Saturday, November 29, 2008

Vegan Thanksgiving - Part 2: Vegan Sautéed Shallot, Crimini and Fennel Green Bean Casserole

I am a side dish whore. At 8 years old, I should have already known I was destined for vegetarianism at the very least. At Thanksgiving, it was never the turkey that motivated me to drag my behind over to Meemaw and Papa's to endure 5 long hours of cheek pinching, wine-induced sing-a-longs and bad old people breath. It was the side dishes. Macaroni and Cheese and Sweet Potatoes put up a great fight, but Green Bean Casserole will always have my heart. My mom's was the most ultimate food-coma inducing comfort filled version ever. It didn't just stick to your ribs, it stuck to your heart [shed a small tear drop here following this sickeningly tender moment . Ok... that's enough. Just go buy some green beans.]

Vegan Sautéed Shallot, Crimini and Fennel Green Bean Casserole

  • 1 1/2 lbs Ready To Go Fresh Green Beans (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup Vegan French Friend Onions
  • 6 TBSP Vegan Margarine
  • 6 TBSP Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Fresh Cracked Pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/4 cup Imagine Foods Creamy Portobello Soup
  • 1/4 cup MimicCreme
  • 1/2 TBSP White Miso Paste
  • 2 1/2 TBSP Corn Starch mixed with 3 TBSP Cold Water
  • 1/4 cup Shallot, diced
  • 1/2 bulb Fresh Fennel, diced
  • 1 cup Crimini Mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 TBSP Vegetable or Canola Oil
  • 2 tsp Fresh Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp each of Dried Sage, Marjoram and Thyme
To Prepare The Green Beans:
First, make sure your beans are trimmed and ready to go. Place 3 quarts of water in a large sauce pot, and bring to a boil.
Get a large bowl with ice water ready. Keep it in the freezer so it stays chilled. Add 1 1/2 TBSP Kosher salt and the green beans to the boiling water. Cover and cook for about 6 minutes or until crisp-tender and still bright green. Keep an eye on the beans just in case they start to brown before the 6 minutes is up.
Drain beans in a colander, then plunge into the ice water. Drain well, then place a double layer of paper towels in single layer to dry, and top with a double layer of towels.

The Casserole
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté garlic and shallots for 30 seconds, then add fennel, mushrooms, herbs and spices. Sauté until slightly softened. Remove the pan from heat, and set aside.

Using a whisk, in a very large sauce pan, melt the Earth Balance over medium-high heat. And flour, 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper, and whisk together. Add the miso paste, and blend in well. Pour Creamy Mushroom Soup and MimicCreme in gradually while constantly stirring. Continue stirring until the mixture begins to boil and thickens.

Add the green beans to the rest of the sautéed vegetables and about half of your French fried onions to the sauce pan, and stir well.

Pour that mixture into a casserole dish or pan and top with remaining French fried onions. Bake in oven at about 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until the onions begin to brown. Remove. Eat. Let it cool if you're more patient than I am. Enjoy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Vegan Thanksgiving - Part 1: Juniper Berry and White Peppercorn Rubbed Field Roast with Sage Infused Vegetables and Balalmic Ale Cranberry Reduction

Welcome to part 1 of 4 of my Thanksgiving feast. I toyed with the idea of doing one big ass post, but I didn't want any of you to crap out before the end of the recipes and run to raid your refrigerator. I LOVE any holiday that revolves mostly around food. It's the Jew thing...again. For a someone who doesn't practice Judaism, I'm very "Jew-ish", if ya know what I'm sayin'.
This was actually the first Thanksgiving I've ever spent without my parents. It made me realize something very profound:
If your parents are not at your side enjoying a Thanksgiving feast, they are also not there to help you clean up the gigantic mess produced by said feast.
Was it worth every minute of recipe writing, sweat and tears (from the onions...I'm no softy! Ok. I'm a bit of a softy.)??
You bet. It was actually the most relaxed Thanksgiving meal I've ever had. It was myself and one of my best friends from high school who just moved to California. We ate. We drank. We laughed. We put on sweatpants. We watched Austin Powers 3 and passed out by 10. It was awesome. Happy Holidays :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vegan Butternut Squash, Apple and Onion Galette with Bleu "Cheese"

(I would just like to put out there that I typed this entire post without the usage of the "s" key on my computer. That's right...copy/pasted the letter in all it's various forms. Much harder than you'd expect!)

Ah, Paris. The City of Lights. Last winter, I went through a serious quarter-life crisis. I booked a flight to England, bought some train tickets, found some couches to crash on, filled a backpack, and away I went! It was easily one of the best months of my life. I met some amazing people, saw some awesome sights, and ate FANTASTIC food.
Being a vegan in Paris was definitely a challenge. I had done a bit of homework before I left, leading me to the likes of La Victoire Suprême du Coeur, the deliciously rustic Le Potager du Marais, and my life saver, Maoz Vegetarian. Fellow vegans, do yourself a favor and don't expect Parisian restaurant staff to help you veganify your dinner. It just won't happen. They will scoff, they will glare maliciously and they might even laugh at you. There are exceptions, of course, but definitely have the names and locations of veggie friendly eateries or Bio Coops written down somewhere secure for your travels.
I couldn't find a place to crash my last two nights in Paris, so I found a cheap hostel in the Marais District. It stated clearly on their website, "No check in before 3pm, but we will hold your bags in the office starting at 9AM. " I like to think of myself as a savvy traveler, and the thought of trusting my bags in the hands of some stranger didn't exactly make me feel cozy inside. Plus, the reviews on the hostel booking website said the owner could be a real douche ball. Alas, my aching feet spoke loudly. I knew I couldn't lug my world around all day and not be burdened. I rang the bell.
Owner: "Hello!! What you WANT!!"
Me: "Um. Yes. I'm booked here tonight. I just want to leave my bags. The website said I cou..."
I enter his office. He shuffles about angrily a bit, grabs my bag and sits down at his desk.
Owner: "Last name?"
Me: "Shagrin."
Owner: "Whaaat?! You spell!"
I spell.
Owner: "What you do today in Paris?"
Me: "I'm going to try to find this Vegan restaurant I've been dying to try."
The owner's demeanor immediately softens. A HUGE smile spreads across his face as he morphs into an entirely different human being.
Owner: "You Vegan?! I Vegan too!!"
I nod, secretly sighing relief. He pulls a small paper-back book out of his desk and shoves it into my hands. It is the Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association, known to many as Supreme Master Ching Hai International Cult, handbook. I try really hard not to laugh, but at least it's a Vegan cult...and at least this guy's not being a meanie anymore. And he even sent me to a hole-in-the-wall where I could buy all vegan pastries! Baguettes, eclairs, croissants, and of course...galettes! It was so delicious.

If fake bleu cheese is not your thing, check out this little beauty...