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In the 1980s I was chef at a small French restaurant in Charleston SC. After that, when I worked for a catering company, many of the menus featured French cuisine. When I first went vegan in the late 1980s, I took special delight in “cracking the code” of the meat and dairy-laden French recipes into plant-based versions.
I admit I don’t cook French food very often these days. Mostly because there are several other cuisines that beat it out as favorites in our house. We tend to gravitate to Thai, Italian, Indian, and Vietnamese dishes, interspersed with good old American. But French, not so much.
Last weekend we had friends over for dinner. When company’s coming, I often like to plan a menu around a particular cuisine — usually one of our aforementioned favorites. This time, however, I decided on French.
We began with Kir Imperial as an aperitif — one part framboise (black raspberry) liqueur to two parts chilled sparking white wine. They went down nice and easy served with a plate of crispy-flaky and delicious palmiers filled with a tapenade made with green olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, and roasted bell pepper.
The main event was seitan bourguignon or “au vin” — chunks of seitan simmered with mushrooms, shallots, and carrot in a red wine sauce, seasoned with thyme and some herbs de Provence. It was served with mashed potatoes and green beans provencale.
For dessert, I wanted to feature blackberry coulis made from our own blackberries, so I made a plain cheesecake to pair with it. At the last minute, I added a couple tablespoons of lime marmalade to the cheesecake batter and — wow — that touch of citrus really added a fantastic flavor dimension.
After such a fabulous meal, I can tell you that French for vegans was definitely not lost in translation! I may need to revisit my list of favorite cuisines….
In Other News…
I’ve been nominated in two categories in the 2011 Veggie Awards. Why not take a few minutes to fill out the survey and vote for me in the “favorite cookbook author” category and also for my Global Vegan column as your favorite VegNews feature. There are some great prizes this year including a vegan Caribbean cruise, a VitaMix blender, and a year’s supply of Coconut Bliss ice cream. (thanks!)