It’s stay-cation week! We’re probably not going to leave the house unless necessary. There were murmurings about going to Atlanta, but the toddler is at that complicated age when you simply can’t be in an enclosed space with her for more than twenty minutes, let alone two hours there and back. Last week caused some cabin fever, so we may still wake up one morning and decide to take the chance. Josh is getting a lot of illustrating done and I’m neglecting my projects in favor of reading some books that have been piling up. And of course, there’s much amusement to be gained from playing with the toddler.
Tonight I decided to revisit the vegetarian poutine recipe I’ve been practicing since we stopped eating out. One of the restaurants we used to frequent serves poutine with yeast gravy, which we always ordered and paid around $10 to enjoy, so in addition to the buffalo tempeh wings I perfected from their menu, it became imperative that I get a good option into the repertoire.
Poutine is a French-Canadian dish (probably the best) that involves heaps of crispy fries topped with cheese curds and brown gravy, usually of the chicken/turkey/veal sort. But the restaurant where we ate it uses yeast gravy, so why not follow their lead? Yeast gravy is a creamy sauce made by toasting nutritional yeast (nooch) with flour, making a roux with oil/butter, then adding stock and cooking until it’s the right texture. Taste, season, taste again, consume. If you’ve ever made a sauce (because it’s more a sauce than a gravy) you can probably pull this off with ease.
When I was in culinary school, my friend Alexis used to describe the way I always cooked everything from absolute scratch as “The Amanda Way”. Things like roasting sugar pumpkins to make pumpkin pie or using the original method for determining the hardness of cooked sugar to make marshmallows (the terms soft ball and hard crack came from somewhere!). I embraced this labor of love for years and still occasionally take those extra steps, but throwing some frozen fries on a sheet pan and baking them to save time is nothing to be ashamed about, trust me.
So fries in the oven, make some gravy by starting with nooch and flour toasting in the bottom of a pan. It will start to smell nutty and that’s when you add oil or butter. Stir to combine the oil and flour into a brown playdough-looking wad, then slowly whisk in warm veggie stock to make the sauce. It should be smooth, light brown, and creamy. Season with salt, pepper, granulated garlic (another shortcut), cayenne, and paprika, to taste.
You could put this in a glass and drink it, or you could cut up some cheese, throw it on top of those fries, then pour this sauce over the whole bowl. That would be poutine.
Poutine with Yeast Gravy
Bake frozen shoestring potatoes according to package directions (however much you want)
In a small saucepan, heat 1 carton vegetable stock to warm
In another saucepan over medium, toast:
1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. nutritional yeast (this can be found in the bulk section of a natural food store or the organic seasonings of your local market)
Toast until fragrant, then add:
1/2 c. vegetable oil or soft butter (I used Smart Balance from the tub because it’s accidentally vegan and all we use anymore)
Stir quickly to mix the flour and oil until it’s homogenous (tip: whenever you’re making a sauce that starts with a roux, the flour to fat ratio is 1:1, so it’s easy to adjust up or down for volume)
Allow the roux to cook for 2 minutes, then carefully whisk in the warm veggie stock 1 cup at a time until it’s smooth and the consistency of, well, gravy. You may not use all the stock, but warm the whole carton just in case it gets too thick.
Add salt, pepper, granulated garlic, cayenne pepper, and paprika. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
If you have access to cheese curds, sprinkle them on top of the fries, otherwise cut cheddar cheese into cubes and scatter them over the fries. Pour over the gravy, grind a few twists of pepper on top, and serve.
Once you’re done, let the dog clean up.
Until the toddler comes along, tells the dog, “No, yucky” and returns the bowl to you. Which is fine.
I also finished my minimalist dishcloth project. It wasn’t much, just two dishcloths using new-to-me crochet stitches and winging it, but they came out just how I wanted them.
A waffle stitch and a basketweave, similar stitches, but completely different results. I love them both.
I better get my shoes on for our evening walk, so enjoy your week and don’t forget to create something!