Monday, May 21, 2012

Vegan Cooking for Carnivores

I love Ellen DeGeneres. Love her! She's really funny and she's vegan. And that's all it takes to make me like you (although I may still like you if you're not vegan ... maybe). When I heard that Ellen and Portia's personal chef was putting out a vegan cookbook, I was stoked.

Chef Roberto Martin wasn't vegan (but I definitely still like him) when he took the job of creating meals for Ellen and Portia. In fact, he was concerned that he wouldn't know how to please a vegan. But he did what every good omni chef should do: He took the same flavors he used in meat dishes and used them in vegan ones. He made real food, not hippie, healthy crap. Now he's sharing some of the ultimate power couple's favorite recipes in this full-color, hardback book.

On first flip-through, I knew I'd have a hard time deciding what to try first. The photos of Chick'n Pot Pie, Faux Pho, creamy Mac 'n' Cheese, Tofu Crab Cakes, and Beluga Lentil Caviar on Blini are absolutely drool-inducing. But when I stumbled upon the Southern Fried Chick'n, I knew what to do:


For one, it's Southern food, and y'all know that's my bag. But this vegan fried chicken is different from any other for one awesome reason — it has skin!! In a genius experiment, Martin tried rolling Gardein in rice paper spring roll wrappers to give the meat a skin similar to the skin on animal fried chicken. It's battered with a seasoned flour mixture and a Tabasco-laced cashew cream. And then it's fried in hot oil. Look inside:


Now it's been a very long time since I've eaten chicken skin (more than 17 years!), but this is how I remember it. This recipe truly would impress a carnivore, I'm sure. I also love how Martin uses Gardein in many of his recipes. While I love homemade seitan (and call for it in many of the recipes in my own cookbook), I also love recipes that come together in minutes. Martin's recipes are quick and easy, and they still feel gourmet.

On the side, I made Martin's Creamed Spinach:


It should really be called creamed spinach and peas since there's as much peas as spinach. But regardless of its name, this dish was delish. The veggies are whisked into a milk gravy. So good! I've never had dairy creamed spinach, but I'm sure this dish would impress omnis as well. Since Martin relies on simple preparations and universal flavors, these are perfect for converting impressing meatheads omnis.

15 comments:

Sue said...

We don't have Gardein products in the UK, do you think that would work with seitan?

xvavaveganx said...

That sounds like a great book! That is so creative to use rice paper as skin! That sounds perfect for a vegan that likes meaty dishes :) The creamed spinach/peas combo looks really great too! Thanks for sharing!

Elisabeth said...

The texture of that 'chicken' looks amazing, totally trying that! (Using seitan as mentioned above by someone, we don't get Gardein in the UK :( )

Des said...

So glad you reviewed this book. I have been wanting to get it because it seems like a good starting point while I transition from vegetarian to vegan and I'm working on transitioning my husband from omni to vegetarian.

thecrueltyfreereview said...

I saw this book at Barnes and Noble this weekend and was so tempted to get it...that fried chicken is a deal breaker! I'll for sure be getting this soon. Thanks for the review!

Melissa said...

I definitely have been watching all of his interviews lately and from when he first started doing guest spots on Ellen! This looks so yummy.

Barb@ThatWasVegan said...

I saw him on the Today show a few weeks ago and he made that fried chicken, it looked awesome!

tender b. said...

Giving it skin? Interesting...

foodfeud said...

Wowz, looking good. I didn't know about this book... I'm a huge fan of Ellen and Portia too, haha, that might be enough to make me buy it.

Amey said...

hmmm, fun! I saw this book at the bookstore and it did sorta catch my eye. I'll go back and take another look!

The Preppy Vegan said...

Would I be able to find a lot of these ingredients without a whole foods, etc? Because that chicken looks amaaaaaazing.

Lauren (PB&G) said...

I was just as stoked to see this cookbook come out! The texture of the "skin" is spot on - SO delish!!

@Sue, I made this recipe using sunflower seed "cream" instead of cashew and homemade seitan instead of Gardein and my boyfriend's parents gobbled it up.

Rebecca said...

I just made tofu sticks wrapped in rice paper "chicken skin" - amazing and so fun!

J-Fizzle said...

So adding skin to a vegan dish doesnt seem very vegan.. I dont want to be reminded of skin while im eating... Gross!

Bing Bing said...

Adding skin to a vegan dish doesn't seem "stereotypically-value-judgment-laden" vegan. Vegan just means you don't eat animal or animal by-products -- doesn't mean you didn't enjoy eating meat or skin at one time.

Who would dare say something like, "eating Kung-Pao Tofu doesn't seem very American" (or a hundred years ago, "eating pizza doesn't seem very American") -- just because you had a knackering for something before you or your Chinese or Italian grandparents became citizens?