I selflessly admit to having a schoolgirl crush on Giada De Laurentis. Her perfect bre...*cough*...I mean, smile, wins me over in an instant. What woos me even closer is her Italian roots. In the past, I've rambled about my Italian-loving side. Sure, it was fostered in an environment where the overwhelming mob population spawned the popularity of the cuisine. I like to think that's why the Italian food I ate as a kid was so damn authentic. Mafia influence aside, Youngstown's Italian food was (and still is) some of the best I've ever eaten.
Now, back to Giada and her nice rack...of garlic bulbs. While many of the recipes in her cookbook border on the cliche side of Italy's foodscape, that doesn't mean I can't use them as a blank canvas to spruce up and veganize. With my hellish work schedule cutting into my typical "cook like a fiendish motherfucker" schedule, I jumped at the opportunity to cook for a group of my friends last week. Giada's Chicken Spezzatino seemed like the perfect dish to warm the frigid 55 degree LA weather right out of our bones. Special thank to all my testers who validated that this recipe is, in fact, a winner. Special thanks to Giada for giving me some inspiration and someone that looks prettier shimmying about a kitchen than Mario Batalli.
Enough boobie and garlic talk for one post.
Life's been pretty damn good the past few weeks. New Years marked Jane and I's 1 year anniversary. What a year it has been. Even though lately I find myself with less free time than someone with a triple major in college, I see true value in the moments of idleness that we can just enjoy together. Right now, I sit typing away at my computer, and she at hers. Of course, she's writing a great work of fiction while I type away about some chef's titties, but that's besides the point. It just feels nice. The dogs are asleep on the couch, and I'm surrounded by my little family. Somehow it makes this concrete jungle feel a little more like home.
What? You really thought I wouldn't bring up boobs again? Shame on you.
Happy Jew Year, kids.
- 2 TBSP Olive Oil
- 2 TBSP Vegan Margarine
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 batch of Vegan Pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (see below)
- 1 batch of Vegan Chicken, cubed
- 2 stalks of Celery
- 1 large Carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 small Onion, chopped
- 2 TBSP Shallots, finely minced
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup Madeira Wine
- 1 14 oz can San Marzano Tomatoes, in juice
- 1 1/3 cup No Chicken Broth
- 1/2 cup Fresh Basil, chiffonade
- 1 1/2 TBSP Tomato Paste
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 2 tsp Fresh Thyme, mince
- 1 can Organic Kidney Beans, drained
In a 6 quart saucepan over medium heat, heat olive oil and melt margarine completely. Add the garlic, and saute for 30 seconds. Then add the celery, carrots, onions, shallots and "pancetta", "chicken" and cook stirring occasionally, until the onions and shallots are translucent and the "pancetta" and "chicken" are beginning to brown. Add a bit of salt and pepper.
Add the Madeira to the pan, stir once, then add in the tomatoes in juice, no chicken broth, basil, bay leaf, thyme and tomato paste. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.
Add the kidney beans, and simmer for another 10 minutes until the liquid reduces.
Discard the bay leaf, taste for salt and pepper, then serve.
For the "Pancetta"...
- 12 oz baked firm Tofu, preferably "smoked" flavor
- 6 TBSP Soy Sauce
- 2 TBSP Bragg's Liquid Aminos
- 4 tsp Better Than Bouillon No Beef Broth Paste mixed with 1/2 cup Water
- 1-2 tsp Colguin Hickory Flavored Liquid Smoke
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
- 2 TBSP Olive Oil
Slice the baked tofu into very thin slices, then dice the slices into small squares. Place the diced tofu in a shallow, airtight container.
Whisk together the rest of the ingredients very well, then pour over the diced tofu. Allow the tofu to marinade for a about 2 hours.
Drain the tofu well before using.