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Archive for January, 2010

So yes, I’ve been playing with my food again.  I don’t expect to stop anytime soon.  The dish above [potatoes and zucchini stuffed with the star of today’s post and a  lemony cashew cheese] could be constructed in a far simpler way and be just as tasty but I wanted to express the inner child for a while.  I had a great time playing with my building blocks, heh.   I wonder how difficult it would be to create the Playskool jumbo jet…
Sundried Tomato and Basil Seitan

This seitan is very moist and wonderful as a ground meat substitute.   I personally do not like the commercial varieties available for they taste far too processed and artificial to me.  I wanted to create a seitan that not only tasted wonderful but that could be used as a meat substitute in many different Italian dishes when I wanted to use something other than lentils.    I have since  used it as a ravioli filling [pictured below] and in a pasta sauce as well as in some appetizers [pictured above].  It  freezes well so it can be stored  in allotments to be used in future recipes that call for a meaty textured filling. 

Ground Italian-style Seitan

Ravioli with Fresh Tomato and Basil Pesto

Crumbly Sundried Tomato and Basil Seitan

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup vital wheat gluten

Wet Ingredients:

1 cup lentil bolognese sauce

1 large shallot

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

2 T sundried tomatoes, chopped [I used strips packed in oil]

zest of a lemon

Directions:

Sauté the shallot and garlic in a drizzle of olive oil until softened.    Add the lentil bolognese, basil, shallots and garlic, sundried tomatoes, olive oil and lemon zest to a food processor and pulse about a dozen times until well combined but not completely without texture.  Add the mixture to the vital wheat gluten in a bowl and mix with your hands until well combined.  Place the dough on a sheet of aluminum foil and roll into a log,  twisting the ends to seal it.  Steam in a steamer basket for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool.  Pulse in a food processor to yield a ground texture.

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The exciting life of being a resident doesn’t afford me much time to cook.  Usually, I bake, because I seem to have better luck baking than cooking.  D’s the chef; I’m the baker.  However, I like to do my part when I can, and I’d rather not leave cooking for just special occasions.  My goal is to cook at least one dinner for us a week, but depending on my schedule, that doesn’t always happen.

I had the day off today, so earlier in the week I planned to cook dinner tonight.  I’m a recipe follower, and recently D dug out from still packed moving boxes my copy of Veganomicon:  The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook.  I bought this book a couple of years ago when I was on my second attempt at going vegan (third time’s a charm, eh?).  Infamously, I once tried to make seitan from a recipe in this book, and I failed miserably, though I’m sure the failure was due to the user, not the recipe.  Because I’d failed I was afraid to try to make anything else from this cookbook…until now.  With a tighter resolve to be vegan and a newfound like (though, slowly I will admit, although D’s gyros are the bomb, but I digress…) of all things made with vital wheat gluten, I decided I’d make Veganomicon’s Chickpea Cutlets.

Chickpea Cutlets

I used vegetable broth as opposed to water and lightly fried them in olive oil in a skillet rather than baking (the baking option was listed in the actual cookbook and not in the posted link).  I am including a view from above the plate so that the perspective can be seen of their size, but I’m also posting an up close shot, as it shows more detail texturally.

Chickpea Cutlets, Up Close

I believe we’re the last vegans on the planet to try these.  I think the flavor of them is very tasty, but I think next time I’ll make them even thinner just so they’re a bit crispier on the inside.  With the cutlets, and also from Veganomicon, I made a vegan Caesar salad with homemade ciabatta garlic croutons.  OMG, yum.  D would have been blissfully happy had I only made this, but she said she really liked everything.  She said she just hadn’t realized how much she’d missed Caesar salad until tonight.  She also kept snaking croutons when my back was turned, and I had to chase her out of the kitchen.  Heh.  The only thing I did differently from the recipe was add approximately a teaspoon of vegan Worcestershire sauce.

Vegan Caesar Salad with Roasted Garlic Croutons

Finally, I just steamed up some broccoli in our bamboo steamer.  I added nothing to it, because broccoli is so, so, so good unaltered (though we do sometimes sprinkle a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice over it from time to time).

Steamed Broccoli

I emerged from the kitchen unscathed, aside from a burn on my finger from tossing the croutons halfway through baking.  I was going to make dessert (that’ll be a separate post) to accompany dinner, but I’m stuffed, and I’m enjoying our new sofa too much to move.  🙂

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Like I said, seitan has been preoccupying my mind.  I wanted a breakfast sausage flavored seitan that would go great on a biscuit for a quick breakfast or scrambled up with some tofu and onion equally well.  I have my heart set upon savoring  pancakes with this spicy sage and apple seitan; maple syrup to be used liberally. 

Vegan Apple and Sage Breakfast-style Seitan with Blackberry Preserves.

 

 Dry Ingredients:

 2 T dried sage

2 T Bill’s Chik’Nish vegetarian seasoning

2 T onion powder

2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

2 tsp mild paprika

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp allspice

2 ¼ cup vital wheat gluten

½ cup nutritional yeast

½ cup rolled oats, pulsed a few times in a food processor to create smaller irregular-sized pieces

 Wet Ingredients:

 1 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup apple cider

¼ cup maple syrup

2 T soy sauce

2 T walnut oil

½ tsp liquid smoke

8 cloves garlic, minced

 Directions:

 Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

 Mix dry ingredients together with a whisk until evenly distributed.  In a separate bowl mix together the wet ingredients.  Pour the wet into the dry and combine just until there are no longer any dry patches in the dough.  Divide the dough into two and roll into separate logs using aluminum foil.  Twist the ends to secure the logs.  Bake for 90 minutes.  Allow to cool, slice and heat in a skillet to crisp up the sides.

This seitan can be very moist and chewy.  The thicker you make your roll, the chewier the texture shall be.  Also,  slicing it thinner and browning it in a skillet before serving will diminish this texture if you would prefer a dryer seitan.  I like to slice mine on the thinner side [1/3 inch or so] and brown the edges while still leaving a slight soft center.  You’ll get the knack for it once you make it and experiment on slice widths and browning times for yourself.

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Seitan. This food fascinates me with its versatility. I want to conquer it and meld its glutenous soul into fantastical creations to satisfy any cravings that H or I may be jonesing over. [I think this is the mad scientist in me expressing herself.]  I want the ability to craft it into textures and infuse it with the flavors of the world,  but most especially into some of my favorite past foods that are no longer in my playing field.  I’ve spent the past days making myriad varieties of seitan.   I have blown through so much vital wheat gluten that I nearly bought out the store.   Yet, after much experimentation and tweaking of both flavor and texture, this recipe now rocks my universe and I hope it shall yours as well. 

Greek Seitan Gyros. 

 

Ingredients:

Dry:

2 T sweet paprika

2 tsp sumac

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp fresh rosemary

½ tsp chili powder

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp lemon pepper

2¼ cup vital wheat gluten

½ cup nutritional yeast

¼ cup garfava flour [garbanzo and fava bean flours]

2 T Bill’s Chik’Nish vegetarian seasoning

Wet:

2¼ cup cold water

2 T soy sauce

2 T olive oil

8 cloves garlic, minced

½ yellow onion, finely diced

1 tsp fresh lemon zest

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Sauté onion and garlic in a drizzle of olive oil until softened. While that is cooking, mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and dry whisk to combine well. In a separate bowl, add the wet ingredients and the onions and garlic. Pour the wet into the dry and mix gently with your hands until all the dry ingredients are incorporated and you no longer see any dry patches of flour. Divide the dough into three.  Form three equal-sized logs out of the dough and place them, separately, upon a sheet of aluminum foil. Roll each into a cylinder and twist the ends to seal the tubes you’ve created.

Place in the oven for 60-90 minutes depending upon the consistency you prefer.  [I found that 90 minutes yielded a seitan that was soft and moist and, for H and I, texturally mimicked gyros.]  Allow to cool. Slice and sauté briefly in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil to heat through and crisp up the edges.

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H and I went out to lunch recently at a local vegan restaurant and while the flavors of the food were excellent, the sandwiches we ordered were too greasy for our tastes.  I thought about what I’d like in a sandwich using tempeh and decided that I could create something at least as tasty and far lighter.   I also added a nice vegan creamed horseradish sauce for an extra punch of flavor and ran a ribbon of stone-ground mustard through it for even more heat.

 

Pastrami-Spiced Tempeh

Serves 2

Ingredients:

8 oz package tempeh, cut into strips or sliced into sandwich-sized slices

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp smoked salt [I used an applewood-smoked salt]

1 T  sweet paprika

1 tsp corriander seeds

1 tsp brown sugar

1-1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds

1-1/2 tsp black peppercorns

1 tsp white peppercorns

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp dill seed

3 allspice berries

2 juniper berries

Directions:

Grind the whole spices in a spice grinder and then add the rest of the spices and sugar to the grinder and pulse to mix well.  Transfer to a gallon-sized zip bag with 1/4 cup olive oil.

Steam the tempeh for 15 minutes to remove its bitterness.  Set aside to cool.   Once cooled, add to the spiced oil in the gallon bag and even coat each piece, gently.  Refrigerate as long as possible up to a few days.  The longer the rub sits upon the tempeh, the deeper the flavors will penetrate.

Brush off any excess clumps of spices from the tempeh.  Place the tempeh upon a heated grill pan and sear. 

Creamed Horseradish Sauce

Ingredients:

1 package firm tofu

juice of 2 lemons

1/3 cup olive oil

salt, to taste

freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

1 T vegan worcestershire sauce

prepared horseradish, to taste

a splash of red wine vinegar [Just a bit to add a nice zing.]

Directions:

Add all ingredients except the horseradish, salt and pepper to the food processor and mix until silken.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  If you want a large batch of creamed horseradish sauce then add the prepared horseradish to the processor.  When I make this I like to keep the bulk of the sauce plain so that I can use it as a sour cream substitute for other things.  I take out the amount of sauce I’d like and add horseradish to that portion.

 

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Not Quite So Rubenesque Reuben.

Add a bit of chili sauce and diced onion to the sour cream sauce above and turn it into a low-fat Russian dressing-esque variant.  Pile on the sauerkraut and dive in…you know you want to.  This one is mine.

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Iced Oatmeal Cookies

Iced Oatmeal Cookies with Currants and Cranberries

I haven’t had much time lately to post anything I’ve made. D, however, has been a vegan chef supahstah! 🙂 Her food is quite excellent and very, very yumyum.

Anyway, there are a whole bunch of us at work that have January birthdays, and last week there was a mini-celebration for us. I figured, though, that being vegan in this setting would be challenging, so I wanted to bring in something so that I could enjoy the celebration and introduce people to vegan goodies. I found a recipe for cinnamon rolls, but they had almost 500 calories each! As much as I love me some cinnamon rolls, I’m not, at this point, willing to lose focus on losing weight.

After searching a little more, I came across a recipe for iced oatmeal cookies in the February edition of Vegetarian Times. These cookies were fantastic and had only 99 calories per cookie. I used currants and cranberries instead of raisins.  Mmmm. And, I heard compliments on them from the people at work as well as from D. 😀  The recipe, I’m assuming, will be available on their website when they update it for February.  If not, scurry on out to your nearest bookstore and pick up a copy!

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I’ve been slacking on collard green recipes lately and have had this recipe kicking around in my head for a while now.  Today it expressed itself and they turned out really well.  They’re sweet and spicy hot and would go great with some savory black beans.

Filling:

1 bunch collard greens, washed, destemmed and cut into a 1/4-inch chiffonade

1/2 onion, diced

2 clove garlic, minced

2 T currants

1/3 cup orange marmalade

minced chili pepper [To your tastes, I used a single Thai chili, for something   milder use the whole or part of a ribbed and seeded jalapeño.  A pinch of red pepper flakes would also work.]

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

zest of half an orange

canola oil

Directions:

Sauté the onions, garlic and chili pepper in a drizzle of canola oil until the onions begin to soften.  Add in the collard greens and currants and mix well.  Allow to cook for 10-15 minutes.  [If the collard greens weren’t still wet from having been rinsed, add in a splash of water to help steam them.]  Once wilted, but still bright green, add in the marmalade, orange zest and grate in the nutmeg.  Stir to combine and set aside off the heat.  Once cooled, place on a cutting board and chop the filling so that no long strands of collards remain.

Masa Harina Dough:

1-3/4 cup vegetable stock

1/2 cup canola oil

3 cup masa harina

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tsp sea salt

dash of cinnamon

Directions:

Add the dry ingredients to a mixer and then add the wet.  Mix slowly until the dry ingredients are damp and then turn up the mixer to a medium speed.  Mix for 5 minutes.

Assembly:

Spread a golfball-sized amount of dough over the middle area of a softened corn husk.  [ You can certainly make larger tamales that cover most of the husk area, I just prefer sweet tamales to be petite.]  Place a tablespoon of the filling down the center in a line.  Roll the cornhusk over while rolling the dough over the filling.  Once rolled, use a strip from another corn husk to tie around the center and secure the tamale into shape.  Steam vertically for 30 minutes.

Serve fresh from the steamer.

[ETA:  Fixed a massive spelling error]

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