The Frying Pan Diaries: Part 2
I got a little ahead of myself and the frying pan last night. And what ensued after one dinner disaster and one potentially ruined frying pan was the worst dinner I think I have ever put together as the result of another ruined dinner. My honey other thinks otherwise, and I’m not sure whether that’s a compliment or not. Apparently, I have made worse. No, I’m not going to tell about exactly what I made. And I’ll never make it again. It was embarrassing, though edible.
Enthusiastic about my newly found frying pan freedom, I boldly decided to make tofu omelets. I thought that if delicate slices of sausage didn’t stick to the pan (they’ve always stuck to my pans in the past), I just might be able to turn out an omelet or two. This decision was the most epic of fails for me. I decided to fry mushrooms to go with the omelets in the pan.
Worst. Decision. Ever.
A word to the not so wise – don’t pan fry mushrooms in your cast iron pan unless it is really hot. I tried frying mushrooms for our omelets when pan wasn’t hot enough and the water from the mushrooms seemed to strip any seasoning from my pan rendering it completely dry and dull.
I did try to make omelets after this, and both times they partially stuck, though they looked very promising before I tried to flip them. I thought the omelet batter would make great scrambled tofu turned out to be nothing but a thick, pasty mess that coated many parts of my pan.
I was convinced I’d ruined the pan, and determined not to wash it with soap I patiently and carefully chipped away at the browned, crusted tofu and eventually was able to wipe all remains of the first dinner disaster away. The pan still looked dry and dull, and it seemed to me that it needed to be seasoned all over again. So I re-seasoned it and popped it in a hot oven for an hour and a half.
And just when I though I couldn’t possibly do anything else to ruin my new pan, I did.
It turns out that my thin layer of oil wasn’t as thin as it could have been, and once the pan was cool enough to touch I discovered that the new layer of seasoning I’d put on the pan (canola oil) turned the entire pan into a shiny but very sticky/tacky mess.
I really thought all was lost.
I spent the day today mulling over whether or not I’d ruined the frying pan and how I could fix it. When I got home, I heated the pan up and with a damp cloth wiped away as much tackiness as I could. Then I carefully coated the pan with a fine mist of oil and let it cool. The surface was glossy and reflective again. Phew. Total annihilation of the pan averted.
So the pan and I agreed to take it slow tonight. I promised not to get ahead of things and try and make dishes I knew would stick to the pan and she promised to be a little more non-stick. We settled on pan-fried broccoli to go with the cashew-coconut alfredo sauce I made. The broccoli turned out to be a yummy success (as you can see).
So again I have a lovely glossy and smooth cast iron frying pan on my stovetop. Am I ever relieved.
As for the alfredo sauce, I think I am on to something in terms of a soy-free alfredo sauce. My honey can’t drink or eat most soy products, though he can eat tofu. Most of the time, when vegan alfredo sauces call for soy milk, soy cream, or some other soy-based item, he can’t eat the sauce. A while ago I discovered the amazingness of cashews in creamy pasta sauces. But many of the sauces I’ve tried have tasted great on a spoon and pretty weak spread out onto pasta. Looking around for a new recipe to try, I decided Lolo’s “Hurry Up Alfredo Sauce” from her new book, Vegan YumYum, looked promising. But what would I do about the soy milk? We have only rice milk in the house, and that has vanilla in it. Ewww. Not so good in a savory pasta sauce.
What could I possibly use instead of soy? Coconut milk! And it works beautifully. Yes, it’s quite a bit higher in fat than soy milk, so this makes the alfredo I made something that can’t be eaten every day. You can’t really tell there’s coconut milk in it, though, and the richness the coconut milk lends to the alfredo makes it even more like a cow’s milk-based sauce than the soy-based version does.
So here are my modifications/suggestions/observations about Lolo’s recipe, which you can see for yourself on her blog: www.veganyumyum.com
Epicurvegan’s Soy-free Coconut Alfredo Sauce
- Use 1 cup regular or low-fat coconut milk instead of soy milk
- 1/2 cup of finely ground cashew pieces
- You may need to add 1/4 or 1/3 of a cup of water or salt-free vegetable broth to thin the sauce
- Omit the Earth Balance (there’s more than enough fat in this sauce already)
- Leave out the nutmeg (I don’t know why this is in most vegan alfredo sauces, and it really doesn’t improve the taste)
- Add even more garlic if you like – I used 4 fresh cloves and couldn’t taste any of it
- Definitely use low-sodium tamari – regular tamari or soy sauce will be too salty
- My sauce seemed quite beige (mostly due to the tamari) – it won’t really look like this on your pasta
And when my vertical photo of the pasta I made with the pan-fried broccoli decides to upload properly, I’ll post it here.