By Chef Judi Gallagher –
The main contenders in the culinary ring – National Beef Month and National Vegan Month. They are going head to head for media coverage. In actuality, National Vegan Awareness falls in the beginning of November while National Beef Month is in the month of May. Makes sense, right? “Veganize” your intentions before you order the free-range happy turkey to slaughter. Why have a true national beef month when three quarters of the country is below freezing and can’t grill? But, the food marketing gurus have a plan for us food writers. Get more attention. So January is the month we celebrate both beef and being a vegan.
Seems odd, until you consider that is the New Year and time for resolutions. We are trying to make amends for our grand feasts of prime rib, gobbles of poultry and every sugar imaginable these past few months. But carnivores love steaks even as beef prices rise and health issues haunt us. We continue to crave, (or at least I do) those medium-rare porterhouse steaks.
In the other corner as the national lightweight contender, we have vegan awareness. I am all in favor of eating healthier and for the sake of full disclosure, last year I embraced the Paleo diet so I am sensitive to friends’ reactions to my cave woman persuasion. I lost 13 pounds, had less anxiety and threw it all away when my husband and I headed to Italy and France for a food vacation of true homemade pasta, (made from flour and eggs) foie gras and roasted duckling. And that was before Thanksgiving came knocking at the kitchen door.
I heard the master of VB6, (Vegan before 6) Mark Bittman speak. It all makes sense to me, until I am sent out to review a new lunch place, or breakfast eatery that specializes in tenderloin steak Benedict and smoked salmon scrambled eggs.
At Flavors & More Magazine we embrace all the pleasures of the table. That includes roasted kale chips and ginger tofu stir-fry or bacon-wrapped filet mignon. Somewhere there is room in our culinary calendar for a national “be kind to all eaters” month. In the interest of impartiality, we offer you our favorite recipes for both Beef Month and Vegan Awareness Month, even if the month of January for both of them is just symbolic. Good eating is real.
Tomatillo and White Bean Chili
(From Vegan Slow Cooking for Two)
1 ½ cups cooked white beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup diced tomatillo
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping Tablespoon green chiles
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon cumin powder
Kosher Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh minced cilantro
Add all ingredients except salt and pepper to the slow cooker and cook on low 7-9 hours. Season with salt and pepper before serving and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve with BBQ Kale Chips
BBQ Kale Chips
3 bunches kale
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed between your fingers
Kosher Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 200 degree F. In a small bowl stir together the paprika, garlic and onion powders, allspice, cayenne pepper and thyme. In a large bowl toss the kale with the vinegar and oil, and then gradually add the dried spice mixture. Make sure each leaf is coated well in spices. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the kale in a single layer on lined baking sheets. Place the kale in the oven and prop the door open. Bake for 10 minutes and check the progress. Rotate the sheets if necessary. Keep baking for 10-minute increments until the kale is dry and crispy, about 20-30 minutes.
Banana Carrot Donuts
(From Bake and Destroy/Good Food for Bad Vegans)
½ cup vegan margarine
2/3 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ripe banana
¼ cup soy milk
2/3 cup finely shredded carrots
¾ cup chopped walnuts
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
Pineapple coconut glaze (see recipe below)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray your donut pan with non-stick spray. Cream together the margarine, brown sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the banana, soy milk and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add carrots and stir in walnuts. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and baking soda. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, stir until combined. Fill the donut cavities half-full. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Pineapple Coconut Glaze
Toss the cream of coconut, pineapple and confectioner’s sugar in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add soy milk as needed to achieve a dunkable texture. Dip each donut into the glaze and set on waxed paper to cool. Let glazed donuts rest about 5 minutes.
Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 beef filet steak, 8 to 10 ounces, 2 inches thick
1 piece thin Applewood smoked bacon
1 tablespoon butter, more if needed (I use truffle butter for an earthy rich flavor)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Generously salt and pepper both sides of the steak. Wrap the steak with the bacon and secure with a toothpick.
Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and olive oil. When melted, add the steak to the skillet and sear on both sides until a really nice color, about 1 minute per side.Remove the skillet from the stovetop and place into the oven to finish cooking. Cook until medium rare, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5-7 minutes before serving.
Steak au Poivre
(I like to say I won my husband’s heart by serving him Prime Rib and Steak au Poivre both in the same week. Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence.)
1 (4-pound) beef tenderloin
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 handful fresh thyme sprigs
1 handful fresh rosemary sprigs
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup Cognac or brandy
1/2 cup demi-glace or dark stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons jarred green peppercorns, drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pat the tenderloin dry with paper towels and sprinkle all sides with a generous amount of salt and pepper – you should see the seasoning on the meat. Place a large skillet or roasting pan over medium-high flame, drizzle with the oil, and just when it begins to smoke lay the tenderloin in the hot pan. Brown on all sides until a crust forms and the meat is well-seared, about 7 minutes total. Toss the fresh thyme and rosemary on top of the tenderloin and transfer the whole thing to the oven; roast for 20 to 25 minutes for medium-rare.
Remove the tenderloin to a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Pour off the excess fat from the pan and put it back on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the shallots to the pan drippings, sauté, stirring with a spoon to scrape up the flavors in the bottom. Take the pan off the heat and pour in the cognac (pre-measure – never pour directly from the bottle!) Put the pan back on the heat and tilt it slightly over the burner to ignite the alcohol, or light with a kitchen lighter. The cognac will flame for a few seconds then go out as the alcohol burns off. Stir in the demi-glace and cream, simmer for about 1 minute to thicken the sauce so it coats a spoon. Finish the sauce by stirring in the mustard and peppercorns until incorporated. Taste and season with salt, if necessary. To serve: Drizzle the sauce over the beef and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with steak fries or whipped cauliflower and potato.