The Walking Dead Season Premiere Dinner

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The fourth season of “The Walking Dead” premieres this weekend and I have been dying to put together a celebration meal to kick off the new season. When Kyle and I did our first Richmond Zombie Walk in 2007, we noticed that a few of the zombies were eating “blood”-stained heads of cauliflower while lumbering down Cary Street. I have not forgotten what a great stand-in the cauliflower was for a human brain, so I knew I wanted to use that as  main element of my dinner. We ate this meal a night ahead of time, because we weren’t sure if we would be able to stomach the beet juice stained cauliflower while watching the very graphic show. I have a lot of respect for anyone who tries! Here are three great recipes inspired by AMC’s “The Walking Dead” for your own gory premiere celebration or spooky Halloween dinner.

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We started off with a mock-tail that reminded us of the setting of the show. For a spiked version, I recommend adding sweet tea flavored vodka to the mix. But go easy on the sweet tea vodka, *I heard from a friend* that it is delicious and can be very dangerous!

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The base of the drink is peach flavored iced tea, which is reminiscent of the series’ Georgia setting. I combined the iced tea with sweetened blood orange juice and soda to give it a bloody twist.

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This Martinelli’s blood orange juice comes sweetened and it was all I could find at the grocery stores in Richmond this week. If you have better luck than me finding it, you could use fresh blood orange juice and sweeten to taste if you prefer to control the sugar content.

Iced Blood Orange Georgia Peach Sweet Tea

recipe for 1 pitcher – serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 4 bags Celestial Seasonings Country Peach Passion herbal tea
  • 1-1/2 cups sparking water
  • 1 cup sweetened blood orange juice
  • Ice
  • Optional: 1/2 cup sweet tea or peach flavored vodka

Preparation:

  1. Boil 2 cups water. Pour hot water over tea bags in large pitcher. Let steep 4 minutes, then remove tea bags.
  2. Transfer pitcher to refrigerator to cool.
  3. When cooled, add sparkling water and blood orange juice to pitcher. Optional: add vodka. Stir to combine.
  4. Serve over ice.

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Last season of “The Walking Dead” left us with summer turning to fall. Our next two dishes teamed up to serve us a combination of the sultry, smoky flavor of Southern summer turning to fall, and the raw blood and guts that zombie flick fans have come to love. Here are the final two recipes, that taste great on their own but also go really well together. Scroll the past recipes for a throwback photo and my best zombie joke.

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower “Brains” with Citrusy Beet Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 beets, greens removed
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Wash the beets and slice off the tops. Lay beets cut side down in a glass baking dish. Add a few tablespoons of water to the dish and cover with aluminum foil. Roast beets in preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 50-60 minutes or until tender. Remove cover and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, grate the orange to get about a tablespoon of orange zest. Then slice into segments and dice the orange, discarding the peel.
  4. Once beets are cooled, remove the skins. The rough skins should slide right off. Set beets aside. Reserve the cooking water in the bottom of the pan.
  5. Trim  the leaves off the cauliflower and place on a cutting board stem side down. Slice the cauliflower into 1-inch slices, cutting from top to stem, working right to left. You should have several cross-sections in which you can see the branches. (See my post on Cauliflower Steaks for a visual)
  6. Spread the sliced cauliflower in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  7. In a small bowl, combine 2-3 tablespoons of the beet juice from the baking dish, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, liquid aminos, cumin, smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  8. Brush the cauliflower slices with the beet juice mixture. Roast the cauliflower slices at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.
  9. While the cauliflower cooks, dice the cooled beets into small cubes. Toss with diced orange in a medium sized bowl. Add the remaining orange zest, parsley, balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and a dash of cumin and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Serve cauliflower slices topped with beet salad for a gory beet blood stained meal!

Smoky Chipotle Butternut Squash and Butter Beans with Adobo Brown Butter Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter (I told you this was Southern. . .)
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed

Preparation:

  1. Heat butter in large pan over medium heat until browned and foamy.
  2. Add the squash to the pan and toss in butter to coat.
  3. Add the chopped chipotle in adobo sauce and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until squash begins to brown.
  4. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook an additional 10 minutes over low heat.
  5. Add butter beans to pan and cover. Cook 5-10 minutes more or until squash is tender.
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What do vegetarian zombies eat? GRAAAAIIIINS!!!

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SOJ Chef Demo 06.09.12

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This week at the South of the James farmers’ market, the sun was shining and there was a smorgasbord of fresh produce just waiting to be be chopped, cooked and served to market shoppers. I had to feature this gorgeous purple cauliflower as the opening photo. I love the gradient of the supporting leaves, with their dark purple edges and lavender stems. The shading highlights the beautiful Gothic cathedral-esque architecture of the vegetable in a way that simple white couldn’t. Please excuse me for the poetic vibe, but it’s inspiring to be around such great local veggies!

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At the market demo tent last Saturday morning, Chef Sam Baker gathered his ingredients and set to work on the three featured dishes of the day.

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There was a lot of colorful cauliflower at the market this week, so the Vegology Veg of the Week board displayed some facts about this often overlooked vegetable. Cauliflower has made several appearances on this blog in the past, so I offered some ideas for preparation in addition to those featured in the Chef’s demonstration.

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Cauliflower on Vegology:

Cauliflower Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce

Spicy Cauliflower Po’boys

Cauliflower Tacos with Sunchoke Hash

Vegetarian “Shrimp” and Grits

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The Chef featured prepared food vendors too this week. Vendors like Simply Savory and Empress Farm sell jams, salsas, condiments, and canned goods that make eating local at home quicker, easier, and much more flavorful. We often see them sitting side by side at the market, but we don’t always know how to combine the prepackaged goods with the fresh-from-the-farm produce to create a delicious meal. The Chef showed shoppers how to do just that, as he served Tuckahoe lamb in a Simply Savory fig jam marinade and Barham Seafood shrimp in an Empress Farm strawberry jalapeno BBQ sauce.

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Chef Sam’s food samples never last long, but occasionally he can grab a few bites to share with the great, hardworking people who bring all these fresh ingredients to market.

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After passing around some BBQ shrimp samples and giving the lamb plenty of time to marinate, the Chef revealed his plan for the other ingredients on the table.

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The first main dish was a marinated lamb chop, served with patty pan squash and cauliflower. The Tuckahoe lamb was marinated in fig jam, a little water, garlic, mint, basil and crushed red pepper.

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Omnivores enjoyed the whole dish, while vegetarians snacked on the brightly colored summer veggies. The Chef fielded a lot of questions about the purple cauliflower from Norma’s Produce, the orange cauliflower from Pleitez Produce, and the patty pan squash from Rocking F Farms. It was evident that the market goers were not at all shy about asking questions about what was on their plates. The habit of asking questions about your food has its benefits, and we were happy to answer all of the inquiries that came our way.

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The final main course item was a “kitchen sink” dish, a meal with which I am very familiar! We make kitchen sink pasta, salads, curry and stew at my house every once in awhile. The main premise is that you throw in “everything but the kitchen sink.” Cavanna spinach and cheese ravioli was tossed with just about everything else the Chef had picked up that day, and together with the vegetable medley, the ravioli delivered delicious Cavanna vodka sauce. This is a great way to use up vegetables at the end of the week or any time you are trying to clean out the refrigerator. The tender pasta pillows had just enough flavor to stand alone, but they were simple enough to work well with other vegetables.

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Thanks to Barham Seafood, Cavanna Pasta, Empress Farm, Haas Mushrooms, Norma’s Produce, Pleitez Produce, Rocking F Farms, Simply Savory, Tuckahoe Lamb and Cattle Co., Walnut Hill Farm Produce, and all of the other featured market vendors for producing this week’s fresh and tasty ingredients.

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Have a question for Chef Sam Baker? Send me an email at vegologyblog [at ] gmail [dot] com or put it in the comments. We’ll get you an answer AND your question may be included in an upcoming Vegology Ask the Chef post!

Veggie Redux: Shrimp and Grits – Behind the Scenes!

You might have found me today through my guest post on Virginia is for Bloggers. If you’re new to Vegology, welcome! If you’re a regular here and you haven’t discovered VAis4Bloggers yet, you should check them out today! Here’s why.

Vegetarian “shrimp” and grits.

That’s right, my latest Veggie Redux takes on a lowcountry classic and makes it vegetarian-friendly. I don’t know if it tastes anything like the real deal, but I assure you that it does taste awesome. Any recipe that starts with an obscene amount of Old Bay seasoning usually does.

You can find the recipe over at the Virginia is for Bloggers site, but what you won’t find over there is the back story. The funny thing about the crab boil pictured above is that this method for making vegetarian “shrimp” did not make the final cut for my recipe for shrimp and grits. In case you haven’t read the post and recipe yet, SPOILER ALERT: the “shrimp” is actually cauliflower. I was inspired by Richmond Chef Kevin Roberts’ “poor man’s shrimp cocktail” which was featured in a recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine.

Kevin Roberts is the owner and Chef of The Black Sheep, which is one of my favorite Richmond restaurants. I used his recipe for fake shrimp cocktail when I was experimenting with this dish. I found the boiled cauliflower to taste remarkably similar to shrimp with a texture and flavor that would hold up well to cocktail sauce. The man is clever. You should serve this at your next party. However I understand that the shrimp in traditional shrimp and grits is pan-fried to a crispier texture, with a whole lot of spice. Roasting helped me achieve the texture and taste I was looking for.

This dish was a super hit at my house and I think Kyle will ask for this meal to show up on the dinner menu more often. Like I said before, I have no idea how close this is to the original, since I became a vegetarian before I had the chance to experience real shrimp and grits. However, I hope that creative chefs like Chef Roberts and adventurous eaters like yourselves would approve of this preparation. Enjoy!

Spicy Cauliflower Tacos with Sunchoke Hash

I recently discovered sunchokes in the produce section of Ellwood Thompson’s on Manager’s Special, which meant they were half off. I have wanted to experiment with sunchokes for awhile, but they are a little expensive to risk screwing up. But at 50% the normal price, you would have bought them too, right?

Their name sounds like artichokes, they look like ginger, but they taste like potatoes. Except they taste better than potatoes, nutty and a little sweet, like Yukon Golds with personality. Not sweet like sweet potatoes, just a little sweet. This may sound a little confusing, but try to stay with me. It gets better but only after it gets a little worse.

Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem Artichokes, are native to North America, not Jerusalem. Also confusing, I know. They are related to the sunflower plant, and the edible part of the sunchoke is the knobby little tuber that grows below the flowering plant. So that clears up the name a little. But why the misleading alias “Jerusalem Artichoke?”. I suppose aliases, by nature, are misleading. . . but that is neither here nor there. There are a few different theories out there, but this one is my favorite. In Spanish, the word for sunflower is girasol. In Italian, girasole. See where this is going yet? Presumably, Italian settlers in North American called the plant “girasole,” a name which, like a lot of words with confusing etymologies, was butchered over time and ended up “Jerusalem.”

Who knows how? Not me. I was more interested in the taste anyhow.

I found a lot of recipes for sunchokes in soups and purees online, and several people recommended that you simply roast the sunchokes. This is one of my favorite ways to prepare any new vegetable, as roasting has never failed me in the past. However I had a new cast iron skillet that I was obsessed with so I wanted desperately to saute them. In others’ recipes they were paired with cauliflower a lot, for some unknown reason, so I decided to go with it. And that is how I came up with spicy cauliflower tacos with sunchoke hash.

Did you hear me?

A new vegan taco “meat”!

And nutty, earthy, spicy-sweet sunchoke hash!

The tacos worked. So much that I will probably pay full price for the sunchokes next time. And so much that I want to share the recipe with you. If you don’t eat meat (or even if you do), I think you should have this cauliflower taco “meat” in your repertoire.

I simply diced the sunchokes and threw them in the skillet with some oil and diced peppers and onions over medium heat. I stirred occasionally and the skillet did the rest. Then into tortillas they go, with cauliflower taco “meat,” shredded cheese, and a dollop of sour cream. For vegan tacos, use vegan cheese and tofutti sour cream, or top with tomato salsa and mashed avocado with lime.

Spicy Vegan Cauliflower Taco “Meat”

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 pinches ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Break the cauliflower into pieces and either grate into a large bowl or crumble with your fingers for a more rustic feel. Break or grate into small crumbles.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add cauliflower crumbles to skillet and, while stirring constantly, saute until golden brown.
  4. Add chili powder to the skillet and stir to combine. Cook for one minute then add remaining spices and tomato paste. Stir to combine, turn heat to low-medium and cover. Cook for a few more minutes, until cauliflower is tender and heated throughout.

Cauliflower Steaks

Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for an important message. . . about cauliflower steaks.

I have a thousand and one things to write about my big trip to New York, but at the moment I simply have to tell you about dinner. I was driving home from work today with no clue what to make and no food in the pantry. I called Kyle for suggestions and he offered one of the usual suspects: gazpacho or gumbo (his favorite meals to suggest out of season – gumbo in the dog days of summer and gazpacho in the dead of winter). I explained to him how long it took to make a proper roux and why gumbo was neither quick nor easy (nor cheap) to make for two on an evening that you have gotten out of work an hour late. He settled on “hearty vegetables over rice.” He didn’t exactly get that, but he got something better.

Today was one of those days that wasn’t sweltering hot, but it wasn’t cool either. It was one of those days that I struggle to decide on windows versus A/C for my drive home. A tad too warm for windows and just tolerable enough to make me feel bad about turning on the A/C in my gas-guzzling car, the evening was just a cool breeze away from the perfect temperature. I wanted a frosty adult beverage and a summery appetizer. I wanted to make Avocado Chimichurri Bruschetta. It had been so long since I had mixed up a batch and it felt like the perfect night for it, but I also wanted to make a more complete nutritious meal than just bread and avocado.

As I passed through the toll booth on my typical evening drive, a not-so-typical series of thoughts popped into my head. Chimichurri sauce goes on steaks. Cauliflower can be made into steaks. Cauliflower goes perfectly with tomatoes and chickpeas. I knew I had to give it a try. You need to give this a try too.

We all but inhaled the first plate of this stuff. Kyle declared this one a keeper. If I can maintain this last-minute recipe success, he just might decide that I’m one too. Sorry to interrupt the inevitable week-long torrent of New York themed posts, but this one couldn’t wait. Put this on your dinner table this week.

Cauliflower Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce and Quinoa with Chickpeas and Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Serves 4 (or 2 really hungry travelers, with a little leftover for BYOBB lunch)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 Tablespoons cooking oil (I used EVOO)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1- 15 oz. can diced fire roasted tomatoes with garlic
  • 1- 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided (1-1/2 tsp plus 1/2 tsp)
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh parsley, packed
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, packed
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:

  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions, using a rice cooker or stove top method.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and heat cooking oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Starting at the middle, cut the cauliflower into 3/4-inch thick slices. The middle slices will stay together pretty well and the end slices may break up into florets.
  4. Dust the hot cooking oil with chili powder and simmer for about 30 seconds. Add the cauliflower pieces to the hot pan. Pan fry the cauliflower steaks in batches, for 5 minutes per side, adding salt and pepper to each side when it is face up.
  5. Transfer the cauliflower to an oiled or nonstick baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 8 minutes, or until a knife cuts easily through the center of each piece.
  6. While the cauliflower is baking, add tomatoes and chickpeas to the same pan that the cauliflower was fried in, adding oil if necessary. Scrape up any browned cauliflower bits into the chickpea-tomato mixture. Add 1-1/2 tsp cumin and the cooked quinoa to the pan, stirring to combine. Lower the heat to low-medium and simmer uncovered for 5-8 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Combine the following in a food processor: parsley, cilantro, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, 1/2 tsp cumin, crushed red pepper, 1/2 tsp salt. Pulse until combined to create a chimichurri sauce.
  8. Pile the quinoa on plates, top with the cauliflower steaks and slather on the chimichurri sauce.

Not bad for a random Monday night. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming of All New York All The Time.

Veggie Redux: Po’boys

We have a local restaurant that serves a few different kinds of spicy po’boys. On Monday nights, all of the po’boys are on special. Take your pick of shrimp, chicken, crawfish, oyster, alligator; you name it, they’ve got it. Pre-vegetarian-diet, Kyle and I loved to wander over on Monday nights, grab a table on the outdoor patio, and down a po’boy with a cold pint of beer.

In case you have never had a po’boy, here’s a little lesson for you. They are traditional sandwiches from Louisiana that feature a pile of fried seafood or meat, dressed with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and mustard, in between two slices of French bread. There are several different variations, but common to all good po’boys are the crusty bread and the crispy fish or meat.

Since embarking on our veggie journey three years ago, neither Kyle nor I has had a proper po’boy. Honestly I haven’t missed them, but apparently Kyle has. The other night while we were planning our meals for the week, he said “do you think we could do a po’boy with something like. . . cauliflower?”

And you thought I was the culinary brains of the family. The man is a genius!

The recipe is mine, but the inspiration was all Kyle. So here you have it, a vegetarian cauliflower po’boy. This isn’t one of those meals that will fool you into thinking it’s meat, but it might satisfy your craving for the real deal if you are trying to find a vegetarian or healthier alternative. Of course this would probably be more authentic fried, but then we wouldn’t be any closer to achieving our goal, would we?

Cauliflower Po’boys (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large loaf of French bread or 4 sandwich loaves
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce (from chipotles in adobo)
  • 2 Tbsp vegannaise (or mayonnaise if you would like)

Admit it, that lineup is kind of impressive.

Preparation

  1. Fill a large saucepan 2/3 full with water. Add a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp curry powder and bring to a boil.
  2. Chop the head of cauliflower into florets and add to the boiling water. Boil uncovered for 2-3 minutes and then remove from heat, drain, and rinse cauliflower with ice cold water.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt and all of the spices. Add the cauliflower and toss to coat. Spread into a single layer on a greased rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.
  6. While the cauliflower bakes, combine adobo sauce and vegannaise in a small bowl. Spread one side of each sandwich with the chipotle “mayo.”
  7. Top the bottom half of the sandwich with roasted cauliflower. Top with tomato. Optional: add lettuce, onion, mustard, hot sauce, or any condiment you like.

We served this with a wedge salad topped with grape tomatoes, feta and TJ’s Goddess dressing.

In the name of getting your serving of veggies and in celebration of Mardi Gras, why not put this one on your menu for the week?

P.S. I’m baaaaaack! Sorry for the long hiatus, it’s been one hell of a start to 2011, and sometimes life gets between me and my laptop. :/