Be our vegan valentine!
Vegan Valentine: The Language of Love of Plant-Based Baking
Valentine’s Day is a special day and like most special days we want to remember them fondly. Our senses play a huge role in our memories and what better way to stimulate those senses and memories then with exceptional food. When we enjoy an experience, such as spending an evening with a loved one and then pairing it with unique cuisine; it’s a recipe for a magical night.
Real Food Daily is about just that; eating “Real Food” and kicking your “Daily” food up a notch! It’s my job as the Executive Pastry Chef to source wholesome, non-GMO, vegan & kosher ingredients, but to also create enticing, delicious and memorable desserts for our guests.
When I look back at my career, I never would have thought in a thousand years I would be baking vegan desserts! It’s been one of the most rewarding and greatest challenges of my career. When Ann Gentry, RFD Founder, hired me, she liked my non-vegan baking resume and asked me to put my technique and skill to creating vegan pastries. Since joining the team, I pride myself in recreating classic, comfort desserts such as Chocolate Fudge Cake and a peanut butter cup made with healthier and tastier ingredients. One of my favorite creations is our scratch-made Biscuits, sold as a brunch pastry option, which can be ordered as a side with or amazing golden gravy or you’ll find it on our classic Breakfast Sammie sandwich.
Vegan baking is different than traditional baking. Add RFD’s standards of high quality, non-GMO, kosher and organic ingredients, and it makes the challenge even weightier. A few of my first attempts at vegan baking were tackling brownies and chocolate cake. In the beginning working with tofu and non-dairy milks and buttery spreads proved challenging in re-creating protein textures and other blends. I learned to replace one ingredient at a time, for example using a non-dairy buttery spread instead of butter or silken tofu for eggs. Baking is a science; it is the task and art of balancing ingredients to create textures and flavors, which are palatable, but also memorable. I now have the pleasure of continuing to do what I love as a pastry chef. I also appreciate high quality ingredients, working with products that are organically grown and that are not made of words I can’t even pronounce!
Working with RFD’s Culinary Director, Tara Punzone is a lot of fun. When you get two Italian Americans creating menus, delicious things are going to happen. Tara and I decided on a Love Language theme for this year’s Valentine’s Day menu. Love languages are the romantic languages based in Latin, such as Italian, French, Spanish. I wanted to create two desserts that embodied classic flavors for a romantic experience. What is more romantic then chocolate, strawberries and vanilla or a velvety, rich, lemon cello custard? This year’s four-course Valentine’s meal ends with the choice between two desserts – a Neapolitan Mousse; consisting of three amazing flavor profiles, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, harmoniously layered and a Limoncello Pot Du Crème. The rich velvety Meyer lemon custard is coconut milk based and topped with Madagascar vanilla bean Chantilly cream and paired with a lemon rosemary shortbread cookie. Both choices will surely provide a grand finale to a sensational Valentine’s Day evening. I look forward to serving you my creations on this very special day. Savor each sweet bite as a testament to the Language of Love.
By Executive Pastry Chef, Anthony Nigro
Anthony Nigro is a dynamic pastry chef with 14 years experience, ranging from resorts and fine dining to cake shop and commissary bakeries. He’s managed bakery teams as great as 22 people and has been recognized for his leadership and people skills. With award winning cake designs and out-of-the-box recipe development, Anthony has consistently raised the bar everywhere he’s worked.