Showing posts with label FNF. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FNF. Show all posts

Apr 6, 2012

FNF + lamb shanks with sweet potato risotto

After first reading the recipe, it was confusing to me why the chef was pairing serrano peppers with lamb and risotto. Then I took note of the author and it all made sense - the recipe, Lamb Shanks with Sweet Potato Risotto and Serrano Vinegar Sauce, is a Bobby Flay, the king of hot peppers, recipe. 

Whoever picked this Food Network Friday choice at Vegan Appetite, did very well. I am all into mushrooms and I have not yet had the pleasure of making risotto because I have always been scared off by all the hype on Hell's Kitchen and other sundry shows where the risotto has to be just perfect, otherwise shame is brought on the chef and her descendants. Hence, to me, risotto is equated with a bunch of stress.  Again, Tami manages to push me out of my comfort zone.

I remember reading somewhere that your risotto is perfect when the rice is al dente and when you stir the rice, moving your wooden (only wooden, folks!) spoon across the bottom of the pan, if the rice stays out of the cleared path and only moves back to its homogeneous consistency after a few seconds. Voila! Perfect risotto. Unless someone has a more perfect suggestion? Of course, if you leave your risotto on the stove, anticipating the other fifty components of your dish to be complete, it might harden up on you. Loosen it with a bit more hot water until you get the cleared-path-on-the-bottom-of-the-pan effect again.

Speaking of the components of this meal, let me run it down for you:

1) make protein, I made Lamb-tan. Witty, right?
2) sear seitan
3) chop onion, carrot, mushroom
4) cook onions, carrots
5) reduce wine completely
6) braise seitan
7) heat water
8) cook risotto
9) bake, peel and mash sweet potato
10) roast mushrooms
11) toast pine nuts
12) reduce balsamic vinegar
13) strain sauce and reduce
14) assemble the plate
15) serve (finally!)

And a lot of us complain about the ingredients list in recipes (and this one wasn't shy in that department either, with 25 ingredients!) This was more like making a Thanksgiving meal in miniature. Keeping it all warm and ready when the component was needed was a challenge. A worthy practice for holiday cooking.

Chanterelles are called for by Flay, but I just used regular mushrooms. However, I did drizzle a bit of truffle oil on the dish. My fungus budget went to the truffles this time. 

I also added some flour at the beginning of the braise because unlike baby sheep, seitan does not have any animal protein/gelatin to thicken the sauce. 
(I'll take flour over baby sheep any day.)

As for the results - they were worth the effort. After perusing the recipe, I realized it would be more of a company-meal or at least one that would suit an important occasion because of its elegance. For us, that occasion was appropriately Tami's Food Network Friday. 

Mar 11, 2012

FNF - scampi with linguine

 I was the one who picked this Food Network Friday recipe, originally by Tyler Florence, and I am the last to post about it. It almost seems as though I am cheating by looking at Tami's Vegan Appetite post before actually making the dish. Although I feel bad that I didn't made the recipe much sooner, life at our house for the past month has revolved around our annual homeschool conference. This year I volunteered to be the sign maker for the conference and all I have been seeing, doing, printing, designing and breathing are signs. I'm a little sign-burned-out, to the point that after washing the dishes tonight, I realized that I had only cooked one meal all week, not including this one. How do I know that, you must be asking? 

One, I haven't been doing any dishes this week. And two, I haven't needed to do any since I haven't actually done any cooking that resulted in dishes needing to be done. Vicious, pathetic and yet intriguing happenstance of events. Sort of like a backhanded complement. Is it good or just in the disguise of being good?

Tyler Florence's Shrimp Scampi with Linguine was ultimately picked by my youngest from a choice of three dishes. She hates the idea of shrimp anything (Arthropods are not an ideal meal choice for her, and frankly I myself wonder at the fact that people actually choose to put bugs on their plates instead of having them accidentally be dropped into a dish by some unsanitary restaurant personnel.) I even purchased veggie shrimp to try out once (later having found out that it contained milk - read your labels! - even if you think the company is vegan) and she was put off by the texture and flavor. I found the fake shrimp quite real tasting and so did David. 

We were one of those shrimp-loving nut jobs in our pre-veg days, as ignorant of the whole bug-thing as we were, no excuses! I was a HUGE scampi lover, one not for the love of shrimp, but because I really enjoyed the garlic, olive oil and lemon combination. This still hold true and I've made Scampi more than once and even made Olive Garden's Chicken Scampi. So, for me, this was a great dish to make. But what, oh! what to use instead of the shrimp? Tofu, seitan (sea seitan would have been great here), vegetables? 

To understand the end I need to justify the means. David has been to the doctor for a well-visit and whenever that happens and blood is drawn and analyzed, our family is hit by a reality check and we always wind up reevaluating our diet. The healthiest plate of food to create contains Power Greens, Smart Protein and Super Carbs. This means that anytime you make a plate of food you should have dark leafy greens (not just salad greens), a protein choice (tofu, legumes, seitan, tree nuts) and appropriate carbohydrates (whole grains, winter squash, sweet potatoes, corn, root veggies). With this in mind, I was formulating a plan for the Scampi dish, threatening the family at every turn that I was going to make Kale and Carrot Scampi. Yum, I thought, but hubby says that if I announce the meal's name over a period of days, but not actually make it, I am threatening not cooking. Hmmm... 

Result? Kale, Carrots, Garlic, Lemon and Olive Oil are a match not yet dreamed up in heaven, but certainly should be. I used Meyer lemon and cut the fat in half. It could have been cut by another tablespoon without any problem (down to 3 from 8). I also tripled the garlic and doubled the lemon juice, but that is all according to taste. We loved it and it wasn't a difficult meal to prepare at all. 

A special shout-out to Tami for being so super patient and waiting for me and my blog post! Thank you!!  

Feb 10, 2012

FNF + reuben meatball sliders

Ground meat formed into a patty = burger
Ground meat formed into a loaf = meatloaf
Ground meat formed into a ball = meatball
Ground meat formed into small balls = polpettini
Ground meat stuffed into a casing = sausage

Any other way to name or make something that is essentially just ground meat?

This month's Food Network Friday, brought to us by the very talented Tami Noyes of Vegan Appetite, is, you guessed it, a form of ground meat, Reuben Meatball Sliders. Now, I can totally see the appeal of this recipe - Reuben. Name anything a Reuben and the folks over at Vegan Appetite will hear its calling. I am no exception and have made my fair share of the sauerkraut sandwich. This 'Reuben' is the ground meat version of our beloved dish.

The chef who created this spin on an old classic, Jeff Mauro, is the latest Food Network Star winner. He has us adding the cheese into the ground meat, along with the rye bread in the form of breadcrumbs. So far so good. Naturally, he loses me at the ground flesh and eggs. No problem. We'll just make our own ground plants in lieu of the animal parts and eat a better burger as a result. 

As a nod to Jeff, however, he did manage to make tofu delicious during one of the Star challenges, which Paula Dean, who is now diabetic and is pushing pharmaceutical drugs to 'treat' the very same diabetes that her diet no doubt plays a huge part in perpetuating if not outright causing, found delicious. If only she'd adopt tofu instead of bacon as a staple.


The sauerkraut and the 1,000 Island Dressing go on top of his meatballs and the whole thing is between slider buns. To veganize the slider, I made a 'burger,' only smaller. I used black beans and gluten in this one because I wanted to take a break from adding tofu to my burgers. Except for adding some pickle relish to the burger, the only thing I changed was the meat, eggs and used vegan dairy. Otherwise, this is a darned fine sandwich and I am getting some really great experience making vegan burgers.  

Jan 14, 2012

FNF - bayou eggplant and cauliflower pasta

Food Network Friday, hosted by Tami Noyes, author of American Vegan Kitchen, is veganizing Emeril Lagasse's Bayou Chicken Pasta this month. In case you are new here, FNF is open to anyone! All you have to do is veganize the chosen Food TV recipe. Tami posts the  cookalong on her site well in advance and you cook and post. That's all there is to it.

Emeril's recipe is a creamy, spicy pasta dish with chicken and tomatoes. The spice comes in the form of his Essence, which contains cayenne, and habanero peppers. Not only will this clear up all sinuses in the house and make everyone cough like mad while it is being cooked because of the fumes, it also gets a bunch of kids to ask for an alternative dinner option. 

That is not to say they didn't like it, though - in fact, they did quite a bit. But the heat was a little too much for them. Be warned, but don't skip it entirely since the flavor of the habanero is delicious and it tends to mellow a bit after cooking.

A few veganized ingredients in the dish are the chicken and the cream. I replaced the chicken with eggplant and cauliflower and the cream with vegan milk mixed with some arrowroot. The arrowroot thickened the sauce up a bit (as cream would) and added body to the dish. The flavors of the habanero, tomato and green onions, along with his Essence, were delicious. This was a quick and easy way to make a nice creamy sauce. As for the veggies, you could substitute something else, zucchini, squash, green beans, or use only cauliflower or only eggplant. 

This was a deliciously spicy and pleasant meal to have - nothing too difficult about it. Just watch the spice and have water and bread handy.

Cost Breakdown

pasta: $3
eggplant, cauliflower: $5
habanero, garlic, onion, olive oil: $1.50
almond milk, arrowroot, green onion: $3
Total to make 6 servings:

Dec 1, 2011

FNF - bacon corn muffins with savory cream cheese frosting

Hey, y'all! 
Hope everyone has had a fabulous holiday season so far - there is more to come, with Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Yule tidings, Christmas and many others I am sure I am ignorant of, to my detriment. Here's wishing everyone a joyous season. Winter has always been a favorite time for celebrations, given that the days are shortening, they are colder and bleaker and not much of anything happening out of doors, unless the proper preparations are taken and everyone gets bundled up. So what better time throughout the ages to throw a party? I hope to have much more coming up on this topic. 

For now, I am more focused on returning to this well-known, time-honored tradition of blogging, and what better way to get back in the blog-mood than with a Food Network Friday, hosted by our very own lovely Tamasin Noyes of American Vegan Kitchen fame, over at Vegan Appetite
[And if you don't have a copy, this is the best season ever to get one!] 
{And again, if you are craving some blog love from said Tami, get on board Food Network Friday yourself - she has tons of it to give out.}

What do my eyes behold, when I finally mosey on over to VA, but Bacon Corn Muffins. In my opinion, you could just call them Bacon Muffins and leave it at that. As anyone who has been a slave to Food TV knows, meat + cake is all the sickening rage nowadays, especially using bacon. Naturally, this  is the perfect recipe to duplicate, not only for the morbid curiosity it evokes (think: car crash rubberneckers) but for the sheer need to veganize the stupid thing! 

Two things need attention in this recipe: the egg and the bacon.

(1) The Egg: Super easy, folks! Ignore it. Forget about it. Useless and unneeded addition P.R.ed by the Egg Board. The starch in the muffin is enough to bind it. Think of it this way-- as long as you have starch in a dish, one egg = 1/4 cup of liquid. I upped the 3/4 cup of milk to 1 cup and called it a day. Enough of this nonsense!

(2) The Bacon: Lots of fun here! You can use my Tofu Bacon recipe and then crispen it in some oil, use Fakin' Bacon tempeh, or what I did... used 2 links of Tofurkey Italian Sausage.  I diced 2 links up, fried them until crisp in olive oil and, after I removed them from the heat, added some liquid smoke. 

Now came time for the most important decision making part: what hot sauce to use. Oh, the possibilities.. the recipe author, Brian Boitano, gives no direction here! Louisianan hot sauce, Tabasco, Harrisa, Chipotle, Habanero, Frank's or..... Sriracha?  Yeah, well, I figured I'd go with the vegan masses and used Sriracha. In fact, I have never seen a condiment more embraced than Sriracha by the vegan community. I wonder if any of the other bloggers used the same?

Verdict: Loved the muffins. Weird. But true. The frosting was way too much, and the family was scrapping it off the little tykes. Just a thin covering would have been enough, not the called for 8 ounces for the 24 mini or 12 regular sized muffins.

Since a muffin does not make a meal, I also made Senate Bean Soup, with navy beans, some of the same Italian Sausage and a few veggies. According to legend, this soup has been on the menu at the U.S. Senate restaurant for over 100 years. It's been a long time coming in become vegan itself. 

Sep 16, 2011

FNF - stuffed chicken with smoked mozzarella, rapini and roasted tomatoes


Food Network Friday

FNF, hosted by Tamasin Noyes of American vegan Kitchen, Grills Gone Vegan and an upcoming sandwich cookbook, is recreating Robert Irvine's Stuffed Chicken with Smoked Mozzarella, Rapini and Roasted Tomatoes. Irvine happens to be one of my favorite Food TV chefs mainly because he isn't afraid to cook vegetarian. On the Dinner: Impossible show, he has always made sure to have at least one vegetarian option, as lame as his choice sometimes happen to be.  When he was replaced by that clod "Iron Chef," Michael Symon, my blood boiled - only Emeril and Paula beat him out for being more anti-veg.

This recipe was another something-stuffed with something and then baked.  I have posted two stuffed seitan recipes: one that was braised and one that was baked. I chose the straightforward approach here and just  baked the stuffed gluten with the smokey Daiya and roasted rapini and tomatoes. There are no commercially available smoked vegan cheeses, but it is a simple matter of adding a few drops of liquid smoke to the gluten stuffing. The gluten was very pliable and soft (another gluten recipe that needs more testing, but for which I will post the recipe as is). After stuffing, I rolled the gluten in some panko crumbs and baked them for about an hour. You must make sure to seal up the raw gluten around the filling very well otherwise you will wind up with more melted cheese on your pan than in your seitan.

The potatoes that accompany Irvine's recipe are simply roasted in the oven along with the seitan. I sprinkled ours with smoked salt to echo the smoke in the gluten rolls. They turned out buttery and creamy with just a slight smokey flavor.

The kids, especially Kate, really enjoyed this. In fact, while Mikel and Cat were picking out the strings of rapini stems, Kate casually glanced over as she meticulously cut her stuffed seitan and nonchalantly commented that, "Honestly, you can't even taste the rapini." As an adult, I can testify that you can indeed taste it, but as far as I am concerned, if it isn't discernible to a ten year-old, that's just fine by me.

Cost Breakdown

gluten: $1
olive oil: $1
tomato, rapini: $7
Cribari Tokay: $15
(Opici Marsala is vegan - thanks, Tami!)
shallot, veg stock, thyme: $1.50
Daiya: $5
potato, butter: $2.50
chives: $.25
Total to make 6 servings:

Aug 25, 2011

FNF - slow roasted pork with coconut curry and fresh slasa

Food Network Friday

This month's Food Network Friday, hosted by Tamasin Noyes of Vegan Appetite, American Vegan Kitchen, Grills Gone Vegan (soon) and another surprise coming up next post, is Slow Roasted Pork with Coconut Curry Sauce, Corn Tortillas, Fresh Tomato Salsa over Basmati Rice.  Try saying that ten times!

Once you read over the recipe, you will note that at the end the disclaimer tells us that this is a restaurant recipe that has been readjusted to the home cook and that they take no responsibility for the quantities specified in said recipe, so don't blame them. Seven pounds of pork butt and 50 ounces of coconut milk sent up red flags. Nevertheless, I persevered and calculated how much TVP I would need to substitute said pork butt. Why anyone would want to cook the rear of anyone else is beyond me. Anyway, according to my Dixie Diners' instructions, 1 pound of Chicken (Not!) makes 3.5 pounds of meat. Not pig, I know, but neither is it chicken. Therefore, I would need 2 pounds of TVP to replace the 7 pounds of meat. Adjust for fat, and perhaps we are talking 5 pounds of meat. Maybe less.

In any case, to make the same amount of protein that the recipe calls for, I wound have needed to cook EIGHT cups of dry TVP. First off, we are not feeding an army or extended family overstaying their welcome, second, the cost would be outlandish. No thanks. I used 3 cups of Dixie's Chicken(Not!) to rehydrate to 2 pounds of the equivalent in meat. This amount was more reasonable for a family of five.

The funny thing is, I did use the 50 ounces of coconut milk because the recipe didn't cut the milk with any broth or water and I didn't want to lose any 'authenticity.' I didn't even cut the massive 1/4c of sesame oil it called for. I have hardly ever used more than a tablespoon of the stuff since it is so strong. Now that I have been your tester, you may very securely lessen the overage. It is intense. 

After rehydrating the TVP, I ripped each individual 2" piece apart by hand, to mimic the pulling. I braised, as suggested, the pieces in the 50 ounces (about 4 cans) of coconut milk, used a massive amount of curry paste (around 2/3 cup) and did not balk at the 5 tablespoons of minced garlic. The ginger is where I drew the line and took only a 2 inch piece and sliced it thick. I have my limits.

I braised the stuff for 2 hours, during which time the TVP softened considerably, the sauce thickened and the flavors were great. 

As for reviews from the family, they were mixed:
"I don't like coconut. I'm not hungry"
"This tastes just like Panang."
"I don't like this."
"This is nothing like Panang, except that they both have coconut milk."
"Boys, don't fight!" (Directed at Dad and Son by Mom.)

Now is where the recipe gets interesting! 
On top of all this, make a fresh jalapeno salsa (huh?) and roll it all up in a corn tortilla. Did we detour to Mexico? Sound like one of those challenges on the Next Food Network Star where they had to fuse the foods of two ethnicities that had gone very wrong? ... it could have been, but strangely... it was...good. Maybe all the coconut fumes got to me, but if you wrap it all up in the tortilla, it is bueno.

(Before I forget, that salsa was enough to feed a restaurant!)

Cost Breakdown:

TVP: $3
coconut milk: $7
seasonings and spices: $3
curry paste: $1
ginger, garlic, fermented beans, sesame oil: $2
cilantro, peppers, onion: $2
tomatoes: free (garden)
rice, tortillas: $2
Total to feed five people? 

We have moved! In blog, in life, in location, in most everything! 

Over the past month our family has moved to a new house and as anyone who has ever moved before knows that, it, well, sucks, good as it is. It is like Spring cleaning, but you have no choice. It is amazing how much stuff accumulates in less than a few years. If you don't move much, I encourage you to purge every Spring and Fall - great times to clean your house and yourself.

The new (home)school year is starting and I have two teens in college! They are very excited - one is taking Japanese and the other Japanese and English. They are 14 and 16 respectively. Yes, I am proud of them, but it is important for everyone to know that your high schooler can take college credit courses - don't make them wait if they don't have to; it is a wonderful, encouraging and self-satisfying reaffirmation of themselves. Great confidence booster!

The blog has had a face-lift because I want to emphasize that there is a new turn of events. I have noticed my lack of drive, lack of time and lack of direction over the past few months. There are many recipes I want to put out here, especially my revised seitan recipes. Overall, a new time for it all. 

Since my kids have adopted a college, it is my turn to Adopt A College as well, and you should too! I will be leafleting while they are in class and hope that you will jump on the college-train, too~ if you would like to join me, just email me.

See you next post -when I will be unveiling new secrets~

Aug 5, 2011

FNF - koftas with pomegranate glaze and indian potatoes

 Food Network Friday

Our next challenge for Tami's Food Network Friday is Aarti's Ground Lamb Kofta Kebabas with Pomegranate Glaze. If you haven't jumped on the FNF wagon, you should give them a try - they are loads of fun!

Making vegan ground meat concoctions gluten-free can be a challenge because I love to use vital wheat gluten to bind the mixture. Aarti's recipe is basically ground lamb meat-lollipops. She glazes them with pomegranate molasses and grills them. Her accompaniment is a mashed potato cake with Indian spices. 

Since we are in the middle of a move and have a gluten-sensitive daughter, I needed to make this dish simple and without seitan. I made a mushroom-nut-black-eyed-pea mixture for the lamb kebabas.  All I needed to do was saute the mushrooms with onion, nuts and garlic, deglazed it with Marsala wine and added loads of fresh herbs. Since we are leaving a huge garden behind, this recipe received a bunch of those herbs: basil, mint, parsley, oregano. I then roasted the kebab-balls glazed with the pomegranate molasses.

I skipped the riata completely but subbed a Fig-Pomegranate Salad.

These alterations were the simplest way to convert this dish to fast and gluten-free. This is our interpretation of Aarti, who is herself interpreting Indian. 

This worked out very well and we enjoyed the dish. The kids found the potatoes the tastiest. I toasted some fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, and garlic in a few tablespoons of oil. I then added some smoked paprika and tossed it with the potatoes. I roasted them and the kids gobbled them all up. 
Indian Roasted Potatoes!

A hint for roasting potatoes: Add some veg broth on the bottom of the pan with the sliced potatoes, cover it with a foil, and bake on 450 until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. When the potatoes are tender, uncover and broil, turning a few times, until they are crispy.

Jul 15, 2011

FNF - deconstructed eggplant-sausage pasta in tomato-basil cream sauce

Food Network Friday

Tami Noyes, author of American Vegan Kitchen, is again hosting her Food Network Friday. We have recently acquired this fabulous logo for FNF, designed by Kip, and would love you all to join us in recreating Food TV recipes - but veganized! This time around Kip joins Tami as well as the fantastic Liz from across the ocean. Tami hopes that with our newfangled logo more of you will participate in an FNF!

My version is a Deconstructed Eggplant-Sausage Pasta in Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce. Emeril created an eggplant-sausage-ricotta filling stuffed into shells and covered with Tomato Cream Sauce and cheese. I've been busy with recipe testing, hectic with life, getting ready to move, preparing to take the kids on vacation to visit their friends in Maryland, hosting a Harry Potter sleepover, and preparing for a Teen Night; in other words, stuffing pasta was not high on my list. As late as I am with this dish, I didn't want to miss it, so I decided to take the easy way out and deconstruct it.

I started with multitasking: I put three pots on the stove (1) pot of water for the pasta (2) pot for the sauce and (3) pan for the filling. I sauteed the eggplant, onions, and plain seitan in the pan with lots of Italian spices - fennel, basil, oregano - and in the other pan made my tomato-cream sauce. I used regular almond milk (2 c) and a can of diced tomatoes with lots of garlic for the sauce. I reduced the sauce while the eggplant was cooking. When the eggplant was done I set it aside and poured the pasta sauce in that same pan, adding some Daiya. I then tossed the cooked pasta into the simmering sauce. Having more surface area to cook helped reduce the sauce more and tossing the pasta with the sauce helped to thicken it in a jiffy. I served the pasta with the filling on top.

Very delicious. And much easier. I used pappardelle pasta because I needed something thicker and hardier to substitute for the shells. 

Thanks, Kip, for a great recipe to try!

Jun 3, 2011

FNF - mushrooms and the bodacious bulb

Food Network Friday!

Brought to you by Tami Noyes' Vegan Appetite blog, this month's Food Network Friday recipe of choice to replicate is Guy Fieri's Chicken and the Bodacious Bulb. The recipe is shallow-fried chicken pieces with a garlic-infused gravy. 

Guy asks us to make a Garlic Oil and I was more than happy to oblige. I love garlic, as anyone close enough to smell me can tell. The fact that the recipe itself uses almost two cups of garlic is enough to send most people packing and other less sane ones into the kitchen. I belong to the latter group. 

Chicken is something that is easy enough to replace with tofu (especially marinated), seitan or any of the commercial replacements on the market. Very easy and satisfying. I didn't want to go the same old route, especially since Food TV relies so heavily on animal protein that most anytime we would have an FNF, it is a meat product. I needed to change it up a bit. 

I strolled down my local Whole Foods produce aisle looking for something captivating. Eggplant. Nice, but no. A root vegetable? Nah, not this time. Nothing was quite it until I got to the fungus section. I pounced on the Oyster Mushrooms and to round off the meaty-ness, I also went for a few portobello caps.   Perhaps not what Fieri had in mind when he created the recipe, but I like it better this way.

Since he shallow-fries the chicken in the garlic oil, I knew it would make a crispy crust on the chicken and I needed to make that happen for my mushrooms. I breaded them in matzo meal and brown rice flour, appropriately seasoned. This is a simple process of dipping the pieces in non-dairy milk and then in the crumb mixture. Allow it to sit in the fridge for about ten minutes before proceeding. I fried it just as he directed, but mine has a homemade crispy crust - not one made by an animal. 

The gravy is made using chicken stock he asks you to make. I used the carrot, onion and celery, as in the recipe, but for the chicken flavor I added 2 t. nutritional yeast, 1/2 t thyme, 1/2 t sage, 1/2 t smoked paprika, 1/2 t onion powder and 1/2 t garlic powder. I cooked the stock until the carrots were tender. The garlic bulbs (from the garlic oil) are added in the stock as well and I added 1 t of vegetable concentrate. I am telling you it was creepy how chicken-like it tasted. I mean it was like going to a restaurant where the server ignorantly tells you the soup is made without chicken stock and you only find out it was an error when you taste it and then double-check with the manager. That creepy. 

Overall, this was delicious! The garlic was not overpowering since it was cooked in the oil, the garlic chips were sweet, the tomato dices were juicy, the gravy was creepy-good and the mushrooms were crispy and flavorful. Really a pleasant meal.

Cost Breakdown

portobello, oyster: $9
spices, herbs, carrot, onion, celery: $1
garlic: $2
flour, tomato: $1
Total to make 4 bodacious servings:

VEG-Aside: You could be the next vegan! Besides for this wonderfully-informative blog, and many others like it, the realization that you can't love animals and eat them, and a few great cookbooks, what will get you well on your way is The Ultimate Vegan Guide by Erik Marcus. This edition is now available as a Kindle reader for less than a buck. Only $.99. Really!

You don't need a Kindle to read it, since it is an eBook with the help of a free Kindle download to your PC or phone. 

I have this in paperback and have worn it thin, that is how helpful it is.

"You could be the world's next vegan. It's easy if you know how, and this uniquely helpful book tells you everything you need to know. Every topic related to vegan living is covered including cooking, nutrition, food shopping, travel, dining out, and much more.

You'll get clear and straightforward guidance from Erik Marcus, a vegan of twenty years and counting. Join the thousands of people who've used this book to easily and successfully transition to a vegan lifestyle.

Erik Marcus is the author of Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating, Meat Market: Animals, Ethics, & Money, and A Vegan History: 1944-2010."

May 13, 2011

FNF - pretzel-fried steak

Food Network Friday!

This month's veganized version for Food Network Friday, brought to you by Tami Noyes, is Aarti Sequeria's Pretzel-Fried Steak. She is the latest Food Network Star who is introducing Indian meals to Food Network's fans, but with a twist. This recipe, however, is not so unusual - it just sounds that way. The only real Indian aspect is the fenugreek in the flour mixture and the mango-chutney gravy. The pretzel is unusual, but not in an Indian way. 

This is a country-fried steak, using ground pretzels as the coating instead of flour. Although I didn't find that the coating made too much difference in the crunch department, it was unique and the family loved it. Of course, the family loves it when I deep fry anything, be it kale or seitan.

Aarti calls for eggs in her recipe. I used to freak out about the coating adhering to the seitan or tofu during frying, but since last year, I have had the honor of frying a bunch of stuff - in fact, more so than I had in all my life total - and I can say with certainty that it is as easy as coating the ingredient in a non-dairy milk, sans eggs. 

In other words: flour, nondairy milk, coating. Simple. No need for anything complicated like flax meal (although it wouldn't hurt health wise!) or fresh cashew milk (as I previously claimed). Coat and let it sit for 15 minutes. Fry. Eat.

The gravy was good, but I was really craving the cream gravy.

I couldn't get away by not making mashed potatoes, but I did wind up making Aarti's side dish of Greens n' Beans, which is a recipe of greens coated with a cilantro pesto. I changed things up a bit by using parsley instead cilantro and substituting Brussels sprouts, green beans and oyster mushrooms for the kale and beans. So, almost everything got swapped.

As for the beef, I used a pressed tofu and a seitan recipe I am experimenting with. I did keep the whole experience gluten free, which is why I also made the tofu. Gluten Free pretzels can taste like twigs or like pretzels. After eating our way through Whole Foods' snack section, the family chose Glutino. This is a delicious, albeit expensive, brand.

Food Network Friday is open to anyone who would like to join in the fun, so get over to Tami's site and get cooking!

Cost Breakdown

seitan, tofu: $5
flour (GF), pretzel (GF), soy milk: $3
spices, seasonings: $1
potatoes: $3
chutney, onion, stock: $2
Brussels sprouts, mushroom, green beans: $7
parsley, almonds, oil: $3
Total to make 6 servings:


Apr 21, 2011

cowboy bean casserole

Food Network Friday

That's right! It is that time of month again - Food Network Friday with Tami Noyes of American Vegan Kitchen.

This time around, my cohorts chose an Emeril dish to replicate: Cowboy Chicken Casserole.    It is abundantly clear that as daring as some of those Celebrity Chefs are by concocting some of these creations, we are even more so because we choose to make them. Hats down to Liz for giving this one a go. It would have slipped right under my radar.

This amazing collection of ingredients features poached chicken over tortilla chips covered by a homemade-style cream of mushroom soup, accented with a pound of cheese. Oh, and let's not ignore the six tablespoons of Paula-inspired butter. All that and some onions, peppers and tomatoes.


Where ever shall I begin? 

The chicken was the most thought-provoking. I didn't want to use seitan, but I wanted to keep the integrity of the dish so I used what all cowboys use: pinto beans. I thought of using tortillas instead of the chips, but when I noticed that the recipe calls for an entire bag of chips, I thought better of it; maybe there was a method to the madness here.

Good call on that one; the chips were appropriate. 

Result: Odd. However, as odd as it was, it was also strangely addictive.
 Is that odder still?

Cost Breakdown

tortilla chips: $3 
beans: $4
Daiya: $4.50
onion, pepper, tomato: $3
mushrooms: $2 
Total to make 8 servings:

Mar 19, 2011

FNF - bubble and squeak with sausages and onion gravy

Not to scare anyone that time has suddenly sped up and it is again a Food Network Friday, hosted by the lovely author of American Vegan Kitchen, Ms. Tami Noyes, this is due for April 1st. (So it is not too late to join in the fun! Redo Jamie's recipe vegan and send your creation to Tami.)

When I chose this one, I had St. Pat's Day in mind, so I made it on that day. Bubble and Squeak is a traditional English dish made of leftover vegetables and potatoes mashed and fried together until crisp. What is the connection to Ireland? The Irish claim it as well. Good enough for me!

We have traditionally enjoyed Corned Seitan and Cabbage on this holiday, but, truthfully, I wanted something else - not to mention that David requests Corned Cabbage throughout the year and does not feel restricted to the wearing of the green.

As written, this Jamie Oliver dish is not - not! - low fat in any way. This is obviously not a Food Revolution meal. A bit of recipe translation: A knob is a tablespoon and a glug is a couple of tablespoons. He asks you to use a glug of olive oil to fry your potatoes. No need, folks. The potatoes absorb the oil anyway and then you need to add more. Skip most of the oil, use a well seasoned cast iron pan or nonstick and your potatoes and root vegetables will brown just fine.

Since the sausage was the bit of creative element for this FNF, I made my Corned Seitan but rolled it into links. This maintained my tradition of having Corned Seitan on St. Patty's and tasted really good to boot.

The onion gravy calls for 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar. This would not be a big deal, except Jamie does not reduce it any. This had me raise a Vulcan eyebrow.

Ultimately, the gravy was a little too thick, so I added another half cup of broth. The acidity would have been a bit much alone, but with the rest of the dish, it worked beautifully. This must be why he has a TV show and I have a blog.

I used baby arugula, dressed with a bit of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper for the greens.

Delicious meal.

Cost Breakdown

corned sausage: $4
potatoes, leek, turnip, carrot: $4
onion, arugula: $3
chestnuts: $4 (and on sale!)
flour, herbs, vinegar, stock: $2
Total to make 6 servings:

Mar 3, 2011

FNF - ligurian fish stew

Another round of FOOD NETWORK FRIDAY!

It is again that time - time for Tami to remind me that another month has passed. This time around the American Vegan Kitchen author and her cohorts have chosen Lingurian Fish Stew by Giada de Leurentiis.
A fish stew!
A vegan fish stew?!
Who's smoking what over there?

To omit the 'fish' part would be like making a vegetable tomato stew, so that, as tempting as it was, was not an option for me.

To make vegan fish, there are two approaches: either go for the texture or the flavor of fish. I chose to do both.

On another FNF challenge, I made a seitan fish, but this time I wanted to use tofu. The texture of the fish in this dish I am imagining would be flaky and tender - tofu was the best option. I needed to get the tofu to hold together well enough that I wouldn't wind up with broken bits and pieces of tofu floating in the stew.

I used my Tofu Xpress to press the tofu for about an hour. It is amazing how well that contraption works in as little as an hour. Then I poached the tofu slices in olive oil on low for 15 minutes. I infused some sea flavor into the olive oil by adding some dulse and Old Bay seasoning. The dulse becomes crispy after a few minutes and then I used it to garnish the stew. Nice flavors! In fact, if you are a seaweed phobe, dulse is the place to start. Out of the many seaweeds I have tried, dulse, when used in moderation, has the nicest flavor.

To finish the stew (after following most of Giada's recipe), I drizzled some of the poaching olive oil over the stew since it was already infused with the sea flavor.

Really very good. Mikel, David and I polished off the stew and were pleasantly surprised at the flavor and texture of the tofu. It was not intense or unpleasant and just right.

Cost Breakdown

tofu: $2
dulse, spices: $1
garlic, onion, carrot, wine: $1
tomato: $3
olive oil: $1
bread: $2
Total to make 5 servings:

VEG-Aside: So where have I been? As busy as I have been this year, it seems I have been the busiest complaining. As I recall, I have the same amount of hours per day that Einstein, Newton, King, and Jefferson had; I have no excuse.

I have been quite overwhelmed with homeschooling, pre-teen and teen activities and getting ready for my first vegetarian (shh... really vegan) presentation at our Illinois homeschool conference and a sundry of other minor time-consuming tasks. It seems one thing after another just keeps happening - as I am sure is the case with everyone else.

 I will endeavor to be more consistent here on! I also plan on getting more personal or cover non-food topics in these Veg-Aside sections of posts - ignore if you aren't interested!