I considered going back to basics and entitling this post, simply, “Bread and Spread,” but decided against the too-generic descriptor (even though it does offer up a lovely rhyme). But these two foods, when eaten together, really could inspire poetry (if you’ll forgive the extended metaphor), so I opted for my slightly rhapsodic title instead. And besides, with Easter coming up tomorrow, “pastoral” seemed like the right choice.
I’ve been hankering after this Potato Bread ever since I read about it a while back on Johanna’s blog (and originally posted on Redacted Recipes). Johanna’s version of the recipe, bespeckled with little amethyst wisps of grated purple potatoes, was not only visually beautiful, but her post also described the bread itself–its taste and texture–as veritably irresistible.
Now, I’m not a huge fan of bread per se (I rarely, if ever, eat sandwiches–though I made an exception for a Tempeh Ruben a while back). If I do eat bread, I want it to be the dense, dark, whole-grain kind that originated in an anonymous Eastern European country. This sounded like just the ticket, so I set about altering the ingredients to render them a bit more NAG-friendly.
In the end, I baked this bread three times (I forced myself to stop at three, because I also ended up eating most of each one!). Because the original recipe contained cheese, I substituted nutritional yeast to provide a similar flavor. My first effort (right) contained a bit too much yeast, I’m afraid, and the sharp astringency was a little overpowering. With attempt number two, I halved the yeast, but added diced avocado to emulate chunks of soft feta cheese scattered throughout the bread (photo below).
Third time was definitely the charm: I introduced chopped roma tomato and subbed fresh dill instead of thyme. Number Three (photo below) was, by far, my favorite.
As Johanna attested, this bread was fantastic. Even though mine isn’t quite as pretty to look at as hers, the moist, dense interior and perfectly balanced flavors of the green onion, cheesiness, and potato worked in agreeable harmony. Each bite provided a slightly different mosaic of flavors, each with its own unique configuration and gustatory sparkle. I, too, had to stop myself from consuming too much of this delightful loaf at one sitting.
And while it was stellar all on its own, the bread also made a perfect base for a favorite spread of mine, Carrot Pâté. I created the latter recipe about five years ago (when I first started teaching cooking classes), as a way to veganize a fabulous pâté I’d been preparing for over 10 years before that (back when favorite recipes had to be clipped from magazine pages and preserved in file folders).
Most of the carrots we consume around here tend toward the pre-peeled, miniature variety (aka “baby carrots”). Those are what we feed The Girls as treats, and, equally often, as “dessert” after dinner. And although Elsie adores the minis (and will even occasionally bare her teeth at Chaser for the culinary privilege), she turns her wet, black nose up with disdain at the regular, full-sized kind. (Once, I ran out of the miniatures, and tried feeding her ordinary organic carrots. I took great care to cut them into strips approximately the same size as baby carrots. She examined my offering like a mortician views a corpse, let out a little contemptuous snort, and walked away. Huh?) Have you ever known a DOG that’s a picky eater? And not only that–this is a dog whose puppyhood was characterized by eating poo for dessert! But no; no regular carrots for this Prima Donna.
“Um, excuse me, Mum, but if I might just interject to point out that the baby carrots are harvested much earlier in the growth cycle and are, therefore, significantly sweeter? And also that you didn’t peel those big ones, either, Mum. So they still retained all those little bumps and ridges on the exterior, which was rather irritating to my sensitive gums and teeth. Just saying.”
And while it’s technically a pâté, I actually prefer to eat this for breakfast. With the sweetness of carrots and light, custardy texture courtesy of silken tofu, it’s a perfect morning accompaniment. Along with the bread, you’ll be getting your morning serving of protein, veggies, and carbs, all in one delicious repast. In fact, this would be an ideal pairing for a leisurely Easter Brunch, if you haven’t got your entire menu set already.
I thought this meal would be a great submission to Weekend Breakfast Blogging, which was created by Nandita at Saffron Trail and is being hosted this month by Mansi of Fun and Food. The theme this month is “Balanced Breakfast Meals.”
(“Actually, Mum, I love this pâté even when you make it with “those” carrots. Pureeing the carrots makes them so much more palatable. So please feel free to share.“)
And to those of you who celebrate it, Happy Easter, all!
Cheesy Onion Potato Bread and Carrot Pâté
Cheesy Onion Potato Bread
adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe
You will quickly become addicted to this hearty, moist, and filling bread–be warned! I’ve included my own adaptation of the recipe here.
1-3/4 cups light spelt flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 Yukon Gold potato, grated
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
5 green onions (white and light green part only), finely sliced
1-2 Tbsp. freshly chopped dill
1 small Roma tomato, chopped
1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
1/2-2/3 cup plain soymilk, as required
1 tsp. grainy Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Lightly grease a cookie sheet, or line with parchment paper.
In a measuring cup, mix together the flax, 1/2 cup soymilk, and mustard; set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, sSift flour, baking powder, salt, and paprika. Add the grated potato, nutritional yeast, onions, dill, and tomato and toss with your hands until all the vegetables are coated.
Pour the wet mixture over the flour mixture and toss with a fork until everthing comes together in “a sticky, shaggy dough” (at this point, if the dough is too dry, add the remaining soymilk).
Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and shape it into a domed round. Bake for 40-45 minutes, turning once around halfway through, until the top of the bread is deep golden and the loaf has a slightly hollow sound when tapped on the bottom. Allow to cool before devouring. May be frozen.
Vegan Carrot Pâté
If you consider carrots as mundane, plain-Jane, plebeian roots to be served only when drenched in sweet glaze or when playing second fiddle in a duo with peas, you’re in for a real treat with this pâté.
1 pound (450 g.) carrots (about 10 medium carrots)
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) olive oil
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) malt vinegar
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) light miso
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) dried thyme
1-1/2 c. (about 370 ml.) firm silken tofu (such as Mori-Nu)
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) organic cornstarch
1/2 c. (120 ml.) chopped fresh parsley or cilantro Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease a small loaf pan, line with waxed paper, and grease paper. Set aside. (Note: You may also bake the pâté in individual mini loaf pans; simply spray each pan well with nonstick spray before filling). Cook carrots, covered, in lightly salted water until tender. Drain and cool.In a food processor, whir the carrots until well pureed. Add remaining ingredients and process until completely smooth and no traces of tofu remain.
Pour the mixture into the loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, until a knife inserted in centre comes out clean.
Let cool on a rack. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. To unmold, loosen edges slightly and turn out onto a platter. Remove waxed paper and garnish as desired. Spread on crackers or bread.
Makes about 16 slices (8-10 servings).