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Great Chefs Cook Vegan (November 3, 2009)

When Thomas Keller, Charlie Trotter, Todd English and Daniel Boulud are cooking, everyone pays attention. When their recipes and those of 20+ other great chefs are compiled in one cookbook, Great Chefs Cook Vegan, everyone wants a copy! But wait... what is going on here?

Beautiful photographs and delectable recipes, all vegan? Indeed, and Linda Long, who has had a lifelong relationship with the food industry (and has been a committed vegan for thirty years) pulled this special edition together.

Long is a member of the James Beard Foundation, International Association of Culinary Professionals, Women Chefs and Restaurants among other groups, and has done photographs for the top vegetarian magazines and book cover photography for other vegan authors.

We thought "That's nice, Linda, but we're committed carnivores, and what is vegan anyway? We don't go out of our way for brown rice, tofu or raw food, Linda!"

Then we started reading Great Chefs Cook Vegan... What about Baby Beet Salad with Pistachio Vinaigrette and Chickpea Fritters, Warm Venezuelan Chocolate Cake with Merlot-Infused Cherries, Lemon Bergamot, and Chocolate Gelato...

And we started cooking…

But wait, there's more! We weren't aware, but a lot of our favourite recipes are indeed vegan; as we were cruising Jamie Purviance's Weber's Way to Grill, we came across several that qualify, and in a book heavily slanted towards meat of all kinds! In fact, there were so many that it became a hard choice, but we think you'll love what we've included below! Purviance is a master at grilling, and has a deft hand, and spatula, with all foods, including rather delicate tofu. While we shook our heads over this recipe, we were nodding in agreement as we helped ourselves to seconds! We're hooked!

On today's menu:

Download this article in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (108 KB)


Warm Watermelon Salad with Tomatoes, Crushed Pistachios, and Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Gabriel Kreuther was raised on his family's farm outside Strasbourg, and a natural love of cooking was nurtured by his mother and an uncle who owned a nearby hotel and restaurant. He's worked in great kitchens around the world and won Best New Chef in Food and Wine magazine, plus a Best New Restaurant nomination by the James Beard Foundation. He's gorgeous, talented and incredibly inventive.

This salad uses ordinary ingredients, but who would have ever thought of combining them? Gabriel Kreuther would! Enjoy – it's worth the effort, and creates a dazzling dish. From Great Chefs Cook Vegan.

Serves 4

  • 1 ripe watermelon (about 5 pounds, preferably seedless)
  • 6 pounds very ripe tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • Fleur de sel and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound green pistachios, chopped or crushed, preferably not with a food processor*
  • 1/2 cup aged (or reduced to a near syrup) balsamic vinegar

* As the pistachios are very rich in oil, the use of a food processor to chop or crush them will create more of a soft paste than the desired crunchy texture. It is preferably to use a chef's knife to chop or crush the nuts.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Slice watermelon into 1-inch thick slices and place in a rectangle mold (or chose another shape such as a square or ring cutter to cut to the desired size); set aside in the molds.

Cut a small X on the bottom of each tomato. Blanch them in boiling water until the cut skin of the tomatoes begins to peel away. Immediately plunge the tomatoes into ice water and peel the skins once cooled. Cut tomatoes in half and remove the inside pulp and seeds. Cut into ¼ inch slices and then into small dice. Place the tomatoes in a bowl and season with oil, fleur de sel and pepper.

Place watermelon slices, still in molds in order to keep it nicely packed, on a baking sheet. Season with fleur de sel, pepper and a drizzle of oil. Using a slotted spoon, top the seasoned watermelon with a 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick layer of tomatoes. Lightly press the mixture with the back of a large spoon and cover the tomato layer with a light coating of the chopped or crushed pistachios.

Bake at 425°F until the pistachios start to brown lightly, approximately 3 to 5 minutes.

How to plate: Using a squeeze bottle, generously drizzle with the aged balsamic vinegar, creating a zigzag pattern on the plate; carefully place the watermelon onto the plate and remove the molds.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Dry rosé sparkling wine (champagne preferred!); Tavel rosé


Farro Risotto with Seasonal Vegetables and Squash Blossoms

Created by Michel Nischan, best-selling author and chef/owner of The Dressing Room: A Homegrown Restaurant at the Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut. His son's diagnosis with juvenile diabetes began a lifelong advocacy to create a cuisine of well-being, focused on a respect for pure, local and organic produce. A regular on television food and news shows, he has won New York Times and James Beard Foundation book awards.

This dish is more than just comfort food; it's exciting, delicious and incredibly good for you. Another serving, please! From Great Chefs Cook Vegan.

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 white onions, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups farro
  • 4 quarts vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup wild or cultivated mushrooms, such as chanterelles and hen of the woods
  • 1/2 cup each of four seasonal vegetables, such as Italian black coco beans, radishes, corn and Roma snap beans or other mixes
  • Fresh herbs, such as chervil, upland cress, radish sprouts, or other mixes of thyme, parsley, marjoram and tarragon
    Fried Squash Blossoms
  • 8 to 10 large squash blossoms, or more depending on sizes
  • 4 ounces silken tofu
  • 4 ounces regular firm tofu
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp salt, divided
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup sparkling water

To make the Farro Risotto with Seasonal Vegetables: In a 6 quart stockpot over medium-high heat, add oil and sauté onion with a pinch of salt until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add farro and stir 1 to 2 minutes, or until farro becomes fragrant. Add 2 cups vegetable stock and continue to cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly from the bottom to prevent sticking. Add mushrooms, vegetables, salt and another cup of vegetable stock. Cook, stirring often until the farro is al dente, about 25 minutes, adding stock as needed. Adjust seasonings and just before serving, gently stir in herbs.

To make the Fried Squash Blossoms: Remove any remaining stems and stamens from the blossoms and check for dirt, but there's usually no need to wash. If you must wash, swish gently in cold water, shake, and drain.

In a bowl, combine tofus, zest, thyme, 1 tsp salt, and nutmeg. Using a pastry bag with a wide mouth (or just use a small spoon), stuff each squash blossom with the tofu mixture about two-thirds full. Twist the ends of the flowers to seal. Heat 2 inches of oil in a saucepan or skillet to 350° to 375°F. Combine flour, water and remaining salt. Coat squash blossoms with batter and slowly lower each into hot oil, frying until golden brown on each side; turn and repeat. Drain on paper towels.

How to plate: In a shallow bowl or on a large plate, mound the farro risotto onto the center, garnish with additional fresh herbs, and top with one fried squash blossom. Serve immediately.

Tony's wine recommendation:
White Burgundy, non-oaked Chardonnay, Soave


Lemon-Ginger Tofu Steaks with Carrot and Cashew Salad

Well, my goodness. Nestled in the vegetable section behind red meat, poultry, pork and fish comes a recipe with photo instructions on how to grill tofu. And in Weber's latest BBQ cookbook, no less! No matter your taste and inclinations, this dish is a winner for even the most ferocious carnivore! From Jamie Purviance's Weber's Way to Grill.

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 minutes
Marinating time: 3 to 4 hours

Way to Grill: Direct high heat (450° to 550°F)
Grilling time: 6 to 8 minutes

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp chile-garlic sauce, such as Sriracha
  • 2 packages (14 oz. each) extra-firm tofu (not silken style)
  • 2 cups coarsely grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cashews
  • 1/3 cup minced scallions, white and light green parts
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro or Italian parsley
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the marinade ingredients. Remove the blocks of tofu from their containers, leaving the liquid behind. Cut each block lengthwise into 4 slices, each about 1 inch thick. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a rimmed platter or in a baking dish.
  2. Pour the marinade over the tofu slices and brush the marinade on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, turning the slices over once or twice.
  3. In a large bowl combine the salad ingredients and mix well. Set aside at room temperature.
  4. Prepare the grill for direct cooking over high heat. Brush the cooking grates clean. Lay a large sheet of aluminum foil, about 12 by 16 inches, directly on the cooking grate. Lift the tofu slices from the platter and arrange them in a single layer on the foil, reserving the marinade for glazing. Grill the tofu over direct high heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until both sides are nicely caramelized and the slices are warm, 6 to 8 minutes, turning once and brushing occasionally with some of the reserved marinade. Using a spatula, transfer the slices of tofu to serving plates. Stack the salad on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Off-dry Riesling (Spätlese style), Alsace Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer


Warm Venezuelan Chocolate Cake with Merlot-Infused Cherries, Lemon Bergamot, and Chocolate Gelato

Oh, Charlie Trotter, you are truly the best. And when you set your mind to a challenge such as a vegan menu, you've converted me! Trotter is one of the brightest stars of American gastronomy, renowned for his innovative cuisine that embraces brilliant flavor combination. He's cooked everywhere, garnered every award, and his eponymous restaurant in Chicago was named by Wine Spectator in 1998 "The Best Restaurant in the World for Wine and Food." Can't beat that!

You'll love this dessert. What can we say but make it for your next important dinner party, and sit back to hear the accolades! Thank you, Charlie! From Great Chefs Cook Vegan.

Serves 8 to 10

    Chocolate Gelato
  • 1½ cups almond milk*
  • 3/4 cup chopped young Thai coconut meat (see note)
  • 1 cup coconut (from the Thai coconut)
  • 1/4 cup socanat (natural granulated sugar cane)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 vanilla bean, split and scraped

*if almond milk is unavailable, make it by blending 1 cup filtered water with 3/4 cup sliced raw almonds until silky smooth.

    Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
  • 1½ cups cake flour
  • 1 cup sucanat, finely ground in blender
  • ¼ cup natural cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • ¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce
  • 3½ oz 70% dark chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp corn syrup
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp water
    Merlot Infused Sour Cherries
  • 1 cup dried sour, or sweet dried cherries (like Bing)
  • 3 cups Merlot or other red wine
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • Cacao nibs
  • Micro lemon bergamot

To make the Chocolate Gelato: In a high-speed blender, combine almond milk, coconut meat, coconut water, sugar, maple syrup, cocoa powder, oil and vanilla bean seeds; process until smooth. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.

Note: while the book gives elaborate instructions on opening a Thai coconut, we suggest you take a look on line at

To make the Chocolate Olive Oil Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together vinegar, coffee, vanilla bean and oil. Pour liquid ingredients into dry cake pan, Madeleine pan, mini cupcake pan or readily available mini cupcake liners (using 2 tsp of batter each), and bake until the center of the cake springs back when touched, about 10 to 12 minutes. Set on cooling rack to cool.

Note: makes about 2½ cups batter. If using mini cupcakes, the yield of 60 will be more than what is needed for the recipe. Extra can be frozen for future use.

To make the Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce: Coarsely chop chocolate and place in a bowl. Add syrup and sugar to chocolate. Bring water to a boil. Pour about half over chocolate, whisking constantly, adding reminder of water as needed until the sauce is thick and smooth. Set aside.

To make the Merlot-Infused Sour Cherries: Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue to cook for 5 minutes; strain and set aside. Continue to reduce the Merlot until it has a syrup-like consistency, about 20 to 30 minutes. Pour the syrup back onto the cherries and mix well.

How to plate: Place 3 pieces or muffins of chocolate olive oil cake on a plate or shallow bowl. Spoon merlot-infused sour cherries around the cakes. Spoon bittersweet chocolate sauce over the cakes and drizzle around the plate. Sprinkle plate with cacao nibs and spoon chocolate gelato in a small mound on the nibs. Garnish with micro lemon bergamot.

Note: Cacao Nibs are perfectly roasted cocoa beans separated from their husks and broken into small bits. They are the essence of chocolate. Nibs add crunchiness and subtle chocolate flavor to baked goods and savory dishes. They make a great substitute for roasted nuts or chocolate chips, without added sweetness

Tony's wine recommendation:
PX Sherry, Samos Muscat, Beaumes-de-Venise

We wish to thank:

Raincoast Publishers, Vancouver, and Gibbs Smith, Layton, Utah, for permission to publish material and photographs from Great Chefs cook Vegan by Linda Long. Text and photographs © 2008 Linda Long.


Weber-Stephen Products Co. and Sunset Books for permission to publish material and photographs from Weber's Way to Grill by Jamie Purviance. © 2008 Weber-Stephen Products Co.


Judith Kingsbury of Savvy Vegetarian for her advice and help.

Happily enjoyed by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download this article in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (108 KB)




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