Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cheeseless Mushroom Quiche

Going through the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, I came across a  recipe I knew I had to try: the wild mushroom tart. However, as I needed to take the dairy out of the recipe to serve it as a side with our meat meal, this tart actually became a new recipe entirely! 

Much of the binding in the filling comes from milk and cheese, so I decided to use silken tofu and miso as a replacement. The former replaces the creaminess and the latter replaces the cheesiness. Yes, you read that right - miso can imitate a cheesy flavor. It's a trick I learned from the meatball recipe on the blog Supper for Two

Another big change I made to this recipe is the cooking time, as the tofu takes much longer to set than cheese. While cooking, I was getting nervous about leaving in the tart for nearly double the original cooking time, but it turned out perfectly. 

In the end, this tart came out so delicious, meaty from the mushrooms and savory from the miso. We had absolutely no leftovers, which is always the best sign of all. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

BBQ-Style Stuffed Peppers

A few years ago, I made a dish of onions stuffed with a ground beef mixture from Joyce Goldstein's Cucina Ebraica. It was quite delicious, and I'd resolved to make it again (in fact, in my cooking notebook I'd written down a variant which I have yet to make, but perhaps will appear here one day), but sadly that resolution was lost between the pages of numerous cookbooks I've acquired since.

Fast forward to last week. I had ten people coming for dinner and only a package of ground beef in the freezer. I thought to myself, "how can I make one pound of ground beef stretch for ten people?" My first thought was to fall back to my reliable sweet & sour meatloaf. But then in the back of my mind I recalled the deliciousness of those stuffed onions, and thought of another iconic form of stuffed produce: stuffed peppers.

As it happened, I recently had some stuffed peppers at Abigael's - but they were stuffed with barbecued brisket. I liked the idea of barbecued beef inside the pepper - instead of the classic tomato sauce-drenched dish. But my one complaint about that dish was that the brisket felt a little dry. I knew I had to get the barbecue flavor and ensure a moist, juicy texture to the meat.

The key to that was to cook the meat almost like a stew, with plenty of liquid in a heavy-lidded pot which retains heat well. I created my own savory-sweet barbecue sauce to be cooked in with the beef, and when combined with soft basmati rice, the mixture retained moisture and flavor excellently. Most stuffed pepper recipes call for pouring tomato sauce on top. I debated this for a while but Faigy advised that doing so would drown out the flavor of the meat and the pepper too much.

The rice and meat mixture can be made ahead of time. Just stash them in the fridge for up to a day or two. Reheat the meat in a dutch oven (add a little extra water or broth if it seems dry), then add the rice and warm together (the rice should absorb the remainder of the liquid).

Also, you can make this dish pareve/vegetarian/vegan by using a good ground beef substitute (we like Trader Joe's Beef-less Beef) and vegetable broth.

Red and green peppers will lend different flavors - experiment with both!