Saturday, 31 October 2015

Culinary Captures - Postcards From America Special - October 2015

I hope that you have enjoyed my Postcards From America series this month following my visit to the States in September. 

It was great to check out how veggies are catered for State-side and overall, whilst their menus have a strong meat bias, it was good to see how accommodating restaurants are to ensure that they provide you with an enjoyable veggie meal as/when requested.

Postcards From America focused on restaurant reviews primarily but my Culinary Captures this month features the other things I came across and found of interest:


For love nor money I can’t find a mock chicken stock in the UK.  But in America there is a brand called ‘No Chick’n’ which has simulated the flavour of chicken (suitable for vegetarians of course) and has created a range of stock products.  Needless to say, I came back with a box of their stock cubes and I’m ready to make a faux chicken noodle soup!  Trouble is then, what happens when the cubes run out…………..?

Vegetarian ‘Chicken’ Powder

Off on a shopping spree with my friend Marialaina during our trip to Texas, she told me about this stock powder which she buys from her local Asian supermarket.  Again, as with ‘No Chick’n’ above, it replicates a veggie friendly chicken-esque flavour. 

She uses it in a number of recipes, soups and even makes a broth drink out a little bit of powder and hot water which she has when feeling under the weather and which she says gives her a little boost!  Of course I bought a tub of it back, so between that and my ‘No Chick’n’ supplies, I’ll be able to vary up my stock flavour repertoire no end.   Well, at least until it all runs out……..

The Cheesecake Factory - Fort Worth - Texas
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The Cheesecake Factory

This encapsulates American dining culture completely.  A popular haunt for many Americans, this chain of restaurants (which is US-wide) is known for its selection of cheesecakes and its extremely generous portions!  Whilst in Texas we went twice, to two different branches (one of which being in Fort Worth).  Our friend Chris says that when his family visits from the UK they always gravitate towards The Cheesecake Factory – I kind of see why. 

If you go for the standard menu the portions are beyond huuuggee, but they also have a ‘Skinny’ version which has the same meal options available but it comes as a smaller portion and to be honest, that is more in line with a ‘standard’ portion size so having that was the best choice – veggie options aplenty. 

Plus, it means you’ll have room for a slice of cheesecake (their raison d’etre).  When I say slice, I mean slab.  Giant blocks of cheesecake in every conceivable flavour and combination packed with calories, but very, very tempting. 

I heard a whisper they are coming to the UK, so watch this space!


Fried Pickles
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Fried Pickles (Gherkins)

This I’m told is a Texan specialty.   Gherkins/pickles (both the same, depends which side of the Atlantic you’re on), are sliced/speared and basically deep fried.  That’s it.
Now, before you dismiss this, hear me out.

The cool, watery base of the gherkin stays intact and the peppered batter encases it and adds a bit of warmth when you bite into it.  On paper it shouldn’t work, but it does. 

Now, I love my gherkins au natural so I did find this a funny old concept but the crispiness of the batter against the sourness of the gherkin was exceptionally delicious! 

Can't get to Texas?  Then try the recipe for yourself - I found one via Food Network which I'm yet to try, but it looks good and very much like the ones I tasted!

Michelle Bernstein's Vegetarian Sandwich

Flicking through a copy of the American Airlines magazine on the flight home, I came across an article featuring a variety of different US chefs talking about their creations. 

One of whom was Michelle Bernstein who is an award winning Miami based chef who has launched her veggie options at the newly renovated Sun Life Stadium (home to the Miami Dolphins). 

Her Vegetarian Sandwich includes:  sprout shoots, carrots, pickled radish, avocado and cheddar on seeded multigrain bread.  Her Kale & Quinoa Salad with Thai green mango, chayote, roasted peanuts in a chilli-lime vinaigrette sounds delish too.

Sounds great – who needs hotdogs at half-time eh?

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