I've developed a recent obsession with the NBC comedy 30 Rock. It's not just because I have an obsessive school-girl crush on Tina Fey with her sexy plastic cat glasses, relentless sass, and guiltless intimate relationship with food. Okay...maybe she's, like, 45% of what keeps me glued to the screen. In all truth, the writing is great. There's blunt humor and characters that everyone in America can relate to on some personal level. I even find Alec Baldwin charming. Mind you that "Baldwin" and "charming" were two words I never expected to find together in a sentence I'd form.
To top it all off, I've never been much of a television fanatic. As an actress, I tell myself I should watch TV as "research". I'll sit myself down, do some yoga-like deep breathing, and mentally prepare myself for an evening of CSI: Tahiti, Cold Case and Gossip Girl. Somehow, I just end up crying my eyes out as Jessica on the reality show Intervention sticks a needle in her arm while spilling her guts about how her neglectful father led to her combination heroin addiction/eating disorder/kleptomania/pedophilia. It's heart-wrenching, I tell ya'. Both 30 Rock and Intervention are Emmy-nominated shows this year, and it's because honesty, with drama or comedy, is what makes television great in my mind.
I asked my girlfriend, initially as a joke, to honestly write about what it's like to live with a 24-year-old vegan trapped inside the body of June Cleaver aka me. Jane, being the crass, sarcastic and witty writer that she is, immediately took me up on my challenge. It was so f'in funny, I decided to include it as part of my post to really demonstrate my "humor rooted in truth" philosophy.
Ok, so we both like to embellish the truth a little...or a lot. As a disclaimer, this isn't true at all. But what fun is life if we can't laugh at ourselves a little, right?
Though many may think that her turning traditionally carnivore dishes into animal friendly but tree killing goodness is a step in the right direction, I am here to say that you have all been deceived. Veganism is a delicate form of eating, yet can turn deadly and disease filled when in the wrong hands. Case one, being my ever-so-lovely soul-mate, wife, and beautiful woman: Jennifer L Shagrin. Jenn had started down the path of Veganism in the right direction, avoiding all things from animals. But her denial to eat common things seemed to go too far one day as she found out that bees have feelings. One thing lead to another and now poor sweet Jenn is diagnosed with severe Veganistic Agoranimal Anorexia. Once Jenn realized that bees had feelings, she also became concerned with things that, as scientists would say, did not have any feelings. In a rare instance, she decided to become an Airitarian. To top it all off, in that same moment, she had put a plastic bag over her head, not wanting to suck in the particles which create life. Now me being the most valiant and great girlfriend, I watched patiently for ten to fifteen seconds before removing the bag, and shoving kale down her throat as she cried out "Murder!". As time passed, I was forced to drug her with heavy narcotics so that she could regain strength and rebuild a proper vegan diet. After 8 weeks of Vicoden, Xanax, and Trazadol, she was Jenn again! The tree loving, fake cheese eating love queen of the twenty first century. I still have to give her MDMA from time to time to keep her on track, but she is doing moderately better. Spending less time staring at the grass and more time in the kitchen (where all women belong). Thanks, Jenn, for being a survivor and saving yourself and Animals that both breathe at the same time.
And on that note, this week's recipe:
For the Vegan Ricotta...
- 12 oz Extra Firm Silken Tofu
- 1 TBSP Fresh Lemon Zest
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/4 tsp Organic Sugar
- 1 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
For the Gratin...
- 1 1/2 lbs Rainier Cherries, pitted and halved
- 1 TBSP Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 TBSP Black-Currant Flavored Liqueur (or Raspberry Flavored)
- 1/4 tsp Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
- 6 TBSP Organic Sugar, divided in half
- 1/8 tsp Sea Salt
- 2 tsp Agar Powder
- 1/2 cup + 2 TBSP MimicCreme
- 3 TBSP Slivered Almonds, toasted
In a separate small bowl, combine the 1 TBSP of lemon juice, black currant liqueur and black pepper. Set aside.
Start your oven's broiler pre-heating.
Add the first 3 TBSP of organic sugar to a large skillet, and heat over medium-high heat until the sugar begins to melt ("clear" spots will start to appear), about 2 minutes. Add the pitted Rainier cherries to the pan, and let them cook 2 minutes without stirring. Pour the liqueur, lemon juice and black pepper mixture over the cherries, stir once, then cook an additional 2 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat.
In the bottom part of a double boiler, begin bringing 2 cups water to a boil. Do not place the top part of the double boiler over the water yet. In the top half of the double boiler, add the remaining 3 TBSP of organic sugar, MimicCreme and sea salt. Sprinkle the 2 tsp of agar powder over top of the MimicCreme mixture, and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Turn the boiling water down to a fast simmer, stir the agar powder into the MimicCreme mixture, then place the top half of the double boiler over the bottom half with the simmer water. Cook the MimicCreme mix, whisking constantly, until the mixture has thickened considerably to a paste-like texture (about 2-3 minutes).
Remove from heat, and beat on high with a hand mixer or vigorously with a whisk until the MimicCreme mixture is fluffy and forms peaks.
Pour the contents of the Rainier Cherry skillet into a gratin or casserole dish, then fold the MimicCreme mixture into the Vegan Lemon Ricotta until combined. Spoon the Ricotta Mixture evenly over top of the Rainier Cherries, then place under the preheated broiler until the topping is browned.
Sprinkle the toasted almond slivers over top, then allow to cool briefly before serving.