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Question: I've got some favorite non-vegetarian catering recipes I'd like to make as vegetarian dishes. Any suggestions on how to "convert" them?
Answer: Many recipes are easily convertible to vegetarian; however, some require a little more skill and patience, and some may be pretty challenging. Look at your recipes and assess which ones will get "lost in the translation." For example, hollandaise sauce, made from egg yolks and butter, could be "vegetarianized" by using margarine and egg replacer, but it would not really yield an excellent product! Angel food cake would be another example, since it relies heavily on egg whites. It can be done, but would not be too close to the original.
Soups, many sauces, casseroles, cooked grains and vegetables, and salad recipes are more versatile than baking recipes. Textures, colors, and flavors can be easily (usually) replaced in the former recipes, but not so easily in the latter. Baking recipes are chemical formulas, with specific interactions between the ingredients. Less "sensitive" baking recipes, such as quick breads including banana bread or carrot cake, muffins, and pie are easier to convert than delicate recipes that rely heavily on eggs or dairy, such as croissants or popovers. And of course, there are baking recipes that are vegan naturally, such as yeast-raised dinner rolls or beer bread.
Look at your recipes and see how you will put back what you take out. For example, tempura can be made with potatoes, squash, eggplant, mushrooms, carrots, etc., and won't miss the seafood or chicken. Minestrone or mushroom barley soup doesn't need a chicken stock base. Vegetable or mushroom stock will do just fine. Mushrooms, tofu, or fake meats can be put into stir-fries or soups instead of meat or seafood. There are lots of smoked soy products out there that can be used instead of meat sausage to flavor sauces and top pizzas. Peppers don't have to be stuffed with meat, they can be stuffed with stuffing! You get the idea.
We give you a standard chart to use for subbing animal products and nonanimal products. Remember, whenever you change a recipe, be sure to test it before using it for guests. Sometimes ingredients aren't as cooperative as they should be! Have fun!
Instead of (Animal Product) Try (Veggie Product) 1 cup cottage or ricotta cheese 1 cup mashed firm tofu 1 cup cow's milk 1 cup soy, rice, or grain milk (work with these for flavor and texture, since they differ a bit) 1 large egg 1 ounce (2 Tablespoons) of tofu; 1 Tablespoon of flour and 1 Tablespoon of water; or Ener-G Egg Replacer 1 cup fruited yogurt 1 cup silken tofu plus 2 Tablespoons fruit preserves 1 ounce milk chocolate (for baking) 1 Tablespoon oil plus 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder 1 cup refined white sugar 1 cup Succanat or maple sugar 1 cup butter 1 cup vegan margarine
Great Going, Greystone!: Greystone is the West Coast branch of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America (CIA). Located in a former winery in the Napa Valley of California, Greystone offers diverse courses for foodservice and culinary professionals. Part of CIA's philosophy is to use "good ingredients and seasonal flavors with increased emphasis on plant foods and cooking with plant oils." Greystone supports sustainable agriculture and links with local growers and has extensive kitchen and herb gardens. Many of the classes use the ingredients grown there. This is not such an easy undertaking for a school originally based on traditional French cuisine. There are specifically vegetarian classes offered, such as "Vegetarian Cooking: Strategies for Building Flavor" and "Vegetarian Asia: the Cooking of India, Southeast Asia, China, and Japan," and some classes that are inherently vegetarian, such as hearth bread baking seminars. Classes can last anywhere from a weekend to eight weeks and are priced accordingly. To obtain information: call (800) 333-9242 or (707) 967-0600 or write to CIA at Greystone, 2555 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574. To contact the main campus in Hyde Park, NY, call (800) 888-7850, or visit www.ciachef.edu.
Crossing the Line: Many college and university food service directors are witnessing an interesting phenomenon - meat-eaters are going more and more for the vegetarian selections! California State University at San Luis Obispo has an Options line that offers vegetarian, lowfat items, such as rice and black beans, sweet and sour veggies, and cauliflower/almond casserole. The food service director there noticed that, as the weather became warmer, meat-eating students started eating healthier and selected more vegan items than meat items. Twice a semester a fiesta bar that features meat and veggie burritos, tamales, tacos, and fajitas sees more interest in the veggie offerings than the meat items.
At Elizabethtown College (PA) about 10% of the students are vegetarian and 3% are vegan. However, when the statistics are added up, 20-30% of students are selecting the vegetarian entrée, which could be made-to-order stir-frys, fajitas, pita sandwiches, and Asian noodle dishes.
At the University of Puget Sound (Tacoma, WA) the "Vegetarian and Friends" is an entire area for vegetarian students. The fried risotto cake with sun-dried tomatoes and red onion marmalade, stuffed portabello with spinach, garlic, and roasted red pepper, and zucchini pancakes, attract many more students than are declared vegetarians, to the delight of the chefs creating the meals.
Excerpts from the Spring 2001
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Converted to HTML by Stephanie Schueler.
April 16, 2001
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