Thursday, June 17, 2010

Vegan Croque Monsieur with Dijon Dill Aioli

Sorry I've been seriously slacking on blog postage lately. I've been so busy getting ready for my wedding that is just a little over 1 week away! Plus, Jane and I decided to take an impromptu trip to San Francisco for a week, which means I did much more eating than cooking. I had the privilege of trying this new restaurant in Berkeley called "Gather", and their vegan offerings blew me away. Check it out if you ever get the chance.

So what's been up in my life lately? Well, quite frankly, I've actually been allowing myself to be a lazy ass. I know how hellish it's going to be next week, so I've used the excuse of it being my birth month to get some serious R&R. I've slept in, consumed more alcohol than my little body can handle, and just plain grubbed out on my parents dollar. It's been an awesome month so far.

My greedy little ass also received some of the best birthday presents EVER. Jane went way over the top, buying me a new iPod, some kick-ass speakers, and a beautiful piece of art for our living room. My mom bought me a brand new cell phone, which I would have sex with if physically possible. My sister, knowing me all too well, gave me a Whole Foods gift card. It lasted about 12 hours before I used up the whole damn thing. My Dad's paying for the wedding, so he's totally off the hook this year.

By the way, we're registered at the Best Buy Wish List program.

Haha, just kidding.

Well, I wish I had more time to blog today. I've got an entire list of flower arrangements and cakes to sort through for the big day. I promise in July I'll be back with a vengeance!

Vegan Croque Monsieur with Dijon Dill Aioli

  • 2 TBSP Vegan Margarine
  • 3 TBSP All Purpose Flour
  • 2 cups Hot Soy Milk
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
  • Pinch of Freshly Grated Nutmeg
  • 12 oz Vegan Mozzarella, finely shredded (preferably Daiya)
  • 1/2 cup Dr Cow Tree Nut Cheese, any flavor, finely grated (or Vegan Parmesan)
  • 16 slices White Bread, crust removed
  • 1/4 tsp Shallot Powder*
  • 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 batch of Dijon Dill Aioli (recipe follows)
  • 1 batch of Vegan Ham, sliced thick (recipe follows..see Shaggy's Kitchen Tip below for specific prep instructions)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup Finely chopped Fresh Dill, for garnish

Shaggy's Kitchen Tip: When making the Vegan Ham, keep the dough all in one piece instead of slicing it into fours. Then you'll be able to cut thick "deli style" slices from the "Ham".

*If you can't find Shallot Powder, just use 1/2 tsp Onion Powder

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the vegan margarine. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes. Slowly pour the hot soy milk into the margarine/flour mix, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickened considerably. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the vegan mozzarella, Dr. Cow (or Vegan Parmesan), shallot powder and onion powder. Continue whisking until the "mozzarella" has melted, then remove from heat and set aside.

Place the slices of bread on 2 baking sheets. To toast, bake for 4 minutes on one side, then flip the slices over and bake an additional 3 minutes or until golden brown. Leave the oven on once finished toasting.

Leave half (8) of the slices of bread on their baking sheet, and spread them with the Dijon Dill Aioli. Place a thick slice of "Ham" on top of the Aioli. Sprinkle half of the remaining vegan mozzarella on top of the "Ham", then place the second slice of bread atop each sandwich. Cover the tops of the sandwiches with the "cheese" sauce, then sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.

Bake the sandwiches in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn the broiler to high and broil 3-5 minutes, until the "cheese" on top is brown, hot and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Dijon Dill Aioli

  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 cup Vegan Mayo
  • 2 TBSP Fresh Dill
  • 1 TBSP French White Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

First, place the garlic in a food processor and process until finely minced. Add the dijon mustard, vegan mayo, fresh dill, French white vinegar, and a touch of salt and pepper, then turn the food processor on. With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil.

Turn the machine off, scrape down the sides with a spatula, then process a bit longer until fully blended. Taste for salt and pepper.

Vegan Ham

  • 1 cup Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1/2 tsp Better Than Bouillon's No Beef Broth Paste
  • 1 scant (just shy of) cup Water
  • 1 tsp Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 TBSP Beet Powder
  • 1 TBSP MimicCreme
  • About 10 drops Liquid Smoke

  • 6 cups prepared Better Than Bouillon's No Beef Broth
  • 1 beer-size bottle of Hard Apple Cider (or 1 cup Apple Juice)
  • 1/4 cup Bragg's Liquid Amino Acids
  • 1/2 bottle of Natural Red Food Coloring
  • 1 TBSP Brown Sugar
  • 15-20 drops of Liquid Smoke
  • 1/4 cup Mirin
  • 1 cup MimicCreme
  • 8 crushed Whole Cloves
  • Dash of Ground Ginger
  • 4-5 Fennel Seeds

Combine all of the broth ingredients in a large pot, then bring to a boil. While it's coming to a boil...

Place the Vital Wheat Gluten in a stand mixer bowl or large bowl.

In a measuring cup, dissolve the No Beef Broth Paste, the whisk in the remaining ingredients.

Make the Seitan Dough by mixing and kneading the Vital Wheat Gluten with the liquid mix on a low speed or quickly by hand. It will be slightly more wet than most seitan doughs. Squeeze out the excess liquid, and form the mixture into a ball. On a hard surface, flatten the ball out, and use kitchen shears to cut four pieces.

Drop the pieces into the boiling broth, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover with a lid, and cook for one hour. Stir every 10-15 minutes.

Allow to cool, then use immediately or store in the refrigerator overnight in an air-tight container with some of the broth.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

It's My Birthday and I'll Blog If I Want To!

Hatch Chile Chicken Cacciatore

Happy Birthday to me! As I mentioned last year, I'm a fervent believer in not just a birth year, but a birth month. I will celebrate until the calender turns July, and there's nothing you can do to stop me :) In fact, I'm going to take the week off of blogging recipes to relax with my family and have a damn great day. Instead of a recipe, I thought I'd just post that lovely photo to taunt you all.

No long rants, just a little drool worthy photograph.

Have a great week, everyone! I'll be back next week with a phenomenal recipe and one of my typical rambles.