Friday, October 14, 2011

Vegan Garlic Mashed Potatoes

It's been a rough couple of days at Saturday's Mouse HQ.  So please allow me to complain about the pettiest little thing in the bag-of-ugly-things that the last few days has brought.

Arriving home from work, Sous Chef Brian went to get a beverage from the fridge and discovered the fridge was not working.  And immediately left for class.

I stared at it, willed it to cool, and played with the circuit breakers (I just want to say fuses, but I guess that's not right).  Then I turned on the dorm fridge we keep in the basement.  The dorm fridge is awesome.   

I had a dorm fridge, years ago, from when I first went to college, and sold it in the classifieds (ugh, pre-Craigslist) when we were living in the woods.  It was a sleek, modern dorm fridge.   Several weeks later we had a party and needed extra space for beer, and I was like, "Damn, wish we still had a dorm fridge," and we found someone who was giving hers away in the classifieds.   It's not sleek, or fancy, but we got it for free immediately after selling ours, like 10 years ago, and we use it twice a year and it's amazing.

But of course, this thing is made for holding stacked slices of leftover pizza and bottles of vodka, not the contents of my fridge.  I'm even ignoring the bigger problem here, my freezer.  Packed to the gills (ugh) with foodstuffs, I never imagined I'd find anywhere to put it, so I just kept the door closed.  

So once the dorm fridge cooled down, I moved my foods to it, making decisions all along like, "This tomato sauce only has a couple days left, it's out," and "Wow, the horseradish expired in July."   Because my fridge full of foods does not fit in a dorm fridge. 

So basically, I filled my dorm fridge with dairy and expensive condiments. 

I gave up on two mostly-empty bottles of mustard, and a fake lime juice.  

I planned to set up a cooler with ice for my produce and stuff that didn't need to be super cold, but would do better chilled.

see note.  Also, the bowl full of towel is salad.  This keeps it crisp.
Once I had assigned a monetary value to all the foods and saved what I thought I should save, I figured I should make dinner. 

A reasonable person might make dinner out of perishable food, but I'm not a reasonable person.  When we were threatened with a hurricane-related power outage, I made sure to use up the avocados. So I figured I'd make comfort food. I made something like shepherd's pie, but today, we're talking about taters. You need taters to make shepherd's pie. 

It's not that I don't love butter, I do, but I also try to edit where I can, and so for a while now my mashed potatoes have been vegan.  Yes, they're not so super-creamy that they're more liquid than solid, but they're delicious, they are creamy, and way healthier.  Sous Chef Brian made these potatoes in the background of this post

First, I roasted up some garlic.   The oven was preheating at 400 and I cut into a whole head of it.

You want to expose each clove.  I placed the head on a sheet of foil.  Then I drizzled it fairly liberally with oil.  For most roasted garlic applications, all you need to do is lightly coat the exposed parts of the garlic, but this is the only fat going into the potatoes so I used a whole tablespoon. 

Wrap that up and toss it in the 400 degree oven for 40 minutes to an hour. 

Meanwhile, scrub and cut up your taters.  I had four small-to-medium potatoes from the CSA.

Drop those in boiling water and boil until they're fork-tender.  I keep my skins on. 

When they're done, drain well.

When the garlic is done, remove it from the foil and it's natural paper wrapper.  I've seen folks say to "squeeze" the garlic out of the paper, but I've had no luck with that.  I pick out the individual cloves with my asbestos-fingers. 

The glossy, dark bits?  Those are cloves of roasted garlic.  I can't zoom in because it's too steamy. 

Get the taters and garlic either into a large bowl and hit it with the beaters, or into the stand mixer.  Drizzle in vegetable stock (I used about 3/4 of a cup) as you go to get to your personal creaminess level.  Salt and pepper to taste - I'm a firm believer in peppering the hell out of potatoes, then judiciously adding salt. 

These are richly-flavored and creamy.  People are often surprised there is no butter or milk.  I used them to top something like a shepherd's pie that I'll explain soon.  If they weren't on top of other food, I'd call this 6 servings, though I know other folks say a potato per person.

EPILOGUE:  The damn fridge is fine, it was the outlet, so we have this very classy extension cord running across the kitchen until we figure out the next step. 

note:  you might notice Diet Coke in the fridge, and you might have noticed me saying on Twitter that I had quit Diet Coke in August. I did.  This is flat, months-old Diet Coke that we offer to other people. 

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