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Video: Vegan treats from Portia and Ellen’s personal chef

  1. Closed captioning of: Vegan treats from Portia and Ellen’s personal chef

    >>> back now at 8:50. and this morning on "today's kitchen step-by-step," our lesson in vegan cooking. roberto martin is the personal chef to ellen degeneres and portia derossi . and in his new book called " vegan cooking for carnivores," he shares more than 100 recipes that promise to be so good that we're not going to miss the meat. is that right? you promise?

    >> absolutely.

    >> okay. let's get a start. first of all, let's talk about this idea because you and ellen have been eating vegan for some time.

    >> five years.

    >> a lot of people look at this food and they think, you know, we know it's good for us, but how can it be tasty?

    >> that's one thing. everyone knows it's healthy. you get the protein but without the saturated fat and cholesterol. it's good for the environment and good for animals, obviously. but it's got to taste good. that's where roberto comes in. he managed to make all the foods that we love, he managed to make them vegan instead of making vegan food.

    >> there you go. how did you do that?

    >> well, i wasn't a vegan chef to start off with. and i went ahead and just said first i'm just going to make the food i always made before. i'm going to stut tubstitute the animal pro fetein for plant-based protein.

    >> before we start a fire here, you're going to make a chicken dish.

    >> it is fried chicken .

    >> tell us how you do that in the vegan way.

    >> we take our little pattys here.

    >> which are?

    >> these are plant-based protein.

    >> you can buy them in the store?

    >> you can buy them anywhere in the store, all across the country. they come in these little cutlets.

    >> right.

    >> but we shape them into these little pattys.

    >> you just squish them and they'll do that.

    >> the thing about fried chicken is the skin. that's what makes it so wonderful and crispy. i came up with this way of putting some skin on the chicken. and we use these rice papers like the spring roll papers.

    >> this is inventive, roberto .

    >> thank you.

    >> what do you think about this, portia?

    >> it's creative. i call him a mad scientist in the kitchen. i mean, to think of doing this is pretty amazing.

    >> okay.

    >> you're so complimentary. i call it wrap it up burrito style. and we flip the sides over. and we tuck and roll.

    >> nice. and it ends up looking like that. now, we've got to dredge it. right?

    >> now we use, instead of buttermilk, we take some cashew cream.

    >> cashew cream. now, that's something that's not always easy to find.

    >> no, you make it. cashews and water.

    >> blend it.

    >> blend it until it's smooth. it's so easy. it's a substitute for heavy cream . you could do alfredo sauce with that.

    >> nice.

    >> so we add hot sauce to get that southern flavor going on.

    >> yeah, this is particularly good. it has a fraction of the fat and the calories of regular cream.

    >> mm-hmm.

    >> it leaves a little extra room for frying. as far as the calories go.

    >> i'm going to do something weird. i'm just going to give a little taste of that.

    >> definitely.

    >> it tastes like nuts. it's not too intense. it has a nice pecan flavor. okay. we need to cook this thing. you need to take that, put it in there, dredge it.

    >> let's season our flour real quick.

    >> right. that's garlic.

    >> garlic salt , onion powder, some old bay, and some blackening spice.

    >> all right. there we go.

    >> then we do flour. and cream.

    >> oh, do you go back and forth a couple of times?

    >> just once. yeah.

    >> get it nice and dredged.

    >> nice and dredged. and that's what makes the crispy crunchy.

    >> now, you do fry it, so this is not a lo-cal food.

    >> no, it's not. but if you compare it to its animal-based partner, it's much lower in fat.

    >> okay.

    >> much lower in saturated fat .

    >> and you'll see golden brown and delicious.

    >> nice.

    >> nice crispy crunchy.

    >> do you eat this, portia?

    >> oh, yeah, yeah.

    >> ellen said that when she eats the food that roberto is this vegan food, that she's lost some weight.

    >> we both have lost a lot of weight going vegan . you maintain a lower weight.

    >> yeah.

    >> oh, high, guys.

    >> dance party back here.

    >> definitely.

    >> we do that because that's what ellen does on her show. people are dancing behind you. and then when you turn around --

    >> they're dancing.

    >> they stop dancing.

    >> we're so funny.

    >> dancing for me.

    >> of course, that, too.

    >> anyway, let's try this thing. what is this?

    >> this is a mac and cheese.

    >> a little bit of cashew cream. dairy cheese.

    >> bring it.

    >> what's this?

    >> just some regular salsa.

    >> oh, okay. that's vegan .

    >> roberto , thank you so much. the book is called " vegan cooking for carnivores."

TODAY recipes
updated 5/2/2012 3:20:05 PM ET 2012-05-02T19:20:05

Recipe: Southern fried chik'n

  • Two 10-ounce packages frozen Gardein Chick’n Scallopini, defrosted
  • 1 1/2 cups organic, unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon blackening spice or Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 package spring roll wrappers (rice paper)
  • 2 cups cashew cream
  • 3 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
  • High-heat oil such as safflower or grapeseed oil, as needed (maximum 2 cups)

It is important to prepare all the ingredients and have them ready to go before you start the cooking. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, blackening spice, garlic powder, Old Bay Seasoning, onion powder, and salt until well incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix the cashew cream and the Tabasco sauce and set aside. Roll each Gardein Chick’n fillet into a ball and then shape it into a 1-inch-thick, oval patty. Place the 8 patties on a plate and set aside.

Put the “skin” on the Chick’n: Select a dish or pan that is large enough for the rice paper to lie flat inside. Inspect each rice paper carefully and discard any sheets that have holes or cuts. Add about 1 cup of very warm water to the dish or pan and soak 1 sheet of rice paper for about 20 seconds, or until the paper has softened but has not become completely soft.

Place the rice paper on a cutting board and rub it gently with your wet hands to flatten it and work in more water. Place the Gardein patty on the rice paper, slightly below the center, working from the edge closest to you. Pick up the edge closest to you and fold the rice paper up and over the patty. Fold the right and left sides toward the center. Working from the edge closest to you, gently roll up the patty burrito style.

Repeat the process with the remaining patties. Lightly dust a baking sheet with a bit of the seasoned flour. Roll a patty in the flour, then in the cashew cream, and then dredge it again in the seasoned flour. Place it on the floured baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining patties.

A cast-iron skillet performs best for frying Chick’n, but if you don’t have one, use a heavy-bottomed pan with sides that are at least 3 inches high. Pour enough oil into the pan to come halfway up the side of the Chick’n patty. Heat the oil over medium heat until it looks thin like water and shimmers. Using metal tongs, panfry 4 patties at one time, for about 2½ minutes per side. Do not turn the patties more than once. Transfer the fried patties to a baking sheet fitted with a wire rack or lined with paper towels. Repeat the frying process with the remaining patties.

Serve hot and crisp.

Serving Size

Serves 4

Recipe: Mac n' cheese

  • 1 1/2 cups dry shell or elbow pasta, cooked until al dente according to the package directions
  • 5 ounces vegan cheddar cheese, grated (preferably Follow Your Heart brand)
  • 1 cup cashew cream
  • 1 cup broth made from Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base or Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place all the ingredients except for the salt and pepper in a saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon until the cheese has melted and the ingredients are well incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serving Size

Serves 3

Recipe: Chocolate chip magic bars

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) (3/4 cup) vegan butter, melted
  • 2 cups sweetened condensed nondairy milk
  • One 12-ounce bag Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs and the vegan butter. Press the mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan to form the crust. Pour the nondairy condensed milk evenly over the crust.

In a medium bowl, mix together the chocolate chips, flaked coconut, and chopped pecans. Distribute the mixture evenly over the crust and press down gently. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow the pan to cool completely before chilling it — overnight if you have the time — oth­erwise chill it for 2 hours.

For best results, cut the dessert into 1 x 3-inch bars or 2 x 2-inch squares once they are ice cold. Serve them at room temperature.

Serving Size

Makes about 25 bars

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