Month: February 2011

New Orleans Fysh Fry

Continuing with the New Orleans theme, we had Beer Battered Fried Sea Seitan Tacos with Spicy Horseradish Coleslaw, a veganized version of an Emeril Lagasse recipe. It was delicious. A salty, greasy mess, but a perfect ending to a crazy Monday. Here’s the vegan how-to.

Hurricane, take two. I bought a passion fruit juice blend thinking it would be red. It was not; it was light brown. The splash of grenadine turned it reddish. It’s a move in the right direction, but it’s still wrong.

A Vegan Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras may be over a week away, but the party has already started down in NOLA. This week we’re celebrating with vegan versions of New Orleans classics.

Starting with red beans and rice:

My big experiment this weekend was making sea seitan for etouffee. This was my second time making seitan and it went much better. Last time it wasn’t even edible. No one is going to confuse sea seitan with fish, but it’s good and something different.

Of course, hurricanes are required. This recipe tastes fine, but it is not red. Hurricanes are red! Sadly, we do not have any hurricane glasses.

And finally, king cake!

I didn’t have a plastic baby to bake into the cake, but I did find a strand of baby beads. It’s kind of creepy.

But so good!

(If you make the king cake recipe, do not put salt in the icing!)

Shamrock Shake

Last year I rediscovered the shamrock shake at McDonalds. The McCafe shakes are  far better than the green-colored vanilla shakes they used to serve.  H and I shared a large shake last year, but I was horrified after finding out how many calories it had. Over 1,000! That is insane. Of course, this year I can’t have one, so I decided to make my own vegan version with soy ice cream, soy milk, green food coloring and peppermint schnapps. I topped our shakes with rice whip and an Oreo fun stix.

Crystal Lake’s Kyoto

It’s the weekend! H’s favorite food is sushi, so we probably go out for sushi every other weekend.  Sometimes more frequently.  We alternate between Crystal Lake and Woodstock, with the Lake in the Hills spots thrown in every now and then. Tonight we went to Kyoto in Crystal Lake.  I got the geisha martini, which was the best cocktail I’ve had there.  The sake martini is not very good. H got some sake.

We almost always start off with edamame, so I can get some protein. Kyoto’s edamame is a little better than Golden Rolls in Woodstock.

I ordered the sweet potato and AAC (asparagus, avocado & cucumber…or is it avocado, asparagus & cucumber?). It’s not amazing, but at least there are more options than cucumber rolls.

Kyoto gets a solid B rating, which is near the top of the class for the burbs.

EDIT: The tempura is NOT vegan!

Top Chef Wednesday – All Stars Episode 11

Tonight’s home challenge: veganizing Dale’s winning grilled cheese and spicy tomato soup, which has bacon, butter, cream, ribeye and cheese. Piece of (vegan) cake!

Spicy Tomato Soup

  • 1/8 cup tamari
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 head minus 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4 cups of unsweetened soymilk
  • 2 ounces of Tabasco sauce (or a generic brand that doesn’t come in a wasteful box)
  • 3 ounces of olive oil
  • 3 28-ounce cans tomatoes

Whisk together tamari, liquid smoke and maple syrup (which can make a delicious marinade for tempeh bacon, but works as the bacon replacement here). In a large pot, add onions, garlic, tamari mixture, soymilk, Tabasco, and olive oil. Cook until onions are translucent then add canned tomatoes. Bring to boil then puree with immersion blender or pour into regular blender.

I don’t mean to brag, but this soup is pretty fricking amazing. I suppose Dale gets some credit for creating the recipe, but I just made it better. (You’re welcome, Dale!)

Grilled Cheez

Butter outside of bread, place a layer of cheese on the bread, add some deli slices, another layer of cheese and top with the other slice of bread. Use a foreman grill, panini press or regular pan to grill the sandwich. Chances are you’ll have toasty bread before you have melted cheese.  If this happens, open the sandwich up, remove deli slices and broil in oven until the cheese melts. Remove from oven and spread the cheese around with a knife (so it will be more likely to stick to the tofurkey). Put the deli slices back on and press the bread together.

I had low expectations for the grilled cheez, because I tasted the cheese before making the sandwich and it was really gross. But after it was melted onto buttery bread and dipped into tomato soup, I almost forgot it wasn’t a real grilled cheese sandwich.

Paula Dean and some deep fryers start off Episode 11. Carla couldn’t handle the pressure despite this being her specialty. Richard fried mayonnaise (gross! but totally something Paula Dean would love – smart). Mike stole Richard’s dish and won after Antonia was eliminated for not plating a second serving.

The elimination round revolved around fish, so I didn’t find it very interesting. Tonight’s soup was in Dale’s honor, because Dale and his big ego are gone.

Mushrooms & Cannellini Paprikas with Scarlet Barley

I didn’t have high expectations for this dish. I was actually even dreading it. After a pointless trip to Chicago (the judge changed the date of the status while I was on the train) and a long day getting ready for some depositions tomorrow, I really just wanted to get take out. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you are on a diet), there aren’t any good take out restaurants in Woodstock. I stopped at Jewel to get extra mushrooms and went home to start making Mushrooms & Cannellini Paprikas and scarlet barley. The barley was more of a light pink than scarlet, because I am afraid of beats and only used some pink water from a can of sliced beats. The mushroom & cannellini paprikas dish was very hearty. H said that this was one of his favorite dishes. It’s the perfect dish for a cold snowy day. Another AFR success!

Low-fat Indian

Tonight’s dinner started when I came across the mango lassi in Vegan Brunch over the weekend. I picked out a couple of Indian recipes from Appetite for Reduction: Baked Tofu Masala with Potato-Spinach Curry.

I marinated the tofu all day and baked it when I came home from work. The curry took a little longer than I expected, but I chopped all the veggies and then called my parents while it simmered.  Both recipes were really good.

I haven’t had a mango lassi in a while, but it tasted pretty authentic. It was a nice little treat.

Veggie Meetup Brunch

Last fall, in an attempt to cope with being a vegetarian in the burbs, I joined the Suburban Chicago Vegetarian Meetup group. H and I went to a Christmas potluck for our first event, but today I went alone because H was on call. They have monthly pot lucks, which are completely vegan. Today was a Vegan Brunch at a gorgeous house in Fox River Grove. I brought my favorite brunch dish – mushroom, leek and white bean pie. I also brought some muffins. I tried a new recipe from Vegan Brunch (the cookbook) – Orange, Cranberry Nut muffins. Delicious! I also tried a gluten-free version of the coffee chip muffin recipe with an all-purpose gluten free mix. The batter was terrible, so I wasn’t expecting much from the muffin, but it turned out pretty good.

Orange Cranberry Nut muffins:

Gluten-free Coffee Chocolate chip:

After baking, Sassafras helped me clean up.

Tonight we went to Portillo’s with the running group & their families. This place was not created with vegans in mind. According to it’s menu, it’s meatless choices are two fish sandwiches. Portillo’s, please tell me what fish is if it’s not meat. Is it a fruit or vegetable? A grain? Perhaps fish is a kind of legume or maybe it comes from a cow like milk? It’s embarrassing really and I kindly pointed that out to them in an email after my last visit, but unfortunately the sign is still there. On one side is Portillo’s hot dogs and on the other is Barnelli’s pasta. Barnelli’s penne Arrabbiata without meat or cheese (which can be a difficult order for them to comprehend) is edible. Tonight they even added broccoli and mushrooms for me, which was nice. And they remembered not to add cheese.

I made some peanut butter balls this weekend, which were amazing, so I had to bring them tonight to share or I would have eaten them all myself. I love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter and not being able to eat Reese’s peanut butter cups is sad. This makes it all better though. It’s like a Reese’s peanut butter cup, but better.

Eggplant, spinach & pine nut lasagna

I saw some cute little dishes at TJ Maxx today, so I thought it would be a good time to try Vegan Yum Yum’s eggplant & pine nut rolled lasagna. After I got back from the store I realized I only had oven ready lasagna noodles and had to adjust the recipe to regular lasagna.

I used Newman’s Own Cabernet Marinara, which is really good. I added a couple layers of baby spinach. With the pine nut spread, you don’t even miss the cheese.

Top Chef Wednesday – All Stars Episode 10

Another Carla recipe and another huge success. Tonight I made Pecan and Oat Crusted Tofu served over a delicious lentil salad. I didn’t eat much for dinner because I ate so much salad while making the tofu.

Tonight’s episode was brought to you by Sesame Street and Target.

Who better to judge a cookie baking contest than Cookie Monster! Cookie Monster, Elmo and another muppet were the quickfire judges. Carla’s chocolate chip cookies looked really good. I’m going to have to try adding cinnamon – maybe that’s what the perfect chocolate chip cookie needs. Unfortunately she did not make it to the top. Neither did Richard with his ice cream discs. Despite Elmo’s PG-13 description of Antonia’s cookie, she was in the race for top cookie with Dale. Somehow Dale won with a disgusting potato chip and chocolate concoction.

A gimmicky elimination challenge had the chefs cooking in Target.  Three hours to shop for everything from food to tables to knives and pots and cook for 100 people. It was not a pretty challenge.  Dale won with grilled cheese and tomato soup (!) and Angelo was sent home for salty baked potato soup.