Friday, November 8, 2013

Scenes From a Cinnamon Snail Recipe Testing Adventure

Sorry for the abbreviated posts of late (or perhaps a "you're welcome" is in order instead); it's been a busy few weeks- what with recipe testing for an exciting new cookbook, the implementation of a Facebook page for my blog, and simultaneously preparing for Halloween. Did I mention recipe testing for an exciting new cookbook?

What exciting new cookbook, you ask?  Why, the Cinnamon Snail, of course!  Yes, it's true.  It's not enough that the folks at the helm of the Snail dish out phenomenal food day in and day out; they're also hard at work creating a cookbook.  So, soon (I'll keep you posted) you will be able to make some of your favorites (and much, much more) within the confines of your own kitchen to amaze your friends and family.  Or, to consume in large quantities in the privacy of your own home- your call.

I was intending to have a 48-hour recipe-testing marathon, so I fortified myself with a healthy, convenient breakfast.

Then I buttered up my sous chef (with arugula) to endure a looooong cooking session.

And then I got started.
five-spice fried sunflower gomasio prep:

 Major props to the bullet for whipping up sauces like a champ.


89, moments after she heard the unmistakable sound of the last sheet of paper towel ripping off...

The first masterpiece I completed: the astonishing miso teriyaki seitan with grilled onion, arugula, wasabi mayonnaise, and five-spice fried sunflower gomasio on a toasted baguette.  Show of hands; who doesn't want this in their belly?

More bullet action in full view of cashews about to skinny-dip.

This is what passes for a bunch of kale some days (I know you feel my pain, JD).


In action:

And Snail-marinated!

Smoked chili roasted peanuts, I will eat all of you.

Breaktime: kettle korn and a G&T, extra lime:

Mason jar action: pickled Thai basil and onions.  And just like that I'm mesmerized by pickling.

You can never have enough onions.  How about some slow roasted smoked onions:

Or perhaps some chilies preparing to morph into grilled aioli?

Recipe testing is serious business; it takes heart and devotion- both of which are exemplified by the Snail through the impeccable, original creations they invent and serve to an ever-growing public.  I often find myself in a huge Snail line marveling at the fact that most of the customers are not vegan... not even vegetarian.  The thought of how many people they reach daily and how many more people will be reached by a cookbook- through interest; curiosity; or friends sharing recipes, is exhilirating and I'm happy to have the opportunity to play even a small part in helping them to further spread the vegan word.

That being said, the day before testing commenced found me hitting up 8 stores for a ton of food shopping in advance of about 40 recipes/recipes-within-recipes preparation.  I felt like I was embarking on an adventure!


After all the groceries made it inside, a quickly thrown together dinner was called for: it involved celery (more on that later) and, in my haste, I cut my finger while intending to cut the celery.  So, mid-recipe testing I learned that a double band-aid does not shield such a wound from the evils of citrus; so, the universe sent me some love as I was wincing whilst zesting and juicing countless limes (or maybe the universe was suggesting I carve a lime instead of a pumpkin?).

Unfortunately 89 can no longer be tricked into lime-licking for my entertainment.

"I am going to disembowel this tiny toy because you continue to ignore me."

If you think things were getting a little silly, you'd be right.  It was my coping mechanism for this VERY messy kitchen.

What better time to break out the booze (again)?  I've never had bourbon before.  Do yourself a favor: buy some, sit on your couch, and wait for The Cinnamon Snail cookbook to come out so you can make brown sugar bourbon glazed seitan with smoked slow roasted onions, arugula, and grilled ancho chili aioli on a grilled baguette.  You can thank me later.  With bourbon.

Words can not adequately describe the succulence of this sammie.

I know what you're thinking, "What about the famous Korean barbecue seitan?"


What about it? Ta da:

All wrapped up and ready for eating...

Or perhaps lemongrass 5-spice seitan with curried cashews, Szechuan chili sauce, and wasabi mayonnaise is your jam.  Just try not to eat all of the cashews before you finish preparing your sandwich; it will be worth the wait.  Ok, sneak a few.

For the record, after co-taste-testing all of these recipes, OD has been officially introduced to seitan worship.

While all these impossibly delicious seitan dishes have persuaded me otherwise, I generally prefer tempeh. 

just keep swimming...

I'm not yet sure when exactly the cookbook is expected available (or when the launch party is: holla at your girl!), but you should prepare in advance to have your socks knocked off with maple bbq smothered tempeh with beer batter fried pickles, roasted garlic cabbage slaw, marinated kale, & roasted habanero aioli.  Did you get all that?

Aaaand, end of recipe testing, day 1.

(Consecutive) recipe testing day 2 commenced with roasted tomatillo salsa verde and smoked chili coconut bacon in the works.

Also, fried sage leaves

If you've not had them before, you'll want them all the time once you're hooked on sage tempeh sausage sliders with olive tapenade, truffled cashew cheese, fried sage leaves, and lavender roasted shallots: another mind-bogglingly outrageous but totally amazing concoction.  I really wish I had a shot of those beautiful shallots roasting with the lavender, but it was getting late...

Look familiar?  A perennial favorite of mine: gochujang burger deluxe with pickled leeks & daikon, black sesame gomasio, kimchi, arugula, and sriracha mayo.

Howzabout a Thai BBQ tempeh sandwich with pickled Thai basil and onions, sriracha mayo, smoked chili roasted peanuts, and arugula on spelt bread?  Yet another of my perennial faves!

And, finally: blue corn hempseed crusted tempeh with smoked chili coconut bacon, roasted tomatillo salsa verde, beer simmered onions & garlic, chipotle mayo, and arugula on spelt bread.   You know, just a little something I threw together.

These recipes are no joke; they are descriptive and require your full attention.  They are also better than most things you've ever eaten, so well-worth the effort.

Once you see them come together- let alone taste them, you'll be reminded of how much more the Cinnamon Snail is than simply a food truck.  And while these recipes are only a small portion of the total goodness to come in the cookbook, they are wholly indicative of the innovative, global tastes that have taken the tri-state area by storm via the Snail.

I am not particularly skilled or courageous in the kitchen.  But with the Cinnamon Snail's ingenuity relayed in easy-to-follow directions, I amazed everyone- including myself.  You will too.  Rock on, Cinnamon Snail.


  1. Come ON. This is ridiculous. Why wasn't I living there during all this? Also: sous chef tongue?? TOO MUCH.

  2. Astonished they're much more than a food truck, and you've delivered the best promotion for comfort food. #Vegan and mouth-watering. Applause!

  3. Who knew Cinnamon Snail was so much more than a food truck? This comfort food sounds enticing and the photos show the food well. Am a big fan of tempeh, all onions and you've delivered a mouth-watering promotion.

  4. This is really amazing. You did such a fantastic job testing, and your feedback was really useful. ...I am going to have to force you to test another chapter now ya know...

  5. Thanks for sharing & now I'm excited. I'm praying to the food gods that the White Truffle Mac & Cheese with porcini mushroom baked breadcrumb topping is in the cookbook ?? Are you able to tell me that it is.

  6. Simply great post! Three cheers for Bean!

    The testing sounds daunting (and also very expensive) I hope that the actual cookbook can also be used in a friendly, less exhaustive manner.

    (ps- I'm almost afraid to learn how much oil is used in these...)

  7. 'Not particularly skilled or courageous in the kitchen'? I beg to differ.

  8. You weren't kidding about a recipe testing marathon — you cooked up a stunning amount of food. I can't believe you're about to embark on another testing whirlwind.

  9. WHAT? How did you test that much all at once? I usually throw in the towel after half of that. Everything looks amazing. Every time I get one of their sammies I examine the insides trying to dissect how many different elements are in there.

  10. Now you know why people stand in line for over an hour at the Cinnamon Snail food truck (AND think it's worth the wait!)

  11. Stacy, it WAS ridiculous. Ridiculously GOOD.

    Priscilla, the Snail is amazing and I'm happy to support them in everything they do!

    Unknown, I am going on hiatus!

    marcus7w, I've only been privy to the sandwich chapter, so no word on the mac as of yet...

    BYOL, Perhaps the fact that I made a gazillion sandwiches at once was an issue. I'm sure if you choose one at a time, you'll be amazed and satiated.

    The Shenandoah Vegan, This was really ALL the recipes; I was just a conduit. You should see my normal meals- not impressive in the least.

    Andrea, Go big or go home! I'm really enjoying it.

    susan, It's amazing to make all the components, put it together, and get a mouthful of magic. They really know their stuff.

    Journaler, I could not agree more. Chef Adam can cook for me forever, but every once in a while I'm going to want to impress family & friends and this is definitely the way to do it.

  12. Your Cinnamon Snail posts always makes me so jealous! I am SO EXCITED that there's a book coming out. Deliciousness for the 47 other states!!

  13. This cookbook sounds like it'll be awesome! Can't wait to buy it!

  14. I'm originally from Nj and whenever my sister (who still lives up there) tells me the Cinnamon Snail is in her town, I get jealous. Every picture you posted, I said to myself, ooh, I'm gonna tell her that looks amazing. So, I ended up with- all of that looks amazing LOL. Especially the pickled onion. I love pickled anything. and that

  15. Recipe testing for an upcoming cookbook is very fun - I would love to try that sometimes! What a post - so many lovely dishes! My my, that is some juicy and tasty miso-teriyaki seitan and wasabi mayo & 5-spice sunflower gomasio?! I need this recipe ASAP especially that yummy gochujang burger! So many Asian recipes - love it!

  16. Ha! I love that your puppy likes to eat kale stems just like my cat does! And OH MY GOODNESS those recipes look amazing, I can't wait to buy that cookbook!!!

  17. I've been reading for ages about how good that place is and secretly wishing they'd be spirited across the Atlantic. Failing that, I'm chuffed there's a cookbook on the way so I can have a little taste at home. When's it coming out?


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