18 June 2010

Lentil Pie

My Le Creuset heart shaped ceramic baking dish arrived yesterday! My sister was kind enough to inform me that it was most certainly not pronounced Le Croos-it as I had first thought, along with a "OMG how could you not have heard of that before?" Apparently I'm behind in the times when it comes to hip cookware.

So tonight I racked my brain trying to think of a meal worthy of breaking in the dish for the first time, and I came up with with pie. I like pie. And I really like pastry. I went for the fast route and used ready-made puff pastry cos we haven't done the dishes in like.. a week, so I didn't want to add a rolling pin and mixing bowl to the stack. I wasn't trying to replicate meat tonight, but as it so happens, what I created was something reminiscent of all those family-sized mince pies from my childhood, but with better karma cos this meal is totally cow-free.


1 Tbsp fennel seeds
1 can lentils, drained
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp tomato sauce
salt & pepper to taste

1/2 onion, diced
4 Tbsp flour
1 tsp garlic powder
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp Marmite
2 tsp soy sauce

2 sheets ready-made puff pastry

In a small dry frypan, gently toast the fennel seeds for 1-2 minutes. Add the lentils, soy sauce, herbs, garlic & onion powders, paprika and tomato sauce and stir to combine. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, adding spashes of boiling water to keep lentils wet and season to taste. Set aside to cool.

To make the gravy, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium heat, and saute onion for 5 minutes or until soft. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring well to make sure the flour doesn't burn. Add garlic powder, stock, marmite and sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in lentils and set aside.

If your pie-dish isn't non-stick, lightly spray with cooking oil and press 1 sheet of pastry into it. Trim any excess pastry and use these bits to fill any spaces that are not covered. I used 1 1/2 sheets to cover my dish, cos a heart-shaped dish is pretty awkward to line. Pour over your lentil gravy mixture, it should be warm but not piping hot. Cut your remaining pastry sheet into 1cm strips and criss-cross over the filling to form a lattice. Alternatively, you can use a whole sheet of pastry to cover the filling completely, folding over the pastry from underneath and pricking airholes with a fork.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes, increasing the temp to 200 degrees for the final 5 minutes of cooking to brown the crust (I used a ceramic dish which requires a longer cooking time. For a regular pie dish bake for 10-15 minutes).

08 June 2010

Tales from the blooper reel

I like green tea. I would even go so far as to say I love green tea flavoured desserts - if they're done well. Over the weekend I made an excellent example of what happens when good things go bad. Inspired by this pic and the confidence that only a new box of matcha powder can bring, I decided to make vegan green tea cookies (actually, we call them biscuits in NZ, so why I'm starting to say cookies all the time is beyond me) with a layer of extra matcha-ey goodness in place of regular white dough. Blinded by the pretty dough I never taste-tested it so what came out of the oven were these lovely crunchy biscuits that showed good promise on first bite, then delivered an awful bitter aftertaste that just kept on giving. I gave one to my sis so she could see what the fuss was all about and she said "WHY DID YOU GIVE THIS TO ME?!" Moral of the story: Don't abuse your matcha powers.

02 June 2010

Chickpea and Leek Soup

This is the soup that I always make when I'm feeling sorry for myself.. or when I just want soup. The chickpeas have a nutty, creamy taste that goes perfectly with the buttery leeks. I would nearly go so far as to say this is my never-fail soup, but then I seem to recall a nasty incident about 3 years ago involving an exploding blender and second degree burns. I still have the battle-scars to remember it by. Hmm, I never did clean that ceiling... So, this is my once-failed, non-pureed soup. Who needs puree anyway when you have teeth? Enjoy!

1 small onion, diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, diced or sliced
1 small leek, sliced
5 mushrooms, sliced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp flour
4 cups vegetable stock
3-4 Tbsp soy sauce, or to taste
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat a generous glug of olive oil on a low heat and gently saute the onions for about 8 minutes, keeping the pot covered. You want the onions soft and white, not browned.

Increase heat to medium and add the celery and carrot. Saute until soft, adding a splash of hot water to help heat through.

Add leeks and 1 Tbsp butter or margarine, and stir until soft and cooked. Add mushrooms, and more olive oil if needed, and continue to saute until cooked, stirring occasionally.

Add chickpeas, vegetable stock and soy sauce, sprinkling in the flour and stir to combine. Lower heat and let simmer for half an hour.

Taste and adjust seasonings. Tastes even better the next day

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