Category Archives: Recipes to Rival

Recipes To Rival

Recipes To Rival – August 2009 Challenge

I am so excited to hosting the August 2009 challenge. I had a hard time deciding which recipe to choose. I finally decided on:

Asparagus & Lemongrass Risotto

by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero from Veganomicon


Risotto is a traditional Italian rice dish. It is also one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy. Its origins are in North Italy where rice paddies are abundant. While this is not a traditionally prepared risotto, it is pretty close. You really want to use Arborio rice, but you can substitute any short grain rice and get a similar dish.


I did make some very selfish restrictions this month – there were no animal products allowed & everyone had to make their own broth. Why? Well, for one, it doesn’t need it. I was watching an episode of No Reservations & he had some risotto that consisted of broth and rice, period. I did indicate the optional ingredients that could be added or left out, or substituted, their choice. I also included a side dish, but they could make whatever they wanted to go with it. I wanted to do a challenge that everyone would be able to eat. All of the soy in the recipe is easily omitted for those who are allergic.


Asparagus and Lemongrass Risotto

Time: 1 hour 20 minutes Serves 4-6

This one does have peanuts in it, so if you are allergic, just leave them out. Personally, I liked pine nuts in it best. Fresh lemongrass is available in most grocery stores, but if you can’t find it, you can use dried. If using dried, you will want to use a cheese cloth or tea strainer. Place the dried lemongrass, ginger and garlic. Don’t worry about the heat of the serrano pepper, it only adds a nice hint of flavor.

img_3375.jpg  Lemongrass

Lemongrass Broth:

3 cloves garlic, whole and unpeeled

1” piece fresh ginger, sliced into ¼” slices

1 small stalk lemongrass, or 1 TBSP dried, chopped lemongrass

3 cups vegetable broth

3 cups water

3 TBSP tamari (or soy sauce)


½ cup cooking sherry or white wine (D’Aquino Pinot Grigio is a good choice)

1 lb asparagus

2 TBSP vegetable broth

1 cup basil leaves (Thai, if you can find it), sliced into thin strips

2 TBSP chopped fresh mint

6 large shallots, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 serrano red chile, sliced very thinly (or ½ – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes)

1 ½ cups Arborio rice

1 tsp sugar (optional)

2 TBSP lime juice

Chopped roasted peanuts and lime wedges, for garnish (you can use pine nuts or sliced almonds instead of the peanuts)

  1. If using fresh lemongrass, peel away and discard any brown stems from the stalk. Slice the stalk in half lengthwise and cut into 3” to 4” lengths, then julienne.

  2. Give the garlic and the ginger a could whack with the side of your knife, keeping them whole. Prepare your herb pouch, if using.

  3. Place all of the broth ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the broth, discarding the vegetables and herbs. Pour the broth back into the pot, cover and simmer over as low a heat as possible to keep warm.

  4. Slice the asparagus into ½” pieces, removing any tough parts from the bottom of the stem. Separate the tips from the stems and place each in separate bowls.

  5. In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot, saute the asparagus in 1 TBSP vegetable broth over medium heat until bright and crisp tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the basil and mint, saute for 30 seconds, remove from heat and set aside.

  6. Add the remaining tablespoon vegetable broth to the pan. Saute the shallots and garlic, stirring occasionally, until shallots are very soft, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the serrano and rice, saute for about 8 minutes, until the rice smells slightly toasted. Add the cooking sherry (or white wine) and stir constantly until the liquid is absorbed.

  7. Now, time for relaxation and stirring. Get a glass of your favorite beverage, turn on some soothing music, or a good movie. Ladle about ½ cup of the broth at a time into the rice, stirring constantly until each addition is absorbed. Stir and cook until the rice is creamy but still somewhat firm in the center.

  8. When the broth is almost gone, stir the sugar and lime juice into the remaining broth before adding it to the risotto. You may add more water or vegetable broth in ¼ cup increments if needed. This will take about 35 minutes.

  9. Stir the asparagus stems into the risotto and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the asparagus has reached desired tenderness.

  10. Garnish each serving with the asparagus tips, chopped roasted peanuts, and lime wedges.

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Tangerine Baked Tofu

Time: 1 hour Serves 4

You can sub orange juice, oranges, tangelos, or clementines for the tangerines.


1 lb extra-firm tofu, sliced width-wise into eighths.



1 tsp tangerine zest

1/3 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice (2-3 tangerines)

3 TBSP lime juice

2 TBSP tamari (or soy sauce)

1 TBSP agave nectar or pure maple syrup

¼ tsp ground cumin

1/8 tsp ground allspice

Freshly ground pepper

2 TBSP dark rum (or 1 tsp rum extract)

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

  2. In a shallow 11” X 7” glass baking dish, whisk together all of the marinade ingredients. Place the sliced tofu in the marinade. Using a fork, poke a few holes into the cutlets, flip them over, and do the same on the other side.

  3. Bake the tofu for 30 minutes, flipping several times, about every 15 minutes or so. The tofu is ready when the marinade is reduced. Spoon any remaining marinade over the tofu before serving.

I cooked mine for 45 minutes & my marinade was all gone. The tofu tasted great, even without the extra marinade.


July Challenge for R2R

It’s the beginning of another month and that means its Recipes To Rival time!! Our host this month is brought to you by Lauren of Fried Pickles & Ice Cream.

What was our challenge this month? A little summer taste of Italy! A delicious & simple antipasta (appetizer), Bruschetta & a digestivo (after-dinner drink), Limoncello.
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Lauren tells us that “Bruschetta, having its origination in Italy, is served as an antipasta. It is one of the simplest & easiest things to make & will gratify your taste buds. It is greatly enjoyed when paired with red wine. In Italian, Bruschetta is pronounced ‘brusketta’, where ‘bruscare’ means ‘to roast over coals’. The trick is to roast or grill the bread… NOT bake it as we do in America. Once you have tried this recipe you will have a hard time ordering it at a restaurant!”

She also tells us that “Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur that originated in Southern Italy around the Bay of Naples. The liqueur derives its flavor from the peels, rather than the juice of the fruit, resulting in a pleasant, sweet, lemony taste. It is wonderful as a palate cleanser or as an after dinner drink. Keep your bottles of Limoncello in the freezer until ready to serve. The ingredients are simple & few, & making a batch doesn’t require much work, but you’ll need some time… don’t wait until the last minute to make it!!”

I love bruschetta! I also love limoncello! I was so excited to see this challenge. My first taste of limoncello was at Olive Garden, they have a frozen limoncello lemonade that is amazing!!! I have been looking for a bottle of limoncello ever since, but sadly, I have yet to find it. Now, I can make it at home. It is so simple to make. Bruschetta I have made before & always love it. If you have never tried it before, it is a must make. Thank you so much Lauren for the great challenge!

Here are the recipes:
Bruschetta (4 servings)
4 slices Rustic Bread
2 cups chopped Roma Tomatoes    I used grape and Roma tomatoes
1 clove Garlic
4 to 8 leaves Basil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil                     I omitted
Sea salt

-Heat grill or grill pan to medium high heat
-Slice THICK pieces of bread
-Place bread on grill until each side has a nice golden color
-Rub garlic on top side of each bread piece
-Pile tomatoes on
-sprinkle one big pinch of salt per piece on top of the tomatoes
-generously drizzle oilve oil on top of tomatoes (about 2 to 3 tablespoons per piece) omitted
-add basil to the top

1 liter grain alcohol
5 1/2 cups water
5 large lemons (or 10 small lemons)
2 1/2 cups sugar

-Gently wash lemons in cool water to remove any dirt
-Peel away zest from lemon leaving as little pith (the white stiff) as possible.
-Put peels in a large sealed jar or container (I reused the alcohol bottle)
-Pour alcohol over lemons and place container in a cool place.
-Leave the mixture for 7 days.
-Every day give the container a little swirl. You will see the alcohol become darker & darker every day.
-After 7 days, strain the alcohol by using a coffee filter.
-Prepare the simple syrup. Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar to dissolve.
-Mix the syrup with the alcohol. BE CAREFUL… DO NOT DO THIS NEAR A FLAME!!!
-Pour the limoncello into bottles or containers. Let cool completely. Store in the freezer until ready to serve!
*Date your limoncello. After a year it will no longer be delicious.

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Verdict: Limoncello – a little too much alcohol and not enough lemon, but pretty darn good for my first try. I will definitely be making this again. It is totally worth the effort. I would also use vodka next time instead of the grain alcohol.

Bruschetta – always a winner! Hubby actually liked the Blue Cheese, Pear & Walnut Crostini that we did back in December better, he just isn’t a huge fan of basil. Very tasty, quick & easy to make. This makes a great appetizer for any party.

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June R2R – Beef Wellington

Recipes 2 Rival – June 2006 Challenge

Our challenge this month is Beef Wellington! My first thought was, hmmm, not something I have ever wanted to eat. But isn’t that what these challenges are all about, making things you wouldn’t normally make, giving new things a try. So I read on.


According to wikipedia, Beef Wellington “is a preparation of beef tenderloin coated with pâté (often pâté de foie gras) & duxelles, which is then wrapped in puff pastry & baked.”

Okay, my next hmmm was with the pate. I knew I could find vegan puff pastry (albeit with hfcs), I could even make it if I had the time (which I didn’t), but I wasn’t sure I wanted to try to find or make pate, which isn’t hard, its just a texture issue. Luckily, I kept reading & realized that it was optional.

This months host is Mz Kitchen of Madame Chow’s Kitchen. After doing quite a bit of research & experimentation, she put this recipe together. It’s based on the Ultimate Beef Wellington by Tyler Florence, but I added a couple things & eliminated a couple others.

We had to use the puff pastry, some type of protein & the duxelles. Seitan would work well, as would tempeh. Tofu was not recommend because of its high water content & moisture is the enemy here! I chose to go with tempeh because I like the flavor more & it has a very low moisture content. Here are some more tips from our host:

Cook the duxelles on low heat so that you have a chance to evaporate the liquid, but so that you don’t burn the mushrooms & shallots. If you like your meat rare or medium rare, I suggest keeping the seared beef in the refrigerator until just before you put everything together – it took so long to brown my puff pastry, that the beef was well done. It was still moist, but using cold beef means that it will take longer to cook, giving your puff pastry the time to brown.”


On to the recipe, which I cut in half:
Beef Wellington
For the Duxelles:
3 pints (1 ½ pounds) white button mushrooms
2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil used vegetable broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Beef:
1 (3-pound) center cut beef tenderloin (filet mignon), trimmed used tempeh
Extra-virgin olive oil did not use
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only used dried
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Flour, for rolling out puff pastry
1 pound puff pastry, thawed if using frozen (follow directions on the package)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten didn’t use
8 ounces mousse pate, available in specialty cheese & appetizer cases of larger markets (optional) didn’t use pate

To make the Duxelles: Add mushrooms, shallots, garlic, & thyme to a food processor & pulse until finely chopped. Add butter & olive oil (veg broth) to a large saute pan & set over medium heat. Add the shallot & mushroom mixture & saute for 8 to 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt & pepper & set aside to cool completely. This is really good, a great topping for burgers too!

To prepare the beef: Tie the tenderloin in 4 places so it holds its cylindrical shape while cooking. Drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt & pepper & sear all over, including the ends, in a hot, heavy-based skillet lightly coated with olive oil – about 2 to 3 minutes. I skipped this step, didn’t need to do it with the tempeh.

Using a rubber spatula cover evenly with a thin layer of duxelles. Season the surface of the duxelles with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves. When the beef is seared, remove from heat, cut off twine and smear lightly all over with Dijon mustard. Allow to cool completely.

From our host: “I made the duxelles and seared the tenderloin about 10 hours in advance, and refrigerated both of them. It is important that these items are cold because you will be working with puff pastry, and if they’re warm, they may cause the dough to melt before you get it in the oven.”

About an hour before you plan to serve the Beef Wellington, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to about a ¼” thickness. Depending on the size of your sheets you may have to overlap 2 sheets and press them together. I used just one piece per serving.

Spread the duxelles mixture down in a column down the middle of the rolled out puff pastry. Thinly slice the mousse and cover the duxelles with it – every square millimeter doesn’t have to be covered, but you’re trying to make sure that every serving gets beef, duxelle, and mousse.

Remove beef from refrigerator. Set the beef in the center of the pastry and brush all the edges of the pastry with egg wash. Fold the longer sides over the beef, and seal. Trim ends if necessary then brush with egg wash and fold over to completely seal the beef – saving ends to use as a decoration on top if desired. Place the beef seam side down on a baking sheet. I didn’t use the egg wash.

Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash then make a couple of slits in the top of the pastry using the tip of a paring knife – this creates vents that will allow the steam to escape when cooking. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until pastry is golden brown and beef registers 125 degrees F (rare) on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from oven and rest before cutting into ¾” thick slices. I baked it for 20 to 25 minutes.


Verdict: We really enjoyed it. Hubby would’ve preferred tofu, he just likes the flavor better, tempeh is too strong for him. We both were glad I didn’t use the pate, it would’ve been too soft/mushy in texture. I served it with huge artichokes, which tasted great.  A nice salad & some green beans would’ve tasted amazing as well.  I have some puff pastry left, so I am going to try this again using seitan. It really doesn’t take that long to make, most of the time is inactive, so you can be doing something else as well (like making some Rustic Bread). Great challenge! Thank you Mz Kitchen of Madame Chow’s Kitchen.


Recipes To Rival – May 2009

img_3274.jpgThis month the challenge was all about chickpeas. Our host this month was Lori from She chose Chickpea Fries and/or Falafel. She also reminds us that “beans have such benefits. They help reduce cholesterol, cost relatively little, offer more fiber in your diet & are environmentally friendly. By that I mean, people don’t realize that there is quite a cost in eating beef for instance. They are pretty heavy animals that have to be cargoed around to graze or be moved before & after slaughter. So for this reason it is quite expensive & detrimental to the environment.” She also challenged us to make pita bread to go along with our falafel, since I have made pita bread before, I decided not to do it, just to save time. If we made the fries, she wanted us to come up with a sauce to dip them in, which I forgot about & didn’t used a sauce at all. We also had the choice not to make the sauce or the pitas & make both the falafel & the chickpea fries, I went with that option. Don’t forget to check out everyone else’s wonderful creations:


Here are the recipes:
CHICKPEA FRIES by Mark Bittman, How To Cook Everything; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
neutral oil, like grapeseed, corn, for greasing and frying
1 cup chickpea flour, sifted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP water with 1 tsp ground flax seeds
Finely grated Parmesan cheese for garnish nutritional yeast

1. Grease a baking sheet or pizza pan with a rim & set aside. I used parchment paper. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Gradually add the chickpea flour with a large pinch of salt & pepper, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Reduce to a gentle bubble, stir int he olive oil & cook for just a minute.
2. Scoop the chickpea mixture onto the prepared pan & spread into an even layer. Let cool for a few minutes & then cover loosely with parchment or plastic. Refrigerate until chilled through, about 30 minutes (but up to a day, covered tightly, after it’s completely cool).
3. Put 1/8 to ¼” oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, cut the chickpea flour mixture into 3 x ½” cutter. I just cut by hand, then baked on 375 for 15 minutes. Gently put batches of the fries into the hot oil, rotating them gently for even cooking & browning on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Drain the fries on paper towels & immediately sprinkle with salt, lots of pepper & a good dusting of Parmesan if you like. Serve hot or at room temperature with lemon wedges.
Falafel: Chickpea Patties Recipe by Madelain Farah, Lebanese Cuisine, Four Walls Eight Windows, 2001
*  1 pound dried chickpeas
* 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed
* 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes, optional
* Salt and pepper, as needed
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
I baked mine

* 6 to 8 pitas, tops sliced open and lightly toasted
* Shredded lettuce, as needed
* Tomato wedges, as needed
* Sliced red onion, as needed
* Sliced cucumbers, as needed
* Tahini Sauce, recipe follows

1. Make the Falafel: Soak the chickpeas in cold water in the refrigerator overnight.
2. Drain the chickpeas & place them with the onion in the bowl of a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the oil. Mix well. Process the mixture a second time. Form the mixture into walnut-sized balls & deep-fry or pan-fry in hot oil.
3. Make the Sandwiches: Stuff the pitas with lettuce & nestle the falafel patties inside. Top with the rest of the ingredients & drizzle with the tahini sauce. Serve immediately.

Tahini Sauce: I cut the recipe in half
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice

1. Mash the garlic and salt together. Add the tahini, mixing well. The sauce will thicken. Gradually add the water, blending thoroughly. Then add the lemon juice. Blend well.

Note: This can be a thin or thick sauce, depending upon the use and preference. Simply adjust with lemon juice and water. This can be used with vegetables or in combination with other recipes.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

TIPS from Lori: In regards to falafel, I have made it many times & it has always fallen apart on me. I usually end up putting an egg in it as a binder. This time I am not, come what may, because I know others have had success without egg. I will say if you do not want to go the deep fry route, you can place little mounds in a muffin tin & do it up in the oven at about 375F. But the oil really does something magical to them. Again, your choice. Don’t you just love all the choices this month?

You are not required to do Tahini Sauce, it is just a suggestion. Also the chickpea flour can be found at Indian Markets (called Besan there) & Italian Markets & Health Food Stores.


The fries were good & I usually love falafel, but this was not my favorite recipe. Hubby does not like falafel & this did not convert him. I actually liked the falafel better crumbled over a large salad. M-I-L really liked the fries!  I do love all things chickpeas & both of these were good, just not great.


Recipes to Rival April 2009

April’s Challenge went classic: Coq Au Vin


This recipe is from Anthony Bourdain’s cookbook Les Halles

Now, I know that Anthony Bourdain is no lover of anything or anyone vegan/vegetarian, but I still love, love, love watching his show No Reservations on the travel channel. He speaks his mind, no wishy washy talk here. Needlwss to say, no matter what the recipe was for this month, if it was from Tony, I was hooked. I loved what our host this month, Temperance,
had to say,
I have never had a cookbook swear at me before or call me names, I quite enjoyed it. What i also enjoyed was the fact he didn’t assume I knew what I was doing but still expected me to do it right (after all he was telling me exactly what to do).”

She goes on to say thatCoq au vin is a peasant recipe, As Anthony Bourdain has said ‘Coq au vin is an old, tough bird you have to drown in wine to get it to taste good. That’ll be $28.95 please.’ This it one of those recipes that is deceptively hard, with a little prep work it is easy as pie, maybe even easier. The secret is the mise en place. do it all ahead stuff it in the fridge & throw it all together when you are ready.

Excerpt from the Les Halles Cookbook, by Anthony Bourdain…
Another easy dish that looks like it is hard. It is not in fact, this is the kind of dish you might enjoy spending a leisurely afternoon with. There are plenty of opportunities for breaks. It’s durable, delicious, & the perfect illustration of the principles of turning something big & tough & unlovely into something truly wonderful. Knock out your prep one thing at a time, slowly building your mise en place. Listen to some music while you do it. There’s an open bottle of wine left from the recipe, so have a glass now & again. Just clean up after yourself as you go, so your kitchen doesn’t look like a disaster area when you start the actual cooking. You should. with any luck, reach a Zen-like state of pleasurable calm. And like the very best dishes coq a vin is one of those that goes on the stove looking, smelling & tasting pretty nasty, and yet later, through the mysterious alchemical processes of time and heat turns into something magical.


Coq au vin (I halved the recipe)
from the  Les Halles Cookbook, by Anthony Bourdain, Serves 4
1 bottle plus 1 cup red wine I used The Other red wine (around $8.99 at World Market, not cheap, but tastes amazing!)
1 onion, cut into a 1-inch dice
1 carrot, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 celery rib, cut into ½ inch slices
4 whole cloves I wasn’t sure if this was whole cloves or garlic, I used garlic)
1 tbs/14 g whole black peppercorns
1 bouquet garni
1 whole chicken, about 3.5 lb, “trimmed” – meaning guts, wing tips & neckbone removed I used chicken style seitan
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbs/28 ml olive oil omitted
6 tbs/75 g butter, softened Earth balance, but only 1 TBSP
1 tbs/14 g flour
¼ lb/112 g lardons tempeh “bacon”
½ lb/ 225 g small, white button mushrooms, stems removed I used dried shiitake
12 pearl onions, peeled
pinch of sugar

3 large, deep bowls
plastic wrap
fine strainer
large Dutch oven or heavy –bottomed pot
wooden spoon
small sauté pan
small sauce pan
1 sheet parchment paper
deep serving platter

The day before you even begin to cook, combine the bottle of red wine, the diced onion (that’s the big onion, not the pearl onions), sliced carrots, celery, cloves, peppercorns, & bouquet garni in a large deep bowl. Add the chicken & submerge it in the liquid so that all of it is covered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap & refrigerate overnight.
Remove the chicken from the marinade & pat it dry. Put it aside. Strain the marinade through the fine strainer, reserving the liquids & solids separately. Season the chicken with salt & pepper inside & out. In the large Dutch oven, heat the oil & 2 tablesppoons of the butter until almost smoking, & then sear the chicken, turning it with the tongs to evenly brown it. Once browned, it should be removed from the pot & set it aside again. Add the reserved onions, celery, & carrot to the pot & cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are soft & golden brown. That should take about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables & mix well with the wooden spoon so that the vegetables are coated. Now stir in the reserved strained marinade. Put the chicken back in the pot, along with the bouquet garni. Cook this for about 1 hour & 15 minutes over low heat. Have a drink. You’re almost there…

While your chicken stews slowly in the pot, cook the bacon lardons in the small sauté pan over medium heat until golden brown. Remove the bacon from the pan & drain it on paper towels, making sure to keep about 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan. Saute the mushroom tops in the bacon fat until golden brown. Set them aside.

Now, in the small saucepan, combine the pearl onions, the pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, & 2 tablespoons of butter. Add just enough water to just cover the onions; then cover the pan with the parchment paper trimmed to the same size of the pan. (I suppose you can use foil if you must.) Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, & cook until the water has evaporated. Keep a close eye on it. Remove the paper cover & continue to cook until the onions are golden brown. Set the onions aside & add the remaining cup of red wine along with salt & pepper & reduce over medium-high heat until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

Your work is pretty much done here. One more thing & then it’s wine & kudos…

When the chicken is cooked through – meaning tender, the juice from the thigh running clear when pricked – carefully remove from the liquid, cut into quarters, & arrange on the deep serving platter. Strain the cooking liquid (again) into the reduced red wine. Now just add the bacon, mushrooms, & pearl onions, adjust the seasoning with salt & pepper, & swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Now pour that sauce over the chicken & dazzle your friends with your brilliance. Serve with buttered noodles & a Bourgone Rouge.

1. An old bird is best, hard to find though. Ideally you are looking for a stew chicken or an old rooster, I recommend a Kosher or Halal meat market (remember they have no pork though).
2. Bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs usually tied together with string, most recipes include parsley, thyme & bay leaf
3. Lardon may refer to different pork products cut from a pig’s belly & used for larding in French cuisine. In this case you are looking for slab or country bacon, cut into small oblongs (lardons) about ¼ by 1“. I used salt pork, which did not smell like bacon cooking but tasted pretty good. Either way a good thick bacon with alot of nice fat & not alot of additives is what you are looking for.
4. the wine should be red, other than that pick what suits your pallet & wallet. But here is a helpful guide as well, Wine With…Coq au Vin


Further tips, tricks & things to help the budget:
– Frozen pearl onions are cheap, easy & just as good as the ones you peel yourself (though nothing beats homegrown)

– Instead of buying 2 bottles of wine to get 1 liter & 1 cup wine use water for the extra cup.
– Instead of using a whole chicken get precut chicken so you can do portion control (it will also make it easier to marinade)
– don’t use non stick pan, this recipe is all about the brown bits.
– when marinading, you might want to weigh the chicken down to keep it covered.
– If you go to a Halal market take pictures if you can’t speak the language.


I totally forgot to get the mushrooms, so luckily I had some dried shiitake’s in the pantry. I served mine with noodles & broccoli.


Verdict: We both really liked this one. The one change I would make next time would be to just leave the seitan out, it didn’t really add much. I used to make a dish called Balsamic Chicken with Thyme that was pretty similar to this. I would make it again.


Here is the recipe:

Check out everyone else’s results here:

Recipes To Rival Challenge

Our hosts for March was Temperance of High on the Hog and Shawnee of Delishes Delishes.

They decided to play with fire. Shawnee of Delishes Delishes came up with this recipe for us to try. As Shawnee said ‘I’ve never purposely set fire to my food before (besides marshmallows)’. You know what, neither have I, about time wouldn’t you say? Check out the recipe & everyone else’s results! What was out challenge? 
Steak Diane Flambé
recipe by Frank Bordoni from Great Food Live

For the steaks
4x85g beef medallions Portabello’s
1 tsp Dijon mustard
freshly ground salt and pepper

For the sauce
1 tsp Butter, clarified Earth Balance
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp Shallots, finely chopped
50g button mushrooms, finely sliced
1 tbsp lemon juice
125ml double cream Soy Creamer
1 tbsp Chives, snipped
50ml Brandy
1. Rub the medallions of beef with the mustard, season with salt & pepper & set aside.
2. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat & when hot, add the clarified butter & Worcestershire sauce.
3. Add the shallots & mushrooms, & push to the center of the pan. Arrange the medallions around the edge. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring & tossing the mushroom mixture as you go. If you prefer your steak well done, give it an extra minute or two.
4. Add the lemon juice & season with salt & pepper.
5. Turn the steaks over & pour in the cream & chives. Tilt the pan slightly (away from you) & pour in the brandy at the far end. Now turn up the heat to high so that the brandy ignites. Swirl the sauce around in the pan & turn off the heat.
6. Put the medallions on 4 plates, pour over the sauce & serve.
Disclaimer: We do not require that you flambé, if you choose to flambé & burn down your kitchen, don’t sue us. If you choose to flambé try & get a picture (I recommend getting someone to help). Remember when playing with fire keep a fire extinguisher close & never use water on a cooking fire.

I followed the directions just as they are, just substituting the portabello’s for the steak for the beef. I also cut the recipe in half, since I was just serving this to me & my hubby. Verdict: I am totally making this one again. It was simple & quick to make & tasted delicious. Next time I would double the sauce, but stick to halving the “steaks”. This is a must make!



Recipes 2 Rival February 2009

This month Lauren from is hosting the challenge. She chose to make Fresh Ricotta Cheese I have actually made Ricotta Cheese a few times before, but it was with Lactaid Milk, which is milk with the lactose removed. I wasn’t sure how this would work with soy milk, but with the reassurance of the R2R’ers, off I went. This recipe was a lot quicker than the one I have made before, which is a plus, & quite easy. I did quarter the recipe, because I had planned on making ravioli’s with the ricotta & my hubby is not a fan, so I would be the only one eating it. I used the leftover dumpling dough from a past challenge for the ravioli, which worked out great. I had no problems with making the ricotta & it came out just like I remembered. Some say it looked a little drier than normal ricotta, but I think that is because I drained it for longer then called for.

I used 2 paper towels to drain my ricotta because I couldn’t find what I did with my cheese cloth & it worked just fine. This is a quick & hands off recipe, with great results (could I use great any more times!?!). You basically combine the milk, heat for a bit, put in a cheesecloth, & let it drain. 

 img_3062.jpg    draining

Ricotta Cheese
Hello folks! I am soooo excited to be hosting this month!! Since the point of this group is to learn new techniques, we are going to try something that sounds daunting but is actually very easy. We are going to make our own cheese!! That’s right, cheese!

For this challenge, I would like for us all to make the ricotta & blog about the process, & then use the ricotta in a recipe of your choice.
img_3065.jpg    ready to use
Fresh Ricotta
you’ll need:
1 gallon milk (you can use 1% on up, remember that the more fat in the milk, the more cheese it will yeild.)
1 quart buttermilk

-cheesecloth (a good, tightly woven one, not the kind you buy at the supermarket)- If you don’t have one of these, you can get by with a slotted spoon, but you may lose some of the cheese.

-a thermometer (mine is for oil & candy)

Place buttermilk & milk in a pot, heat on med-low heat until it reaches 185 degrees.

It will begin to separate into curds & whey. Be sure to stir occasionally to make sure no curds stick to the bottom & burn. You will see that as the temperature approaches 185, the whey becomes clearer as the curds coagulate more.

Pour the curds into a cheesecloth lined collander. Tie the ends of the chesecloth together and hang for 10-15 minutes. Remove from cheesecloth and place in an airtight container.

Voila! Cheese!
img_3089.jpg    herbs & spinach added
Some tips: use can use milk that has been pasteurized, but not ultra-pasteurized. Ultra pasteurization heats the milk too much, and de natures the proteins that form curds. You will not get cheese from ultra pasteurized milk.

make sure your pots and other equiptment are very clean before starting

you can make any amount as long as you stick to a 4 parts milk to 1 part buttermilk ratio.
img_3090.jpg    filled

img_3092.jpg    ready to cook

 img_3095.jpg    img_3096.jpg    yum!
Verdict: For the ravioli, I used the ricotta, spinach, basil, oregano & garlic.  It turned out great with one little glitch. I used unsweetened soy milk, but it still had a hint of sweetness to it every few bites. Not sure why, but I think a sweet application like blintzes or cheesecake would have been a better choice. I think this is a fun skill that is worth trying at least once.  Check out everyone elses adventures in cheese making:

Recipes 2 Rival for January 2009

This month Kat from is hosting the challenge with Giz & Psychograd from Equal Opportunity Kitchen. They chose a Ukrainian dish called Holopchi. It’s a big like a cabbage roll but its not. It seemed like a good comfort dish for winter.

This month’s challenge sounded really interesting & I couldn’t wait to try it. Well, I guess I could because I didn’t get to it until the 31st! We had to make the bread dough, but we could use other leaves, depending on what we could find. Well, no beet leaves at my grocery store, the Swiss Chard looked like it had been steamed & the Kale wasn’t any better. So, cabbage it is. I chose to bake the Holopchi in the sauce because that seemed to be the favorite flavor choice for everyone. The Holopchi soaked in the flavor of the sauce instead of just a pop of flavor with the sauce poured over the top. I also choice to make an 1/8th of the recipe. Most people quartered the recipe & said it still made a ton, & since I would be eating this myself (hubby will taste it, but not too excited about it), I didn’t want to be eating it all month. The tale of my Holopchi making. I got up in the morning, did my exercise, ate breakfast, got ready for the day & started in on my Holopchi. I made the bread dough & set it aside for the first rise. I then made & ate lunch, cleaned up & then, I got called in to work. So, into the fridge went the Holopchi. I worked a double the next day, had a date day with my hubby, then I finally was able to make it today. It actually went really well, considering it was in the fridge for 3 days. It still rose beautifully, & cooked up great. See the verdict below.  Not real photogenic, & I should’ve added a sprig of dill to the top, but forgot to save one out.


Here’s the recipe along with some notes from Giz:
Beet Leaf Holopchi
from The Keld Community Ladies Club in Ashville, Manitoba. The last publishing of this cookbook was 1976 and I doubt it’s even in circulation anymore.

This is not your usual cabbage roll – can you imagine a bread dough wrapped in beet leaves & baked in a creamy, garlic, onion & dill sauce.

Bread Dough:
2 pkgs. yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 cups scalded milk soy milk
4 cups warm water
1/4 cup melted butter Earth Balance
8 cups flour
3 eggs, beaten Ener-g egg replacer
2 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
6 1/2 cups flour
a couple bunches of beet leaves cabbage leaves

Note: When I first saw this recipe I thought it was wrong – how many recipes need THAT much flour. I used the recipe & indeed had to add more to get the right consistency. AND I ran out of dough before I ran out of beet leaves.

1. Dissolve 1 tsp sugar in ½ cup tepid water, sprinkle with yeast & let stand for 10 minutes.

2. To the milk-water liquid add the melted butter, dissolved yeast & 8 cups of flour. Let rise in a warm place until double in bulk (about 1 hour)

3. Add salt, beaten eggs, sugar & remaining flour.

4. Knead well until dough is smooth & top with melted butter or oil.

5. Place in a warm place & let rise until double in bulk. It will take about 2 hours. Punch down. When dough has risen to double in bulk, place a piece of dough, the size of a walnut on a beet leaf & roll up (leaving sides open)

6. Place holopchi loosely in a pot to allow for dough to rise to double in bulk again.

7. Arrange in layers, dotting each layer with butter.

8. Cover tightly, bake in a moderate oven of 350 F for ¾ to 1 hour. Serve with dill sauce or cream & onion sauce. (I like to cook the holopchi with the sauce but you don’t have to. You can add it later – just make sure you have enough butter in roasting pan before layering your beet leaf rolls.) (I baked mine longer – about 1 ½ hours & was happy with the result) 

1/2 cup butter Earth Balance
2 cups whipping cream soy milk
8 small onions (I used chives)
2 handfuls of chopped fresh dill (this makes the whole dish)
2-4 large cloves of garlic, chopped fine

Melt butter in saucepan. Add onions (chives) garlic, dill & cream.
Let it come to a boil & then turn down the heat.
I like to cook the holopchi with the sauce but you don’t have to. You can add it later – just make sure you have enough butter in roasting pan before layering your beet leaf rolls.

This is not a 5 minute recipe. When you commit to making it – it’s an adventure – most definitely a worthwhile one. This recipe filled an open roaster & a turkey sized roaster.

You can find her original complete post (with pictures) about it here.


Verdict: We both loved it. What great flavor. Actually, this would taste really good with some spaghetti & a side salad. I really liked the cabbage leaves with it, nice mild flavor. I think the beet leaves, or Swiss chard would be great too, less mild in flavor, but really good. I recommend everyone trying this at least once. Thanks so much for the great challenge.

Recipes To Rival December Challenge

Welcome to the December Challenge for Recipes to Rival! The Challenge this month is: Appetizers


Think Tapas, little nibbles, noshing, YUM! I have to admit that I was a little bummed & discouraged when I saw the challenge for this month. I guess I was a little tired &stretched a bit thin, so I wasn’t really thinking about how easy this challenge was to veganize. Thanks to all those on the boards that helped me out. Much thanks to our host this month for a great challenge: Temperance of High on the Hog & Jen of Delightful Delicacies.

We were given 3 choices of appetizers with the challenge of making 2 of them. Our options were 1)Gruyere Cheese Gougeres, 2)Galatoire’s Oysters en Brochette, & 3) Blue Cheese, Pear & Walnut Crostini. I think I saw all that cheese & the oysters & freaked out. I had bought my dad some vegan blue cheese for his birthday last year & it was over $9.00, not including shipping, so I didn’t think I could afford that just for this challenge. The only vegan cheese I can get here is mozzarella, cheddar, sour and cream, so, mozzarella it is.

These app’s came together really quick, even hubby liked the crostini (would only eat one piece of the Gougeres though). He actually ate 3 of them.


Here is where you can get the recipes:

Check out everyone’s efforts here:

Here is what I changed:

Gruyère Cheese Gougères ©‘The French Laundry Cookbook’ By Thomas Keller, November, 1999
Makes about 4 dozen gougères (I only made ¼ of the recipe)
Gougères are a classical preparation often served at wine tastings in France. The puffs are made from a savory pâte á choux, or cream puff dough-flavored here with Gruyère. They are best served hot out of the oven, offering that creamy-dough gratification. Don’t add the cheese, & the puff is a base for a dessert.
1 cup water
7 tablespoons (3-1/2 ounces) unsalted butter Earth Balance
1 tablespoon kosher salt, or more to taste
Pinch of sugar
1-1/4 cups (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
4 to 5 large eggs Ener-G Egg Replacer
1-1/4 cups grated Gruyère (5 ounces) Vegan Mozzarella
Freshly ground white pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats (see Sources) or parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, salt, & sugar & bring to a boil. Add all the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium, & stir with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes, or until the mixture forms a ball & the excess moisture has evaporated (if the ball forms more quickly, continue to cook & stir for a full 2 minutes).

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle & beat for about 30 seconds at medium speed to cool slightly. Add 4 eggs & continue to mix until completely combined & the batter has a smooth, silky texture. Stop the machine & lift up the beater to check the consistency of the batter. The batter in the mixing bowl should form a peak with a tip that falls over. If it is too stiff, beat in the white of the remaining egg. Check again &, if necessary, add the yolk. Finally, mix in ¾ cup of the Gruyère & adjust the seasoning with salt & white pepper.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8” plain pastry tip with the gougère batter. Pipe the batter into 1-tablespoon mounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 2“ between the gougères as the mixture will spread during baking. Sprinkle the top of each gougère with about ½ teaspoon of the remaining grated cheese & bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until they puff & hold their shape. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. And bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes. When the gougères are done, they should be a light golden brown color. When you break one open, it should be hollow; the inside should be cooked but still slightly moist. Remove the pans from the oven & serve the gougères while hot.

Notes: These were good hot or cold. I did two diffrent sizes (Tablespoon & Teaspoon) & had a slight preference for the smaller ones. Feel free to try using a diffrent cheese, it makes a big difference in the taste. You can make them up in advance & stick them in the freezer, let them thaw for 10 minutes & then bake in oven as usual & you have warm fresh Gougères. I also thought that stuffing them would be a really good idea.
They turned out a little salty for me, I would cut back on the salt just a bit.

Blue Cheese, Pear & Walnut Crostini:
a baguette, thinly sliced about ½ inch each
olive oil omitted
mascarpone, for spreading (optional) soy cream cheese
any type of bleu cheese (gorgonzola, Roquefort, stilton), thinly sliced, or crumbled vegan mozzarella
freshly hulled walnuts
a few pears, peeled & sliced into small cubes

1. Brush your bread slices with olive oil, line on a baking sheet, then toast in a hot oven for a few minutes until browned & crispy. You can broil them as well, if you prefer.
2. Remove from heat & spread each toast with some mascarpone.
3. Lay bleu cheese slices, or spread some crumbles, on each toast & add walnut pieces on top. Return to a 375-400°F oven for a few minutes, just until the cheese is melted.
4. When the cheese is nicely melted, take the crostinis out of the oven & top with a few cubes of pear. Serve soon after.

I tried it with the soy cream cheese & without it. Personally, I liked it better with it. This would taste great with the blue cheese & brie would be amazing! (For all you omnivores out there)

I liked the Gougeres, but I probably wouldn’t make them again. I would totally make the Crostini again though, they were great.


Recipes To Rival

Our host this month, along with me, loves to watch Top Chef on Bravo. So, this months challenge comes from last seasons Top Chef. Meg Pug says “In the last season set in Chicago there was a challenge set at Second City Comedy Club where the audience threw out theme words that the chefs were to use as inspiration for their challenge dish. Each team had a color, a food or flavor, & an emotion. One team, the team that eventually won the challenge had the words: Yellow, Vanilla, Love. They made a soup. A squash bisque with a dollop of vanilla crème fraiche. And they put love in it as they layered flavors, tasted, & perfected it. To me, a rich warm thick soup is all about love… it is a dish that just loves you right back!”

So this is the Challenge: Squash Soup with Vanilla Crème Fraiche

We had to make our own stock, from scratch. We had to incorporate a creamy vanilla element, we could use whipping cream instead of crème fraiche, but I couldn’t use either of them, so I used soy sour cream with some vanilla extract because of cost.

My Stock:


Acorn Squash:




For the soup I planned on using butternut & acorn squash. I was glad that I had some cubed butternut squash in the freezer, so I just bought some acorn squash. Well, my butternut squash had gone bad, so I ended up just used acorn squash. Oh, the other thing I couldn’t find, which is weird, was the leeks. I can always find those in the store, but not this trip, so I subbed extra shallots. I also cut the recipe by 3/4, my hubby & I just can’t eat that much soup. I used my immersion blender to blend the soup because that is what I had on hand.

Adding the mirepoix to the squash:

Much thanks to our host this month for such a great dish: MegPug from

Dinner (garnished with sage):

Here is where you can get the recipe:

Check out everyone’s efforts here: