Last night I had a crack at some creole dishes: Tomatoes and Okra, Dirty Rice, and an Eggplant Casserole. Last night I also got a call from my boss asking me to come in for a shift that would start at about dinner time. Not the best combination, as it turns out.
I rushed home with the groceries, and got into it.
For the tomatoes and okra, I used frozen okra from the Middle East Bakery instead of fresh, and I used Cheatin’ Bacon Style Strips instead of Tasso (whatever that is). I otherwise followed the recipe, and as it wasn’t disastrous, I suppose I can say it turned out well. I wasn’t fond of the okra, which I hadn’t eaten before. I thought it was odd, and furry, and generally not my thing. Sorry Okra lovers everywhere, I’m just not a fan. That being said, the tomato and bacon combination is always a winner.
Dirty Rice usually calls for rarely used parts of a chicken- gizzards, livers, necks, and backs. Yuck! I substituted with some tempeh and some smoked tofu. Again, I otherwise followed the recipe, and it turned out awesome! Flavourful with the creole seasoning, fluffy, grainy rice that wasn’t too mushy, and an interesting brown-ish colour (which I assume is where it gets its name from.
The loser of the night was the eggplant casserole. I have used recipes from the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen many times before, and can generally recommend them. It wasn’t her fault my version failed, it was mine, all mine.
To get an idea of what happened, here’s what is was supposed to look like:
And this is what it did look like:
Something I know about myself, but always forget, is that I tend to overreach when I’m in a hurry. Especially in the kitchen. 20 minutes before guests arrive? Lets make lasagne! Tired and grumpy already? Try something fiddly and new! Desperately hungry? Bake something that takes an hour! And so it goes.
And so it went last night. I looked at the picture on the website, vaguely read the ingredients list, and thought, “yeah, I know how to make that”. Apparently not.
See I had read that this recipe require silken tofu, rather than the white sauce I use for bakes. What I hadn’t read were the instructions, or the rest of the ingredients list, that clearly stated you should add cashews, then blend the cashew/tofu mixture before adding it to the eggplant.
I don’t have a blending device capable of mushing cashews anyway, but still. So, rushing through it, I deflty plopped the tofu out of its packet and right into the pan of eggplant, and gave it a good stir. It didn’t look very creamy. Instead it looked like the solid bits of curdled milk floating and a sea of thin, unappetising, eggplant gravy. With bits of capsicum, our household’s least favourite vegetable.
To put this into context, I had also run out of pots (we own 2 saucepans, a frying pan and a wok) and as such run out of time to finish, having to do things in stages due to the pot shortage. And the oven started smoking a little because something had overflowed the last time I used the oven (unbeknownst to be), and was now burning on the bottom. Also, I get up at a bit after 5am on Wednesdays, and so was tired. This is my defence for what happened next.
Mr* arrived home in the midst of the pot cursing fury. What should I do when things go wrong? Laugh, and get on with it, would be the appropriate answer. What did I do? Asked for Mr’s help, then got grumpy at him when he asked me questions, like what to do or how to do it, or got in my way (i.e. in the kitchen), of course. Great idea!
Thankfully my partner is a wonderful, caring, patient man, and this didn’t erupt into any kind of actual argument. *Note to self, thank him for that again*
So, Mr quietly mashed some potatoes, then skedaddled out of the kitchen and retreated to the safety of the bathroom had a shower, while I poured the sorry-looking eggplant mixture into a baking dish, and topped it with mashed potato (which I had swapped for the much simpler and quicker bread crumb crust the recipe cals for, because I’m a glutton for punishment. And i like mash).
Finally, and just in the nick of time, all was ready to eat, or in my case, pile into a container to take to work.
Myself, Mr and a meat-eating workmate of mine (hi Dan!) all ate the creole offering, and all came to the same conclusion: The tomatoes and okra were tasty, but the okra itself was a but weird (Mr likes it slimy, Dan and I both hadn’t had it before), the rice was good, and the casserole- just glad it had mash, because that was the only edible part.
*It occurs to me I may not have explained this. Mr is my partner. He has a name, but doesn’t like the idea of having it on the internet, so I’ve nick-named him. Also, he works days and I work odd, part-time hours (early mornings, nights, and weekends), so I do most of the cooking now.