Month: March 2011

Top Chef Wednesday – All Stars Finale

In honor of Richard’s win (I was feeling optimistic), I veganized his winning recipe from last week: Beef Goulash, Spaetzle with Sour Cream and Apple Strudel. For the goulash, I used Gardein’s beefless tips and vegetarian chicken broth and for the strudel, I just substituted margarine for butter. There is no spaetzle recipe online, so I just created my own, using an Allrecipes.com recipe as a guide.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons Better than Sour Cream
  • a couple splashes of non-milk (enough to make the dough stick together)
  • 2 teaspoons Ener-g egg replacer
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 5/8 pinch freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix together flour, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Whisk egg replacer and water, and add alternately with the sour cream to the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth, adding non-dairy milk as needed. Press dough through spaetzle maker, or a large holed sieve or metal grater, or just roll them up in little pieces. Drop a few at a time into simmering liquid. Cook 5 to 8 minutes. Drain well. Saute cooked spaetzle in  margarine. Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley on top, and serve.
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Richard and Mike get to open their dream restaurant in the finale challenge. According to the judges, it was one of the best finales yet. I was disappointed in Richard for using foie gras in his ice cream, but I still didn’t want Mike to win. In the end, Richard redeems himself after choking in the season 4 finale.

And Carla wins fan favorite!

To counterbalance the gluttony of Top Chef, here is an interesting article on the morality of the foodie movement.

Pasta Con Broccoli

So this was my first “meh” recipe from Appetite for Reduction. I’m wondering if I did something wrong. Despite using 1/4 cup of sliced garlic plus 3 cloves, this dish had no garlic flavor. Maybe the organic garlic at Jewel isn’t any good?  The dish wasn’t bad, but it has two ingredients that I hold very close to my heart: broccoli and garlic. It didn’t live up to the high expectations I had for it. I also made the basic baked tempeh for some extra protein, which has even more garlic. It helped to pour the marinade over the pasta.

I signed up for a vegan bake sale to benefit Japan.  I did a test run of a veganized version of an Armagnac cupcake recipe I found online.  These are pretty good, but I don’t think I’m going to make them for the bake sale.

Orange & Armagnac Cocktail Infused Cupcakes

Cupcakes:

  • 3 teaspoons Ener-g egg replacer
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. Armagnac

Frosting:

  • 4 oz. better than cream cheese
  • 1-3 cups confectioners sugar (I use a lot of sugar in my icing, usually 2 times as much as listed. And that is why my frosting is amazing)
  • 1 tsp. orange extract
  • 2 tsp. grated orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Place paper baking cups in muffin pan.  Whisk egg replacer with water and combine remaining cupcake ingredients in a medium bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and pale, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Spoon the batter into the cups.

Bake 23 minutes.  Remove pans from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.  Pierce some holes in the tops of the cupcakes with a skewer and pour 1/2 tablespoon Armagnac over each.  Then remove the cupcakes and cool on a rack.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese in a bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Beat in the confectioners sugar for 1 to 2 minutes, adding enough to make it thick, then beat in the orange extract and zest until smooth and light.  Spread the frosting on the cupcakes.

It made 7 cupcakes… a baker’s half dozen?

The Kind Diet

My newest cookbook is Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet. The book begins with several informative chapters on the meat and dairy industries and how to transition to a vegan diet. It concludes with a recipe section. On Sunday, I ate a lot of crap and was actually craving a salad for dinner. Alicia’s sexy inspired salad hit the spot. Not sure what makes this salad sexy; maybe it’s the truffle infused olive oil? It’s a nice touch.

To go with the salad, I tried to recreate the appetizer we had at the Fireside Bar in Vail.

  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 can of northern beans
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons truffle infused olive oil
  • 1/2 loaf of ciabatta bread

Saute mushrooms, red pepper flakes and garlic until mushrooms are soft. Add parsley, salt, beans, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Serve over ciabatta bread.

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I am determined to put the bottle of Armagnac I bought for the braised seitan to good use. However, I’m not sure I’m ready to drink it straight yet, so I found a cocktail recipe, D’Artagnan. I really need to work on my orange twists. I’m kind of embarrassed to post this photo.

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The other thing I made from Alicia’s book was the crispy peanut butter treats with chocolate chips. I previously made an almond butter variation to send to my parents.  Last weekend I made peanut butter treats for our breakfast party after Saturday’s 20 miler. They are super easy and delicious.

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Vegan in Vegas – Day 5

I’ve already blogged about the amazing vegan donuts we ate Saturday morning at Ronald’s Donuts. After we got back from our donut run, we hurriedly packed up our stuff and went back to Encore. I had to pick up my dress, which was being tailored, and I wanted one more meal at the Wynn.

First we got a drink at Parasol Down. I was on a pear cocktail roll, so I ordered the Pear-a-sol. H had a glass of wine.

There’s a lovely view of a waterfall. People were drinking outside, but it was way too cold for that in my opinion.

For lunch we had dim sum at Red8. There is a vegan dim sum option for $18. The dumplings were great, but it’s not very filling. Because we wouldn’t be eating for at least 8 hours, I ordered the spicy edamame, too.  The spiciness added a lot to the edamame, but eating too much of it will make your lips burn. To soothe my burning lips, I had a red lantern, easy on the rock candy syrup.

The decor was really nice and similar to Wazuzu.

And that was the end of vacation!

 

Top Chef All Stars – Episode 15

I was very excited for the Top Chef finale this Wednesday. Unfortunately, I had to attend a hearing at a school board meeting that went all night long. I didn’t get home until after midnight and didn’t eat anything for dinner much less a delicious gourmet meal. But this morning I learned it wasn’t the finale, which means one more week of Top Chef meals!

Tonight, before we watched Top Chef On Demand, I made Braised Seitan, Kale & Fava Bean Risotto, a kinder version of Antonia’s winning risotto from episode 12.

Here’s my modified version of Antonia’s recipe. Serves 4.

Braised Seitan

  • 6 ounces seitan, chopped (I used a package of Upton’s Natural’s traditional seitan)
  • 1 cup onions, carrots, celery, rough chop
  • 1 sprig parsley and thyme
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 vine ripe tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 bottle red wine
  • 1/2 cup Armagnac
  • 3 cups veggie chick’n stock
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 veggie bouillon cubes

Risotto:

  • 1/2 small onion, brunoise
  • 1 cup Superfino risotto
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 -3 cups of chick’n stock
  • 1 tablespoon earth balance
  • 1 can fava/butter beans
  • 1 cup blanched kale chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • soy Parmesan to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped Marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ciabatta bread crumbs, garnish

Directions

1. Heat skillet and large pot.

2. Season seitan with salt and pepper. Dust with flour and sear in skillet until brown.

3. Sauté minepoix (that’s the onions, celery & carrots) in pot. Add setian, paste, tomato, parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs, red wine, Armagnac, chick’n stock, and bouillon cube. Simmer for 1 hour.

Risotto:

1. In large sauté, sweat brunoise onions. Add risotto. Toast for 20 minutes on low heat until crispy. Add white wine and reduce.

2. Add 1 cup remaining hot chick’n stock slowly and whisk and beat until creamy and cooked.  Add more stock as needed. I used several cups of chick’n and some veggie stock to get the rice cooked and creamy (remember, risotto must spread!)

3. Finish with margarine, fava beans, rapini leaves and lemon zest, soy parmesean.

Assembly:

1. When plating, ladle risotto in middle of plate, spoon seitan  over and sprinkle with bread crumbs and chopped herbs.

And going back to season 3, I made Hung’s Molten Chocolate Cakes Vanilla Crème Fraîche, Raspberry Coulis for dessert.

The Crème Fraîche did not work for me, so I had to use canned rice whip.  Surprisingly, the cake turned out really well with egg replacer and margarine. It’s very rich, but so delicious!

Breakfast polenta with sausage pepper & onion

I made this dish this morning and just heated it up when I got home. Why am I just now discovering how easy polenta is?!

Breakfast polenta…for dinner

And home fries

Breakfast Polenta with Sausage, Onion and Peppers

INGREDIENTS
3 Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Sausages, casings removed and crumbled
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 1/2 cups water
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup grated vegan Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) vegan butter

DIRECTIONS
Butter an 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Sauté sausage in skillet over medium heat until browned. About 6 minutes. Add onion, bell pepper and oregano. Sauté until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Bring water to boil in medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in cornmeal. Reduce heat to medium-low; whisk until cornmeal is tender and very thick, about 7 minutes. Stir in cheese and sausage mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into prepared dish. Chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Cut polenta into 2-inch squares. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté half of squares until brown, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to platter; tent with foil. Repeat with remaining butter and squares. Serve hot. Makes 6 servings.

Vegan in Vegas – Day 4

We woke up too early on Friday morning and had a very busy day. Coffee was the first order of business and I walked over the the Palms food court where there is a Coffee Bean. I got a soy latte and some hummus and pita chips, which is probably not considered breakfast food to most people, but this wasn’t the first time I’ve eaten hummus before noon.

After a lovely 8 mile run down to the Welcome to Las Vegas sign and up the strip (in shorts & a tank top!), H & I went out to explore some more casinos. But first we needed margaritas. We went to Cabo Wabo Catina, which, despite the ridiculous name, has great margaritas. The place was packed, but we got seats facing the strip. It was perfect for people watching and my favorite thing to see was a woman in a scooter fly up the escalator ramp. I ordered the waborita (no, seriously that is the name of its house margarita) and mushroom fajitas.The mushrooms were flavorful and the salsa was good, but the rest of the food was just average. The drinks and the view were the highlight of the meal.

After lunch we went to Aria, Monte Carlo, New York, New York, Excalibur, Luxor, and Mandalay Bay and down to the Welcome to Las Vegas sign so I could take a picture. H got his hair cut at the Art of Shaving in the Mandalay Bay shops and I window shopped at Stella McCartney in the Crystals.

We barely made it back to the Palms Place for a nap before we had to head out for dinner and Cirque du Soleil KÀ.

Nobu‘s Secret Vegan Menu

Despite not eating fish, I rarely have trouble finding something to eat at a sushi restaurant. Just give me some edamame and an avocado roll and I’m happy.  Nobu’s menu had a few vegan-sounding dishes, so we decided to check it out on Friday night. As soon as we were seated, we were asked if we wanted edamame and the answer to that question is always “yes.” H ordered a masu of sake, which means it is served in a box. It’s a little awkward to drink. I ordered one of Nobu’s March special cocktails. I don’t remember what it was, but it was good and very sweet.

When we told the server I was vegan, he had all sorts of suggestions. He said that what they usually do is just bring out random vegan dishes until I’m full. Sounds good to me!

My first course was a lotus chip with veggies. This was my favorite dish. (The sesame carrots in the garnish were also tasty).

Next I was served the Hearts of Palm salad with a creamy avocado-y dressing. Hearts of Palm is not a vegetable I eat very often, but this was delicious. H said it reminded him of kimchi. It may have used some of the same spices – maybe the red stuff you can see in the picture.

The third course was a tofu dish, which was fine, but not as good as the other dishes.

I was full at this point, but didn’t want to leave Nobu without having a sushi roll, so my final course was the vegetable roll. H helped me eat it and he said that it was more impressive than his sushi. While he thoroughly enjoyed his non-sushi dishes and it was obvious that the fish was high quality, the rolls and sashimi were nothing special. Veggie roll trumps raw fish!

Dinner took a long time and we had to rush over to MGM as soon as we took the last bite of the vegetable roll. KÀ was amazing! I thought I was booking balcony seats, but we were front and center. I even dared H to reach out and tickle one of the performers feet; we were that close. Thankfully no one fell on top of us.  It was a very impressive show and had more plot development than Le Reve.  The theater is equally impressive.

Vegan in Vegas – Day 3

On Thursday, I was scheduled to run 5 miles. Coincidentally, Ronald’s Donuts was 2.5 miles from our hotel. I wore my Stella McCartney running pack and set off to this mecca of vegan donuts. I bought two donuts – a glazed for H and a chocolate topped creme-filled for me and stuffed them in my running pack and ran back to the hotel. Oh my goodness! These are amazing!

Our second hotel, Palms Place, was much closer, so on Saturday, we walked over for breakfast.  I had a lemon filled donut and H had another glazed and a chocolate-covered one.

For lunch we went to La Cave, a food and wine hideaway, and sat outside on the patio. I drank pinot noir and ate the Mixed Greens, Oven-roasted Tomatoes, Onions with Champagne Dressing and Fiery Artichoke, Roasted Pepper Flatbread. Both were quite tasty.

Thursday was our last day at Encore and H hung out in the casino and coffee shops while I went shopping at the Wynn and Encore shops. While most of the stores sell leather shoes, In Step at Encore sells Melissa shoes. I bought the Amazonas in black, which went better with my Vegas party dresses than the black work shoes I brought with me.

They also go well with the one-shoulder Alice + Olivia dress I was talked into buying at Mojitos Resort Wear at the Wynn (which sounds like an old ladies’ store, but has a great selection of designers).

After shopping, we went over to the Palms, which is so different than Encore, and not in a good way.  It was packed with college spring breakers who were drunk from the moment they got off the plane.  It was not our scene.  The Palms has several nightclubs, lounges, playboy bunnies and a poorly-rated Tex-Mex restaurant, but also has a premier French gourmet restaurant, Alizé. It offers a vegetarian tasting menu and I was able to order off of that (I couldn’t do another tasting menu).  I started with the Bouquet of Baby Greens, Caraway Cracker, and Tomatoes with a Balsamic Vinaigrette and for my entree I had the black pepper crusted tofu. I didn’t take any pictures, because I would have needed the flash and it didn’t seem appropriate in such a fancy restaurant. However, the view was the best part of the experience. It was incredible.

 

 

Wazuzu & Sinatra

On Wednesday morning we had the most ridiculously over-priced breakfast ($8.50 for oatmeal!!), explored the strip and went to the top of the Eiffel Tower. When we arrived back at the Encore, we went to Wazuzu. The back page had a long list of vegan options. I decided to get the California Stir Fry – brown rice with veggies, baked tofu and edamame. It was not very oily, which was good, but the serving was ginormous. It was nothing special. I wish I ordered a sushi roll and the dumplings.

After lunch we took a nap and hit the gym. I went to a spin class, which was pricey, but a lot of fun. I miss spinning!

For dinner we went to Sinatra, an Italian restaurant at Encore. It has a separate vegan menu with many veganized versions of Italian favorites. It uses a meat substitute called Gardein, which I’ve never had and didn’t want to try for the first time in an $33 marsala dish. I started with a butternut squash soup with vegan ricotta-filled tortellinis. Amazing!! The restaurant was a little dark, so my pictures aren’t that great.

For my main course, I had the Sicilian-style couscous. It was tasty, but not as good as the soup.

I also had a pear margarita, which was delicious.

After dinner, we saw Penn & Teller. They had some very impressive tricks, but one that involved cutting open a fish, which is disgusting. Back at the Wynn, it was ladies night at Blush with free champagne from 11-midnight. I also ordered the melon martini, which is the best drink I’ve had so far in Vegas.

Viva Las Vegan!

Last night was so much fun. We went to La Reve, which is like nothing I’ve seen before. It didn’t have much of a plot, but I just wanted to see people dive into the water and fly from the ceiling. It was quite the show.

After La Reve, we went to Botero Steak. This is probably the first time H and I have gone to a steakhouse, because there is nothing for me to eat. However, Steve Wynn recently became a vegan and he requires the restaurants in his resorts to have a vegetarian/vegan menu. Not just an entree, an entire menu! I ordered the vegan tasting menu, because it all looked good.

My first course was a broccoli soup, which was as nice as broccoli soup can be.

They also brought out a bread basket with olive oil, regular thyme butter and vegan butter. There was a sourdough-type loaf and some really good cranberry rolls.

The second course was mushroom muffaletta sliders. The mushrooms were the “bread” of the sliders, which was not what I expected, but really good.

The third course was a quinoa pasta. This would also be a great tasting menu if you eat a gluten-free diet. The sauce was very light and the noodles tasted just like regular pasta noodles.

My favorite course was the fourth: tofu, eggplant and avocado napoleon served over broccoli. It’s my four favorite foods on one plate!

I shared the dessert course with H, because we were both pretty full. It was a creme brûlée with strawberries, mango, and bananas on top. Delicious!