Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Thing To Do With Seitan

Sometimes, you just want seitan.

It's a cold night here in the east, so I wanted to make seitan.

I don't know about you, but sometimes a good seitan recipe is tough to come by.

Thankfully, Pinterest offered plenty of options. I found this one, but it wasn't exactly as I'd like it, so I added a few ingredients, subtracted others and -- finally -- had a great baked seitan recipe.

My Seitan Recipe

the dry stuff:
2 c. wheat gluten
2 Tbl. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. dried sage
1/2 tsp. smoked picante paprika (I got it at Williams-Sonoma)
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. black pepper
the wet stuff:
1 1/2 c. cold water
1/2 c. tamari or soy sauce
2 Tbl. tomato paste
1 Tbl. olive oil

Mix the dry stuff in a large bowl. Mix together the wet stuff and pour it into the dry stuff, stirring as you go. Using your hands, knead it in the bowl for about 3 minutes. I like mine wet, and these ingredients make it about the right consistency for me. If you want it drier, add some extra gluten. Wetter, add water. Let it sit while the oven heats. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Once the oven is heated, spread foil on a baking sheet. Line the foil with parchment. Shape your seitan into a loaf (I made mine short and wide), then roll it up, pinching the ends of the foil.

Bake for 60 minutes. As noted in the original recipe, turn it every 15 minutes to make sure it bakes uniformly.

So, I made the steak. Now what?

This is what -- I fried it in a sauté pan (with a white wine sauce, of course), and served it with wheat berries and fresh beets.

Seitan White Wine Sauce

This will make the sauce that you'll cook the seitan in.

1/2 cup white wine (dry stuff, nothing fruity)
1 Tbl. olive oil
Vegetable broth (about 1/2 a cup -- don't add it at once)

Spices to taste (I had no fresh on hand. so these are all dried):
  • Smoked paprika (I used about 1/2 tsp)
  • Thyme  (maybe 1/4 tsp more or less)
  • Rosemary  (as much as you like)
  • Parsley    (1/4 tsp more or less)
  • Black pepper  (to taste)
Corn starch to thicken (mix about a tsp. in water and use sparingly)

In a saute pan, add olive oil. Heat on medium for about 30 seconds, then slowly add the wine. Place your seitan slices in the pan, then add the spices on top (I flip them so they get mixed into the liquid -- you could add them directly, then put in the seitan).

Cook until seitan is hot through, adding a little vegetable broth as needed. Remove seitan. Add more liquid if you like, then add a little bit of your mixed corn starch. I used maybe 1/2 tsp. as I didn't have a ton of liquid.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Chowder Head

Quick. It's dinner time. What are you going to make that takes no time at all and tastes like you've slaved all day?

Soup. Or chowder, which was my option tonight.

I made this one up on the spot. Don't skip the blending process -- it gives it a great texture.

Potato Corn Chowder 

1 Tbl or so of oil (I use a combo of olive and vegetable oil)
1 celery stalk, sliced thin
4 medium golden potatoes, unpeeled, cubed (I went with about 2-inch chunks)
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped small
1 1/2 c. frozen corn
4 c. vegetable broth (I make my own, and I blend all veggies without straining, so it's thicker than typical broths)
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Add oil to a large saucepan. Add celery and bell pepper and saute until the celery starts to soften (about 4-5 minutes). Add corn and potatoes and a skosh of veggie broth (I put in maybe 1/4 cup). Cover and let the steam from the broth soften everything a bit. Take off heat when potatoes are firm, but softening.

In a blender or food processor, add about 2/3 of the vegetable mixture and 1 cup of broth. How much you use depends on how many vegetables you want in your chowder.

Blend on puree setting (or low on your food processor) until it's all pureed. While the blender is on, pour in another cup of broth, let it mix a tad, then turn it all off and pour it back into the pan with the other veggies (the ones you haven't chopped up).

Return the pan to the stove, add your spices and seasonings, stir, and heat until the potatoes are soft (if they aren't already).

Add more salt if you like.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ice Cream Without Eggs

I've been meaning to get back to this blog for a while, and a recent purchase is the catalyst.

Despite the lousy reviews, I bought an ice cream maker to go with my Kitchen Aid mixer. Yes, there are several complaints of leaking, but I decided to give it a try.

I'm doing it right -- I'm following their instructions to the letter. They say to wait until the frozen bowl thaws before washing. I'm waiting until it's room temperature to the touch. No metal objects in or around it. I'm not immersing it in water, and I'm hand-drying it, then letting it air dry an hour or so before putting it back in the freezer.

We'll see how long it lasts.

In the meantime, I'm loving every minute of using it. It's an absolute breeze for making ice cream. And it gives me the perfect opportunity to experiment with flavors and textures.

I've made ice cream with it twice now. The first recipe was good -- not the 4 1/2 stars worth of good the reviewers gave it, but edible. Light, though the corn starch was obvious in the recipe. That got me to thinking -- what if I use that xanthum gum I bought? Would that be better?

Oh my, it was. I found a recipe online, then tweaked it to make it my own. The result -- creamy, softer ice cream that uses no eggs (and if you want it to be vegan, no whipping cream). I can't get enough of it.

Vegan-ish Ice Cream

1 15-oz. can of light coconut milk (2 of these if you want to make it vegan)
1 cup whipping cream (skip it entirely if you're going vegan)
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt

¾ tsp. xanthum gum (I used Bob's Red Mill)

First, reserve some of the coconut milk or whipping cream so you can mix your xanthum gum in it (avoids lumps).

Next, mix the rest of your ingredients, minus the reserved liquid and xanthum gum, in a large saucepan. 

Now, mix the xanthum gum into the reserved liquid, then when it's no longer lumpy, mix it into the saucepan.

Cook just below a boil, stirring constantly until slightly thickened (should coat the spoon but not be too thick).

Remove from heat. Pour into a large bowl, let it cool for a few minutes, then pop it into the refrigerator for about 3-4 hours (make sure it's cold in the center before removing it from the fridge).

Put it in your prepared ice cream maker. Mix according to their directions.

If you're using a Kitchen Aid ice cream maker, you can expect it to look like ice cream within 15-25 minutes. Mine took about 15 minutes.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tofu as Burger

I saw a recipe recently -- chicken, chive, and spinach burgers. I was all about the chive and spinach. Alas, none of the ingredients were handy.

So I took what I did have and made a pretty decent little burger. Ideally, I would have loved to use protein crumbles, but tofu worked. The secret to making tofu burgers appealing: seasonings.

Here's my attempt:

Tofu Burgers with Mustard Sauce
1 package tofu, drained and water squeezed out
2 Tbl. Dijon mustard
1- 2 tsp. your favorite seasoning (I used Cajun seasoning and Hungarian paprika)
1/4 cup fresh chives, snipped, if you have them
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

Drain tofu and squeeze excess water out by placing it on a board covered in paper towels and weighting it down. Should take about ten minutes to get the water out.

Crumble tofu into a medium bowl. Add all ingredients and mix well.

Form burgers. If they don't hold up, try either a beaten egg or a little bit of regular breadcrumbs (I did both and they were still a little wobbly).

Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium, then add burgers. Cook about four minutes on each side. You may have to flip them a few more times just to be sure the insides cook.

Serve on your favorite bun with this dressing, which elevates it:

2 Tbl. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. agave nectar/syrup (or honey if you prefer)
1 Tbl. mayonnaise

You can tweak this recipe any way you like -- use honey Dijon, regular mustard, whatever makes you happy.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Enchiladas on the Quick

I was staring at the clock -- an hour before dinner and nothing in the oven. Oh no.

Oh, enchiladas. I grabbed some ingredients and went to it. The verdict -- amazing. Make this again.

So here I am, writing it down:

Spinach and Cheese Enchiladas

2 bags fresh spinach
1/4 cup onion (or omit it -- I did)
1 Tbl. olive oil
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (you can use a Mexican blend if you prefer)
Flour tortillas (I used about nine)

Enchilada sauce (I make my own):
1 can (14 oz or 16 oz) diced tomatoes
1 tsp. chili powder
Dash or two cayenne pepper
Healthy dash of Adobo seasoning (if you have it -- if not, skip it)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion until clear. Add spinach with a few tablespoons of water and cook until it's reduced. You'll still have water from the spinach itself, but try to keep it to a minimum.

Take off heat and stir in ricotta and one cup of shredded cheese (or more if you want it really cheesy). Next, heat the tortillas for 20 seconds on each side in a hot skillet or griddle. I like to make mine a little brown since they're flour -- makes them a little stiffer after baking.

Spray a lasagna pan with oil. Fill each tortilla with two or three tablespoons of filling, then roll and place seam down in the pan. Then cover them all with your enchilada sauce and the remaining cup of shredded cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the sauce and cheese are bubbly. Keep an eye on it and check it at 10 minutes and 15 minutes.

Note: if you don't like chunky tomato sauce, feel free to use pureed tomatoes or even tomato sauce.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Farro and Away

I like to say that the secret to a great food experience is to serve something simple that makes you look brilliant. I have a few of those go-to dishes that do just that -- fettuccini Alfredo, risotto with smoked Gouda, bananas Foster...

And now I have one more.

I don't know what made me buy farro, but I did. I had read something online about its texture and nutty flavor, so I thought I'd try it. So glad I did! I'm now addicted to farro. Seriously, if you can form an addiction to a grain, I have it. I've considered using it for burgers, risotto (why not instead of arborio?), and maybe even farro cakes.

But this is by far my favorite way to make it. And on what has turned into a rainy, cooler August day, I made it for lunch today. I didn't pay too much attention to the time it took for each ingredient, so play it by ear.

Farro Soup

2 Tbl. olive oil
2 shallots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 tomato, cut into chunks
1 cup farro
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (pinto beans would work, too)
2 cups water
3 cups vegetable broth
1 handful of fresh basil, torn (about 1/3 cup)
3/4 cup frozen peas
Freshly grated Parmesan

In a larger pot, heat oil and saute shallots about 3 minutes. Add celery, saute for a few more minutes, then throw in the carrots. Brown a little (another 3 minutes), then add everything else except for the cheese.

Cook on medium heat (barely a boil) for about 20 minutes or until the farro is cooked. Ladle into bowls and top with Parmesan.

Would taste fantastic with rosemary focaccia bread.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Luke, I am Your Fava

I'll admit it -- I've never tried fava beans before this past weekend. For starters, they're not exactly on the radar of any of the local grocery stores. Plus the produce places, including the farmers markets, don't carry them. So when I saw a neat recipe that included them, I decided to try a little harder.

Luckily, a newer store in my town carries them. They say they have them in three forms, though the canned variety is all I could find. I'm now eager to try them fresh.

I found this recipe in a fantastic cookbook (and a must-have for everyone, including vegetarians) -- Tasting the Wine Country by Sharon O'Connor. O'Connor has gathered recipes from some of the country's top bed and breakfast inns. The result -- culinary heaven.

If you're a meat eater.

Ah, but you're a savvy vegetarian, and you know how to adapt recipes to fit your palate, right? While there doesn't seem to be an adequate substitute for rack of lamb or filet mignon (and when recipes rely heavily on meat as the star, there's little you can do), there are just as many recipes begging to be reworked.

So I started with a recipe from the cookbook for pan-seared halibut steaks. Here's the result. I'll warn you: this one is going to take a while to make because of all the various steps. Read through it first

Seared Tofu with Ragout and Mashed Potatoes

1 block extra-firm tofu
1 piece kombu
1 small piece nori
3 Tbl. soy sauce
salt and pepper

Cut a block of tofu into four triangles (or however you like to eat it). Drain on paper towels. Meantime, put kombu and nori in a cake pan or casserole dish, add about 1/2 cup of hot water and let it set for a few minutes. Depending on how much you like kombu or nori, either remove it within five minutes or let it be in the pan as you add the tofu. Sprinkle soy sauce over top, then season tofu with sea salt and fresh black pepper. Let it sit while you put together the ragout, turning it now and then to let the juices absorb into the tofu.

Meanwhile put 4 medium-to-large white potatoes, skinned and cubed, on to boil.

1 can fava beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly
1 cup peas
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup fresh basil (must be fresh or forget this recipe)
1/4 cup canola oil
2 Tbl. butter
salt and pepper to taste

Blanch the basil in hot water for a few seconds (wilt it) and then put it into a food processor with the oil and process it smooth. Dump it into a small colander and drain out the oil, reserving it.

Boil the fava beans (even the canned ones) for about ten minutes in a small saucepan. Drain. Rinse. Set aside.

Your potatoes should be ready. Keep them in the water (to keep them hot) while you blend these ingredients together:

1/2 cup milk
2 Tbl. butter
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

Heat these ingredients in a small saucepan (same one you used for the fava beans is fine) until the butter melts. Turn off and leave on the burner.

Now, back to the tofu. Heat a skillet, add the drained canola oil from your basil experiment to the skillet, and fry the tofu on both sides until heated through and there's a nice crust forming. It took me about 10 minutes per side, flipping a lot, to get it to where I wanted it.

While you're waiting for browned tofu, start the ragout. In a medium pan, combine the fava beans, peas, broth, and basil puree. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and add the butter. Salt and pepper to your liking. Turn off the heat.

Make your mashed potatoes, adding the blended milk mixture.

Spoon the ragout into shallow bowls. Add a plop of potato, then lay your tofu on top. You're done.

Dinner is ready.