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Posts Tagged ‘faux meat’

I don’t watch much TV, but when I do it’s almost always one of the following:

1. CNN with my tea and breakfast on the weekdays, no exceptions
2. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Cobert Report hour
3. Project Runway
4. Competitive cooking shows (ie. The Iron Chef, Top Chef, etc.)

One recent show that pulled me in was The Next Food Network Star. Strange, I know, given that the Food Network is wont to showcase all things meat and cheese, but I enjoy watching people get creative with their ingredients. I find that it inspires me to get into my kitchen or onto our grill and try something new.

Such was the case with this recipe. I have to expose my non-Foodie ways and admit that I had never even heard of cassoulet before the Throwdown episode of The Next Food Network Star, wherein the final four contestants got paired off and had to make not only their signature dish but attempt to outdo their competitor’s signature dish, as well – all in 45 minutes.

Lisa Garza, the prim and proper reincarnation of Martha Stewart, declared her signature dish to be cassoulet. To me it seemed a given that she would choose something French for her dish. She described cassoulet as being “beans and sausage” and a comfort food. Interesting. By the time she was done (and Bobby Flay declared her cassoulet to be the best he’s ever had) I was hooked. This was a dish that would be mine.

Veganizing Lisa’s cassoulet recipe was surprisingly easy. Her original recipe can be found here. I cut back on the amount of oil and garlic, I exchanged her sausage and chicken stock for their vegan counterparts, and I replaced her spinach pesto with my basil pesto. I was happy to be able to use herbs straight from my garden for this dish. (On a complete aside: if you do not grow your own herbs, I highly recommend that you change that right now. If you don’t have a garden plot, herbs grow just as well in pots on a windowsill. Fresh herbs snipped from the plant moments before use in a recipe adds a freshness to food that con not be replicated by store bought herbs.)

In the end, I must say that this dish is pretty amazing. It looks fancy and like it took a lot of work, while at the same time it is very comforting and flavorful – and it only took about an hour. I made this for us after work one day – while it simmered I was able to take care of other things around the house (I love recipes that allow me to multi task!)  It also makes fantastic leftovers for lunch the next day.

(I must apologize for the subpar photos for this post – they most definitely do not portray the loveliness of this dish!)

White Bean Cassoulet
Recipe adapted from Lisa Garza from The Next Food Network Star

3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 herb bouquet tied with string: 4 stems fresh rosemary, 8 stems fresh oregano, 10 stems fresh thyme
1 dry bay leaf
2 cans white beans
2 quarts Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base
4 links Field Grain Co. Spicy Italian Sausages

1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until lightly browned at the edges. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds

2. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the sausages. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 40 minutes.

3. While the beans and vegetables are simmering, heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Brown the sausages on each side, remove from heat, and slice into ¼ inch slices.

4. Stir in the sausage and cook for 10 more minutes.

5. To serve: ladle into bowls, top with a dollop of pesto, and serve with a crostini.

Crostini

1 French baguette, cut into ½ inch slices
A few tablespoons olive oil
A few teaspoons nutritional yeast
1-2 cloves garlic

1. Heat the oven to 400F.

2. Lightly brush each slice of bread with olive oil. Sprinkle each slice with nutritional yeast.

3. Place the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes on middle rack.

4. Remove bread from oven, and rub each slice with the cloves of garlic. Serve warm.

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I take both my football watching and my party food seriously. The Super Bowl is an event on both fronts. Today’s game was a particularly sweet one for me because, even though my team was not invited to the big dance, I am from Pittsburgh: it is my birth right to hate the Patriots.

My apologies to all of you New Englanders out there – it’s nothing personal against you. I just really, really dislike your team. No hard feelings. To make sure that we all stay friends, I offer you this recipe as a peace offering – it’s a fitting peace offering because I guarantee that if you bring it to your next sports watching function it will bring carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans together over one plate of delicious food: No Piggies in Blankets … or … Veggie Dogs in Sleeping Bags … or … Happy Piggies Don’t Sleep in Blankets (unexpected bonus of bringing these to a party: people have a really fun time trying to come up with names for them).

No Piggies in These Blankets
Makes 30 “No Piggies”

1 ½ cup soymilk
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread
1 packet rapid-rise active yeast

2 packages Jumbo Smart Dogs (or other brand of “jumbo” vegan dogs)
Olive oil
Sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds

1. Pour soymilk into the bread pan in your bread machine. (If your bread machine calls for the yeast to be added first, reverse the order in which you add the wet and the dry ingredients.)

2. Sprinkle the flour over the soymilk, making sure that the soymilk is completely covered. Add the salt, sugar, and butter to three separate corners of the bread pan. Maker a shallow indentation in the center of the flour, making sure not to go down as far as the liquid, and add the yeast.

3. Set the bread machine to the dough setting and press start.

4. When the dough cycle has finished, remove the dough from the pan and punch it down gently. Take a little more than half of the dough, roll it out on a lightly floured surface and, using a pizza cutter, slice the dough into small squares about 2” x 2”.  Wrap the rest of the dough in plastic and put in your refrigerator for use in another meal in the next few days or place in the freezer for use sometime in the next few months.

5. Cut the vegan dogs into thirds. Wrap each veggie dog section in a piece of the dough, taking care to press the seam together, and set the dough wrapped dogs seam side down on a baking sheet that has a silplat sheet (a non-stick silicone sheet) on it or has been lightly greased.

6. Cover the dough wrapped dogs with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F.

7. Lightly brush the dough wrapped dogs with olive oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds. Bake the veggie dogs for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Cool slightly on a rack.   These can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature.

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