What were you doing during last weekend’s blizzard, the so-called Winter Storm Jonas? Binge-watching some favorite tv show? Sleeping late and then lying around most of the day? Checking in on tv and internet news to get the latest updates on how terrible the weather it was getting? Spending time on social media letting your relatives know that you were warm and safe? Therese and I were doing all of that, plus we were taking the opportunity, what with being stuck inside, to enjoy some good food (made by yours truly, of course).
Breakfast was something light, crackers with Tofutti cream cheese and fruit I think. And lunch was leftovers, of some choucroute garnie I had made a few nights earlier (stay tuned to hear more about that in another post). But it was for dinner that I pulled out the old apron and got really busy in the kitchen.
I started with making dessert. I’ve had this package of pumpkin spice brownie mix from Sur la Table in my cabinet since before Christmas.
This was fairly straightforward to make. I mixed up the cream cheese (Tofutti, of course) with the spice mix and an egg with my KitchenAid mixer, and mixed up the other eggs and melted Earth Balance with the brownie mix by hand in another bowl. Using my ceramic pie pan, I assembled the brownie (first half the brownie part, then alternating spoonfuls of spice mix with brownie mix until used up, then pulling spatula through to create a marbelized effect). Baked in the oven, it came out looking just like this.
While the brownie cooled, I moved on to the dinner: baked eggplant with vegan mozzarella. I was trying a new mozzarella, that of Miyoko Schinner (more on her in another post as well). Ms. Schinner was coming to New York later in January, and I thought I wanted to try some of her newly-launched vegan cheese products ahead of time.
The base of the recipe was an eggplant recipe by Mark Bittman, from his Vegan Before Six book. When I make this recipe, I do sort of bastardize it, since the whole idea is that this is a vegan, i.e., without cheese, version of baked eggplant, and I add vegan cheese to it. In this case, I sprinkled shreds of Daiya mozzarella throughout the layers of the dish, and spread slices of Miyoko’s Vegan Mozzarella on the top.
The other components of the dish are slices of eggplant that are first baked in the oven on cookie sheets, a simple tomato sauce (onion, garlic, tomatoes, spices) and chopped basil leaves. When I got it all together, it looked like this.
I originally intended to grate the mozzarella and sprinkle it over the top, but it was too soft for that, so making fairly thin (say, 1/4 inch) slices was my back-up plan.
After baking the dish at 400 degrees for 20 minutes as instructed in the recipe, I turned on the broiler and put the eggplant under that for about a minute and a half. I watched it – in my experience, things under the broiler can go from nearly perfect to completely inedible in a few seconds – and could see the mozzarella bubbling under the heat of the open flame. Nice! I took it out before it got TOO brown, but the cheese did get browned a bit, as you can see in the photo at the top of this post.
I dished up a portion of my eggplant baked with vegan mozzarella, and was very pleased with the look of it.
I enjoyed this dish quite a bit. The two kinds of vegan mozzarella played well with each other, and the overall flavor was that of a classic eggplant parmesan. The sauce was a bit on the thick side – I think in the future, I would use less tomatoes and add some vegetable stock to create a lighter tomato sauce. Otherwise, we loved it.
After we had eaten our fill of the eggplant, it was time to turn my attention back to the desert. I cleaned out my KitchenAid bowl and filled it with ice water, and when it was nice and cold, I got out my Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream and made some whipped cream, adding a couple tablespoons of sugar and a dash of vanilla to sweeten it up a bit. And it was time for some brownie with whipped coconut cream!
A fitting conclusion to a very good meal. And to a blustery day of epic proportions! As we watched all the furniture on our terrace disappear beneath the mounds of snow, we were very impressed. Jonas came to play. But, typical of New York City, just a few days later, the temperature has warmed up, and most of the snow is already gone. Bye bye, Jonas! We enjoyed ourselves while you were wreaking your havoc!