Sunday, 19 October 2008

Leek pies and potluck survival tips

So here we go, kicking off Ducky's Modern Medieval. See an earlier post for how I'm doing this. As for the why... it's just a different method of cooking and new (old) spice combos. I love the mix of sweet and savory, and how most of the recipes I've seen lend themselves well to the Scottish winter of root vegetables and homey, heady food. It's also fun to see how many of the foods look familiar (this one just looks like a quiche), but uses flavour combos that aren't terribly common in european cooking anymore, though I did find myself thinking of persian food while the smells of this baking filled my kitchen.

I brought this to a (work) potluck, where I was pleasantly surprised that some people brought vegan food. But that was a bonus, and over the past few years, I've learned not to expect that. I go to (non vegan) potlucks to see my friends or socialize with my colleagues, not for the food. Keeping that in mind:

Vegan potluck strategies (for an omni potluck):
1. Bring something super extra duper yummy. Now is NOT the time for your low-fat, quick or "love it or hate it" foods. Like it or not, you are probably going to be "the vegan". And thus your food is "the vegan food". See this as an opportunity to show people that we don't live on twigs and apples alone.
2. Put some of your food aside for yourself BEFORE leaving. Yes, as in a separate tupperware container that you leave in your backpack, purse, tote bag...whatever. That way, you know you'll have something to eat even if no one other than you brings anything vegan, and if everyone swarms the dish you bring and wants to taste "the vegan food", you won't be stressed about having to spend the entire time hungry or sugar-buzzed or regretfully drunk in a room of work colleagues etc. Plus, you want to be generous with the vegan food, because you are "the vegan". Sorry if you didn't apply for the ambassador posistion; it comes with the territory.
3. Bring a main dish. Why? Because you need dinner. If you are a cupcake warrier, just make sure you bring a dinner-ish thing for yourself, like some hummous and veg and bread. Or a sandwich, or whatever.
4. Bring a dessert too. Since you've cooked a fancy main, just pick up a nice dark chocolate bar or something. If you are a cupcake warrier...grrrrrrrrr! Amaze them!
5. Chill. If you're at an omni potluck, you're clearly not there for the food. You're there to socialize. Focus on that. If it all goes horribly wrong food-wise, eat the bag of nuts that you cleverly stashed in your bag beforehand, dig into that chocoalte bar, drink abusively, and enjoy time with your friends and/or colleagues. It won't kill you to skip dinner for one night. If you *really* are miserable, leave politely.

...and we don't need advice for a vegan potluck, now do we? Except for don't eat too much earlier in the day. Maybe go for run. And wear elastic-waist trousers...

Enough about my winner "how to survive an omni potluck" strategies.

Modified from Amber Day Tart
(modern omni recipe on

My veganized version, which is by now only loosely based on the original: 3 leeks, chopped in rounds and boiled in water and white wine until all the liquid has evaporated and the leeks have lost the will to live, a few raisins, about 1/3 tps each of sage, cloves, nutmeg, generous pinch of saffron. Tofu bit (replacing eggs, and cheese etc): mashed silken tofu, sweet white miso, chickpea flour, salt, white wine vinegar, mustard. Baked in a pie shell made of pizza dough (flour, yeast, salt olive oil, water). Mix leek bit (no water left) with tofu mash. Add 2 big bunches of chopped parsely. Place in prebaked pie shells (Bake the pizza dough at high-ish heat until it is not-quite-done. say half the time you would usually bake it for. The point here is to just make sure it has a crust so you don't make it all soggy when you add the filling). Top with walnut chunks. Re-bake on lower heat (180C/350F) until set. Huzzah!


173. Tart in ymbre day. Take and perboile oynouns & erbis & presse out þe water & hewe hem smale. Take grene chese [brede AB] & bray it in a morter, and temper it vp with ayren. Do þerto butter, saffroun & salt, & raisons corauns, & a litel sugur with powdour douce, & bake it in a trap, & serue it forth.

- Hieatt, Constance B. and Sharon Butler. Curye on Inglish: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth-Century (Including the Forme of Cury). New York: for The Early English Text Society by the Oxford University Press, 1985.

modern medieval music: dead can dance


medici said...

These pies were real stunners - beautiful to behold, tantalizing to smell, and scrumptious to taste. Why did people move away from using these marvelous medieval flavour combinations? I dunno!!!! Thanks for reviving them as vegan delights. Really, one sniff of this pie while it was baking and I was a goner. I could hardly wait to tuck into my slice at the potluck. You could tell this because I left it for last on my plate of food. I always do that with the best morsels. That way, I can clean my plate with a smile and a satisfied sigh. And maybe a burp. But only quietly, to maintain courtesy.

I also love the shirt in your picture. It really is quite compelling, and perhaps of a medieval flavour. I mean, why not?

medici said...

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I'm eating the modern medieval micro-pie for lunch. It tastes great at room temperature (which,in Scotland, = *cold*). One should always remember to make a micro-pie, either to take to a potluck, or to enjoy later, or both. I vote for the "both."