Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bride of Vegan

We are getting hitched. We're actually in the thick of wedding plans now. We're planning a small but elegant country wedding in central Vermont. People keep asking why VT. When people get married in The Bahamas no one asks them why The Bahamas. Apparently only people who like the beach are supposed to have destination weddings. We do not like the beach, we like the mountains, and we wanted a destination wedding. It's a good excuse to keep the affair small and intimate, which means we get to talk to all of our guests instead of just saying hi to hundreds of people we barely know.

Also, we like Vermont. It's beautiful and relaxing. Lots of green and mountains and fresh air. It's also a civil union state, and since weddings are so expensive, I'd rather spend our thousands of dollars supporting the wedding economy in a state where everyone can be legally joined with their partner. I am all for straight couples boycotting the wedding industry in states that discriminate against same sex couples. The wedding industry makes big money, and refusing to spend your wedding dollars in a place that discriminates is a good way to let lawmakers know that there are economic consequences for their bigotry. What about the poor caterers, photographers, florists, etc. in red state USA? Other industries that want laws made that are favorable to their business get together to pressure lawmakers to change policies in their favor. If the wedding industry cares about this, they too can lobby for a change in policy. If enough people make this a political and financial issue for lawmakers, they'll change what they're doing. Until they do, my wedding money goes to states like Vermont.

Any way, the trickiest part about wedding planning is the vegan thing. Most chefs either do not want to deal with vegans, or don't really understand what's involved with cooking for vegans. We don't eat eggs or dairy or meat. That means we do not eat butter and chicken stock. You'd think this would go without saying, but people seem to not understand that "I do not eat meat" means I also do not eat things made from meat. Also, fish is meat. I know omnivores think otherwise, but take my word for it, vegetarians and vegans do not eat it. If they do, they are not vegans or vegetarians. We also do not eat fish sauce or gelatin. I know it sounds like there is a long list of things we do not eat, but it's a short list and the list only gets long if you mention everything made from the short list of stuff we do not eat. The list of things we do eat is much longer.

The other thing most chefs do not understand is that vegans do not live on granola and hemp seeds. In fact, I can't remember the last time I ate either of those things. We do not want to spend $100 per plate on spaghetti, and we do not consider steaming carrots and broccoli with a dusting of paprika to be haute cuisine. We cook a lot, and are very knowledgeable about food. We can identify celery root and yucca on sight. We can tell you what every item in the produce department is and how to work with it. We have a over dozen kinds of oil and vinegar in our pantry. We know food and we like food. This is our wedding, and we want the food to be just as good as it would be if you were cooking for omnivores. In fact, you could probably get away with being less creative for an omnivore audience. Most of them might not know the difference between olive oil and hazelnut oil. We however do know the difference and we want you to wow us because we are spending a lot of money.

We are planning a trip to VT in a couple of weeks for tastings at wedding venues we liked. So far we have only tried the food at one place (The Weathersfield Inn) and their chef is super amazing. Here is what he made for us:

The Weathersfield is all around a cool place. It's eco-friendly and works with local farmers so the food is always really fresh. In the summer you can eat out under the stars around their cozy fire pit. This inn is worth visiting for any foodie couple looking for a romantic weekend getaway. The chef was really accommodating and nice, not to mention a great cook.

Normally, I do not like to bother people about my dietary choices. I'll join you at the restaurant of your choice and eat a completely lame wedge of Iceberg lettuce for dinner while you eat a steak and never complain. I do not like to impose, and do not like to perpetuate the reputation of vegans being difficult. All of that said, my wedding is my party and it's a day where things need to be done my way. When wedding venues seem put out about my wanting a great vegan meal for the reception it just tells me I need to find some place else that actually wants my money, and understands that this isn't me judging them or telling them to go vegan, or trying to annoy their chef. This is one of the most important parties I'm going to throw in my life and I need to work with a wedding venue that's going to accommodate my requests.

Long Time No Post

I have not been posting because I've been super busy/not cooking as much as usual. I have a few pics from recent adventures in the kitchen but I'm ashamed to say that it's been so long since I've messed around with food pics that I forgot what a few things were!

In any case, now that it's summer. I feel less like cooking and more like drinking. Maybe I should switch to posting about booze. I did make an amazing strawberry shortcake:

I hacked together some not vegan recipes from Food Network's site and veganized them. I also veganized Alton Brown's heavenly home made soft pretzels.

It hasn't been 100% booze and junk food however. I have been playing with my miso soup recipe

At what point is it no longer miso soup? It now includes lemongrass, ginger, spinach, shiitake and baked lemon pepper tofu.

I also made mini pizzas using giant portobello mushrooms instead of dough. I just washed these babies and scooped out the gills with a spoon. Sprayed with olive oil cooking spray and roasted 'em on both sides under the broiler until tender. Then I spooned on some tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella soy cheese. I topped it with some shredded basil from the garden and popped it back under the broiler to melt the cheese. Delicious!

About the soy cheese in my little low carb pizzas above: I used a soy cheese called Teese which is made in Chicago and available from Pangea. If you are a vegan YOU NEED THIS PRODUCT!!!! It melts, for real, better than FYH! We also made a lasagna with it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sexy Tomato Soup

I really like soup so it's tough to play favorites, but this one really was amazing and as a bonus it's easy to make! We used veg stock instead of beef stock and Tofutti sour cream instead of Crème Fraiche. Otherwise, we just followed the recipe and ended up making this soup a few times a month thereafter.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pizza and Wine

We found ourselves hungry and in the mood for booze last night so we made ourselves an awesome pizza from scratch. Unfortunately we drank a bottle of wine while we were cooking so the photo isn't the best.

We used a pretty basic pizza dough recipe but we made ours with whole wheat flour. We used jarred pasta sauce that we enhanced with sautéed shallots and garlic and several generous shakes of dried thyme and oregano. We topped our pizza with fresh basil, mushrooms, soy pepperoni and bell peppers. It was really the best pizza ever, despite our drunken cooking. Actually, maybe the drunkenness improved our enjoyment of the pizza.

Eggplant Adoration

If you love eggplant as much as we do you'll love this roasted eggplant and tomato panino as a mid week meal.

If you are interested in a fancier dinner time eggplant experience, these eggplant tomato stacks look great and they're a breeze to make.

We just sliced eggplants and tomatoes, brushed them with olive oil and roasted them in the oven at 450 degrees untl they started to brown. We then stacked our roasted veggies, sprinkling salt and black pepper and drizzling balsamic between each layer. We topped each stack with grated soy mozzarella and broiled the completed stacks to melt the cheese. We topped our finished stacks with basil chiffonade and served with a side of fresh spinach salad.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Lemongrass Miso

We love lemongrass and we love miso soup so we had to try this recipe.

The results were fantastic. It's a refreshing take on a classic Asian recipe. We did spice our version up a bit with some chili paste though. If you like a little spiciness this makes a perfect addition.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Meatless Mushroomletta

If you love a salty, vinegary, cheesy, messy muffaletta sub but you're looking for a lighter way to indulge you'll really like this mushroom-based alternative. Carb-avoiders take note!

Olive oil for cooking
4 large portobello mushroom caps cleaned and gills removed
1/2 cup onions, chopped
3/4 cup green olives, chopped
1/3 cup pepperoncinis, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red hot peppers (a jarred version of these should be available at your supermarket)
1 large kosker pickle, chopped
5 oz soy mozzarella

Brush the mushrooms with some olive oil and cook them under a broiler until they become very dark in color and cooked all the way through.

While the mushrooms cook sauté the onions in olive oil until they become golden brown. Combine the cooked onions with the remaining ingredients and mix up the "salad" until everything is evenly distributed. You can adjust the ingredients to taste.

When the mushrooms are cooked spoon the olive mixture into them. Heat the cheese in the microwave to liquefy it and pour cheese over the tops of the stuffed mushrooms.