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Dining In in Paris: Vegan French Food

July 15, 2010

To complement my last “Dining Out” post, I thought I would share a couple of my most recent attempts at home-made French food, vegan-style.I was recently lent the cookbook The Vegetarian Bistro by Marlena Spieler, and thought I would try my hand at some of the recipes (none of which are actually vegan). Here are my results, so far.

The first recipe I decided to try was Broccoli au Sauce Roquefort–Broccoli in Roquefort Cream. Now, I should add a disclaimer: I’ve never knowingly eaten roquefort cheese before, so I have no idea whether the results of my version of this recipe approximate the results of the original recipe. But whether they do or not, I think that this was a success.

The original recipe has you make a white wine cream sauce with shallots and garlic, into which you crumble roquefort cheese at the last minute. You then dollop the resultant thick cream sauce onto a plate, and top it with some crisp-tender broccoli.

The wine sauce called for creme faiche, for which I substituted blended tofu with some water and lemon juice–that part was easy. The roquefort was more mysterious to me; I read on Wikipedia that roquefort is green and extremely strong and salty, and that’s about all I knew. Well, I decided to not worry about making it look right, and instead thought that, at least this time, I would focus on making something that was merely tasty. So, I pulverized some cashews, and added some light miso, tahini and nutritional yeast to make a moist but crumbly roquefort substitute. It didn’t look right at all–it took on the color of the miso–but I have to admit that it really tasted like a very strong cheese.

The result, then, was Broccoli au Sauce Miso-Roquefort, topped with roasted cashews and a side of rice with basil.

(Please excuse the strange blue-ish hue–we ate at that time in the evening when everything takes on a blue tint.)

Like I said, I think this is a real winner. I don’t know whether my miso-roquefort would please real cheese eaters (really, I don’t know whether it would–it might), but I thought it was delicious. I think I could also make this without the miso-roquefort, and it could pass as a traditional white wine cream sauce.

We had some leftovers, which meant that the next morning we were eating miso-roqueforte crepes! We each had one broccoli roqueforte crepe, and one strawberry & cashew-cheese crepe.

Okay, enough crepe pictures. The next Vegetarian Bistro recipe I tried was Courgettes, Asperges, et Blettes a la Sauce Haricots et Pistou–Zucchini, Asparagus, and Swiss Chard with a Bean and Pistou Sauce. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get my hands on any swiss chard, so we had to do without.

This recipe has you make a thick, creamy white bean sauce, to which you add pistou (like pesto, but without the nuts and cheese), and onto which you lay the steamed and blanched vegetables. The sauce, of course, also requires a great deal of heavy cream, which I think I successfully replaced with some leftover tofu creme fraiche. We ate it with a side of quinoa, seasoned with herbs de provence.

Again, I think this is a very good recipe. I may like my zucchini-cooking method a little bit better (Spieler has you steam the zucchini and then heat them with some butter, while I like to cook them in a little water or broth, and then let them brown in some olive oil), but the pistou bean sauce is truly excellent. The pistou is just a great deal of fresh basil and garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper, which turns the bean sauce a little bit green and makes it extremely flavorful and fragrant.

So far, veganizing these things has been successful, I’d say. Unfortunately, I think there are many recipes in Bistro for which there may be no hope, namely, any souffle recipe. There do seem to be vegan souffles out there but, from what I can tell, they’re really just crustless quiches. (That, of course, isn’t a half bad idea–I often want to make a quiche, but am feeling too lazy to make the dough. But still, I don’t think you should call a crustless quiche a souffle.) Perhaps some of the chemist-vegan bakers who have mastered vegan meringue can tackle the souffle.

Next recipe: Lentilles “Dom Perignon.” We’ll see.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. patricia leach permalink
    July 15, 2010 11:01 am

    Encore, miraveilleuse! Tres bien…I apologize for forgetting how to spell the french but the thouoght is there!

  2. Kiki permalink
    August 14, 2010 1:40 am

    Those crepes look amazing! I want the strawberry one for dessert right now!

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