Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gourmet at Home!

If you have been following A Midlife Vegan for a while, you will have noticed my husband and I go out . . . a lot. When the kids were small, we NEVER went out. My husband always wanted to, party boy, but I would not leave my babies. It was 6 months before I left my son with my own mom, who I trust with the lives of all I hold dear. Looking back, it was a bit of an unbalanced approach, but you know what? I don't regret it. Those sweet little babies grew up so fast, I am so happy I didn't miss a minute.

So now, the pendulum has swung and we go out once or twice a week. Last night, however, the kids were happily occupied here, Wynne with two friends who slept over, and Hans in the gameroom playing the latest video game with about 20 of his best friends online. My husband and I were enjoying the beautiful weather and decided to spend some time on our patio out back instead of rallying for yet another outing. The man grilled himself a steak and I invented some new recipes. He didn't try the tofu, but he did enjoy the noochy roasted cauliflower and the mushroom and bean melange. We put on some good music, opened a bottle of wine and got to work in the kitchen, and back patio, the dogs following us back and forth, hoping we would drop something luscious. We set our little patio table with a candle, loaded up our plates and declared our food was every bit as good as what we could find at a fine restaurant! After dinner we lingered in the fresh air and candlelight, and it was nice, on one of my trips to the bathroom,  to be able to quickly whip up a facemask for the girls as they indulged in "spa night" in Wynne's bathroom -- mashed avocado, banana and oatmeal, cucumber slices for their eyes. It took a couple of seconds and then I was back outside on my date! Incidentally, at one point I overheard Wynne saying to her friends, "Aren't my parents adorable?" That sure warms my heart!

The tofu and cauliflower were easy dishes, I wouldn't even call them recipes, but here's how I made them:

Tofu -- cubed and marinated in lemon juice, shoyu, minced garlic and salt and pepper, then broiled about 3 minutes, turned and broiled 3 more minutes.

Cauliflower -- Rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted at 400 degrees for half an hour, and then sprinkled with nutritional yeast (I finally found some -- YAY!) then returned to the warm oven on the lower shelf while the broiling was going on up top.

These were both techniques I came up with not directly from any recipes, but just from my leisure reading of many recipes in Veganomicon which is an amazing cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. What I came up with here was pretty good. The tofu was just okay as it was, but I know I will enjoy the leftovers more in a wrap or a salad.

The real star of the show last night was a recipe I created that I call Mushroom and Bean Melange. I am using this french word because the finished product was so delicious and rich and very much reminded me of something we could have found at one of our favorite restaurants from our Washington D.C. era -- Le Gaulois on King Street in Old Town Alexandria. What an amazing, authentic and rustic French restaurant that place was (I hope it is still there!) My Mushroom and Bean Melange is definitely reminiscent of that time and place.  Here's the recipe:

Mushroom and Bean Melange

1/4 lb. oyster mushrooms
1/2 lb. button mushrooms
1 celery stalk, diced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 can beans -- I used pinto and canellini -- rinsed well
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. Earth Balance, divided
salt and pepper

Over medium heat, saute celery and shallot in the oil and 1 Tbsp. of Earth Balance for 3-4 minutes.  Add button mushrooms and saute an additional 3 minutes. Add oyster mushrooms, thyme and a tablespoon more of earth balance, and saute for just one minute more, then add beans and turn off the burner. Stir and cover, letting the beans warm  through. Season with salt and pepper.
Serves 4

This recipe turned out to be so delicious, it knocked my socks off!  I would even venture to say it is my favorite original Midlife Vegan recipe. My only regret is that I didn't make more of it.  I had some, cold, on a piece of sourdough bread (Oh My Lord how YUM!) and now it is almost gone.  So you may want to double it. Vegans and non-vegans alike will devour it!

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