croque monsieur tartlets

i didn’t take pictures in time to capture the full dozen little croque monsieur-inspired tartlets i made for dinner today, but here. look at the two that are left.

marvel. MAAARVEEEL.

i was with my kids in sainsburys today and saw that they now stock quorn’s vegan ham slices. so naturally, i bought all five packets that were left, so they’d stock more in response to increased demand.

eldest wanted ham sandwiches for dinner. i said no, as i’d already planned a sort of cajun dirty rice thing, but then thought of croque monsieurs and said yes. then we passed a roll of puff pastry in the fridge…

so i decided to do a big croque monsieur-style tart. but when we got home, the puff pastry roll didn’t quiiite fit my largest baking tray. then i noticed my sad, neglected muffin tin…

anyways, read on!

croque monsieur tartlets
ingredients
1 roll puff pastry, cut into 12 squares
dijon mustard
6 slices vegan ham, diced
1 to 2 tomatoes, diced
grated vegan cheese
1/2 an onion, chopped
around 1 cup bechamel sauce

method
okay so first off: caramelise the onions in the margarine when you’re making your bechamel sauce. you really need some caramelised onions in this dish.

either line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake cases, or grease with margarine or something. shove the puff pastry dough squares into each hole, then bake at 180C while you chop all the things. check the pastry every 5 minutes and if the middle is puffing up poke them with a fork.

when the middle’s looking a bit less soggy but not fully cooked, take the tray out of the oven, smear the bottom of each tartlet with a little dijon mustard, and fill with about 1 Tbsp each of diced ham, tomatoes, and cheese. put back in the oven and bake until the pastry’s golden.

finally, take out of the oven and spoon a thick layer of bechamel sauce over the top of each tartlet. put under a medium-hot grill until bubbly. great for picnics!

ReadyScramble(TM)

…okay fine it’s not actually trademarked.

one day recently, having run out of tofu to do scrambles, i started thinking about yellow split peas. could i use them to make a scrambled egg analogue? would it be vile?

i decided to use yellow split peas to make ‘burmese-style’ tofu, using this recipe, so that i could satisfy my curiosity.

the resulting scramble was AMAZING.

my super über-patented ReadyScramble(TM) eggy yellow split peas make a much softer scramble than normal tofu – a bit like polenta crossed with fried mushy peas (but delicious i promise!). their star quality comes from their ability to hold flavours like added vegan cheese, the way they mimic softer scrambled eggs, how you can fry them in slices to make vegg mcmuffins, and of course the fact that it’s ridiculously cheap to make – 1 1/4 cups of peas turns into twice the soybean curd you’d buy in the shops, for like one fifth of the price.

see the difference in size? ridiculous.

so i’m going to give you my mods on the aforementioned burmese-style tofu recipe, and then you can make ReadyScramble(TM) yourself! my prowess as a cook evidently isn’t matched by similar business acumen as i’m giving away my patented recipe for free :-p

ReadyScramble(TM)
ingredients
3 cups water
1 1/4 cup yellow split peas, soaked in hot water overnight, drained, and rinsed
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp onion granules
1/2 to 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup margarine
1/3 cup shredded vegan cheese (optional)

method
if you forgot to soak your peas overnight, have no fear! just pour boiling water over them, let sit for a couple of hours, drain, then pour more boiling water over and let sit for a couple more hours. if you’re really pressed for time you could try boiling them on the hob for 10 minutes then leaving for an hour. anyways!

put your soaked, drained, rinsed peas into a blender or food processor along with all the spices, nutritional yeast, margarine, and 1/2 cup of water. blend until the peas start to come together into a smooth paste. scrape down the sides of your processor, add another 1/2 cup of water, and blend until smooth.

have a large container, or a couple of smaller ones, ready to use. i oiled mine but that’s not strictly necessary. bring the remaining two cups of water to boil in a large pot. stir in the paste and whisk over high heat nonstop for 8 minutes. an electric whist REALLY helps here, because the mixture will get thick and your arms will get tired. keep an analogue whisk to hand though as my electric one crapped out halfway through :-/

when the 8 minutes is up, whisk in the shredded cheese if using. pour the mixture into its container(s) and let cool for at least an hour.

all you need to do now for a delicious eggy scramble, is crumble a slice into 1 Tbsp hot oil in a frying pan, and let fry on high for a few minutes. put it on toast, muffins, in burritos, in breakfast toasties…now i’m hungry again…maybe time for another scramble……

i made a fancy thing!! polenta provençal 

sorry for the shitty, multiple-filtered picture. i was going to take a picture immediately upon plating, but i just *had* to have a bite. then, halfway into eating it, i remembered to take a picture. 

so what goes into polenta provençal, i can hear you ask. WELL.

this is a great meal because it looks très fancy but you can prepare all the different components in advance and combine them all together for a super-quick showstopper of a meal.

first thing’s first! go make a whole bunch of the ppk’s chickpea cutlets. you can freeze them before the frying stage too so they’re ready to whip out and cook at a moment’s notice. one of these will sit on top of your polenta, swimming in provençal sauce. 

so i’ll go ahead and write up my polenta and sauce recipes below, for your delectation. 

cheesy polenta
ingredients
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 cups vegetable stock (can use a combination of stock and plant milk for a creamier flavour)
2Tbsp margarine
1tsp garlic granules
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 head’s worth of boiled cauliflower florets, coarsely mashed (optional)
grated vegan cheese to taste (optional)

method
look, i make polenta very simply. some people recommend whisking in the cornmeal after bringing the stock to boil – fuck that. put your cornmeal and cauliflower (if using) into a large pan, and pour the liquid over slowly while stirring. if you stir with a fork it helps prevent and break up lumps.

THEN bring your pan to a boil over high heat. add the garlic granules and pepper. you’re going to want to stir this fairly frequently. 

after you’ve brought it to boil, turn the heat down to a simmer (else it’ll start spitting at you). keep stirring frequently. you’ll notice it thickening up nicely. when it’s at pudding consistency, take it off heat and add the margarine, nooch, and cheese. stir well and ladle it out immediately – it will solidify more as it cools!

if you’re making this in advance and it goes very solid in the fridge, you have a couple options. you can either bake or fry it which is delicious, or if you want it more liquid you can whisk in boiled water in a pan and bring it back to boil.

provençal sauce
ingredients
1 onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, diced into small cubes
2 sticks celery, de-stringed and chopped finely
2Tbsp capers with brine
1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, diced (omit if on a low-potassium diet)
oil or margarine for frying

method
heat the oil or margarine in a skillet over low heat. add the onion, carrot, and celery, stirring to coat in oil. this is a pretty low-maintenance pan right now – just make sure the mirepoix is spread out evenly and leave it for awhile to soften, stirring occasionally. 

you can wait until the onions are translucent and the carrots soft, or you can even leave for longer until the mixture is golden-brown and caramelised. in any case when cooked to your liking add the capers, brine, and tomato if using, and allow to simmer for a bit longer to let the flavours meld. can be used straightaway or refridgerated/frozen.