vegansaurus!

09/20/2010

Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Week one: VEGAN Dark Chocolate Mousse Torte with Chocolate Grand Marnier Sauce!   »

Last week Meave wrote about a super-secret project that we’re unleashing on the world, and THIS IS IT: we’re veganizing the winning dessert recipe from each week of Top Chef: Just Desserts. FOR SERIOUS. And not just us—we’re getting famous vegan chefs and bloggers to do it, too! All your favorites, making you brand-spanking-new vegan dessert recipes, inspired by television! If this isn’t the American Dream, I don’t know what is.

So, tune in (ha!) to Vegansaurus each Monday, when we present the veganized version of last week’s winning dessert, with a recipe you can all try at home! SO HOT.

Since week one is for chumps, I did it. I mean, who cares who won or got kicked off in the beginning? Nobody, that’s who. Especially when the Boy Raised Vegan was blowing edible glitter (“disco dust!!!!!!!”) all over his dessert, and one of the judges was basically one of us, except that we know that “It was like a party in my mouth!” is not something you say to people who make food, if you ever want them to take you seriously. Also, we are not 33-year-olds still in our teenage Rockabilly phase, with a website full of pictures of ourselves posing with our sexxxxxy tattoos and our shiny pompadours, all pouty and smouldering. I don’t know what says “genius pastry chef” more than a muscle tee and a wallet chain, really. But even though I’m not a for-real pastry chef, I do my fair share of at home baking shenanigans AND I am the WebMistress for VegWeb.com, so I should (I said SHOULD) know SOMETHING. 

The first week’s winning dessert was a Dark Chocolate Mousse Torte with Chocolate Grand Marnier Sauce. So we’re off to an easy start WHAT NO WE’RE NOT. Bravo published the original recipe online, so thankfully, I have that to start with, unlike winner Heather Hurlbert. But then, look at that recipe. HELLO CONFUSING. Damn, why are people so fancy? Why couldn’t the winning recipe be Oreo Sundae (that is simply a sundae topped with Oreos. BAM!). Oh, well…here goes!


[image courtesy bravotv.com]

VEGAN Dark Chocolate Mousse Torte with Chocolate Grand Marnier Sauce! (the exclamation point means I made it!)

WHAT IT DO:
Sable Cookie Base

1 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose white flour

Chocolate Shavings
Dude, just shave a dark chocolate bar. No need to get crazy.

Dark Chocolate Mousse (adapted from Mori Nu recipe)
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup amaretto (liquor! yes!)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 packages Silken Lite Firm Tofu

White Chocolate Mousse (straight stolen from Bitter Sweet)
3 ounces White Chocolate
1 10.14-ounce Container Whippable Soy (or Oat) Cream (divided)
3/4 teaspoon Agar Agar Powder

Chocolate Grand Marnier Sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup coconut creamer (or you can use soy! whatevs!)
1 cup chocolate chips
Zest of one orange
1/4 cup Grand Marnier

HOW IT DO:
1. Make the shortbread. This is quite easy as you can use your favorite recipe. YOU’RE DONE! If you don’t have a favorite, I’ll start mine. SO: preheat your oven to 350 F, and lightly grease a baking sheet.  

2. Cream margarine and powdered sugar until combined. Add vanilla and salt, then slowly fold in flour and combine until it’s a big ball of dough. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then roll out onto your greased baking sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, and let cool. 

3. Start dark chocolate mousse. This recipe is hella easy. Melt chocolate chips in microwave oven with 2 Tbsp. of water. Thoroughly blend tofu in a blender or a food processor. Add melted chocolate, amaretto, and vanilla to the tofu and blend at high speed for 2 minutes. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours. 

4. Make white chocolate mousse. Since this is Bitter Sweet's EXCELLLLLLENT recipe, I’ll make you go over there to use it. You can make the white chocolate per Hannah’s instructions, or you can buy some!

5. Make Chocolate Grand Marnier Sauce: Make a dry caramel with the sugar, deglaze with the coconut creamer, pour over chocolate chips, melt that down, add zest, put in the Grand Marnier. DONE! This veganized especially well.

6. PUT THIS BITCH TOGETHER: Cut off a chunk of short bread and plate it. Put some dark chocolate mousse on top of it, then top that with some white chocolate mousse. Pour the Grand Marnier sauce over that and, if you want, shave a chocolate bar on top of that and add some orange slices. INSANITY.

THE VERDICT:
This was mighty, mighty tasty. Something that would surely impress any omni-crowd, and make vegans start naming babies and buildings and cities after you. No joke. Because my plating was terrible messiness, I don’t have pictures of my creation and I KNOW that’s a huge no-no, so I will be making it again (the things I do for you people!) and adding photos later on in the week. The dessert actually wasn’t as intimidating as it seemed at first glance; it’s just two types of mousse over a shortbread cookie, with a delightful, boozy sauce. Pretty easy, and pretty impressive. I’ll make it again, at least once, as I need some damn pics. Until then, a Google drawing of my masterpiece:

Now, stay tuned (ha! again!) for next week, when a REAL FAMOUS VEGAN CHEF or BLOGGER takes the stage, ready to take on Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Ow!

12/04/2009

Top Chef Comes To Napa  »

NapaDid anyone watch Top Chef this week? They were sorta-local to San Francisco; in Napa Valley, being judged by Michael Chiarello of Bottega, and he shockingly did not throw a hissy fit at any of the chefs. He must haveve gotten some anger management classes in between filming this episode and Top Chef Masters.

The entire episode was a commercial for Napa, filled with tons of scripted “confessionals” about how OMG AMAZING Napa is and I have to say: good for them for really milking that Top Chef placement. Vegas kind of wasted that potential.

Anyway, I come back to you for this episode because the elimination challenge specifically demanded making one vegetarian dish and one “protein” dish (notice how they did not say MEAT, they just said “protein”), which made it a far more veg-friendly episode than most. Which is to say, it was still covered in foie gras foam but.. at least the herbivore guests were not doomed to eating the garnishes.

Here were the options:

Kevin Gillepsie

Roasted Beets and Carrots with Carrot Top Puree and San Andreas Cheese

Ignoring that the puree looks like chewed up baby vomit and the cheese looks totally superflous it still looks pretty good. I remember the first time I had a beet that wasn’t out of a can. It was glorious.

Jen Carroll (our eliminated cheftestant) (Sorry if you haven’t seen it yet, I know I just ruined your life forever)

Chevre Mousse with Honey Mushrooms, Braised Radishes and Basil

UGH MORE PUREED FOOD IT’S LIKE THEY’RE TRYING TO KILL ME. The honey mushrooms are not what you think they are. I know the judges liked it because of the basil, but this dish is why I think Jen was eliminated. What is it exactly? It feels like she just put this random assortment of ingredients together. The radishes would be a nice amuse bouche.

For some reason, Bravo TV did not put up recipes for Michael and Bryan’s vegetarian recipes, so I have to use my memory, which having gone to a liberal arts college, I have to say, is not that great. Michael made poached eggs and veggie pistou  (Padma did not like her poached eggs) and Bryan made a goat cheese ravioli, which everyone seemed to love. If Jen had been a bit more careful with her veg-dish, he would’ve gone home.

So, the big question: who do we think will win? It’s anyone’s guess, but I’m hoping it’s Kevin.

Local (as in Napa) places featured on this week’s episode:

Rutherford Winery (where they met to hear the elimination challenge details)

Long Meadow Ranch (the “farmer’s market” they bought their local produce from)

Brix (where the elimination challenge dinner was held)

Napa Valley Wine Train (where the quickfire challenge was held)

The links above are given for reference only, not as an endorsement of any of those establishments.

Image: Via Flickr Creative Commons

10/29/2009

Top Chef Six: Vegetarian hijinx  »

This episode of Top Chef is actually titled “Meat Natalie,” which is an idiotic pun that Vegansaurus scoffs at. We are above puns. OK, that is a lie. More importantly: Vegetables won! Hooray for vegetables.

Following a TV Guide-sponsored Quickfire, which we will skip over because of its impertinence to vegetables, the chefs are told they will get to cook at Tom Colicchio’s craftsteak [sic] the next day, and dismissed. At home, they discuss the different meats and cuts of meats that they are planning to cook; this isn’t very interesting, except for the part where we already know that they won’t be cooking one tiny piece of meat. Foreshadowing! Dramatic irony!

The following day, the chefs arrive at craftsteak and start running around the kitchen, ogling all the animal carcasses and preparing themselves to start cooking. Then, in comes Colicchio, smiling the smuggest smile in the world, and tells them to hold up a second, because he wants to introduce the guest judge: Natalie Portman! Mike Isabella does a gross thing with his face, as is his wont.

Natalie tells them that she loves food and she is an adventurous eater and hahaha! a vegetarian, so no dead animals in the food pls. Every chef’s little face falls, all Meat meat everywhere and not a fire to cook, or whatever; Natalie and Colicchio grin like cats that’ve eaten two mock-canary canaries and skip off while the cheftestants wail and moan and gnash their evolved-to-eat-flesh teeth. Har.

It doesn’t seem to go terribly at first, actually; according to Colicchio’s blog, the producers had trucked in a ton of produce from the Santa Monica Greenmarket [sic] just for this challenge, and they had a lot of options, including delicious morels and fresh garbanzo beans. Poor Jennifer, already beaten down from her loss in the Quickfire (her TV dinner was not the least disgusting) loses a dried-orange-peel toss to Eli and is forced to use baby eggplants instead of the lovely Japanese ones she wanted. That is tension and drama, you guys: eggplants.

Kevin voiceovers that as he and his wife eat vegetarian during every Lent, he’s familiar with veg cooking, although it’s difficult for him to get enough to eat. “When you eat meat, it leaves you satiated,” he says, his arms full of produce. Let us note here that only three of the chefs included a non-vegetable item on their plates—Eli’s lentils, Michael V.’s polenta, Robin’s chickpeas—and only the polenta looked like it’d be enough for a serving. They weren’t up to Millennium’s standards, is what I’m saying. Kevin, who stars in the beat-the-DVRs montage this week as “Guy who can really put away some food,” may want to consider eating something both plant-based and a significant source of protein next Lent, because no duh if you only eat produce you won’t feel full for long.

First to serve is Robin: she has made stuffed squash blossoms, beet carpaccio and fresh chickpeas with chermoula (a blend of spices from Morocco, made here into a sauce). She didn’t finish plating in time and not all the guests got the handful of little green garbanzo beans she was sort of tossing onto each plate. It doesn’t sound like anyone particularly enjoys it. Eli is next with a confit of Japanese eggplant, lentils, garlic puree, and a radish salad. Mostly they love it, and it does look pretty and sound appetizing. That is the extent to which viewers can judge food on this show.

Thirdly comes the mildly less-dickish Michael, Voltaggio! He has made a fancy plate, with savory banana polenta, three-asparagus salad, and “Japanese tomato sashimi,” which looks like a little dollop of the gel-n-seeds center of a tomato, with a sprig of something green on top. The banana polenta freaks all the eaters out, in a good way, and the asparagus gets praise as well. Honestly though, that tomato sashimi is ridiculous. No one likes the insides of a tomato best, that’s why people don’t eat them like apples. Jennifer serves next, very nervously; she presents charred baby eggplant, braised fennel, and tomato coins, in a verjus nage. She sauces tableside, hands shaking; it’s hard to watch. It’s roundly agreed that her food is tasty, but there isn’t enough of it. Plus, some of the guests are nagent in the verjus, because of the saucing.

Mike I. had a problem cooking his leeks. He wants to cut and serve them like scallops, which I get, but the water didn’t heat in time so they were underbraised, and then he doesn’t even slice them like scallops, just sort of drapes them limply across the plate, parallel to some fingerling potatoes atop a baby carrot puree. It is a pathetic plate of food, and the baby carrot puree is especially unappetizing. Bryan next serves artichokes barigoule, confit of shallots, wild asparagus, and fennel puree, with spring garlic blossoms. There are jokes about little pricks that expand in the mouth, and if anyone threw in a TWSS, the Magical Elves didn’t include it (boo), though there is plenty of giggling because accidental penis jokes make us all 12.

Kevin serves last; he has made a duo of mushrooms (morels and hen of the woods), smoked kale, and turnip puree with candied garlic. They love the “meatiness” of the mushrooms, and the overall heartiness of the dish; it is pronounced “manly,” which means it is the best, just like meat!

At Judges Table, the top three are Eli, Michael V., and Kevin. Gail goes nuts about Eli’s dish, which she continues in her blog, where she also talks about her adolescence as a “pesco-vegetarian”/pescetarian*. Still, Kevin and his mushrooms win! He’s awarded a suite of G.E. appliances, “just like” the ones in the Top Chef Kitchen, ooooh. Michael V. confessionals that Kevin’s food was not impressive at all, and we wonder why he’s started getting the dick edit.

Jennifer, Robin, and Michael I. are the bottom three chefs this week. Jennifer, mostly because there just wasn’t enough food, and what she made seemed like sides instead of a main course; Robin because, as usual, she made a big crazy mess that tasted all right in parts and oddly seasoned in others; and Michael I. because his food gave everyone a sad. He explains with some difficulty the leeks-as-scallops bit, which the judges sort of cotton on to, but they criticize him for not including any protein. Gail straight-up asks him if he understands that a leek is not a protein, which reminds me of the time a friend of mine asked if bananas had any dairy in them. Mike does know the difference between “leeks” and “actual sources of protein,” but he doesn’t seem to care too much that he messed up. It seems like maybe he assumed he would never be kicked out before Robin, so he stayed casual about his mistakes in this challenge, which is too bad because he is, in fact, asked to pack his knives and go. Whoops, there’s his pride!

There wasn’t much controversy this episode, despite the producers’ HILARIOUS bait-and-switch with the steakhouse—but vegetarian food business. No one said anything egregiously stupid about eating veg, and Colicchio was all about how the challenge rang super-true to him, what with all the non-meat-eaters coming into his craftsteaks all the time to eat and how he always caters to them. If you recall, he also chose a vegan recipe as his favorite sandwich in the ‘wichcraft cookbook a few months ago. That said, it was also kind of disappointing, as none of the dishes seemed to-die-for impressive. At least Eli wasn’t wearing his “bacon” shirt this episode! Small favors, you guys. Small favors.

*Obvs pescatarians are not vegetarians.

10/26/2009

Natalie Portman on This Week’s Top Chef  »

It’s finally here: Natalie Portman’s episode on Top Chef. No joke, our post on Natalie Portman guesting on Top Chef is our most popular ever. Never doubt the ability of dudes to Google the shit out of their out-of-reach crushes they will never get to sleep with!

Her vegan-ness is still up for some debate, and even the teaser clip (which you can watch below), doesn’t reveal what her dietary restrictions will consist of, whether it’s just a vegetarian dish or a full-on vegan meal. What’s funny is that the chefs get sent to Craftsteak, Tom Colicchio’s steakhouse, and all get boners over the variety of meat available in the kitchen, only to have them hopelessly deflated by Natalie. Usually it’s the opposite in her case, right?

Will you be watching?!

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10/23/2009

Vegan Halloween candy, Oprah (!), weekend events, and FINALLY: findings from Japanese whaling research! All in this week’s link-o-rama!  »

Meaverly's computer is out of commission right now (ugh computers are such pieces of shit, except this one, i love you, computer, you are very attractive, please don't explode on me) and so I'm taking over this ship. Get ready to crash into the rocks! Gloriously!

HERE WE GO:

Natalie Portman is gonna be on Top Chef. WILL IT BE AN ALL-VEGAN EPISODE, now that she is recently vegan!? I mean, we think she is but we’ve been confused before! Here’s hoping the episode is totally vegan but we’re not planning on it because OMG COOKING VEGAN FOOD NIGHTMARE HOW WILL WE FIND FLAVOR WITHOUT USING BABY BLOOD!?!? Didn’t they once have a Quickfire challenge where they had to cook fellow contestant’s children? I’m pretty sure that was in Season 3.

Even though we’re nearing the end of October, Vegan MoFo is still in full swing! If you’re interested in winning some awesome handmade cups & dishes, head to Vessels & Wares to enter! You have to put down your favorite blog entry and PLEASE GOD let it be one from Vegansaurus because I’m like srsly close to the edge today.

Vegan chef Tal Ronnen was on Oprah. THAT IS CORRECT. Now, his book is the 3rd best selling thing on ALL OF AMAZON. Such is the power of the mighty, mighty O. IF you missed it, you can check out his recipes from the show and BUY HIS BOOK. Because it’s really great. And we want him to beat out Sarah Palin and take the #1 spot on Amazon! YOU CANNOT LET SARAH PALIN WIN. I need you to fight like we did back in 2008, people.

Remember when the UN Report, LIvestock’s Long Shadow, came out and everyone was terrified and disgusted? Well, apparently that report grossly underestimates exactly how bad animal agriculture is for the earth. Blarg.

Wayne Pacelle, head honcho of HSUS, posted a great blog entry on 50 things you can do for animals. Definitely worth a read and then TAKE SOME ACTION, LAZY.

Speaking of lists, Rory Freeman has a great one up at Crazy Sexy Life. It’s all about how to be a better person and it’s not all schmaltzy and lame, it’s full of good advice. NOW IF ONLY I COULD TAKE IT.

FINALLY, the results from all the Japanese whaling research (read: killing whales and not doing any research) are in: whales eat krill; and, you can’t inject whale sperm into a cow egg and get a hybrid whale-cow. SERIOUSLY. If this makes you really mad—and it must because you have a brain and a heart—donate to Sea Shepherd so that they can get better at doing what they’re doing because even if they look crazy sometimes (read: almost 100 percent of the time), they are the only ones out there doing this and they will get better.

VegNews has up an awesome definitive guide to vegan Halloween candy because we’re all totally fat around here and gotta have it.

You’ve probably for sure seen this but if not, it’s a HOUND DOG hanging with an ORANGUTAN. Watch it and you’ll want to gouge out your eyeballs when you’re done because you’ll never see something so great again. And you’re into self-mutilation. I guess you’d need to have those two things going for you.

The long awaited, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, isn’t available on Amazon yet but Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe has it if you need it gotta have it right now. Which, you might because COOKIES!!!

WEEKEND EVENTS WOO!
If you’re all about the street food, there is an event in the Mission on Saturday, Oct. 24th. I can’t tell exactly what it is, film screenings, mainly, I think. There will be lots of food carts on the scene, many vegan friendly. No guarantees obviously b/c those crazy cart food people can change at any moment because nobody is regulating their shit but here’s hoping! I know Wholesome Bakery is all-vegan and they’ll be there so yeah WOO!

Rod Rotundi, he of the BEST NAME EVER, is promoting his new book, Raw Food for Real People, also on Saturday from 3 to 4 p.m. at Omnivore Books. It’s cool that OMNIvore Books is doing a veg event so let’s all show up and turn it out for the vegans and maybe they’ll do more in the future! Oh also, there will totally be free food at this event so I’m gearing up by not eating today (lie) and most of the day tomorrow (lie).

09/30/2009

Everybody Hates Robin  »

[Note: I have been cross-posting my Top Chef recaps with my blog, BravoFan. So now you get to read these amazing masterpieces twice!]

On last night’s Top Chef, every one wore red scarves in honor of Mattin’s departure. I hope those were clean before he gave them away to everyone. Or was he like: “Here’s a parting gift, guys! My sweaty scarves! Au revoir!” The quickfire challenge was to make food that represented their “devil” side and their “angel” side.

All of the chefs essentially made non-fatty food and fatty food. Robin, the little cancer patient that could, ended up winning the challenge and winning immunity. All the other cheftestants were visibly annoyed, including Eli, who said it was her cancer story that made Michelle Bernstein pick her as the winner. I was annoyed. We were all annoyed. But hey, apple crisp is an easy way into anyone’s heart. And a sad story about cancer.

Penn & Teller then showed up as the episode’s celebrity guests. This makes me wonder, why wasn’t Carrot Top, who also has a long-standing show in Las Vegas, not invited as a celebrity judge? He gets no respect and he works so hard, you guys! There is no justice in this world. The challenge was to deconstruct a set of classic dishes, each assigned via knife. Cue all contestants complaining that this is “not the food they do.” Great, but not the point, chefs!

Mike Isabella didn’t know what eggs Florentine were; this isn’t surprising, they don’t serve that at Denny’s or IHOP. Ron totally struggled with his paella. I knew he was a goner when he said that they serve paella at his restaurant and he would know what to do, especially when it was apparent that he had no idea how to handle the assignment. Robin, with her handy little immunity, made a completely disgusting sounding “clam flan.” No one seems to like her presence in the kitchen and her habit of narrating everything she’s doing.

Toby Young returned to judges table and was actually not that bad. They tried to make it seem like the contestants were scared of him by calling him a “food critic” but I think everyone knows what role Toby truly fulfills on the show. It’s not like he’s Frank Bruni or Michael Bauer or any of the big name food critics. I totally loved Michelle Bernstein correcting him that she pronounced paella the correct way because she’s Latina.

Kevin won the challenge with his deconstructed mole, which looks like it was such an awesome combination of flavors, including something called PUMPKIN ROMESCO, YOU GUYS. We love romesco sauce here and that just sounds fantastic. Ashley also redeemed herself with her deconstructed pot roast. Her fetish for purees is annoying me. No more baby food! On the bottom: Laurine , Ron and Ash. None of those people surprises me, Ash has been sucking lately (he didn’t even complete the quickfire) and Laurine just couldn’t handle the deconstructed fish & chips. It was sad to see Ron go, but I think his cooking style just doesn’t fit in with the competition.

Only one truly vegan-friendly dish this week: underdog Robin’s raw salad of apple and fennel. There was also Ron’s yucca and corn mash, but Bravo’s editors aren’t evolved enough yet to figure out that the side dish could be labeled vegetarian.

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09/22/2009

Top Chef Goes Camping   »

I have no excuse for the Top Chef recap being this late this week, except perfection takes sweet time. Besides, don’t you need a fresh reminder for tomorrow’s episode? So much has happened in the past week. There was the Emmys on Sunday, which unless you are an obsessive pop culture aficioniado (or someone posessing an actual life, which I most certainly don’t have) you probably didn’t watch. Top Chef was up for two awards, both of which they lost to two programs that have been on for a really long time and proved that the Academy voters don’t actually watch reality tv.

Anyway, whatever, who even watches Survivor anymore?  Moving on to last week’s episode, they had another “high-stakes” quickfire, this time involving cactus. Every one was very confused, which was surprising in this crowd of supposed food experts. Any one who’s ever been to El Balazo on Haight knows that cactus, or nopales, are a standard of Mexican cuisine. So Mattin, San Francisco resident, should have known what to create. Jon Gosselin wannabe Mike Isabella won this challenge with his cactus and tuna ceviche.

Ceviche, or Sa-veeeech as Jen Carroll calls it, is the unofficial recipe of this gang, much like scallops were the fall-back last season. These fools love to sa-veech everything. Bryan and Michael also made sa-veeeches; Michael’s red cactus coulis was vegan and looked interesting, especially with the side of veggie chips. But I’ll eat anything in “chip” form. The most confusing was Ashley Merriman’s cactus jelly donuts, which seems like the kind of item that you would only order as a dare.

Speaking of Ashley, she sure did get the loser edit this time! Whenever they pull out that product placed phone and they mention some illness or event they are missing in exchange for C-list reality stardom, you know they are headed for elmination. Fortunately, Megan Allison’s future girlfriend remains in the running.

Instead, it was Mattin, wearer of scarves and liar about asparagus who got sent home. He made a “ceviche" that was basically a Costco party tray. Actually, a Costco party tray probably would have been a better idea. The challenge was to make food for ranchers on an open grill, why so many of them picked fish was beyond understanding. As pathetic as Mattin’s dish was, Robin should have been sent home. The minute I heard her say grilled romaine salad, I knew she was doomed. If she makes it past tomorrow’s episode, I’m expecting to watch the chefs stage a mutiny.

The winner of the episode was Bryan, who made a bunch of meat with some vegetables on the side. He’s one of the brothers who’s sibling rivalry storyline gets shoved down our throats. I want them to keep all siblings contained to the Amazing Race or Biggest Loser.

The vegetarian report on this episode is that there was no vegetarian food. Nothing, except for Mike’s cactus dish during the quickfire. The rest is meat, meat, and more meat. What veg dish would you have made for an open fire grill challenge?

09/11/2009

Top Chef Loses Two  »

Paris, Las Vegas! Just like the real thing!I tuned into this week’s Top Chef a little late, so I was delighted to find that Jessie had been put out of her misery and finally been eliminated after essentially living in the bottom three. Good riddance to those tacky face piercings.

The elimination challenge itself was to cook for and fellate Joël Robuchon. The latter may not have been an official part of the challenge, but it sure felt like it with the chefs freaking out in way that would make Rachel “I DIEEEEEE” Zoe proud. Kevin Gillespie, Season 6’s winner, er I mean, the James Beard award-winning front-runner who won this episode’s quickfire, was allowed to sit at the grownups table to taste his competitor’s wares. He wisely didn’t say much during the meal.

As you could probably guess, this episode had very little in the way of herbivore-friendly food. The Quickfire was all dead snails and the elimination challenge was a veritable meat orgy, which included foie gras and rabbit. Episodes like this always make me wonder how a vegan chef would fare if they had to compete amongst all that. Could a Top Chef contestant just refuse to use meat?

Anyway, there were a few things that could work, with a bit of tweaking, naturally: Robin’s avocado soup was one, minus the crab. Or maybe you could use fake crab from a Chinese fake meat emporium? Your best bet would be Mattin’s fava bean crostini from the quickfire, minus the snails. The recipe calls for Pernod, so then you can drink! Or, I can drink it.

Sadly, Hector, who created the tofu ceviche a few weeks back was sent home for a disastrous steak dish. I was kind of annoyed that Mattin wasn’t sent home, especially when he flat-out lied at judge’s table about Ashley wanting to use asparagus in the sauce. Also, Mattin’s specialty is Basque cooking, not French. His prattling on about how he was going to do so much better because he was from France was obnoxious and in the end, he couldn’t even deliver on a classic French dish.

Next week: Las Vegas is hot! Tom throws out food! Jen Caroll continues to freak me out!

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09/03/2009

Vegetarian Option Leads to Downfall on This Week’s Top Chef  »

Someone get Jeremy Fox or the entire crew of Millennium up in this piece because this week’s veg options on Top Chef were SAD. Okay, not entirely, but the losing dish happened to be vegan and was created solely for the possibility of herbivores, which is nice, but at least make it interesting. We all know it is possible. We all know veg options can do so much better than (wait for it)…pasta salad.

Yes, pasta salad. Any teenage vegetarian knows the pain of going to a family function, watching everyone around you feast on hamburgers and hot dogs while you are relegated to this sad bowl of wet pasta with some canned artichokes thrown in. And that is when you vow to learn to cook. Or bring veggie burgers next time.

But, I digress. The pasta salad was a disaster. I don’t even want to link you to the recipe because I’m pretty sure everyone here knows how to boil water and open cans of food. Granted, the kitchen this week was military-style and limited, but in an upscale cooking competition where your competitors are coming up with things like bread pudding, three-bean chili, and chowder in that same kitchen, with the same limitations, it’s time to step up your game.

Sadly, the contestant that went home last week was also a San Francisco chef, which was a double-burn! And she worked at GOOGLE. So embarrassing on so many levels.

Other non-meaty dishes cooked this week included Laurine Wickett’s potato burger on portobello mushroom bun with fingerling chips. She made this for the Quickfire and I would eat about a million of all these things. This dish was almost vegan, except for heavy cream and an egg used to make the burgers. Easy to vegan-ize, right?! Jesse Sandlin’s sweet potato soup was another almost-vegan, just replace the heavy cream and go easy on the cayenne pepper (judges said it was too spicy). Finally, eliminated cheftetant Preeti made a vegetarian dish for the Quickfire: Russian banana fingerling potatoes with asparagus and tomatoes. Sub the butter with Earth Balance and you’re good to go!

What did you all think of last night’s episode?

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