Oct 19, 2011

boston market (MoFo 29)

Boston Chicken has gone through its ups and down. In the early 90's they were at the top of their game, so much so that they began offering other menu items. In fact, they became so popular for it, that they decided the name Boston Chicken was no longer apt for the business and so changed to Boston Market. Woo-hoo! Until, that is, they so over-extended themselves that by 1998 they filed Chapter 11. Who do you think came to their rescue? I'll give you one McClue... 

The company was purchased in 2000 by the McDonald's Corporation with the intention to get their hands on the real estate and dump the name and menu. However, after McD's cleaned house of the constipated BM's (I have a joke here that I will not indulge in...too late), the Market began to flourish again (rats!) and McD's decided to leave well enough alone. If it makes money...ya know.

Apparently things weren't quite as rosy in McLand though, because by 2007, the Market once again changed ownership.

The Boston Market Meatloaf was one of the menu additions from the original folks, and here I have reinvented it in all its vegan glory. While theirs is made of a cow, mine is made of veggie burgers. Pretty sure any veggie burger will work, but I made mine with Boca. The burgers are mashed up and mixed with onions, seasonings and barbecue sauce. The sauce is added at mid-cooking, as well. 

The sides at Boston Market are something that vegetarians, at least, can indulge in, but why should vegans be excluded? And why not make it vegan, anyway, for that matter?

Here I have made three of the side dishes, Creamed Spinach, Macaroni and Cheese, Sweet Potato Casserole and Poultry Gravy. The mashed potatoes are my creation and not one of their "Gourmet Sides."

All of them are fantastic, but as far as it goes, this place should be called Boston Butter, not Market. They use a ton of butter, cream and cheese in almost every side dish - at least the ones I chose to make. A note: To make this as good as it can be, you must use unsweetened, plain non-dairy milk. Anything else will make things taste way too sweet.

Vegan Meatloaf with Gravy

Creamed Spinach. Macaroni and Cheese, Sweet Potato Casserole

Oct 15, 2011

cracker barrel (MoFo 28)

The ol' country store. While driving on any highway, you cannot drive more than 30 miles without one of these crossing your billboard radar - they are everywhere! Cracker Barrel has only (and I mean that in comparison to the other mega-stores like McDonald's) 600 some-odd stores to its name, but they are ubiquitous on the road.

The original concept was created to pull people off the road to buy, not food or country junk, but gasoline. Dan Evans thought folks would pull over to eat and shop and, before heading back on the trails, fill up. Good call; that's just what they did. Nowadays there are no more gas stations in front of Cracker Barrel, but there are plenty of rocking chairs!

The Southern-comfort food of the Barrel is pretty off-putting to their vegetarian (do they have any?) clients since most everything has some part of an animal cooked in it. When I worked there about 16 years ago, the apples were the only thing (I think) that was clear to eat, but then perhaps even that had lard. Hard to tell. You know how the mind blocks out unhappy memories.

Hashbrown Casserole was a super popular menu item and their Chicken Casserole was also way up there. The Hashbrown Casserole is country hashbrowns with loads of cheese. The Chicken Casserole has cream of chicken soup with chicken and is topped with crumbled cornbread. I made a baked chicken-style tofu for this dish.

There is something highly annoying about a restaurant where even their vegetables have meat in it. The Barrel's Country Green Beans are cooked with bacon. Great. Grrr. 

I distinctly remember the Barrel making their green beans in the southern-style.. cooked until almost grey in color. To get this dish to be as close to the original as possible, I used frozen green beans (you can be more authentic and use canned green beans or more healthful and use fresh green beans. Oh! the choices.). Surprisingly good. Don't ask me why or how. Cook up a batch and try them. They make a great accompaniment to the Chicken Casserole.

Country Green Beans and Hashbrown Casserole

Chicken-y Setian Casserole