Vegetarian Journal's Foodservice Update

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Vegetarian Journal's Foodservice Update
Healthy Tips and Recipes for Institutions

Volume X, Number 1     Winter 2001/2002



By Nancy Berkoff, R.D., Ed.D., CCE

Everything looks and tastes better with a cherry on top. The old adage, "people eat with their eyes," is true. If it doesn't look good, people will think it doesn't taste good. Picture a big, juicy veggie burger. Tossed on a plain bun, it's lackluster. But add catsup, mayonnaise, mustard, pickles, salsa, and lots of fresh veggies and you've got a show stopper. When you plan your menu, think about all the supporting characters your main event will need to make customers dance in the aisle. A hot stack of blueberry pancakes-okay. A hot stack of blueberry pancakes with melted orange blossom margarine, strawberry preserves, ginger maple syrup, and a raisin-apricot compote-out of this world!

There are a few condiments that are not always vegan. Catsup may be made with sugar (perhaps processed through bone char), so check the labels. If you can't find catsup made without sugar, you can season tomato purée with a little garlic and pepper; if it's too thick, thin it out with a small amount of plain tomato sauce or tomato juice. You can also research catsup recipes, since catsup is a revered and centuries old condiment. It need not be just tomato-based. We have seen cranberry, plum, apricot, and orange-flavored catsup.

Worcestershire sauce and some steak sauces are traditionally made with fish paste. Many such sauces have Indian or Asian backgrounds, where fermented and dried fish were used as flavorings. You can accomplish the same flavor profile with soy sauce, red wine, miso, Braggs' amino acids, and Kitchen Bouquet. By experimenting and taste-testing, you'll be able to get the rich back notes and warm color of Worcestershire sauce without including fish on the menu. You can also purchase vegetarian Worcestershire sauce in natural foods stores, if you want convenience.

Mayonnaise usually contains egg yolks. Below (and in Food Service Hot Line, page 5) we show you how to prepare vegan mayonnaise. You can also purchase vegan mayonnaise or you can work around using it. There are many other dressings that give as desirable a flavor and texture as mayonnaise.

Soy mayonnaise can be made with silken tofu and some patience. For about 1 pound of silken tofu you'll need 2 ounces (about 4 tablespoons) of vinegar, 1 teaspoon of prepared mustard, 6 ounces (about 2/3 cup) oil, and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. You can combine by hand (you'll need a lot of elbow grease), but it's easier to mix with a food processor. Purée the tofu until it's smooth. Then add the vinegar and mustard and blend them well to form the base of your mayonnaise. The oil needs to be drizzled slowly over the mixture, a little at a time (you may not need all the oil). With the processor on "high," add the oil almost drop by drop until the mixture thickens. This is a crucial step. If you add too much oil, the mayonnaise will be too thin. If you over mix it, the mayonnaise will "break," or fall apart into its components.

Life beyond mayonnaise includes items like a citrus lemon dressing for fresh and canned fruit, lettuce, and cold cooked vegetables (such as potatoes or asparagus). Just combine unflavored soy yogurt with soymilk, orange juice concentrate, lemon juice, chopped fresh mint, and fresh or dry ginger. Mix soy sour cream or plain soy yogurt with prepared salsa for a "creamy" dressing. If you have some overripe avocados, purée them and use them in place of the soy yogurt. Make an oil- and vinegar-based dressing with olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, prepared mustard, a small amount of apple juice concentrate, dried oregano and basil, and black pepper. Toss cooked hot or cold potatoes, chilled cooked vegetables or pasta with this dressing, or even use it for a simple green salad.

Soy sour cream is made by adding a "souring" agent to soymilk. The "sour" adds texture and that familiar "tang" to the soymilk. If you want to prepare your own, it's easier to start with puréed silken tofu and add some fresh lemon juice. About 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice blended into 1 cup of tofu is a simple recipe. Let your soy sour cream "sour" for at least 2 hours before using it.

It's better to leave soy yogurt to the manufacturers. It is possible to culture your own soy yogurt, but it does take time and accuracy. There are so many soy yogurts on the market today that you will be able to find a product you like. Remember that all soy products, made from scratch or commercially pre-pared, are perishable and need to be handled safely. Be sure to label and refrigerate soy yogurt, soy sour cream, soy cream cheese, and vegan mayonnaise. Pay attention to expiration dates and discard out-of-date products.

Commercial salad dressings make good accompaniments for salads, for cooked or cold beans, and for pasta, rice, and cooked vegetables. Read labels to ensure that there are only vegan ingredients included in the dressings you select. (Eggs, egg yolk, milk, cheese, honey, and bacon are not unusual ingredients in salad dressings, so peruse carefully.) You can always make your own. Vegan mayonnaise can be combined with chopped onions, peppers, and tomato purée to make a vegan Thousand Island; sour cream or yogurt can be mixed with dill and cucumbers to make a refreshing dressing. Check out the recipe for Raita we've included on page 8. It can be used for many things, salad dressing included.

What's nice about salad dressings is their versatility. Mayonnaise, yogurt, or sour cream-based dressings can indeed be used for green salad, but they can expand their scope to pasta, rice, and potato salads as well. They can also be used as dipping sauces for vegetables, fruit, bread sticks, crusty bread, and crackers. You can dress chilled cooked greens or other vegetables with these salad sauces, as well as cooked, chilled beans. Offer these as a snazzy side dish.

Salsas are easy to prepare and are also available commercially. The commercial varieties are almost always vegan, with main ingredients being tomatoes, onions, chilies, and cilantro. If you purchase salsa, then add some of your own ingredients to personalize it. You can add fresh chopped tomatoes, chopped bell peppers, fresh or pickled chilies, diced oranges, mangoes, cucumbers, zucchini, cut corn, or minced garlic or carrots. Use salsas as salad dressings, to top burgers, to garnish soups, and to jazz up tofu and grain dishes.

There are lots of sources for commercially-prepared vegan condiments. You'll have to do a little research to find the suppliers near you. Galaxy Foods in Orlando, Florida, sells soy cheeses, soy sour cream, and soy cream cheese. Nasoya, a division of Vitasoy USA sells vegan mayonnaise, as well as flavored tofu that are great for salads and sand-wiches. SoyaKaas, based in St. Augustine, Florida, sells soy cheeses (including a soy parmesan that can be used for topping and garnishing) and soy cream cheese. Tofutti Brands has several flavors of soy cream cheese and sour cream. Tofutti's pepper soy cream cheese is really hot! White Wave, based in Boulder, Colorado, sells several flavors of soy yogurt, including an unflavored variety that you can use to create sauces and dressings. Yves Fine Foods, based in Delta, British Columbia, has many soy products, including soy bacon, pepperoni, and soy-based cheese.

Sweet condiments are important to remember as well. Morning can be pretty blah; it's your respon-sibility to make it swing! Melted margarine is passable. But make a compound margarine by softening it and whipping in ingredients, such as orange marmalade, fruit preserves, chopped nuts, chopped dried fruit, preserved ginger, or shredded coconut. You can refrigerate it and use it as needed. Freshly baked muffins with strawberry margarine melting on them or cinnamon raisin toast spread with ginger margarine could be truly inspiring.

Fruit compotes can be made by stewing fresh and dried fruit with spices. Try a blend of dried apricots, raisins, prunes, and fresh apples, seasoned with a small amount of cinnamon and ginger and sweetened (if necessary) with maple syrup. Allow the fruit to stew until it is extremely soft. You can leave it as is or process it for a smoother texture in a food processor. Refrigerate it until you are ready to use it. Fruit compote will usually hold in the refrigerator for up to a week. In addition to dried fruit, fresh pears, pineapple, peaches, and apricots work well in compotes.

Consider having peanut, almond, hazelnut, and soy butter on the breakfast line as well as chopped nuts, wheat germ, shredded coconut, vegan granola (no sugar or honey), maple and fruit syrups, chopped dried fruit, and fruit preserves. Everything tastes better with a cherry on top (or some raisins, or chopped nuts or… you get the idea!). chopped dried fruit, and fruit preserves. Everything tastes better with a cherry on top (or some raisins, or chopped nuts or… you get the idea!).

Excerpts from the Winter 2001/2002 Issue:

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