I recently had the fortunate experience of teaching Stratford Chefs School students as the Joseph Hoare Gastronomic Writer in Residence. Their project was to develop and write a recipe and then make a video. Not one of the 66 students had ever made a video before, but their work was humorous and smart. I wanted to share a few of the best recipes, but I have so many good ones that I will continue to share them as the seasons change.
“Perfectly cooked Arborio rice, suspended in a creamy sauce consisting of flavourful meat stock and butter is a tough combination to beat,” says James Toenders, a first-year student. “That is, unless you need to avoid animal byproducts.”
As his girlfriend is a vegan, he had to get creative. “It’s a common misconception that vegan food isn’t flavourful. All of the richness and flavour of butter, cream and meat can be achieved using alternatives,” he says. He uses vegan Earth Balance or Becel to replace the butter and enriches the packaged vegetable broth by simmering it with hearty dried mushrooms.
- 1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
- 4 to 6 cups vegetable broth, store-bought or homemade
- 6 tbsp vegan margarine
- 4 cups mixed mushrooms, sliced
- 1/4 cup peeled and finely chopped carrot
- 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 1/2 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring broth and dried mushrooms to a simmer in a medium pot. Reserve, keeping warm.
Heat 1 tbsp vegan margarine in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until almost all of their moisture has evaporated and they are golden, about 6 minutes. Reserve.
Return saucepan to heat. Add 2 tbsp vegan margarine then carrot, celery and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and add rice to pot. Cook, stirring, until grains are coated with fat and are beginning to look translucent, about 2 minutes. Add wine and reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes.
Remove dried mushrooms from vegetable stock, slice them and add to reserved mixed mushrooms. Add 1 cup of warm stock to rice and stir until absorbed. Repeat, adding warm stock and stirring until absorbed until rice is al dente, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining vegan margarine and reserved mushrooms. The sauce should have a slightly thick, creamy texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.