Oct 3, 2012

applebee's make over

Applebee's is another of those casual-dining chain restaurants. Very much like Chili's, T.G.I.F and The Cheesecake Factory. Applebee's was among my first make overs in my first year of MoFo. That time I recreated their Oriental Chicken Salad and Ribs. This time around I took up the challenge of Grilled Shrimp 'n Spinach Salad. This salad tosses shrimp, peppers, onions and spinach in a hot bacon vinaigrette. 

Bacon and shrimp are the problem children here. I could have replaced the shrimp with tofu or seitan (more cost effective), but I decided on hearts of palm. I marinated the palm with a little dulse, a seaweed, and used Bac'uns for the bacon. Typically tvp doesn't stand up to cooking in liquid because it looses the crunch, but because this was a hot dressing, I cooked the Bac'uns in the oil before adding the vinegar. This worked out perfectly.

After the hearts of palm marinated, I sauteed them to a golden brown.

Disclaimer. The result was not shrimp. But it was delicious. The palm was a bit vinegary because it is pickled and the dressing was smoky and the bac'un in it crispy. The almonds add another crunch to the dish and the veggies are just right. Nothing is overwhelming and there is a hint of the taste of the sea. 

Applebee's charges $10.99 for a serving.

Cost Breakdown

spinach: $3

hearts of palm: $8
tomato, pepper, onion: $3
almonds, dulse: $1
spices, oil, vinegar, Bac'uns: $2
mustard, smoke, sugar: $1
Total for 4 servings:

Their charge per Serving: $10.99
Make-Over cost per Serving: $4.50


Oct 1, 2012

chili's bar and grill make over

Happy World Vegetarian Day and First Day of MoFo VI.

This is my third year MoFoing!

Because MoFo kicked my posterior last year, or my perfectionism got the best of me, I decided to make MoFo less stressful this year by reducing the make overs I do for each establishment. So, instead of recreating three or four dishes per post, it'll be only one.

Last year's Chili's Grill and Bar Make Over involved Chili's Enchilada Soup, Grilled Caribbean Salad and Fajitas. This casual dining establishment serves American food with a Tex-Mex influence. While Chili's has recently added a vegetarian menu as an offering, it is still wholly non-vegan, and therefore is in need of a make over.

With that in mind, my first menu item is Chili's  Honey-Chipotle Chicken Crispers. I love chipotle peppers and the word "crispers" got me. In my opinion, "crispers" is just a way to disguise the word "fried," but their PR department people know their job and the term sounds decidedly appealing.

In this offering, the honey in the sauce, the egg in the batter and the chicken itself need to be replaced. 

Substituting maple syrup for the honey is an obvious choice, but the honey is much thicker than maple syrup and even sweeter, so adding only maple would not cut it. The restaurant thins out the honey with water, so I've eliminated this extra liquid. Maple syrup is also more complex in flavor, so to cut the extra flavor, I used agave nectar in addition to the maple.

The egg in the batter acts as a binding agent and is replaced with flax meal, which is nutritious to boot. The crispiness of the batter results from a doubling up on the breading technique: there is a liquid batter followed by a dry breading. 

As for the chicken, the obvious, and best, choice is my Simple Chicken Seitan. After the seitan is made and cooled, it is important to squeeze out the extra moisture. When the seitan is fried the moisture is turned to steam and renders the crust soggy. Once the extra moisture is eliminated, the fried seitan retains the crispy crust, while still remaining properly moist on the inside. 

The chain serves this as a main dish with corn on the cob and fries. 
They charge over $10 for one order. 
VA Make Over:

Cost Breakdown:

seitan: $3
batter and breading: $2
sauce: $1
corn on the cob: $3 
fries: $4
oil (for frying): $2
Total to make 4 servings:

Their charge per Serving: $10.29
Make-Over cost per Serving: $3.75

Also, don't forget to check back on the 6th to see if you've won Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker Cookbook by Robin Robertson.