“A Night in Budapest” is vegan magic

Greetings, Bistro fans and vegan cuisine fans. The Tenant is finally back, with some time out for a cold. I regret to say that as a result of this cold, I decided not to attend the $10 wine tasting this week (I never want to risk making any of the other fine Bistro patrons, or the terrific staff for that matter, ill if I can help it). If you attended, however, and have a comment you’d like to make, please feel free!

As for “A Night in Budapest,” the latest Bistro venture into gourmet vegan cuisine last week, that was a fine evening indeed (as you know if you tried it yourself). The 3-for-$30 meal began with a first course of Tomato-Fennel Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings:

This dish was delightfully spicy with its blend of tomatoes, fennel, onion, paprika, and other flavorings. The cornmeal dumplings were deliciously tender, and the whole thing was topped with fresh sprigs of dill. A wonderfully warming winter soup.

Then it was on to the main dish, Vegan Chicken Paprikash with Potato Gnocchi:

This “chicken” was, as is true of many Bistro vegan dishes, made with gardein, which I’m told is made primarily from wheat gluten. Obviously not a choice for those with celiac or other issues requiring a gluten-free diet, but it does make an incredible chicken stand-in that is extremely difficult to tell from the real thing in terms of flavor. It worked perfectly in this dish, paired with classic traditional-tasting potato gnocchi and a sauce that, from my understanding, included cashew milk. It was rich, creamy in texture, and tasted just like something you might enjoy in a traditional home-cooking Eastern European ethnic restaurant.

The grand conclusion of the meal was Hungarian-Style Crepes with Apricot Preserves:

The crepes, made with almond milk and without eggs, were ultra-thin and delicious, layered with sweet fruit preserves, and accompanied by a snowing of powdered sugar, fresh berries, and “whipped cream” made with almond milk combined with a little tapioca to firm it up. A fantastic dessert and the perfect complement to the rest of the meal.

Altogether, “An Evening in Budapest” proved that even hearty, traditional ethnic cooking is possible using all vegan ingredients, and you won’t miss a bit of flavor!

Want more proof? Another opportunity is coming soon. On Wednesday, February 23, Bistro 185 presents “A Trip to India,” a three-course vegan dinner themed on Indian cuisine beginning to end:

First Course
Chickpea-Onion Samosas
Cilantro and Mint Chutney
Field Green Salad with Tamarind Vinaigrette

Entree
Cashew-Coconut Lemongrass Curry with Vegetables and Tofu
Organic Brown Basmati Rice

Dessert
Coconut-Cardamom Panna Cotta with Mango Coulis
Fresh Berries

Sounds special, doesn’t it? The dinner will be available between 5 and 9 p.m.; to ensure yourself a reserved time, call 216.481.9635 now and prepay with your credit card. Cost is $30 per person, plus 20 percent gratuity and 7.75 percent tax additional.

At Bistro 185, vegan dining is more than just a meal; it’s a tasteful journey into everything this type of cuisine can be. Book yourself this passage to India now!

Behind the Dish: Viennese Goulash with Pappardelle Pasta

Tonight, the Bistro takes on an Austrian variation on a Hungarian dish. How? Well, James Beard’s Viennese Goulash includes the essential ingredient that makes Hungarian goulash Hungarian goulash — namely, Hungarian paprika, which is more flavorful than other kinds. But it also includes a twist by way of Vienna: a paste of crushed caraway seeds, garlic and lemon zest added at the end of the cooking time.

It starts with sautéeing onions in butter and oil, mixing in the paprika and white wine or cider vinegar, then browning the beef cubes in the mixture. After all the cubes are browned (a few at a time), the mix is seasoned with salt and pepper, and thyme and tomato puree are added and simmered down. Flour then gets sprinkled onto the beef, beef broth is added and there’s more simmering. The caraway-garlic-lemon zest paste is stirred in when the beef is thoroughly cooked, for 10 minutes or so.

The resulting goulash sits on a bed of pappardelle pasta like many a good goulash, waiting for you to experience the fresh and spicy flavor lent to it by the last-minute Viennese touch.

Behind the Dish: Filet of Sole with Scallops Mornay

There’s a lot going on at the Bistro today! Here’s the scoop on the James Beard dish of the evening, Filet of Sole with Scallops Mornay. Beard’s recipe calls for poaching filet of sole and scallops in white wine, removing the seafood and reducing the liquid, then adding it to a Mornay sauce, which is a white, or béchamel, sauce with cheese added. His original recipe serves the sauced sole and scallops with a sprinkling of paprika over toast points; we’re adding the paprika but serving it over pappardelle pasta instead.

Whether you’re joining us for James Beard or our Spanish Regional Wine Dinner, we hope to see you tonight!

Behind the Dish: Shrimp Étouffée

The master chef who provided Julia with the recipe for today’s Julia Project dish is one likely familiar to many: Emeril Lagasse, the Cajun/Creole chef whose presence on TV is ubiquitous. (You can see him preparing the dish at the video linked here.)

Shrimp Étouffé calls for, first, a butter-and-flour roux, to which are added chopped onions, bell peppers and celery, minced garlic, diced tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, cayenne pepper and, of course, “Essence” (a combination of paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano and dried thyme). Then shrimp stock is added and the whole combination is boiled, then simmered. Raw shrimp is seasoned with more of the Essence and added them to the pot and cooked through. With a little parsley added, the finished dish is served on steamed white rice and garnished with green onion. BAM!