Monday, February 8, 2010
Chickpea and Vegetable Loaf & Golden (Mushroom) Gravy - Guest Post by Mindy
I decided on the Chickpea and Vegetable Loaf (page 265) for dinner,as it has fairly standard ingredients, seemed pretty easy, and sounded like it might be a nice, hearty meal. The instructions are easy to follow, although I had some issue with it all being too much for my food processor and I ended up dumping it all into a big bowl to finish mixing with my hands. It seemed a bit dry to me but I resisted the urge to add some sort of liquid to it, and I just pushed it all together into the loaf shape and into the oven it went. My changes - less onion (due to an onion-hating boyfriend), 3 garlic cloves, I subbed some thyme for the savory, as I have never been able to find it, and I had no parsley. I also used 1/2 of a large potato, as I had no small, and 2 small carrots, as I had no medium. I really hate instructions that call for things like that. It's so subjective and I do wonder if some of my problem with the dryness could be due to not enough or maybe too many vegetables.
While waiting on the loaf to cook, I decided to make the Golden Mushroom Gravy (page 547) to go with the loaf, as suggested in the book. One problem - it calls for a can of chickpeas and I had just used my last can to make the loaf. So doing what any good vegan would do, I scanned the cupboard for something else, and decided Great Northern beans would work quite nicely. Now one other problem, I detest mushrooms. So yeah, there wouldn't be any of those in my gravy. I decided to just add the rest of the beans (it calls for one cup, leaving about 1/2 a cup from the can) instead, so there would be something there. Again no savory, so I subbed some oregano this time. The gravy was very thin, probably due to the lack of mushrooms taking up space, so I also added some cornstarch slurry to try and thicken it up, but I didn't use enough and it was still quite thin.
I tend to like loaf-y things, but I have a horrible track record in terms of actually making them. I shun pumpkin bread, as it will inevitably fail, and make only muffins. Loafs just don't like to cook for me, so I was of course quite wary going into this. And yes, I did check my oven temperature! So an hour later, I pulled an ugly little loaf out of the oven and just hoped it would be okay. I let it sit for 10 minutes, as instructed, while I finished up the gravy, mashed potatoes and salad I was making to complete our meal. I sliced up the loaf with a little effort (it got pretty crunchy on the sides and bottom) and looked in the middle to see if it looked done. Not too bad, so I plated it all up, as shown above.
Now, I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about this loaf. It is definitely a bit dry and dense, although having ample gravy definitely made a big difference with that. The flavors are good, if not that exciting. The boyfriend seemed to like it pretty well, but he's not really a good indicator on food, plus I gave him the end piece, which would have been the most done. As I cut out a little piece further towards the middle, I found it seeming stringier (from the gluten) and a bit less done. It's my loaf failures of the past come to haunt me. But I don't think this loaf is beyond redemption. I think the basic mix would probably work well as patties perhaps, or maybe in muffin tins. I will probably try frying up the leftovers, as I have often had good luck with lackluster loaves from frying the slices. The gravy was very good flavorwise, despite the thinness, and I will enjoy the ease of it in the future.
- Mindy, Guest Blogger