The first vegan cookbook I purchased was Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin. Perhaps not a household name, Martin does carry some star quality in that he is the personal chef of vegans Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres. Although some members of the vegan community have criticized the book for being too basic, too based on soy, and not necessarily healthy (which are all valid critiques), it is an excellent resource for someone just coming into cooking vegan, especially someone cooking for non-vegans. While I certainly wouldn’t cook every meal out of the book, it provides some great options for a variety of tasty meals.
On Saturday night, our family tried the Vegan Chicken Fried Steak Bites. You can find the recipe, sort of, on Ellen’s website. The directions are close to those in Martin’s book, although he gives a recipe for blackening spice, which I’ve included below. In addition, I made a few minor changes. We didn’t have cashew cream or even the cashews to make it. Since we are on a budget, I just used what was on hand to dredge and add to the gravy: almond milk. I also used plain vegetable stock in the gravy instead of faux chicken stock.
My daughter had a blast dredging the beefless tips–she felt like she was getting away with something making such a mess. After dredging I let the tips sit for about 15 minutes while I mixed up some vegan biscuits. Then we fried the pieces. I was surprised that the color came out so golden. While the gravy was thickening, I baked the biscuits and put some beans on the stovetop so everything was ready at roughly the same time.
The result was ridiculously yummy. The Gardein brand tips fried up tender on the inside and crisp on the outside. My husband told me afterward that he was nervous about eating the beefless tips and gravy because it wasn’t like anything he’d seen before. But after tasting it he wanted to know when we could have it again.
This is certainly a decadent meal that we won’t be having all the time; however, it was very delicious and appeased my meat-eater husband who happens to be a great sport about trying all these new foods. My picky eater daughter couldn’t wait to tell people about how she helped make the best dinner. To me, that makes this a winner.
By the way, one of my favorite vegan blogs in the history of ever, Vegan Crunk, just published a cookbook. It is on my birthday wish list. If anyone gets a chance to try it out, let me know what you think!
Blackening Spice Recipe
1 TBS paprika
1 tsp cayenne
2 tsp garlic powder
2 TBS onion powder
1 TBS dried thyme
2 TBS dried oregano, crushed between your palms
1 TBS kosher salt
1 TBS freshly ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and store in an airtight container.