Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bourbon Buffalo Mole "Chicken" Wings with Bleu "Cheese" Avocado Oil Aioli and Frisee Carrot and Celery Stick Slaw with Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette

Thank you all for being patient while I worked all the bugs out of my new layout. As much as I wish Queer Eye for the Straight Guy would've accepted my web design invitation, I feel like I did well enough adding a little flare and feng shui. The lack of balance was starting to haunt me in my sleep almost as badly as a sink full of unwashed dishes. There were some issues with the comment box, but I'm pretty sure it's working now. If you're having difficulties, shoot me an e-mail via the link in the now extremely stylin' left sidebar, and let me know :)
Before you think I'm crazy(er), enough on that topic...

In my small community of Youngstown, Ohio, Tuesday night was wing night. Meat hungry, hormone driven teenage boys would pile into their F150s and S10s, then make the trek across the state line to Sharon, Pennsylvania to a popular Nascar-themed chicken establishment for "All You Can Eat Wing Night". They would starve themselves for days, take enough bong rips to intensify their already inhuman hunger, then slam down as many chicken wings as their growing bodies could handle in hopes of be crowned Wing Eating Champ (Slob?). I'm not going to say this contributed to my lack of attraction to the male species, but let's just say that the combined aroma of B.O. and BBQ sauce wasn't exactly my idea of an aphrodisiac.

Although the aforementioned wing establishment wasn't located in our home town, my old stomping grounds had no shortage of restaurants where you could consume buckets of poultry appendages. It's nothing shy of disgusting how un-veggie and health food friendly many Midwesterners were, and it really hasn't improved much since I left. To put it nicely, on every corner in L.A. we have Starbucks, but in Ohio it's Old Country Buffet. I thank my lucky stars that Los Angeles lacks such high numbers of red-neck wing and beer restaurants.

In any event, no matter where you live, the summer months are pegged as "Barbecue Season". Company picnic, family reunion, and beach party invitations will flood our mail boxes and Facebook event pages, and 90% of them will require us to "BYOFSV" (Bring Your Own Food, Silly Vegan). Most of us have grown quite accustomed to whipping up a salad and buying a box of veggie burgers for our own peace of mind. We're also quite accustomed to the weird stares from everyone chowing down on t-bones, wings and potato salad.

Well, not anymore. Stand over those hot coals and grill with pride...and a little mischievous FU glint in your eyes. You'll feel the satisfaction of a job well done when your omni friends bite into a cruelty free chicken wing and jump in amazement at how delicious (and spicy!) vegan BBQ can really be.

Bourbon Buffalo Mole "Chicken" Wings
with Vegan Bleu Cheese Avocado Oil Aioli

Bourbon Buffalo Mole "Chicken" Wings
  • 2 batches Chicken Style Seitan, cut into "wing" shaped pieces
  • 3 TBSP Vegan Margarine
  • 1/2 large Shallot, finely diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced or pressed
  • 2 oz. Bourbon
  • 3 TBSP Organic Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Agave Nectar
  • 4 oz. Chili Sauce
  • 4 oz. Barbecue Sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Hot Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper, to taste
In a large saucepan, melt the vegan margarine. Add the shallot and garlic cloves and saute about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the bourbon, brown sugar and the agave to heat through, about 1 minute. Next add the chili sauce, barbecue sauce, chili powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon and hot sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes. Add then taste for salt and pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.

For the "chicken wings"...

Grill Method:
Spray your grill rack or grill pan with non-stick spray, and get the grill or pan pre-heating.

Pour the Bourbon Buffalo Mole Sauce over the "wing" shaped pieces of chicken seitan. Toss well to coat. Insert some sucker sticks, popsicle sticks or bamboo skewers into the ends of each wing (optional).

Grill each wing for 3-4 minutes on each side until browned and warmed through.

Fry method:
Heat a good amount of oil (about 1-2 inches) in a deep, heavy skillet or deep-fryer. Fry the wings until golden brown. Remove the wings from the oil and drain. Insert some sucker sticks, popsicle sticks or bamboo skewers into the ends of each wing (optional), then pour the Bourbon Buffalo Mole Sauce over the wings and toss well to coat.

Vegan Bleu Cheese Avocado Oil Aioli

  • 1/2 cup MimicCreme (or Soy Creamer)
  • 1/2 cup Vegan Sour Cream
  • 1/3 cup Vegan Mayo
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 package Sunergia Soyfoods Soy Bleu Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Avocado Oil
  • 1 TBSP Fresh Dill
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
First, place the Soy Bleu and garlic cloves in a food processor or blender, and pulse about 10 times to break them up a bit.

Then add the remaining ingredients except the avocado oil to the blender or food processor, and turn the machine on high. While the machine is running, slowly pour in the avocado oil until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Frisee, Carrot and Celery Stick Slaw
with Toasted Garlic and Cumin Vinaigrette

  • 2 medium Carrots
  • 4 stalks Celery
  • 1 small Red Onion
  • 1/2 Corn Kernels
  • 2 heads Frisee, torn into pieces
  • 3 TBSP fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 1/2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp ground Cumin
  • 3 TBSP Brown Rice Vinegar
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh Cilantro Leaves
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
Dice all veggies (except corn) uniformly into matchstick size pieces. Toss Frisee with and touch of salt and pepper, then combine with chopped veggies.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cumin and cook for about 1 minute. Remove from heat, then whisk in vinegar and lemon juice. Add dressing and cilantro to veggie/frisee mixture and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Just A Quick Note...And Some Home Made Garlic, Dill and Peppercorn Pickled Okra in Tarragon Vinegar

Home Made Garlic, Dill and Peppercorn Pickled Okra in Tarragon Vinegar


I'm going to be performing some maintenance to my blog's layout today, so bear with me if things get a little "screwy". I should have it up and running by the end of my self-imposed business day.

Also, you may have noticed some of my old recipe posts have seemingly vanished into thin air. I can promise you it's for the better, not worse. I'll fill you all in on the details sooner than later.

Thanks everyone :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Vegan Chicken Marsala Masala with Fresh Morels

I find that many people assume the label "Vegan" should accompany the label "health fanatic". As a Vegan, we don't smoke, we rarely drink, and "recreational drugs" aren't even words catalogued in our mental dictionaries. Well, unless you count Valerian and Cat's Claw. And what's that you say? "Fun?" Never heard the term before in my life. Now if you'll excuse me, I have titillating Saturday evening plans that involve sipping Kombucha and removing the knots from my cats fur with a bio-degradable fine tooth comb.


I know many a Vegan Party Monster, myself included. I must admit, I'm not the best about maintaining my bodies physical health. I fucking HATE going to the doctor. I've self-analyzed. The most compelling argument I have to date is that, as a child, my mother was a hypochondriac for me. The smallest cough, ache or nose dribble was reason enough for a trip to Dr. Hazelbaker's sterile office. They would come at me with needles, I would cry, pharmaceuticals were issued, and a deep need for matriarchal infiltration was satiated.

Being the manipulative child I was (am?), I quickly found a way to take advantage of my mother's overly zealous desire to care-take. In elementary school, I easily spent at least 1/3 of each school year home "sick with a stomachache". This was my secret code for "lay on the couch, eat chocolate chip granola bars and Funyuns while watching re-runs of Mama's Family or Golden Girls". In high school, it became secret code for "hiding out in my best friend's shed smoking blunts and guzzling PBR". I knew the way to my mom's heart was indeed through my stomach, in more ways than one.

Regardless of how many hours of my pre-collegiate education I enjoyed avoiding, I paid my dues in grueling doctors visits. The slightest throat scratch now has me downing Wellness Formula and orange juice faster than I can bong a beer (which is, believe me, quite expedient). The only way I'll usually pay a visit to a doctor now is if I'm rendered senseless by pain or blood loss. Luckily, since I've left home, that only happened once when I developed an ulcer in my eye after leaving my contacts in for 3 months straight. And yes, my mother did warn me about that happening.

I finally sucked it up last week and saw not just one, not just two but FOUR different doctors for check-ups. I am proud to say that my teeth, eyes, organs and lady parts are all in excellent condition. And I have no STDs to boot. If that doesn't speak volumes for the wonders of a vegan diet, I don't know what does.

Vegan Chicken Marsala Masala with Fresh Morels

  • 1 1/2 cups No Chicken Broth (I like Better Than Bouillon brand)
  • 1/2 tsp Garam Masala Powder
  • Pinch of Tumeric Powder
  • A few threads of Saffron
  • 1 batch Vegan Chicken Breast, thinly sliced (recipe follows)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Unbleached All Purpose Flour, enough for dredging chicken
  • 4 TBSP Vegan Margarine
  • 2 TBSP Shallots, finely diced
  • 2 cloves fresh Garlic, pressed or minced
  • 3 cups Morel Mushrooms, cleaned and halved (or Portobello, sliced, if not available)
  • 2 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 1/2 cup MimicCreme
  • 2 TBSP Lemon Juice
  • 1 sprig of fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped

In a small saucepan, heat chicken broth, garam masala powder, tumeric powder and saffron until just warm and all spices are infused. Remove from heat and set aside.

Sprinkle the "Chicken" Breast slices with salt and pepper, then lightly dredge (coat) each slice of in unbleached flour.

In a large heavy skillet, melt the first 2 TBSP of vegan margarine over medium heat. Brown the "Chicken" Slices in batches on both sides, adding a 1/2 TBSP more vegan margarine in between each batch, then remove from pan and set aside. In the same "Chicken" skillet, add the melt the final TBSP of vegan margarine. Add the shallots, garlic, morels, and olive oil. Saute until the shallots are translucent and morels are softened. Pour Marsala wine and Lemon Juice into the skillet, and cook until Marsala is reduced by half.

Whisk in the No Chicken Broth with spices. Cook, partially covered, over medium-low heat until slightly reduced, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in MimicCreme and fresh parsley, and combine well, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Taste for salt and pepper.

Arrange a few slices of "Chicken" on each plate, and pour sauce and morels over top and serve.

This dish tastes great served over mashed potatoes, rice or pasta.

Vegan "Chicken" Style Seitan

“Chicken” Seitan Dough:
  • 1 cup Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1 cup Water mixed with 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon® No Chicken Broth Paste
  • 1 1/2 TBSP MimicCreme

“Chicken” Seitan Broth:
  • 8 cups Water mixed with 9 tsp Better Than Bouillon® No Chicken Broth Paste
  • 1 cup MimicCreme
  • 7 Whole White Button Mushrooms
  • 1 tsp Shallot Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Roasted Garlic Powder
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • Pinch of Celery Seeds

First, take all of the Seitan Broth ingredients, and mix them together in a very large pot. Bring to a boil.

While the broth’s starting to heat up, make your Seitan Dough by mixing and kneading the vital wheat gluten, water/bouillon blend, and MimicCreme until it’s completely mixed. It will be a little more wet than most seitan doughs. Squeeze out the excess liquid, and form the mixture into a ball. On a cutting board, flatten the ball out, and use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to cut into six pie wedge “Chicken Breast” shaped pieces. Before putting in boiling broth, flatten each part down by pressing it firmly between your hands, then drop each part into the pot.

Cover the pot, reduce heat to simmer, and let the seitan cook for about an hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

Don’t throw out the broth! Use a slotted spoon to remove each “Chicken Breast,” and place into a colander to drain. Let both the “Chicken Breasts” and the broth cool. Allow the “Chicken Breasts” to marinate in the broth until ready to use, if time allows you. Drain again before using.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Vegan Scallops and Morels Au Gratin

I've pitter-pattered around the issue of my past experiences with hallucinogenic mushrooms. I've alluded, evaded details and maybe even told a little white lie here or there (which, thankfully, didn't make my already Jewish nose grow any larger).
The time has come for me to air my dirty laundry:

I used to love magic mushrooms.

I fervently denied that my marijuana would become the "gateway" to sampling other mind-altering goodies. I refused to end up as the DARE program poster child that's twenty pounds underweight and living in a trailer park with track marks, knotted bleach-blonde locks and nine screaming children. But curiosity is deeply rooted in the rebellious teenage psyche. After hearing of the psilocybin "wonders" my friends experienced, I eventually let down my guard.

It was 6 years ago today, to be exact, that I had my first experience with magic mushrooms. On the Fourth of July in 2003, my friends and I ran rampant around the golf-course adjacent to my childhood home. We had epiphanies, drew unnecessarily deep meaning from the patterns of the fireworks, and realized it was just "All Good, Man!".

I won't go too much further into detail, but my interest in psilocybin mushrooms increased over the next two years. I became convinced that if had enough journeys to the realm of "truth", I'd eventually learn how to feel that sense of peace and connectivity in my typical unaltered state. Six years, one stint in rehab and several years of 90% sobriety later, I now know the deep naivety of my teenage brain.

Yes, I've actually grown up. I've learned there are no quick-fixes to the ups and downs of life. They just plain need to Exist...and I need to okay with them. Sure, I have a little fun once or twice a year...I just take much more satisfaction from reality-induced clarity than the kind produced by a substance.

My love for mushrooms has grown right by my side, though. Instead of being concerned about how they make me feel, I'm much more concerned with how they taste. Following a three-day search that definitely felt like a drug hunt, I was finally able to score a pound of 'shrooms. And not just any 'shrooms, but the highly-coveted, rare, delicious morel mushroom. After trips to at least 4 special grocery stores and over 5 phone calls, a nice man in the produce department at the West Hollywood Whole Foods hooked me up with a pound of this gold:

Expect a series of recipes with these little gems over the next few weeks. I'm going to use them all, even if I spend the next four days over a hot oven in the middle of July.

For the Tofu Scallops, I used a 50/50 blend of Plain and Garlic Pepper Tofu from a fantastic purveyor of fine soy products called Tofu Yu in Berkeley. Their artisan tofu is some the best I've ever eaten. I wish they were available a little closer to home.

Vegan Scallops and Morels Au Gratin

  • 1 batch Tofu Scallops
  • 8 tsp fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 TBSP White Vinegar, divided
  • 1/3 cup Vegan Breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp Vegan Margarine
  • 1/4 cup sliced Almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 tsp Mellow White Miso Paste dissolved in 1/4 cup Water
  • 2 tsp Garlic Juice
  • 1/4 cup Vermouth
  • 1 tsp Vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 1/8 tsp White Pepper
  • 1 cup high fat Soy Milk (SoyDream works best)
  • 1/2 cup Celery, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup cleaned and diced fresh Morel Mushrooms (About 5 Mushrooms. Sub Portobello if not available.)
  • 1/2 cup White Button Mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 additional TBSP Vegan Margarine
  • 3 TBSP Unbleached White Flour
  • Salt & freshly cracked Black Pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Vegan White Cheddar Cheese**
  • 1/8 cup finely grated Dr. Cow's Tree Nut Cheese
**I used Cheezly's Vegan White Cheddar. If this isn't available to you, substitute 1/2 cup grated Vegan Mozzarella combined with 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder and 1/4 tsp Onion Powder.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the Tofu Scallops in an airtight container, then pour 4 tsp of the lemon juice, 1TBSP of the white vinegar, a few drops of the garlic juice and sprinkle a touch of salt over them. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes.

Place the 1/2 cup of vegan bread-crumbs in a shallow bowl. Melt the first 1 tsp of vegan margarine, then pour over the bread-crumbs and stir to combine. Spread the bread-crumbs out evenly on a baking sheet or sheet of heavy aluminum foil, and bake in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes, until browned. Remove from the oven, leaving the oven still on, and set aside to cool.

Take a large saucepan, then add the Tofu Scallops with marinade (aka the lemon juice and vinegar that they were sitting in), the remaining 6 tsp of lemon juice, prepared white miso broth, garlic juice, vermouth, vegan Worcestershire sauce, salt, and white pepper. Bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil, cover, and lower heat to a simmer. Allow the Tofu Scallops to simmer for about 8 minutes.

Drain the Tofu Scallops, reserving the pan juices, then set the Tofu Scallops and reserved pan juices aside.

Whisk the soy milk and second TBSP of white vinegar together, then set aside.

In the same large saucepan, melt the remaining 4 TBSP of vegan margarine over medium heat, and saute celery, onion, diced morels, and white button mushrooms until all the vegetables are soft.

Sprinkle with unbleached white flour, then gradually whisk in the soy milk/vinegar blend and reserved pan juices. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened. Taste for salt and pepper.

Place an even amount of Tofu Scallops into 4 ramekins or one medium casserole dish, then spoon an even amount of the saucepan contents into each ramekin (or pour it all into the casserole dish).

Combine the vegan cheeses with the buttered bread crumbs, then sprinkle over tops to cover completely.

Bake for about 20 minutes in the 350 degree oven, or until heated through and bubbly.