Friday, May 21, 2010

"Chicken" and Okra Fricassee

Well, my stories about my past drug adventures seem to be a big hit here on Veganize It...Don't Criticize It!. I don't want my readers under the impression that I'm some crazy drug fiend...I just happened to have some very wild teenage years. For the record, I've never even touched hard drugs. My personality is so addictive, that I know if I even did one line of coke I'd probably become addicted. This week's story is about a very unfortunate accident that happened when I was 16.

The night started out as a typical night of teenage shenanigans. My friend and I wanted to score a bag of weed, so we went over to our dealers house for a pick up. In true stoner etiquette, I offered to smoke a bowl of my newly acquired herb with the dealer. I go to use the restroom before we smoke, then come back and hit the bowl a few times.

My friend and I get into the car, and it's immediately apparent to me that something's not "all good, man". As I'm driving, I feel like I'm in a video game. My heart starts racing, the back of my head is pounding. My friend looks at my stunned face. "You OK, dude?", he asks. "No, dude. I'm FREAKING OUT!" He starts to laugh, then says "I think we just smoked crack". Another "Oh Shit" moment in my life.

I somehow manage to get my friend home, then drive back to my family's place and just lay down on the kitchen floor. All I could think about was the number 12 and how fast my heart was pacing. My mom eventually walks in and gives me one of those "I know you're on drugs" looks. She asks me if I'm ok, and I say "I'm fine". I laid on the kitchen floor for about another hour, then cleaned my room for the first time in months. It had never been so spotless. I now know much better than to abandon a bowl that I'm about to smoke. Sometimes we learn lessons the hard way.

Anyways, this recipe is based on one my Bubbee used to call one of her specialties: Chicken Fricassee. She would make it for me when I was a little kindelach, then my father took over making it after she passed. It's so great on a cold night when you want a dish that really sticks to your ribs. I know it's kind of addicting, but don't worry. No crack involved :)

"Chicken" and Okra Fricassee

  • 20 small Pearl Onions or Shallots
  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 lb Okra, stems removed and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 batches of Vegan Chicken, cut into "Chicken" shaped pieces
  • 3 TBSP Vegan Margarine
  • 2 TBSP Sunflower Oil
  • 3 TBSP All Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Dry White Wine
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling No Chicken Broth
  • 1 Bouquet Garni
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 3 cups White Button Mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup MimicCreme
  • 3 TBSP Fresh Parsley, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Mashed Potatoes or Rice, for serving

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place the Pearl Onions or Shallots in a large bowl, then pour boiling water over top of them so that they are completely submerged. Set aside to soak.

Heat the 1 TBSP of Olive Oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the Okra to the pan and saute for 10-15 minutes, until the "stickiness" diminishes. Set aside for later.

Melt 1 TBSP of the Vegan Margarine with the Sunflower Oil in a large frying pan. Add the "chicken" pieces and cook on high heat, turning occasionally, until lightly browned all over. Transfer the "chicken" pieces to a large casserole dish, leaving the pan juices behind on the stove.

Over medium-high heat, melt a 2nd TBSP of vegan margarine, then stir the flour into the pan juices and melted margarine. Add in the White Wine, and whisk to combine. Whisk in the boiling no chicken broth, bouquet garni and lemon juice. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil. Allow the mixture to boil until the sauce has thickened, then season with salt and pepper and pour over the "chicken". Cover the casserole dish with a lid, then place in the oven to cook for 1 hour.

Drain the Pearl Onions or Shallots well, then peel. Clean out the frying pan that you used for the "chicken", then add the remaining 1 TBSP of vegan margarine and heat until fully melted. Add the mushrooms and onions (or shallots) to the pan, and cook for 5 minutes, turning frequently, until the mushrooms and onions are lightly browned. Add the mushrooms, onions (or shallots) and okra to the casserole dish with the "chicken".

Cook for an additional hour until the vegan chicken is nice and tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the "chicken" and veggies from the sauce and place them in a serving dish. Stir the MimicCreme and Fresh Parsley into the sauce, and whisk well to combine. Taste for salt and pepper. Pour the sauce back over the "chicken" and veggies, then garnish with more fresh parsley. Serve over mashed potatoes or rice.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Blue Fried "Shrimp", Morel, Sprouting Broccoli, Ramp and Baby Arugula Salad with a Fiddlehead Remoulade Dressing

My life has me so busy lately that I completely missed my two year blogaversary! Happy belated 2nd blogaversary to me. I can't believe I've been posting here almost every week for two years and I've yet to run out of silly things to talk about. If you've been reading for a while, you know I usually go for laughs, and I suppose my life is pretty funny on a daily basis.

This week, the humor in my world is more about sheer situational irony. Last Friday, I'm sitting at my desk sipping my morning coffee when my phone rings: it's my agent's office. "You have an audition, and it's today", the say. "Great!", I think to myself. I love getting auditions. "What's it for?", I ask. "Jimmy Dean Sausage."

That's when my heart stops. I have an "Oh Shit" Moment. A million thoughts start racing through my mind. Do I have to eat the sausage? Should I even go on the audition? Can I really endorse a product I don't actually stand behind or want to further the consumption of?

Of course, the immediate "go to" answer is to not go. But hear me out on this one: commercials pay a bank load. I've been strapped for cash for months, and booking a commercial would be one answer to my problems. As long as I don't eat it, what's the harm? Well, the harm is that I could end up:

A) Responsible for increasing the death of animals by endorsing a product with my "Sell It" smile
B) Actually increase the number of people who want to consume such products by endorsing it and making something gross look appetizing.

So what did I do? I went to the audition. I got a call-back. I went to the call back. I'm now waiting to find out if I actually booked the damn gig. What I'll actually do if I book is another story, and the thoughts have been plaguing my mind all day. Like I said, my life is funny that way. The vegan in a sausage commercial. Go fucking figure.

Anyway, let's talk about something vegan and delicious. This week, I'm posting a very seasonal, Farmers Market driven SALAD! Yes, the "S" word. I actually posted something light and (almost) healthy. My little sister made the trek up from the OC to L.A. so that she could find herself some green garlic at the amazing Santa Monica Farmers Market, and I took it as an opportunity to score a shit load of great produce. I then set to work on this work or art, and I highly recommend you at least try making the dressing. It's yummy and refreshing.

Have a great week!

Blue Fried "Shrimp", Morel, Sprouting Broccoli, Ramp and Baby Arugula Salad with a Fiddlehead Remoulade Dressing

For the Dressing...
  • 1/4 cup MimicCreme mixed with 2 TBSP Egg Mix
  • 1 cup raw Fiddlehead Ferns
  • The juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped Green Onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped Celery
  • 1 TBSP Horseradish
  • 3 TBSP Whole-Grain Mustard
  • 3 TBSP Yellow Mustard
  • 3 TBSP Vegan Ketchup
  • 3 TBSP Chopped Parsley
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 cup Olive Oil

For the Salad...

  • 1/2 lb Morel Mushrooms, cleaned
  • 2 cups Sprouting Broccoli
  • 5 TBSP Vegan Margarine
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 5 cups Ramps, roughly chopped and stems discarded
  • 5 cups Baby Arugula
  • 2 packages of Frozen Vegan Shrimp, thawed
  • 2 cups Hot Sauce
  • 2 cups Unbleached White Flour
  • 2 cups Blue Cornmeal
  • Vegetable Oil, enough for frying
  • Creole Seasoning (Cajun Blast or Tony Cachere's), to taste
  • 1 large Sweet Onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 3 TBSP Chopped Parsley

Combine all of the dressing ingredients except oil, salt, pepper and cayenne in a food processor, and blend until smooth. Season with the salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. Turn the machine back on, and slowly pour in the olive oil while the machine is still running until thick. Add more salt, pepper and cayenne if needed.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt the vegan margarine. Add the morels and sprouting broccoli, then toss well to combine. Season with salt and pepper, then saute for about 5-6 minutes until the morels and broccoli are softened and browning. Remove from heat and set aside.

Take the thawed Vegan Shrimp, and toss with the hot sauce in a mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, blue cornmeal, and as much Creole Seasoning as you desire. In batches, toss the Vegan Shrimp in the cornmeal/flour/seasoning mix, making sure they're coated completely. Shake off any excess flour.

Heat 5-6 inches of Vegetable Oil in a very deep pot until it reaches 350 degrees. Fry the Vegan Shrimp in batches for about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

For the salad, using a large bowl, toss the ramps and arugula with half of the dressing and a touch of salt and pepper. Place a mound of greens in the center of each plate, then lay a few onion slices over the greens. Place a few shrimp atop the greens, then lay the morels and sprouting broccoli around the mound of greens. Garnish with the freshly chopped parsley.