Saturday, February 15, 2014

Mushroom and Fennel Phyllo Pouches

I have not been cooking much. For whatever reason, lately nothing really sounds good to me.  I don't know what it is- maybe its a way-too-much-snow-and-ice Winter time funk.  Who knows. But lately I find myself standing at the open fridge, staring at it blankly and deciding nothing looks good enough to eat.

Today, back to the fridge I went determined to select a few ingredients and actually cook something. I grabbed some mushrooms, fresh thyme, and a bulb of fennel (mostly because my daughter was requesting I cut some up for her to snack on but also because the fronds are pretty and make a nice garnish).

So, there it was, the start of this dish, which if I do say so myself, turned out wonderfully. I guess it is not that surprising as I am pretty sure you can wrap phyllo around just about anything, and it would then  automatically taste good.

This was really easy to pull together. If you have not worked with phyllo before fear not- though it seems intimidating at first it is actually quite forgiving and easy to work with, with a little bit of practice.

Mushroom and Fennel Phylly Pouches

Six sheets phyllo dough
1 1/2 cup diced shitake mushrooms
1 tbsp finely chopped fennel
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp vegan sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for brushing

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a saute pan add 1tbsp olive oil over medium heat.  When warm, add the mushrooms, fennel, thyme, garlic and onion powder and salt and pepper.  Saute for a few minutes until the mushrooms are tender. Add the sour cream and stir to incorporate.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Place the six sheets of phyllo dough on a work surface such as a large cutting board. Working quickly, brush each sheet of phyllo with olive oil and place the next sheet on top until all six have been brushed with oil and are stacked on top of one another.  Cut into six equal parts.

Spoon filling into each phyllo square using 1/6th of the filling. I used  medium size cookie scoop to do this.  Pull the phyllo over the filling squeezing the top closed to form a pouch. Gently oil the top of the pouch.

Place the pouches onto a baking sheet brushed with olive oil.

Bake at 375 until golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Check partway through cooking. If the tops are getting too browned cover loosely with aluminum foil for the rest of the cooking time.

The pouches should be crispy and the filling warmed through.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Slow Cooker Mixed Bean and Cornbread Casserole

Corbread. Something I have never liked very much.  I find it often tends to be too dry and/or too heavy. I have tried a variety of vegan cornbreads, and while others have liked some of them I just am not that big a fan.  Until today.

I found a recipe for a bean and cornbread casserole while browsing Pinterest. The recipe is quite chili-like. Chili I do like and yesterday I found myself wanting chili- it was very cold and snowing outside, and a nice bean chili sounded like a good idea so I set out to try the recipe, cornbread, and all.

What a hearty, filling dish. Nicely spiced (if you are not a big fan of spice you could easily modify this to be less spicy).  I really enjoyed this while sitting by the fire last night. Even the cornbread. No dry, crumbly cornbread here! It is moist and flavorful, without being mushy, soaking up the flavors of the chili while being steamed in the slow cooker.

This makes a lot. I think you could easily feed five or six people with this recipe.

Slow Cooker Mixed Bean and Cornbread Casserole

For the beans:
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
1/2 cooking onion, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
15 oz cooked light red kidney beans
15 oz cooked dark red kidney beans
15 oz cooked black beans
10 oz tomato sauce
16 oz chopped tomatoes with green chilies
15 oz can creamed style corn, halved
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

For the cornbread:
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
1/2 can creamed style corn
1 egg replacer (I used 1 1/2 tsp Ener-G and 2 tbsp water)
1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil

In a saute pan add the tsp vegetable oil and heat over medium heat. Add the pepper, onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper and saute until they just begin to turn tender.

Spray the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray and add the vegetable mixture to the bottom. Add the beans (note: if using canned be sure to drain and rinse the beans).  Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes and green chilies, 1/2 the can of creamed corn, chili powder, hot sauce and salt and pepper.  Cover and cook on low for an hour.

In a separate bowl mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, non dairy milk, the other half of the creamed corn, the egg replacer and vegetable oil to form a batter.  Open the slow cooker and pour evenly on top of the beans.  Cover and allow to cook another two hours or until the cornbread is cooked through.