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As previously noted, I’ve been working on the veganization of recipes in the Les Halles cookbook for the wonderful and highly entertaining people at Hezbollah Tofu.  First, I must say, there are many, many, dishes I don’t have any desire to attempt to recreate (most notably in the “Blood and Guts” chapter.  Even if I weren’t vegan, I doubt I could stomach half of those recipes).  My first run at Soupe Moins de Poisson left something to be desired, and I think I’ll have to try that one a few more times before it’s post-worthy.  I’m thinking the answer may be as simple as attacking the veggies in the soup with my immersionblender to change the consistency and add a little more substance to the soup.  However, the side-dish used as part of the soup garnish turned out pretty yummy.  On top of the soup you are supposed to float croutons dipped in Rouille, a French pepper paste that can be found under “Miscellaneous Meez” in the book.  It was a very, very easy task to veganize this one- I just subbed out the egg yolks for avocado, et voila!  Avocados are definitely one of my best friends when it comes to recipe alterations.  I also noticed that the flavourings in this recipe needed a little boost, and I took the liberty of increasing some of their quantities, as well as roasting the garlic in the recipe.  If you’re a raw garlic fan, simply omit the roasting, and don’t breathe on anyone after eating this.  Also, as others have noted, Anthony of Les Halles enjoys skipping crucial parts of the instructions, such as how to roast and skin a pepper.  For those of you who aren’t as fond of throwing things in the oven and seeing what happens as I am, I’ll help you out there a little.

 Rouille

Vegan Rouille

makes about a cup, based on recipe found on p. 260 of Les Halles cookbook

– 1 red bell pepper

– 3-4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled

– freshly ground salt and pepper

– canola-olive oil, or regular olive oil (for roasting, so preferrably not extra-virgin)

– approx. 1/5 to 1/4 of an avocado (enough to take the place of 2 egg yolks)

– a pinch of saffron threads

– 1-3 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice

– 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

(you’ll also need a toaster oven or regular oven, and an immersion blender or food processor, a small baking tray, and something like the tall container shown above to mix it all in if you’ve chosen to use an immersion blender)

1.) Wash, half, and core the pepper.  Place the pepper halves and garlic cloves in a small baking pan and brush with olive oil.  Season a little with pepper, and if you like, a little salt.  Roast at 450 degrees, preferably in a little toaster oven, as you really don’t need to heat up your large oven for this.  I believe it took between twenty minutes and half an hour to cook the pepper, and less to cook the garlic.  Both the garlic and the pepper will be done when they  are soft all the way through, and will possibly be somewhat crispy or blackened on the outside.  Once cooked, quickly throw the pepper into a bowl of cold water, and then peel the skin off.  Squeeze the roasted garlic from its peel and into either the food processor bowl or the container you plan to use your immersion blender in, along with the roasted pepper.

2.) Add the avocado, the saffron, the lemon juice, and a little more salt and pepper (leaning heavier on the pepper, and possibly omitting the salt if you don’t have good sea salt to use in the first place) into the mixing container.  Now process with either tool until smooth.  Slowly start to add the half cup of oil, continuing to process it in.  Mix well.

Now, Anthony tells you to serve this immediately.  You can do this if you want to, either using it as a garnish, or spreading some on baguette.  I’m wondering if this immediate use had something to do with the perish-ability of the egg in this spread.  I didn’t use all of my rouille at once, let it mellow in the fridge, and found it far tastier the next day.  In fact, I decided to use it as a sauce for a tortilla pizza the next day when a craving for comfort foods hit.  I topped my pizza with avocado, baby tomato slices, green onion, and some very thin slices of soy cheese.  Due to the awesomeness of avocado, I’m sure you could get away without the soy cheese.  I personally only use it on rare occasions for a treat, and even then only in small amounts, as I know it’s sooo over-processed.  The oiliness and creaminess of avocado can hold up on its own without cheese.  I broiled this little creation in the toaster oven, and then feasted.

Rouille Thin-Crust Pizza

Wow, that was long-winded, but rather overdue.  Hopefully, the Soupe Moins de Poisson will be not too long to follow.