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Wednesday, 16 December 2015

A Vegan Holiday Feast with Chef Lauren Marshall

 If you don't know about Chef Lauren Marshall it is time you do. Lauren's talents are many and she excels at everything she does. She is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Alumni of the Culinary Institute of Canada, competitor on Top Chef Canada, Instructor at PC Cooking Schools, Ambassador for Yves Veggie Cuisine and Owner of Coastal Healing located in Halifax, NS.  Lauren promotes a healthy way of eating that is delicious, nutritious and compassionate!

Lauren offers cooking classes (both private and public), nutrition services and wellness retreats.

I had the pleasure to attend Lauren's Veggie Holiday Feast class where we were taught to prepare walnut and spinach stuffing with fennel using her cornbread muffin recipe, a vegan wellington that includes layers of roasted carrots, mushroom duxelles, portobello bacon and bean mixture, mushroom gravy, creamy coconut mash and finally for dessert pumpkin pie.

The fantastic thing about Lauren's recipes is how adaptable they are for every diet and every picky eaters preference. She made her Walnut and Spinach Stuffing with her cornbread muffin recipe but she stated that you can use any bread of your choosing. Spices can also be interchanged easily for all her recipes. She did her stuffing into balls and put them in a muffin tin but it can also easily be done full size in a casserole dish too. 

Lauren is nice enough to let me share these fantastic recipes with all of you, so enjoy:

Walnut and Spinach Stuffing with fennel
Serves 8
10-12  cornbread muffins (day-old), cut into 1-inch cubes
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small bulb of fennel, diced (or 1/2 a large bulb)
1 small onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1 pac frozen spinach (or 1 large container of spinach - cooked and squeezed to remove water)
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh sage, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh marjoram, roughly chopped
1/2 3/4 cup vegetable broth
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

-Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread corn bread on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until barely golden browned and nicely crisped (but not rock hard), 2030 minutes. Cool slightly, then transfer to a large bowl.  Add all of the other ingredients to the cornbread cubes and mix well. Add more broth or olive oil if it is a bit dry use your own judgement. Spread evenly into a glass baking pan. -Bake at 350º for 20-30 minutes, until the veggies are tender and the top is nice and golden brown.

Cornbread Muffins
1 cup almond milk (room temp)
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted2
1/2 cup (100 g) raw or granulated sugar
Dry ingredients:
2/3 cup cornmeal
1 1/3 cup oat flour
3/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

-Preheat the oven to 350 °F and line a muffin pan with 12 muffin liners. Pour the milk in a large mixing bowl, add the apple cider vinegar, and give it a few stirs. Let sit for 5 minutes while preparing the dry ingredients. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients. Set aside. To the milk mixture, add the melted coconut oil, sugar and vanilla and stir until well combined.Add the dry mixture and stir just until combined.Pour into the prepared pan. Bake muffins for 18 minutes or until springs back.

The Vegan roulade has several steps and can be a bit time consuming but definitely worth it in the end. If you've ever had one of Field Roast's en croute roasts, it reminded me of a much more decadent version of that. The mixture of flavored just exploded in my mouth like anything I've had before.

Serve with some fresh winter greens (Arugula, Kale, Swiss Chard - roasted garlic etc.)

Rosemary Turkee Roulade
Serves 8

For the Roasted Carrots:
1 small bag of baby carrots
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

For the Mushroom Mixture:
1 pack button mushroom, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 cup whiskey
1 cup Japanese-style breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/4 cup minced fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 cup minced fresh chives or parsley

For the Bean Mixture:
1 1/2 cups raw cashews
4 cups veggie stock
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium leek, white part only, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

For Assembly:
1 (1-pound) package frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Extra-virgin olive oil as needed
Coarse sea salt
brush for spreading oil on pastry

For the Carrots: Preheat oven to 400°F. Add rosemary sprigs to pan, drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat, and place carrots on pan. Roast until caramelized , should take about 30 minutes. When you remove carrots from oven, turn down to 350 F.
For the Mushroom Mixture: Blend mushrooms in food processor until finely chopped. Heat some olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until moisture has evaporated and mushrooms begin to brown, about 12 minutes. Add onion and garlic and cook, tossing and stirring, until fragrant and softened, about 1 minute. Add soy sauce, maple and whiskey and cook until almost dry, about 2 minutes. Fold in bread crumbs and tarragon.
For the Cashew-Bean Mixture: Place cashews in a saucepan and add veggie stock. Cook at a medium boil until all the stock has eva[orated. This should take about 30 minutes. Pulse in food processor.

For Beans: Lay beans on a sheet pan (lined with parchment). Roast in oven until they split open. Should take about 15 minutes. Place the beans in food processor and pulse until blended.

Cook Leeks: Sauté leeks and celery in a pan on medium high heat.  Season and blend in food processor.

Toast seeds: in a dry pan toast the pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Blend until you get a flour like consistency.

Fold: Fold the cashew mixture together with the blended leeks, seeds and beans. Should make a heavy dough.
To Assemble: Lay a single sheet of phyllo on a clean work surface and brush with olive oil. Layer with about 1 1/2 cup bean/cashew mixture, leaving a 2-inch border all around.

Roll the phyllo and stuffing up like a buritto, tucking in the sides about half way through rolling. Set the cigar-shaped roll aside.

Lay a clean sheet of phyllo on your work surface and brush with olive oil. Lay two more sheets on top, brushing each with olive oil as you layer them to help them stick together. Spread half of mushroom duxelles evenly over bottom two thirds of phyllo sheet, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Lay roasted carrots in even rows in the mushrooms and cover with remaining mushrooms, pressing down with clean hands to form an even layer. Place the cigar-shaped phyllo roll on top of the carrots and mushrooms. Roll the phyllo sheet up into a tight cylinder and set aside.

 Lay another single sheet of phyllo on a clean work surface and brush with olive oil. Do this 4-5 times then layer the rest of the bean/cashew mixture on top. Roll over your existing cylinder. this is your finished product.

Bake until golden brown, crisp, and puffed, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

The roulade was perfectly paired with Lauren's mushroom gravy and a creamy coconut mash. I simply loved that instead of traditional potatoes for the mash, she chose parsnips and celeriac. Totally unique but just as satisfying and honestly, I don't think most people could tell the difference. The gravy is rich and flavorful and absolutely perfect with the roast. 

Roasted Mushroom Gravy
Serves 8

1 cup sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp thyme, chopped
10 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. port
2 ½ cup vegetable stock
a few leaves of sage
1 pinch rosemary, chopped

-In a medium saucepot, add onions, garlic, and thyme. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until onions turn translucent and just start to brown. About 10 minutes. If the onions and garlic start to stick to the pan, add 2 Tbsp vegetable stock.
-Add the crimini mushrooms, sea salt, pepper, and cook until the mushrooms begin to brown, stirring often. This can take 10 minutes. Add the port and stir for about 1 ½ minutes.
-Add the vegetable stock to the pan. Add the remaining herbs:  sage, and rosemary.
-Bring the gravy to a boil, then to a low simmer for about 15 minutes. Blend. Season to taste. Serve warm.

Creamy Coconut Mash

3 pounds parsnips or celeriac, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch chunks
Kosher salt
6 leaves fresh sage
Freshly ground black pepper
6 fried sage leaves as garnish
Splash coconut milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

-Bring pot of water to boil over high heat. Salt add sage, parsnips or celeriac . Cook until tender, 20 mins.
-Drain the parsnips and place in food processor. Purée until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Finally for dessert she made a delectable pumpkin pie with raw cashews. It had the perfect consistency and actually very much tastes like your typical grandma's pumpkin pie just with a twist. Even though I am usually terrified of making desserts with cashews, it looks like something I could even do.

Pumpkin Pie  
Servings: 12

1/4 cup ice-cold filtered water
3/4 cup oats, ground into a flour with a blender
1/4 cup coconut flour
¼ tsp xanthan gum (optional)
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp maple syrup
6 Tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked in filtered water overnight
2 cups pumpkin puree
1/3 cup raw coconut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1  tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
-Spray the pie dish with non-stick cooking spray.
-In a medium-sized bowl, add the flours, xanthan gum, sea salt and sugar, and mix to combine.  Add the melted coconut oil and mix together with a fork, scraping the sides with a spatula. Add the cold water and mix together thoroughly with a fork.  The coconut oil will then start to harden and the coconut flour may absorb all the water.  You may need to add 2-4 more tablespoons of water to get the dough to come together.
-Press the dough into the pie dish using the palm of your hand and fingers to press the dough flush into the pie dish. Try to make the crust as even throughout. If it helps, use a large spoon to smoothen out the dough evenly.
-Place a large piece of parchment paper over the pie shell, just enough to hold pie weights, and fill the shell with dried beans or pie weights. Place the pie dish on a baking sheet, and bake on the center rack, until the shell is light brown, about 15 minutes.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and remove the parchment paper and pie weights from the pie shell. Place the baking sheet back into the oven and bake for another 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.  
-Cool the crust and prepare the filling.

-Place all of the filling ingredients into the blender then blend on high until very smooth. Stop the blender and scrape the sides to ensure everything is getting blended. Taste and sweeten to taste.
-Pour the mixture into the cooled crust, scraping the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula. Using an off-set spatula or knife, spread the filling into the crust evenly.

My experience at the cooking class was a great one. I feel like I learned so much and even a little less scared to experiment in the kitchen now. If you are interested in taking one of Lauren's classes you can see her calendar on or visit PC Cooking School's website. Lauren also does food ready for pick-up and if you don't have time over the holiday's, that's a great option for you, visit here for details. She has items such as mint nanaimo bars, kale chips, vegetable wellington, squash salad and more. 

Thank you to Lauren for allowing me to share her fantastic recipes of giving me the opportunity to see her in action.