I don’t remember too much about childhood food. My family like to eat but none of them are keen on cooking, so it was all fairly plain stuff. Lots of meat and fish – and plenty of it was stuff like rabbit, stuffed hearts, faggots, liver and kidneys. I loved it all so in some ways my parents were especially surprised when I went vegetarian aged 15. I certainly don’t remember eating much vegetarian food until I turned 16, went vegetarian, and had to make it myself. There was one dish though, that my Dad sometimes used to make in the evenings when Mum was at work – potato, egg and tomato bake. It was slices of boiled potato, hard boiled egg and tomatoes with a rich cheese sauce poured over it and baked. I loved it and it was real comfort food. For years, until I was vegan, I’d make a huge dish of it for myself and eat it all, especially when the weather was cold or I was feeling miserable. It was the food equivalent of a hug.
When I went vegan I thought I’d never eat this again. The whole beauty of it was the hard boiled eggs and the thick cheesy sauce. But now that I’m far more experienced with vegan food I thought there was a chance I could attempt a vegan version of it.
I used 3 ideas from far more clever and creative cooks than me for this one!
I started by peeling, boiling and slicing 2 big potatoes and 2 large tomatoes. I also cooked some spinach, which wasn’t in the original but I just fancied it as an add in.
Then I made the “egg”, which was heavily borrowed from the egg in the Tofu Benny in Vegan Brunch. I pressed and sliced some tofu, then marinated it in the following:
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp black salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp vegetable stock
1/4 tsp mustard powder
Then I baked it for about 20 minutes until it was nice and firm but not too crisp as it still needed time in the oven.
I based the sauce on the wonderful cheezy sauce from American Vegan Kitchen but messed around with the ingredients a bit – adding in some maca powder which is something I discovered while testing for Celine.
This is what I used:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp margarine
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/4 cups soya milk
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp maca powder
1 tsp white miso
2 tbsps cornflour
salt, white pepper, and lots of nutmeg to taste
For the method you’ll need to look at American Vegan Kitchen and use that – I know you’ll be buying it anyway!
Then, to build up the bake, I put the cooked spinach in the bottom of the dish, then a layer of tomatoes, then potatoes, then tofu “eggs”, sauce, tomatoes, potatoes, eggs, potatoes, sauce, then a grating of melty cheese on the top – I used Cheezly mozzarella but you could use any melty cheese or leave it off altogether. Bake in the oven until the top is brown and the sauce is thick and bubbling.
So how did it compare to the original? Well, I’ve never found anything that replicates the texture of hard boiled egg yolk and this didn’t come close – but it did a fairly good job of the egg white and the sulphuric taste of boiled eggs. The sauce also isn’t quite the same as a dairy cheese sauce but it’s thick and tasty and tangy in its own right. Altogether it filled the same role as the original – comforting, tasty and delicious and I’ll definitely do it again!
(Sorry about publishing this only half way through yesterday! I was having trouble with my internet connection.)