A Made By Anthony Bourdain Recipe For AFC INTERNATIONAL
Eggplant And Cauliflower Tomato Provençale!
Serves The World In 14 cups
An Irish guy at a pub Steve and I frequent said to me recently, “buy me a Jameson and I’ll tell you a story”. Steve said back to him before I had a chance to respond, “you buy ME a drink and I’ll tell YOU a story”. I later thought, no, you buy ME a drink and I’ll listen to your story – you’ve got five minutes”.
Today as I entered the kitchen I recalled that little sparring moment, when suddenly my thoughts turned to Anthony Bourdain as he jumped into my river of dots to thoughts to say as he maneuvered his way through those unfamiliar stretches, “make me a recipe and I’ll make you famous”.
I have to say I was going to cook anyway, but today my mind in the kitchen was on Anthony Bourdain and what little I knew of his illustrious and sometimes infamous multi-faceted life and career. Even though I cook without animals, I often watched his show. It wasn’t as much for the content as it was for him that I tuned in whenever I knew he was on. Sure it was mind-opening to see how other people around the world live and what they eat, but that wasn’t the draw. It was his voice, his casual uptight demeanor, his awkward look, like he was simultaneously new to, uncomfortable and bored with, everything going on around him, though he was at the center of it all. He had a strange charisma, unpolished, real, not totally comfortable in his own skin.
Out of all the celebrity chefs I often thought he could be turned, flipped as it were, into at least accepting then maybe celebrating some form of an animal-free cuisine. Totally animal-free. Not half and half, like other animal-eating chefs sometimes do. Well, Anthony Bourdain, I have lots of ingredients in my refrigerator and pantry today, so I don’t have to improvise with what I have on hand as I often do.
Since I knew you didn’t like meats made from plants and even though I have lots of them in the freezer and would like to convince you of their culinary value, I decided not to include any in this dish, since most people around the world do not have access to them – yet. And the point here is to cook this recipe now, not five years from now when the entire world will have access to those plant meats of which I speak.
So what would Anthony Bourdain graduate of the Culinary Institute of America make if he didn’t or couldn’t eat animals? Probably something with high flavor notes simmering just beneath the surface of mostly soft, chewy textures peaking at predictable junctures – as streams of faintly recognizable comfort slowly push through the veins of his creation.
So here we are at the door of what Tony Bourdain made today in My Animal-Free Kitchen Cooking Without Animals. For the world he said. For the entire world.
Let’s get to it.
Prepare eggplant separate from the veggies and sauce:
1 med. fresh, ripe eggplant, about 1-1/4 lbs. – wash, cut off ends, slice from end to end into 1/4 inch thick planks (slowly and evenly using a broad sharp knife), lay out on brown paper bag without overlapping, lightly salt, sweat for 15 minutes, wipe sweat from surfaces, flip eggplant over, lightly salt, sweat and blot again
2 T. extra virgin olive oil plus additional as needed
1 t. salt
2 t. garlic powder
light sprinkling of cinnamon
fresh grind black pepper
1/2 – 1 t. dried mint, crushed finely between fingers
1-2 T. water if needed
When eggplant is done sweating, stack slices, cut from end to end into 1/2 inch wide strips, then crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces.
In large skillet, over medium heat, melt olive oil. When very hot, add all eggplant pieces, separating them with utensil, then saute till steam begins to rise from the fry pan.
Add salt, garlic powder, cinnamon, black pepper, mint. Stir and continue to cook till soft.
Drizzle more oil as it cooks. I used about 2 tablespoons more.
If some edges are still firm, then add a couple of tablespoons of water to skillet, cover immediately and steam the rest of the way to tender.
Adjust for seasoning and set aside.
Veggies and Sauce:
2 T. vegan butter (I used Miyoko brand)
1 c. diced onion, 1/2 inch squares
1/2 c. diced sweet red roasted pepper, 1/2 inch squares plus 1/4 c. pepper juice from jar
14 oz. pkg. extra-firm water packed tofu – rinse, wrap in several layers paper towels or clean cloth towel, press all sides without breaking the block, then slice in half horizontally into 2 lg. slabs, then cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 t. salt
2 T. capers, drained
15 pitted baby Kalamata olives, chopped (examine and pinch before adding to make sure there are no bad ones – you can tell by the deep purple color and mushy feel when squeezed when unusable)
2 t. garlic powder
2 t. dry mustard
2 t. finely ground fennel seed
1 T. dried basil crushed between fingers to eliminate tiny sticks
1/4 t. red cayenne pepper
1/4 t. ground allspice
2 t. smoked paprika
fresh grind black pepper to taste
1 t. salt
1 lg. head fresh cauliflower – cut in half, cut out core and stalks, separate buds from stalks and break into smaller pieces, then rinse buds well and remove with paring knife any discolored spots, then boil in lots of salted water till very tender, drain and rinse under cold water till chilled
28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
28 oz. can tomato sauce – marinara sauce in jars are too sweet and herbal, so use tomato sauce from a can for a more even tomato flavor
2 T. liquid from Kalamata olive jar
2 T. vegan yeast
6 oz. can tomato paste mixed till smooth in bowl with 1 c. fresh squeezed orange juice and 1 c. carrot juice – strain to remove pulp if too pulpy
2-3 handfuls fresh cilantro leaves – no stems
extra drizzles of extra virgin olive oil when finished cooking
In extra-large soup pot, over medium heat, melt margarine.
Add onion, a little salt and saute till translucent.
Add roasted pepper plus 1/4 cup juice from jar. Cook about 1 minute, then add tofu cubes. Stir gently to coat with margarine and let cook for about 4 minutes, turning as needed to cook all sides.
Add the next ingredients up to and including tomato paste and juice mixture. Stir well, cutting some of the cauliflower into smaller pieces as desired.
Now add sauteed eggplant pieces. Stir to evenly disperse, cover and cook on medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, checking and stirring as needed.
Add fresh cilantro and extra drizzles of olive oil. Salt to taste and serve, or set aside for service later.
Garnish with additional fresh cilantro leaves.
Notes: This dish stands on its own. If you want a side dish of garlic and olive oil and fresh parsley tossed with pasta, fine. If you want toasted baguette slices with the same toppings, okay. I wanted no accompaniments. Water or wine. That’s it. We almost overcook the cauliflower, while it still maintains its shape, to create a shellfish similarity in texture.
The vegan yeast imparts mild butter-cheese flavors and mouth feel components. Enrich is what it does. However, too much will spoil the dish, any dish, so I use it sparingly. We don’t want the dish to taste like yeast, so in effect it’s a hidden ingredient that adds complexity and depth to the overall flavor achievement.
Besides this dish being animal-free it is also gluten-free. Miyoko European Style Cultured Vegan Butter is also gluten-free. Use any animal-free butter you like. This one is special to me in that it takes me back to a time and place when I thought it was okay to consume dairy, especially prominent at French restaurants in Massachusetts that served what they called back then, sweet creamery butter, usually unsalted. Miyoko achieved what many did not think possible.
Regarding the garlic: Most chefs would insist on using fresh garlic cloves, no matter what. Not me, not him, not with this dish today. Too many texture bits were avoided by using the granulated rather than fresh garlic cloves.
Regarding eggplant: Do not initially slice eggplant any thicker than 1/4 inch wide. Use your kitchen ruler. Slice uniformly for uniform cooking.