I’ve Been Missing Out

Every holiday that warranted a pie meant lemon meringue. It’s my dad’s favorite so it’s what my mom always made. I have never been a fan of lemon meringue. The meringue was always weird and chewy and the lemon was just weirdly congealed lemon juice. If we didn’t have pie we had bishop’s pie dessert, which is as processed and church-food as it gets. I think it originated at a restaurant and it’s basically a graham cracker crust, chocolate pudding mixed with soft ice cream, topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Classy.

What I’m getting at is we didn’t have those traditional holiday pies until I became a teenager who liked to cook. Then there more be an apple pie or a pumpkin one. But never pecan. Ever. I don’t know why, it just didn’t happen and I made it nearly twenty-six years without having a piece of pecan pie and now that I’ve experienced it I feel sad for all those missed slices. Though truth be told I probably would have had a lot of crappy, overly sweet pie before I got to the one I made today. I was talking about pies at work today and a co-worker was aghast that I’d never had pecan pie so I resolved to make it when I got home. I went with the maple pecan pie from the always awesome and completely fail-proof Isa from the PPK.

I’m fighting every urge to go have another slice. But that can wait until breakfast I suppose. I can promise that this will be making an appearance at an upcoming holiday.

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Neighbors

We have wonderful neighbors here in Ames. They invite us for dinner and speed scrabble. We loan each other ingredients and baking pans. AND when they dumpster dive they bring us treats. Like today when we got bread from that ubiquitous overpriced bakery chain. 

I like sticking it to the man with blueberry bagels. 

I also baked sunflower cookies and am marinating tofu which will go into stir fry.

Asian Marinated Tofu

1 lb. Extra firm tofu

Slice and press for at least half an hour.

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. tamari

1 tbsp. red wine (sake or sherry would be better, but I had open red wine)

1 tbsp. cider vinegar or rice vinegar

1 tsp. granulated garlic

1 tsp. granulated onion

1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger

3 tbsp. water

1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes

 

Combine all in an oven safe pan, add tofu, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes at least. It can also be left overnight. Flip tofu halfway through marinating.

Preheat oven to 375ºF and bake for 35 – 45 minutes. Add tofu to stir fry or serve on its own. The juice is wonderful added to stir fries as well. Mix with a little cornstarch and you got yourself  a little sauce.

Moussaka

It may sound weird on the tongue, but it tastes just fine. Most traditional moussaka has lamb and cheese and all that jazz. But vegan moussaka doesn’t need all that malarkey. I had an eggplant that needed using and I didn’t want to go the curry route. I’ve made the Veganomicon moussaka before and its damn tasty. Trouble was I didn’t have all the ingredients. So I improvised and created an incredibly untraditional recipe. This is based off the VCon recipe which you can find in the book, or if you’re a broke college student its floating around the interwebs. In which case you should ask for it at the next appropriate holiday.

Moose Kaka? No, no – Moussaka 

1 eggplant, ends trimmed and sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch sheets

1 zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch sheets

1 sweet potato, you get the picture – trimmed and sliced

Oil

Sauce

1 28 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes (I used diced tomatoes, but sauce would save a step)

1 tsp. granulated garlic

1 tsp. granulated onion

1 tsp. each dried thyme, oregano, rosemary

Salt and pepper

Nut Cream

1 lb. silken tofu

2/3 c. almonds or walnuts (I used a mix of both)

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 rounded teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 tsp. granulated garlic

Pinch of mace

Salt and pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Oil some sheet pans and arrange the sliced veggies on them. Roast 15 minutes for the zucchini and eggplant, and 20 minutes for the sweet potato.

Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a pot. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

While the veggies are roasting and the sauce a’simmerin’ you can make the nut cream (terrible name but I don’t know what else to call it, maybe walnut ricotta). Pulse the nuts until evenly chopped. Add the lemon juice and grind to a paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl every once in a while. Add the rest of the cream/ricotta ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust the salt and seasonings if you need too. 

At this point the veggies should be nearing done and the sauce is ready. Turn off the stove, turn down the oven to 350ºF and take the veggies out. Let them begin to cool either on the pan or if you have limited space (such as myself) put them on a plate and out of the way. If you used tomato sauce kudos to you. If you used diced tomatoes then scrape the cream/ricotta into another dish and puree the tomato sauce. Now, assemble!

In a 9×13 pan layer a good 1/3 of the tomato sauce on the bottom. Now in goes a layer of eggplant then sweet potato. Another layer of tomato sauce and 1/3 to 1/2 the nut stuff. On goes the zucchini, the rest of the eggplant, rest of the tomato sauce, and the rest of the nut cream/ricotta.

The original recipe calls for putting this in for 35-40 minutes. I think mine was in for an hour, but thats because not all the dinner participants were there. I took mine out after an hour, let it cool, then popped it back in to warm it up later. I think this made it really nice. We all know lasagne is better the next day because its had time to set, same thing here. Don’t try to cut it up immediately out of the oven. Your patience will be rewarded. 

But no picture, you have to make it yourself. We ate it too quickly and the remains disappeared into a lunchbox.

This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of KarynMC.