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Dining In — Recipe of the Week: Takeout menus proliferate

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Breakfast for dinner. Burger night. More comfort foods.

As restaurants continue to search for ways to entice their customers to order takeout during the pandemic lockdown, executive chef Caleb Lentchner and his staff have crafted a menu of alluring dishes.

Caleb’s American Kitchen in Lahaska recently expanded to five days each week of dinner service from 4 to 7 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Wednesday is “burger night” with four beef burgers, a tuna burger and a veggie burger. Thursday is “breakfast for dinner” night featuring quiches, pancakes, omelets and fritattas.

Friday through Sunday there are more typical menus, plus family-style options designed to feed four to six people.

The closing of restaurants to avoid exposure to COVID-19 has been a challenge to owners who have had to rethink the way they operate their businesses.

At Caleb’s it means an ever-changing menu based on availability of ingredients and crafting dishes designed to travel, changes in staffing and a new way of using the restaurant’s facilities.

With the absence of dine-in customers, “The dining room has become an assembly line,” explains Carol Della Penna, Lentchner’s wife and co-owner of the restaurant.

Comfort foods such as ribs, turkey, steak, paella, burgers and vegetarian dishes have become extremely popular, Della Penna said.

“People want a break from cooking,” she said, and if they can’t go out to dinner at least they can bring home a dinner they will enjoy.

Caleb’s shares this vegan recipe created by chef de cuisine Lisa Frederick for those who want to try making restaurant-quality food at home.

Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff

2 pounds of your favorite mushrooms sautéed in olive oil, strained and set aside

1 Spanish onion, diced

4 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

½ pound vegan butter or margarine

1 cup rice flour

2 to 3 teaspoons white pepper

1 to 2 teaspoons nutmeg

1 tablespoon salt

2 quarts vegetable stock

½ cup oat or almond milk

1 tablespoon Braggs Amino Acid or soy sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Pinch of fresh thyme

Pasta of your choice, cooked according to directions (the chef recommends zoodles, which are spiral-cut zucchini . See note below on how to cook zoodles)

Cook onions and garlic in large pan until slightly browned. Stir in rice flour and allow to thicken to create a roux. Season with salt and pepper.

Stirring, cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the flour has dissolved and the roux has thickened. Add sautéed mushrooms and stir until well combined.

Slowly but continuously whisk vegetable stock into the mushroom roux so there are no lumps and you have a nice, thick gravy (for a thicker gravy, use less stock).

Let it simmer on low for 2 minutes or until all the roux is incorporated with the veggie stock. Turn off heat. Add oat or almond milk, Braggs Amino Acid or soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and fresh thyme.

Add cooked noodles to pan of mushroom gravy. Toss until combined and serve.

Note: Make zoodles using spiral cutter allowing one zucchini per person. To cook, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper on baking sheet. Roast in 350-degree oven for 10 minutes.


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