I went to bed last night with my risotto untested. My head was pounding and I could barely open my eyes. The risotto sat in the oven, the light on, and I couldn’t even check to see if the liquid had all cooked off. I figured that I’d have to redo it again in the morning, so I just mumbled to my boyfriend that he could leave it out on the counter in the casserole dish. The recipe itself was easy enough to veganize– simple substitutions of Earth Balance and vegetable stock were enough. Julia gives options for the stock based on what you will be serving it with (i.e. fish stock versus beef stock depending on the meat), but I don’t have that issue. In retrospect, using a mushroom stock would have been delicious, seeing as how I was going to serve the risotto with some sauteed mushrooms, onions, and tempeh.
I woke up after sleeping off the migraine and finally got to see what was waiting for me. I didn’t know if all the liquid had cooked, because I never tipped the dish to see if the rice had soaked it all up in the appropriate time. It looked perfect. I’m finding the more that I cook these recipes that the constant is simply to pay attention to the food as it cooks. During the risotto cooking process, Julia writes that the rice will become translucent and then milky. I never saw my brown rice become translucent, but I watched intently and after a few minutes thought that I had cooked it enough. It certainly seemed milkier than when I first tossed it in, and I knew that her directive to cook it for about five minutes would let me move on to the oven stage. Instead of eating it for dinner, we had it for lunch today. I moved the rice into a high edge sauté pan so that I could grasp it firmly (the Corningware is wonderful for going from stove to oven, but it’s hard to move the dish around when it’s cooking), added about 1/4 cup water to it and heated it up. It was wonderfully creamy and full of flavor. I used a vegetable stock with sodium in it this time, so the only additional seasoning was pepper.
In one sense, I’m on track for completing several recipes this week. I still have quiche on the menu for whenever I can get to the store for a pie tin and some extra firm tofu, but I’m happy to have finally conquered risotto and made some soups. It feels like cheating to cook the recipes that don’t require a lot of alterations, but this project is more than just about making recipes vegan-friendly. I hope at the end to be a better cook than I was at the start. And even this early on, I’m already learning more and more with each step. I added the nutritional yeast the other day to the mushroom soup because the eggs that should have been beaten into it reminded me of the hollandaise sauce. Not only were we looking for a thickening agent for the soup, but also a bit of that eggy-cheesy flavor.
While not a Julia recipe, here is what I made to accompany the risotto.
Tempeh with Sauteed Mushrooms
- 2 small onions, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2Tb Earth Balance
- 1lb white button mushrooms, sliced
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1/4 c Silk non-dairy creamer
- 1 package Tempeh, sliced into 1/2″ strips
- 1/4c water
- 1Tb olive oil
- 1Tb soy sauce
In a skillet, melt the Earth Balance. Sauté the onions and garlic until they soften, but do not brown. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes. Season to taste. Add the non-dairy creamer and stir thoroughly.
In a separate pan, sauté the sliced tempeh in olive oil for two minutes. Add the water and soy sauce. Allow to cook until the excess liquid has evaporated and sauté until the tempeh has browned slightly on both sides. Add the tempeh to the mushrooms and cook for another minute, mixing the tempeh thoroughly. Serve over risotto (or your grain of choice).