Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Nice Evening for a Bowl of Chili, and a Bonfire

It was cold today. And worse than that, it was cold and gray. It was truly a stereotypical fall day. It was a perfect day for a bowl (or 2) of chili. We'd been invited to a Halloween/Fall party and bonfire and we were to bring a dish to share. Chili was what I brought to share.

I make a Vegetable 3-Bean Chili. It's my adaptation of a recipe that I got off of a Rachael Ray episode. I know how a lot of my fellow bloggers feel about RR, but I like her. Granted she doesn't make a lot of vegetarian friendly meals, but she does inspire a lot of people to cook at home and that's far better than running by the local fast food joint.

Anyway, I don't know the exact recipe (I've been making it so long I kind of know it by heart now), and I don't have exact measurements because I basically just make it by taste, but here's a pretty close guesstimate:

2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or EVOO in Rachael Ray speak)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper (or hot pepper of your choice), chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced.
sea salt
1 Tbs ground cumin
2 Tbs chili powder (plus more to taste)
5 cups vegetable stock
2 cups cooked kidney beans
2 cups cooked black beans
1 15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
1 can vegetarian refried beans

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Saute peppers, onion and garlic until vegetables begin to soften. Season with salt, cumin and chili powder and cook for about a minute more. Deglaze pot with vegetable stock. Then add in kidney beans, black beans and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Let simmer for awhile (I don't really know how long, just until you are about ready to eat I guess). Stir in 1 can of refried beans to thicken chili. Taste and season accordingly with more chili powder and/or salt.

I also made the Chipotle Lime 2-Bean Hummus from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan to bring along and share. I let Rob have a sample after I whirled it up in the food processor, and he couldn't stop eating it. It really did turn out delicious, and we have plenty left over (I made a double batch) to snack on tomorrow. I think next time I will add slightly more chipotle hot sauce, but other than that, it was perfect. We dipped tortilla chips in it, but we're going to be trying it very soon as a burrito filling.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Veggie Pot Pie

After what seems like a never ending stretch of temperatures soaring into the 90's, it's beginning to feel like fall around here. It was cloudy today, with temperatures not even getting to the 70's, and a perfect day for some good old fashioned comfort food. Of course, it was purely a coincidence that pot pie was on our menu for tonight, I plan my meals for the week every Saturday, so we were having pot pie regardless of the weather. Lucky for us, the chill in the air made pot pie a perfect dinner

I've been searching for a good veggie pot pie for a few weeks, and have found many recommendations. I didn't follow any one particular recipe line by line, but this is the recipe that I based my potpie on. I didn't use the recommended pastry for the pie, instead used a pate brisee that I got off of Martha Stewart about 7 years ago. It's the crust I use for pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving, and I know it by heart. It was so buttery and made a delicious crust for a savory pie.

So, here's what I did, step-by-step, to create this delicious fall meal.

I started by chopping all of the veggies for my pie:
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
3 small potatoes, peeled and diced
About 2 cups of cauliflower florets
About 1 cup fresh green beans, ends trimmed and broken into about 1 inch pieces (frozen would be fine here too)

After chopping the veggies I started on the crust:
Preheat oven to 425. Add 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1 tsp coarse salt, and 1 tsp sugar to the bowl of your food processor. Process for a few seconds to combine. Add in 1/2 lb very cold Earth Balance sticks, cut into small chunks. Process until mixture resembles a coarse meal. With machine running slowly stream in ice cold water just until dough holds together. Remove from processor, roll into a ball, cut in two. Shape each half into a disk, wrap individually in plastic and freeze for about 15 minutes.

While the dough was freezing I started my filling:
Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a large pan. Saute onion, garlic, carrots and celery until onions become translucent. Add cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes. Pour in 3 cups of vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Here I seasoned with salt and pepper. I also added in about 1 tsp of dried tarragon leaves and stripped a few stems of thyme of their leaves as well. Reduce to simmer and cook until veggies are almost tender, about 15-20 minutes.

While veggies cook begin to prepare pie:
Remove dough from freezer, place one disk in refrigerator and place one disk on a lightly floured clean surface. Roll dough to fit a 9 inch pie plate, with about an inch overlap. Press crust into greased pie plate, use a fork to poke a few holes in the bottom of the crust and place in oven to bake for about 5 minutes, just until crust starts to puff up and become slightly brown.

While crust is baking:
In a small bowl, mix together about 1/4 cup water, 2 Tbs cornstarch, and about 5-6 shakes Braggs. Whisk to dissolve cornstarch and then pour into veggie mixture, stirring ocassionally until sauce thickens.

While sauce thickens:
Remove 1st crust from oven. Remove 2nd crust from refrigerator, roll out to fit over top of pie, again overlapping edges so the pie can be sealed. Spoon mixture into pie until pie is completely full. Cover with 2nd crust, roll edges of top crust under bottom crush, pinch to seal and then flute.

Cut 4 small slits in top of pie and bake for about 30 minutes, until top crust becomes slightly puffy and golden brown. When pie is done, remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

(Remember, these are step-by-step instructions, so it's not a complicated as it looks!!)

As a bonus, there was enough filling left to fill a large soup mug, and enough trimmings from the crust to cover it and make a nice single serve pie for lunch tomorrow!! Rob and the girls loved the pie, and we finished off our meal with chocolate silk ice-cream (yes, I know, not exactly a dessert you'd expect on a brisk fall night, but it was oh-so-delicious!!).