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vegan

this is not a recipe for faux hanger steak salad

salad I’m not one of those vegans. I mean I’m not one to fool myself or others with faux stuff. I’ve tried the non-dairy “cheeze”. It’s nasty. Buffalo tofu wings? Visited, didn’t buy the t-shirt. I’ve even tried to scratch the unscratchable itch - pizza with so called crispy crust, melty cheese, soysage pies. There’s not enough hot sauce in the world to fix those wrongs.

What I’ve learned is faux anything is just fooling yourself. Fear not, for there is truth in this tale. Real foods, plants, legumes and fungi are, in their own way, quite honest.

So, this is absolutely not a recipe for faux hanger steak salad. If you make this and it reminds you of hanger steak, we’ve both failed. But, if you do make this and love the charred, rich, textured bites of unctuousness, well, then we’ve got something.

I love maitake mushrooms. They are dense at the base, springing forth a fringed, tangled forest of ridges. From the top they look like the diagram of a brain, or perhaps beautiful coral. They are brilliant mushrooms for cooking. Their shape and structure mean some of the outer ridges get crispy while the denser, inner core simply warm through.

Here, we’ve paired some maitake segments, seared on high heat, with simple bibb lettuce and some small potatoes.

It is the ultimate in…drat…faux steak salads.

For the Dressing:

makes 1 cup

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 caper berries (1/2 teaspoon of capers as a substitute)
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 generous pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 3/4 cup of neutral oil (canola)

Place everything except the oil in a blender cup. If using a stick blender, blend on high until smooth. If using a traditional blender, blend in medium until smooth (too high creates too much froth). Turn blending device on medium or low and slowly drizzle in the oil until a smooth emulsion is reached.

For a more tart, lower fat dressing, reduce to 1/2 cup of oil. Note, the result will be less emulsified.

For the potatoes:

  • 4 medium sized yukon gold fingerling potatoes

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a very generous amount of salt. Boil potatoes for 10–13 minutes until fork tender.

For the mushrooms:

  • 2 maitake clusters, both roughly softball sized
  • 3 tablespoons Edward & Sons Wizard Sauce - this stuff is amazing!
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Heat a pan over very high heat. Once hot, add a substantial film of canola oil. Section the mushrooms into segments, each about the size of a very large strawberry. Pace into the hot oil and season liberally with kosher salt.

Step back. Don’t touch the pan.

Let the mushrooms sear in the hot pan until they are deep, dark golden brown, even charred at the edges. Turn them once and achieve similar brownness.

Deglaze the pan with the wizard sauce and balsamic vinegar. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the residual energy to evaporate the liquid, leaving the mushrooms coated with no remaining liquid in the pan.

To plate:

In a bowl, toss the rinsed bibb lettuce with 1–2 tablespoons of the dressing. Remove the leaves and assemble on a plate.

Slice the potatoes into 1" rounds. Place in the same bowl you used for the lettuce and lightly dress with the dressing, 1 tablespoon should do it. Add to the arranged lettuce.

Place glazed maitake mushrooms on top of the salad. Garnish, if desired, with a small amount of crunch sea salt.

the one where Nick goes vegan...for a week

Dear pork, It's not you, its me.

 

Wait, let me start over.

 

Dear foie gras,

How do I say this, I've out grown you.

Literally.

 

Well, maybe that's all a little extreme. I mean, I'n not ready to give up meat whole hog.

I know what you are thinking: who hacked this blog and does Nick "Bacon" Dawson know? Rest assured, its me. Here's a picture of me holding today's news paper.

 

See! I am of sound mind and, perhaps more than ever, sound body. And really, thats what its about, this bloated extra large body I'm carrying around. Its getting old.

I'm not, on the whole, unhealthy. But I'm also not running a marathon any time soon either. My knees are crunchy, both have donor ligaments - parts in both of my knees came from some wonderful soul who donated their organs - they aren't mine. Hey, I fell hard, I defy any any ligament to take the falls I took and live to tell about it… but surely that extra 25lbs going into those 4 G ski turns wasn't helping.

He's how it went down.  For about three months now I've been kicking things into over drive. More cardio, less food. I got a FitBit, it tells me things..mostly it tells me when I'm lazy. So I've been running more. I've also been eating less.

 

I watched some movies too. I saw one about a guy who only had vegetable juice for 60 days. I watched one about the economics of corn. The best, the cream of the crop, so to speak, came with high praise. I heard about Forks over Knives from a colleague and friend. Dr. MK is a cardiac surgeon, he trained under one of the inventors of the heart transplant, he pretty much pioneered the use of surgical robotics in heart surgery… the man knows hearts. So, when he told me, over a year ago, that a vegan no-fat diet might prevent heart disease, my ears perked up.

Last week, Dr. MK and I were traveling together. I thought: what the hey, I've been working on calorie burn vs intake, lets see what this diet is like. And it wasn't bad… really!

 

At this point I feel compelled to tell you,  I'm still a man-card-carrying, Fred-Flintstone-steak-eating, sausage-making, bacon-loving carnivore. Let's just get that out there.

 

Still, eating a vegan no-fat diet really wasn't that bad. For starters, you taste everything. Try a salad without dressing, maybe just a little sea salt and lemon. It's alive, green, bitter, vibrant. If it is fresh and organic and well treated, there is a heck of a lot of flavor in them greens. Grains. Have you had really good quinoa or lentils?

Over the course of the week I tracked calorie intake versus burn. I have an awesome trainer at the gym who is helping me.  I'm trying to have a deficit of 3,500 - 4,500 calories a week. I get there through a mix of burning more and eating less. The trick is not to eat too few calories. So I monitored my intake. I used my FitBit to monitor burn and its online service for intake. At no point was I starving myself or in danger.

Here's the kicker, I lost 5 lbs (down 20 over all), feel great and have more energy than I've had in…I don't know when.

Will it last? Who knows. Have you seen the pork chops in my fridge? But I consider the week a crash course in what someone can do, how we can live. A vegan, fat-free diet can prevent heart disease and help turn off cancer genes. Surely a whole-foods-based diet is a long way towards the same goal. If (and by which I mean tomorrow) I eat pork fat, it will be from a farm I know, raising natural pigs in a healthy environment. Portions will be small. Veggies will be plentiful.

In what was perhaps a dose of karmic validation, on our last night on the road, I found myself - unplanned, I promise - sitting in the very seat piscitarian Steve Jobs had occupied a few months before. So I have that going for me.