A Very Veg Thanksgiving: Baked French Onion Soup and Mushroom Gravy

Here’s Part 2 of delicious side dishes from my cooking adventure, French Onion Soup and Mushroom Gravy taught at Whole Foods Market Cooking School in Lincoln Park.  Thanks to Google+ Local Chicago for hosting this culinary experience!

When you see the food pics below, you’ll know why the whole class was clamoring to get a close view of the finished product.

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French Onion Soup

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 4 large sweet onions, thinly sliced with the grain
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine, recommend cabernet sauvignon
  • 2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 1 small baguette
  • 1/2 pound Swiss, Gruyere, or Emmenthaler cheese, shredded
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Emmenthaler Swiss Cheese

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees
  • Dry heat a large soup pot or dutch oven for 2 minutes.  Add to hot pot the sliced onions.  Sprinkle salt and drizzle olive oil over onions.  With a large spoon or tongs, constantly turn the onions so they do not stick to the bottom.  Continue stirring and flipping for 5-10 minutes.  The onions will start to shrink and caramelized beautifully.  Add the thyme and stir once more.  Place a lid on the pot and continue this 30 minutes, stirring every so often.  This is where the base of the flavor comes from.  The longer you caramelize, the deeper the flavor.
  • Slice baguette to fit your bowls, either on a diagonal or in circles.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, until bread is completely dried out.
  • Add red wine and balsamic vinegar.  This will help deglaze the pan and pick up more flavor.  Let cook another 10 minutes with no lid.  This will concentrate the liquid a bit to help deepen the flavor.  Add bay leaves and water and bring to a boil.  Turn heat to simmer, place lid on pot and allow to cook another 15-30 minutes.

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  • Ladle into bowls, place bread over soup and sprinkle on cheese.  Place under broiler for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes.  Be aware of the time as the broiler can burn food very quickly.  Enjoy!

Vegan Thanksgiving Cooking Class

 

Mushroom Gravy

Whole Foods Market recipe adapted from Post Punk Kitchen

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour or almond flour for gluten free
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 shallots, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2tsp thyme
  • salt and peper to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Directions

  • In a large bowl, mix 2 cups vegetable broth with flour.  Whisk until there are no lumps.  Add remaining 2 cups of vegetable broth and set aside.
  • Heat a large sauce pan.  Add oil and shallots.  Saute about 5 minutes until shallots are limp.
  • Add garlic, mushrooms, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper.  Stir until well combined.  Saute about 5 minutes or until mushrooms are cooked.

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  • Add wine and bring to a boil for 3 minutes, letting the liquid reduce.  Stir often.
  • Add broth mixture and nutritional yeast to the pot.  Let cook 10-15 minutes until gravy thickens.

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So this is my first experience with mushroom gravy as a born vegetarian!  Use on whatever dish you want….cover your greens, your mashed potatoes or slather it on the Whole Foods “meat” loaf recipe from part 1.

Craving more variety for your veggie-giving?  Check out the following veg/vegan recipes as a Thanksgiving side dish or fall treat and have a healthy happy holiday tomorrow!

Super Moist Pumpkin Bread by Post Punk Kitchen 

Sweet Potato Soup with Ginger and Vanilla by Post Punk Kitchen

Candied Yams by Earth Balance Made Just Right

Buttery Apple Cider Carrots by Earth Balance Made Just Right

Vegan Pumpkin Pie by Whole Foods Market

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Meatless Monday “Meat” Loaf

Are you reaaaaaady…to learn how to make delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes just in time for Thanksgiving?  Are you prepared to make plant based entrées fit for even the most carnivorous foodie?  You won’t even miss the meat!

On my beauteous bday, I attended Whole Foods Market Cooking School in Lincoln Park to learn about preparing meatless meals thanks to Google+ Local Chicago.

“Meat” Loaf

  • 2 cups cooked brown or green lentils such as Melissa’s Steamed Lentils (all natural, no preservatives, non-GMO)
  • 2 cups cooked short grain brown rice
  • 1 cup rolled oats, blended such as Bob’s Red Mill Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 1/2 tbsp sage
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp ketchup to spread on loaf

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • In a blender, place rolled oats and blend into powder
  • In a saute pan, add oil.  Italian seasoning and sage.  Allow to cook until oil absorbs spices and aroma fills the air.  Add onions and garlic.  Saute until onions are translucent and soft.
  • In a large bowl, add cooked lentils, cooked rice, blended oats, sauted onion and garlic mixture, crushed tomatoes and BBQ sauce.  Mix thoroughly.

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  • Pour loaf mixture into a well-greased bread pan and pat down.  Add ketchup to the top and with the back of spoon, spread to coat the exposed loaf.

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  • Bake for 1 hour.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and enjoy!!

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Kate has been bugging me to demonstrate my new culinary skills for the holiday.  She may have to wait for Part 2, French Onion Soup and Mushroom Gravy, coming soon!  Don’t drool like her while you’re waiting. 😉

**Recipe from Whole Foods Cooking School, Lincoln Park

The Skeleton Key to Exploring Dia De Los Muertos

Chicago knows how to showcase Halloween.  From horror movie marathons at the Music Box theater to elaborate Eyes Wide Shut style masquerades, there is something to put a scare into everyone.  This year, we decided to make the abnormal leap into 2 different Dia De Los Muertos events in the Chi.

Quick Skele-view: Traditionally, Dia De Los Muertos, or day of the dead, is a two day remembrance in Mexican culture where people honor their lost loved ones.  People make shrines decorated with photos of those lost, sugar skulls and other items linked to their loved one.

Dia De Los Muertos also inspires calavera, or skeleton, art and the sought after La Cavalera Catrina, the famous female skeletal face.

We split up to hunt down two different Day of the Dead events.

Google+ Local Day of the Dead at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen and Gold Coast Day of the Dead at International Museum of Surgical Science on Lake Shore Drive benefiting Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Chicago.

Kate: Monica wasn’t available for the Google+ Local Day of the Dead event so I wrangled two brave friends, Melissa and Karla, to come with me.  It was a thriller to see Dia De Los Tamales with a huge spread of food for us.  Our fave vegan black bean tamales were haunting the table as well as asparagus taquitos, fresh guac, and three types of salsas (red, green and black bean & corn).  My meat eating pals were treated too, not with brains, but pollo and pork tamales.

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Dia de los Tamales

After feasting, we sneaked through the Day of the Dead exhibit.  There is a diverse array of art mediums, including full shrines, wood burnings, statues and prints.  No pics are allowed in the exhibit but here is Skeleton Elvis leering outside.  He’s a hunk o burning bones.

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My substitute camera woman, Karla, conquered her nightmares and took a picture of my feared glare.

The monster mash of the event was getting my caterina makeup done.  All 3 makeup artists created detailed sugar skull looks for guests.  For dyi ghosts, YouTube tutorials are available for La Catrina as well, if you daaaare!

Monica: At the IMSS, I learned that there has been enormous changes in surgical science.  If they had not occurred, we would not be where we are in terms of technology and surgical combined.

One intriguing section on the third floor displayed history, anatomy and medical conditions of pain including alternative treatments such as Ayurveda, an ancient Indian holistic medicine.  Ayurvedic medicine combines diet, yoga, breathing exercises, medicinal herbs and more to resolve pain.

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Some interesting facts: Bayer, famous for Aspirin production, once sold Heroin as medicine in late 1800, thus causing one million opiate addicts in USA by 1900.   Cigarettes were used to treat Asthma (totally makes sense right? *sarcasm*).

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Now the less creepy stuff….I sampled cupcakes from Swirlz Cupcakes, Ludwig Farmstead Creamery delicious Kickapoo and Gouda cheese, blood orange gelato by Caffe Gelato, Tequila Avion Espresso, tasty Pumpkin Patch and Hypnotize Me cupcakes by Guilty Pleasurez Cocktail Cupcakes and much more!

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Swirlz Cupcakes – red velvet chocolate filling raspberry, Dia De Los Muertos chocolate mint, pumpkin s’mores, and carmelita!!

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Caffe Gelato, Local Folks Foods, Tequila Avion Espresso, Guilty Pleasurez Cocktail Cupcakes, Angelina Ristorante and Anthony’s Own.

So You Think You Can Be a Barista?

Google+ Local Chicago has really been pumping out the Chicago Jams lately with their events.  Our most recent Google City Expert (YEAAAH we love this city!) special invite was a behind the scenes tour and experience at Bow Truss Coffee Roasters on Broadway.  We have been dreaming about quitting our day jobs and becoming fancy free baristas so this was a chance to test our naturally caffeinated talents.

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We first were schooled in the fine art of coffee roasting.  Holy espresso nibs, did you know that coffee beans are really the seeds of coffee cherries?  We basically thought there were tiny beans jus’ chilling on trees waiting to get plucked.  Once these cherries are harvested, they are shipped off to get naked as their skin and pulp is removed.  What remains is the green coffee seed (Is this the famed green coffee from Starbucks?  The world may never know…as we are too lazy to google it right now).

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Green coffee beans

Next, the seeds are processed and are prepped for roasting.  We watched intently as our coffee guide poured the coffee beans into the roaster and constantly monitored their color and the temp of the roaster.  Once completed, we snuck our way over to weigh and bag our very own bag of Google+ Local coffee beans, roasted especially for us.

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Roasted coffee beans

A few pics later, and we were broken into two groups of coffee adventurers.  Our group joined Barista Greg for a lesson on home coffee brewing.  Neither one of us ever had or made a pour over before so we were ready to coffee rumble with our Pour over devices.  Monica’s finished coffee was a standout winner in the group with notes of red apple and flowers.  Who knew coffee tasting was akin to wine tasting?  We judged on body, undertones, and weight as Greg swirled our creations in his mouth and did the fancy tasting spit to make way for a new flavor.

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Our most delightful and enlighten session was latte art.  Here is where baristas are born, not made.  We were treated to several shots of espresso as a reasonable bedtime became increasingly unrealistic.  Our barista, Brian (hope we spelled it right!), showed us how to magically pour the milk into the espresso to create hearts in our lattes.  Monica was again the front runner with her baby heart while mine looked more like a fetus or possibly Boo from Mario Kart.

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It was evident by my shaking hands that when we open a coffee shop, Monica will be the barista where I can book the entertainment and lead the tastings for quality control.

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Kate’s first attempt at latte art!

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Monica’s first attempt was a success!

A big thank you to Google+ Local Chicago and Bow Truss for letting us experience the daily grind (get it? get it?) of baristas.  We happily recommend a private coffee tutorial for groups as the staff at Bow Truss was beyond knowledgeable, friendly and a trip through their roasting house would be a special treat for any coffee-phile.

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