Thursday, April 24, 2014

Please Don't Compare an Indie Craft Restaurant Burger with a Chain Burger

Reality bites: You get what you pay for.

PLEASE stop comparing independent craft restaurants with chain operations. Yes, the word "burger" is the same, but you are getting two very different products.

Here is a little insight.

You pay: $8-10 Burger
Meat: A GMO soy-corn-antibiotic fed, hormone-infected pattie, cooked in transfat laced "mel fry," "Kaola gold" or other GMO fake fat.
Bread: 2-oz bun, looks bigger because it is over proofed and pumped with diabetes-inducing dough conditioners, and of course, flavored with high-fructose corn syrup and plenty of preservatives.
Sides: Lettuce preserved with that sweet-smelling sodium tripolyphosphate (that's called snow white in the biz, keeps vegetables from oxidizing) and a GMO, irradiated Mexican tomato, often delivered pre-sliced by a chlorine sprayed machine in Mexico. Maybe you get a pickle; it will definitely be colored with yellow #5 and swimming in preservatives.
Fries: Frozen fries that are typically at least 30% white flour, cottonseed oil, BHT and other preservatives cooked in high-performance (aka high in transfat) GMO soy-cotton and mystery oil.
Condiments: Ketchup laced with high-fructose corn syrup, sterilized mayo made with cottonseed oil and high-fructose corn syrups, and tons of preservatives. Any other condiments (like BBQ sauce or flavored mayos) are made in a factories somewhere where the labor is cheapest, and are also laced with high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and chemical preservatives.
Set-Up: Wasteful, eco-unfriendly paper napkin, sometimes a stupid and wasteful paper placemat.
Fairtrade? Cooked by someone in a dead-end job making $9 an hour who is not being inspired, trained or cultured for potential growth in the industry.
Local Value: NOTHING local is involved with getting you that burger, nothing that helps support the local economy, and there is little or no real nutritional value. Most design, construction and services are contracted nationally, not locally. There is little if no local support for the arts, no local fundraising for the not-for-profit community, and often there is not even support for a little league team.
Drink Options: Chemical-laced corporate beer, big box wines and liquors. Few or no local options. Iced tea from powder. At least there's always water, right?

This dismal list goes on and on...

You pay: $14-$17
Meat: Local/Regional beef from small cooperatives, thoughtfully selected cuts, seasoned with sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Bun: Either handmade (which employs an actual baker!) or a carefully chosen, artisan 4-oz bun.
Sides: Local, in-season lettuce (or artisan hydroponic in winter), local tomato in season, housemade pickle or at least the real-deal. Sides are often made from local farmers' market veggies with no chemicals, colors, or preservatives.
Fries: Real potatoes cooked in clean rice bran oil or other real oil, seasoned with kosher or sea salt.
Condiments: Housemade or organic ketchup, housemade mayo (made with local eggs and olive oil), other craft condiments, all made fresh in house.
Set-Up: cloth napkin. Real china, silver.
Fairtrade?: Cooks in indie craft restaurants get on the foodie trajectory. Working for a chef of repute builds a resume for higher-paying and more dynamic opportunities. Also, working in a craft environment is satisfying creatively, culturally and socially.
Local Value: Many aspects of a craft restaurant support local. Choices are made everyday to risk the bottom line in order to support as many local, regional and artisan like-minded crafts people as possible. Also, construction, design, repair and service people are selected locally. There is immense visible local support for the arts, local fundraising for the not-for-profit community, and yes–even support for a little league teams.
Drink Options: High-quality craft and artisan spirits, wine, beer, coffee, and soda, supporting a local industry that is utilizing more local and artisan components. 

This exciting list goes on and on.

Think Farmstand versus Walmart.
You pay for higher quality and higher skill levels.

Please don't compare Ruby Tuesday to guys like us.

Ric Orlando's Vegan Recipes: Tempeh and Cashew Custard Moussaka!

Tempeh Moussaka - Yum!

This recipe makes a big party pan. It is a little work as you have to make all four basic components separately but it is SOOOOOO worth it!

The Layers
4 medium eggplants (preparation instruction in directions below)
1/2 cup olive oil plus more for the eggplant
1/2 cup flour plus more for the eggplant
3 cups raw cashews
3 cups water or more
2 large potatoes, peeled, diced, boiled until soft, and strained well
1 nutmeg
dash Tabasco sauce
Vegan “Parm” (choose your favorite, or mix some up with good Nutritional Yeast)
8 packs tempeh, crumbled
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped

Greek Tomato Sauce       
2 cans tomato puree
¼ cup onion, minced
2 garlic cloves minced
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of oregano
pinch of dill
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper

Prepping the Components

1. The Eggplant
Peel the eggplant and slice 1/2" thick. Salt it and drain for ½ hour while you prepare the white sauce (custard) and start the red sauce. Then dry the eggplant and shake in a bag with flour and a good grind of black pepper. Brown the slices in a bit of hot olive oil. Be careful with the amount of oil and use only enough to brown a few slices at a time. 

Reserve until ready to assemble.

2. Greek Tomato Sauce
Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add the tomatoes, spices and a splash of water and cook for 30 minutes over medium heat. Reserve.

3. The Tempeh
First, crumble the tempeh.

Then, in a heavy skillet, add some olive oil and sauté the garlic and onions in batches until golden and soft. Remove from pan and reserve. In the same pan add more oil and add the tempeh.
Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until golden brown around the edges and add back the sautéed onions and garlic. Add 3/4 of the Greek tomato sauce and stir in. Cook for a few minutes to combine the flavors.

4. The"Custard"

Put the cashews and water in a blender and whip for 5 minutes until smooth as silk. Add a little more water if needed to obtain the consistency of very thick cream. Add the potatoes to the blender and continue to whip until it is all very smooth. Depending on the size of your blender, you may have to make the cashew cream and then remove some to add the potatoes, and then mix it all together. You need enough custard and you;d best make it very smooth!

In a heavy pan over medium heat, whisk together the ½ cup olive oil and the half cup of flour.  Cook gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring to make a roux.

Add the cashew-potato mix and whisk in well. Simmer for just a couple minutes. Add salt to taste, a good grating of nutmeg and the tabasco. This is your custard!

In a heavy casserole pan, put the cooked tempeh mix.
Now layer the cooked eggplant on top of that.
Add a little more tomato sauce and then top with the “custard”
Sprinkle with vegan “parm” and bake for 40 minutes.

Ric Orlando's Vegan Recipes: Quinoa Stuffed Artichokes

Quinoa-stuffed artichoke hearts are a simple appetizer that fit the bill for a vegan party (or any event!)

They are good hot, room temperature or cold. Nice!

Serves 8

16-24 baby artichokes, or good quality canned artichoke hearts, not marinated.
1 cup quinoa
½ cup green salsa (recipe below)
cilantro as desired
Daiya vegan mozz as needed (if you eat dairy, you can use goat cheese, if you desire)
olive oil
smoked paprika (pimenton)

If you are using fresh artichokes, peel off some of the darker outer leaves and boil for 30 minutes in salted water to which the juice of a half a lemon has been added.

Rinse the quinoa with cold water.

In a small pot bring 3 cups salted water to a rolling boil. Add the quinoa and stir. Cook at a brisk boil for at least 15 minutes or until the quinoa “pops." Strain and rinse under cold water.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Toss the artichoke hearts in a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and smoked paprika.

Mix the green salsa with the quinoa, about two parts quinoa to one part salsa. It should be soft and loose. Stuff the quinoa mix into the artichokes, tucking it into the center of each and between the leaves. Top with a small amount of vegan mozz and arrange upright.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

Simple green salsa

All purpose, all everything–make this! You can then add diced mango, corn, pineapple…have fun! It's great with all proteins, chips, rice, you name it.

Makes 2 Cups

½ pound tomatillos, hulled
½ cup diced onion
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 jalapeño pepper, fresh
1 bunch cilantro
3 cups generously salted water

Bring the water to a rolling boil. Add all ingredients except the cilantro and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Puree the solids and the cilantro with enough of the cooking water to make a smooth, pourable salsa. Tah-dah!

Hudson Valley Garlic Festival Recipes for 2019

Sunday, September 29th I am back at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in Saugerties cooking some garlic recipes. These two side dishes are ...