Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rooting for Fall Flavors

Cool, crisp breezes, shorter days, it's Fall! Gone are the fresh, light and bright salads. In are the warm, robust flavors of slow oven cooking. I was feeling adventurous, and decided to forego my favorite stew for something new. Still buzzing on my inspiration from Miyoko Schinner's cheese classes, I decided to re-read the "Classic French Food" recipes she published in VegNews. Inspiration struck! The Boeuf Bourguignon recipe sounded amazing, but it was a Sunday and I didn't have a red wine and the recipe was a little too complicated for a lazy Fall day. Thus my variation....

First, what to serve it on? Potatoes? Noodles? Crusty baguette? Meh, none of that screams adventure. Instead, I opted for these gnarly little gems: Celeriac.

Celeriac is a root vegetable that has a slight celery and parsley-like brightness, and it can be mashed or pureed into a silky luscious base (think mashed potatoes.) It's also a great source of fiber with no fat and half the calories of a potato. Don't be afraid of what they look like on the outside. Using a knife to cut away the tough skin and root ends gives way to a vegetable that looks very similar to a raw potato.

My version of Bouef Bourguignon, which I'm sure will make anyone with any sense of french cooking scream "sacrebleu!" in disgrace, is a tasty dish I could make with food I already had in the kitchen and garden.

Faux Bouef Bourguignon (inspired by Gordon Ramsay's non-vegan version)

1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
1-2T baco bits (or vegan bacon bits of your choice)
4 T balsamic vinegar (or some actual red wine and skip the step below)
2 T rice wine (or another cooking wine)
2 T tomato paste
1/2 pkg mushrooms
2 sprigs each of rosemary, thyme and parsley (if possible, tie the sprigs together to make it easier to remove)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small cast iron pan, saute the onion diced with baco bits until it begins to carmelize. Add in sliced mushrooms and let them cook down for a few minutes while adding in the garlic (minced or pressed). Top with the vinegar, wine and tomato paste and stir until well-blended. Add in the steaks diced and the herb sprigs and water until it reaches the consistency in the photo above (less than 1/4 c). Top with tinfoil and place in the oven for 20-30 minutes. It's done when at least half the sauce has been reduced. You can cook it on the stove if you want to keep a closer eye on it, but I was feeling adventurous. :) Go light on the salt because the Viana cowgirl steaks have a fair amount of sodium.

Celeriac Puree
2 lg celeriac
1 T olive oil
1/4 c plain non-dairy milk
a couple sprigs of thyme and rosemary
1/8 t cardamom
salt and pepper to taste

Heat saute pan over medium heat with olive oil and add diced celeriac and let cook 5 minutes while the celeriac starts to become golden and slightly browned. Add in the spices (no need to cut up the rosemary and thyme) with enough water to just barely cover the celeriac, cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes until a fork can easily pierce through the celeriac. Remove the herb sprigs and drain any remaining water. Use a food processor to puree, adding in the milk (or olive oil or water) until it reaches the consistency you want. Serve in a bowl topped with the Bouef Bourguignon.

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