Thursday, February 20, 2014

Meaty Mushroom Stir-Fry with Homemade Seitan

I finally made seitan that didn't remind me of spongy brains! I read the comments on this post at the PPK and realized that the sponginess was the result of too much water. So I decided to err on the side of not enough water. And behold! It totally worked. My other changes were the yield (I halved the recipe) and the amount of salt (many people commented that the original recipe was too salty for their tastes). It's still a bit like magic how instantly the gluten transforms from a flour to... something quite different. As Isa suggests, I pan-fried the strips of seitan with garlic before doing anything else with them.

I used the seitan in a stir-fry with garlic, onions, and shiitake mushrooms (and tamari, and mirin, etc). The umami was overwhelming.

Seitan and Mushrooms Stir-Fry

Homemade Seitan
(adapted from the post punk kitchen)

1/2 c vital wheat gluten flour
1.5 TB nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 c cold vegetable broth
1 TB soy sauce
1 TB fresh lemon juice
1/2 TB olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed or grated on a microplane grater
For the simmering broth: 
2 c vegetable broth
2 c water
1 TB cup soy sauce

1. Fill a stock pot with the water, broth and soy sauce, cover and bring to a boil.
2. In the mean time, in a large bowl mix together gluten and yeast.  In a smaller bowl mix together broth, soy sauce, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Pour the wet into the dry and combine with a wooden spoon until most of the moisture has absorbed and partially clumped up with the dry ingredients. Use your hands and knead for about 3 minutes, until it’s an elastic dough. Divide into 2 equal pieces with a knife and then knead those pieces in your hand just to stretch them out a bit. Let rest until the broth has come to a full boil.
3. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer. Add the gluten pieces and partially cover pot so that steam can escape. Let simmer for 45 minutes, turning occasionally. Turn the heat off and take the lid off, let sit for 15 minutes.
4. Remove from broth and place in a strainer until it is cool enough to handle. Slice and use as desired--pan-fry with some garlic before adding to recipes. Makes about 1/2 lb seitan.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Corn Dogs

Ok, so they look a bit ludicrous, but these corndogs tasted magically and appallingly like the real ('real'?) deal I remember eating for school lunch in elementary school. Finding a vessel in which to fry them was a little tricky, and I think they didn't need so much (or any?) baking powder--they really fluffed up once they started to cook!

I present to you: the vegan corn dog, delicious and terrible.

Corn Dog
(from field roast)

1 pack Field Roast Frankfurters
1 1/4 c white flour
3/4 c fine corn meal
1 TB vegan egg replacer or ground flax
4 TB sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 c soy milk (additional soy milk to thin batter if needed)
oil for frying (safflower, vegetable, corn, etc.)
6 Corn dog sticks or chop sticks
flour for dusting

Heat fryer oil to 350F. Mix dry ingredients and add 1 cup of soy milk and mix until smooth. Add additional soy milk if needed until batter has a consistency of pancake batter. Insert sticks into Field Roast Frankfurter and roll the franks in flour (this helps the batter to stick). Brush off excess flour. Dip in batter, shake off excess batter, and gently lower into hot oil. Fry for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot with a side of yellow mustard. Makes 6.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Old Bay Seasoning

Every once in a while, "Old Bay Seasoning" comes up as an ingredient in a recipe. I'd never heard of such a thing until very recently, so I learned about it here, here, and here. What an odd and unique seasoning, with an interesting history. Does anyone have (non-seafood) uses for this? This Washington Post article gave me some ideas--like bloody marys and tempeh 'crab' cakes--but I'd be curious if other readers are familiar with this product.

Speaking of crabcake-like things, I really want some of these Tempeh, Avocado, Tomato, and Dill Croquettes right now.

And speaking of dill, I was looking at dill at Jon's last night when an older woman just walked up to me and started asking me questions in Russian. Not "Do you speak Russian?" which might be my first move. Nope, she jumped in in medias res, only adding, a bit later, "I don't speak English." Alas, I had no idea what she wanted to know. Nevertheless, we were able to communicate quite clearly without words that the dill at Jon's last night was substandard.

I don't know why I love it so much when I get interpellated as Eastern European. Perhaps it's the idea that I might be more interesting than I think I am, or some kind of impossibly tenuous connection to my distant heritage.

Old Bay Seasoning

1 TB ground dried bay leaves
2 tsp celery salt (I used a combo of celery seed and salt)
1.5 tsp dry mustard
1.5 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp celery seeds
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp ground allspice

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Golden Tofu Patties with Sweet Chili Sauce

These tofu patties from the Veganopolis cookbook were mostly tofu, coarsely blended with garbanzo flour and flax meal to make it all stick together. The recipe then adds flavorings: lemon juice, turmeric, garlic powder, onion powder, etc. I think you could pretty much add whatever you wanted so long as it didn't make it too wet or taste too raw (for example, that's why you'd use garlic powder instead of raw garlic). Fried in little patties, these were easy, nutritious, and delicious!

Golden Tofu Patties from the Veganopolis Cookbook, with Sweet Chili Sauce (recipe below)

The sweet chili sauce I made was adapted from a recipe in The Asian Vegan Kitchen. That recipe used more sugar and more chilies, and plum sauce. This sauce, I think, is a bit thinner and milder, but the apples and the spices in the applesauce gave it amazing complexity. Grated ginger would be nice here too. I think this sauce would go great with many other mild fried Asian foods as well.

Sweet Chili Sauce
(adapted from the asian vegan kitchen)

3 fresh chilies, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c applesauce (mine was spiced with cinnamon and cloves, but still ok)
3 TB sugar
1/4 c water
2 TB rice vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
sesame seeds

Blend everything together (except sesame seeds). Simmer on stove for two minutes, then let cool. Add sesame seeds. Makes about 1 c.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dijon-Braised Brussels Sprouts with Coconut Cream

I had been wanting to make this dish for weeks, and when I finally did, everything in my fridge just came together in a really nicely-balanced meal.

We had:
these dijon-braised brussels sprouts with coconut cream

A really nice mixture of sour, spicy, and creamy--and hot and cold--and tied together with coconut milk. This would also be a great menu for a dinner party, because the soup and the salad could be made ahead of time.

As Deb says on her write-up of the original recipe, this combination is a lighter take on Brussels sprouts than many of the ways we cook them. The wine and the mustard give some sharper, brighter aspects, tempered by the coconut milk (which I used in place of heavy cream). It also reminds me a bit of Yassa, a sour spicy way of cooking chicken and fish in Senegal, which, coincidentally, inspired a chickpea dish that Janet posted just this week!

The only heartbreak: I overcooked the brussels sprouts. Zippy said she liked them this way, but I wanted them to be a little bit firmer, crisper, brighter.

Dijon-Braised Brussels Sprouts
(adapted from smitten kitchen)

1 pound brussels sprouts
2 TB olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup vegetable broth 
2 to 3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons coconut milk, plus more to drizzle at end
1 tablespoon dijon mustard (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)

1. Trim sprouts and halve lengthwise. In a large, heavy 12-inch skillet heat butter and oil over moderate heat. Arrange halved sprouts in skillet, cut sides down, in one layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook sprouts, without turning until undersides are golden brown, about 5 minutes. [Updated to note: If your sprouts don't fit in one layer, don't fret! Brown them in batches, then add them all back to the pan, spreading them as flat as possible, before continuing with the shallots, wine, etc.]
2. Add the shallots, wine and stock and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low (for a gentle simmer), cover the pot with a lid (foil works too, if your skillet lacks a lid) and cook the sprouts until they are tender can be pierced easily with the tip of a paring knife, about 15 to 20 minutes. Important: err on the side of caution. Mine were probably done after ten minutes.
3. Remove the lid, and scoop out brussels (leaving the sauce behind). Add coconut milk and simmer for two to three minutes, until slightly thickened. Whisk in mustard. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary with more salt, pepper or Dijon. Pour sauce over brussels, sprinkle with parsley, if using, and serve immediately. I drizzled a bit more coconut milk at the end as well. Serves about 4-5 as a side.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Palak Tofu

Ok, so I didn't use enough liquid and my palak tofu gravy ended up looking like something that grows on the surface of a pond. But this recipe from vegan richa was so delicious! It tasted very fresh, but the cashew cream gave it a lot of richness as well. Because you blend all the sauce ingredients before adding them to the pan, this recipe also comes together very quickly. Highly recommended.

Palak Tofu
(from vegan richa)

Clara's Kitchen

I recently got turned onto "Great Depression Cooking," a youtube series starring a sassy nonagenarian (who just passed away). I love how slowly she cooks, and how she never measures anything. Most of her recipes are nearly vegan (you know, the Great Depression...).

In this episode on tomato sauce, she makes her own tomato paste from scratch to flavor the sauce.

"You know how tomato paste looks--like paste. And it's red."

"You don't need a timer if you're using your brain."

Great Depression Cooking: Tomato Sauce