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Vegan Planet: French for Vegans

Friday, August 12, 2011


French for Vegans

In the 1980s I was chef at a small French restaurant in Charleston SC.  After that, when I worked for a catering company, many of the menus featured French cuisine. When I first went vegan in the late 1980s, I took special delight in “cracking the code” of the meat and dairy-laden French recipes into plant-based versions.

I admit I don’t cook French food very often these days. Mostly because there are several other cuisines that beat it out as favorites in our house.  We tend to gravitate to Thai, Italian, Indian, and Vietnamese dishes, interspersed with good old American.  But French, not so much. 

Last weekend we had friends over for dinner.  When company’s coming, I often like to plan a menu around a particular cuisine — usually one of our aforementioned favorites.  This time, however, I decided on French. 

We began with Kir Imperial as an aperitif — one part framboise (black raspberry) liqueur to two parts chilled sparking white wine.  They went down nice and easy served with a plate of crispy-flaky and delicious palmiers filled with a tapenade made with green olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, and roasted bell pepper.

The main event was seitan bourguignon or “au vin” — chunks of seitan simmered with mushrooms, shallots, and carrot in a red wine sauce, seasoned with thyme and some herbs de Provence.  It was served with mashed potatoes and green beans provencale.

For dessert, I wanted to feature blackberry coulis made from our own blackberries, so I made a plain cheesecake to pair with it.  At the last minute, I added a couple tablespoons of lime marmalade to the cheesecake batter and — wow — that touch of citrus really added a fantastic flavor dimension.

After such a fabulous meal, I can tell you that French for vegans was definitely not lost in translation!  I may need to revisit my list of favorite cuisines….

In Other News…
I’ve been nominated in two categories in the 2011 Veggie Awards.  Why not take a few minutes to fill out the survey and vote for me in the “favorite cookbook author” category and also for my Global Vegan column as your favorite VegNews feature.  There are some great prizes this year including a vegan Caribbean cruise, a VitaMix blender, and a year’s supply of Coconut Bliss ice cream.   (thanks!)

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looks delish robin! i voted for you by the way! just curious, have you ever done a post on vegan wine or wines you use? would love to see this!


Thanks, Shelley (and thanks for voting for me, too!) No, I've never done a specific post about wines I use -- great idea!
One of the last non-vegan meals I ate was at a small French restaurant in Charleston. I don't remember the name of it, but it was probably the one you worked in. :)
::::pressing nose against screen::::


Preeeeetty French foooooooood.....

Everything looks like ten levels of yum!!
Lotus -- It's entirely possible -- depends on how long ago it was.

Karen -- Thanks! :)
I love vegan food with French influences. It would be wonderful if you did a book, Robin, as the dishes here prove.

I'd be curious what wines are among your favorites, too. It's not easy finding vegan wines! But there seem to more available all the time. Thank goodness for in keeping us up to date.
Thanks, Tami. I realize that I have a soft spot for vegan-French food, since they are among the first recipes I veganized.

As to wine, judging by your vine and dine blog posts and OGP wine article, I should ask YOU (and Jim) about good vegan wines.
oooooohhhhhlalaaaaaaaa!!! keep us posted on this one!!! I already put it on my list!!
need suggestions what to veganize? :) would be glad to help!
Sure, Berti, I'd love to hear any and all ideas for inclusion. It's an ongoing work in progress that has been sitting on the back burner for years -- maybe I'll finally move it up to a front burner soon!
I want to eat all that. So, next up, vegan French cookbook? Please?
What a beautiful cheesecake!
Was it Marianne's on Meeting? I ventured there several times in 1978 & 1979. It was my first French restaurant experience.
Your posts are so hard to read because the pictures make my mouth water! =) I think once you go Vegan and realize how much really great non-animal food is out there, you don't go back.

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Thanks, Em. I totally agree about how great vegan food is!
Amanda, it's wasn't Marianne, although I do have a history with that place. (I'll post a photo taken there during a special dinner I took part in cooking.)
The particular place I was referring to was called Amalie.
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