Aug 30, 2012

roasted corn bisque

A bounty of corn was to be had in my CSA box a few weeks ago. We love this sweet taste of summer, roasted, barely cooked, slathered with butter and a dash of salt. In its simplicity, nothing really says summer more than an ear of corn. Unless it is a ripe tomato or juicy nectarine or decadent eggplant... 

I had a mushroom bisque slated for the menu on this day, but as soon as the new box arrived, it was time for a change of plans. Roasting corn brings out the sweetness in it, so let's talk roasting. 

Whenever a restaurant dish specifies "roasted" on the menu, the dish gets special attention from the customers. That is because the word 'roasted' evokes a sort of nostalgia, even though it is probably evoking a misconception. Most folks consider roasting to be done in the oven, but technically, and preferably, roasting should take place on the stove top where the cook can see, smell and hear the food cooking to perfection. It is the best way to maintain the proper heat in the pan and adjust seasoning and timing appropriately. Were we to be cooking animal flesh, we would need to finish it in the oven (under ideal conditions), but we have no such restrictions and can easily finish the cooking on the stove top. Roasting is not killer-high-heat cooking, but medium heat cooking. It gives you an opportunity to coerce the food to release its sweetness, its flavor, its aroma. It prevents burning the food (which makes it bitter) and leaves you with the best possible dish. This of course takes time, around 20 minutes, so patience is a must for success.

This bisque utilized the roasting process of corn. Since the corn releases its own 'cream' once blended, there is no need to add vegan milk or cream. After the soup is cooked properly, blend to pulverize it. At this point it is ready to serve as a rustic bisque. If you want a silky, smooth, velvety soup, one you would be able to order at a fancy restaurant, use a very fine sieve, a very fine cheesecloth, or nut bag, to remove the pulp. 

This is a little messy and takes a bit more time, but the resulting texture is worthy of a holiday table or a weekend-night dinner when you want to pamper yourself and your guest(s).

Cost Breakdown

corn: $3

onion, celery, carrot: $.75
herbs, garlic, tomato paste: $.75
flour, wine: $1
Total to make 4 servings:

Aug 21, 2012

tater tot casserole

Alas the first chosen winner for Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day never responded and therefore some other lucky person is the new winner! 

Laurie is the new winner!
Laurie, please contact me to own your very free new cookbook 
by Tami Noyes and Celine Steen!
veganaide (at) yahoo (dot) com

In other interesting development, below is Tater Tot Casserole, Duggar style, just a lot healthier. 

Tater Tot Casserole is amazing because you can utilize whatever protein you'd like for the bottom layer: soy curls (thanks, Dorian!), TVP, ground seitan, tofu, marinated, grilled and diced, or tempeh. I used Soy Curls, rehydrated and sauteed with onion and garlic. The sauce is a creamy "chicken" style gravy. The whole thing is slathered with tater tots and baked to golden crispiness. 

It is as easy as you want it to be and it is sure to be the favorite of any kid. Throw some veggies on the side to make it a complete meal. 

I've blogged about Tater Tot Casserole before, but this time, I am taking the time to write up the recipe.

Cost Breakdown

Soy Curls: $3

onion, flour, spices: $.75
almond milk: $1.50
tater tots: $3
Total to make 5 servings:

RECIPE UPDATE: this dish has been tested and revised and will be featured in the upcoming cookbook "Everyday Vegan Eats," by Zsu Dever.