Portland, Oregon: Update on a few things. First, My Driver continues to improve after his meniscus surgery two weeks ago today. Dave has physical therapy twice-per-week and exercises and ices the rest of the time. He can ride the exercise/stationary bicycle and his “range of motion” improves with each visit/inspection at the therapist.
Forest fires: the lightning-caused Chetco Bar fire in southern Oregon is ridiculous at nearly 200,000 acres. Thankfully, it is nearly Fall so rain will begin falling – until June, and that is the only dang thing that will contain this monster fire. The fire in the Columbia Gorge did grow a bit – it is now 36,000 acres, and the winds have been most unfavorable to smoky Portland the past few days. Again, the rains are predicted for Sunday. Not only rain. Snow is predicted in the mountains. Mother Nature takes and Mother Nature gives. You know things are bad when school, sports practice, etc., are cancelled due to smoke.
Vegan September: With only a few bad meals, due to yukky fake cheese experiments, we have really been eating pretty well the past two weeks. Dining out has been a problem, and with only two lunches outside the house (Cafe Yumm! and Chipotle – both very vegetarian/vegan-friendly), I have cooked everything we have eaten over the past two weeks. I have lost five pounds and have no idea how, since Lenny left an entire “family size” bag of Lay’s potato chips in my pantry after the football game.
Dave and I had errands, so started the day with a healthy bowl of fresh fruit:
Today’s selection included watermelon, nectarine, Italian prunes, banana and blueberries. The best way to start the day.
After strong black coffee, of course.
If you may/may not recall, in June we were in Los Angeles for Lucy’s ballet recital… because what can be cuter than a two year old in a pink tutu?
After the recital, we went to dinner in Silver Lake (Los Angeles) with a group of friends to Little Pine, a vegan restaurant owned by the artist/singer, Moby. Everything we tried – and we were with a dozen people so ordered nearly everything on the menu – was delicious. Mostly the menu was vegetable-centric; not a lot of fake-meat dishes.
However, the best thing I tasted was Moby’s version of Piccata Scallopini, which traditionally would be made with chicken or veal.
Little Pine’s Panko Crusted Piccata Scallopini – on a hill of mashed potatoes – photo from June – $16:
It was delicious and I vowed to replicate this dish. Assuming Little Pine used a dried-or-pressed tofu steak, I made my meal plan. But then Lisa told me the restaurant does not use tofu, but Gardein Chick’n Scallopini vegan cutlets – so I picked up a bag from the freezer section at the grocer this week. The cutlets have a long list of ingredients, and y’all know how I dislike/distrust processed foods. Most of the Gardein vegan cutlet ingredients were generally recognizable, and somehow the combination create a very-much chicken-like cutlet. I think vegetarian “meats” have greatly improved over the past few years.
The bag of the four Gardein cutlets even had a general recipe for Piccata Scallopini printed on the back of the package. Little Pine’s version had a crunchy coating of panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs) on the cutlet, so I first dipped the frozen (unthawed) vegan cutlets in (unflavored, unsweetened) almond milk and then dredged them in 1/2 cup of panko + 1 Tablespoon dried oregano mixure. The cutlets were fried/sautéed in a bit of olive oil – two minutes or so per side, in a non-stick skillet – then transferred to a 200° oven to rest while I made the sauce.
My Piccata Cutlet tonight:
I pretty-much nailed it! If this blogging gig doesn’t work out, I can always get a job cooking for Moby at Little Pine.
The sauce was made in the same skillet used to fry the cutlets, so there was a bit of olive oil and a bit of browned panko left-over in the non-stick skillet. I added 1 Tablespoon of vegan butter (Earth Balance margarine), 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 cup vegetable broth, 1/4 cup Pinot Grigio wine, 1 Tablespoon drained and rinsed capers and about 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch (to thicken). I let the sauce bubble for several minutes until it was a perfect silky consistency and then plated the cutlets (chopped in half length-wise) and “leaned” on a pile of (fake-butter-infused) mashed potatoes. The sauce was poured around the bottom of the plate and everything was garnished with a sprinkle of minced parsley.
It was delicious and I would venture to guess if someone would prepare this for their high-cholesterol-suffering dining partner, no one would be the wiser. The texture so imitates chicken. Impressive. The meal is rich, satisfying, pretty, crunchy, creamy, salty (capers) and everything one could want in a meal, and perfect if you are entertaining vegetarians or vegans. This dish would be equally lovely over a bed of spaghetti – really traditional Italian.
Caesar Salad (romaine and croutons dressed in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper) to accompany.
Until my next update, I remain, your copy-cat correspondent.