Retro 1970’s Vegetarian Potluck and Adobo Meatballs Recipe

January 30, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Snacks/Appetizers

The disco music was in full effect at our Vegetarian Cooking Club with the our 1970’s cuisine theme. We all arrived on a cold winter’s night to share our recipes and to ponder, “Seriously, why was food so ugly and unappetizing in the 1970’s?” Perhaps it was the odd yellow tinge that photographs from that time had or perhaps because there was something in the water that made taste buds go numb.

To illustrate this point, I’m going to start with desert because it was truly brilliant. A member of our pot-luck crew discovered a recipe for “Watergate Salad”.  Jell-O pistachio pudding, and this recipe, was introduced to the market in 1970’s and came into popularity around the same time the Watergate scandal was going on. The ingredients? Well, let’s just say it’s a mouth-watering combination of whipped topping, pistachio pudding, crushed pineapple, nuts and marshmallows. (A note if you want to keep this veggie, then use vegan marshmallows without gelatin.) Best of all – it’s a nice florescent greenish color. Mmmm-mmm.

Now, working backwards through our meal – for the main event we had fondue. A 1970’s-themed dinner is not complete unless you’ve got hunks of food on a stick dipped into cheesy goodness. Our dinner host did not disappoint with several fondues including a horseradish dip, sharp cheddar and a mushroom sauce. It’s an interesting dinner idea and you get to observe how truly klutzy your friends are. Be prepared to dig random bits of practically dissolved bread out of the cheese that fall off the forks and to clean cheese off of your table, walls and your clothes.

We also had a green bean casserole that was thickened with a home-made cream of mushroom and fresh beans (rather than using canned soup and canned beans). I forgot to take a picture of it because it was so good. Although, the maker of this dish did note that after chopping up all the million of mushrooms and prepping the beans that she wished she had opted to grab the can opener…

And, finally, to open up our festivities I whipped up a ‘Lil Smoky Cheese Ball with Ritz Crackers and Vegetarian Adobo Meatballs with dipping sauce (recipe below).

I lightened both recipes by substituting low fat cream cheese and no fat sour cream. I’m sure these lighter options, including “egg substitute” were non-existent in the 70’s but I decided to throw authenticity out the window for non-clogged arteries.

Although we never solved the mystery of the weird foods of the 70’s, we walked away with very full stomachs impressed that we were able to successfully throw down this fascinating time capsule of food.

Adobo Vegetarian Meatballs
by Megabeth

2 14-oz packages vegetarian ground beef product (Don’t use the frozen soy crumbles. I used the kind that comes in a “tube” –  Gimme Lean Beef by Lightlife.)
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup egg substitute (or two eggs)
1 to 1 1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
2 teaspoons adobo sauce (from chipotle pepper can)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons garlic power
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon onion power
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
olive oil

Adobo dipping sauce
1/2 cup low/no fat sour cream
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 teaspoons vinegar
2 teaspoons adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients, except the olive oil, in a bowl. (A tip: Spray your hands lightly with cooking spray and then squish the mixture with your fingers.)

Adjust seasonings if you want the meatballs to be spicier, etc.

Roll into approximately 40-45 meatballs depending on size.

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a pan and add meatballs in pan over medium heat. Brown on all sides. You’ll probably need to do this step in a couple of batches.

Place browned meatballs into baking dish and place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until heated through. Don’t overcook or they’ll dry out a bit. While you’ve got the oven going, mix ingredients for dipping sauce. Refrigerate until ready to serve (with frilly toothpicks of course!)

Put on your Saturday Night Fever record and your best bell-bottoms and enjoy.

Fake Meats…Delicious or Disgusting?

January 10, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Article

Fake meats. Are they delicious or disgusting? I’ve been inspired by a recent photo poll on Huffington Post to explore this very question. And, as you suspected, for most folks the answer is “disgusting” for me the answer is “it depends”.

Sure, us vegetarians have all heard it, “Why are you a vegetarian if you still eat things that taste like meat?” That’s not the point, at least as far as I’m concerned. We’ve all received the memo that meat substitutes don’t taste like meat. So, if the marketing team decides to call it fake chicken or fake beef, that’s up to them. I’m not looking for something to replicate meat. I’m looking for things that taste good and for ingredients that convey a flavor that I’m looking for in a particular dish.

What’s key to remember when working with fake meats or meat substitutes is that if you are expecting them to taste exactly like the meat they are supposed to be mimicking, they never will. I learned that early with bacon and pepperoni substitutes. You will never be able to recreate that taste. Many people have asked me if I miss bacon. Honestly, I don’t.  So, if I’m eating a bacon substitute I’m not expecting it to taste like bacon.  The spices in the product make fake bacon a good addition to a modified BLT sandwich.

Moving on to veggie burgers. I’ll admit, I usually have a box of Gardenburgers or Boca Burgers in the freezer so I don’t thumb my nose at them. Over the past few years there has been an explosion of flavors in what you can find in the store’s freezer. Some are a lot better than others, so you really have to experiment with what you like. In the refrigerated section you can also find portabella burgers and some grocery stores, like Whole Foods, have hand crafted patties. I prefer these much more than the frozen versions. Meanwhile, I do have a book of recipes of exclusively veggie burger recipes and have tried out a lentil goat cheese burger recipe that came out really good. But,  I hope to work on more of these recipes this summer when I can fire up the grill.

Ordering veggie burgers in restaurants gets tricky. Here’s my sage advice: When ordering a veggie burger from someplace new, don’t try to imagine what kind of burger they will bring out. Your mouth could be watering for a chunky, juicy, handmade patty and then be presented with a thin hockey puck. (This disappointment is otherwise known as, “Oh geez! We have a vegetarian at table #12! Run to the store and pick up a frozen box of Gardenburgers!” ) However, because I don’t set any expectations I’ve been pleasantly surprised when I am handed a gourmet and succulent veggie burger. Most notably, in Pittsboro, North Carolina and Katoomba, Australia. Also, you can’t go wrong with a veggie burger at Ted’s Montana Grill. They are also quite tasty.

As for fake hot dogs, that’s a whole other story. I’ve never met any veggie hot dog that I really like. Sure, I’ve been known to eat them at a baseball stadium or other random location, but that’s only out of desperation. And, I most certainly don’t even bother keeping them in my house. They are usually rubbery, chewy and tasteless. But never fear, vegetarians don’t have to feel left out at BBQ’s. Head towards the vegetarian sausages that come in a spectacular array of flavors. A while back, I introduced everyone to Vegetarian Sausagepalooza – a review of two brands of veggie sausages. You’ll find that the flavors you get out of these products depend on how you cook them. Stick them in a microwave, and you’re missing out. Fry them or grill them and you get more smoky flavors.

Then, there are the litany of other kinds of “fake meats” made out of seitan, TVP, tofu, and tempeh. They come in all types of shapes and forms from frozen cutlets to refrigerated stir-fry strips. I’ve made several recipes using these fillers and they all play different roles in different recipes. In vegetarian goulash, the seitan serves as a chewy stew like accompaniment the joins the rest of the ingredients.

But, if made as crispy fried bites, the seitan is the feature of the recipe.

If you’re not up to cooking from scratch, manufacturers have made it much easier to enjoy these creations through products that go beyond “chicken-like” and “beef-like” but also versions with sauces and marinades so all you have to do is heat and serve.

So, fake meats, delicious or disgusting? It’s not as simple as that. Because there is such a wide variety of flavors and forms, it’s best to not assume that you’re not going to like all fake meats. You have to experiment with all the different kinds of products rather than run and cower from them. If you’re looking for a vegetarian version of meat to taste exactly like the meat it’s substituting, stop searching because you’re never going to find it.

Lentil Goat Cheese Burgers

April 23, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes

Do you have goat cheese and some lentils? Do you like getting your hands gooey? Then, this recipe is perfect for you.

I had some moong dal (yellow lentils) from the Indian store which cooked quickly and worked great for these burgers. I also found some great whole wheat “flat” buns that let the lentil burger be the focus of the meal rather than being hidden under a lot of bread.

I would not recommend putting these burgers on a grill as they are a bit gloopy and sticky. They’d probably fall right into the flame. On a griddle, they are perfect.

Lentil Goat Cheese Burgers
Inspired by: Cara’s Cravings

1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup dried moong dal (or yellow lentils)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon olive oi
1/2 large red onion, finely chopped
2 ounces goat cheese (approx 4 tablespoons)
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Place lentils, water and bay leaf into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Drain and discard bay leaf.

Lentil Goat Cheese Burger

Put lentils in bowl and mash lightly with a fork.

Lentil Goat Cheese Burger

In small saute pan, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until tender. Remove from heat and set-aside to cool. Add onion/garlic mixture to the lentils and the rest of the ingredients to lentils.

Lentil Goat Cheese Burger

Lentil Goat Cheese Burger

Stir to combine.

Lentil Goat Cheese Burger

Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 45 minutes (so that the liquid can congeal a bit). Remove from refrigerator and divide mixture into four  equal portions. Shape each into a 1/2 inch patty. Spray a griddle or grill an with cooking spray and place it over medium-high heat.

Lentil Goat Cheese Burger

Cook the patties for 5 minutes on each side, being careful not to burn them, until heated through

Lentil Goat Cheese Burger

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