Yam fry poutine with miso-mushroom gravy

Yes, this poutine is orange. On purpose.

Although I’m frankly wary of partisan politics, the prospect of reclaiming democracy in Canada in a fairly pivotal way has gotten me very excited about the NDP leadership election on March 26th. Specifically, Leadnow’s Cooperate for Canada campaign proposes to mend the vote-splitting that resulted in a Harper majority government with less than 40% of the vote.

As if we need reminding, some recent highlights of this majority include:

Simply put, cooperation between the Liberals, Greens and NDP could finally initiate electoral reform that might eliminate this sort of un-Canadian nonsense.

The most promising and visionary NDP leadership candidate, in my humble opinion, is quite decidedly Nathan Cullen.

  1. He’s the only contender with a clear proposal for pre-electoral cooperation between parties to introduce electoral reform and end the Conservative majority.
  2. He was the only candidate at Sunday’s Leadership Debate in Vancouver who seemed at all attentive to adding humour and levity to an otherwise humdrum debate format (and the debate was supposed to be focused on engaging new & young Canadians!).
  3. He has been the most outspoken contender on addressing climate change by fighting against the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. This makes sense, of course, given that his riding is Skeena-Bulkley Valley.

As for the poutine, although I was tempted to incorporate tofu cheese curds, I opted in favour of a package-free, non-soy based option. At some point, I’d like to experiment with vegan seed cheese ferments. This recipe makes enough for two hungry diners.

Musical inspiration: Help, I’m Alive, Metric.

Sunflower seed cheese curds

  • 3/4 sunflower seeds, soaked for at least 24 hours, and then drained.
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Blend all ingredients thoroughly. Bake the paste on a small, oven-proof plate or dish for ~15 minutes, keeping a careful eye to avoid burning the cheese. Remove from oven and set aside.

Baked yam fries

Yam Fries

  • 2 large yams
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F. Chop the yams into large fry shapes (I generally don’t peel them). In a large bowl, toss the yams with oil, salt and pepper. Bake on a single layer in greased cookie sheets for 25 minutes, or until tender.

Miso-mushroom gravy

Note: If you have never made gravy before, this vegetarian gravy recipe provides a great visual outline of the basic steps involved.


  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14 large brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 3 Tbsp miso (I’m fond of Amano barley miso)
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Tamari
  • 2 leaves sage, 1″ sprig rosemary, & a few chive and parsley tips, all finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • Freshly ground pepper


  • 1/4 white flour
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil

In a large cast iron pan, heat the vegetable oil and sauté the onions for about 7 minutes on medium heat. Add the garlic for another minute, and then stir in the mushrooms. Sauté for another ten minutes or so on medium-low heat, or until mushrooms soften. Whisk the miso in the water or vegetable stock, and add it to the mushrooms along with the vinegar, Tamari and nooch. Stir in the herbs and spices and allow the gravy to simmer gently while preparing the roux.

In a separate pan, heat the oil on medium-high heat, and add the flour. Stir attentively until the flour and oil mixture begins to lightly brown.

Add the roux to the mushrooms, stir thoroughly, and simmer for another few minutes. If necessary, add a little extra water.

Scoop half of the yam fries onto a plate, and drizzle with gravy. Scoop out several rectangular chunks of the sunflower seed cheese curds. Serve hot.


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