Sunday, January 25, 2009

Vegan Sage-Rubbed Pork Chops with Warm Apple Slaw

Somehow, I'm always unintentionally sparking proverbial fires. If you read my Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops recipe, you already know about my accidental collegiate hell raising. Well, fellow vegans, I've done it again. Apparently, two separate Avril Lavigne fan sites caught wind of last week's post (one in Brazil, one in Argentina) and all out chaos ensued. Nasty comments started popping up on my blog, my inbox was FLOODED with e-mails, 85% of which were in Portuguese or Spanish. My personal favorite stated that I was "an Avril want-to-be hating whore" and that I should "shove cow liver in between my lips and die".

Apparently, my sense of humor doesn't cross cultures.

Avril fans worldwide, I would like to now issue this formal statement of apology. My white flag is up and waving, my tail between my legs:

Avril fans, I am deeply sorry for offending your love of Ms. Lavigne. I shall never again in my wildest dreams long to stand in her spotlight. My hands will never lovingly caress a Skater Boy. I would rather have a Roller Derby Girl, anyway. I will toss out my neck-ties, and opt for the dramatically less fashionably bow tie. I may even abandon neck wear all together and buy a snazzy broach. If a Skater Boy should happen to cross my path, I definitely will not utter the words, "See you later, boy", but will politely decline his offers of courtship with a simple, "No thanks, I'm taken".
My skinny jeans will be burned. I will now only wear my dowdy pair of baggy brown cords, making my non-existent ass look even more lacking.
I hope you will take these concessions with sincerity, as I know I certainly do.
Again, my deepest regrets for upsetting you,

There. Now that the air's been cleared, on to this week's recipe.

I've been on a bit of a kick with these seitan pork chops lately. I don't know why, because I certainly disliked real pork chops. Regardless, I was given the opportunity by some good friends of mine to use their ASS KICKING VIKING OVEN RANGE! The heat distribution was flawless, and the lighting in their kitchen was great to boot.

Thanks, you two ;)

Vegan Sage Rubbed "Pork Chops" with Warm Apple Slaw

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Heirloom Bean, Red Russian Kale and Wheat Berry Chili

There's a recurring annoyance in my daily life, and I feel the need to publicly vent. By some strange happenstance, Avril Lavigne and I have some physical similarities. Long blonde hair, petite, obnoxiously sexy in a pair of aviator shades and grey skinny get the picture. Almost every day, someone calls me "Avril" or I overhear someone whisper to their friend "Dude...she looks just like Avril Lavigne!". Well, let me tell you something, dude. Avril stole my style. I was rocking long blonde hair and aviator shades from Walgreens back in '97. Observe:

See Avril? I, too, can glow in the sunshine at the beach. Sans make-up. So there.

I know exactly how this happened. Someone from Arista Records fashion scouting team must have made a pit stop at Page's New Ages Diner in Youngstown. They spotted me at the table, passed out on my breakfast plate as my friends put french fries in my ears and thought, "Now she is cool."

Ok...let's get serious now. I admit that with most of my recipes, I always wonder "why I gotta go and make things so complicated?". I'm sorry I just couldn't resist ;) Bad puns aside, I made a little resolution to myself that I'd attempt to post some less complex recipes. Truthfully, most of the meals I cook for myself on a daily basis are simple vegetable dishes, sandwiches and especially soups. Soups are great to make in a one-woman household. They use up my "about to spoil" produce, are healthy comfort food, and freeze until ready for devouring. And as the temperature creeps down to a frigid 55 degrees in Los Angeles, soup is the perfect warm-up meal.

Heirloom Bean, Red Russian Kale and Wheat Berry Chili

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked fresh Mixed Heirloom Beans (I used Scarlet Runners and Cannellinis)
  • 2 cups Wheat Berries, cooked
  • 1 large bunch Red Russian Kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 large Onion, chopped
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 14 oz cans Diced Tomatoes
  • 6 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp Chili Powder
  • Pinch of Jamaican Allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 2 cups No Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 2 tsp Blue Agave Nectar (or Light Brown Sugar)
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 1 Avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the Olive Oil until it's hot but not smoking. Add the Garlic, and saute until fragrant...about 30 seconds. Add in the Onion, Pepper, Jamaican Allspice, Chili Powder, Cumin, Salt and Pepper, and saute for 5-7 minutes, until tender. Add the Canned Tomatoes, Heirloom Beans, Broth and Agave. Turn heat up to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Allow to simmer for 25 minutes.

Add Kale and Cooked Wheat Berries to the pot, and allow the Kale to wilt and the Wheat Berries to heat through...about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, add in Lime Juice and taste for Salt and Pepper. Serve garnished with diced Avocado and Cilantro.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Vegan Orange Sesame Grilled "Chicken" Tenders

I've decided that I skipped several decades of my life, maturing directly from teenage hooligan to little old lady. I write this post from Flagstaff, Arizona, where I'm helping my best friend move into her new digs. Today, to decompress, I took entirely too much joy from unpacking, organizing and cleaning every nook and cranny of her new kitchen. Domestic tasks have become my go-to stress reliever and source of happiness, and I'm starting to wonder if I'm loosing my wild side. I felt the glow of satisfaction that, at my age, should be derived from a hot, steamy hook-up or a night of drunken, spray-painting revelry.

Seeing a smile spread across some one's face when they enjoy my food gets me all hot and bothered in a similar fashion. My little sister has always been the harsh food critic in the family. That's my really eloquent way of saying she was one hell of a picky eater. If it's mushy, sauce-covered or smells funny, she scrunches up her nose in disgust. Did I mention she's 21?
If I can impress her, I know I've cooked up something really special.

As a little girl, her go-to meal was chicken fingers and french fries...but not just any french fries. They had to be fried crispy on the outside, the potato still creamy on the inside. And she wouldn't eat potatoes any other way. She'd eat pasta, but really only cavatelli noodles. She would never eat them with the tomato sauce covering the noodles, but would request a bowl of sauce on the side and dip each individual noodle to the saturation of her liking before consumption.

She didn't always have such restraint, though. I'd say her finickiness set in around the age of 3. I remember one day during her Terrible Twos, she, my mother and I were rooting through the woods looking for color-changed leaves to mail to our cousins in California. All of a sudden, my mother and I hear her cry out "Mmmmm!!! Boo-berries!" , only to turn around and discover she'd devoured several foreign berries off of a shrub that she believed were blueberries. Needless to say, the Youngstown Poison Control center got to know us very well that day.

With age, she's slowly becoming more adventurous. She loved my Seitan Meatballs, which really made my day. I made these Vegan "Chicken" tenders knowing that her palate could discern good from bad, and I think you'll really enjoy them as well.

Vegan Orange Sesame Grilled "Chicken" Tenders

  • 2 lbs Seitan "Chicken" breasts (Recipe Follows)
  • 3 TBSP Dijon Mustard
  • 3 TBSP Frozen Organic Orange Juice Concentrate, thawed
  • 3 TSBP Light Agave Nectar
  • 2 tsp Light Sesame Oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground White Peppercorns
  • Salt, to taste
Cut each Seitan "Chicken" crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide strips. In a large bowl, whisk together
Dijon, OJ concentrate, Agave, Sesame Oil, Salt and White Pepper. Add the "Chicken" Tenders, and toss well to combine. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

If you've got a stove-top grill pan, fantastic! Get it preheating. Of course, you can also preheat an actual grill, skillet or broiler. Lightly oil pan/rack, then remove the chicken
strips from the marinade. I reserved the marinade to use as a dipping sauce, and found it to be quite delicious. Grill or broil until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Sprinkle with Sesame Seeds and Enjoy!

Oh. In case photo 1 wasn't enough, here's a little back-side action:

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Vegan Christmas - Part 2: Vegan Belgian Waffles

Growing up, morning's in my house were less than sensational. My little sister and I each had a fair amount of quirky tenacity that always spiced life up a bit. A typical AM before elementary school usually involved one of the following:

A) My father and I getting into an argument because, for some reason as an 8-year-old, I refused to brush the back of my hair. I would brush the front and sides, leaving the back in a knotted, fro-ed, cow-licked mess...and I liked it that way.

B) My mother bribing my little sister with either an M&M or a dime to use the bathroom before she hopped on the bus, because she firmly refused to use the bathroom at school. She would rather come home whining with stomach cramps before risking certain embarrassment in the Akiva Academy little girl's room. I still fondly remember the gum-ball machine full of dimes on her dresser that she probably cashed in for the hot new Polly Pocket of '92.

C) Sunday morning screaming matches between parents and children because we quite simply could not bear another week of Sunday School. I can look back and laugh at many of my childhood idiosyncrasies, but not this one. Mom and Dad, if you read my blog, Sunday School at Rodef Sholom was the equivalent of being forcefully subjected to 1,000 witch nails scratching chalkboards while trapped in a cage in Death Valley. You still couldn't pay me to go. Several times, my dad had to pull me from the back seat of the car while I dug my nails into the seat cushion so deeply that I left scratch marks.

But enough from the negative perspective. We definitely had our share of joyous early risings...particularly if mom was making breakfast. For years, her specialty was French Toast. She knew just the right combination of batter, bread and frying time. Then, for one of my parent's anniversaries, my dad bought her a full-on professional waffle maker. Unfortunately for me, I'd already moved 3,000 miles away from Youngstown to Los Angeles. I finally got my chance to have my way with that waffle maker, and we made hot, sweet love all Christmas morning. I walked out of the kitchen sweaty and satisfied...a far cry from the Sunday School mornings, indeed.