As I planned, prepared, and reflected on our Christmas brunch, I kept hearing in my head the mega hit song “Oh You Fancy Huh” by hip hop phenom, Drake. For our holiday meal was indeed fancy, at least by the standards of my working class, southern background. In fact, I can just hear my 80 something year-old grandmother uttering this expression if I were to tell her what we ate on this special occasion. The menu consisted of a few familiar dishes but was also made up of things that I was not accustomed to eating as a native Memphian. Items that I’ve rarely, if ever, made took center stage and things that I’m not even sure how to pronounce were the perfect accompaniments. Grits, stewed apples, seasoned potato cubes, cranberry ginger compote for both the angel flake biscuits and yogurt parfaits, hibiscus mimosas, and three varieties of quiche made for a unique and scrumptious vegan meal.
I began by researching quiche recipes. I found a very good one on the Guilty (Vegan) Pleasures Blog that I improvised in several ways, particularly by creating my own fillings, including a kale and mock Italian sausage (by tofurky) filling; a spinach, red, yellow and orange pepper filling; and an Italian “sausage,” spinach, red and yellow pepper filling. (Below you will find my recipe for a quiche that I prepared days after Christmas.)
While the recipe from Guilty Pleasures called for a store bought crust, I set out to get my vegan, homemade pie crust right for once and for all. After doing some research on how to make a perfect pie crust, I focused on making sure that the Earth Balance “butter” substitute and the liquid in the recipe were ice cold when added to the recipe, which seemed to do the trick.
The cranberry compote was intended to be like a jam for the biscuits and was a spinoff of the orange, cranberry, ginger relish that I sometimes prepare for Thanksgiving. I omitted the shallots and other spices that went against the jam idea. I ate the bulk of the compote and enjoyed it by itself. Guests tried it on biscuits and even layered it with vanilla, soy yogurt by Silk and granola in small glasses for beautiful parfaits.
Our featured drink for this Christmas celebration was a Hibiscus Tea Mimosa. I made a large pitcher of the tea with dried hibiscus flowers, grated ginger root, fresh squeezed lemon juice and raw sugar, chilled it and made it available for guests to combine with champagne. Though wine, sparkling ciders and sparkling waters were also available, these mimosas were the biggest hit. The tea by itself ran a close second.
Several guests arrived at 11:15 in the morning and did not leave until well after six that evening. We laughed, debated and played piano while going back for seconds and even thirds. Some guests left with quiche for the next day, and others requested the recipe for future reference. All a testament to a blessed holiday fellowship that even my grandmother would have enjoyed!
VITA’S VEGAN SPINACH, RED AND ORANGE PEPPER QUICHE
Vegan Pie Crust (for a 9 inch quiche)
1 1/4 cups King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance “butter” substitute, chilled and diced
1/4 cup ice water
In a large mixing bowl, combine (but do not sift) the flour and salt using a fork. Coat your hands with a little of the flour mixture and massage the butter and flour until it looks like coarse meal. Stir in water one tablespoon at a time, until mixture clings together. Shape the mixture into a ball and wrap in plastic. Chill the dough in the freezer until you complete the other parts of the quiche recipe, or if you are working well in advance, place the dough in the coldest part of the refrigerator for at least an hour and even overnight.
Lightly dust with flour both the rolling surface and the rolling pin. Avoid sprinkling excess flour on the actual dough. Add a little flour under the dough if it begins to stick to the surface. Roll the dough into a 12 inch circle of 1/8 inch thickness so that it will fit the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate. Evenly place crust in pie plate. Gently tear off excess crust that hangs over the pie plate. Using your fingers press out any uneven places in the crust. Use your fingers or a fork to press a decorative edge around the edges of the plate. Set aside until the filling is ready.
The “Egg”less Part
14 oz. firm tofu (West Soy or bulk bin tofu are my favorites.)
1/4 cup almond milk (Original Blue Diamond Almond Breeze is my favorite.)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon dried chives
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
pinch of nutmeg (1/16 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt or more to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste
The “Cheese”less Part
1/2 cup water
3/4 Tablespoon of tahini
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
12 oz bag of pre washed baby spinach
1/2 orange bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING QUICHE
Preheat oven to 425F.
Sauté onion, garlic, and peppers in olive oil until onion is softened. Add spinach. Stir over heat until spinach just begins to wilt. Pour into a large glass bowl and set aside.
In a blender or food processor, blend all of the ingredients for the cheese(less) part. Pour mixture into a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Whisk for three minutes until thickened. Turn off heat. If you do not have a blender or food processor, start by whisking all of the ingredients for the cheese(less) part together in a sauce pan and follow the remaining steps.
Add the ingredients for the tofu mixture to a food processor or blender and pulse until ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Add tofu mixture to the glass bowl with the spinach mixture. Stir until veggies are evenly distributed throughout tofu mixture. Add cheese(less) sauce and fold it into the tofu/veggie mixture.
Spoon the entire mixture into a homemade or pre-made pie crust.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. The quiche is done when it has set and both the top of the quiche and the crust are browned.
Let the quiche cool for at least 10 minutes.
Using a pie knife, cut the quiche into slices and transfer slices to plates.