Top Chef

Top Chef Texas Finale

Congratulations to Paul, the winner of Top Chef Texas! To cheer on our favorite chef, we ate two of his winning recipes: Shrimp Yuzu Ceviche with Corn Salsa & Yucca Chips and Fried Brussels Sprouts. Lots of veganization and suburbanization going on, but both dishes had a complex flavor combination. No wonder he won this season!

Fried Brussels Sprouts


  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 2 peaches
  • 1-2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 teaspoon madras curry
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon green onion
  • 1/2 cup Tofutti Better than Sour Cream
  • 1 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried Thai chili
  • 10 basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 quart vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup candied pine nuts


1. Sweat garlic, ginger and green onion. Season with dried Thai chili and salt and pepper to taste. Deglaze with 1/2 apple cider vinegar.

2. Make reduction with sugar and other half of apple cider vinegar and reserve.

3. Season Tofutti with madras curry and salt.

5. Quarter Brussels sprouts and deep fry on high heat until golden brown.

6. Cut peaches in to 8 pieces (wedges). Chill and reserve.


1. Place 1 tablespoon of Tofutti on a plate with the back of a spoon. Brush into a line.

2. Place the peaches, Brussels sprouts, and  garlic, ginger and green onion mixture on top of the Tofutti and garnish with basil leaves, candied pine nuts, and capers. Drizzle apple vinegar reduction to finish; add salt to taste.




Vegan Prawn Citrus Ceviche with Corn Salsa & Potato Chips


  • 1 package Vegan Prawns
  • 3 ounces lemon juice
  • 3 ounces lime juice + extra to dress vegetables and garnish
  • 2 ounces agave nectar
  • 1 medium sized potato
  • 1 ear corn
  • 2 ounces cilantro; minced
  • 2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 ounces sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 2 pieces baby fennel
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 dried red chili
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest


1. Prepare prawns as directed on box (for salads).

2. Mix all the citrus juices and agave nectar. Marinate the prawns in the citrus mixture for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

3. Cut corn off the cob and small dice the tomatoes. Slice the baby fennel paper-thin. Dress corn, tomatoes and yucca with lime zest, cilantro and lime juice. Add sliced garlic, chili, and season with black pepper and Garam Masala.

4. Slice potato across and fry at 300 degrees Celsius until crispy.


1. Place potato chips on a plate and place 1 piece of prawn on top of the chips and put salsa on top. Garnish with Tofutti sour cream, cilantro, lime juice and olive oil. Season with salt to taste.

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Top Chef Wednesday: Quinoa Pilaf & Curried Sweet Potato Mash


This quinoa pilaf recipe by Andrea Beaman goes all the way back to season 1. It’s a vegetarian recipe, but not much needed to be done to make it vegan – just make sure to use a vegan sausage and use Earth Balance instead of butter. I needed to use up my Field Roast sausages so I doubled the sausage and cut the cranberries. The sausages had apple in them, so there was a little sweetness from that to replace the cranberries. I could have sworn the picture with the recipe used red quinoa, so that’s what I bought at the store, but I guess I was thinking of the red cranberries? It was a tasty dish; loved the fresh sage.

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Top Chef Wednesday: Enchiladas with Onion & Seitan

Another vegan recipe from Top Chef Masters. This recipe is from Vegas chef  Alessandro Stratta: Enchiladas with Onion & Seitan.  This was very good and pretty easy. I made seitan from Fat Free Vegan and cut up some veggies in the morning, so it was more manageable in the evening.  The onions have a good kick with all the chili powder. I wiped the pan with a paper towel in between, but I used the same pan to caramelize the onions and toast the pumpkin seeds, so the pumpkin seeds also had a bit of chili powder on them. The pumpkin seeds were my favorite part of the dish.

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Top Chef Wednesday: Chinese Chick’n & Scallion Pancakes plus Chilled Carrot-Coconut Ginger Soup with Shiitake Bacon


Scallion Pancakes:

From the always amazing what the hell does a vegan eat anyway?

Chinese Chick’n “Feet” Gardein:

  • 1 bag of Gardein Scallopini
  • Sesame oil
  • Chili oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin and blanched
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce (I used a cup and it was a little too salty)
  • 1/3 bottle Mae Ploy
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 ” knob ginger, grated and juiced
  • 1 Thai chili, slit in half
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon black bean paste
  • Cornstarch and water, as thickening agent

1. In a hot wok, add oils until smoking.

2. Add garlic and cook for 20 seconds. Add Gardein cutlets

3. Season with salt and remove from heat and set aside. Cut each cutlet into 3 pieces.

4. In a large wok, add remaining ingredients, except cornstarch. Bring to boil and reduce sauce by 1/3.

5. Mix cornstarch and water to make a sherry. Thicken sauce with sherry.

6. Toss Gardein pieces into sauce and serve over pancake. Garnish with cilantro and scallion and toasted white sesame seed.


Chilled Carrot-Coconut Ginger Soup with Shiitake Bacon

This vegan soup was surprisingly delicious.  The lemon, nutmeg, and salty mushrooms work quite well. I used one can of lite coconut milk to make it a little less fatty.


Top Chef Wednesday: Modern Bibimbap with Lemon-Chili Sauce


Tonight I made Edward Lee’s top vegetarian recipe from the tribute dinner episode. This was seriously amazing. Half of that amazingness comes from the flavors of Ed’s recipe and half from this surprisingly believable tofu fried egg.

This is another recipe that isn’t hard, but is time consuming with all the cutting and prepping. But once again, it is worth it. Everything comes together really well and the texture of the tofu egg is super close to a real egg, right down to the runny “yolk.”

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Top Chef Wednesday: “Skirt Steak” Tacos with Corn and Black Bean Salad

This was an easy modification: just substitute Trader Joe’s beefless tips for the steak. Everything else is meat and dairy free. This must have been a catering episode because the recipe calls for ridiculous amount of food. I reduced it to something 2 people can manage. There wasn’t much leftover “steak” but lots of salsa so we ate it again on Thursday with “chicken,” I just made a little bit more marinade to toss with the chicken.

This winning recipe is from Susan Feniger on Top Chef Masters. It’s not hard but a little time consuming because there’s like 50 salsas in this meal.


Cumin-cilantro marinade with beefless tips

Corn & Black Bean salad
I hate peeling skin off peppers, but this is really good.

Tomatillo Salsa – the easiest thing in the recipe. Just combine all ingredients in a food processor.


Chipotle Salsa: This is spicy!


And finally, guacamole. A little too limey. I’d start with 1/2 a lime and add more if you need it.


The flavors of the marinade and all the toppings come together really well. This is one of my favorite top chef recipes.


Here are the amounts I used:

Skirt Steak:
  • 1 package of Trader Joe’s Beefless Tips
Cumin Cilantro Marinade:
  • 2 bunches cilantro
  • 1/2 Serrano
  • ½ cup cumin seeds, toasted
  • Juice from 1/2 Lime
  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
Corn and Black Bean Salad:
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 2 cups frozen corn, defrosted
  • 1 poblano, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 red pepper, roasted and diced
  • 2/3 bunch scallions, cut on bias
Tomatillo Salsa:
  • 3Tomatillos
  • 1/4 Onion
  • 3 /4 bunch Cilantro
  • 1/2 Serrano
  • Salt & Pepper
Chipotle Salsa:
  • 1 can Chipotle
  • 1 onion
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 avocadoes
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 small red onions
  • 1/3 serrano
  • Juice of 1 lime (start with 1/2)
  • Salt & pepper

Top Chef Wednesday

Top Chef was a rerun this week, but I didn’t realize that until after dinner. I tried Ocean’s Delight fish patties that I ordered from Vegan Essentials.

I substituted the vegan fish patties for salmon in a Ron Duprat recipe.

Pan-Seared Vegan Fish Patties with Spinach and Cannelloni Bean Sauté and Citrus Butter

Serves 2


1 package Ecovegan fish patties
4 ounces Chablis
2 ounces almond milk
1 bay leaf
1 lemon, zested and juiced
4 ounces spinach, washed and cleaned
1 small can cannelloni beans
1 clove garlic, minced
2 ounces Earth Balance margarine
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh herbs (I used basil)


1. For citrus butter, reduce Chablis and almond milk by half with bay leaf and lemon juice. Mount slowly with margarine. Strain and season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. In a sauté pan, heat olive oil and add vegan fish patties. Cook according to package, about 3-5 minutes.

3. In another sauté pan with oil, cook spinach, garlic, and cannelloni beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To Serve

1. Using a ring mold (or a ramekin), pack spinach-bean mixture onto center of plate. Remove mold.

2. Gently place vegan fish patties on top of spinach.

3. Spoon citrus butter sauce over vegan fish patties and plate.

4. Garnish with lemon zest and fresh herbs.

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Top Chef Wednesday: Cocoa and Black Pepper Gardein Beefless Tips with Spring Risotto

This is the best way I have had Gardein Beefless Tips! From now on, I might always cook them in cocoa and black pepper. This week’s Top Chef veganization is from Tiffany Derry of Seasons 7 and 8. It is also a suburbanization because cocao and morels are not sold at Jewel.


Cocoa and Black Pepper Gardein Beefless Tips with Spring Risotto

Modified from here


Beefless Tips:
  • 1 package Gardein beefless tips
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbl black pepper
  • olive oil
Spring Risotto:
  • 2 tbsp shallots, minced
  • 1 tbsp vegan margarine
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 3 cups veggie chick’n stock, hot
  • ¼ cup parmesan flavor grated topping
  • 1 tbsp vegan  margarine
  • 1 Tbl fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbl fresh thyme, chopped
  • ½ cup (+) fava beans, cooked
  • ½ cup (+) baby portabella,sliced, cooked (I used an 8 ounce package)
  • ¼ cup Tofutti Better than Sour Cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Red Wine Reduction:
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 cup veggie beef or chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp balsamic
  • 1 tbsp slurry (corn starch + water)
  • 2 Tbl butter, cold
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


For the Spring Risotto:

1. Heat up saucepot and sweat shallots in margarine (do not brown) for 3 minutes. Add rice and coat with margarine. Deglaze with wine and cook until you can no longer smell alcohol.

2. Add veggie chicken stock one cup at a time stirring constantly until rice is cooked but still al dente.

3. Stir in parmeasan topping , more margarine, herbs, fava beans, and mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper. Off the heat stir in Better than Sour Cream

For the Red Wine Reduction:

1. Reduce wine, sugar, cacao, and stock by half. Adjust seasoning with 1 tablespoon balsamic (if needed, add other tablespoon). Add slurry to slightly thicken. Mount (I don’t know what that means? so I just added it) with margarine and whisk. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Beefless Tips:

1. Heat a pan and add oil. Add beefless tips, cocoa powder and pepper; sear until dark brown and warm throughout.

To Serve:

Place risotto in middle of plate. Place filet on top and spoon sauce around the risotto. Garnish with a couple of arugula leaves around plate (or not).

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Top Chef Wednesday: Polenta with Eggplant Bacon Wrapped Shrimp & Port Wine Fig Sauce

Polenta with Eggplant Bacon Wrapped Shrimp & Port Wine Fig Sauce

Modified from Grayson Schmitz



  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 umeboshi plum
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups non-dairy  milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons vegan margarine

Port Wine Fig Sauce:

  • 1 teaspoon vegan margarine
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 cup dried figs, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 cup port wine
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 cloves
  • 10 whole Allspice
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 4 pieces star anise

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp:

  • 1.2 recipe of eggplant bacon
  • package of frozen vegan shrimp, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon thyme, picked
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Oil, as needed


  • Frisee greens (for example arugula)



1. Caramelize the shallots. Add the non-dairy milk, umeboshi plum, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer then whisk in the polenta. Simmer on low until most of the liquid has cooked out and the polenta is soft. Stir in the margarine.

Port Wine Fig Sauce:

1. In a medium saucepan, heat the margarine and sauté the shallot, dried fig and red onion. Season with the salt. When the mixture has sweat out, add the sugar and turn the heat to high. Caramelize the sugar, then add the port, red wine, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, black peppercorns and star anise. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Reduce the sauce until it is sauce consistency, nape (that means it coats the back of a spoon). Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer. Turn the heat off, then let the halved figs sit in the sauce to reconstitute.

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp:

1. Prepare eggplant bacon.

2. Lay out a strip of eggplant bacon and sprinkle thyme on each strip. Wrap the shrimp, thyme on the inside.  Repeat. Then, in a large sauté pan over medium high heat, using a bit of oil, sauté the bacon wrapped shrimp until hot.  Season to taste.


1. Place a handful of arugula on plate and add polenta on top, then place the shrimp on top of it in an interlocking position. Drizzle the sauce and place the figs.


Top Chef Wednesday: Smoked Sweet Potato Soup with Black Beans & Tequila Cilantro Lime Cream


It’s the first recipe form the new Top Chef Texas season! Instead of pig cheeks (seriously gross!), I used black beans.

Smoked Sweet Potato Soup with Black Beans & Tequila Cilantro Lime Cream

Adapted from Molly Brandt


  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 4 cups sweet potato, peeled and large diced
  • 1 quart  chick’n or vegetable stock
  • 1 large can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • d 1/4 teaspoon ground peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon dried bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Tofutti Better than Sour Cream
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, untoasted
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon tequila anejo
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, minced + sprigs for garnish
  • Canola oil, as needed


1. In a medium bowl, mix black beans, pepper, bay leaves, olive oil and thyme.

2. In a large pot, saute onion until tender and translucent, then add in garlic.

3. Add the smoked paprika to the onions and stir until fragrant, then add the sweet potato. Cover with stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer until tender.

4. Meanwhile toss the peanuts in a sauté pan over medium heat with a bit of canola oil, salt, and 1 teaspoon chili powder until toasted, reserve.

5. In a small bowl whip sour cream with salt, lime zest and juice, tequila and minced cilantro and reserve. Place in freezer until ready to use.

6. Simmer seasoned black beans over medium-low heat until warm.

7. When sweet potatoes are tender, puree the soup in batches until smooth and season with the almond milk, sherry vinegar, liquid smoke, brown sugar, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon chili powder and salt.

8. Place a small mound of the seasoned black beans in a soup bowl. Pour soup around the mound of beans. Garnish with peanuts, tequila lime cream and a sprig of cilantro.

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