Friday, October 03, 2008

VEGANMoFo: Iron Chef Challenge!

What the heck is that up there? Well I'll tell you. In a minute. (Ha! I'm so like crappy network news!)

So fellow vegan blogger Katie (aka mrsbadmouth) from Don't Eat Off The Sidewalk came up with the brilliant idea of doing an Iron Chef-style challenge for this weekend. Read about in detail here. But anyway, she picked 2 ingredients that we have to cook with this weekend and post our results (by Sunday noon). No prizes, just good ol' blogger glory.

What are the two ingredients? I'll tell you - right now!

Apples and Ginger! What an awesome autumn choice, right?

So of course like 9 gabillion sweet ideas come to mind: muffins, scones, pancakes, pies, whathaveyou. But I was like No Way, Man! I'm going against the grain, cuz I'm a Vegan and that's how we ROLL!! So what did I make?

Cheezy Apple Gratin with Gingered Cream Sauce

Yep. So here's what's in this thang:
  • 1 lb(ish) of apples - I think I used 5-6 medium sized (that we picked ourselves at Fall City Farm!)
  • 3/4 cup of breadcrumbs (mine were mixed with some EB - leftover from Mac and Cheese topping)
  • 3/4 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 11/2 C plain soymilk creamer
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 - 1 inch of grated ginger (mine was frozen)
  • s&p
  • 1 C of Swiss Melty Cheez from The Uncheese Cookbook (or your own fave cheezy sauce)
What I did:

Preheat the oven to 375F. Put the soymilk creamer and almond milk in a saucepan over lowish heat. With a microplane or very small-holed grater, grate the ginger straight into the pan, stir and fagettaboutit.

Core and slice your apples (peel if you want, but seriously who wants to peel?!). Mine were medium-thin slices, I was kind of in a hurry.

Combine your breadcrumbs and walnuts in a small bowl. In a casserole dish (I used enamled cast iron) layer about half the apples, sprinkle with salt and pepper, follow with half the nut-crumb mixture, the rest of the apples, s&p, and the rest of the nut-crumb mix. Finally, pour the warmed ginger cream over the whole shebang (it should cover the apples about 3/4 of the way up the dish).
Bake for 45-50 minutes, until very soft. About 10-20 minutes before it's done, remove the dish and pour on (or sprinkle on you grated) cheesy sauce. Return to oven for remaining 10-20 minutes, or at least until the cheesy sauce is bubbling and has baked in.
Commentary 'Bout It
At first I wasn't planning on the cheezy sauce. Then I tasted the gratin 10 minutes before it was done and I was like, "Hm...this tastes like an apple crisp that got all mixed together." And I really wanted savory! What to do?!? Cheesy sauce, of course. And it really made the difference!

The first taste is POW! Noochy cheese. Followed by sweet, mellow, soft apples. Than finished up with POW! Garlicky-onion nooch cheese. It's a pretty good combination of tastes. I think it would be great on the side of any dinner plate, especially chickpea cutlets or oooh! curry baked tofu.
I think I would grate more ginger in next time, just for fun. So increase if you want!
For full disclosure's sake, I got the idea for this gratin from my main man Mark Bittman, in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Because I love it. I whisper sweet nothings in its invisible ears.


Anonymous said...

I love gratin!!

jessy said...

what a fun challenge! and what creative dish you made! mmmmmmmm! i think the combination of flavors sounds awesome! i love just about anything cheezy! yay! and thanks for the recipe, too - i bet it would be glorious with some curry baked tofus, indeed. delicious!

Chessa said...

theveganfoodie - me too! long live the gratin! ;)

jessy - it was really fun. I was thinking for a while of doing a burger, but it got kind of down to the wire and this is what I came up with. You should do the next challenge this weekend! It's super fun.

Bethany said...

yum. apples and cheeziness go together. It's just like having (vegan) cheddar on top of apple pie.

Anonymous said...

Yay for Swiss Melty Cheez! I love that recipe!

I'm going to bookmark this as I think cheeze, ginger, and apples sounds like perfection!