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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Scotch Eggs and Scones

My. First. Original. Recipe. Ever!  (And it was a doozy.)


Rosemary Popcorn Breaded Scotch Eggs with Butternut Squash Yolk and Hot Buttered Popcorn Scones with a Sweet Apricot Glaze.



It all started when I discovered Post Punk Kitchen on Facebook.  The PPK and its creator,
author/chef/vegan genius Isa Chandra Moskowitz, have made it possible to convert to a vegan lifestyle.  I have never made a single recipe of hers that wasn't amazing.

Considering my first vegan cooking attempt one year ago was met with this passionate criticism from the hubby, "I can't eat this crap for the rest of my life," I needed all the help I could get.

So when she announced the Chopped/Vegan Challenge on the Facebook page last week, I felt compelled to enter, to show off the mad culinary skills I have developed since discovering The PPK, and, dare I imagine, to possibly impress my unknowing mentor?

The Ingredients: Butternut squash, popcorn, fresh rosemary, and apricot preserves.
The Challenge: Brunch 

The first thought that came to mind to make good use of the popcorn was "Cookies!"  But seriously who eats cookies before lunch?  Ahem...anyway.  But a scone?  Now a scone is a perfectly respectable brunch goody!

Then I thought "What goes with Scones?"  So I started researching.  I learned scones are British and that traditional British scones have more in common with biscuits than the hard, crumbly pastries sold in US coffee shops.  Interesting.  But more importantly, I discovered a popular British picnic food called a Scotch Egg, which generally speaking consists of a hard boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, breaded and deep fried.

Hmmm.  What an interesting vegan challenge!  Of course, I had to conquer it.

First, I popped my popcorn (one cup of kernels) in canola oil infused with fresh rosemary.  Fancy!

Then I prepared my squash with apricot preserves, brandy, Earth Balance, and salt.

Meanwhile I suckered the hubby into chopping some dried apricots and the rest of the rosemary for me (since it is generally a bad idea for me to get quite so enthusiastic with large knives.)
The most tedious part of the whole process was carving square blocks of tofu into somewhat convincing egg shapes.  It mostly involved cutting all the edges off over and over again in smaller slices.
I blended the left over tofu with the apricot preserve/squash mixture until achieving a nice yolk color and texture, then added about 1/2 teaspoon of black salt to give it that eggy taste (without completely losing the apricot and squash flavors.)  I also gave my tofu eggs a thorough washing in black and white salt, dried them off and re-dusted them with the black salt.  They smelled so much like eggs, it was almost disturbing!
 

Now for the fun part.  I cored my tofu eggs, then stuffed them full of as much yolk paste as they would hold without splitting, then re-inserted about half of the core I had removed to seal them up again.  In case you can't guess, this was an extremely tedious process.
That's about when things went horribly wrong.  I put together a beautiful seitan sausage mix with lentils, dried apricots and a marvelous blend of spices.  So pretty!
Did I mention this was also my first attempt making seitan sausage from scratch?  I had so much vital wheat gluten in the mix, it would not stretch around the eggs.  In fact, it wouldn't stretch at all!  I came so close to throwing in the towel then.  I felt such defeat.  The kitchen was thrashed.  I now had eight tofu eggs I had no desire to eat and about ten cups of popcorn which go stale long before we finished it off.  But there was no saving it.  I said to hell with it and steamed my sausage into links - which turned out perfectly, but did my eggs no good.  Or did it?

Call it epiphany or sheer desperation, I threw three of those bad boys in the food processor along with about two cups of lentils, two cups of chickpeas, and another marvelous blend of seasonings, then added another cup of vital wheat gluten (1/4 cup at a time so as not to get myself into another sticky situation.)  Now I had something to work with!
After the eggs were wrapped, I wrapped them up in foil, and steamed for about 45 minutes.  After steaming, I unwrapped and let them cool, then dredged in (almond!) milk and flax seed and breaded them in a "flour" of crushed popcorn, fresh rosemary, salt and pepper.
I suckered the hubby into deep frying them for me (three minutes each) because a pot of hot oil makes me nervous. Meanwhile, I whipped up the scone batter, adding in the rest of the brandy/preserve sauce left over from the squash and about two cups of popcorn, hand crushed.
While the scones were baking, I used the last of the apricot preserves to make the icing for the scones and the maple syrup for the scotch eggs.

The results:
It was so satisfying to cut open that first Scotch egg and see those layers - yolk, white, sausage, breading - to realize that everything had ultimately turned out just as I had envisioned (vs. into the homogenous mess I feared).  And yummy to boot.  I've already eaten two!  With that said, I am glad there was not a time limit assigned to this challenge, as I would have surely exceeded it.

On the other hand, the scones came together quickly and are out of this world - sweet, savory, buttery, apricoty, crunchy, fluffy.  They defy logic and come together in about twenty minutes start to finish.  I have decided these will be MY signature recipe at every holiday party this year. You. Must. Try. Them.


The Ingedients:

Rosemary Popcorn:
6 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/2 cup oil
1 cup kernals

Let the rosemary and oil simmer for about ten minutes, then remove rosemary sprigs before popping. Butter and salt to taste.

Yolk:
1 Butternut Squash (boiled until soft, then sauteed in salted apricot sauce)
Leftover tofu from shaping 8 eggs
1/4 t black salt
salt to taste

Process tofu in food processor until smooth and then fold into squash mixture to desired consistency.

Salted Apricot Sauce:
1 cup apricot preserves
1 T brandy (because that's all I had on hand)
2 T Earth Balance
Sea Salt (I twisted grinder eight times...not sure the measurement equivalent)

Simmer until all ingredients are incorporated then strain.

Eggs:
2 packaged extra firm tofu, pressed (sculpt, soak in water and salt, press again)
1 1/2 T Black Salt (+ more for dusting)
1/2 T Salt
Water

Apricot Sausage:
 1 1/2 cups lentils
1 cup veggie broth
1 T oil (reserved from rosemary popcorn)
1 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1 t paprika
1 t marjoram
1/2 t thyme
1 t fennel
1/2 t liquid smoke
salt and pepper to taste
4 T chopped dried Apricots

Sausage mixture for egg wrap:
1/2 batch prepared Apricot Sausage
2 cups chickpeas
2 cups lentils
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup vital wheat gluten
2 T thyme
1 t fennel
1 T paprika
1/2 t cayenne
2 T maple syrup
2 T salted apricot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

I had enough sausage mixture left for ten meatballs too!

Breading:
2 cups crushed rosemary popcorn (buttered)
1 T dried rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Syrup:
2 T apricot preserves (melted)
4 T maple syrup

Scones:
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 t apple cider vinegar
1 T Flax

Set aside for a few minutes until curdled then fold in 1/2 c - 2 T non dairy yogurt

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 T baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 cup Earth Balance

Mix with yogurt mixture then fold in 2 cups popcorn and 2 T salted apricot sauce

Bake at 400 degrees 17 minutres

Icing:
1 T apricot preserves (melted)
2 T unsweetened almond milk
1 cup powdered sugar


I think that's all!  If it seems like I missed a vital ingredient on this list its probably because my notebook is covered in liquid smoke.  A graceful and neat chef, I am not!










7 comments:

  1. Wow! I never would have figured out the scotch egg thing. Amazeballs!

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  2. Wow! This is beyond creative! Major kudos! :D

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  3. I need you to make and sell these to me immediately!

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  4. I cannot believe you pulled this off - I am beyond impressed!

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  5. My mother used to make me scotch eggs when I was a kid, I sometimes think that I wish I could eat one again.. Maybe I will have to devote a day to making these in the future.. nom!

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  6. Wow, that is incredible! I wouldn't have thought vegan scotch eggs possible but why not?! Wonderful creativity and looks delish too-especially the hot buttered popcorn scones! I might just have to attempt this one day.

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