Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.
Who: Tori Amos
Recommendation:Cooking vegan meals
What is keeping me sane right now is cooking. Usually, my daughter, Tash, and I do it together and we bond and try and find the calm by firing up the stove. For a while now (practicing social distancing) there have been four of us here — two being vegan. So if the non-vegans are really liking the vittles then it works for everybody.
Tonight we'll be having a vegan stew that I am calling mushroom magic. This is an experiment; we'll see if the gang likes it. Many of the vegan dishes that I love are from Timothy Pakron whose cookbook Mississippi Vegan is always in the kitchen. His vegan creole "potato salad" is glorious.
Yes, during these times some of the spices he uses might not be in your kitchen, but substitutions can work with his amazing inspirations. He has a knack for just jam packing flavor, whether it's in his Southern "succotash stew" or his "mama's rosemary white bean soup." He also puts up recipes and hopefully his magic will make someone smile during these very challenging times.
Tori's Mushroom Magic Recipe
Cooking time (for crock pot or slow cooker): On low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours
1 cup flour
3 packs each at 250g of chestnut mushrooms
2 large onions
4 stalks celery
1 large carrot about a cup
6 cups white potatoes
6 cups veggie broth
2 tbsp tamari sauce
1 tbsp balsamic glaze
3 tbsp tomato puree
6-8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
Wash and cut up potatoes in reasonable bite size and leave in a bowl of cold water so as not to turn brown. (My choice is to not peel these.)
Peel the parsnip and carrot wash, then chop, and put aside in a bowl
Chop onion; put in bowl.
Wash and chop celery; put in bowl.
Wash all the mushrooms and then chop for frying.
Pour around 1/3 cup of flour onto a plate.
Dredge the mushrooms in the flour, placing on another plate. (The quantity I use fill up 2-1/2 plates with floured chestnut mushroom. Sometimes I use a bit more mushrooms if I have them; the stew can hold it.)
Place skillet on medium heat, adding 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
Once oil is heated, place floured mushrooms in very warm skillet. Grind some pepper over them and add a good pinch of sea salt. Once they start to turn golden, flip each mushroom, then place in a bowl when they are ready.
Repeat direction 9 until mushrooms are done.
Take skillet off heat for a moment.
Turn on the crock pot/slow cooker.
Drain the potatoes, placing them in the crock pot.
Add one package of 450 ml veggie broth (just over 2 cups) to the potatoes.
Add the carrot and parsnip to the crock pot, covering with lid.
In a separate bowl, add together and stir the tamari sauce, balsamic glaze and the tomato puree.
Time to deglaze the mushroom pan by adding another 450 ml packet of veggie broth to the pan. Place on low heat.
Add the tamari mixture into the deglazing pan.
Open crock pot lid and pour the deglazing pan into the crock pot.
Pour the fried mushrooms into the crock pot then cover with lid.
Add 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil to deglazed pan on medium heat.
Pour in chopped onions and celery.
Add a swish of pepper and sea salt.
Add to crock pot
Deglaze this pan again with rest of veggie broth and red wine (or more veggie broth).
Add fresh thyme from sprig to crock pot stir it all then cover. (Dry will do, too; about a teaspoon.)
Stir occasionally, tasting broth; add pepper and salt to taste. If more broth is needed for your taste, just add.