Monday, August 13, 2012

Dinner Tray: Tempeh Chops + Miracle Mushroom Gravy, Truffled Cream Peas, Corn & Tomato Salad, and Seared Apples

If this was a Houston High School tray circa 1990 -- the second year that the school where we met was open and the first year it had a working lunchroom -- it would have a pile of dinner rolls, hash browns, and some inexplicably greasy cookies. If it was our Picadilly tray of the same era, it would have a cloverleaf roll, mashed potatoes, and a tall, dark cup of amazing egg custard. Our experience with tray food for vegetarians in the past has been pretty starchy, but the memories sure are sweet. We had to re-do it and make it better for 2012. 

We found our trays at Lit Junior here in Memphis. (You can also procure a beige tray there if you prefer a more realistic tray food experience.) You can make this meal without them, sure, but some reason, this stuff is just better all around on a tray. (Now we have a craving to go here for the same old school vibe.)

Dinner Tray

Tempeh Chops + Miracle Mushroom Gravy

1 8-ounce package of tempeh
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg  (beaten)
1 tablespoon mustard (like Zatarain's Creole)
1/4 cup canola oil (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the tempeh into 4 triangles. In a large bowl combine the flour, garlic, and salt. Toss it around and coat tempeh. In a separate bowl whisk the egg and mustard together and dip each tempeh triangle into the egg mixture one at a time. Put the breadcrumbs in a separate bowl and dredge the tempeh in them until they're coated. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, lay the tempeh into a single layer and place in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately with Miracle Mushroom Gravy on top and add salt and pepper to taste. (Serves 2 as a main dish.)

Truffled Cream Peas

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large shallot (diced)
1 package of fresh English peas (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon truffle salt
truffle oil (to taste)
cracked black pepper (to taste)

Melt butter in a medium skillet on medium heat. Add shallot and when it is translucent, add peas. Add cream and truffle salt. Cook 5-7 minutes until peas are tender. Drizzle with truffle oil and add pepper to taste. 

Corn and Tomato Salad

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 a white onion (diced)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup white wine (like Pinot Grigio)
2 ears of corn (kernels removed)
2 cups cherry tomatoes 
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

Melt butter in a medium skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion thyme and sauté until onion is translucent. Add wine. Reduce by half and then add the corn and tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes and add salt and pepper before serving. 

Seared Cinnamon Apples

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large Pink Lady apples (peeled and thinly sliced)
1 tablespoon cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch or two of sea salt 
1 tablespoon port wine

Melt butter in a skillet on medium-high. Add apples, sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt. Push apples around every minute for about 3 minutes. Once you see browning that signals caramelization, carefully pour in port. Let apples cook for 3 more minutes while continuing to move them around the pan. Serve them alongside the 'chops'.