Sunday, 20 September 2009

Bon Appetit!

I saw 'Julie & Julia' Friday night and really loved it. To be honest, it was Meryl Streep's performance as Julia Child that charmed and delighted me. The other story of Julie Powell and her blog left me somewhat lukewarm--I found myself just waiting for those segments to be over so I could get back to Julia.

In the film, Julie and Julia both make Julia Child's famous Boeuf Bourguignon and a chocolate cake. I used to make Julia's Boeuf Bourguignon years ago, back in America, when I was still a meat eater, and I recall how to make it and how it is supposed to taste. Today I decided to have a go at vegan versions of Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon and Gateaux Victoire au Chocolat Mousseline.

Soy Chunks Bourguignon

Julia's original recipe contains bacon, olive oil, stewing beef, carrot onion, parsley, garlic, tomato paste, red wine, thyme, bay leaf, mushrooms, parsley. You coat the beef in flour, brown it in bacon dripping and olive oil, brown the mushrooms, onion and garlic, add tomato paste for 'Maillard effect', deglaze with wine, add herbs and then bake in a covered casserole for 2.5 hours. So here's what I did.

a handful of savoury soy chunks
Kitchen Bouquet or other 'browning liquid'
red wine
olive oil
tomato paste
a bit of Liquid Smoke (or you could use a tad of smoky paprika)

In a bowl, sprinkle savoury soy chunks liberally with 'browning liquid'. Pour boiling water on. Stir in some olive oil and Marmite. Taste the liquid. Adjust seasoning--you are creating umami, you are not going for subtle! Add just a teeny tiny bit of liquid smoke or smoky paprika --the smokiness should be a barely-there taste alongside the rich umami of the marmite mixture.) Cover and set aside to allow chunks to soak up all the liquid.

Preheat the oven to about 350F.

Prep your veg, heat some olive oil in a pan and brown the mushrooms--don't overcrowd the pan, you want them to brown, not simmer and steam. Add to casserole. Brown the carrots and add to casserole. You should be getting a lovely golden brown sediment on the bottom of the pan. Add oil as needed as you go. Brown the onions and garlic, add a squirt of tomato paste and stir it around until it starts to go brown and make a lovely smell (the Maillard effect) and while the pan is hot, pour in a good amount of red wine and deglaze the pan. Add the soy chunks with their liquid to the pan. Simmer the soy chunks, covered, in the red wine mixture until they are tender enough to cut in half with a fork. This could take a while! Then add the mixture to the casserole dish with the veg. Add your herbs, cover the casserole, and bake until the vegetables are tender and there's a lovely rim of brown around the edges of the casserole. (Julia didn't do this, but to add more sweetness and delight, I threw a small handful of raisins in the mix before baking. Prunes would also be good). The red wine sauce in the pan should have thickened to a lovely glaze coating the soy chunks and veg.

Julia would have served this with boiled white potatoes and peas, but I served over brown basmati rice.

Le Gateau Victoire Au Chocolat Mousseline

Julia's original cake recipe contains loads of eggs and dairy and creamy gooiness, but its defining tastes are chocolate and coffee, so that was my focus. I didn't want to bother trying to recreate a mousse, so I decided to use a cake recipe from the Great Depression which, because of a lack of eggs and dairy and money to buy them with, just happens to be vegan. Although no one back then would have known the word 'vegan', as it wasn't even coined until 1944. I altered the original recipe slightly to incorporate wholemeal flour, and a reduced amount of unrefined sugar and added coffee, going for Julia's chocolate and coffee flavours.

Chocolate Cake

Grease a small baking dish or cake pan, preheat oven to 180C and combine:

200 grams wholemeal flour
175 grams unrefined caster sugar
4 heaping Tbs cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbs rice bran oil (or any tasteless vegetable oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vinegar
150 ml water plus 100 ml leftover cold coffee

Pour into greased dish and bake until done, about 40 minutes. Cool.

For a frosting or glaze, I combined in a saucepan:

2 Tbs coconut oil
2 heaping Tbs cocoa
6 Tbs sugar
some coffee (I didn't measure it! Sorry! It was enough to make a thin layer of frosting on the top of the cake. I was making it up, just eyeballing! Maybe...I don't know...half a cup?)

Bring to boil and cook, stirring, until the mixture clings to the back of a spoon and when you drag your finger across the back of the spoon, the track remains clean. (Just short of the soft ball stage, in other words). Allow to cool slightly, then pour slowly over the cake, giving it time to set up and coat the cake before you add more. You don't want it all running down the sides and leaving the top bare.)

Julia loved her meat and dairy, so would probably not at all approve of my tampering, but I don't care. It was nice.

(I cut the cake up into portions and put them in little individual plastic containers, ready to go into lunches--hopefully mostly Derek's lunches! I'm getting so fat!)

1 comment:

stickbooth said...

You certainly make plant based sound good, I am disappointed that the movie was luke warm:(