Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gardein Chicken Piccata & Tomato Bisque from "The Conscious Cook"

Gardein "Chicken" Piccata

I recently discovered the only interesting looking vegan cookbook I've ever seen. And maybe that's because Tal Ronnen seems to have connections all over the food and media world and I couldn't have missed this book if I tried. I decided to see what the hype was about and buy it. I even read most of the text and felt a bit more educated for it. One problem: I couldn't make a single recipe in the whole book with things that I normally keep on hand, at least at short notice. Almost every recipe contains cashew cream - something you need several hours or overnight to produce. I just don't have that kind of foresight - I tend to decide at 7pm what to make by 9. 

 My first Cashew Cream from 1C raw cashews - looks like milk!

Having gone through and sticky-tabbed half the book, I decided to make a Fresh Direct order with the book at my side and actually plan some meals. I chose two recipes to start with: Tomato Bisque and Gardein Chicken Piccata. My recent discovery of Gardein is what lead me to this book in the first place. 

The tomato bisque seemed simple enough, what with using canned tomatoes - but it took longer than I expected and created a lot of dishes to clean. The one major mishap was forgetting to remove the bay leaves before handing the immersion blender to my husband (that's his job - blending). I may not have bothered to strain the soup otherwise, but the bay leaves left all kinds of floating chips in the soup and we struggled to strain the whole thing into another soup pot (more dirty dishes!). Overall the soup turned out pretty tasty. Unfortunately I don't have a photo as we were pretty starved by the time it was ready and went right to eating. So I can just tell you it was pastel orange liquid - not too exciting anyways!

The Gardein Chicken Piccata came out excellent. I didn't use any vegan butter like the recipe called for, no one is vegan in my house so I wouldn't waste money buying fake butter. The "chicken" browned nicely once I got the oil/butter hot enough, which took some experimenting. The rest of the prep was easy. I made simple steamed swiss chard on the side, and some fingerlings which I left in the oven far too long which were rendered unedible. There was just too much going on between the soup, chicken, sauce and chard already in work. Next time I would serve the piccata over simple plain pasta with a bit of olive oil. I don't think I could mistake this for real chicken, as one of the stories in the cookbook tell of dinner guests thinking it was real meat. Not so much, I think. But for fake meat, it's not bad at all. This recipe would work great for real chicken also - good for a dinner party with both vegetarians and meat eaters, since you could have two pans going with real vs. fake.


*I won't list the recipes here (since I think that's just wrong to republish), but if you google properly you'll probably find them out there in web land. Here are some other officially shared recipes by Tal at Gardein.com.

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