Vegetarian Delights: Spinach Tartlets and Carrot Souffles

March 21st, 2007 yum Posted in Chebe, Mediterranean, Vegetables, Vegetarian 6 Comments »

onetartlet.jpg Long ago when I was a college student, barely acquainted with my kitchen and toying with the idea of becoming a vegetarian, one of my dearest friends came to visit me and made me a beautiful spinach pie out of rice flour. She cut a sun design into the crust, which completely impressed me- but it wasn’t only beautiful, it was also absolutely delicious. Ever since, I’ve made her spinach pie for holidays and other special occasions, generally using Bette Hagman’s dream pastry recipe or the Gluten Free Pantry perfect pie crust mix. But ever since I had Gluten Free By the Bay’s amazing potato knishes using Chebe Bread mix as a pastry crust, I’ve wanted to try that spinach pie filling in chebe dough. Finally last night I tried it out. I made the sweetest knishes, filled them with spinach pie filling and lovingly sealed them in my presses. I put them in the oven happy and confident that I would be feasting on lovely knish for dinner. Well, I feasted, it’s true- but they were anything but lovely. About halfway through the baking process…they exploded, oozing gooey, delicious filling all over the baking pan. Whoops. So, I shoveled the filling back in, admired the ONE knish which survived intact, and we feasted on them with some homemade carrot souffle that I had found in this month’s edition of Vegetarian Times. They tasted good, but I had to find a way to make them a little more oven proof.

rawtartlets.jpggoodideas.jpgTake two: Fast forward to Wednesday Night, 6pm. Luckily I had made extra spinach filling because I love this recipe to distraction. I decided to try sealed knishes one more time- and also make little tartlets in a muffin tin. After all, the uncovered spinach pie never explodes. I poked pretty holes in the sealed knishes, hoping against hope that might do the trick. and then, I made tartlets, just in case. The tartlets were all that I could ask for. They browned and crisped almost as well as pie crust, and retained their shape even out of the baking tin. But, I’m sorry to report that the sealed knishes experienced certain… difficulties.. and the spinach filling once again made a run for it. *sigh* Ah well… the tartlets made up for any culinary failures, and they were easier to make and (somewhat) healthier than spinach pie. Here’s hoping it can make it into our regular menu, rather than just being reserved for special occasions- it’s too good to only have a few times a year! Try this garlicky, cheesy spinach filling in regular GF pastry or chebe- I think you’ll know why it’s been such a special recipe for me all these years. Oh yes- and the carrot souffle is impressively tasty as well, with better flavor than the simple ingredients would have you believe. Together- they are truly a vegetarian feast!

spinachfilling.jpg sidewaystartlets.jpg tartletsize.jpg threetartlets.jpg

Chebe Garlic Spinach Tartlets
Ingredients
Pastry:
Chebe All Purpose Bread mix
2 large eggs
2 tbsp softened butter (or margarine, if dairy free)
5 tbsp milk (or soy milk)
1 tbsp chopped dried onion
1 tsp. (or more, to taste) granulated garlic

Spinach Filling:
1 large bunch of spinach (Separate leaves, throw away stalks. Clean, cook, rinse in cold water and chop)

Cheese Sauce:
1 tbsp butter (or margarine)
1.5 tsp granulated garlic (or more, to taste)
1 tbsp finely ground brown rice flour
1 and 1/2 cups milk (or soy milk)
4 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese (or soy cheese or nutritional yeast flakes or other vegan substitute)

Directions
Prepare Spinach by cooking lightly in a pan with a small amount of water. Rinse with cold water, drain, and chop into bite sized pieces. Reserve.

Make cheese sauce by melting butter in saucepan. When melted add garlic, and brown rice flour. Combine. Add milk, slowly, stirring and letting thicken. When you have a nice white sauce, turn off heat and add grated cheese. When cheese has completely melted, add cooked spinach.

Spray muffin tin with cooking spray, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare pastry by combining all ingredients, and kneading to form a ball. Roll out inside a gallon sized freezer ziploc bag with the sides cut open. Cut squares of dough and create a tartlet in each muffin cavity, letting the dough create a square around the muffin circle so that four dough triangles can be seen. Fill each tartlet around half full of spinach filling and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Notes
I wanted to mention that the quantities for the white cream sauce spinach filling are an estimate… If your spinach bunch is on the small side, you might be safer with 2 bunches of spinach. And, depending on the amount of spinach, you may want to add more milk, garlic, and/or cheese to taste. :) I probably add way more garlic than I posted here, because I just can’t get enough of the stuff.

Also, with the chebe products, I think they taste best fresh out of the oven or re-heated in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or they are chewy rather than crispy. Of course with regular GF pie crust, this recipe tastes great hot or cold.

If I were to plan a menu around this- I might have Bette Hagman’s rapid rise french bread with some olive oil basil dipping oil (with italian spices and balsamic vinegar added to the oil), sauteed mushrooms (or brined shrimp or grilled tofu), and maybe some beets with balsamic vinegar.

Carrot Souffles
Ingredients
3 lb carrots, sliced into one inch pieces
3 lg eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup GF breadcrumbs (I toast frozen GF bread and then run it through my spice grinder/ coffee mill)
1/2 cup dried minced onions
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Directions
Place carrots in pot and covering them with water, bring them to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and simmer for about 30 minutes or until you can easily pierce them with a fork. Drain.

Preheat oven to 375 and spray creme brulee dishes or individual gratin ramikins OR *if you must* one large gratin dish.

Puree carrots in food processor. Add eggs, GF breadcrumbs, onion, salt, pepper, and cumin and pulse. Place puree in ramikins, but don’t overfill them- they tastes best when shallow so they get a crispy crust. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until top is brown and crispy. Carrot souffle should start to detach from sides of dish.

Enjoy.

Notes
I don’t even like cooked carrots, and thought this was excellent. Smells great, tastes great. Mmmm. Good way to get your family to eat more healthy carrots!
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A Night in the Mediterranean

February 3rd, 2007 yum Posted in Mediterranean, Vegetarian No Comments »

Tonight we enjoyed a Mediterranean feast, with healthy brown rice, fish cooked in parchment paper seasoned with fresh lemon slices and leeks, and a glorious beet and goat cheese salad. All the ingredients harmonized nicely together. It was the first time I had ever prepared fish in paper, and while a very tasty broth was created in the pan, the fish itself ended up slightly undercooked and not remotely flaky. Clearly I will have to try again, with nicer fish and a different recipe. But the beet and goat cheese salad was wonderful, utilizing my favorite blanching method for crisp green beans, and dressed in a very easy and light red wine vinaigrette. If all salads were like that, I might have to rethink my indifference to the world of salads.

Fresh Beetroot and Goat Cheese Salad
Beet Salad Loveliness
Beet Salad Loveliness
Ingredients
2 lb fresh beetroot (4 bulbs with leaves)
6 1/2 oz green beans
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 clove garlic, crushed (or omit)
1 tbsp drained and rinsed capers, chopped
3 1/2 oz goat’s cheese (any variety)
Salt, Pepper to taste
Directions
Trim leaves from beets, wash beets and leaves, reserve leaves. Bring bulbs to a boil in salted water, and then simmer covered for 30 minutes or until you can pierce them with a knife.

Bring another pan of water to boil and boil beans for about 3 minutes or until tender.(Keep water in pan) Immerse in cold water to stop the cooking process, then drain. Boil beetroot leaves in same water until tender (3-5 min). Immerse leaves in water, drain and pat dry with towel. (or use salad spinner). Drain and cool beetroots. Immerse in cool water to remove skin, or if they are actually cool, use paper towel to remove skin. (Thank you Alton Brown). Cut bulb into appetizing wedges. (You can immerse these wedges in cool water to cool them faster). [No, patience is NOT one of my virtues.]

For dressing, combine red wine vinegar, oil, garlic (if desired), capers, 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper, in jar with lid. I like to use the salad dressing jar free in Italian Seasoning dressing blends packages. Shake, Shake, Shake. Look! It’s all nicely emulsified! (If you put down the dressing and do something else for a while, shake again before pouring as the oil and vinegar gradually separates.)

To serve, divide beans, beetroot leaves and bulbs among 3-4 plates. Drizzle dressing and crumble goat cheese over top of each serving. Delicious with Bette Hagman’s rapid rise french bread or rice as a side dish.

Notes
Yummy! DH said “What’s not to like? Beets, goat cheese, Mmmmm..” I have to agree. A nice way to sneak some greens into someone’s diet… Not that I would do such a thing, cough cough. Goat cheese is the yummiest thing EVER! Original recipe called for whole garlic clove, but I felt that it overpowered the recipe.
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