Provençal White Bean Soup

Provencal White Bean Soup

Even though this soup is full of beans, the real star for us was the celeriac. Besides adding great taste, it also gave the soup that almost toothsome texture that only a root vegetable can. I cut back on the broth (from 8 cups to 6) and next time will reduce it to 4 cups. That’s entirely personal. As my mom says, we don’t like to chase things in our soup so we go for more stuff, less broth.

Speaking of broth, of course you’ll want to use a good quality one. This soup is so quick to make, that you can’t expect the vegetables to give it t he broth itself much flavor. But with the sherry, wine, and herbs, this soup is quite complex for the effort. It has an optional tablespoon of olive oil added at the end, and it defnitely does add to the taste.

Like all the recipes I’ve tried from their books, Horizons recipes actually taste true to the restaurant. That’s an amazing thing. I could imagine getting a cup of this soup at the restaurant, to be followed by that amazing grilled seitan. It really is the perfect starter soup.

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Blackened Tofu with Dirty Rice

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Ok, I admit that I didn’t cook my tofu as long as I could have, but we were ready to eat about an hour before I started making dinner. The texture and seasoning on the tofu were fantastic, even if it could have been more blackened. This recipe uses one of the Horizons spice blends, which are always a hit with us, as is the tofu cooking method. We even happened to have the Cajun spice blend on hand, and with some leftover rice in the fridge, this dinner came together quickly. I was hesitant to add the stock to the rice, but it worked well. We really enjoyed this and will keep it in mind for quick dinners.

There’s really not a lot to say about this one besides yum!

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Tofu Benedict with Bearnaise

Tami has already made this one and so I decided to make it for breakfast on Christmas Day (it just took me a while to get round to writing about it!).

Like Tami, I demand greens in my Benedict, so I used some wilted spinach. We’ve both written before at length about the Horizons method of pan searing tofu. It gives fabulous results and the spice blend used on the outside of the tofu instantly transports you to the restaurant. For the bacon, I used my favourite seitan version from American Vegan Kitchen, sliced thinly. Of course, I used the optional cayenne in the sauce. Mine wasn’t strictly Bearnaise because I couldn’t find fresh tarragon so I used the suggested dill as a substitute.

This was a deliciously decadent Christmas Day breakfast. The tofu seasoning blend is a masterpiece and the sauce is extremely easy yet rich and tasty. We both loved it and we hopefully won’t wait for next Christmas to have it again!

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Mushrooms stuffed with fennel and spinach

I’ve mentioned before that we rarely eat starters but we always do before our main Christmas meal. We eat this meal on Christmas Eve by the way, because we go out for curry on Christmas Day. I try to keep the starter small and light because it precedes a
huge meal. I really just look for something to nibble that works well with a nice dry white wine.

This year I chose the mushrooms stuffed with fennel and spinach from the second Horizons book. I used quite small mushrooms but even so it wasn’t too fiddly and was very quick to put together. The filling is all thrown together in the food processor. I got it all prepared early on then just baked it when we were ready to eat. Made with small mushrooms like this it makes great finger food and nibbles too.

The stuffing was great – nice and simple, the fennel didn’t overpower like it sometimes can. I bet it would work well in cherry tomatoes too. A great start to our Christmas meal.

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Atlantic Tofu Gratin

I have made this dish once before and enjoyed it but it was way before we thought about writing this blog. I had it again last night so I can share the results with you.

I was eating on my own and was looking for something reasonably quick and comforting when I got in from a snowy day watching football. This fitted the bill perfectly. It’s in the appetizer section but I rarely bother with appetizers so I made the full amount and served it with some crusty bread as a main meal. Just for me.

You have to read the instructions carefully because the tofu needs to be prebaked, but it’s easy to miss that. It doesn’t give instructions for doing this but I used the recipe from Appetite for Reduction, and kept the baked tofu in the fridge until I got in. It was a snap to put together after that. I used the optional veggie bacon (from American Vegan Kitchen), spinach and vegan cheese, although much less of both the latter two than the recipe called for. I enjoyed the bacon and spinach but don’t think the optional cheese added anything to what was already a rich, saucy dish. I also cut down a bit on the olive oil in the marinade and I don’t think the dish suffered at all for it.

This is a very unusual dish and would make a delicious starter for company. It’s very rich and the mustard and seafood seasoning (Old Bay in my case) come through strongly. I love both of those flavours so it suited me perfectly but you may want to tweak the amounts if you aren’t such a big fan.  There are lots of juices to mop up and I ended up using rather a lot of bread. Yum. In fact, I ate so much bread that I couldn’t finish the tofu. This was no problem as it meant I had some leftover for lunch today. Quite a small portion though, so I was casting around for something to serve it with, when inspiration hit. I keep lots of odds and sods of pastry in the freezer so I defrosted some, rolled it out, and wrapped it around the rest of the tofu. I baked it until golden then had myself a gorgeous lunchtime pie.

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Tart Tatin a’ l’Americain

 

 

With Thanksgiving behind us, this might be a little late. But there is never a bad time for an apple dessert.

If you’re used to Mom’s Apple Pie, this is very different. The apples are cooked stove-top, arranged in a pie plate, then topped with the crust. I had a few problems with this recipe mostly due to my own doing. First off, I used only apples rather than the apple pear combo. I wasn’t sure if the apples should reach the top of the pie tin (so the crust could rest on them), but that seemed the  most logical. (I think my measurement was off due to my fruit substitution.). The crust is very forgiving. If you are insecure about pastry, this one doesn’t have to be a work of art since the whole tart is tipped over onto the crust. I patched mine together fairly liberally with wet fingers (I ‘rushed’ mine rather than waiting the suggested time), and it still turned out wonderfully.One thing  to note: unless I missed it, the recipe doesn’t have a temperature. I used 375 F.

We enjoyed this dusted with cinnamon with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream on the side. The ideal match would have been cinnamon ice cream. Next time.

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Seitan Steak Marsala

This should be renamed Mmmmmmmmarsala. Really. This is great stuff. Looking at the recipe, a couple things stood out.

1. 16 ounces of seitan. For two people. I love seitan and that’s even more than I might use for two people, as the recipe serves.

2. No onions. Just garlic. Garlic is great, but no onions?

I switched it up a little to use 8 ounces of seitan and 2 large portobello caps. Wild mushrooms are suggested, but I had portobellos that I needed to use. We had it over pasta with arugula mixed in and a side of green beans. We didn’t miss the 8 other ounces of seitan. Our awesome garlic from the September garlic festival came though. With that and the fresh herbs, we didn’t need the onion. It’s an awesome dish, and still could have served 4, or one Tami and two Jims.

This one is in my top 3 favorites so far.

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