Saturday, November 12, 2011

Scrapbook Night

 Tonight I had a scrapbook class and needed to make something relatively simple for dinner, but also make a snack and dessert for my scrapbook class.

Our family loves Lebanese and Greek food.  Whenever we'd go to a restaurant, even before being vegan, I'd usually order a vegetarian plate.  I always had Mujaddara on my plate because I just loved it so much.  My family...not so much.  One day, just a couple of years ago, I decided to make it myself.  It was so much better than any I had ever had at a restaurant and, to my complete surprise, my family gobbled it up!  It is easy to make; it just requires a little baby-sitting.


1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp vegan margarine
1 tbsp olive oil

Melt the margarine and oil with a pinch of salt in a large skillet; when hot, add the onions.  Set heat on medium-low and stir occasionally until very soft, about 30 minutes.  Turn heat to medium high and keep cooking and stirring often until deeply browned and sweet, another 20 minutes or more.  Deglaze the pan with a splash of water.  Stir and set aside.

Lentils and Rice

3/4 cups brown or green lentils (not red or French)

1 cup long grain white rice
2 cardamom pods

Meanwhile, cook rice and lentils separately according to package directions, adding the cardamom pods to the rice and removing once the rice is cooked.

The lentils should be tender, but not mushy or soupy.  They should retain their shape.

Combine rice, lentils, half the caramelized onions, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp cumin, salt and pepper to taste, and a splash of olive oil in a large pot or skillet.  Add about half a cup of water and heat everything together until fragrant, warm, and combined.

Turn into a serving dish.  Top with remaining caramelized onions.  You can also top with chopped fresh parsley and pine nuts if desired.

Rustic Apple Tart

This tasted much better than it looked.  I struggled with the pie crusts, though, and was reminded once again why I so prefer to make my own pie crusts rather than taking the easy way out and buying the frozen or refrigerated ones.  If you DO use a purchased pie crust, make sure you read the ingredients.  Some contain lard.  

2 pie crusts, one on top of the other on a large pizza stone and roll out over the edges of the pan 
6 large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced - I used a combination of Winesap and Virginia Gold
2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated fresh ginger root
1 heaping tsp cinnamon (I used The Pampered Chef's Cinnamon Plus, which is probably like an apple pie spice with a little nutmeg, cloves, and allspice)
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (or more if your apples are tart)

Roll out dough over your pizza stone or other flat, heavy baking sheet, using a dusting of flour to keep it from sticking to the pan and the rolling pin.  You want the dough circle to be about 16-18" in diameter or so.  Please don't measure it, though.  Just guess.  I'm not that particular.  Combine apple slice and remaining ingredients.  Mound in the center of the dough and fold the edges of the dough up over the apples.  You just want it to keep in the juices.  You can brush the exposed crust with your favorite non-dairy milk and a sprinkling of sugar if you wish.  Cover the exposed apples loosely with a circle of foil that you have brushed with melted margarine or spritzed with a little nonstick spray.  This prevents your apples from drying out and getting to brown.  You can remove this for the last 15-20 minutes of baking time.  Bake at 350° for about 50-60 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned.  

Please forgive my ugly crust.  Remember I said I had issues with the premade crusts.  I had a terrible time with it breaking and tearing.  I really do prefer making my own crust.  So next time I'll include my homemade pie crust recipe.  It really is easy to do.  I don't know why I thought the purchased ones would save time.  The tart may have looked pretty rough (although it is a "rustic" apple tart - rustic usually means not pretty), it tasted delicious.  Not cloyingly sweet, but the natural sweetness and the delicious flavor of the Virginia Gold apples really shined through.  

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