Food Network Friday – Spring chicken roll-ups with lemon dijon pan sauce

This was a great Food Network Friday!

I love watching Rachael Ray on our UK version of Food Network. She’s on early in the morning for 2 episodes and my favourite weekend treat is waking up and reaching for the remote and seeing what she’s up to. I’d love to have some her pots and pans too!

This dish seemed really easy to veganise but I had a complete false start with what to use for the chicken. I took some chicken style seitan cutlets out of the freezer but when they defrosted they were much too thick to roll and try as I might, I couldn’t squash them down in the same way Rachael Ray does with chicken. So I started again. I racked my brains to think of what would roll and remembered the Soytan Cutlets from 1,000 Vegan Recipes. I’ve made them once before and knew they had plenty of give in them. So I made them as they were but added in a bit of dried sage and thyme to get a bit more of a chicken flavour to them. The recipe serves 6 but I made one normal sized one (for a sandwich), and with the rest I made 2 mega cutlets. Then I fried them very briefly on one side, just so they’d be warm and partly cooked.

I’d never eaten provolone cheese so I read up about it and discovered it’s like a tangier version of mozzarella. So all I did for that was grate some Redwood Mozzarella and mix it with some white miso and a bit of nutritional yeast and spread it on the fried side of the cutlets. Then I put 2 slices of Redwood ham on top, then 3 spears of steamed asparagus. I rolled them up and fried them for just a few minutes on each side. For the sauce I simply used vegetarian “chicken” stock and used the rest of the ingredients as described.

I like to pick another dish from the same chef to pair up with Food Network Friday dishes. This recipe was already vegan so didn’t need any work but I liked the look of it and fancied trying it for a change.

This really was a delicious recipe. It was great for a spring night and was lovely with a nice Italian red wine. I’m not sure if Tami’s picked the next recipe for FNF but be sure to keep an eye out and see what other people came up with for the roll ups too!

A Vegan Christmas

Yet again we really suffered by having to endure a vegan Christmas. Other people gorged on turkey while we sat around eating plain tofu and salad. Er, no, not really. We enjoy our traditional dinner on Christmas Eve, leaving us Christmas Day to go to to the pub and out for a curry. After 14 years this is now our tradition and it makes perfect sense to us.

On Christmas Eve we like to have a nice light starter so that we can gorge ourselves on the main event. This year we tried the Urban Vegan spinach and fennel, which has a nice seasonal feel with dried cranberries, and an unusual dressing made from avocado and sesame oil. I’d have preferred a slightly tangier dressing with a squeeze more lime juice but it was extremely tasty and we’ll have it again.

The main course is pictured above, before I smothered it in madeira sauce. The centrepiece is the seitan en croute from 500 Vegan Recipes. I tested it for the book and I knew it would be perfect for Christmas. I spent ages cutting out an sticking on pastry holly shapes and berries for the top and forgot to photograph it! With the seitan, we had roast potatoes, bread sauce, Yorkshire puddings, stuffing, creamy cauliflower and green beans. I roasted the potatoes the English way, in loads of oil and regular basting so that they were really crisp and melting in the middle. I think bread sauce must be very English too as I’ve neve seen it on US sites or in books, but even though it’s really meant to go with turkey I’ve never known a Christmas meal without it. This is like the recipe I use with vegan replacements, of course. I used this recipe for the Yorkshire puddings this year and really liked it. Of course it’s not exactly like its eggy counterpart but with a smear of English mustard it is well worth trying (and worth noting that they reheat very nicely in a hot oven too, which I suspect the eggy version would not do!)

Stuffing is a strange one. I used to use packet sage and onion mixes which were accidentally vegan. For the last few years I’ve been making up recipes myself, but this year I made a US style stuffing, which is apparently called dressing unless it’s actually stuffed into something…. I made the one from Joanna’s new zine but added some celery and switched round the proportions of herbs so it’d be a bit more sage like and therefore more like my stuffings of old. I really liked it but it felt more like a side dish – it’s a lot lighter than the stuffings I’m used to, which tend to be sausage based. I think I would have it again because I’d know what to expect more! The cauliflower was from 1,000 Vegan Recipes and was steamed and then blended with soya milk and flavourings and baked. It was light, tasty and souffle like. The green beans were based on the green beans almondine from 500 Vegan Recipes because I thought the bacon bits would be a nod to the traditional salty sausages wrapped in bacon. Finally, the madeira sauce from 1,000 Vegan Recipes. This was a real departure for me because Christmas dinner = English bisto style gravy, but I wanted something more refined and homemade this year. I had trouble getting it as thick as I wanted, but I suspect that’s because it’s meant to be thinner than I like. Anyway, it tasted great – nice and rich. I’d tone down the sweetness a touch with some lemon next time, I think.

So that was our at home Christmas dinner, which we both really enjoyed and ate far too much of. Coming next, more vegan suffering at the Indian restaurant….