Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hello Seitan!!

Seitan, where have you been all my life? Did you think about me even though I was unaware of your existence? I swear tofu and tempeh will be my second best next to you.

I am a new convert to seitanism.

Seitan being "wheat meat" or wheat gluten that's made to resemble a "meaty" product. I have eaten it before in the form of Tofurky sausages but I didn't expect that I could make a similar product at home at half the price.

There's a recipe online that has been spreading like wildfire through vegan blogs and websites. Finally, I caught on!! And I'm so glad that I did.

This is the precooked product:

Wrap that sucker in foil and twist the ends:

After baking and sliced:

Seitan cubed and served in pasta with Ajvar (courtesy of "Vegan Fire and Spice" by Robin Robertson):

Thanks Robin, for the book if you're reading. I love the recipes. I have made the Smooth and Sassy Guacamole and the Ajvar so far. I've been kind of busy lately so I've only made the easy spreads/dips so far but every recipe looks amazing!!

Seitan O'Greatness:

Dry ingredients:
1-1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp pepper (I use 2 tsp)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (you can use 1/8 tsp if you like it less spicy)
1/8 tsp allspice (optional)
2 tsp garlic powder

Wet ingredients:
3/4 cups water
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 325°.

In a large mixing bowl mix dry ingredients. Mix the rest of the ingredients (liquid ingredients) in a smaller mixing bowl. Whisk well until mixed.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well, then knead for a minute or two.. it doesn't need long.

Form into a log (6-8" long), wrap tightly in foil, twisting ends. Bake for 90 minutes. When done baking, unwrap and leave out to cool all the way. Then wrap it foil or plastic and refrigerate. Slice to use as desired.

This seitan recipe is great because it's so flippin' easy. Most call for mixing, forming, refrigerating, then boiling in broth. But for this one I only had to mix, form, and bake. Simple! I think next time I'll make two or three logs and freeze them for later use.

Some other foods I've made since last post:

Potato skins:

Cilantro Lentil soup with homemade breadsticks:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Interspecies Love

Now tell me again, why can't we all get along?

This pic was sent to me via email from an online friend across the great Pacific. It got me thinking.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mock Foods

I haven't posted in a couple weeks! Blah! Well we all needed a good rest, huh? Of course, but that didn't stop me from making new foods. I was hellbent on making "mock" products apparently during my time-off. I didn't notice this until right now but I have been cooking up quite a few foods that are vegan, but act like, taste and look like they aren't.

Mock "Chicken" Salad

I made this with Tempeh, the wonder soy product that I really don't buy often enough. I explained to my mother that tempeh is fermented soybean cake she said something like, "EW! That sounds horrible!" But when I thought about it, it's really not that bad. After all, many things that she eats are fermented...perhaps even longer than Tempeh. Cheese is "aged" for months as well as some of her meat products so I don't see why tempeh is all that bad, as it's only fermented for about 48 hours.

Individual "Beef", Onion, and Bell Pepper Empanadas:

I bought some raw wheat pizza dough and formed it into small little discs, then topped them with a mixture of Morningstar "beef" crumbles, taco seasoning, onions, peppers, and an "uncheese" that I made (see below). I folded the dough over and placed the individual pockets on a baking sheet in a 400 deg F oven for about 10 minutes and VOILA!

Gee Whiz "cheese spread" from the "Uncheese Cookbook" by Joanne Stepaniak

This "cheese" was a mix of white beans (I used Great Northern Beans), roasted red bell pepper, nutritional yeast, onion and garlic powder, salt, and some other things. It tasted a lot like nacho cheese or something similar which was interesting. Obviously though, it is much more healthy than processed cheese. Thank Goodness for Gee Whiz!

"Chicken Fried Steak" and Carrot-Tahini Slaw

Robin Robertson, author of "The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook" as well as countless others, has proved herself once again with a recipe mimicking "Chicken Fried Steak." But this fried patty recipe doesn't use chicken gravy or steak; it's all about TOFU! I have to admit that in my meat-eating days I never had a Chicken Fried Steak, but this vegan alternative was darn good, and I just ate it plain...not with gravy or anything!
I accompanied the patties with Carrot-Tahini Slaw that I made from a book called "You Won't Believe It's Vegan." It's a mix of grated carrots, celery, red onion, tahini, lemon juice, salt, SPIKE seasoning, pepper, and dill. It was awesome.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Portabello-Onion Fajitas

My mother used to make fajitas all the time. She would saute onions, peppers, and chicken in a little bit of oil. Then she would add beer to give it a magical flavor all its own. When I was young I always loved fajitas because (A) they were good and (B) because I thought that I would get an alcohol buzz from the beer, although this was never the case.

No more chicken for me though.

I came across a recipe from, once again, from "The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook" by Robin Robertson that was all about Portabello Mushroom slices, Red Onion slices, and a new American craze...chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I have seen the chipotle peppers in adobo featured in quite a few recipes but I never saw them in the store; or maybe I never really looked hard enough. Anyway I found some and bought a can for this recipe.

Now let me tell you... these fajitas kicked my ass two ways from Sunday. I love spicy foods but DAMN this was hot stuff. I never gave in though. The pain was just part of the experience of this awesome dish.

Mushrooms and Onions waitin' to be sauteed:

And the Grand Debut:

Comment for recipe.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cafe Dining at Home

Since I live in the suburban environs of Silicon Valley I often long for the city. Thoughts of the city bring about dreams of easy-going cafe visits and alcoholic drinks in the early afternoon. There's something very European about it. I wish to visit Paris again with it's low-key outdoor dining experience. That brief 3 days that I was in France was memorable because it was a time of leisure; coffee, tea, or warm soda; and light meals.

Today I tried to replicate that feeling of cafe-dining but inside my apartment because the cafes around here are small and filled with immature high-schoolers who have nothing better to do than judge every aspect of a person who comes in their midst.

I made a cafe-inspired meal of Quiche and Spiced, Roasted Potatoes.

Quiche and Tell (recipe from "The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook" by Robin Robertson):

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil, chilled in the refrigerator
2 Tbs. cold water

1 Tbs. grapeseed OR olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, minced (about 1/2 small onion)
One 10 oz. pkg. frozen spinach, cooked according to pkg. directions, drained
1 lb. firm tofu, drained and crumbled
1 cup plain soymilk
1 Tbs. dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup vegan mozzarella cheese, grated

For the crust: In a food processor, combine the flour and salt, pulsing to blend. Add the oil and process until the mix is crumbly. Slowly add the water with the machine running, and process until the mix forms a ball. Turn the dough out and flatten into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make the filling: Preheat the oven to 375 deg F. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, cover and cook until softened, stirring a few times, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the drained spinach, stirring to combine. Set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Fit it into a 9-inch quiche pan or pie plate. Set aside.
In the food processor, blend the tofu, soymilk, mustard, salt, cayenne, and nutmeg until well-mixed. Spoon the onion-spinach mixture onto the crust and sprinkle the vegan cheese over it. Pour the tofu mixture over the spinach-cheese mix, making sure it's evenly distributed.
Bake until the filling is firm and lightly browned on top, 50 minutes to one hour. Let the quiche cool before slicing and serving.

Oven Roasted Potatoes:

1 large russet potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
garlic powder
onion powder
fresh-ground pepper
cayenne pepper
dried rosemary
grapeseed or olive oil

Place cut potatoes into a bowl and drizzle oil over top. Add spices and stir until potatoes are evenly coated with oil and spices. Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Place potatoes on aluminum foil and fold the foil over the potatoes to make a closed pocket. Place foiled potatoes on baking sheet and place in the oven for about 40-50 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and serve.

Last weekend, my friends and I went camping. I ate simple foods like: peanut butter-banana sandwiches, chips and crackers, apples, Shelle's green bean salad, corn, beer and vodka. hehe.

Just thought I'd add a couple pics from the trip:

Me and Mini:

There was a perfectly lovely picture here but Shelle demanded I take it down. 0_o

Jay and Mini:


Mexican Enchilada Bake

Mexican food always brings great memories to me. Being American, international cuisines have always appealed to me because we have no defining, quintessential food that describes us. Sure there are hamburgers, hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese; but what fool would dare eat those when there are so many wonderful dishes that were inspired by Latin, Asian, African, Indian, and Middle Eastern cooking.

America is in fact a "melting pot" of culture, cuisine, and language. Unfortunately, it mostly gets lost in the greed of people pursuing high-paying jobs and fancy houses. But one thing holds true to me...that's the flavors of other countries that I try to assemble in my humble "galley-style" kitchen.

I have tried and failed, in the past, to make an Enchilada Casserole. But now I have discovered a great recipe which I know will conquer any Cinco De Mayo north of Tijuana.

I found this recipe on and it's absolutely amazing.

Enchilada Bake:

12 oz. vegetarian burger crumbles (try Morningstar or Boca brand)
1 packet taco seasoning (make sure it contains no milk products)
2 15.5-oz. cans enchilada sauce
18 corn tortillas
2 15.5-oz. cans pinto beans, drained
2 green onions, chopped
2 cups vegan cheddar cheese, shredded
1 4.5-oz. can diced green chilies
2 cups Fritos corn chips, finely crushed

• Preheat the oven to 375°F.
• In a small bowl, combine the burger crumbles and taco seasoning and set aside.
• Spray a 9-inch by 13-inch pan with oil.
• In layers, spread a generous amount of enchilada sauce, 6 corn tortillas, 2 cans of pinto beans, a handful of green onion, a third of the shredded “cheese,” half the can of green chilies, lots more enchilada sauce, 6 more tortillas, all the seasoned burger crumbles, another third of the “cheese,” the remaining green chilies, more enchilada sauce, then the final 6 tortillas, more enchilada sauce, and the rest of the “cheese.” Cover in foil and bake for 30 minutes.
• Remove the foil, top the entire casserole with the Fritos, and bake for another 15 to 30 minutes or until bubbly and browned.

This recipe serves 6 large portions or 12 small entrees if served with side dishes such as rice or chips and guacamole. Since I live alone I ate this for lunch and dinner for 3 days straight, and I never got sick of it!! It's that good.