I use is in this post – I used the yellow Doñarepa this time)

With the addition of dates into the meatballs, they were a tiny bit sweeter than I would prefer.  I think I would add some onion powder and maybe a little red pepper to it next time especially if I’m going to use the meatballs in another application.  The texture wasn’t like a real meat meatball, but it wasn’t mushy and completely held up in the sandwich even when I pushed down the top half of the arepa a little.  They seemed way too soft when they came out of the oven, but let them sit for just a couple minutes and they are great.  Seriously, they look so much like the “real” thing.

Walnut Mushroom Meatballs

When paired with those balsamic vegetables and a little bit of soy-free Vegenaise (my addition), the sweet totally worked.  Those balsamic veggies pretty much rocked.  It surprised me completely.  I almost even just used fresh veggies because I’m not typically a huge fan of balsamic.  But, caramelized a little on those sweet onions, peppers and tomatoes, they were quite possibly my favorite part of this dish.  I have a feeling I’ll make them a lot with or without the meatballs.

Last but not least, anytime you can top anything with fresh parsley, I’m there.

Just three little notes on the prep:
1. My food processor is big so when I got the mushroom-date mixture about halfway blended, I had to add the walnut mixture in to get the dates chopped up enough.  Because of there being a small amount of mushroom-date mix, my blade was throwing it all up the sides.  Adding in the walnut mixture made it stay down by the blade, and that worked perfectly.

2. Since I was putting them in an arepa (which I cut open all the way and ate like a sandwich to accommodate all the fillings), I made the meatballs smaller.  I got 17.

3. I used the Food For Life Brown Rice Bread for the bread crumbs.  That don’t get superfine, but they worked great.

All in all, the recipe was easy to follow and the finished product was beautiful and delicious.  Another winning pin.

Walnut Mushroom Meatball Sandwich


Get the original recipe over at Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes by clicking on the image of my pin below.  (Look at that photo.  Is it any wonder that I had to pin that one?)



Also from the Vegan Slow Cooker: Creamy Polenta with Mushroom Ragu & Warm and Fudgy Bread Pudding

I started writing this in October and for some reason just realized it was still a draft so I finished it up :)

I finally broke away from the soups in Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson.

This week I tried a main dish and a dessert.  I couldn’t find any links for the recipes for you, but they are both part of the Google preview if you haven’t worn out your privileges with this book yet.  If you have, maybe you should just buy it, eh?  (It happens to be on sale right now)

The one thing I found surprising about this book, is that the methods for everything aren’t what I would consider a traditional slow cooker meal.  You can’t just toss everything in, be gone for 8-10 hours (or in my case nearly 12) and come home to a complete meal.  Some are like that, but be aware that they aren’t all.  Neither of these are that way.  But they worked out nicely.

On Sunday morning before I started getting ready for church, I put in the polenta so it was timed perfectly with my return for lunch.  As a southern girl, these “grits” were the perfect consistency.  They weren’t stuck together, but you could get away with eating them with a fork.  I do fear though that using broth that they would have been way too salty if I had added the salt called for in the recipe.

The Mushroom Ragu sauce didn’t even hit the slow cooker so this was a half-n-half slow cooker meal. But, using the Trader Joe’s classic organic marinara, it was delish. I added some fresh arugula for a little extra nutrition and had a delicious comfort food lunch.

Creamy Polenta and Mushroom Ragu - Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker


And then there was the Fudgy Bread Pudding.  Oh my word.  The picture does more for this chocolatey goodness than words ever could:

Warm and Fudgy Slow Cooker Bread Pudding

I added about an extra 1/3 cup of non-dairy milk (almond in this case).  For the bread, I used the brown rice bread from Food for Life.  Since bread pudding is ideally made with stale bread, this heavier bread worked perfectly.  I cooked it for about 2.5 hours and we ate it warm.  It was decent cold, but the bread lost its softness.  Heating it back up in the microwave brought it back to it’s original texture.

Asian Style Jackfruit Lettuce Wraps


Check that out.  It looks just like those fancy chicken lettuce wraps at P.F. Chang’s, doesn’t it?  Don’t let the looks fool you.  That right there is a jackfruit lettuce wrap.

Back in my pre-vegan days, I did have the PF Chang’s wraps a few times.  I remember liking them, but I really don’t remember exactly what they tasted like.  If this isn’t it, they’re missing out.

My only complaints: The iceberg lettuce was a little too crispy and broke easily so I think I’d switch to romaine next time.  And the special sauce was a little thin, so I think I’d dip instead of pour.

Overall though, this was a complete success.

I followed this copycat recipe for the P.F. Chang’s wraps.

Here are a few notes on what I did differently:

  1. I cooked on medium high heat instead of high
  2. I used one can (1 lb, 4oz) of jackfruit* in place of the chicken. Be sure to rinse the jackfruit well to get all the brine taste out.  It comes out of the can in little wedges.  Leave them like that for now. The jackfruit pieces only had to cook 3-4 minutes per side.  They were golden brown and started to shrink up a little bit.  It was almost disturbingly chicken-like.
  3. I used coconut aminos anywhere soy sauce was called for.
  4. I used Sriracha in place of the red chile paste because I couldn’t find one without soybean oil.
  5. As suggested in the directions (but not clear in the ingredient list), I added the Sriracha and hot mustard to taste instead of the measurements given.
  6. I used green onions in place of the onions just because I wanted to.
  7. I didn’t bother measuring the mushrooms or water chestnuts.  I just chopped up the mushrooms I had (which was probably too much for the original recipe) and the whole small can of water chestnuts.
  8. The recipe didn’t specify what kind of oil to use.  I chose peanut oil because of its lovely taste and its tolerance to high temperature.
  9. The recipe wasn’t very clear at the beginning about whether it was 3 tablespoons of oil to start with and then add another Tbsp or if it was 2 and then add the third.  I started with 2 and added a third.  It was plenty.
  10. I don’t like leaving oil on the stove for very long without something in it, so I chopped up all the vegetables while the jackfruit was cooking and cut the jackfruit while still warm.

Just in case you couldn’t see the texture of that jackfruit well enough, check this out…

Jackfruit Mixture Upclose

If I hadn’t cooked this myself, I would be hesitant to believe it was meatless.

Despite the fact that I’d seen other uses of jackfruit flying around the internet over the last few years, for some reason I was nervous to use it.  I even bought a can long enough ago that it expired and had to be thrown out.

As it turns out, it is delicious and super easy to cook.  It may have been my first use, but it definitely won’t be my last.  I see an eastern NC style BBQ sandwich in my future.

*In case you aren’t familiar with jackfruit, it’s an Asian fruit.  I found it canned at one of our bigger Asian markets in the area.  Just be sure for “meaty” applications you get the green (or young) jackfruit in brine instead of the jackfruit in syrup.  After it’s cooked, you can either cut it with a knife or pull it with a fork.  I used a knife so I could chop up the harder core pieces.  They’re totally edible too if they’re cut up.  Those ended up being little pieces and the rest shredded as i cut.



National Guacamole Day: Portobello Tacos

Yes, it’s the day avocado lovers all over America have been waiting for.  It’s National Guacamole Day.  I can’t think of a better day to join in solidarity with the vegans of Austin, Tx who have been participating in a month-long Taco Cleanse.

Besides my mother (the mushroom-hater turned “this is my favorite of all your foods”) requested more portobellos.  She wanted a repeat of the MAT lettuce wraps, but in the interest of getting more posts for Vegan MoFo I pleaded with her to agree to try them another way.  She conceded, but only if I promised that liquid smoke would be involved.  Done.

We, along with my sister who was coming to dinner, are big taco fans so I decided to try my hand at portobello tacos. We’re all so glad I did! Cooked this way, the portobello has a nice meaty texture. It looks pretty meaty too. Maybe even a bit too much. But, I promise, that’s all mushrooms and spices in there!

Tuck those mushrooms into some warm, soft corn tortillas with some lettuce and tomato (aren’t those tiny heirloom tomatoes gorgeous?). Top it off with some creamy guacamole, some cool “cheezy creme”, and a little of your favorite salsa and enjoy the great combination of flavors and textures.

They’re super filling. I could only handle two before I was full.

Portobello Tacos | Veg-am

Portobello Tacos

Makes 12 tacos

12 warm, soft corn tortillas (note #1 below)
1 recipe Taco Portobello Mushrooms (recipe below)
1 recipe Cheezy Creme (recipe below)
Guacamole (note #2 below)
Chopped Lettuce (note #3 below)
Diced Tomatoes
Your favorite salsa (note #4 below)

Fill your tortillas with Taco Portobello Mushrooms, lettuce, tomatoes.  Top with a little (or more than a little) each guacamole, Cheezy Creme and Salsa.


Taco Portobello Mushrooms:

8 small portobello caps (about a pound), stems removed, caps thinly sliced
1/4 cup  Water

Marinade ingredients:
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing skillet
2 Tbsp Coconut Aminos (feel free to use soy sauce if you’re not soy-free)
1 tsp Liquid Smoke
1 Tbsp Cumin
3/4 tsp Onion Powder
3/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp salt
Cayenne Pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, mix together all marinade ingredients with a fork.  Add the mushrooms to the bowl and toss until well coated.  Allow to marinate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat large cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Brush a thin layer of olive oil on skillet.  Add mushrooms and 1/4 cup of water. Stir regularly and cook until the mushrooms have released their own water and all the water has cooked out.  Cook it just a little longer until  mushrooms start to dry just a bit (about 10 minutes total cooking time). This is probably about 2 minutes longer than you’d think.  But the additional time is what gives the meatier texture. About halfway through cooking, while there’s still a little water, you can add any additional salt, some fresh ground black pepper, or additional seasonings to taste.


Cheezy Creme

Sometimes things not working out the way you planned is the best thing.  I wanted to break away from using the processed non-dairy cheeses.  So, I originally started out to make just a cheezy sauce but didn’t like it at all. I kept tweaking it until I landed on this.  It has the flavors of a nutritional yeast based “cheezy” sauce with the texture and coolness of a cashew “sour cream”.

3/4 tsp Sweet Paprika
1/2 cup Water
1 cup Raw Cashew Pieces
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
2 Tbsp Tahini
2 tsp Onion Powder
1 large clove Garlic
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp salt

Blend all ingredients in a blender, scraping down sides as necessary, until creamy. This will probably take 6-10 minutes depending on the strength of your blender.  Put in a small container. Taste for salt and stir in additional if necessary (remember there’s also salt in the mushrooms, salsa and guacamole and salt accordingly).  Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to marry and creme to thicken.

If you happen to have any of this left over, it makes a good chip dip by adding chipotle Tabasco to taste.

1. Tortillas: I used homemade using the recipe from Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero.  Store bought ones should work, just warm them up so they have enough flexibility.  I even used some crunchy taco shells the next day just to try them out.  It was good, but with this taco, I like the soft tortillas better.

2. Guacamole:  I’m a guac purist.  There are lots of recipes floating around with tomato and onion.  They’re ok, I suppose, but I don’t really want them.  Then there are the ones with sour cream and/or mayo.  Don’t even let me hear you thinking about those. The best guac is the one made of just ripe avocado, lime juice, garlic and salt.  I don’t usually measure what I put in, and I often get a bit lazy and just use garlic salt.  But 2 years ago on National Guacamole Day, I actually measured a batch.  You can find my basic guacamole recipe here. Depending on how much guacamole everyone likes, you might want to double up.

3. Lettuce:  I usually use romaine for tacos.  But this time, I had some leftover butter lettuce.  It worked great.  Use iceberg if you roll that way.

4.  Salsa: I like all kinds of salsas.  But for tacos, I prefer the non-chunky, plain ol’ tomato, medium-heat salsa.  The Trader Joe’s Salsa Autentica is my favorite.



MAT Lettuce Wraps – or – The One Where My Mom Likes Mushrooms

I used to hate mushrooms.  I came by it honestly.  My mom doesn’t like them.  At all.  But, over the last several years, I’ve found some ways that I really like them.  Portobellos especially have become a staple in my kitchen.

I always offer whatever I’m cooking, but when it involves mushrooms, I always expect a no from my mom.  I guess it was a combination of the smoky, sweet smell wafting from the kitchen and the gorgeous green of the fresh lettuce wrap that finally got to her. She decided to try one. It went something like this:

“Mom, these are a little peppery because I thought I would be the only one eating them”
“That’s ok.  I’ll try it.”  ::takes bite:: “mmm…that’s good”
“Really?  Good.  I’m glad you like it”
“These are REALLY good”
“Wow! That’s great”
“I think this is the best thing of yours I’ve tried”
“Seriously?  You know you’re eating mushrooms, right?  Even better than the pumpkin roll?
“Well, no.  But the best thing that wasn’t a dessert”  (completely expected from someone with a sweet tooth)

The best part is that this is something I can whip up when I get home from work without too much effort or kitchen mess.  It took about 45 minutes start to finish (and that was with me writing down measurements/times, etc).

I was originally going for a crispy, mushroom “bacon”.  I didn’t get crispy, but I got meaty which I actually liked better.  In case you’re thinking that cooking them longer will get you crispy…it will, but they’ll taste burned.  There were a few little tiny pieces that met that fate.

MAT Lettuce Wraps (smoked Portobello strips)  | Veg-am

MAT Lettuce Wraps

  • Smoked Portobello Strips (recipe below)
  • Thinly sliced Tomato (cut to whatever size you need to fit in your wrap.  My big tomato had to be cut in quarters)
  • Thinly sliced Avocado
  • Butter Lettuce Leaves

Wash and dry the lettuce leaves.  Place portabello strips in center of each leaf.  Top with tomato and avocado slices.  Pick it up, folding the lettuce leaf around the sides of the fillings, and eat like a taco.  Enjoy!

Smoked Portobello Strips

(enough for 4 lettuce wraps)

  • 2 large portobello caps, sliced thinly
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp coconut aminos (if you’re not soy-free, soy sauce would work)
  • 1/2 tsp hickory liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients except mushrooms.  Add in the mushrooms and toss to coat.  Allow to marinate about 20 minutes, tossing once more about halfway through.

While the mushrooms are marinating, preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

After marinating, arrange the mushroom strips on the parchment paper (Some probably will have broken up into smaller pieces.  That’s ok.). If using, grind fresh ground pepper over mushrooms to taste.  Bake until “meaty”/slightly chewy but not crispy, about 20 minutes.



Cookbook Challenge Week 7 (catchup): Appetite for Reduction and Viva Vegan

I got dreadfully behind on the cookbook challenge during Vegan Mofo, but I’m going to try to play some catchup and do at least one recipe for each of the books I have or can get my hands on.
Today, I made two recipes for last weeks’ challenge. It was an Isa Chandra Moskowitz/Terry Hope Romero week. So, I could choose any recipes from any of their books.

I chose the Tortilla Soup from Appetite for Reduction (Moskowitz) and the Mushroom Quinotto from Viva Vegan (Romero)

The best thing is that I didn’t need to sub anything for either of these recipes!! They were both already gluten/soy free.
And they both earn a **** on my rating system (below). I wouldn’t change anything and I will definitely make them again.
I did leave out the optional red pepper flakes in the Tortilla Soup and it would have been a tad too hot for me with it.

Thankfully, I was able to track down the aji amarillo paste for the quinotto. The sweet lady at the tienda Mexicana near my house had no idea what I was talking about (and I did ask for it in Spanish). But I was able to find this nice little Peruvian item in a supermercado in Raleigh. The supermercado carries more South American items. (For you locals I found it at International Foods in the Brentwood Shopping Center at New Hope Church Road/Atlantic). It would have been delicious even without it, but it just gave a little extra yum.
It is not the most photogenic of meals, but it is arguably the best quinoa I have ever had. It was a little labor intensive with the consistent stirring. Before I tried it I was thinking it wasn’t worth it, but after I had dinner I decided it was. Can I say YUM just one more time?

I highly recommend both of these. I’d be happy to serve these to anybody that can handle the spice of the soup. If they can’t even handle mild spice, the quinotto would still be a great choice without the aji paste.

Ratings (please bear in mind that the ratings are based on the recipes with my gluten free/soy free subs, so if the subs are significant, it’s not necessarily the recipe’s fault – sometimes I’ll add extra notes about this or change the rating slightly to account for the substitutions)
* = yuck, not even worth trying again
** = has potential, but needs significant tweaking
***= good, needs a little adjustment
****= excellent

1 food 5 ways, Mushrooms, Way #5: Mushroom-Prune Tagine

I got the amazing chance to go to Morocco 5 years ago. In addition to coming home with a lot of fabulous memories and photographs, I came home with a love for tagine.
I wasn’t vegan yet when I was there, so my favorite was a meat & prune tagine. This is the version I eat now: Mushroom-Prune Tagine. Ok…I can see you turning your nose up at the prune. Don’t be so hard on it. It has bad reputation for being useful for old people that need a little help with their regularity. But it’s really a sweet little gem. And it gives a tagine a sweetness that I’ve never had in a vegetable dish before. So don’t diss the prunes. If you do, don’t let me hear it.
Tagine is the word for the slow-cooked stew like dish that is traditional in Morocco, but it’s also the word for the cool cookware it’s prepared in.

Isn’t it beautiful? I wish I had gotten one when I was there. They’re too expensive here.

But instead, this is my setup…

It’s not a great picture, obviously, but that’s my large cast iron skillet and a cookie sheet. Nope, it’s not as pretty as the traditional dish. But it works. Even if you don’t have an oven safe skillet, you can use the skillet on the stove top and then move everything to a covered roasting pan to finish it in the oven. My understanding is that if you own an actual tagine, you’d need a lot less water than written below. But if you have one, you probably know how to use it!

How much you make depends on the size of your skillet/roasting pan. My skillet is a 12″ one, so it holds a lot. But this fills it up, so if your skillet is smaller, cut back a little. The vegetables you use and the ratios of them are pretty much up to you, but I find this to be a good balance and these all absorb the spices really well. But, really, don’t skip the prunes.

Mushroom-Prune Tagine

Not the most photogenic of foods, but it is tasty!
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 tsp crushed garlic (equiv of 2-3 cloves)
2 large portabella caps (just under 1/2 lb), cut into 3/4″ cubes
1 small eggplant (about 3/4 lb), cut into 3/4″ cubes
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced (if tops are particularly wide, cut into half moons)
2 small zucchini (about 1/2 lb), sliced. (If zucchini is larger, cut into half moons)

10 prunes, cut into 4-6 pieces per prune

3 cups water (more or less – enough to cover the veg mixture)
Spice mixture:
1-1/2 Tbs cumin
1-1/2 tsp coriander
1 Tbs cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cardamom
2-3 dashes fresh black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350
Heat the 2 tsp olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for another minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add about 1/4 cup of the water and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are beginning to get tender, about 5 more minutes. Add the other vegetables and stir (more likely fold) to combine. Sprinkle the spice mixture on top of the vegetables. Pour in the water – enough to come up to the top of the vegetable line, not above. Then stir (or fold) to get all the spices mixed in the water and the vegetables coated. Fold in the prunes.
Here’s where it goes in the oven. So if your skillet is not oven save, transfer everything into a casserole dish/roasting pan/anything that’s a comparable size to your skillet and can be covered. You want the veg not to be spread out on something big like a cookie sheet. The depth of it helps it to all get really tender just like in a slow cooker.
Put your skillet or other dish in the oven and completely cover. The steam should not have a vent. Let it slow cook until all the vegetables are really tender and the water & spices have been absorbed. For me this was about 2 hours.

1. The vegetables were “done enough” at an hour, but there was still quite a bit of liquid. So check at an hour and see how the liquid is holding up. If it’s gone and the veg aren’t soft enough, you can add a little. But if there’s quite a lot left, let it continue to cook until it’s almost gone, but not completely dry. The vegetables just get softer and sweeter the longer they cook. The texture should be similar to what they would be like if you’d cooked them in a crockpot all day.

2. Tagine is frequently eaten over couscous, but that’s not gluten free. Millet, quinoa, and brown rice are all good substitutes if you want a to make your meal more carbolicious, but I like it as is.

3. If you happen to have any leftovers, it freezes and reheats well!

1 food 5 ways, Mushrooms, Way #4: Herbed Polenta Cups with Mushroom-Onion Filling

More experimenting with mushrooms! I think I hit the flavor straight on, but the execution of it could have been improved a bit. Even with the less than perfect product, I can totally see this sage-y goodness on a plate with gravy for brunch. Or Thanksgiving. Or a Wednesday.
Herbed Polenta Cups with Mushroom-Onion Filling

Makes 12

(is it just me or does the one on the right remind anybody else a little of a Stormtrooper?)

2 cups vegetable broth

1-1/2 cups water
1 cup polenta (Also Known to us Southerners as grits. I use yellow but I suppose white would be fine)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus enough to oil pan
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 Tbsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried rubbed sage
1/2 tsp ground rosemary
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 cup red onion, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp water
1-1/2 cup white mushrooms, coarsely chopped
Lightly oil a muffin tin with olive oil.
Bring water/vegetable broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.
While waiting for the water to boil, begin the filling: Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When oil is heated, add the red onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and the 2 Tbsp water. Continue to saute until the mushrooms are tender and the onions are browning, about 5 more minutes. Set aside until ready to fill the polenta cups.
While the filling is cooking and you’re still waiting for the water to boil: In a small bowl, mix the 2 Tbsp olive oil and all the herbs for the polenta mixture.
When water/vegetable broth boils, add the polenta in a slow, steady stream. Be sure to mix with a whisk as you pour it. Add the olive oil/herb mixture and mix well so it is evenly distributed in the polenta. Lower the heat to low. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat, leave covered and let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Here’s how I molded the polenta (and I’ll note how I think it could have been improved afterwards)
I put about 1/4″ polenta mix in each muffin cup, let cool about 5 minutes and formed a well in the polenta with my finger. Then put 1 heaping Tbsp filling in the well, trying not to touch the sides, then using a small spoon and my finger, built up the sides and topped it off with polenta to almost full. Push it down to help mold it and smooth the bottom with the backside of a spoon. The one in the picture is actually a tiny bit too full to make twelve polenta cups, so use a little less polenta than shown to finish it off.
Put muffin tin in the refrigerator for an hour or more so the polenta can set.

Preheat broiler and lightly oil a cookie sheet.

Loosen the cups with a fork (being careful not to separate the cups where the filling line is) and put rough side down on the cookie sheet. Broil until golden brown. This depends a lot on your broiler and how far down you put the sheet from the element (or flame). I use an electric oven, put the sheet about 5-6 inches from the broiler and it took 18 minutes. The directions for broccoli polenta in Veganomicon says to broil 3-4 inches away and it will take 7 minutes. So the trick is to put it at a distance with which you are comfortable and keep a close eye on it. Check it every couple minutes. As it gets close to done, you might even want to check every minute. When broiling, you can go from almost ready to burned in a flash.
Serve immediately.
What I would do differently: The only issue I had with this was there was too much cooling while I was forming the cups, so the final product wasn’t as sturdy as polenta typically is. It worked on a plate with a fork so it was far from failure and I wouldn’t have been ashamed to serve them.
BUT I think I should have been less OCD about the mushroom mix being in the middle…it ended up showing on the sides any way. So, in the future, I will try one of two things in the molding process to make it just a tiny bit better:
1. Still use the muffin cups, but don’t worry with the “well” and definitely dont let it cool before topping it off. Put some polenta in the bottom, toss in the filling – trying to concentrate it in the middle but not getting crazy about it – , put some polenta on the top. Then put in the refrigerator and follow the rest of the process above
2. Put half the polenta as a bottom layer in a 9×9 baking dish, put the mushroom/onion mix in a layer and then do a second layer of polenta on the top. Let refrigerate, then cut into squares before broiling
And I would totally make gravy.

1 food 5 ways, Mushrooms, Way #3: Sloppy Joe Pie (new and improved gluten free crust!) & Bonus EZPZ Pie

Yesterday was a nice break. After cycling class this morning, I was ready to get back in the kitchen and try Mushroom way #3. I originally was going to make a cheeseburger pie, but it morphed into this Sloppy Joe Pie. I’m so glad it did. It’s just the way I like my food: saucy with a little kick.
Even better than the pie is a new and improved pie crust. My sister, who has a lot of the same allergies I have, has recently discovered a problem with cane sugar and tapioca. She’s ok with the little bit of tapioca in the daiya, but was afraid of the crust that relied heavily on tapioca starch). So the mission was pie crust without tapioca and using agave. Since I was no longer using my go to flour mix with the tapioca, I decided to ditch the brown rice flour too. I’ve never been a big fan. I find it to be gritty and a little hard to work with. This new crust was easier to work with, didn’t get too hard on the edges (where its doubled up a little from pinching it together) and had a better texture after baking too. The recipe is for two single crust pies or a double crust pie. So I had enough to make an EZPZ Apple pie for dessert!
Sloppy Joe Pie:
1-9″ deep dish pie
1 prepared gluten-free, cane sugar free pie crust (recipe follows)
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cups cremini mushrooms cut in large dice
1-1/2 cups cooked green or brown lentils
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp liquid smoke, optional but recommended (some flavors/brands have sugar, others dont)
fresh ground black pepper to taste
Filling Sauce:
6 oz can of Tomato Paste
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp Agave
2 tsp yellow prepared mustardTopping:
1 cup cheddar style Daiya vegan cheese (Gluten and Soy-Free!!)

Preheat oven to 350 and have pie crust prepared and waiting.Prepare filling: Heat oil in cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. While the onions are cooking, mix all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Add mushrooms and 2 Tbsp water and continue to cook until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 more minutes. Add salt, pepper and liquid smoke and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the lentils and stir until well combined. Add sauce and stir to mix well.

Put the filling in the crust. If it doesn’t go quite to the top, roll the crust edges in toward the filling a little bit. Sprinkle the daiya on top.

Bake 45 minutes. Check it at about 30 and cover the edges with foil if the crust is getting too dark.


Here’s a look at a single piece. To tell you the truth, neither of us could eat just one piece.


Gluten-free, cane sugar free pie crust:

1/2 cup arrowroot
3/4 cup garfava flour (garbanzo and fava bean flour)
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup soy-free vegan shortening (like Spectrum)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1/2 cup very cold water (you may end up needing a little bit more for desired consistency)
A little tip to start out with – I think it helps if the shortening is cold, so I put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes before I start mixing anything.
Put the first 5 ingredients in a fine mesh sieve and “sift” into a medium mixing bowl. Divide the shortening into thirds. Add 1/3 of the shortening into the flour mixture and cut into the flour mixture. Repeat with each of the other two thirds. There should be no big chunks of shortening, just little flour-y crumbles.
In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, water and agave. Again working in 3 batches, mix the water/vinegar mixture into the dry ingredients with a fork. The dough should hold together. If you need to add a little more water to achieve a good dough consistency, you can. (I think I needed about a tsp extra this time)
Gather the dough into a ball and knead until it all holds together. Form into a ball and flatten out a bit. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes it is ready to roll. Keep some of the garfava on hand for folling. Lightly flour the surface (I use wax paper taped to the counter) and the rolling pin.
Use about 1/2 of the dough for a single crust deep dish pie. Roll out and place in pie pan. If the pastry cracks, just use your fingers dipped in water to “heal” it.
Please note: This crust is a little browner to begin with than most pastry crusts (because of the agave), so you may end up with a darker than usual crust. Mine was a little darker than ideal, but it’s certainly not burned. You may be able to cover the crust a little earlier than you would with a regular pie crust and solve that.
Never thought you’d see an apple pie in a post about mushrooms, did you? Me either.
But I had extra dough and a 32 oz jar of EZPZ Pies Apple Pie filling, so I made a bonus pie!
Roll out the crust, put it in the pan, pour in the filling. I had a little crust leftover, so I cut out stars to top the pie. If I had used a 9″ deep dish, instead of a 10″ deep dish, there may have even been enough for a lattice crust on top. Or I could have used the crumble topping recipe on the jar (which I didn’t think of until after the fact!)

Let me tell you a little bit about EZPZ Pies apple pie filling: It has no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors, no trans fat and no gluten! It’s full of crisp-tender apples and perfectly seasoned.

The founders of EZPZ Pies are dear friends of mine who have a heart for children and the family. The proceeds from the pie fillings go toward funding their own adoption (which should be complete soon!!) and to support other adoptive families. Please support them if you can! You will not be disappointed in this product! (Note: the crumble crust topping that is included the gift baskets is not gluten-free, but the recipe for the topping is on the pie filling jar so you can use soy-free earth balance and your own gluten-free flour and that should work just fine. If you don’t happen to be gluten-free, the topping mix has no butter in it already, so you can just use your usual butter replacement)
Note after eating the apple pie: be careful to roll the crust out thin. I left the stars thicker so they didn’t get quite as cooked and were a little beany tasting. The crust itself was not like that presumably because it was thin and cooked thoroughly.
Happy for a good kitchen day! Hope the next experiment works as well. How did yours go today?

1 food 5 ways, Mushrooms, Way #2, Blackened Portabella Salad

I mentioned I would be doing some experimenting during mofo and that some things wouldn’t turn out quite the way I’d hoped while others would be exactly what I wanted. This post is a mixed bag. But as promised, I’m reporting to you the good and the not so good.

Blackened Portabella Salad

The success: I used the blackening seasoning from Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen (part of his Blackened Tofu Slabs with Succotash Salsa recipe) to blacken a portabella cap. I cannot describe to you just how good this is. I absolutely love this spice mixture. It’s pretty hot from cayenne, but not the kind of hot where you can’t taste anything else. The flavors are amazing (not unlike how amazing Bryant’s recipe for black-eyed pea fritters and hot pepper sauce is). A big thank you to Bryant for letting me post the spice mix here for you!

To blacken the mushroom…Preheat a skillet lightly coated with oil over medium heat. After removing the stem, brush oil on both sides of the cap and sprinkle with the blackening spice mix (recipe follows). It’s really up to you how much to use. I pretty much coat the mushroom with it. And I’m not gonna lie, I keep adding it as the mushroom cooks. Cook the mushroom in the pan until it is releasing it’s own water and spices are dark. In order to encourage the mushroom to start releasing it’s own water, I put about a tablespoon of water in the pan around the mushroom and cover with a lid. Flip the mushroom a few times throughout cooking to get even blackening on top and bottom. How long you cook it is really up to the doneness you desire. For a salad like this, I like it to still be juicy rather than chewy – that took me about 10 minutes total cooking time. If you want it chewier, you can just keep cooking it.
Cut mushroom cap in half and then cut each half into 1/2″ slices. Lay the mushroom slices in two rows across a bed of mixed greens. Dress as desired (see “The so-so” and the “Proposed fix for the so-so” below for what I did vs. what I think I would do in the future)
Vegan Soul Kitchen Blackening Spices (From Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry)
Printed with permission
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp coriander
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp white pepper
In a small bowl, mix all ingredients to combine.
A double batch fills up an average size spice bottle that you can buy where bulk spices are sold. This is definitely a mix I want to have on hand.

The so-so:
I’m not a huge fan of sweet, fruity dressings. I like savory, tangy dressings. I know this. And yet because of the spicy mushroom I decided I wanted to try a sweet dressing. I certainly didn’t think it was bad: it’s just not my preference. But it might be yours, so I’m going to post it anyway. Use it if you like, don’t if you don’t.
Creamy Mango Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews (soaked for an hour and then drained)
  • 3/4 cup mango, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 6 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp agave
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until completely smooth (about 5-6 minutes), scraping down the sides as necessary.
The proposed fix to the so-so: In the future, I think I’d just put some diced mango and almond slivers directly on the salad and then mix a little red wine vinegar and agave (1:1) to drizzle on top. I’d still get a little sweet, add a little crunch, and get a more tangy dressing. The one thing I wouldn’t change is that mushroom! And the mushrooms are what these posts are really about.
I have a couple more experiments up my sleeve: 1. Herbed Polenta Cups with Mushroom-Onion Filling and 2. Mushroom-Lentil Cheeseburger Pie. Don’t they seriously sound good? Now if my cooking skills can keep up with my imagination, I would be one happy blogger!

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