Welsh Rarebit

This will be a brief post, like the dinner it was inspired by. No elaborate write-up, just a quick note of what I made tonight. I was planning to serve a bean dish made with Great Northern beans and a green veggie, and was pondering what my third item should be when I saw that I had a small loaf of slightly stale homemade bread. I didn’t think the bread would be spectacular on its own, but toasted and slathered in something, I figured it would be great. So I decided to make Welsh rarebit. I’ve always heard that Welsh rarebit – essentially cheese sauce on toast – is so-called because it was what was served if you went out rabbit hunting and didn’t catch any rabbits, but according to that Wikipedia article that explanation is a slur, implying the Welsh were never successful at killing rabbits. Well, there is a lot of Welsh in my family history and I’m sure my mother would not let me make any slurs against the Welsh (not that I would, I even wear a Welsh dragon necklace), but I’ve always liked the story because I’m for any story that involves rabbits not being killed.

The “cheese” sauce is essentially the Yeast Cheeze from Simply Heavenly! (which is in this post) using beer and non-dairy milk for most of the water. I also added some of the ubiquitous Dragonfly’s Dry, Bulk Uncheese. Here’s pretty much what I did:

Welsh Rarebit

6 Tbsp nutritional yeast
6 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 cup Dragonfly’s Dry, Bulk Uncheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
8 oz (1 cup) beer
8 oz (1 cup) water
4 oz (1/2 cup) non-dairy milk
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp soy margarine

In a saucepan, whisk together the dry ingredients. Whisk in the beer, water, and non-dairy milk. Heat over medium heat, whisking frequently, until thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard and soy margarine. Set aside.

Slice as many thick slabs of bread as you’d like. Slather with “cheese” sauce. Toast in toaster oven at high temperature (or regular oven at around 400 degrees Fahrenheit, or broil) until “cheese” is beginning to bubble. Serve with optional hot sauce.

So, you saw Gomez’s Halloween costume in my last post. I wish I had a nice picture of Torticia in her Halloween costume, but I’m afraid she thought her costume was a toy. Since the day I bought it, she’s been dragging it around the house and attacking it. She loves it. She was supposed to be a butterfly. I did manage to get this picture of the headpiece before she completely destroyed it:

But this is what happened when I put the wings on:

Well, she was cute anyway. I couldn’t very well tell her to stop loving her costume so much, right?

Mark and I were Luke and Lanet for Halloween. Luke and Lanet are our good friends and the couple hosting the party we went to. They both have iPads so Mark and I made fake iPads as props. I’m really going to have to get Lanet to do a guest post sometime because she’s a great cook. It’s always a treat to go to their house because she makes sure we vegans are well taken care of. Lanet and I are always talking about food and getting each other hyped up about kitchen appliances.

Who’s who in this crazy picture?!

It’s scary because I’m wearing pink! That only ever happens on Halloween.

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Hot Dog Casserole

I don’t have a shot of the ingredients for this one because even as I had begun to prepare it I still wasn’t sure what direction I was going in with it. All I knew was I had three leftover hot dogs and I wanted to use them up in a non-bun manner. (I don’t know why that was because I now have six un-used hot dog buns I need to find a use for.) This was another throw-whatever’s-in-the-fridge together meal, this time in delicious casserole form!

Hot Dog Casserole

8 oz whole wheat elbows
1 recipe Yeast “Cheese” (from New Farm Cookbook/Simply Heavenly!; scroll down a little bit to see recipe(s)); I used extra mustard
3 vegan hot dogs, sliced into coins
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1-2 cayenne peppers, minced (I used 4 and it was overwhelming; I’d use 2 next time)
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (I used orange, which I keep buying at the farmer’s market because they’re awesome)
1 cup to 1 can baked beans*

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook the pasta until al dente, drain, and set aside. Prepare the “cheese” and set aside.

Mince the chili pepper(s) …

… and chop the other veggies and the hot dogs.

Mark entered the picture this point to steal “free” macaroni and tomatoes. I had to shoo him away.

Saute the onions, bell pepper, and chili pepper for about 5 minutes.

Combine all of the ingredients …

… and place in a baking dish.

I topped it with some panko bread crumbs and Dragonfly’s Bulk, Dry Uncheese because it seems like that’s what you do with casseroles.

Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Eat.

* A note about the baked beans: I threw this in because I had them leftover from the other night and I think the flavour is essential to the casserole, however, they need to be more of the “Boston” variety than the British Heinz variety. I only had a bit left over and wanted to try it with more beans, so I removed a little of the casserole and tried adding a bit of a can of Heinz vegetarian baked beans (from the British aisle of Wegmans, and which I buy because I like beans on toast because sometimes I think I’m actually British and my parents aren’t telling me something…) but they were too runny and too sweet and just not right. So if you are using canned baked beans, use some brand that is sort of thicker, darker, and has molasses in it. I also described how I cheat and make Boston “baked” beans in this post. (In regards to my Britishness, I’ve also begun subconsciously adding extraneous u’s to words like colour and favourite. I guess it’s both because I read a lot of books that are in British English, and also my laptop seems to think I’m British for some reason and tries to tell me “color” and “favorite” are spelled wrong…and they really do look wrong to me now. I am not, however, phobic about zee/zed and realiZe that no matter what the laptop says, I’m American enough to embrace the zee.)

In other news, I noticed a Vegan Lunch Box display in Wegmans the other day, complete with the cookbook and the laptop lunch boxes that Jennifer uses. How cool is that? I’m not sure why, because I like the website, but I never got around to buying the cookbook, so despite the fact I don’t have room for any more cookbooks, I might buy one anyway just to make sure Wegmans knows I’m happy they promote vegan products. (I actually also bought another vegan cookbook at Wegmans a couple of years ago; they’re well-stocked!) You know, Mark and I have been talking about how much longer we really want to stay in Northern Virginia, as there’s a lot not to love about the area (read: traffic), but there are entire vegan displays, not just in Whole Foods or other natural food stores, but my regular, local, every day grocery store. Anything I need is pretty much available to me within a five mile radius. I’m sure that would also be true if we moved to San Francisco or New York, two of our favourite cities, but here we also live in a house and not a one or zero bedroom, 500-square foot apartment with no parking space, which would likely be the case in the good places. Oh, Northern Virginia, how I both hate and love you.

Speaking of lunch boxes, though, here’s mine!

I take my bento box in sometimes, but most of the time, it’s my trusty Tupperware lunch box, and I love it. I didn’t have one when I was a kid – I had aluminum lunch boxes with Strawberry Shortcake or Smurfs or something on them – but my best friend in elementary school did and I was always fascinated by it and its matching interior containers. And the fact that my friend’s contained a hard boiled egg and a tiny little packet of salt every single day. I had a peanut butter and jelly or ham and cheese sandwich with a rotation of Hostess snacks every day. Now, I have leftovers from the previous night’s dinner 90% of the time. Anyway, you can find these Tupperware lunch boxes on eBay, and I’ve seen them in thrift stores a couple of times as well. I have Corningware that I transfer contents I want to microwave to at work because I don’t like microwaving plastic. Other than the little extra clean-up I have to do, I find this works very well for me.

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Broccoli "Cheez" Soup

My mother reminded me a couple of years ago that in college I was a big fan of broccoli cheese soup. I recalled that I’d order it for lunch from a restaurant near the record store I worked in and my mother would put cans of the Campbells variety in the care packages she made for me, but my favorite way to enjoy it was in bread bowls at the Renaissance Festival. So I decided to veganize this old favorite, which turned out to be very easy to do and very tasty!

I’ve been making this meal for a couple of years now, but why I chose one of the first days it feels as hot as summer – and Mark’s whining about the heat hasn’t yet turned so insistent that I agree to turn the air conditioning on – to make what is usually cold-weather comfort food, I do not know. But we ate it both Saturday and Sunday for dinner and Mark was disappointed when there were no seconds available on Sunday, so even if you live in a climate that’s currently turning to summer, don’t be disinclined to try it. Even if you want to serve it in bread bowls as I did and baking bread heats up your kitchen to some hellish temperature.

Broccoli Cheez Soup

1 large onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable stock or vegan “chicken” broth (I’ve used the “chicken” stock here despite the fact that it used to really piss me off when restaurants would use chicken stock in an otherwise vegetarian soup)
2 small or 1 large head of broccoli
1/2 recipe pimiento cheez

Chop the broccoli, including the stems. You don’t need to be neat about separating the florets because most of them will be pureed. Heat a large pot on medium heat, then warm a little bit of oil and add the onions.

Saute the onions until begining to turn brown.

(Mine look extra brown in places because it was at this time when I discovered I couldn’t reach my server and I was away from the kitchen for longer than I’d anticipated.)

Add the broccoli and the broth or stock.

Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until broccoli is very soft. Add the cheez.

Heat for 5 more minutes or until cheez is melted.

Puree, making it as smooth or chunky as you like.

As I’ve mentioned before, an immersion blender is great for this type of thing, however, if you are considering buying one, do NOT under any circumstances buy the Cuisinart CSB-77 Smart Stick Hand Blender. I have gone through TWO of them. They both worked for about 3 uses, then the blade stopped turning (the motor sounds fine). I can see what the problem is (two pieces of metal are not making contact as they should), but both of them had the same problem and neither one lasted a month. (If anyone wants to recommend another brand, please do so!)

If you don’t have an immersion blender, like me, suddenly, let the soup cool down before pureeing in batches in a blender or food processor. I know I stress this repeatedly, but do not put hot liquids into a blender, and even when blending warm liquids, fill the blender only half full. I pureed three batches and left a fourth un-pureed so I’d have some bits of broccoli floating around.

Serve in bread bowls.

Note: if you make a full batch of the pimiento cheez, one suggestion I have for the leftover cheez is to use it in a burrito, as I did for lunch today. I mashed up a can of pinto beans, added some of the leftover pimiento cheez and some salsa, and microwaved it for about 3 minutes. Roll up in a tortilla with chopped onions, leftover rice if you have any, and some hot sauce. Super-fast burrito!

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