I had a good childhood. I was healthy, happy, and had loads of energy. I lived in a very rural part of Southern Ontario, on a marsh/forest. We didn't have internet, and computers were a recent introduction - just typing that out makes me feel a little old. I remember a lot of great things from my past, such as my goldfish, Goldy, who really liked to eat. So much so that one morning I woke up, and it was like he got fat overnight. We had to set him free in our pond, and every now and then, I swear I could see him swimming around. At the time it felt like I had given him a better life, but who are we kidding - could he really have survived the harsh winter climate? When I wasn't playing outside, I loved to watch tv, specifically Mr. Dressup, Today's Special, and the Polka Dot Door to name a few Canadian shows.
Breakfast for dinner was amazing. Grocery shopping on Thursday night with my mom was special. Riding my bike with the banana seat, flower basket and streamers was how I got around, and making forts was how I spent my time. Jelly shoes, stirrup pants, windbreakers, and side ponytails were what I wore, and Swanson mini pot pies were what I ate. I was a child of the 80's, what can I say. A few years back, I had a craving for Swanson'spot pie. It wasn't so much the crust that I was craving, it was the filling - the salty savory sauce and tiny vegetables. I do remember those pies containing some sort of meat, although reconstituted I am sure. I wasn't going to eat meat, and I sure wasn't going to re-create a half-ass Swanson pie, so I started experimenting meat alternatives.
When I'm looking for a meat substitute, I'll often experiment with tofu, tempeh, sietan, tvp, or Quorn Chicken Tenders. Quorn Chicken Tenders are tiny delicious pieces of protein with a savory flavor and chewy texture. They are made from 90% Mycoprotein, and the remaining 10% from free-range eggs, yeast, salt, pea fibre, and natural flavors. The principle ingredient of Mycoprotein is Fusarium venenatum, a fungi which has been grown in water tanks, with the addition of glucose for food, vitamins and minerals. I first stumbled upon Quorn in the UK, where it is widely popular, and later in Seattle. Quorn was originally developed based off a prediction in the 60's, that there would be a shortage of protein rich foods by the 80's. Totally mispredicted. The Quorn Chicken Tenders turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.
Two years ago I began this journey into recreating a vegetarian version of Swanson pot pies. Today I offer you my fiddled with, adjusted, and perfected the recipe, and trust me, it's a crowd pleaser. I've never had a single person who didn't enjoy these pies, and often, without even knowing I've used a meat substitute. Mr. H is ridiculous and will usually eat three in a row. If I want a couple for myself, I have to hide them in the back of the fridge - like a crazy person. I actually need to invest in a couple more ramekins, because 4 just isn't enough.
I start off by frying some chopped potato and onions in butter until soft and glistening. I add in the frozen mixed vegetables and Quorn pieces, followed by the broth and flour. I let it simmer until the sauce has thickened, and then fill each ramekin 3/4 full. I place some store-bought puff pastry on top (because making puff pastry really does take a long time, and I would like to remain ignorant as to how much butter is involved). I brush the pastry with an egg wash and bake for 20 minutes while watching the pastry puff up from the steam. Your home will slowly start to smell wonderful and magical, and you'll notice that your dog is walking around the house licking the air, and for a minute your will think he is having a seizure, but then you'll find yourself doing the same, and then you realize that you're both slightly crazy!!?!?
MINI VEGETARIAN POT PIE RECIPE
makes 4 individual pot pies (4 - 8
notes: if you do not have any ramekins, you can make a larger version in a casserole dish. If you don't have access to
, sub in tofu, tempeh, or any other vegetarian protein. You could also try tuna.
1 potato, peeled and chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 tbsp butter
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables, preferably corn, carrots, and peas
1 cup frozen
3 tbsp all purpose flour + 3 tbsp cold water
3 cups veggie broth
2 ready-to-bake puff pasty sheets
1 egg, slightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Remove the two frozen puff pastries sheets from their package and lay them on the counter to thaw - at this point they will still be rolled up. After 10 minutes, unroll the puff pastry sheets and continue to thaw. Once they have thawed, cut 4 equal size circles the size of the ramekins. Set to the side.
In a large pot or frying pan on medium heat, fry the cubed potato and chopped onions in butter for 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.
Add the frozen mixed vegetables and frozen
, and stir. Continue to cook for 5 more minutes, until the Quorn chicken pieces and frozen vegetables have begun to thaw.
Add the 3 cups of broth to the vegetables and stir.
In a small bowl, whisk 3 tbsp of flour with 3 tbsp cold water. Slowly drizzle the flour mixture into the vegetables and broth while stirring, so that no lumps form.
Simmer on medium heat until the sauce has thickened to the consistency of thick gravy, roughly 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and fill 4 - 8 oz ramekins 1/4 inch from the top.
Layer the puff pastry circles on top.
Brush the pastry tops with the egg wash, and then place the ramekins onto a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet into the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm.
The pot pies can be stored in the fridge covered for a couple of days. You can also store them in the freezer for up to 3 months. After cooking the filling, let it cool, place the puff pastry on top and then freeze. Pull out of the freezer when ready to bake.