Mushroom and Pecan Pate

Pate in lettuce

Vegan Mushroom Pate

This is a seriously easy recipe which makes a pretty sophisticated dish. It’s quick to make and then sits in the fridge happily for a few days, which makes it excellent for dinner parties. The texture starts off a bit fluffy, but firms up nicely after a day or two, giving that firm, squishable texture that pate has. The flavor is deeply savory.

Both my husband and I were quite taken with this, but neither of my kids liked it. I think their palates are too young, and having always been vegetarian, they’re not used to the deeper notes that you’d get from a meat pate, so I’ll keep this for the adults! If you want a more kid friendly mushroom pate, try this one.

1 tbsp garlic infused oil (or olive oil and 2 cloves minced garlic)
8 oz mushrooms, cleaned
1/2 tsp dried thyme
5oz firm tofu
4 oz (1 cup) pecans
2 tbsp Braggs or other GF soy sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper

Break the mushrooms into rough chunks, and process in a food processor until roughly minced.

Add the remaining ingredients, and process to a coarse pate (a few small pieces of nut are OK).

Decorated pate top

Decorated pate top

Press into an oven proof serving bowl (~6″x6″ and at least 2″ deep), and optionally decorate with thin slices of another mushroom pressed into the surface, and cook at 350F for 45 minutes.

Allow to cool and firm up completely, and chill uncovered, preferably for a day or two, until required.

Serve stuffed in lettuce leaves or celery sticks, on toast, or in sandwiches.


Mushroom Pate

Daughter #2 loves mushrooms. She also likes a bit of variation in her school lunches, so I have introduced this recipe to her repertoire. Mushroom pate is pretty quick to make, and squishes down nicely in sandwiches. It’s a lightly peppery, distinctly mushroom-y affair, good enough to serve to guests, but not to those who don’t like mushrooms.

Pate on toast

Vegetarian, mushroom pate, here served on teff toast.

1 tbsp non-hydrogenated margarine
1/4 large (or 1/2 a medium) onion, chopped
8 oz mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
5oz firm tofu
1/2 cup almond flour
2 tbsp mushroom powder
1 tbsp Braggs or other GF soy sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper

Sauté the onion in the margarine for a couple of minutes, then add the mushrooms and thyme, and sprinkle with the 1/4 tsp salt to draw out their water. Once the onions are cooked, and the mushrooms are softened, add the garlic to warm through.

Put all ingredients into a food processor, and pulse until a rough paste has been attained.

Return the pate to the pan, and cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes to drive off excess moisture, stirring frequently.

Check for seasoning, press into serving bowls, and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Gruyere Style Cheese Spread (and Pasta Sauce)

I had a flurry of enthusiasm for making faux cheese last week. My girls had reminded me that they liked the faux cheddar that I sometimes make (and not often enough, allegedly), and I’ve had a draft recipe for an appetizer requiring feta for about a year now, just waiting for me to figure the recipe for the feta before I post it. I’ve just about developed something that I like, but in the meantime, I had a go at something to replace Gruyere.

Pasta with Marinated Artichokes and Gruyere Sauce

A rich and delectable dish for entertaining. Pasta with marinated artichokes and rich ‘gruyere’ sauce (skip the cooking stage for the cheese).

The initial batch I made was with all water (too bland), so the second batch was made with all wine (too strongly flavored), but the next batch made with 1/2 water and 1/2 wine was great. I didn’t get as far as adjusting the texture to firm it up, as I couldn’t think of a use that I’d have for Gruyere where a spread wouldn’t work (and some where soft was preferable).

Gruyere cheez spread

GF baguette loaded up with vegan Gruyere cheese spread, cooked until thickened to a paste.

Like Gruyere, this is a moderately strong tasting cheese, and the initial flavor is very similar to the dairy variety. The aftertaste, however, has a bit of a tang due to the wine that isn’t present in regular Gruyere, but that can be driven off, to a certain extent, by cooking it. As an erstwhile lover of cheese fondue, I have to admit to liking the tang, and I’m not in a hurry to get rid of it!

Daughter #2 consumed quite a quantity of this stuff on crackers, so it’s been put through its paces! Personally, I like it on pasta. About 1 tbsp of cheese per ounce of dried pasta, stirred into the drained, cooked pasta for an almost instant supper. If you figure on any other ways to use this, do let me know.

8 oz (2 scant cups) blanched almonds
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a chardonnay)
1 tbsp dark colored miso (I used Sweet Tasting Brown Rice Miso)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup (4 tbsp) melted coconut oil

Put the almonds and dry white wine in a blender, along with 1/2 cup (4 fl oz) water, and leave to soak for at least a couple of hours.
Add remaining ingredients, and blend until completely smooth. This might take a couple of minutes or so, and if your blender can’t handle such a dry mixture, add a tablespoon or two of water, which you can then cook off.


Texture of cooked cheese.

If your mixture is a bit thin, scrape it into a small saucepan, and heat, stirring frequently until the mixture turns stiff like cream cheese.

Adjust flavoring if necessary.

Store, covered, in the refrigerator.


Pineapple and Mango Guacamole

Pineapple GuacamoleA couple of weeks ago, we had a storm which brought down a whole heap of avocados off the trees, and once avocados are off the trees they start to ripen which means that I’ve had to think of ways to have the whole family eating plenty of them in a hurry. None of us has got bored of the Mediterranean Guacamole, yet, but I did run out of tomatoes yesterday, and so hunted around for other avocado recipes. I found loads of recipes on the Calavo website, but many of them included cream or meat, so I took some ideas and played with them, until this variation on a theme popped out: an interesting mixture of mildly hot and sweet, all tempered by rich avocado. Note that the amount of chili added depends on how hot your chili is. Add enough so you can just taste the heat.

1/2 cup pineapple pieces (frozen & defrosted works fine)
1/2 cup mango pieces (frozen and defrosted works fine)
1 cups avocado flesh (~4 avocados)
1 tbsp minced jalapeno chili (or to taste)
2 tsp lemon/lime juice
1 tbsp minced onion

Chop (by hand or in a blender) the pineapple and mango pieces into small pieces.

Stir all the ingredients together with a metal spoon (start with 1/3 of the chili), chopping any large pieces of the avocado into small chunks with the side of the spoon.

Check seasoning (adding more chili as desired), and serve with corn tortilla chips, or wrapped in GF tortillas.

Orange Salad or Dipping Vinegar

A lot of my salad recipes call for Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar as sold by Trader Joe’s. Unfortunately, much of the world is deprived of my favorite store, so I decided to mix up a more accessible alternative. I asked daughter #1 to taste test the two side by side (to make sure I wasn’t fooling myself that the mixture tasted great), and her reaction was “Wow!”

Orange Salad VinegarThe mixture is thicker than regular vinegar, but this is not a disadvantage when making salad dressings. The orange flavor is quite pronounced and fresher than the original, but the clean cutting properties of the vinegar are preserved. Although I figured this as an alternative to vinegar for salad dressings, it would work really well as a dip for bread cubes, too, much as you get balsamic vinegar and olive oil in fancy Italian restaurants … though you’d have to double or triple the recipe!

Makes about 2-3 tbsp of ‘vinegar’.

1 medium size orange, juiced
1 tbsp white salad vinegar (such as white balsamic)

Thick, reduced orange juice.

Thick, reduced, orange juice.

Boil up the orange juice in a small saucepan for about 5 minutes until reduced to about 2 tbsp in volume and thick enough to leave a trail when the spatula is dragged through it.

Allow to cool slightly, then stir in the white salad vinegar. Use within a day or two in salad dressings and such like.

Cashew and Roasted Pepper Dip

Rich, zesty, and remarkably easy to make, this went down really well with my brood, serving the same purpose as hummus. In keeping with that, I served it with freshly made GF pita bread.

I’ve also served it up (slackened off with a small amount of water) with GF pasta, and for some reason that went down well, too. It mitigates my concerns about the low nutritional value of the pasta, so my girls get something they like, and I get something I approve of!

Golden Pepper and cashew dip

Cashew and pepper dip made with yellow peppers. Yesterday’s batch was made with red peppers, and was quite distinctly red. One of my daughters suggested that I should make both kinds and swirl them together. I think she was thinking about ice-cream!

1 tin cannellini / garbanzo beans, drained
1 cup raw cashews
2 roasted red/yellow peppers, deseeded (jarred is fine)
4 cloves garlic
1 lemon, zest and juice, OR juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp salt
2 shakes of cayenne pepper (or fresh chili of choice)

Blend everything together until smooth (a high speed blender like a Vitamix makes light work of this). Refrigerate until needed. Serve with tortilla chips, or pita breads.

Sun Dried Tomato Pate / Sandwich Filler

This is really tasty. `Nuff said. The girls both like it, and hubby said he did, but I’m not to write that down! Does vegan pate have the same image that quiche did 20 years ago? I don’t know. What I do know is the girls had it in their school lunch packs today, and it went down well.

My initial experiments with this recipe involved cooked rice, but using quinoa makes the mixture easier to compact into a pate-like consistency. For a finer consistency, you could employ a food processor to partially blend all the cooked ingredients before adding the quinoa, but I wouldn’t over do it, as the tofu needs to retain some of its structure. You don’t want to turn it into a sauce.

Sun dried tomato pate served with hot 'buttered' almond bread toast.

Sun dried tomato pate served with hot ‘buttered’ almond bread toast.

Make sure to taste your sun dried tomatoes before using them here to check that you like them, as they are a fairly dominant flavor. The ones I buy are stored in olive oil with herbs (predominantly thyme, I would say). You might need to adjust the salt or thyme used here depending on how much is already included in yours.

1/2 cup dry quinoa
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp non-hydrogenated margarine
1/4 large mild onion, finely chopped
8 oz firm tofu
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup compressed sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, minced
4 tsps Braggs (or other GF soy sauce alternative)
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup (2 oz) almond flour (or blanched almonds, ground in a food processor)

Rinse the quinoa for a minute in a sieve under running water to remove the bitter saponins, then combine in a saucepan (or rice cooker) with 1 cup (8 fl oz) water, the thyme, and salt; cover tightly, and cook until most of the water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and allow the quinoa to finish cooking in its own heat.

In a large frying pan, melt the margarine, and sauté the onion over medium heat until softened and beginning to brown.

Add the tofu, and roughly mash with the back of a sturdy fork. Add the garlic and sun dried tomatoes to the onion, and allow to warm through for 5 minutes.

Combine all the ingredients together with the fork. Check seasoning.

This is now ready to use as a sandwich spread, or it can be compressed in a small serving bowl (or four ramekins) in the fridge overnight to form a pate. Serve on warm almond bread toast, or in sandwiches with slices of tomato or cucumber.