Monday, March 18, 2013

Seitan Brisket with Roasted Chanterelle Gravy

Seitan Brisket with Roasted Chanterelle Gravy pg. 200 & pg. 235
The day is finally here!  My last recipe from Crazy Sexy Kitchen.  I started this project October 29th, 2012.  Truthfully, two days into this project I panicked.  I was freaked.  The thought of cooking my way through CSK was starting to set in.  My family & friends pretty much thought I had lost it, and I wasn't sure I could pull it off.  We all know how this story ends though, I did it.  I committed to finishing this cookbook.  Yes, it was totally CRAZY, but guess what I now have some awesome skills in the kitchen, and that is SEXY!  If you really want to learn how to cook, pick up a cookbook and fully immerse yourself in it.  Any type of cookbook, vegan or not, if you make it through to the end you will know how to cook!  With that being said, if you want to be better at anything you just have to dive in and do it, and do whatever it is a lot.  Writing, cooking and pictures were all skills I perfected as this project went on. 

Today was the Seitan Brisket.  This recipe terrified me.  I had no concept what Seitan Brisket even was until today.  Guess what, not as scary as I thought, and in fact it was pretty good.  Here is what you will need for the brisket and gravy.  FYI I forgot to add the maple syrup in the brisket ingredient picture, and the Tamari in the gravy picture.  Go figure my last pictures and I goofed up.
Seitan Brisket Ingredients
You will make your sauce for the brisket first, and then the dough.  Seitan is wheat gluten in case you are like me and had no idea what it was!  It literally feels like bread dough.  You will knead it like bread.  It reminded me of pizza dough as I strived to give it a nice loaf shape.

You will baste the seitan for over an hour as it cooks.   It was essentially vegan meatloaf, or that is at least what my husband thought it looked like, and it totally did.
The one issue I had while preparing this dish was when the recipe asks you to flip the seitan after 30 minutes of cooking.  I did do it, but I needed help from my husband.  The brisket was hot and still soft.  I was afraid it might tear.  It was a bit tricky, so beware.  Your house will smell divine while this cooks.

Now, did I love seitan? Truth... No.  I did like it.  I think for me it was about texture.  When you aren't used to certain textures it takes time.   The flavor was great. 

Next up is the Roasted Chanterelle Gravy.
This was the best gravy I have ever had.  It will be a staple in my house for every holiday from here on out.  I know my kids will be begging me to make it for more than just special occasions.  They love mashed potatoes and gravy.  It was absolutely delicious. 
So I really did it.  I am not sure what I hoped would come from devoting most of my free time to cooking my way through CSK?  In the beginning I half joked Kris might come to dinner.  It would be cool to have a dinner with Kris, but now I want Chad to come as well.   I came into this deal kinda obsessed with Kris because we all know she is pretty rad.  The thing is Chef Sarno is awesome too!  I just didn't know him before CSK, but I got to know him through his great recipes.  He generously re-Tweeted me almost every time I posted something to Twitter, and liked all my pictures on Instagram.  He didn't have to do that.  I am fans of both of them now.

So I put the invitation out there to Kris and Chad - breakfast, lunch or dinner anytime! Although, Chef Sarno I think I would like you to do the cooking, and Kris you could fill my soul with all your spiritual and business smarts!  My husband and I would love to meet you both.  I will be sending my cookbook your way for you both to autograph.  I warn you it is quite stained and tattered.  It was by my side virtually everyday for about 4 1/2 months!

What's next?  Who knows!  I would love to post a follow up story with all the magical things that happened after I completed CSK.  I promise if anything interesting happens I will let you know...  Thank you for all your support.  I appreciate you stopping by everyday.

To my amazing husband, thank you for encouraging me every single day and helping me so much!  You are by far the most amazing person I know.  I love you!  My hubby gave me this American Greeting card for my birthday, and I think it pretty much sums up everything for The Crazy Sexy Kitchen Project...

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Shredded Kale & Carrots

Shredded Kale and Carrots with Almond Butter Dressing pg. 219
I am still in Florida, but heading home today.  I am actually looking forward to getting back to my own bed.  Although it was nice to get out of town, things didn't necessarily go as planned.  I envisioned the weather being hot and tropical, but it seems we came a week too early to Florida.  Next week has the good weather. When I left California it was 90 degrees.  When we arrived in Florida it was 72 burrrr!  Now I know I shouldn't complain because many of you live in really cold climates.  So I can deal with the weather, no biggie.  What I couldn't deal with was getting the flu or food poisening!  Seriously!  I woke up Friday with horrible stomach pain.  Well, you know all the fun that came next.  So I have spent 99% of my time in bed sleeping.  I did manage to snap a few shots of  Key Largo when I was feeling better.
The town is really a retirement community for lots of really wealthy folks.  People get around the area in golf carts, which was pretty fun!

The mansions all have yachts parked behind them.  There are canals that are the backyards to all these homes.  It was all very cool to see.
See the Yacht!
The lush tropical landscape was awesome.  It reminded me of one of my favorite places, Maui.  I am glad I got to see Key Largo, but I can't say it was one of my favorite places I have visited.  I had hoped the water would have been more crystal blue.  Oh well, like I said things just don't always go like you plan.  I love to travel, and now I can mark it off my list of places to see.
I cheated and  made this dish before I left for my trip.  It was the Shredded Kale and Carrots with Almond Butter Dressing.
Almond Butter Dressing
Before doing all this cooking I had never used the various attachments that came with my food processor.  I had only used the big blade all these years. (Pretty lame I will admit.) After spending so much time in the kitchen I now have a sense of fearlessness.  I pulled out the interchangeable blades and made this dish.  I used one blade for the kale and another for the carrots.  Not sure what the heck scared me about them before?  It was pretty cool how easily it all came together.
The dish surprised me because it is served raw.  I always assumed as I flipped through the cookbook that this was a cooked dish.  It really is more of a salad.  The Almond Butter Dressing was delicious.  The dish also holds up well on the second day.  I loved the hemp seeds in it.
Next up will be my final dish from CSK.  Any guesses to what it is?  I can't believe it is almost over...      

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Best of The Best In CSK

I am spending the weekend in the Florida Keys!  I plan on soaking up the sun, going to the spa, and visiting the Everglades.  I am actually going to take one of those air boats with a big airplane propeller.  It will zip us across the water. All in hopes of seeing some alligators in their natural habitat.  So I thought since I am almost at the end of CSK, I would leave you with my favorite recipes from each section of the book while I am away.  I will post some pictures from our trip when I get back.  Here is a picture from the plane today!  So pretty!
Here are all my favorites...
Juice: The Morning Glorious
This is my go to juice a few times a week. (Look at this picture!  This was early in the project.)

Smoothies: For The Love of Nog
This was a hard choice, but in the end this is my favorite!

Breakfast: Crazy Sexy Breakfast Tacos
You could eat these anytime of day!

Soups and Stews: Coconut and Red Lentil Soup
So delicious!  I have made this again and again.  I add potatoes & carrots to mine.

Sandwiches and Wraps: Crazy Sexy Veggie Quesadilla
These are insanely good!

Sensual Starters: Walnut Falafel
These were so yummy.

Symphonic Salads: Fennel & Fruits with Mandarin Champagne Vinaigrette
I had so many requests for this recipe from family members.

I still have one more "main event" to make, so this answer could change!
Main Event: Wild Mushroom Croquettes

I also have one more to make here too, but this one will be hard to beat.
Sexy Sides: Slow Roasted Beets with Fresh Horseradish

Dressings, Marinades and Condiments: Hummus Two Ways
You just can't go wrong with homemade hummus.

Snacks and Munchies: Kale Chips
These were surprisingly delish!

Sweet Seductions: 24 Karrot Cake
I made this twice in 48hrs it was so yummy!

What are some of your favorites?  Let me know...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wild Mushroom Croquettes with Horseradish Cream

Wild Mushroom Croquettes with Horseradish Cream Pg. 194
Today I made one of the best recipes from CSK!  That is a big statement because I have almost tasted everything in the book.  This dish wasn't hard to make which is awesome.  Plan ahead and soak your nuts.  I have never in my life cooked with so much nuts.  I am quite sure I have never eaten this many nuts ever!  I wonder if it has affected my cholesterol?  Aren't nuts high in that?  Anyway, I have gotten quite used to reading through a recipe the night before to see if I need to soak nuts in prep for cooking, and I would say chances are if you are cooking from CSK you will need to soak cashews or another type of nut.

Once the nuts have been softened, you will just do a bit of chopping.  The corquettes went in my dehydrator for 4 hours.  You can put them in the oven as well.  Delish!  I had one on a bed of arugula topped with Horseradish Cream Cheese.
I also tried one using a red cabbage leaf like a burger bun.
I know I will be snacking on these croquettes until they are all gone.  So yummy!

OMG I only have 3 recipes left.  What am I going to do when this is over? Since beginning this project, I have started my days pretty much the same way.  As I still lay under my covers early in morning I sit up in bed and check my blog for page views and comments.  I then post a picture of what I have made the day before on Instagram.  Then post on Facebook, and usually write something about what I made.  Pinterest  is next and again post a picture (I think I have 90 pictures from CSK on my CSK Pinterest board).  I love Pinterest, but who doesn't?  Followed by Twitter, where I have tweeted a lot since my friend tutored me in all things Twitter.  The whole concept of tweeting was so weird to me months ago, but now I have come to realize how awesome Twitter is.  To be able to send a message out and get response almost immediately is so cool. Over the course of cooking my way through CSK I have gained what will soon be 1000 likes on Facebook. (So give me a like, so I can hit 1000 if you haven't already! Pretty please!)   Before the CSK Project, none of these social media outlets played a part in my day.  Now I am slightly addicted!
So how will I start my days when all is said and done?  It will take some adjusting to go back to life as it was.  One thing is for certain, I have discovered if you are enjoying what you are working on you don't mind putting in the extra energy.  For the most part, I liked getting up in the morning before my little one and working on "The Project".   No, it doesn't mean that some days I wouldn't complain my butt off!  That is normal though, everyone needs to whine here and there.  Getting back to my normal life will be pretty cool.  It will feel like a vacation.  No extra agenda for my day.  No having to photograph my food before I eat it.  No running from store to store looking for that one missing ingredient.    I will just simply cook for my family.  Well, until I figure out my next hair brained idea!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Vegan "Clam" Chowder

Vegan "Clam" Chowder pg. 122
This is my 100th post for the CSK Project.  100 times I have blogged about my adventures in cooking.  In all my blogs I have never used the "F" word.  That is until now...

FIRE! Yep, I had a bit of a kitchen fire today! Seriously!

Let me recap for you.  I finally came to the realization that I could not put off the Vegan"Clam" Chowder any longer.  I have only a few recipes left.  It was time to man up and make this soup.  You might be wondering why the resistance to this recipe?  I had two issues with it.  One, I had to make a seaweed broth to put in the soup.  That sounded really horrible to me.
The second and the scarier thing was having to smoke some mushrooms.  That just sounded like a pain in the a--! 
I don't usually like smoked foods to begin with and to take something and smoke it seemed like a guaranteed turn off in my book.  Smoking wood chips isn't something I normally have on hand (or never for that matter), so I had to go buy some.  I also don't have a professional smoker (but who does?) so I tried my best to make one.  CSK gives you instructions on how to do so. 

This is where things got a bit messy.  I thought I would just use two disposable tin pans.  I figured it would work and make for easy clean up.  Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what NOT to do.  I layered the wood chips in one, poked holes in the other, layered the mushrooms in the tin with the wholes, propped the tin with holes over the wood chips, covered it, and watched it burn when I add heat!

I turned on my burner and it was smoking a lot within seconds.  The smoke was followed by big flames!! I was shocked.  I grabbed a glass of water and put out the flames, but not before burning my finger.  Needless to say not only were the mushrooms smoked, but my house also smelled like we had a huge campfire in the family room.   Not to mention my hair smelled like I had been camping as well!  My teen son thought the house smelled amazing, and was instantly hungry when he got home.  Go figure?! He is a growing boy.
After the disbelief that I just had a fire in my kitchen, I got on with the recipe and tried to make smoked mushrooms yet again.  This time I did it on the BBQ.  We had some sort of container under our BBQ that may be for smoking?  So I cleaned it and poured some chips in it. Then called my husband because he is the barbecuer (Is that even a word?) in our house.  I had no frickin clue how to turn the BBQ on.  Sad I know, but now I can say I know how. So try not to bag on me too much. Remember I have a burned finger. Sympathy please!  I tried my best to smoke the mushrooms but still not sure I nailed it?

The rest of the recipe wasn't too complicated, and there were no more fires.  Thank God!  Truthfully, the recipe had nowhere to go but up from the fire incident. The base for the soup was cashews.  Here are all the ingredients needed.
The cashews really made for a creamy soup.
You have to continually add water to the soup because it gets very thick quick. I found I couldn't go too far away from the pot for fear the soup would burn.  In the end, you add some lemon juice, salt & pepper, and lastly the best ingredient Tabasco.  Yum!  I really thought I would hate this soup.  I was so wrong.  It was awesome! No trace of seaweed broth or overly smoky flavors.  It was a creamy delicious bowl of chowder.  The only thing I would keep in mind besides being careful not to burn your house down, is although the recipe says it serves 12 I didn't find that to be so.  I cut the recipe in half because I didn't anticipate liking it, but there is no way it made 6 servings.  It was more like three.  Just thought you should know if you go to all the smoker trouble:)
Even though I really thought this soup was terrific, I will not be smoking anymore food at my house.  I will leave that to the professionals.  Turns out if I get a craving for this soup I can have a bowl next time I am in Las Vegas.  The Wynn hotel serves it.  I am going to Vegas in a couple of weeks, and can't wait to have a taste made by a real chef!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Asian Noodles with Black Vinaigrette

Asian Noodles with Black Vinaigrette pg. 174

Do you remember how you felt after final exams were over when you were in school?  Relieved, excited, and exhausted are a few adjectives that come to mind.  That is kinda how I feel now that my friend's baby shower is over.  It was the biggest party I have thrown in a long while, and also I think one of the prettiest parties I have ever put together.  I worked for days getting everything ready.  I love to party plan.  It would be heavenly to do it for a living. I loose track of time when I am getting every detail prepared. In the end I think my friend, her husband and her family had a great time!  She got so many cute things for her future daughter, and memories to last a lifetime.  Here are some pictures from the day.

After lounging around all morning, I finally mustered up enough energy to make Asian Noodles with Black Vinaigrette.  I first made the Basic Asian Marinade to dress the salad.  I have actually made this before,  although this time when I made it I used a very special olive oil.  One of the guests at the shower makes olive oil.  He is Greek, and he makes his olive oil of course in Greece, then imports it to the USA.  It is delicious and the packaging is really beautiful.  Here is his website:  Check it out, you will be so glad you did!
Tagaras Olive Oil
Basic Asian Marinade
Asian Marinade Ingredients
This recipe called for one of my arch nemesis ingredients, the buckwheat soba noodles.  These noodles almost made me cry the last time I made them.  It is funny because the recipe forewarns how moody these suckers can be.  The other recipe Teriyaki Tofu with Wild Mushrooms and Soba Noodles left out that little detail.  I suspect since this recipe came first in the cookbook that is why only this dish gives you the heads up.  In my defense, who cooks each recipe from a cookbook in order?  Truthfully, I think buckwheat soba noodles should just post a warning on the package.  Something like "warning pain in the a-- noodles beware!" I outsmarted the soba noodles this time though!  I bought pre-made noodles that just called for me to drop them in the water for 30 seconds.  No sticky clumping mess this time.  Yeah!
Here is what you will need to make this yummy salad.  You can get a glimpse of the prepacked noodles I used.
This was a hearty salad full of tons of flavor.