Vegan Lemon Chicken? This Chef Has a Recipe for That
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Mac ‘n cheese, chicken salad, deviled eggs — we usually don’t think of these as vegan dishes. But Staci Azzinaro, a private chef in the Philadelphia area, knows that most anything can be made vegan with the right ingredients. Azzinaro is the owner of A Taste for all Seasons Catering LLC and the creator of a line of spices called Hot Spice Seasonings. Her plant-based creations are largely influenced by cuisines and flavors she finds among her Afro-Caribbean and Black communities.
“My central focus right now is sharing vegan cooking with the masses,” Azzinaro tells CircleAround. “I want people to get a better understanding of what plant-based cooking is about and how enjoyable it can be.”
Try not to drool while scrolling through footage of vegan chicken pot pie, Creole gravy and grits, and her wide variety of vegan seafood dishes featured on her website. “My Hot Spice seasonings are handcrafted by yours truly, and they include both dry seasonings and honey sauces,” she explains.
At the heart of Azzinaro’s success is her personal chef services. “My catering business not only involves me catering private and public events, but I also teach vegan and non-vegan cooking classes.”
For the past three years, Azzinaro has also worked with HUNGRY, a company that specializes in connecting unique chefs with catering and personal chef needs in cities across the U.S. “This awesome company allows me the opportunity to do both corporate catering and virtual cooking sessions,” she explains. She’s done everything from catering business lunches to facilitating pop-up experiences in and around Philadelphia.
She’s proud of having built up a food-based business all on her own, and has been learning how to adapt her services for a more digital audience — something that’s become particularly important during the pandemic. “The pandemic closed so many of us off from family, friends, and coworkers,” Azzinaro tells CircleAround. “The virtual sessions are able to bring us together in a commonplace. We laugh, share experiences, and enjoy a meal together. It's infectious, and I love it.”
Azzinaro has figured out a few creative ways to veganize typically non-vegan meals. She shared her recipe for vegan lemon “chicken” with CircleAround, providing a way to re-create the silky, decadent flavors the traditional dish uses. This recipe is all about the richness of the sauce, so feel free to pair it with rice, pasta, or starch of your choice.
Vegan Lemon Chicken (King Oyster Mushrooms)
3 large King oyster mushrooms
2 tbsp. of vegan chicken bouillon
2 tbsp. of lemon pepper seasoning
2 tbsp. of garlic powder
1 cup of rice flour
3 cups of water
2 cup of vegetable oil for frying
1 tbsp. of plant-based butter
1 freshly squeezed lemon
2 tbsp. of agave nectar
- Boil mushrooms in 2 cups of water on medium low heat for 15 minutes.
- Place mushrooms immediately in an ice bath with 1 cup of water and ice for 20 minutes.
- Remove mushrooms after 20 minutes and pat dry. Using a paring knife, cut a straight line down the side of the mushroom and angle the blade against the mushroom and continue to glide the knife along the side of the mushroom until it is completely flat. You should be able to roll it up in one piece after it's cut.
- Heat your oil, season and flour your mushrooms, and fry for 6 minutes. They should be crispy.
- Place on a paper towel to allow it to rest.
- Heat all the ingredients for the sauce until it comes to a simmer, pour over crispy mushrooms, and enjoy.
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Angel Anderson is one of the women I most admire and respect. I love her work ethic and her commitment to community and Black women entrepreneurs. Angel owns the Spice Suite in Washington, D.C., and her model for empowering Black women to be a branch for each other in business is what I ultimately aspire to do.