When You’re Hit with a Tsunami, Make Stew

As I write this evening, I am cozy in a little place called ‘The Hideaway’; a one bedroom and somewhat dilapidated 400 sq. ft cottage nestled 300 ft. above sea level on the north shore of Oahu. Upon arrival, my face scrunched from a touch of disdain and smidge of remorse for choosing to bunk up here for a week rather than staying longer in Honolulu. But after enjoying just one cup of chai on the porch while listening to morning bird chatter, I came to appreciate this humble, quiet, and true Hawaiian habitat and at this very moment, am appreciating it even more.

Just two hours ago, I was snacking on chips, guacamole, and fajitas at a local cantina (I know…I know…how dare I do such a thing… but I just could not bare another bite of Hawaiian fish and rice.) While thoroughly enjoying a margarita, my server approached and said, “I am sorry to interrupt your meal, but we are closing the restaurant as we just received a Tsunami warning due to a 7.7 earthquake that occurred off the Canadian coast. We need to get home to our families so please enjoy your last few bites as you settle up your bill.”

At first I thought this was tourist play, but then quickly became aware of the fear in my waiter’s eyes and new he meant business. I quickly paid the bill and made my way five miles east and 300 ft. up from the coastline to my safe cottage on the hill. At this moment I am certain life blesses us even when at first we don’t appreciate its gestures.

Air horns are sounding, the news is announcing closed highways and I am being advised to stock water. I am going to make a vegetarian stew I can have for tomorrow’s dinner and perhaps multiple days if the tsunami forces me to hunker down. It is my own veggie version of Boeuf a la Bourguignonne and a perfect dish for a Halloween potluck. If you choose to make a batch for the goblin holiday, improvise with ingredients you have on hand and serve with crusty multigrain, warmed cornbread, or pour over cooked polenta.

Portobello a la Bourguignonne
Makes:  Approx. 6 servings
Time:  1 hour, plus at least 4 hours for marinating

Marinade Blend:
1 tsp. paprika (preferably smoked)
1 ½ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
2 small bay leaves
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
½ tsp. ground cloves or 6 whole cloves
½ tsp. ground allspice
4 medium garlic cloves, quartered
½ bunch fresh thyme, leaves pounded
3 cups dry red wine
1 tbsp. nama shoyu (optional for bacon flavor)
1 tsp. liquid smoke (optional for bacon flavor)
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional for bacon flavor)

Stew Ingredients:
2 lbs. Portobello mushrooms, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large carrots, peeled, and cut into large chunks
1 large yellow onion, peeled, and cut into large chunks
3 large celery stalks, cut into large chunks
3 medium parsnips, peeled, and cut into large chunks
10 medium shallots, peeled, and halved
½ pound crimini mushrooms

Finishing Ingredients:
2 tbsp. chickpea flour
2 cups rich vegetable stock, heated
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

1.     In a large bowl, combine paprika, sea salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, cider vinegar, cloves, allspice, garlic, and thyme.  If using bacon essence ingredients, add those as well. Add Portobello mushrooms, carrots, onion, celery, and parsnips, and using your hands to toss, coat all vegetables evenly with dry seasonings.
2.     Pour red wine over all ingredients and seal with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and ideally overnight.
3.     When ready to cook, preheat oven to 325 degrees.
4.     Remove cover from marinated vegetables and pour veggies and liquid into a large cast iron or other oven-safe pot. Place on stove top and turn heat to medium-high. Add shallots and crimini mushrooms to pot and stir to combine.
5.     In a medium glass bowl, whisk chickpea flour with hot stock until thoroughly combined. Add to other ingredients in pot.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Cover, remove from heat and place in oven to cook for 1 hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper and finish with a generous sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley.

Have a Happy & Healthy Halloween!

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