Archive for December, 2011
In an effort to lure Japanese customers, Wendy’s has apparently made several additions to the menu in that country including a $16 foie gras hamburger. The burger is available in Japanese locations only and is part of their plan to appeal to the Japanese market after a two-year hiatus.
As you’re probably aware, foie gras is made from the liver of a duck or goose that has been “specially” fattened. What makes this particular animal product so much more offensive than your average factory-farmed piece of meat (which, of course, is plenty offensive in its own right), is the particular cruelty with which it is produced.
The unfortunate birds being farmed for foie gras are force fed two or three times a day with a large tube that pumps as much as 4 pounds of grain and fat into their stomachs. This routine results in livers that bloat up to 10 times their normal size – a condition so painful, most of them cannot stand or walk. The process of force feeding also often results in horrifying injury to beaks and throats. Death by choking or as a result of ruptured organs is quite common.
This process has been outlawed for its cruelty in over a dozen countries worldwide including the U.K., Germany, Italy and Israel. Laws banning the sale and production of foie gras have been enacted in cities across the U.S. and a total ban goes into effect in the state of California next year. There have also been several notable chefs and high-end restaurants that refuse to serve foie gras including Wolfgang Puck and Charlie Trotter’s.
All of which is a long-winded way of saying: Wendy’s, you should be ashamed of yourselves.
Obviously, this meal is a little outside the seasonal boundaries (at least here in the Midwest). However, I like to sprinkle off-season recipes like this throughout the year to mix things up a bit and remind me of cozy winter nights in the searing heat of July or sunny summer days on a chilly December evening.
No matter when you serve it up, this makes for a yummy dinner.
Seared Chick’n with Avocado
Recipe inspired by Health.com
1 1/2 tsp blackened seasoning
4 pieces Gardein Chick’n Scallopini, partially thawed
3 tsp olive oil, divided
1 diced peeled avocado
2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 tbs fresh lime juice
3/4 tsp salt, divided
1 lime, cut into fourths
1 cup Israeli couscous
2 – 2 1/2 cups water
- Heat 2 tsp oil in a large skillet and add dry couscous
- Stir for a few minutes until each pearl is coated and lightly toasted
- Add 1/2 tsp salt and 2 cups of water and let simmer, stirring frequently until the couscous absorbs the liquid
- When all liquid is absorbed, try a pearl to see if it is cooked through, add more water as necessary
- Meanwhile, sprinkle seasoning on both sides of chick’n
- Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat
- Add chick’n to pan; cook 1 min. or until seared
- Reduce heat to medium; cook 2-3 min on each side or until lightly browned
- Combine avocado, cilantro, pepper, lime juice and salt in a medium bowl
- Place each piece of chick’n on bed of couscous. Scoop avocado mixture over each serving, squeeze one-fourth lime over entire dish and serve
Yield: Serves 4
If you’ve been thinking about giving Veganism a real shot, the start of 2012 would be a perfect time to give it a go! There’s no better way to ensure your success than doing a little prep work and one of the best ways to do that is to find some great resources to help you make the transition.
If you follow this blog, you’ve heard me mention Kathy Freston several times. As the author of New York Times best-seller, Veganist, and several other health and wellness titles, Kathy has become the go-to expert on practical Veganism for major media outlets and popular television shows alike. Her appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Ellen and The Martha Stewart Show (among others) have played a huge role in bringing the vegan diet to mainstream audiences in a very accessible and non-threatening way.
Her approach, detailed in Veganist, is all about “leaning into” Veganism (think: baby steps) and the book is chock full of useful and practical tips and ideas for getting started and staying on track - which is why I’m going to give away a free copy to one lucky reader!
To be entered into the random drawing, all you need to do is comment on this post before 12:00 pm (CST) on Dec. 30th. The winner will be announced on the blog by 12:30 pm the same day (one comment per reader, please). Good Luck!
Much like the chocolate chip cookies I posted the other day, these little babies have a totally “normal,” delicious taste. Unlike the chocolate chip cookies I posted the other day, you actually could call these healthy. How bout that?!
Recipe courtesy of Oh She Glows
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
1/3 cup + 1 tbs white sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 flax egg (1/2 tbs ground flaxmeal + 1.5 tbs warm water)
1/4 cup Earth Balance
Cinnamon Sugar (1 tbs sugar + 1 tbs cinnamon, mixed)
- In a small bowl, mix the 1/2 flax egg. Set aside
- In a medium bowl, cream the sugar, Earth Balance and vanilla until incorporated
- Add in the flax egg and beat for about 60 seconds
- In another bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together (minus cinnamon sugar)
- Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir well
- Use your hands to knead together the dough. Shape into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour
- When the hour has passed, preheat the oven to 375°F and take about 1.5 tbs of dough and shape into a ball
- Roll in cinnamon sugar and then press the ball with a fork to flatten slightly
- Repeat with remaining dough
- Bake for 10-12 min. (10 for chewy, 12 for crispy)
- Cool on cooling racks
Yield: ~ 1 dozen cookies
While it was a little potent for my taste (which is easily fixable by adding less rum), it was still super delicious and SO pretty – perfect for a holiday party.
Pomegranate Champagne Punch
Recipe courtesy of Epicurious
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 750 ml bottles chilled brut Champagne
1 1/2 cups white rum
1 1/4 cups pomegranate juice
1 large lemon, thinly sliced
Fresh mint leaves
1 ice block*
*I actually did something kind of interesting here. An ice block isn’t very pretty and since I was using a jar instead of a punch bowl, it wouldn’t fit anyway. Instead of just adding ice cubes (also not pretty), I froze water in jumbo muffin cups. It worked perfectly! If you’re using a punch bowl, you could use one of those pretty ice molds but this method would work there too.
- Bring 1/2 cup water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves
- Simmer 5 minutes. Cool syrup completely
- Combine Champagne, rum and pomegranate juice in bowl or jar
- Add enough syrup to sweeten to taste
- Mix in lemon slices, pomegranate seeds and mint leaves
- Add ice block to bowl and serve
Yield: Serves 12
Since I went vegan I’ve tested out several vegan chocolate chip cookie recipes from cookbooks and veg blogs, etc. I’ve found that it is common with vegan cookie recipes that they also take it one step further and try to alter the ingredients to create a “healthier” cookie. As a result, every single recipe so far has tasted just like the average person might expect a healthy, vegan chocolate chip cookie to taste – which is to say, not so hot.
So, this year I decided to try something different and attempt to “veganize” a classic recipe for chocolate chip cookies. No whole wheat flours, no weird binders. Not even a flax egg. I’m happy to say it worked! And I make no apologies. This is a cookie. By definition, a treat. It is not good for you but it is vegan and it will taste the way your mouth expects a chocolate chip cookie to taste. Can I get an Amen?
Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe inspired by The Betty Crocker Cookbook via CulinaryCory.com
1 cup white sugar
1 cup (light) brown sugar
2/3 cup Earth Balance, softened
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
2 Ener-G eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups unbleached white flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips*
*Most semisweet chocolate chips are naturally vegan. Read the ingredients list to be sure.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Beat sugars, butter and shortening with and electric mixer until light and fluffy
- Add the eggs and vanilla until combined
- Slowly add the flour, baking soda and salt (do not overmix)
- Carefully fold in the chocolate chips with a spoon until well combined
- Using a cookie dough scoop (or 1 tbs), drop the cookies onto ungreased cookie sheets about 2 in. apart
- Bake for 6 to 8 min., rotating the trays halfway through
- Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool as long as possible on the cookie sheet before transferring to cooling racks (the longer they’re on the sheet, the softer they’ll be)
Helpful Tip: I found that these taste significantly better the next day. If you can, store them in an airtight container after they’ve cooled completely and serve the next day. It makes for a much more dense and chewy cookie.
Yield: ~3 1/2 dozen cookies
This recipe is one of my favorite party snacks and one that I’ve relied on pretty regularly over the past several years. It’s also a crowd pleaser – once people get past the fact that it looks a little frightening. I got around that this past weekend by sprinkling diced red bell peppers over the top before serving and it really, really helped. I’d highly recommend doing the same when you serve this.
Vegan Black Bean Dip
Recipe courtesy of Epicurious
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 (15-16 oz. cans) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs fresh lime juice
1 tbs chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/8 cup red bell pepper, diced (optional)
Tortilla chips and assorted cut-up raw veggies
- In a blender or food processor, puree the beans, red onion, vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, oil, garlic and cumin
- Transfer the dip to a bowl, add salt and pepper
- Sprinkle with red bell pepper and serve with chips and veggies
Yield: Serves 8-10
This time of year it’s highly likely that you’ll find yourself playing hostess for a holiday party or two (or three!). Even though it’s super fun, we all know holiday entertaining can be a stressful concept any way you slice it. When you throw in the fact that you’re a vegan and the majority (or in my case, all) of your guests are omnis, it can make menu planning for a crowd seem even more challenging.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be! Relying on some of your favorite everyday recipes, thumbing through your cookbooks and spending a little time perusing recipes online are all surefire ways to net yourself tons of fantastic ideas that will please any crowd.
To get you started, here’s my menu from a casual afternoon gathering I hosted this weekend for my mom and a small group of her friends. By sticking to familiar recipes and keeping things simple, I was able to pull off a successful holiday shindig for ten. The food got rave reviews and I know they weren’t just being polite because they ate every last bit (I almost didn’t even get to try the Bruschetta)!
Holiday Party Menu
A few of these recipes have already been featured on the blog. Over the next several days, I’ll be posting the rest. Let me know if you need one in a hurry though. I’ll send it your way!
And no, I’m not going to get into a big discussion about the evils of hunting and what not. I think it’s pretty clear where I stand on the issue and I swear to Pete if I hear one more deer hunter try and argue that “it’s necessary,” I’m going to totally lose my sh%t.
So in avoidance of that, let’s just leave it to the fabulous Marisa Tomei – whose monologue here I have been known to drunkenly re-enact on several occasions (ok, I admit, I’ve been known to do it stone sober too).