Monday, November 23, 2015

I Get By With a Little Help from The Elf

It’s been quite an eventful week at the Elf’s. If you remember from last week’s blog, we were taking Marley the Wayward Poodle to the Veterinary School at MS State for further surgery to repair a broken leg.  Well, the surgery was going to be a complex ‘fix’ with an extended recovery time, during which he would need to be kept subdued and quiet. Marley is a very high strung, reactive and anxious boy, so after painful deliberation, the decision was made to have the leg amputated. He is now home and seems to be doing well, although we’ve had some obvious back-sets in his behavioral issues since he’s still pretty painful. So, we’ve been pretty pre-occupied with him but were able to get some significant cooking in while he was in the hospital.
Our FatFree Vegan Kitchen dish for the week was Eggplant Parmesan
The Elf LOVES Eggplant Parmesan and has veganized several recipes. However, this recipe also notes that it is soy free and can be gluten free if you utilize gluten free bread for your crumbly topping (which we did not). In any event, we got all our ingredients together for our ‘mis en place’ for both the eggplant

 AND the sauce

As usual, with any elf-fort that occurs in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen, there is always drama. We KNEW we had some brown rice flour SOMEWHERE…had just SEEN it the other day. But could we FIND it when we needed it…NOPE, NOT HAPPENIN’, NADA. Fortunately we DID have whole wheat pastry flour, so that worked just fine.
We did have one question which we fired off to Susan (who’s so responsive and helpful) and that was “would it make a difference if we did not peel the eggplant?” Her response was that sometimes eggplant peel has a tendency to be tough so she peels hers. We chose to be daring and keep the peel.
We made the batter and carefully dipped our eggplant rounds in to coat both sides and baked accordingly turning them after 20 minutes. A word of advice here, since we were cooking on parchment paper, it’s very helpful to give the slices a bit of time to cool slightly before trying to turn them or you wind up with most of the batter still on the paper. This is a bit labor intensive but heck, we were all in.
Then we started the layering with the baked eggplant rounds, a low fat lite pasta sauce, the ‘cheesy’ sauce and a sprinkling of the ‘parmesan’ which finely ground cashews and nutritional yeast.

Now, The Elf got a little worried about the sauce as it was fairly thin but it did thicken up once baked. The final topping of a crumbled slice of whole wheat bread ground with some of the parmesan for a bit of added crunch.

Finally, we were ready for the oven.

And here is the final result. It was DELICIOUS!!

 We will definitely do this again but will most likely skip the batter coating. Poor Big Solid doesn’t know what he’s missing by not being an eggplant fan. However, he DID try a square of it when he got home and said “Pretty good!" which is high praise from someone who is NOT an eggplant kinda guy.

Our FatFree Vegan Kitchen selection for this Thanksgiving week is “TA-DA”—Creamy Vegan Broccoli and Rice Casserole.
 We are spending Thanksgiving with our BFFs, The Dees and it’s always fun to take a good vegan dish. They are so sweet to invite us we don’t want them to go out of their way to make extra stuffs for ‘the vegan’—it’s the least we can do! Plus, chances are they might even LIKE it! And, we will substitute our old standby sautéed Chikun Shreds for the chickpeas. Already looking forward to it!!
Before Big Solid left, we had one of his favorite dishes and that’s just a plain ole vegetable stir-fry with sautéed ‘chikun’. It’s such a quick and easy meal and so very good. We keep at least two batches of The Gentle Chef’s Chikun Shreds on hand at all times. That stuff is outstanding.

And last but not least, of course, we had our Vegan Night at Gigi’s last night. Our hostess, Gigi, opened her home, heart and kitchen to us yet again as she and her husband Kevin wind down their lives her in Mississippi. Our loss will be Dallas’ gain in the coming year. We are planning one final hurrah in December. Here’s Gigi in all her glorious self.

The Elf took a big old pan of Cauliflower Fried Rice with, you guess it, those pesky Chikun Shreds, a peanut butter pie and a lime tart. We thought the tart was going to be an EPIC FAIL but we salvaged it from the VitaMix and finished it off in the Cuisinart. We really struggle with our VM…wish someone in town gave lessons! There were about 12 folks gathered to eat good vegan food, make new friends and enjoy the camaraderie.
This is what was left of the Cauliflower Fried Rice

The Peanut Butter pie which was veganized after seeing a recipe on Facebook. The pie itself is vegan but the recipe calls for a chocolate ganache that uses heavy cream. All we did was make a ganache from 16 oz of dairy free chocolate chips, a can of full fat coconut milk (heated and poured over the chips) and a wee bit of vanilla. This picture was taken before all of it was consumed.

And finally, the Lime Tart. Not our favorite but we were sick of it before we even tasted it! Everyone else seemed to like it as there was not a piece left to bring home. The Elf used a combination of recipes for this tart, so rather than confuse folks with all those links, we’ll post the recipe next week. And is The Elf's wont, there is a story behind this tart.

During this Thanksgiving season, Mail Order Annie (appearing as Locohontas) wishes every one of The Elf’s readers the very best of holidays. We have so much to be thankful for so let’s rejoice in our blessings and DO EPIC!!

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