Labor Day weekend is upon us again and I am beyond excited for 3 days off and minimal plans. The weather promises to be gorgeous. I will be barbecuing in West Seattle and later in the weekend partaking in homemade brunching with my book club.
In the meantime: Southern Comfort. Not to be confused with Southern Comfort <shudder>.
I have a lot of friends who hail from the South. I don't really understand how they all ended up in Seattle, but I sure lucked out because they are all awesome. Really. So, anyway, a few weekends ago Dylan (who you may remember as the one who excels at opening champagne bottles) mentioned his desire to have a down home Southern cookin' night; minus the lard or whatever actually goes into non-vegan Southern food. Shrimp?
We decided to make Etouffee, cornbread, collard greens and peach cobbler! What made it even more stellar was the fact that the collard greens and green onion were from the garden as was the zucchini for the Etouffee. Success!!
The Etouffee recipe is simple and delicious. Don't worry if you don't have all the ingredients, or can't find something at the grocery store. It is very user-friendly and will taste great!
What you will need if you choose to make the batch of Etouffee that I made:
1/4 cup Earth Balance
1/4 cup flour
1 Onion - diced
1 Zucchini - diced
1 Red Bell Pepper - diced
1/2 of a bunch of green onions - sliced (it came out to be roughly 4 stalks)
1 Field Roast Sausage - diced (I used Apple Sage b/c it is my favorite and I had some in the fridge)
1 Package of Tempeh - crumbled ( I have omitted the tempeh, but it really does add a great taste/texture combo, so if you have it I would say USE IT!)
1/2 can of Tomato Paste
1 cup of Water
4 cloves of garlic- minced (as you may have guessed, I used more than 4, but I understand that some people don't love garlic the way I do, so I scaled it down to a more appropriate amount)
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup overall Louisiana Hot Sauce (I just kind of added it as I went along---you may not use that much!)
Cayenne Pepper to taste
Now, the cornbread? Oh, my gosh. I had never tried this recipe before because it called for creamed corn and that sounds so vile to me. However, my mom had tried the recipe and raved about it, so I caved. It ended up tasting delightful, creamed corn and all and it made a nice-sized batch.
1 cup Soymilk
2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 cup Cream-Style Corn (I found an 8oz can of Safeway brand cream-style corn for like 3 cents)
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Daiya
4 green onions (the other half of your bunch!) - finely chopped
1 cup cornmeal (I suggest yellow cornmeal because it is better for you!)
2 TBS light brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Last, but not least, the peach cobbler. Very, very easy. Very easy.
Peach Cobbler (Try making it blind-folded!)
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup soymilk
Pinch of cinnamon - or, you can go CRAZY like I did and do a pinch of pumpkin pie spice instead! Mmmm
1/4 cup Earth Balance
1 16 oz bag frozen peaches - yes, frozen. Fruit's expensive!
I started early in the day by making the peach cobbler and the cornbread, and by early I mean 1:00 in the afternoon. I wanted to get the baking out of the way before the hottest part of the day, a whopping 75 for Seattle. Hah. It may have been hotter, I don't remember, but regardless I started baking BEFORE the heatwave.
For the cornbread:
Before you begin your cornbread, pull the peaches out of the freezer and dump them into a bowl to thaw. Make sure to save the juice!
1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Coat an 8x8 square baking dish with cooking spray. I didn't use an 8x8 dish, but rather a 6x13 dish. It worked out GREAT!
2. Combine soymilk and vinegar. Let stand for 5 minutes to "curdle". It will look chunky and disgusting, but that is normal. Whisk in the corn, Daiya, oil and onions and set aside.
3. Combine all the dry ingredients and make a well in the middle. Pour wet mixture into the well and stir until mixed. Pour into your dish and bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
For the Peach Cobbler:
1. Double-check that your oven is still on from the cornbread.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add soymilk and a dash of cinnamon OR the pumpkin pie spice (Which I recommend). Mix until everything is incorporated into a nice batter!
3. Put the Earth Balance into your 8x8 glass dish (mine was 8x11). Put the dish in the oven and let the Earth Balance melt completely.
4. After it melts, remove the dish from the oven and pour the batter on top of the margarine. Spoon the peaches and the juice on top of the batter.
5. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and the batter has risen up around the peaches.
With those two dishes done and cooling on the table, I was free to watch Glee. I had gotten Season 1 in its entirety from the library and although I was a bit hesitant to start it I was, of course, immediately sucked in. Choir was kind of my favorite thing EVER in high-school. Yeah, I was that kid.
The great thing about Etouffee is that the longer it simmers, the better it tastes. With that in mind, I started chopping my veggies and getting everything ready to go about 2 hours before dinner. I began by dicing all the veggies and the sausage and then preparing the sausage and tempeh.
|This is the equivalent of 6 Safeway zucchinis!|
In your cast iron skillet that you love so much, heat some olive oil and brown your sausage. I cooked mine on medium heat for about 10 minutes until it is nice and browned. Add some of that Louisiana hot sauce, stir it around and set aside.
Take your crumbled tempeh and boil for about 10 minutes. I added some hickory smoked black pepper to the water because I am obsessed with it and because Patrick got me this (but not this EXACT one) nifty spice grinder for Christmas and any excuse to use it, well, yeah.
In your stockpot make a roux with your Earth Balance and flour, that is, a simple roux: melt your butter in the pot and then add your flour and stir continuously until the mixture is toasty brown and smells sort of nutty (yes, great instructions, but I promise it will make sense as you do it!). Some people cook their roux for 30 minutes. I did not do this as I had several more episodes of Glee to fit in before dinner. I cooked my roux for about 10 minutes, hence, a simple roux.
Toss your onion, zucchini, and bell peppers into the stock pot and coat with the roux. Cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add your garlic, some more hot sauce as well as your cayenne and basil.
While that cooks, thoroughly mix your tomato paste with the cup of water. Pour the mixture into the pot and add your tempeh and sausage. Add more hot sauce (as much as you can handle!) and then bring everything to a mild boil. Boil for 10-12 minutes, reduce to a simmer and let it be for the next however long until dinner. When it is ready to serve, toss in your green onions!
While that simmers, it is safe to make your rice (because it was unsafe before? I don't know). I did a combination of brown and Jasmine because that is what I had. Yum! I will spare you the boring details about how to make rice.
The collard greens were the last thing I made once everyone had gathered and we were about ready to eat. Collard greens are simple and fantastic. I chopped them up, threw them in a pot, added garlic powder and Earth Balance and cooked them down. I did learn, however, that in the South you eat them with Malt Vinegar! I had no idea and no malt vinegar, so those Southerners used Apple Cider Vinegar instead.
|Penelope is from Brooklyn, but she HAS been to Texas.|
It was a pretty spectacular evening, all in all. Good food, good company etc. etc. While everyone ate, I headed back into the kitchen and put the cobbler in the oven on 200F. By the time everyone had eaten, chatted, relaxed and was ready for dessert it was toasty warm!
Next time I am thinking I will do gumbo or some sort of mock shrimp dish because now I am craving it. And now that it is September, hearty, warm foods shall abound!