Padma Lakshmi made vegan lentil salad with Ellen! It’s nothing fancy, but it’s nice to see someone who is famous for eating all kinds of dead animals get so excited by cruelty-free food. Ellen, however controversial, continues to be charming. Also Padma is ridiculously beautiful, though I suspect those weirdly pleated pants are made of leather.
Canadian seal slaughter continues to blow »
It’s that time of year again, unfortunately: the Canadian seal hunt will soon be upon us. Hundreds of thousands of seals will be bludgeoned to death. It fucking sucks. From the Humane Society:
The Canadian government will allow the slaughter of 468,200 of harp, grey and hooded seals this year, an increase of 80,000 from 2010.
“The Harper government has declared war on Canada’s seals,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. “Stephen Harper is playing regional politics in the lead-up to a federal election at the expense of hundreds of thousands of defenseless baby seals. Harp seals are ice-dependent animals and they are facing the devastating loss of their ice habitat because of climate change. A responsible government would take immediate action to protect this population rather than recklessly encouraging a commercial slaughter.”
The 2011 harp seal quota is the highest set since the Canadian government introduced quota management in 1971. Today’s kill levels meet and exceed those of the 1950s and 1960s, when overhunting reduced the harp seal population by as much as two-thirds.
There’s been some good developments in the boycott: “Twelve of America’s favorite celebrity chefs have joined the Protect Seals boycott of Canadian seafood. Richard Blais, Jennifer Carroll, Carla Hall, Mike Isabella, Jamie Lauren, Antonia Lofaso, Dale Levitski, Angelo Sosa, Dale Talde, Casey Thompson, Fabio Viviani, and Tre Wilcox, all participants on Bravo’s Top Chef All Stars, are teaming up with the HSUS in an effort to end Canada’s commercial seal slaughter.” (thanks for the tip, Anne H!) So that’s good! It’s nice to know that not everybody sucks. I still can’t believe people eat seal. That’s so gross! That’s like eating bunnies! Oh, wait.
Also, China is taking real steps to ban the trade of seal products in the country. What’s up with China lately? I know there was the terrible live animals in key-chains thing but for somewhere with previously almost zero animal protection laws, they’ve really been making some strides for animal rights! They banned animal circuses, which many supposedly animal-friendly countries haven’t done. And now this stuff with the seal trade. Kudos, China! Or however you say kudos in Mandarin.
Here, you can also check out this Humane Society search engine for restaurants that participate in the seal boycott. Find a place to go and tell them you are there because you support their decision to take a stand against this SUPER GROSS industry!!!
Last night on Top Chef: Team Herbivore wins one for the vegans »
We don’t often write recaps, but the elimination challenge on last night’s episode of Top Chef was Team Carnivore vs. Team Herbivore, so of course we had to tell you about it. You hippies didn’t even know a new season of Top Chef was on, with your no-television-watching ways. It is a good thing we’re here.
The challenge was to make a breakfast for kids and their parents, following the American Museum of Natural History’s annual sleepover. The chefs, who had already been divided into two teams for the previous challenge, were given a choice between cooking as Team T. rex, a carnivorous dinosaur, or Team Brontosaurus, an herbivorous dinosaur. Also the name of a misclassified Apatosaurus, which was first established in 1903 but we collectively ignored that until 1989. Whoops. ANYWAY. The previously winning team chose “T. rex,” you know, because an herbivorous diet is totally scary and limited, oh no.
In the kitchen, the carnivore team had trouble—turned out they were only given animal products! No, Team Carnivore isn’t actually “Team Omnivore Without Produce!” They were shocked to find themselves envious of the Brontosaurs and their bounty,
Of course the Brontosaurs start fucking it up—GNOCCHI? Not a delicious pan-fried potato pie? ASSHOLES. Carla and team-leader Spike are making GAZPACHO. For children. Angry Dale and Spike have messed up polenta cake. Stupid stupid stupid, IT IS BREAKFAST.
At the 38-minute mark I realized what was wrong with them: they don’t understand vegan brunch. Where you and I might make sweet potato fries with smokey ketchup, quick seitan for fake bacon and sausage, a fruit crisp, muffins, cinnamon rolls, aguas frescas—they are floundering with lunch ideas.
Brontosaurus team dishes
Fresh corn grits, stewed peppers, salsa verde; Banana parfait with seasonal fruits and maple tandoori (this looked good!); V9 Gazpacho with fruits, vegetables, herbs; and Potato gnocchi with leeks, spinach and mushrooms.
Grits: good; kids: “kinda spicy.” Guest judge Joe Jonas didn’t like the texture. Gnocchi: delicious, great. The gazpacho wasn’t so popular. Shockingly. Because it’s fucking gazpacho for goddamn breakfast! Parfait’s everyone’s favorite, pretty and delicious.
On Team Carnivore, the saddest dish is definitely this “Braised bacon and hard-boiled egg,” chopped egg sprinkled atop a slice of pork belly all thick and gross, sitting in a tawny puddle of “its own juices.” Puke. It does appear the chefs got to use paprika, as there is lots of red powder on things. Also salt, they got salt. The line for Team Carnivore was super-long, but their food looked so gross, all nasty circles of rubbery-looking “frittatas,” ew.
TEAM HERBIVORE WON! And the winning dish was the banana parfait! That was obvious as soon as you saw it: gorgeous and the most breakfasty of all the foods.
Prior to Judge’s Table, Tiffani explained why she chose Team Carnivore: “I assumed, like, T. rex eats everything, Brontosaurus only eats veg; my assumption was we would have access to everything, and [Team Herbivore] would only have access to veg.” Pardon me just a moment: TIFFANI YOU ARE SO DUMB: 1. Learn the definitions of “carnivore” and “herbivore” and 2. SEE? SEE WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU ASSUME “VEGAN” = “LIMITED.”
[images via Bravo]
Top Chef: Just Desserts, episode six airs tonight, and our sixth chef is revealed! »
The fifth episode of Top Chef: Just Desserts airs on Bravo tonight (10 Eastern/Pacific), which means that we’re ready to unveil our sixth guest chef (see the first five here! Chocolate mousse! Margarita bombes! Toffee brownies! Panna cotta! Rice Krispy bars coated with chocolate and hazelnut butter! Mini cinnamon almond cakes! DO IT) who will veganize the episode’s winning dessert! Well, we’ve got our next fabulous chef and there’s no reason not to tell you RIGHTNOW who it is I just like a little suspense OK fine:
Please welcome Melisser, The Urban Housewife! The crew at Vegansaurus and Melisser go waaaaaay back. In fact, when Meave started the Vegan Brunch Cartel in 2007, Melisser, Megan Allison, Maria, and I were some of the first to join! Soon we were meeting monthly to create amazing vegan brunches from scratch (or if you’re me, amazing vegan mimosas from scratch!). My how we’ve grown (I’m not just talking physically! Vegan food is really good!) and I mean that especially for Melisser; not only is she busy running her awesome blog, moving to Vienna, and perfecting vegan candy corn (MAKE IT! It’s almost Halloween!); she’s now a published author, with The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life hitting the shelves in November! So exciting! We’re thrilled to see what Melisser does with the crazy challenges that Top Chef: Just Desserts throws her way tonight. Hopefully her time in the kitchen won’t include an elbow to the face, as it did for Heather here. Drama rama!
[can’t see the video? watch it at vegansaurus.com!]
Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Week five: VEGAN Red Hot Cinnamon Macaron and VEGAN Mini Cinnamon Almond Cakes! »
Welcome everyone to the fifth installation of Project Just Desserts, featuring our fourth guest chef, Vegan Dad! Remember how he’s great? Super-great, even! Last week Robin Robertson made a beautiful mango panna cotta with mango sorbet, açaí coulis, and basil-lime syrup; this week, Vegan Dad took on winner Morgan Wilson’s Red Hot Cinnamon Macaron “Earring.” Instead of the accompanying candy “ring,” Vegan Dad did his own version of a cinnamon candy petit four, a Mini Cinnamon Almond Cake! So creative! And this was a real challenge: he had to make a vegan meringue! Vegan Dad asked us to point out that his meringue “is not the holy grail of vegan egg whites,” but look at the photos of the plain meringue and of the macarons—he has nothing to apologize for. Good heavens. Would you like to see? Let’s go!
Makes 24 macaroons
¼ cup Ener-G egg replacer
6 Tbsp. ice cold water
2 Tbsp. soy protein isolate
⅛ tsp. xanthan gum
¼ cup fruit sugar
¼ cup icing sugar, sifted
75g fruit sugar
110g almond flour/meal
110g icing sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp. water
2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer
½ tsp. red gel food coloring
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper
1. Mix together egg replacer and water then beat on high in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until soft peak form. Add soy protein isolate slowly, then add xanthan gum.
2. Slowly add first measure of fruit sugar and the icing sugar and beat until incorporated.
3. Heat the 75g of fruit sugar with the water over med to medium high heat until it reaches 230 degrees. With the beater running, slowly dribble the sugar mixture into the bowl and beat to incorporate. The mixture should peak like you see in the picture.
3. In a separate bowl sift in the almond meal and the icing sugar. Add cinnamon. Blend together water and egg replacer in a small bowl, then add to the along mixture with the food coloring. Blend into a paste, then fold into the “egg white” mixture.
4. Transfer mixture into a piping bag, then squeeze out equal portions onto the prepared baking sheet trying to make the mounds as high as possible.
5. Prepare and bake one sheet at a time for 15 to 18 minutes, until firm and dry. Let cool then remove from baking sheet.
6. To serve, pipe some Red Hot Buttercream in between two macarons.
Red Hot Buttercream
¼ cup vegetable shortening
¼ cup margarine
1¾ cup icing sugar, sifted
½ tsp. red gel food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla
⅛ to ¼ tsp. cinnamon oil (depending on how hot you want it)
1 to 2 Tbsp. soy creamer
1. Blend together shortening and margarine in a stand mixer or with a hand blender until fluffy. Add sugar and beat until smooth.
2. Add food coloring, vanilla, and cinnamon oil and blend well. Add in enough soy creamer to make a creamy icing that still holds its shape.
Mini Cinnamon Almond Cakes
Makes 24 mini cakes
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup almond meal
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup margarine
½ cup icing sugar
½ cup fruit sugar
1 cup almond milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Sift together dry ingredients into a large bowl.
2. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk margarine until soft, then add icing sugar and beat to incorporate. Then add fruit sugar. When fully incorporated, slowly add in almond milk and the extracts. They wont actually blend together, but the idea is to get little bits of margarine swimming around in the liquid.
3. Add wet to the dry and mix to incorporate. Spoon batter into a nonstick mini-cupcake pan (24), filling the batter up to the top and smoothing it flat.
4. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick come out clean. They will not brown up much, so just make sure they are baked through. Remove from pan and cool upside down on wire racks.
5. When cool, dip the bottom into the cinnamon glaze, shake off excess, and let cool.
6. To serve, slice off the rounded top, then carefully slice in half (use a small serrated knife). Pipe butter cream frosting in between the layer and serve.
¼ cup cinnamon hearts
¼ cup water
1 tsp. margarine
1. Heat cinnamon hearts and water in a small pot over high heat. Stir constantly until cinnamon hearts have all melted and the mixture is smooth and slightly thick.
2. Whisk in margarine, then keep over low heat while you dip the cake tops in.
There you go! Two delicious-sounding, delicious-looking recipes from your/our/somebody’s Vegan Dad! Has anyone tried making any of the previous recipes yet? For reference, you can find them all here. If you do test out one of our veganized versions, please let us know! Send some pictures! Give a review! Play along!
Top Chef: Just Desserts, episode five airs tonight, and our fifth chef is revealed! »
The fifth episode of Top Chef: Just Desserts airs on Bravo tonight (10 Eastern/Pacific), which means that we’re ready to unveil our fourth guest chef (see the first four here! Chocolate mousse! Margarita bombes! Toffee brownies! Panna cotta! Rice Krispy bars coated with chocolate and hazelnut butter! DO IT) who will veganize the episode’s winning dessert! Well, it keeps getting better, and Imma ‘bout to tell you why.
Our first male veganizer* takes the stage and it’s none other than Vegan Dad! Vegan Dad is the freakin’ best. If I weren’t hella old, I would move to Canada and make him adopt me. Since that can’t happen, I’ll have to make due with making a million of his amazing recipes. He’s got everything from vegan hot wings to homemade vegan sausages to Italian tempeh meatballs. Uh, as you can see, it’s heavy on the savory. BUT NEVER FEAR! Vegan Dad is a multitalented dude who lists Top Chef as one of his favorite TV shows, and he’s most definitely up to taking the winning entry and making it ridiculously tasty. Even if the dessert is for chocolate- and shoe-fetishists.
[can’t see the video? watch it on vegansaurus.com!]
Lez do this, Bravo!
*What is it about men who cook? They straight turn me into Cathy, like looking for chocolate hidden under couches and making out with cats!
Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Week four: VEGAN Mango Panna Cotta, Açaí Fluid Gel and Mango Sorbet with Basil-Lime Syrup! »
Last week, Celine Steen gave us peanut butter krispy bars and toffee fudge brownies, and they were scrumptious, right? Like your at-home efforts turned up 1,000 percent. This week Just Desserts got all complicated and fancypants again; luckily our guest chef is the super-skilled Robin Robertson; we felt confident that the head of Global Vegan Kitchen could manage something as nonsensically complicated-sounding as Mango Panna Cotta, Açaía Fluid Gel and Passion Fruit Sorbet—with Tarragon Syrup, of course. Musn’t forget the tarragon.
Robin, because she is great, includes some small lessons with her recipe, so there is nothing more to say about her triumph, besides CONGRATULATIONS! and AMAZING!, maybe. Therefore we proudly give you over to Robin Robertson!
Three out of four of the main components of this dessert challenge are already vegan, so I’ve concentrated my veganizing efforts on the mango panna cotta. Literally “cooked cream” in Italian, a panna cotta is traditionally made with heavy cream and gelatin—definitely not vegan.
Even though the other elements of this dessert are already vegan, I still wanted to give them some kind of makeover, so I reworked them to be more accessible for the home kitchen. I mean, I can’t be the only one who doesn’t own a liquid nitrogen tank. And is it just me, or does “açaí fluid gel” sound like something you’d rub into a patch of dry skin? Call me crazy, but I think desserts should not only taste delicious, they should sound appetizing as well. It’s an added bonus if they don’t take all day to make, and if you can actually buy the ingredients at the supermarket.
So here you have it: my veganized version of mango panna cotta, as well as my own easy-and-accessible spin on the accompanying “fluid gel,” sorbet, and “tarragon” syrup.
Ready to serve!
Vegan Mango Panna Cotta, Açaí Fluid Gel & Mango Sorbet with Basil-Lime Syrup
Mango Panna Cotta
Instead of serving the panna cotta in slices, I went for the more traditional individual mold. To replace the cream, I used coconut milk, since it goes so well with mango, but soy creamer or a cashew cream (such as MimicCreme) can be used instead.
1 cup coconut milk
¾ cup sugar
1 Tbsp. agar powder
1 cup pureed mango
1 cup tofu cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine the coconut milk, sugar, and agar, in a pot and let sit for 5 minutes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. In a food processor or high-speed blender, combine the coconut milk mixture with the mango, tofu cream cheese, and vanilla, and process until smooth. Quickly transfer the mixture into individual cups or molds. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour. To unmold, place a plate over each mold and invert onto the plates. If it doesn’t come out easily, set each mold in warm water for a few seconds or run a knife along the edges of the mold.
Açaí Fluid Gel
I was surprised to find that my local supermarket has açaí juice. Still, I think “açaí coulis” has a better ring than “açaí fluid gel.”
⅓ cup açaí juice
1 tsp. agar agar powder
Combine the acai juice and agar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate to set until needed. When ready to use, blend the mixture in a blender to liquefy.
I just couldn’t bring myself to use corn syrup and grapeseed oil to make the syrup, and I thought basil would be a better match than tarragon (plus I have a lot of fresh basil on hand and zero tarragon). I think my basil-lime syrup is more appetizing and certainly easier to make. Best of all, it contains no oil or corn syrup, or tarragon, for that matter.
¼ cup lime jelly
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. water
1 cup fresh basil leaves, blanched, shocked, and squeezed dry
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, lime jelly, and water, stirring to dissolve the sugar and melt the jelly. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Transfer the mixture to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and set aside until needed.
Ready for show!
The original recipe calls for passion fruit juice, and I can say with certainty that there is no passion fruit juice available within a 60-mile radius of my home. I made a mango sorbet instead, using whole fruit instead of the juice for a richer flavor. Since the mango is subtle in the panna cotta, I like getting an extra wallop of mango from the sorbet. I went with a curved slab shape for the sorbet instead of a scoop to juxtapose the Bravo set-up. (The sorbet is cut into cubes for the scaled down dessert photo.)
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
2 cups diced fresh mango
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
In a blender or food processor, combine the mango and lime juice and blend until smooth. Add the cooled sugar syrup to the mango mixture and process until smooth.
Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. When the mixture is finished churning in the machine, transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for 1 to 2 hours.
In case you
are too lazy to cannot find the link to the left, click here to read the Project Just Desserts archive. Please let us know if you attempt Robin’s recipe, or any of the recipes past or future! Send photos! Play along!
Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Week three: VEGAN Peanut Butter Krispy Bar and VEGAN Toffee Fudge Brownie! »
Last week, guest veganizer Janet Hudson made gorgeous margarita bombes three ways, a recipe that nicely synced up with our last week of really summery weather. For the third installment of Vegansaurus’ Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef, we are pleased to introduce Celine Steen! As you know, Celine is the proprietor of the highly regarded Have Cake, Will Travel, and the author of several cookbooks. For her challenge, she needed to recreate the winning recipe from a school bake sale, something particularly suited to her vegan talents.
Celine being a superstar, she decided to veganize both the winning dessert and the second-place dessert, so lucky us, we get two recipes this week! The first is for Eric Wolitzky’s Peanut Butter Krispy Bar, spelled that way because he used fancy brand-name cereal. Also he baked for something like a billion children, which is why the those proportions look insane. Celine cut them down to regular, one-household size for you, of course, but never mind that: Let’s bake some tasty rectangular prisms!
Vegan Peanut Butter Krispy Bar
The first topping will appear darker than the one used on the show, since semi-sweet chocolate is used rather than milk chocolate. If you find affordable and tasty vegan milk chocolate, by all means, this will be delicious too.
Puffed cereal layer
¼ cup nondairy butter
¼ cup water
¼ cup light agave nectar or light corn syrup
⅓ cup granulated sugar
4 to 6 cups puffed rice (or other puffed cereal; quantity may vary depending on the size of the puffed cereal chosen)
1 cup (132 g) semisweet chocolate
½ cup plus 2 Tbs (140 g) natural peanut butter, at room temperature or slightly heated, to combine easily
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs (140 g) store-bought or homemade vegan hazelnut chocolate spread, at room temperature or slightly heated, to combine easily
1 cup (132 g) bittersweet chocolate
3 Tbs (42 g) natural peanut butter
1 tsp light agave nectar or light corn syrup
Puffed cereal layer
Melt nondairy butter; set aside.
Combine water, agave/corn syrup and sugar; cook to soft ball stage. Whisk melted nondairy butter into soft ball sugar.
Pour over puffed cereal and fold together well. Add enough cereal so that it is coated and moist.
Pour mixture into an 8-inch square pan lined with parchment or wax paper and coated with nonstick cooking spray.
Spread out evenly, press down firmly with more parchment or wax paper to minimize the mess, and let cool.
Melt chocolate using bain-marie method or microwave. Combine with peanut butter and chocolate spread. Pour and spread this mixture over cooled puffed cereal preparation. Let cool to set up.
Melt bittersweet chocolate, peanut butter and agave/corn syrup.
Pour and spread over bars.
Let entire pan cool overnight.
Cut into desired shapes. Stores well in the freezer.
The proportion gigantism continues in the second-place recipe, Malika Ameen’s Toffee Fudge Brownie, aside from which they also look kind of gross. Sure, a cup of heavy cream, that seems, um, reasonable, but 22 eggs? Not while Jack DeCoster’s still Mister Egg USA. Thank goodness for Celine and her mighty veganizing powers!
Vegan Toffee Fudge Brownie
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup unsweetened coconut cream (makes for a buttery taste; can be found at international markets. Use any other nondairy creamer if desired)
½ cup light agave nectar or light corn syrup
½ pound (227 g) nondairy butter, cut into cubes
Non-stick cooking spray or nondairy butter
3.5 ounces (100 g) 70 percent chocolate
¼ cup plus 1 Tbs (70 g) nondairy butter
3 packed Tbs (39 g) light brown sugar
½ cup plus 2 Tbs (115 g) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 g) blended silken tofu
2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup (60 g) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ sheet of toffee, cut into good-sized chunks*
1. Have a Silpat-lined baking sheet and a large offset spatula handy.
2. In medium saucepan, combine cream, sugar and agave/corn syrup.
3. Over medium-high heat, bring mixture to a boil without stirring. Brush sides of pan with wet pastry brush to dissolve any sugar.
4. Add butter and continue to cook without stirring until mixture becomes light brown.
5. When mixture becomes light brown, begin to stir with a heatproof spatula until it becomes a caramel color and thick enough to be poured without spilling. The whole process may take up to 15 minutes.
6. Carefully pour mixture onto Silpat-lined sheet tray and spread to about ¼-inch thickness.
7. Let toffee cool and store it in the freezer.
1. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Melt chocolate with butter over a bain-marie or use the microwave, if you are a soulless baker like me.
2.Transfer into a large bowl and, using an immersion blender, combine with sugars, tofu, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla until smooth. Fold in flour, baking powder and toffee chunks.
3.Bake at 325°F for 20 to 30 minutes. Mine were done after 26 minutes: you’ll know they’re ready when the top is set and the sides pull away from the pan.
There will be leftover toffee, which keeps well in the freezer. The brownies taste great straight from the freezer, too.
*Larger toffee chunks tend to stay whole in the brownies, as opposed to smaller ones that melt almost completely. Regardless, you’ll definitely taste the toffee.
We are so grateful to Celine for veganizing two recipes for us! If you don’t already read her blog, what is wrong with you? She writes recipes for six cookies at a time! Because sometimes you only want to make six cookies! I can’t believe no one’s offered her a deal specifically for one-to-two-person recipes; this is the USA, we are DUMB and LAZY and math is for immigrants and their children. In case you are too lazy to find the link on the left, click here to read the Project Just Desserts archive. Please let us know if you attempt Celine’s recipe’s, or Janet’s margarita bombes, or Laura’s mousse torte, or any of the recipes to come! Send photos! Play along!
Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Week two: VEGAN Margarita Bombe with a Lime Cookie, Tequila Mousse and Grand Marnier Crème Brûlée—three ways! »
Last week, Laura made an incredible-sounding vegan double-chocolate mousse torte to inaugurate Vegansaurus’ Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! For the second week, we are honored to welcome the proprietor of Vegan Feast Catering, a.k.a Wasabi Peas, a.k.a Janet Hudson to veganize the winner’s dessert, a "Margarita Bombe with a Lime Cookie, Tequila Mousse, and Grand Marnier Crème Brûlée." Sounds insane, right? The elimination challenge was to make a dessert “inspired by a cocktail,” and all their theme ingredients came from “behind the bar,” which is to say, liquor, juice, and garnishes.
In comparison to winner Erika Davis' recipe, Janet substituted agar agar for gelatin, MimicCreme and her famous nut cream for heavy cream, soft tofu for egg yolks, and ground flax seeds in water for eggs. That’s not a lot of substitution, right? Well, first you have to figure out what substitute vegan ingredient would be appropriate where; then you have to know how to manipulate them into behaving like the non-vegan items they’re replacing. Janet, however, is a talented vegan chef, and she came up with an incredible recipe that you could, if you dared, replicate at home! Oh man, you think you’re ready for these bombes—you’re not ready. Too late, here’s Janet!
Trio of Vegan Margarita Bombes, by Janet Hudson
This winning dessert has five components: a lime cookie base, luscious mousse, surprise custard filling, saucy tequila coulis, and fresh fruit topping with a salty kick. And this one is vegan. Top this, Top Chef.
Citrus Crème Brûlée
2 cups MimicCreme or soy creamer
1 cup soft tofu
¾ cup raw sugar
1 vanilla bean scraped
zests of ½ lemon; 1 lime; ½ orange
3 Tbsp agar agar, bloomed in ¼ cup warm soy creamer
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup raw sugar
½ cup vegetable margarine
flax seed to replace 2 eggs
zest of 1 lime
2 pinch salt
¾ cup each vanilla sauce ( ¼ cup each flavor)
4½ cups non-dairy whipped cream or nut cream (1½ cup each flavor)
6 tbsp agar agar, bloomed in warm fruit juice (2 Tbsp each flavor)
Tequila to taste
½ cup each: strawberry puree; orange juice; grated melon in Midori Melon Liqueur, to taste
1 cup lemonade
zests of ½ lime; ½ orange
3 Tbsp cornstarch
Trio of Vegan Margarita Bombes unsliced, by Janet Hudson
1. In a bowl mix sugar, tofu and zests. Bring MimicCreme/soy creamer and vanilla to a boil.
2. Temper hot and cold mixtures together and add agar agar. Bake at 325 degrees till set; this will take approximately 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool down until very cold.
1. Mix sugar, butter, salt, and flax eggs until creamed. Add lime zest and flour, and mix until incorporated. Place in cooler for 15 minutes; then roll out to ¼-inch thick and cut with 3” round cutter. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.
Prepare three bowls: melon, strawberry and traditional.
1. Whip nut cream to a soft medium peak. Warm the vanilla sauce with each flavor and add the agar agar. Allow to cool a bit and fold in cream. Refrigerate until cool.
2. Scoop the crème brulée with a small ice cream scoop. Pour a little mousse into individual round molds, place the crème brulée bomb in the middle, and cover with more mousse. Place in the freezer to set.
1. Bring the sugar, juices and zest to a low boil. Then tighten a little with cornstarch and add the tequila to taste.
2. Slice some thin lime wedges, strawberries and melon. Set aside.
Paint a plate with the coulis, place the lime cookie on the plate, and unmold the bombe in the center of the cookie. You may cut in half as you wish. Sprinkle with some lime zest and garnish with sliced fruit or lime wedge. Top it off with some coarse sea salt.
Yields six servings: melon, strawberry, and traditional, or a total of 18 bombes.
Trio of Vegan Margarita Bombes, by Janet Hudson
We cannot thank Janet enough for making these for us. The most unbelievable part is that she is this creative on a daily basis! Now ideally, we’d have been onsite to witness her genius in action, and then we’d have eaten them all up (perhaps with a mezcal cocktail), but sadly distance kept your Vegansaurus from devouring these brilliant little bombes immediately after plating. We’ll all just have to make our own, just like you. Let us know if you attempt this recipe, or Laura’s mousse torte, or any of the recipes to come! Tell us how well you did, send us photos! Play along!
Top Chef: Just Desserts, episode two airs tonight, and our second chef is revealed! »
The second episode of Top Chef: Just Desserts airs on Bravo tonight (10 Eastern/Pacific), which means that we’re ready to unveil our second guest chef (uh, the first guest chef was me even though I’m neither a guest or a chef! but check it out, I veganized a pretty rad dessert!) who will veganize the episode’s winning dessert! Have you been able to bear the suspense? We have, but just barely!
This week’s guest chef is the MOST AMAZING Janet Hudson of Vegan Feast Catering in San Diego! Janet updates her Tumblr multiple times a day (like us! high five!) and has a huge following on Flickr, because she is not only an accomplished chef, but a talented food photographer. She’s also very generous; although she’s already published one cookbook (buy it!) and is in the process of publishing another, she regularly shares her recipes and techniques with her readers. We’ve featured her amazing food a few times, and once she created a recipe just for us! We are the luckiest! And also, the pushiest!
Janet has been vegan for over 15 years, and has obviously picked up the skillz to pay the billz during that time. Seriously, if you ever want to stare compulsively at a computer screen for hours on end, you’ll tape a picture of my adorable mug to it. Awww…. BUT REALLY FOLKS, you’ll check out her Flickr stream—it’s as prolific as it is delicious! We’re all winners!
We’re honored to have Janet veganize tonight’s dessert, whatever insane concoction it might be. Hopefully it won’t involve some horrible combination like lard and licorice. But if it did (and it might! Top Chef is so crafty!), Janet could do it, she is amazing! Next Monday, we’ll reveal her dessert and the recipe so you can all go forth and conquer TV food in your own home. Ow!
AND FINALLY, here is a video of one of the contestants flipping out about something ridiculous. KILL YOUR TELEVISION. I kid, watch the show and play along!
[can’t see the video? watch it at vegansaurus.com!]
*Just like last week, no one is paying us to watch or promote this show. If someone decides to give us money to do this, we’ll let you know!