White Asparagus, Artichoke and Crimini Smothered Purple Potato Skins with Crisp Vegan Bacon and Garlic Creme Fraiche
Thank Goodness it's Friday! I'm an atheist (jew), or I'd say "Thank God". Here I sit in my "Legalize Gay" tank top, ready to get shit faced and shake my tail feather on the dance floor...although my friend does affectionately refer to my dancing as randomized tremors. I'll have a great time nonetheless.
What really comes to mind when I think of "TGIF"? Potato skins. And Food Network's Guy Fieri with flames shooting off of his body in a corny commercial. But more importantly, potato skins. I have fond childhood memories from my dorky theater days of cast meet ups at TGIF, gorging myself on the cheese-smothered spuds and chocolate cake. I really should say "TGIV" (Thank Goodness I'm Vegan) because my cholesterol would probably be sky high if I maintained my carnivorous fat kid eating habits.
I decided to give a go at my rendition of the appetizer, and I was pleased as punch to see them devoured solely by my omnivore posse and myself. Nothing makes me happier than meat-eaters savoring my creations. Well, maybe sex. But it's a close second.
In other news, I'm ENGAGED! I proposed to my lovely Jane, even though moments up until I showed her the ring, she was convinced I was about to murder her. Allow me to explain:
I made her dinner, told her I was taking her somewhere special, but wouldn't tell her where we were going. I had this lovely romantic spot picked out that overlooks the ocean. It's completely private, and utterly beautiful. We hop in my car.
"How long is the drive?", she asks...dying to know where I'm taking her.
"20 minutes", I say. I was wrong. It's more like 45.
Half hour into the drive, she says "Are you about to kill me? You're acting strange (I was nervous), driving to the middle of no where, we've already eaten, and there aren't any bars for miles. I've gone down the checklist, and I think you're heading for murder".
"NO! Trust me", I shout.
She starts patting me down, looking for a weapon. I freak out because there's the ring in my pocket. This only convinces her more that her fate is sealed.
To make matters worse, I pull over at our destination...and it's a 75 foot high cliff.
"That's it...I'm about to die", she says.
"Get over here and sit".
She reluctantly sits as I pull out the alcohol.
"No way...we can't drink here...we need to get the fuck out of..."
"Jane, will you marry me?"
Enthusiasm and a "Yes" ensues :)
I'm glad we have one to tell the kids one day. We'll be engaged for a long while, but it's such a great feeling to have that ring on my finger. Have fun with the tater skins, and a great weekend :)
For the Potatoes...
- 6 small or medium Purple Potatoes (or Russet Baking Potatoes), about 3 lbs
- Olive Oil, enough for coating potatoes
- 3/4 cup Vegan Cheddar Cheese (preferable Daiya, but any will work)
- 1 batch of Vegan Creme Fraiche (recipe below) mixed with 2 cloves pressed or minced Garlic
- 2 Scallions, thinly sliced
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
Chef's Note: Make the Garlic Creme Fraiche the day prior, and store in the refrigerator overnight with the garlic mixed in. You can also just substitute packaged vegan sour cream mixed with 2 cloves pressed/minced garlic.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Scrub the potatoes well to clean them, then rub with olive oil and bake them for about an hour until soft to the touch.
Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool.
Once cool enough to handle, slice the potatoes in half horizontally and gently scoop out the insides. (Save them for garlic smashed potatoes? Yes, please.) Place the halved, scooped out potatoes on a wire rack set atop a baking sheet.
They will look like so...
Now go ahead and make the filling (see below).
Once the filling is complete, up the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Brush the skins all over with more olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake on the wire-rack-topped baking sheet for a total of 20 minutes, flipping the skins over after the first 10.
Let the skins cool, then fill each scooped-out potato skin with an equal amount of filling, then top with vegan cheddar. Turn on your broiler, then let the skins cool until the cheese is melted, browning and bubbly...about 3-4 minutes. Yum...
Top with Garlic Creme Fraiche, scallions and minced vegan bacon and serve.
For the Filling...
- 2 1/2 cups White Asparagus, cut into small (1/2-1inch) pieces
- 1 can Artichoke Hearts, drained well and quartered
- 2 cups Crimini Mushrooms, quartered
- 1 batch of Vegan Bacon, cut into small, thin strips
- 2 TBSP Olive Oil, divided in half
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- A splash of Lemon Juice, for deglazing
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
Chef's Note: If you're pressed for time, feel free to substitute packaged Vegan Bacon.
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Allow the cut white asparagus to cook for about 4 minutes, until softened, then drain well. Immediately submerge in or rinse the cauliflower with ice cold water to halt the cooking process. Set aside.
Heat the first TBSP of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the small strips of vegan bacon to the skillet, and allow them to saute for 6-8 minutes, until browned and crispy. Carefully remove them from the pan, and set aside.
Heat the 2nd TBSP of olive oil in the same skillet, then add the garlic, white asparagus, artichokes, mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Allow the veggies to saute until the mushrooms are soft and have given off most of their liquid (they'll shrink in size by a little more than half), adding a splash of lemon juice to the pan about 4 minutes into the sautéing process.
Taste for salt and pepper, then remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. Once cool, toss with 3/4 of the vegan bacon strips. Take the remaining 1/4 of the vegan bacon strips, and mince into tiny pieces for garnish.
Basic Crème Fraîche
- 2/3 cup MimicCreme (or sub 2/3 cup Soymilk mixed with 1 TBSP White Vinegar)
- 1/3 cup Plain Soy Yogurt
Stick in the refrigerator until ready to use.