Welcome to Month Two of “The Best Vegan Thing I Ever Ate”! For those of you who didn’t catch April’s Inaugural Edition, this Monthly feature on GirlieGirl Army is inspired by a show on the Food Network where Famous chefs are interviewed about their favorite foods, including where to get it and in some cases, how to make it. In this feature Kathryn Hostettler will be interviewing awesome and influential vegans each month about their absolute favorite vegan dishes.
This month, I spoke with Vaute Couture‘s Leanne Hilgart. This vegan fashionista extraordinaire has made all of our lives easier by creating a line of gorgeous vegan winter coats. And who better than a Chicagoan to design winter coats I went to college there, and trust me when I tell you it’s forking cold! Finding a fashionable vegan winter coat used to be nearly impossible but Leanne has made this a no-brainer. I personally own the gray Bomono and love it! And fear not vegan boys, she is also launching a men’s line later this year. You can check out a video preview of the Fall/Winter 2010 line in this interview by The Discerning Brute, Joshua Katcher. This actually makes me wish for winter!
Now onto the food!
It’s hard to believe that this beautiful former model pigs out on anything but when asked about the Best Vegan Thing she ever ate, Leanne told me her fave meal of handmade vegan BBQ buffalo wings with tater tots and a little swimming pool of vegan ranch came at the end of a two-day food binge in Milwaukee. If you are ever in that neck of the woods, these puppies can be found at the Palomino Bar on South Superior Street. This is an omni restaurant but very veg-friendly, offering vegan versions of many of their menu items. And the best part is they have a dedicated vegan fryer so you don’t have to worry about animal parts in your fries. Oh and by the way, it can get ridiculously cold there too so wear your new Vaute Couture coat when you visit!
I spoke with Chef Jesse Sorgatz, a vegetarian, who told me since taking over as chef about a year ago, he’s been trying to increase the vegetarian and vegan offerings, adding that he’s going for the vegan truck stop vibe. Some of his star dishes are Macaroni Hates Cheese and a riff on the Philly cheese steak made with blackened portobello mushrooms, sauteed spinach, peppers and onions on a Po’ Boy roll. YUM! As for those BBQ wings, Chef Jesse says he starts with house made seitan and simply cuts it into wing-sized pieces. The seitan pieces and locally made tofu (an optional addition to the platter) are breaded and deep fried. Turns out the BBQ sauce is not home made since they go through gallons and gallons each week. The vegan ranch is a vegan mayo, vegan sour cream, onion, garlic, and cilantro concoction.
After my chat with Jesse, I put together the following recipe so you can try this at home. I noted quickie versions where appropriate. When it comes to the tater tots, I suggest buying a good, organic, premade brand such as Cascadian Farms. Enjoy!
Seitan Wings with BBQ Sauce and Vegan Ranch Dressing
Vegan Chicken Style Seitan**
Chicken Seitan Dough:
Chicken Seitan Broth:
First, take all of the Seitan Broth ingredients, and mix them together in a very large pot. Bring to a boil.
While the broth’s starting to heat up, make your Seitan Dough by mixing and kneading the vital wheat gluten, water/bouillon blend, and MimicCreme until it’s completely mixed. It will be a little more wet than most seitan doughs. Squeeze out the excess liquid, and form the mixture into a ball. On a cutting board, flatten the ball out, and use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to cut into wing-sized and -shaped pieces. Then drop each part into the pot.
Cover the pot, reduce heat to simmer, and let the seitan cook for about an hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes.
Store any unused chicken in the broth in the fridge.
**This recipe is borrowed from Veganize It Don’t Criticize It!
Frying the Wings
Dip chicken wings in MimicCreme and roll in the breading until well-coated. Fry in a cast iron skillet or deep fryer until brown, turning as needed.
QUICKIE VERSION ALERT: If you don’t have the time or energy, you can always substitute Gardein’s seven grain crispy tenders. These are really delicious and ready in minutes.
I adapted this recipe from one by the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. I sometimes wonder just how wonderful life would be if Ina Garten were vegan. In the meantime, I veganize her recipes while fantasizing about a fabulous kitchen in the Hamptons.
Makes 6 cups
In a large saucepan on low heat, saute the onions and garlic with the vegetable oil for 10 to 15 minutes until the onions are translucent but not browned. Add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer uncovered on low heat for 30 minutes. Use immediately or store in the fridge. You can also freeze this.
Vegan Ranch Dressing
Mix all ingredients by hand or in a food processer until combined.
TRY THIS: Mix some of your BBQ sauce in to make BBQ Ranch Dressing. This stuff is addictive!
Next Month: Herbivore Clothing Company’s Josh Hooten gorges on ravioli.
Kathryn Hostettler is a full time social work graduate student, part time pet nanny, volunteer with Rogers Rescues, and vegan home cook. She won an honorable mention in the November2009 Vegetarian Times for her Vegan Pumpkin Pie with Candied Cranberries recipe.
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