Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Accidental Vegan Veggie Pie

The Sisters of Mercy Cooking Team

One of my volunteer gigs is to cook a meal once a month with two friends for the members of Roberts Creek Cohousing. As we cook, we chat about this and that: family news, dreams, politics – you name it. If the menu is not too challenging, we also take time to listen carefully to a particular piece of music, or share some poetry. You can’t beat it for a way to spend an afternoon. That is, unless you try to poach 40 apples in Saltspring Island port for dessert. So, I won’t say much about that debacle. We turned that particular mess into high end apple sauce.

Instead, since so many asked for it, here is my recipe for My Accidental Vegan Veggie Pie. I am calling it accidental, because I am not a vegan and when I started in on this recipe I was mostly guided by significant doses of guess and by golly, but that is the beauty of these afternoons. We are often required to cook outside our usual culinary box.

That night, we were cooking for 40-45 people, 10 of whom were vegetarians and 3 of the vegetarians were vegans. For the omnivores, I was on more experienced territory. We made half a dozen turkey-vegetable pies using up frozen left-over Xmas turkey and stock. Easy, peasy.

That being said, I will in the future cook this vegan pie for my own home meals. The trick is the gravy:

Mushroom Miso & Mustard Gravy
  • 3T vegan butter substitute
  • 2T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 generous cups finely sliced mushrooms (about 1/3 pound)
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/4 cups vegetable stock (If store-bought, I prefer Knorr– some of the other brands smell like old cabbage or unwashed socks  to me)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
  • 1 generous tablespoon golden miso (aka sweet white miso)
  • 1 generous tablespoon dark miso (aka traditional red miso)
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Melt the butter and olive oil together in a large skillet over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add the onion and sauté, stirring often, for about 4 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften but doesn’t caramelize. Raise the heat slightly and add the mushrooms. Continue cooking, stirring often, for 5 to 6 minutes more until the mushrooms are soft.
2. Turn the heat down to medium and sprinkle the flour over the onion, mushroom mix. Stir quickly as you would when making a roux until all the flour is absorbed and has cooked into the rest a bit. Then slowly add the vegetable stock, and stir until it is well combined. Allow it to simmer for 5-10 minutes. Do this until it is thickened, but not like glue.
3. Pour the wine into a suitably sized bowl, and add the garlic, golden miso, dark miso, nutritional yeast, and mustard. Whisk them well together, and then then whisk them into the stock and veggie mix.
4. Reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer very gently, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, and then set aside.

The Vegetables for the Pie

While the gravy is simmering, chop whatever veggies you want in your pie. Quantities are flexible. Use whatever you have on hand, enough to fill whatever size of casserole dish you are baking the pie in. We used potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and onions, and cut them into large thumbnail sized bits, enough to fill a 13”X9” dish. Then we tossed the chopped veg in salt, pepper and olive oil, and roasted them at 400 F for about 25 minutes (check them after about 20 minutes. You want them to be slightly caramelized, but not blackened.) Once they were cooked enough (the main idea is to reduce the water content and thereby to intensify the flavours), we added sliced mushrooms and peas.

Mix all the veg into the gravy, and pour into a Pyrex baking dish, and top with pastry.


My pastry recipe is something like (approximate, because after doing it for 5 decades, I don’t really look any more):

·       2 ½ c organic white flour
·       ½ lb shortening
·       1 tsp white vinegar
·       ½ c or so of water – enough so that the dough coheres.

Bake for about 30 minutes at 375F.

These amounts will serve 6-10 people, depending on how many are adults and how many are children. Bear in mind that teenage boys count as if they are three adults. Fair enough.

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