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Tempeh Aux Champignons En Croute

What you need: 

Tempeh aux champignons:
4 cups dark vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
4 black peppercorns
8 ounces tempeh
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
3 cups dark vegetable stock, divided
6 tablespoons unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
6 garlic cloves, roasted and pureed
3 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes, softened and minced
2 pounds mushrooms (I use buttons and portobello), quartered or sliced
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 cup dry sherry, divided
salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste Croutes:
1/2 pound oblong (or rectangular) loaf wholemeal bread, unsliced

What you do: 

1. For croutes, preheat oven to 450 degrees, F. Cut vegan bread into four equal slices. Cut (or pinch) out a well in the center of each slice. Press the vegan bread down on the sides and bottom to make an open-topped case with sides 1/2-1/4" thick. Place the croutes on a baking sheet and toast lightly, for 5-10 minutes. Set aside and reheat at 350 degrees F for several minutes before serving.
2. For tempeh, in a 3 quart saucepan, bring 4 cups vegetable stock, bay leaf, and peppercorns to a rolling boil. Add the tempeh, whole, right from the freezer, to the stock. Reduce heat and simmer, turning occasionally, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside, covered. Braise onions in a medium sized (or large) non-stick skillet. Let the onions cook, undisturbed, until they just begin to brown and stick. Add 1 tablespoon water or vegetable stock to the pan and stir to dissolve browned bits. Continue to cook until onions again brown and stick. Deglaze with another tablespoon water or stock. Repeat this procedure until the onions are richly browned. This will take 15 or 20 minutes.
3. Put a large non-stick skillet on medium heat. Toast the flour in the skillet, stirring constantly, until it begins to smell toasted and turns the slightest shade darker. Pour the flour into a small bowl to cool. Warm 2 1/2 (of 3) cups vegetable stock in a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat until it begins to steam.
4. Mix the toasted flour with the remaining 1/2 cup stock and whisk it into the stock in the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce begins to thicken. Reduce heat to very low and add the rosemary, garlic, tomatoes, and onions. Continue to cook the sauce while making the remaining preparations.
5. Heat the large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Put the mushrooms in the pan and cover. Let them cook, undisturbed, until steam makes the lid dance (if its a light- weight lid), about 8 minutes. Add celery seed and 1/4 cup sherry, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid evaporates. Deglaze the pan with a bit of the tempeh cooking liquid.
6. Remove the tempeh from its cooking liquid and cut it into 1/2" dice. Season the brown sauce (stock and flour) with salt and pepper. Pour the mushrooms into the sauce, stir in the diced tempeh and finish the sauce with the remaining 1/4 cup sherry. Place a warm croute in the center of each serving plate and fill with 1/4 of the tempeh aux champignons. Serve immediately.
This would be nice preceded by a light winter vegetable soup, maybe cubes of baked winter squash in an onion broth, and followed by a spinach, radichio, and pear or apple salad dressed with raspberry vinegar. You could prepare the sauce and let it rest, covered, over very low heat, and warm the oven for the croutes, while the soup is served. After the soup, briefly toast the croutes, and serve.'

Preparation Time: 
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