Game of Thrones Finale and Kings Landing Stew with Cersei's Red Wine Broth

Monday, August 28, 2017

So last night was Game of Thrones Season 7 finale...and it was everything I ever wanted it to be.  So this time, instead of just getting a cool recipe, you also get my unsolicited thoughts about the finale and Game of Thrones Season 7 in general.  Luck you!!! First, the food though, since if you aren't into reading my ramblings about an exceptionally complicated show, you can tune out after the food pictures.

So for this dish, I put it on a little late and we didn't end up eating until late.  After the show, in fact.  But we did have lots of WINE and snacks so it was ok.  I also made a little bonus red wine spritzer thing, which was gorgeous and probably too tasty.  But tonight I was honoring the Lannisters (Cersei in particular) and the Lannisters love their wine.

4 medium carrots
8 oz muchrooms, quartered
6 red potatoes, roughly cut into chunks
whole green beans
4 green onions, chopped,
4 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups merlot
one full carton of vegetable stock
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
splash of liquid smoke
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (vegan)
enough flour to thicken your sauce at the end

optional: Gardein meatballs, 1-2 packs

This recipe is supposed to taste earthy, and rustic and there's really no need to fuss over it.
Set your crock pot on high and let heat.  Pour in your olive oil and garlic first.  Then in add all vegetables and season with salt and pepper.  Empty in the liquid ingredients and let cook for around 4-5 hours on high.  Towards the end of cooking before the potatoes get too soft, add in the flour to thicken the sauce and the meatballs, they don't need to cook long.
It's ready when the veggies are tender, which will depend on your crockpot, mine took longer than I expected. It's best to start this early in the day and let cook allll day long.

Lannister Merlot Spritzer
Honoring the Lannisters again, I decided to use the rest of the merlot from the sauce to make a little wine cocktail.  I added ice cubes, passionfruit La Croix, and sliced apples to the wine and served on a wooden platter.  It was really tasty and set the mood a bit.

Now, as most of you know I'm GOT obsessed. I have been watching since it first aired and even got my sister into it (which saying a LOT because she HATED this show at first) and I also got Alex into it, so I'm pretty persuasive and GOT is just an amazing show.

My favorite characters have always been Cersei, the Hound, and Arya.  Brienne of Tarth gets a real honorable mention too.  In this show, there are really no "good guys" or "bad guys," everyone is kind of both.  Sure, Cersei has done some awful things, but she's strong and ready to lead and take charge in a world where women are really not given many options.  She's not afraid to take what she wants, and I admire her composure.

I was really excited to see Jon, Daenerys, and Cersei meet at the beginning of this episode.  I loved how Cersei really didn't seem impressed when Daenerys showed up on her dragons.  While I love the dragons and that whole aspect of the lore of the show, I am NOT a Daenerys fan at all.  She seems really naive and power hungry, while trying to mask it as just claiming her birth right and wanting to be the "people's queen."  It irked me when she tried relentlessly to get Jon to bend the knee, because I really thought that Jon deserved to rule more than she did.

I am a Lannister fan, and I am not afraid to say it.  My sister, her husband, Alex, and I all decided what houses we would belong to (god damn we're nerds) and I apparently got voted into Bolton and not Lannister, but whatever.  (In case you were wondering, which you weren't, Alex is Baratheon, my sister is Tyrell, and her husband is Lannister...the bastard). Anyway, we all know I'm probably just a White Walker anyway.


Alison Lockhart's Lobster Rolls

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I started watching The Affair a few months ago and instantly became hooked.  Aside from the total drama and the amazingly multi-dimensional characters, the gorgeous East Coast beach scenes and fashion stole my heart....along with the diner that Alison and Noah meet at in Montauk: the Lobster Roll, which is famous for their...lobster rolls. Now, I've never actually had a lobster roll, but I have had my share of lobster and since (duh) I no longer eat meat, I decided to finally make a lobsterless version.  My favorite substitutes for sea food are mushrooms and hearts of palm.  I made hearts of palm sauteed like scallops a few nights after I made these rolls and DAMN.  But then again I generally just love anything cooked in copious amounts of butter (my dad's family is Southern).

So before I get to the food, who else is a fan of The Affair?  I'm really hoping they add Whitney's POV to the 4th season. I LOVED Whitney in season 3.  I've always been curious about her character and I'm glad they really explored the effects of everything on her in the finale.

Loved this scene at Furkat's loft.  His place was so great and Whitney looked so chic. Of course he sucks and this scene didn't end well....but it looked good.

Oh yeah, the food.


For your lobster:
1 can hearts of palm, salad cut
half a red onion, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 tbsp. vegenaise
celery seed
onion powder
old bay seasoning
garlic powder
2 tsp capers

For serving:
hot dog buns
lemon wedges
fresh dill

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Drain your hearts of palm and toss in a dish with the dried spices, making sure to coat evenly.  Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until they start to get golden.  Take out of the oven and  transfer to a bowl and mix with the rest of the ingredients and pop this in the fridge to chill completely.

Toast your rolls and spoon in a heaping amount of the lobster mix.  Squeeze lemon wedges over the top and set to the side of the plate.  Garnish with dill.

These are perfect with fries or thick cut potato chips (though I served mine with vegan shells and cheese) and honestly, if you really wanna set the mood, an iced tea or white wine spritzer outside on a nice summer day.

One of my favorite simple meals and Alex approved!

Outlander-inspired Pigeonless Rolls with Truffles

Monday, August 7, 2017
I'm a die hard Outlander-obsessed crazy Sassenach fiend.  It's really no secret and I torment Alex with getting wrapped up in the show when it's on and shushing him whenever anyone speaks on the show (which is often).  By the way, the 3rd season is premiering in September and I'M LOSING IT OVER WAITING FOR IT TO START (watch the trailer here).  I purchased the Outlander Cookbook during the holidays and I've only just begun to really start adapting these recipes to being plant based, and I decided to start out with the recipe for Pigeon Rolls with Truffles. The recipe calls for chicken, but I decided to use a Gardein brand meatless meatloaf cut up and cooked with the veggies for a meaty, savory, rustic taste.  I served these rolls with grilled asparagus, but I'm going to make them with mashed potatoes and gravy during the holidays.  I also ate one of these rolls the next day for breakfast and used my hands.  Perfect.

My recipe is also slightly different in preparation.  I use a lighter puff pastry than the called for bread dough, and I cook my filling before blending it and I don't freeze the mixture...I just roll it right up and bake it.  It also doesn't call for you to cook your mixture, but I like to let the flavors mingle a bit.



8oz crimini mushrooms
3 carrots
dried forest mushrooms (boiled)
3 celery stalks
rosemary (recipe calls for thyme)
bacon flavored bits (the recipe calls for bacon)
puff pastry (you will need two sheets), defrosted overnight
splash of Worcestershire sauce (make sure it's vegan, it traditionally has anchovies), even smaller splash of liquid smoke
1 large shallot, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp vegan butter
Gardein brand meatless meatloaf, chopped into cubes

In a large pan on medium heat, melt your butter and add in your shallot.  Saute until transparent and then add in the rest of the veggies.  Add in the Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke, as well as rosemary and salt and pepper.  Finally, add in the cubed meatless meatloaf and cook until it is soft.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (or whatever your puff pastry calls for).  Once your mixture has finished cooking, spoon it into a blender or food processor.  Blend until it is sausage consistency.  Cut your pastry into roll-sized rectangles, and spoon the mixture into the middle and roll up.  The original recipe calls for the mixture to be frozen, and the dough rolled around the frozen meat, then cut into rolls.  I found my way to be easier for a quicker recipe and also working with my ingredients.

Pop these babies in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or so until the pastry is golden brown and flaky.

Let cool for just a bit and then DEVOUR. 

Thyme Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom and Sage Gravy

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Right about this time of the Summer I start to crave Autumn.  Comfort food is my favorite and I have a mental log of all the stuff I want to make beginning in the Fall and extending all the way through the Winter.  Last year, my Thanksgiving feast was the stuff of legends.  It was my first time cooking an entire vegan holiday meal, and I crushed it.  I had all the classics, with amazing stuffing, pink peppercorn gravy, roasted mushrooms, broccoli salad (that I lifted from the Outlander Cookbook...) and an amazing Field Roast en croute.  Not once did I miss having Turkey.

Last year's Thanksgiving.

So anyway.  I've been craving these heavy and satisfying foods lately, and of course I've been practicing for the holiday parties I'm planning on having.  So this weekend, I made mashed potatoes (a request from Alex) with gravy.  I added thyme leaves to the water while the potatoes boiled and it really had a great effect.  The gravy is pretty much like gravy I always make, except this time I used mushroom broth instead of vegetable broth for a more earthy, hearty taste.  I also added in some dried foraged mushrooms and WOW.  I'm definitely making this one for the holiday menu.


Mashed potatoes-
6 red potatoes, quartered with skin
sea salt
about 3 tbsp. vegan sour cream
about 1 tbsp. vegan butter

8 oz. crimini mushrooms
dried forest mushrooms (any dried mushrooms will do)
dried ground sage
1 scallion (a lot)
sea salt
1 tbsp vegan butter
2 cups mushroom broth

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil, sprinkling in salt.  Add in the quartered potatoes and thyme and stir well.  Allow to boil until potatoes are easy to pierce with a fork.  Drain and mash roughly with a hand masher.  Add in enough sour cream and butter to make creamy, but still lumpy. Salt and pepper to taste.

For the gravy, heat butter in a medium pan and add in mushrooms and scallions (before butter browns).  The dried mushrooms will stay hard until you add in the broth, so don't worry.   Add in sage per your taste.  Let sauté until the mushrooms are tender and add in the broth stirring well.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Once the dried mushrooms are soft, whisk in flour slowly until gravy thickens.

Serve the gravy atop the potatoes and enjoy.  I served mine with highly fried "turkey" cutlets and sautéed spinach.

Chef or Cook - What's in a Name?

Search the hashtag "chef" on Instagram and you're bombarded with a lot of different images.  There are moms cooking for their kids, professional chefs working in restaurants, but of the images are amateur cooks sharing photos of the things they make in their home kitchens (these are my favorite).

So what's the difference between a chef and a cook?  They both do the same thing right?

Well, not exactly. And kind of. But not really.  Um....ok.

So technically a chef is someone who has received culinary training.  A chef is someone who cooks in a restaurant and has creative control of the menu.  A chef has either gone to culinary school or has studied under another chef and has received education that is equal to a formal degree.  If you are a "chef" odds are you are in a supervisory role in your restaurant.

A cook on the other hand, is me.  I have not trained in a restaurant or under a chef (unless you count asking my parents questions because they are both bomb ass cooks) and I don't have any formal education.  Everything I have ever made in the kitchen, has come from me.  I study on my own with the amazing resources we have these days.  I have a trillion cookbooks, books on cooking technique, and spend most of my free time reading up online about food and cooking.  But unless I decide to go back to school (I graduate this semester from an MFA the odds on that aren't great), I will never be considered a chef.

But who cares?  There is definitely a hierarchy in restaurants, but I don't intend to work in one.  My goal is to show people that cooking is easy and FUN and you don't have to have studied in France to be able to cook a delicious meal and share it with other people.  Also, I would probably have an anxiety attack and die if I had to work in a restaurant kitchen.  The only reason my Instagram says "personal chef" is because "personal cook" wasn't an option.

So I may take a class or two, or ask people who are chefs for advice, but I'm a cook.  And I'm proud of that.