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Tempeh aux Champignons En Croute
serves four

8 oz tempeh, any variety
4 cups dark vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
4 black peppercorns
1 med yellow onion
2 lbs mushrooms, a mix of buttons (or field) and portobello
1/4 tsp celery seed
3 cups dark vegetable stock
6 Tbsp unbleached white flour
6 garlic cloves, roasted
3 Tbsp sun dried tomatoes, minced
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 cup dry sherry
salt and freshly cracked pepper to season
1/2 lb oblong (or rectangular) loaf of wholemeal bread, unsliced

Heat oven to 450 degrees, F. Cut bread into four equal slices.
Cut (or pinch) out a well in the center of each slice. Press the
bread down on the sides and bottom to make an open-topped case with
sides 1/2 - 1/4 inch thick. Place the crou^tes on a baking sheet
and toast lightly, for 5-10 minutes. Either fill and serve
immediately or set aside and reheat at 350 degrees F for several
minutes before serving.

In a 3 quart saucepan, bring 4 cups vegetable stock, bay leaf, and
peppercorns to a rolling boil. Add the tempeh, whole, right from
the freezer, to the stock. Reduce heat and simmer, turning
occasionally, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside,

While the tempeh is simmering, slice the onion into thin rings.
To soften, put the sun dried tomatoes in a small bowl and pour over
them enough boiling water to cover. Mince the rosemary and using
a knife, coarsely puree the roasted garlic. Braise/deglaze
(instructions follow) the onions in a medium sized (or large)
non-stick skillet, using the tempeh cooking liquid as needed.
While the onions are cooking, wash and trim the mushrooms. Cut
large buttons in halves or quarters and portobellos into 1/2 inch
thick strips.

Put a large non-stick skillet on medium heat. Toast the flour in
the skillet, stirring constantly, until it begins to smell toasted
and turns the slightest shade darker. Pour the flour into a small
bowl to cool. Warm 2 1/2 of the 3 cups of vegetable stock in a 3
quart saucepan over medium heat until it begins to steam. Mix
the toasted flour with the remaining 1/2 cup of stock and whisk it
into the stock in the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring
constantly, until the sauce begins to thicken. Reduce heat to very
low and add the rosemary, garlic, tomatoes, and onions. Continue
to cook the sauce while making the remaining preparations.

Heat the large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Put the
mushrooms in the pan and cover. Let them cook, undisturbed, until
steam makes the lid dance (if its a light- weight lid), about 8
minutes. The mushrooms will release a lot of moisture. Add celery
seed and 1/4 cup sherry, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring
frequently, until the liquid evaporates. Deglaze the pan with a
bit of the tempeh cooking liquid.

Remove the tempeh from its cooking liquid and cut it into 1/2 inch
dice. Season the brown sauce with salt and pepper (at least 1/2
tsp of pepper). Pour the mushrooms into the sauce, stir in the
diced tempeh and finish the sauce with the remaining 1/4 cup sherry.
Place a warm crou^te in the center of each serving plate and fill
with 1/4 of the Tempeh aux Champignons. Serve immediately.

Notes: This would be nice preceded by a light winter vegetable
soup, maybe cubes of baked winter squash in an onion broth, and
followed by a spinach, radichio, and pear or apple salad dressed
with raspberry vinegar. You could prepare the sauce and let it
rest, covered, over very low heat, and warm the oven for the
crou^tes, while the soup is served. After the soup, briefly toast
the crou^tes, and serve.

Braise/deglazed Onions: Heat a non-stick skillet over medium flame.
Separate thinly sliced onion rings and put them in the pan. Let
the onions cook, undisturbed, until they just begin to brown and
stick. Add 1 Tbsp water or vegetable stock to the pan and stir to
dissolve browned bits. Continue to cook until onions again brown
and stick. Deglaze with another Tbsp of water or stock. Repeat
this procedure until the onions are richly browned. This will take
15 or 20 minutes.


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