Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tonight's Dinner: Tofu Pot Pie

Total comfort food night. This tastes scarily close to how I remember those Banquet frozen pot pies tasting (albeit with a whole wheat crust and less salty).

For the filling you need:

• 1 pkg extra-firm tofu
• 1 cup (or so) frozen mixed vegetables
• 1-2 squirts lemon juice
• salt
• water

For the crust you need:

• 2 c whole wheat flour
• 3/4 tsp salt
• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 c vegetable shortening
• 1/4 c margarine (or just use another 1/4 c of shortening)
• 2 tbsp + 2 tsp cold water
• 1 tsp white vinegar

For the gravy you need: (measurements here are very approximate - I usually eyeball it)

• 3-4 mushrooms, finely chopped (I use a mix of shiitake and crimini)
• 1/4 tsp each onion and garlic powder
• 1 good shake soy sauce
• 1 3/4 c water
• 2 tbsp powdered vegetable buillion/veggie soup base
• 1/4 c flour
• 3 tbsp olive oil

This seems really involved, but it's not. First, drain and press the tofu. Then, chop it up into little pieces and place it in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Squirt on some lemon juice and sprinkle in some salt (just a little more than you'd use if you were cooking pasta, maybe 1 tsp). Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes or so. This will give the tofu a neutral, chicken-y flavour, although if you're in a rush and you don't mind the taste of plain tofu you can skip this step.

While the tofu's simmering, make the crust. (You can also use a vegan frozen pre-made crust if they're available near you, or a pie crust mix - a lot of the ones in the regular baking aisle are vegan.) Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl and mix well. Cut in the margarine and shortening until pea-sized crumbs form. Combine the water and vinegar in a separate dish and add, together, to the flour mix. Mix until a dough forms; separate into 2 equally sized lumps and refrigerate until you're ready to use it. (The point of all this cold water/refrigeration business is to make the crust flaky - if the fats remain solid, i.e. cold, before they're baked, they'll melt and form flaky little layers when the crust is baking. This is also why you don't want to over-work the dough.)

Now, make the gravy: (this also might be a good time to heat the oven to 350F) combine the mushrooms, water, soy sauce, garlic and onion powder, and vegetable buillion in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the flavours to combine. Make a roux by combining the flour and olive oil in a frying pan and heating until bubbling and slightly golden (it should be thick and creamy, not pasty or liquidy so adjust accordingly). Add the flour mixture to the mushroom broth, stirring. The gravy should thicken almost immediately -- if not, you might need some more roux.

Set that aside and roll out the crust dough; one round for the bottom crust and one for the top. Fit the bottom crust into an 8 or 9" pie plate (I think mine is 8" but I forget). Drain the tofu and place it in a bowl with the frozen veggies and gravy; stir to combine. Pour the tofu-veggie-gravy mixture into the pie plate with the bottom crust and fit the second crust on top, sealing the edges. Poke a couple holes in the top to vent steam, and pop that bad boy in the oven.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes, until crust is golden.

This took a little longer than I thought it would, but you can cut down the time considerably by using a pre-made crust and/or skipping simmering the tofu first. Still yummy, and though not particularly healthy, not nearly as bad as frozen meat pot pies.

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