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Vegan Chili Verde

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1 lb potatoes, cut into 1/2″ pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbps canola oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped small
thinly sliced peppers of choice, seeded and no membrane – I used one green ghost pepper (very spicy), you could use a green bell pepper (mild) or a couple of jalapenos (medium)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
1.5 lbs tomatillos, skin papers removed, washed, chopped into 3/4″ pieces
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced
2 cup vegetable broth (plus 1/3 cup for deglazing)
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro (reserve a bit for garnish)
1/4 cup chopped scallions (reserve a few for garnish)
2 (15-oz) cans of chick peas, drained and rinsed
Juice of 1 lime
Avocado slices for garnish

Place the chopped potatoes in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Let boil, covered, for a little less than 20 minutes, until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork NOT MUSHY. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and peppers in oil for about 10 minutes, until everything is softened and the onions are slightly browned.
Add the garlic, cumin, basil, and salt. Saute for 1 more minute, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the 1/3 cup broth for deglazing and tomatillos, raise the heat a bit to let the liquid reduce and the tomatillos release their juices, about 5 minutes.IMG_0771
Add the apples, 2 cups vegetable broth, scallions, and 1/2 cup of the cilantro. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
Use an immersion blender to partially puree everything, or transfer half the chili to a food processor and puree, then return to the pot.
Taste for tartness: if bitter, add a teaspoon or two of sugar to level things out. Add the cooked potatoes and the chick peas, simmer for a few more minutes, until everything is heated through.
Add the remaining cilantro (reserve a garnish) and the lime juice. Ladle into bowls, garnish with the avocado and a few chopped scallions and cilantro leaves, and serve.

6 – 8 Servings

Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards 2012 – Best Chili

Allen Street Grill – Vegetarian Chili

Best Chili was added as a category this year because there are so many great vegetarian chili’s to choose from in our area. Allen Street Grill in State College has beat out the others with it’s Vegetarian Chili. It has a mild tomato base seasoned with ancho chili powder. Less brothy than the runner up and more consistent flavor wise, it is brimming with chunks of zucchini, carrot, red & green pepper, and onion that are just tender. They add in some kidney and black beans and top it with a garnish of fresh scallions. A hearty vegetarian chili for years whether you get a cup or as a base in the full blown Santa Fe Chili Bowl topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, guacamole, sour cream, tomato and onion and served with tortilla chips.

Bullfrog Brewery

With this region’s mild palate preferences, chili is rarely served very spicy unless by special request. Spiciest in the region is the second placed Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport. They have a beer infused Veggie Chili and the initial pleasant beer flavor adds a really special quality to it as the heat sneaks up on you. Like the chili at Allen Street Grill, it has a tomato base, veggies and beans but is less consistent in flavor because Chef Rico changes the recipe with the brews available on tap. We loved it when he made it with the Extra Fancy Stout. 

Elk Creek Café in Millheim as well as State College’s Otto’s Pub and Brewery and aardvark kafé and have all offered noteworthy vegan chilis but none have remained as regular menu selections. The latter and Selin’s Grove Brewing Co. of Selinsgrove both use a Textured Vegetable Protein in it for a toothsome texture and extra rib sticking bonus.

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Also noteworthy is Mad Mex for its tomatillo based Chick Pea Chili upon which you can opt for the vegan toppings of Tofutti Sour Supreme and Daiya Shreds. Bullfrog Brewery also has the vegan shreds as a choice.

I feel a bit more qualified than just a regular customer to judge this category having been awarded the mid-atlantic region’s second best for my vegan Pennsyltucky Chili. I feel so very happy to exclaim,”¡Felicidades! Allen Street Grill,” for being awarded Pennsyltucky Veggie 2012 Best Chili. It is a chili all vegetarians can look forward to warming them through the winter and offering great flavor year round.

Have you tasted a better vegetarian chili than this one? If it’s in central PA (see map here) and is a regular vegetarian menu item, let me know and I will include it in the judging next year! Drop me, Pennsyltucky Veggie, a line or feel free to leave a comment!

Award Winning Pennsyltucky Chili Recipe

Pennsyltucky not only represented, we placed well! I knew it was good and the judges agreed; my Pennsyltucky Vegan Chili garnered second place in the first vegan chili cook off in the mid-atlantic region at yesterday’s Vegtoberfest in Baltimore.

For the many who tasted it and judged – thank you! For those who came by after we ran out (in an HOUR) or took my card for the recipe, this makes a gallon of it!
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Pennsyltucky Vegan Chili

“Pennsyltucky” is the Keystone-shaped heart of Pennsylvania with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on either side. Packed with Pennsyltucky ingredients like Butter Beans and Hershey’s Cocoa, this award winning chili was created and posted on Bacon is NOT an Herb vegetarian blog.

Chili Ingredients:
2 large Onions chopped
1/4 C Olive Oil (divided for the 2 sautes)
4 Garlic cloves minced
4 ears of Sweet Corn, cut off the cob
2 Tablespoons powdered Cumin
1 teaspoon Fennel Seed crushed
1 LightLife Gimme Lean® Sausage package
1 large Green Bell Pepper coarsely chopped
3/4 C water
1 Lime juiced
1 Cup of Peanut Butter & Co. The Heat is On
3/4 C Campbells Tomato Soup concentrate
62 oz (4 cans) cooked Black Beans
62 oz (4 cans) cooked Butter Beans
56 oz canned Crushed Tomatoes
1/3 C Hershey’s Cocoa

Instructions:
Break the Gimme Lean® Sausage into 1″ hunks and saute it with half of the olive oil (1/8 C). Do this in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat until the hunks start to get just a little color then add the onion, garlic and fennel. Finish cooking in the same manner until the hunks have a nice firm texture and the onions are starting to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a deep pot that can house a gallon of chili. Saute the corn for a few minutes than add the green bell pepper and cumin. When the green pepper is just getting tender, deglaze the pot with the water and lime juice.

Add the Peanut Butter & Co. The Heat is On and Tomato Soup concentrate and stir until completely blended. Add remaining ingredients and lower heat.

Bring the pot of chili to just before it wants to boil and add in the reserved Gimme Lean® Sausage mixture. Heat through and serve (or let it mellow 2 days in the fridge and reheat) with the below 3 toppings.

Toppings

Roasted Soy Beans
Ingredients:
1 C unsalted dry roasted Soy Beans
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Hickory Smoke
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon of fine Salt

Instructions:
Mix all ingredients until soy beans are well coated. Toast in a 350° for 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Be careful they don’t burn. Remove, cool and crush into small pieces (I used a rolling-pin on the cooled beans that were secured between 2 sheets of waxed paper).

Cream
Blend a container of Toffuti Sour Supreme with the juice of 1/2 a Lime.

Top a bowl of the warm the chili with a sprig of fresh Cilantro, a dollop of Cream and a sprinkle of the Roasted Soy Beans.
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It’s a little complicated but really worth the trouble. My biggest regret was not getting to eat any myself and I plan on making a half batch soon!

Pennsyltucky Vegan Chili

To try it soon you are going to have to come out to Vegtoberfest and I guarantee you will LOVE MY CHILI!

It’s been a work in progress for years and, thanks to the counsel of a good friend this morning, I resolved some of making a good recipe also vegan. I combined 2 of my award winning vegetarian recipes to make my Pennsyltucky Vegan Chili!

It’s hearty, bright and has just enough heat to make your nose start to run but not so much that you break out on sweat on your brow.

I’ll share the recipe later but why wait? Come to Vegtoberfest and try them all!

Soups & Suds

Soups & Suds

Over the past week I have finally been enjoying some good autumnal soups and locally crafted brews. The ones I will touch on today are from the best micro breweries around, Otto’s Pub and Brewery and Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks.

Both locations have very fine brews and one of my favorites this summer included Otto’s Pilsner Lager. Yeah – don’t expect me to go on in the traditional fashion about how it has a beautiful golden color with a 1cm crystal white head that laces beautifully as I enjoy the saaz hop aroma and the crisp finish. All that is true but more importantly is that it’s a wonderfully drinkable summer beer. My heart sunk the other day when I saw it was taken off the board; goodbye summer, goodbye Otto’s Pilsner.

On to Oktoberfest beers of which I have none photographed in my slideshow below. Between these two breweries this season, I am preferring Elk Creek Cafe’s Crick Fest. Copper with a nice malty nose, I tend to like it because of the lesser carbonation and bready grains. It makes the coming of the colder months much more acceptable when I warm with a few mouthfuls of Crick Fest.

Another outstanding beer is Elk Creek’s Home Grown Hop Harvest Ale. Wet and dry hopped with local hops, it is reminiscent of Otto’s Flying Squirrel Ale. Not pretentious, downright earthy and organic in flavor.

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Now for the soups. We know we can always rely on a daily vegetarian soup at Elk Creek Cafe and have enjoyed the Mushroom Soup there lately. It is always rich with earthy goodness and just a little garnish of truffle oil on top. Tasty and classy.

We also just enjoyed a remarkable Le Puy Lentil Stew with Tait Farm Peppers, Radish Leaves and a Radish Leah Pesto(!!) on Crusty Bread. The stew was organically sweet with tiny red lentils and a tomato base. The Radish Leaf Pesto was a fresh reminder of leafy summer mellowed by sunflower seeds. Another breathtaking Elk Creek Cafe meal – really.

I have to watch the specials carefully to catch the veggie soups at Otto’s. Lately I have lucked out with 3: Broccoli Cheddar, Tomato Florentine and Vegetable Chili. I am thinking I got the very dregs of the Broccoli Cheddar (not in slideshow above)because it tasted a little burnt. It was ok, I did let my waitress know and I guess my appetite wasn’t fully there to begin with so I didn’t finish it.

The Tomato Florentine was a much better soup but seemed more like a Tomato Basil since it had no discernible dairy in it. The tomato flavors were bright and full and the basil was very flavorful. A great soup at anytime of year and my guess is local tomatoes were used since it’s September.

Best for last, the most recent Vegetarian Chili at Otto’s. We couldn’t determine the heat but our best guess was more of a powdered chili, perhaps poblano. Very nicely seasoned (included cumin, garlic, basil) and treading a tricky line with the Pennsyltucky pallete. The seasoned broth was thin but was chock full of chunks of zuchini, yellow squash, corn, carrot, celery, onion, tomato, bell pepper, black beans and kidney beans. A beautiful festival of local harvest this soup was a perfect welcome to Autumn!

A quick end of 10-2-11 week addendum, we had another amazing soup at Otto’s. You know it’s Fall when places start carrying Butternut Squash soup and Otto’s has always had a great one! Years ago, the day I became a Pub Club member actually, Leah served us a couple of bowls of this soup and tuned us on to adding a little of the Hurricane Mary wing sauce. It’s a favorite combo of ours!

Two great spots for soup and suds! We are lucky to have these restaurants so close to us!

Double Wide Grill

There we were on South Side in Pittsburgh and Zenith was a washout for the second time. With tummies grumbling we headed just a couple of blocks away on Carson Street. The neighborhood has changed a lot since in the late 70’s when it was trying to recover from the post industrial era. That day we cruised by an interesting drag of hipster shops and our brunch blues were solved at Double Wide Grill!

Next time we take the parents to the ‘Burgh, I think Dad would love this place since it has food for every persuasion and a cool garage theme. Inside and out is decorated with vintage automotive signs like Champion Spark Plugs and Esso. Even the vast seating inside has the retro garage interior with muted lighting.

We didn’t have to go indoors to access the free Wi-Fi so we sat out on the sunny patio near some old gas pumps. There were probably 30 tables outside, many with umbrellas, but we were glad to get one under the roofed area with view of the big garage doors and people traffic on Carson St.

I had followed their FaceBook page for a while and knew Double Wide Grill has hosted some interesting events. Many have been dog themed like their Hot Dog & Tofu eating contests. Until about a month ago, the patio allowed folks to bring their dogs to dine with them. Board of health nixed that but the staff was handling uninformed people with pooches in a kind and matter of fact way.

With just a hint of the wood smoke from their grill in the air and surrounded by a bunch of mainstream 20- 30 somethings, we ordered some Junkyard Nachos to share. They had a Lunch and Brunch Menu and a separate Vegetarian and Vegan Menu so I ordered a cup of the Grilled Vegetable Chili and Jim ordered a Grilled Vegetable and Brie Salad.

Jim liked the nachos more than I did. I wasn’t really into the cheese sauce (which packed a little heat) nor brightly colored nacho chips that were piled under the melted cheese shreds. The black beans and grilled corn toppers were really nice but the pico de gallo, sour cream (we never eat it) and guac on the side were little better than average. We both thought they were appealing and generously portioned.

The cup of chili was really small and quite bland. Jim liked this better than I did too although he thought it was kind of sweet in flavor. I expected at least a little smokiness to it since it had grilled veggies in it. No heat, no smoke, little flavor other than mushy navy, black and kidney beans. The little golden brown topped wedge of cornbread (not vegan) was sweet like cake. No heat chili and sweet cornbread, we were definitely still in Pennsylvania.

I took a look at Jim’s salad and was turned off by what looked like a pile of iceberg lettuce. It turned out to have a nice mix with romaine and was a surprisingly vibrant salad to eat. Jim too felt it was a perfect summer mix of chilled out grilled onions, corn, portobello chunks and peppers tossed over the crunchy greens. Added to that was big wedges of avocado, little segments of brie (fun!!) and the Pittsburgh style hot french fries. The best part of the salad was the delicious Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette! Dipping hot fries into the dressing and sipping my Bellini with my best friend was the best part of the meal.

Even with the separate Veggie Menu, all of the menus at Double Wide Grill have clearly marked V = Vegetarian, Ve = Vegan, WF = Wheat Free. This helped us know what to order at a glance from any of the menus. The foods were served in a timely manner, hot foods were hot, cold foods were well chilled. The staff was friendly and made it clear to me that the cornbread was only vegetarian and not vegan. It’s a big place so they don’t make you feel rushed to leave, you will have to ask for your check as is appropriate in any restaurant. This is a place where, unless you come during the later night bar scene, every family member would feel comfortable.
Double Wide Grill on Urbanspoon

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