Archive for the Recipes Category

The Difference Between Vegetarian and Vegan

Posted in Recipes, Vegan and Vegetarian Lifestyle with tags , , on August 27, 2013 by Verge

Monika and I buy a lot of groceries.  The reason for this is two fold, I suppose.  Firstly, we struggle to find healthy, vegan options when we dine out, although I can recommend some great places to eat if that’s what you’re looking for.  Secondly, we honestly truly enjoy cooking at home.

When you prepare most of your own meals, at home, you need a lot of raw ingredients.  Other than having ridiculously cheap toilet paper, kitty litter and contact lens solution, BJ’s and Costco also have great deals on raw ingredients.  A short list of them includes:  walnuts, pine nuts, raw sugar, peanut butter, tea, canned beans, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, olives, pickles, cashews, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, canned any vegetables, flour, sugar, olive oil, cereal, rice, etc.

Now, I have appreciated these “big box” clubs carrying vegetarian and vegan and low-sodium options.  I’ve even gone as far as sending them letters telling them that every new vegetarian product has indeed been seen, recognized, appreciate and purchased.  And, I truly do appreciate their buyers looking for newer options for those with “dietary needs.”  I do believe in supply and demand, and I do politely demand what I wish a store would supply.  That’s just common sense, even when you’re dealing with a huge company.  Honestly, sometimes they listen to customer feedback.

In any case, asking for vegetarian is a pretty darn big dietary restriction, I suppose, although we don’t really feel like it’s a restriction but more of a liberation, to be honest.  However, I will admit that taking the next step to becoming a vegan is most definitely restrictive.  It’s downright aggravating, in fact.  I just can’t understand why so many companies, with good intentions and good hearts, still insist on adding just a tad of milk or casein or gelatin or egg or butter or fat or any number of other things that can be substituted to their products!!

That is all besides the fact that thousands if not millions of products could easily already be vegetarian but are not.  Honestly, most products add salt and animal fat for flavoring in the US, and it’s absolutely ridiculous.  I understand why chicken soup has chicken broth, and clam chowder has clams in it, but why the hell does vegetable soup has a multitude of animal products in it??  Especially when there are absolutely, positively the same tasting, but vegetarian,  products to flavor soup on the market!???

Here are a few examples from some stores that we shop with that show how difficult it is to find enough products to truly be a vegan.  Obviously some of these can’t be made any other way, but I’m putting them out there just to illustrate how frustrating it can be sometimes to find good food that has no animal products, which is why Monika and I do most of our cooking at home.

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Morning Star Farms is a great company that make many delicious products. And, I still enjoy most of them. These breakfast sausage patties are really quite tasty, have a great texture, can be fried, toasted, baked or microwaved and make great little English Muffin sandwiches. Made from organic soy products, they are low in fat compared to the real thing.  Unfortunately, they are also NOT VEGAN. They contain egg whites and milk.

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These are one of several vegetarian “burgers” (which kind of sounds like it’s hamburgers made out of vegetarians). The have great flavor, hold together rather well when frying or even grilling, and don’t look like some of the mush some companies put out and call veggie patties. You can actually see the real vegetables in the burgers. You may recognize these as the burgers they use as Burger King Veggie Burger.  The main ingredient is hydrated wheat gluten, but unfortunately also contains egg whites, and calcium caseinate derived from milk. NOT VEGAN

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Morning Star Meal Starters Crumbles are a great substitute fro ground beef. The main ingredient is a flavored TVP (textured vegetable protein). For tacos, burritos, and chilli, this products is a great vegetarian substitute. Unfortunately it as also NOT VEGAN as it contains skim milk and egg whites.

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Next up, Morning Star Chipolte Black Bean Burgers. These are quite delicious, although a little hard to keep together on the grill. I usually bake these in the toaster over to make them nice and crisp. These are used by many restaurants, including TGI Fridays, as their house bean burger. We’re always happy to find major chain restaurants serving any vegetarian options, but again dining out as a vegan is sometimes impossible. These are also NOT VEGAN as they contain egg whites and calcium caseinate.

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Okay, this finally brings us to the last Morning Star product that my local BJs sells, the Grillers Vegan. This product actually is VEGAN, and says so right in its name. And, considering it doesn’t have any of the egg white “binder” included, they hold together and grill up quite well. They stay juicy and are very versatile. I even use them to crumble up and put in my veggie chilli and have used them in tacos before as well. I highly recommend them as a vegan substitute for a burger.

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BJ’s, form time to time, carry other brands of Veggie Burgers, I guess to see how they sell. These came from Harvesland.We tried these and actually, they weren’t too bad. Again, you could really see the veggies that made them up. What you couldn’t actually see was the egg whites that make the NOT VEGAN.

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These Crispy Tenders made by one of our favorite companies, Gardein, starting showing up about two years ago and quickly became a staple in our house. They bake up beautifully crispy. It’s what I ended up using in this recipe, and we would also just eat them like nuggets with some bbq or ketchup. They are really a quite diverse product and we still buy them when we can. Unfortuantely, BJs stopped carrying them a while back, which was a shame because not only did they come in an extra large package that was a great value, this product is TOTALLY VEGAN.

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I’ve been shopping at BJs for years, and I had some perennial favorites that had to go when we went vegan completely. This one barely needs any further explanation since Cheddar Cheese is right in it’s name. I always liked boiling a frying up some of these with some onion late night and having some with a little oil. Oh well…NOT VEGAN.

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And these ready to go Eggplant Parms from Michael Angelo’s were awesome to pop in the oven for a full, delicious meal. It’s a shame because not only were they delicious, the company made a product with very little ingredients, and no fillers, additives, or preservatives. The ingredients always tasted fresh and of great quality, including the three varieties of cheeses that they contained, making the NOT VEGAN and off limits.

Next time I stop by Whole Foods, I’ll snap some pictures and update a second page of examples, which will be available here.

Ten Liquors You’ve Probably Never Tasted

Posted in Good Times, Recipes with tags on November 23, 2010 by Verge

I’m sure you’re all very familiar with the big five: Vodka, Rum, Tequila, Gin and Whiskey.  And I’m sure you’ve even gone down a few paths off the main road:  Kahlua, Rumple Minze, Irish Cream, Scotch (technically still whiskey), and some others.

If you’ve ever had Jagermeister, than you’ve had a drink from the category that includes most of the liquors on this list.  The Digestifs and Apertifs category of liquor includes a wide swash of tastes.  Ranging from bitter and herbal to super sweet fortified wines, they can be drank neat, or used in cocktails.  Much like our culinary finesse, the American Palette fails to appreciate the delicate, and often exotic flavor of these old world recipes.

In a country that used to imbibe Gin like it was going out of style (and invented Bourbon), the America’s palette has swung decidedly in the Vodka direction, a spirit that, by our own definition, must be FLAVORLESS!!  Although I’ve admit I haven’t had them all, I’ve tasted many of them, and they are anything but flavorless, and often unique and unequaled by anything you’ve tasted before.

It’s taken me a bit of time to compile this list, and I’m already on to the next ten Liquors you’ve never tasted.  In any case, I’m releasing the first ten tonight.  First one to get the honors…

Cynar

Cynar is a peculiar drink because one of the 13 flavorings in it is artichoke.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love artichokes to death, but not usually in my cocktail.  But, think of it this way…we do put oranges, lemons, limes, celery, peppers, onions and olives in our drinks, so why not artichokes?  You can mix it with orange juice, but because of it’s low 33 proof alcohol content, I’d recommend a splash of vodka as well.  Or, try this recipe which is a variation of a Negroni.

Benedictine

This 80 proof sweet liquor is made with over 25 different herbs with the exact recipe a closely guarded secret for over 150 years.  It has been made by monks living in France, near Normandy, for over 500 hundreds years, with the lost and rediscovered recipe extant since 1863 of so.  You may have heard of it before as it is the main ingredient in “B & B,” which happens to be a blend of Benedictine and Brandy to make the liquor less sweet.  I would recommend a  Monte-Carlo Cocktail, which is similar to a classic Manhattan, but with this fine liquor in place of the vermouth.

Chartreuse

Also distilled by monks in France, near Grenoble in the Southeast, this liquor is infused with an unprecedented 130 plus herbal extracts.  It comes in two versions, a naturally green version clocking in at 110 proof, from which the color Chartreuse is actually derived, and a yellow version that is a milder and sweeter 80 proof.  It is especially potent and should only be used in moderation for flavor.  I’d rock it in an Emerald Martini if I were me, which I am.

St-Germain

Also lovingly hand made in France, this sweet and syrupy liquor is made primarily of Elderflowers, a close relative of American Honeysuckles.   Indeed, it does have a complex flavor, but is used as just a hint in cocktails due to it’s sweetness and low alcohol content of just 40 proof.  Try a St-Germain G&T to be classy because the bite of the liquor works quite well with the bitterness of the tonic.

Absinthe

Okay, perhaps some of you actually have had Absinthe.  This is perhaps the most well known of all the liquors on this list to Americans, mostly because of its long, and mostly false history.  Everyone knows that absinthe makes you hallucinate, right?  Wrong.  Absinthe does contain an ingredient called Grand Wormwood, which does contain a chemical called Thujone, which has the ability to cause some psychedelic reactions.  However, there is little evidence that there was ever a recipe for Absinthe that contained enough thujone to cause hallucinations.  In fact, it’s practically impossible.

What is indeed probably true is that the Bohemians and artists, Like Ernest Hemingway and Vincent Van Gogh, who professed their love of absinthe we probably hallucinating.  That because they were eccentric alcoholics and probably loved the heroine and cocaine, too!  Absinthe is very strong, also, ranging from 100-140 proof.  It’s meant to be watered down, but if these jokers were drinking it straight, they’d surely be seeing pink elephants.

In any case, Absinthe was banned from being sold in the United States for most of the 20th century, but is now legal to make, consume and buy and sell.  You’ll find it these days, but you’ll still pay a hefty price of 50-90 bucks a bottle.   And be warned, it is a anise based liquor, and although I don’t think it taste like cheap black licorice, if you don’t like black licorice or extremely bitter drinks, you won’t like this.

If you do end up with a bottle, try a Hemingway, named for the writer who reportedly loved this drink.  Just add absinthe to Champagne (we like a 50/50 mix, but that’ll get you some drunk)!

Campari

Colored bright red and hovering around 50 proof, this apertif is bitter and sweet, having derived it’s flavor from herbs and fruits.  It is commonly served as a flavoring for simple soda water, or when combined with gin (and a dash of bitters or two) and vermouth, composes the Negroni Cocktail, which I personal love to devour.  Although still very distinct and likely foreign tasting to an American, the sweetness of this liquor will be more acceptable than others on this list for first time tasters.  Interestingly, it is said that when Campari was originally formulated, the brewer would crush insects and add them to achieve the distinct bright red color.  I assume today they just use regular food die, but I can only guess as this recipe is also top-secret.

To make a Negroni, fill a rocks glass with, well, ice, and fill 1/3 with a quality, neutral flavor gin like Tanqueray and 1/3 sweet red vermouth.  Top with Campari and a few shakes of Bitters.  Serve with a twist (or wedge) of orange.

Pernod

This one can be a bit confusing.  Pernod is not absinthe, but it’s similar.  Further confusing the matter is the fact that Pernod is also the name of the company that produces it and many other spirits.  Even further confusing is that the company is called Pernod-Ricard, and they also make a similar product called Ricard, and they also make a genuine absinthe whose bottle is almost identical to a Pernod bottle, but says absinthe under the name.

It seems that the recipe for this anise based liquor was drafted to replace absinthe which had become banned.  It is drank in the same manner, or just over ice, and will cloud when diluted with water.  While you may have never tried Pernod, it’s likely you’ve tasted some of the company’s other offerings which include:  Absolut, Stolichnaya, Kahlua, Maker’s Mark, Seagrams, Canadian Club, Malibu, Beefeater, Jameson, Glenlivet, Chivas Regal, and Courvoisier, to name just a few.

This one you shouldn’t mess with in cocktails so much.  Add some club soda or tonic water to a bit and enjoy over rocks as an nice after-diner sipping cocktail.

Cinzano

Cinzano is a specific brand of Vermouth, which is classified as a fortified wine.  Unless you drink “real” cocktails like a Manhattan or Gin Martini, or the above mentioned Negroni, you’ve probably never encountered vermouth.  Some vermouth contains wormwood making it common to both this liquor and Absinthe.  Made with another closely guarded recipe, vermouth and cinzano are relatively low in alcohol content around 20 percent, but are essential ingredients in classic cocktail recipes.

A well stocked bar should always have some Rossa (red) and Blanca (white) on hand at all times.  To rock an old school Manhattan, I like my quite basic.  Chill a martini glass for a few moments with ice water.  Dump out the worthless water and dump in some good bourbon, like Maker’s Mark, or Knob Creek.  I’d hit up a good 3 oz.  and to that add two cap-fulls or so of Sweet Vermouth.  Garnish with a maraschino cherry and enjoy with a cigar.  You’re a man, now, or the sexiest lady in the room.

Bitters

Although there are many brands and types of bitters, in drink recipes and at any bar, the word bitters refers specifically to Angosturo Bitters, a brand made in    .  In fact, chances are that your liquor store won’t even carry another brand at all.  I’ve gotten other brands, but only through online purchases.

Bitters are, well…bitter, due to the fact that there is no sugar or sweeteners added to them.  They are very herbally, and viscous and potent.  Merely one or two drops in a cocktail will flavor it correctly, and 10 drops will ruin it.  Because of their potency, they usually come in small bottles similar to a hot sauce sized bottle.  They are also sometimes called “aromatic” bitters because of their strong, but very pleasant odor.

Bitters are high in alcohol coming in around 80-90 proof.  However, because only a small amount is used at a time, the alcohol is negligible.  In fact, in most countries it’s not even really considered an alcoholic beverage because if underage kids wanted to drink a bottle of this to catch a buzz, they would find it nearly impossible because the strength of the bitterness will choke you if you try to gulp some.

Another famous brand is Peychaud’s, hailing from New Orleans and being an essential ingredient in the Sazerac.  You can score these all over Louisiana, but making one at home takes a little more skill:

fill one glass with cubed ice and fill with water to chill.  In a second glass, muddle one sugar cube with 5 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters.  Once combined, add 2-3 oz of rye whiskey and stir to mix.  Empty the first glass, add a cap-full of absinthe, swirl to coat all the sides, and discard (although you can choose to leave the excess absinthe in).  Add the rye mixture to the absinthe-coated glass and serve with a twist of lemon.

Cachaca

Cachaca is what you drink non-stop in Brazil.  It sort of like Rum in the same way Mezcal and Tequila are the same, or Scotch and Bourbon are the same.  Same families, different spirits.  Whereas Rum is made from the molasses derived from refining sugar cane, Cachaca skips the extra steps and derives its alcohol directly from sugar cane sugars itself.

Cachaca is not super popular or even known outside of Brazil, but my local liquor store does carry one brand, pictured above, that is impossibly hidden on the bottom shelf and is dusty.  To put things in perspective, the entire world consumes 15 Million Liters a year; Brazil consumes 1.5 Billion Liters.  They seem to really like this shit.

In any case, the quintessential cocktail made with Cachaca is the Caipirnha.  In fact, it is the national drink of Brazil (the United States doesn’t have one, but Bourbon would have to be the de facto national beverage).  You can whip one of these up quite simply.  It’s like a Mojito, basically, but leave out the mint leaves and soda.  Muddle some sugar with some generous fresh lime juice, add the Cachaca and serve on the rocks.  Great summertime drink, during the day or at a Brazillian night club.

Negroni (a cocktail for grown ups)

Posted in Recipes with tags , , on August 27, 2010 by Verge

If you know me and Monika, you must know that we’re huge fans of gin.  Gin is the kind of alcohol you don’t even encounter as a kid, despise in your weening years, and learn to love as your tastes mature (only maybe, like maybe you’ll end up liking scotch, or cigars, or caviar).

In any case, if you do learn to like gin, you learn to like martinis.  Not that crap bullshit they call a martini cause they dumped Stoli and cranberry into a martini glass.  I mean, you actually appreciate the gin distiller who  carefully flavored his product with the right blend of botanicals so that the taste is perfect as is…neat…chilled…unadulterated.

delicious flowers

That’s the way we like our martinis.  Sure, you can add some dry vermouth, maybe a generous splash of olive brine, or even get out there and saddle up a cocktail onion to make a Gibson.  But, sooner or later, it’s nice  to get a bit more  adventurous with your cocktails.

to make a Gibson, make a martini, but use an onion, not a olive

So, my gin loving friends, I highly recommend the following drink, which is basically a Negroni.  Though little known in the modern cocktail revolution, this is the kind of drink that defines a real drinking man or woman.  It’s bitter, potent and all business.

Prepare a Martini glass by filling with ice and topping with water and setting  aside.

In a shaker or mixer, combine the following:

2 oz. Gin (the dryer the better.  Bombay is good.  New Amsterdam is not)

1 oz. Campari (This is some bitter stuff, and is in the family of Benedictine, Chartreuse, Cynar, etc., the weird digestifs category)

1 splash Sweet Vermouth ( a splash is about a teaspoon or so)

a few dashes of Bitters ( a dash, a shake, a drop, it’s all about the same.  I use Fee Brothers, but Angostrua is great, too)

Swirl the contents over the ice, but do not shake.  Shaking is a sin.  Don’t believe the 007 bullshit.  Bond was originally written to be a kind of gruff, un-savvy individual.  Don’t shake.  Just don’t.  If you like the little ice crystals in your drink, you like watered down drinks, not fine alcohol.  Do me  a favor…stick with Smirnoff Ice.  Flavored malt liquor seems more your speed.

Okay, strain the “shaker” into the emptied, icey martini glass and enjoy.  If you’d like to garnish, use a nice sweet opposite like an orange wheel.  It’ll help wash your palate clean so the flavors really burst again when you take another sip.  Not for the weak livered.  Enjoy!

Vegan Chicken in Wine Sauce (or, How I Managed to Steal My Mother’s Recipe)

Posted in Recipes, Vegan and Vegetarian Lifestyle with tags , , on May 4, 2010 by Verge

When we were kids, my mom would let my brother, sister, and me choose whatever we wanted to eat for dinner for our birthdays.   However outlandish, it was our day, and we got to choose whatever we wanted.  For several years, my choice was Burger King Bacon Double Cheeseburgers.  Not one of them.  Not two, either.  As many as I could eat.  I remember my dad actually CALLING IN orders to Burger King because we were coming to pick up as many as thirty cheeseburgers and tons of fries!

Eventually, as with many other things in my life, I took after my older brother and starting requesting our favorite childhood dish, Chicken in Wine Sauce.  It really became a comfort food for me and the taste was so distinct, it always reminded me of home, my parents, and my birthday dinners.

It’s not a very difficult recipe if you’re not a vegetarian.  It’s actually shockingly simple thanks to the good folks at Campbell’s Foods.  But, as a non-meat eater, It’s been a decade and a half quest to replace the succulence and sheer, simple deliciousness of that dish.  Tonight, I attempted once again.

The chicken is the first obstacle, and the sauce is the second.  I was so satisfied with the new faux-chicken, vegan, seven grain crispy tenders I reviewed here, that it was enough to take a go at re-creating the second obstacle– the sauce.  The problem with Campbell’s is that the original recipe calls for Golden Mushroom soup.  First ingredient–Beef Stock.  Unnecessarily, it also contains beef lard, albeit in a such a small amount, it begs the question, “why use it at all?”

Conveniently, Golden Mushroom soup lists its ingredients right on the label thanks to the FDA.  It’s little more than water, salt, MSG, mushrooms and a bit of wine.  So, that’s how I made it, pretty much.

1 Package of Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Strips

1 Large Onion

1  10 oz pack of Baby Bella Mushrooms (you can use any mushrooms, but these are particularly tender and succulent.)

24 oz white wine

8 oz vegetable stock (I use vegetable bouillon cubes.  directions say one cube for each 8 oz, but I use 2 in this recipe.That seems like double the amount, but the total liquid volume is 32 oz, or four cups, so it’s actually HALF the bouillon they recommend on the box which means half the sodium.)

Some salt and Pepper and a bit of dried Basil

1-2 Tbsp Vegan Butter Substitute

1/2 cup Nutritional Yeast

Bake chicken strips @ 425 for ~30 minutes on a Pam'd sheet. Flip half waythrough cooking.

Peel and dice the onion into tiny pieces...

We like to use our Genius Chopper, but any kind will do, even a good old knife.

At the same time, boil two bouillon cubes with 8 oz of water (or 8 oz of vegetable stock and no cubes)

Fry the onion on high heat in the butter...stir occasionally...add some salt, pepper and dried basil...

While the stock is boiling and the onions are caramelizing, slice the mushrooms. Sometimes I remove the stems, but keep 'em on in this recipe. Cut off any hard tips, though, and wash thoroughly.

Add 24 oz of the white wine to the stock and bring to a slow simmer...

when you buy the big bottle, there's enough left over for yourselves!

Don't forget to flip that faux chicken when the bottoms are browned.

when the onions look like this...

...do this.

cook until the mushrooms are soft on the outside but uncooked on the inside. This is an art. Mushy mushrooms are overcooked, and raw ones aren't what you're going for either. 2-4 minutes is about right. Be gently when stirring so you don't break the mushrooms.

Fully cooked chicken goes into a casserole dish. You can layer them if you need to, but I suggest one layer, like this.

when the mushrooms are softened, dump the stock into the onion, mushroom, spice mixture and simmer for about a minute or two to mix the flavors...

then add the half cup nutritional yeast, a quarter cup at a time, to thicken the final Golden Mushroom rip-off recipe.

Now, pour the soup over the chicken in the casserole dish, cover, and bake on 350 for about an hour or an hour and a half, until the soup is more like a sauce than a liquid.  While that’s happening, cook yourself some long grain rice.  We mixed it with some basmatti rice and seasoning packet,  and Monika sliced some broccoli and carrots to steam in our rice cooker.

This vegan chicken in wine sauce recipe was so damn delicious, that as I was loading the licked-clean dishes from our dinner into the dishwasher, I turned around and Monika had fallen asleep!  I packed the leftovers into lunch sized containers and brought two over to Kreg and Kat for them to try the next day.  They both loved it as well.  When I cook something so delicious, there’s nothing I like more that to share it with friends.

Making Caribou

Posted in Good Times, Recipes with tags , , on February 26, 2010 by Verge

We’ve been really enjoying the Olympics the past two weeks.  I try to watch as many events as I can.  That’s pretty difficult considering we don’t have cable and so we only get NBC10 from Philadelphia and not all the fancy offshoots that everyone else probably gets.

That’s made watching hockey, for one, extremely…expensive.  Since it airs on CNBC, every hockey game I want to see (which is men’s only) I have to go to a bar to watch.  I want to see EVERY game, hence the expense.

In any case, I’ve always loved the Olympics and my family has always watched them.  It’s great to rally for your own country, and the stories are unbeatable.  It really is the most amazing reality TV show ever.  That skater who’s mother died in Vancouver…wow, what a story.  Her breaking down crying after her perfect skate was so emotional and unbeatable.  The Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso story is not only fascinating but downright hot.   The bitter-sweet rivalry of head-to-head competition between countrymen is amazing.

In celebration of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic spirit, and since we both didn’t work today, we’ve honored Canada by making a drink called Caribou!  If you ever get a chance, you should visit Quebec during the Winter Festival.  It is a hell of a time when the entire town parties to the thought of being cold and snowed in.  And, if you ever go for a visit, you’ll be sure to come across copious amounts of Caribou.

The legend of it’s origins are that old-school Canadians who were out in the cold and hunting for food would kill wild Caribou.  In the interest of wasting nothing, and keeping warm, they would add whiskey to fresh Caribou blood and drink it as a celebration of a fresh kill.  There are no Caribou in Atco, trust me, I looked.  We had to make a Substitute.

For the red wine substitute-for-blood we used one of my all-time favorite local South Jersey red wines from Valenzano Winery.  It’s a perfect ingredient for this recipe because it’s a very smoky red due to it’s aging in used charred oak barrels.  It’s one of their more expensive wines at around 17 bucks a bottle, but it’s worth it in my mind and in my mouth.  It’s called Old Indian Mill Road Red.

We were planning on going to visit Kreg at his shop and help him out with the bar he’s building so I decided to make it in our industrial sized thermos.  This recipe is pretty damn simple.  Here goes!

Here’s the Official recipe

1 Bottle of dry red wine

1 -2 Cups of cheap Whiskey (to taste)  more if you like whiskey, less if you’re a lightweight

1/4 – 1/2 cup of Maple Syrup (to taste) more if you have a sweet tooth, less if you’re a real man

Shake well and get drunk outside in the snow.  Do it with some friends so if you pass out in a snow bank, they can drag your drunk ass home.  Feel free to be rowdy, yell at the tv, and say “eh” and “hoser” a lot.  Enjoy!

Jackfruit Recipe (Vegan Pulled Pork)

Posted in Recipes, Vegan and Vegetarian Lifestyle with tags , , on February 15, 2010 by Verge

I came across this food while browsing some vegan sites.  I found it on ChowVegan.com and you can look at the original inspirations here

http://chowvegan.com/2008/05/28/bbq-pulled-jackfruit-sandwich/

After seeing how delicious this vegan sandwich looked, I had to track this down and try it out.  First of all, “young, ripe jackfruit” isn’t nearly as easy to locate in South Jersey as ChowVegan implies.  I stopped in several Asian stores to try to locate a can or two before resorting to the be-all-and-end-all of Asian Supermarkets, Hanahreum.  Otherwise known as “H-Mart,” this chain truly is the real deal.  They have everything Asian you could possibly think of and a ton of things you never knew, nor wanted to know, exists.

Sometimes it’s difficult to navigate the foodstuff they offer because many of the labels are in Japanese only.  Nevertheless, I was pretty sure I could find a can of jackfruit there but my hunt, at first was unsuccesful.  Persistance paid off when I eventually did find “green” jackfruit in brine and tried it out.  It was delicious but then, for months, I couldn’t find the “green” jackfruit at H-Mart any longer.  Recently, Monika, Sam and I went back to H-Mart to stock up on Asian groceries (Sam wanted a cache for Ohio).  I found that they had some available, so I stocked up.

I changed the recipe a little, but nonetheless, this is a ridiculously simple recipe to follow.  You’ll need the following items.

1 Crock Pot

2 Martinis (Consume during the duration of CrockPotting, to taste)

4 – 16  oz. cans of “Young” or “Green” Jackfruit.

Some minced garlic

1 cup of White Wine

A bunch of BBQ Sauce

Open the cans of jackfruit and rinse them with cold water to get rid of the brine.

Here’s what the jackfruit looks like.  It’s kind of like the consistency of Pineapple, but not sweet, and very meaty and not juicy.

I used my potato masher to break up the Jackfruit.  It pretty much falls apart and doesn’t require too much effort.  The original ChowVegan recipe says to fry them up a bit but I didn’t feel it was necessary at all.


Add the garlic, wine and BBQ Sauce.  Stir.  Turn on Crock Pot for a few hours until it looks awesome, like this:

Cook it for a little while, maybe a total of 4 hours, and shut off the pot.  Let it cool.  Toast up some whole-grain hamburger buns, or even a torpedo roll.  If you want to make a kind of BBQ cheesesteak, you can add cheese, vegan or otherwise.

This recipe makes a bunch of jackfruit so if you want to just give it a try, halve the recipe.  We love it and it keeps well in the fridge so you can use it for a few weeks.  We use it as a topping on veggie burgers or as a substitute for bacon in a BLT on Rye, too.

–~r

Domino's Pizza Experiment

Posted in Recipes with tags , , on January 19, 2010 by Verge

Okay, we certainly know full well that cheese is not vegan.  But, it really irks us when people ask us “are you allowed to eat that?”  Allowed by whom?  We allow ourselves to do and eat whatever the hell we want.  That’s why on my birthday I ate raw salmon, and that’s why tonight, we decided to try Domino’s new and improved, completely re-recipeed pizza.

Now, first off, I’d like to voice my skepticism and a little pizza preference.   Pizza is delicious, no doubt, but there are a hundred opinions of what makes a good slice of pie out there, and here’s mine.  First of all, Philadelphia is known for a few food staples.  Philly Pretzels, Philly Cheesesteaks and Philly Pizza.  Now, you’ve got your Chicago-style, your New York-style, and your Philly-Style Pizza.  Most often, Philly-style is epitomized by Lorenzo’s Pizza on South Street for the late night, drunken, cheap and quick slice.

Let me make myself absolutely clear on this subject.  Lorenzo’s Pizza SUCKS!  Shitty dough, unwieldy to handle, undercooked and soft, dripping with grease…I really feel ashamed when out-of-towners are told that they have to have a slice of this train wreck of a culinary experiment.  Lorenzo’s sucks so bad then you actually have to pay extra to get a box!

A lot of people also claim that chain store pizza is horrible, but their local so-called “real” pizza shop has kick ass pizza.  That’s a bunch of bullshit.  Most of the time, the local stores aren’t run by Italians at all.  In fact, it’s a whole separate debate whether or not Italians are the best people to make American pizza anyway.  All too often, the local Italian Restaurant is run by Mexicans and teenagers who serve shit pizza, sloppy white flour pasta with canned tomato sauce, and reconstituted Coca-Cola made from carbonated tap water and syrup.

Now, everyone has their own favorite kind of pizza, but this is the way I like it.  If the pizza is greasy, it’s made from poor ingredients.  If you have to towel off your slice, or hold it vertically to drain off orange liquid, that means that your pizza shop uses high-in-fat, low cost, bad for your health mozzeralla cheese.  Also, when I hold a slice vertically, not only should there not be any cheese fat dripping off the slice, but the cheese has to actually stay on the bread.  If it does not, the sauce is watered down and cheap and will likely slide right off of the pie with the first bite.  That is certain failure in my eyes.

The crust must be cooked enough to stay horizontal when you hold it by the crust.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be thin crust, but if it’s regular crust, it must be cooked enough to be firm.  It cannot be doughy or flimsy or soft.  The sauce doesn’t have to be made with actual fresh-cut ingredients, but it better have some oregano and basil and garlic flavor.  Sweetness is a sin.  Tomatoes are acidic, not sweet, and High Fructose Corn Syrup has no place in real tomato sauce.  SpaghettiOs, sure, but not pizza.

So, I really admire that Domino’s Pizza decided to shoot its own foot and admit that it’s product sucks.  They weren’t really claiming that they made the best pizza.  They promised that they would get you and your family or friends pizza damn quick, delivered in less than half an hour or it’s free.  And they did, for years, successfully.  And, they could have for years to come and continue to be profitable without rocking its own boat.

The local Domino’s Pizza is literally a mile from our house.  In the three years we’ve lived in Atco, we’ve gotten pizza from them twice.  The first time was the day we moved in because it was close, fast, cheap, and fed our friends quickly.   I wanted to try the new Domino’s pizza because they have been so damn bold in their advertising campaign.  Their introductory deal of two medium pies, each with two toppings, for 12 bucks, made it especially tempting.  We NEVER eat fast food, but I wanted to give this a shot as an experiment and, self-fulfilling enough, as a blog entry.

In a further test of the soundness of their business model,  I decided to order online.  I’m completely at ease ordering things online, but the Domino’s website was a whole new experience.  It truly kicks ass.  First of all, it worked flawlessly.  Subsequently, it had unmatched features.  The current coupons are right there, according to your locale.  You pick one and then proceed to fulfill the details of that coupon.  You can choose crust type, sauce type, and the toppings are divided into meat and non-meat varieties.  When you add a topping, you are given the choice of regular amount, extra amount, or light amount.  Furthermore, an interactive virtual pizza actually shows you what and how much your putting on your pie, which is a damn fine novelty.

We decided on two pies with normal crust, normal sauce and normal cheese, mostly because that is what we wanted to sample of their so-called new recipe.  One pie we decided to go with black olives and pineapple, and the other we went with extra spinach and extra feta cheese, a kind of Greek inspired pie.  After placing the order for pick up, and paying a couple of extra dollars for the Greek pizza, I was amazed by the awesomeness of Domino’s website.

As soon as you place your order, the website begins an interactive update of the progress of your pizza making.  It gives you the name of the person actually making your pizza, which must honestly be the name of the shift manager.  It also gives you the exact time of preparing, baking, quality control and readiness of your pies.  I’m sure that these are all just computer generated, but it’s pretty cool, and sure enough, accurate.

When we arrived, our pizzas were ready to go.  They smelled delicious on the ride home, but honestly, when does pizza not smell great?  So, here’s the real review of the brand new Domino’s pizza.

The ingredients were tasteful:  the pineapple was delicious, although I’m sure it was from a huge can, and the spinach taste very fresh.  The sauce was not as spicy nor as spicy (if you know what I mean) as the new ads claim.  It tasted like fairly regular pizza sauce.  The cheese was not cheap and greasy.  The crust was cooked well and the new butter and garlic paint job made the crust ends taste really delicious.

I enjoyed it.  I honestly like it better that a lot of pizza that is supposedly good.  It was cooked well, it wasn’t terribly disguising, and Domino’s website, customer service and accuracy were a welcomed bonus.  I’m not going to say that it was very healthy, or that we’ll be ordering every Friday like my family did for years, but for the price, it really can’t be beat.  I’ve had so-called real pies, and generally I’m out 15 bucks just to have my chin burned with piping hot cheese when I take my first bite.

And, even Poe liked it!

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