18 March 2011
I've tried many, many versions of a meat-free, vegan "meatloaf" over the years. More recently, I was using my Lentil Loaf recipe, which I really love for its texture and nutritional value. And when I have time to make brown rice and cook lentils, it's terrific. But I will be the first to admit that starting it from scratch can be a bit time-consuming. So when I saw Bryanna Clark Grogan post a recipe on her blog for her meatless loaf (as usual, she seems to have more than one version!), I was excited to try it. Of course, I had to put my own spin on it... to the point where it's no longer Bryanna's recipe. But the technique behind it was definitely inspired by her method, and I have to give credit where credit is due. This tasted just like the meatloaf of my childhood. Or, I should say, my early adulthood, since, true to form, I loathed meatloaf growing up, as well as most other dishes which included ground meat of any form. But as I grew up, I came to love my mom's meatloaf, and this is spot on! This takes practically no time to make, and isn't that really the point of a comfort food like meatloaf? While it baked, I roasted up some cauliflower and made Brussels sprouts in the microwave. Overall, an easy and very well-deserved comfort meal at the end of a long day.
For the loaf:
1½ c. TVP granules
½ c. old-fashioned rolled oats
3 T. dehydrated onion flakes
¼ tsp. organic cane sugar
2 c. boiling water (scant)
2 no-beef bouillon cubes
*(broth should be made double-strength, so use the appropriate amount for 4 cups of liquid. I use Edward & Sons brand, which calls for ½ a cube per 1 cup of water)
1 T. soy sauce (preferably low-sodium)
1 T. vegan Worcestershire sauce, or additional soy sauce
¼ tsp. gravy browning sauce
1½ T. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. onion powder
½ - ¾ tsp. kosher salt, to taste
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. dried basil
¼ tsp. dried thyme
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. celery seed
1/8 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
2 tsp. olive oil or canola oil
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. cornstarch + 1 T. water (whisk into a slurry)
½ c. ketchup
⅓ c. vital wheat gluten flour
For the glaze:
¼ c. ketchup
¼ c. chili sauce
3 T. organic brown sugar
2 T. apple cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray or oil.
Combine the TVP, oats, onion flakes and sugar in a mixing bowl and quickly whisk together. Add the bouillon cubes, boiling water, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and browning sauce; mix well. Allow to cool completely either at room temperature, or speed up the process in the refrigerator or freezer. (As Bryanna points out, adding hot liquid to the gluten flour will make the dough stringy. I find it also makes it clump together in tough, dispersed lumps. Not, as Alton would say, good eats.)
Meanwhile, make the glaze: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, whisk to combine, and set aside.
When the TVP mixture has cooled, add the remaining ingredients for the loaf (parsley flakes through gluten flour). Using clean hands, knead the mixture until everything is well combined. Gather the mixture together and transfer to the grease baking sheet. Form into an oblong loaf shape (oiling your hands a bit makes this easy). Brush on about half of the glaze and bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until the meat-less loaf feels firm. While it bakes, you can baste it with a little of the remaining glaze if it looks like it’s getting dry.
Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving with the remaining glaze mixture. (I used to reduce the rest of the glaze in a saucepan like my mom does, but I've skipped it over the years.) The loaf will continue to set up as it cools, so this is one of those dishes that’s even better the next day!
Ever drink Bailey's from a shoe? If you have no idea what i'm talking about, you need to watch this for a serious dose of bizarre British humor.
Anyway, this year's stab at a vegan Bailey's Irish Cream came out spectacularly well. I found out that the secret to preventing mega-curdling is to heat the mixture as you combine the ingredients. It's inevitably going to separate a bit over time (I'm not sure what kinds of stabilizers are used in a commercial product like Bailey's but I'm going to bet that any shelf product with cream in it has some kind of wonder chemical involved). However, the separation is not as bad as the chunky (yes, chunky) mess I've wound up with on previous attempts. It was yummmmmy – rich and creamy and almost exactly as I remember the original!
1 (14 oz.) can coconut milk
½ c. plain, unsweetened almond milk
¼ c. organic dark brown sugar
2 T. chocolate syrup or cocoa powder
1 tsp. instant coffee or espresso powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. almond extract
½ - ¾ c. Irish whiskey (such as Jameson's, which is vegan-friendly)
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 T. filtered water
Add the first seven ingredients (coconut milk through almond extract) in a medium saucepan and whisk to combine. Begin heating over medium to medium-low heat, whisking almost constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is smooth. Slowly add the whiskey, whisking constantly. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and beat until smooth. Add this to the saucepan with the other ingredients and heat, still whisking, until the mixture thickens to your desired consistency. Cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator. Give the "Bailey's" a quick mix before serving.
Also, behold this year's glorious soda bread. You can see my recipe from last year's Saint Patty's Day post (including my corned beef seitan and cabbage recipe, which I love above all others). This year, I used a new baking technique that I just know I'm going to be using over and over, even though I'm not much of a baker. See that glorious sheen on top of my soda bread? It's a new trick I learned as an egg wash substitute. Combine ½ tsp. cornstarch and ¼ c. water in a microwaveable bowl, then zap on High in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until the mixture is clear and glassy. (This only took me about 1 minute in total.) Brush it onto baked goods as you would an egg wash and voilà! Beautiful shiny coatings on all your favorite recipes. Hope everyone had a great and not too overly indulgent holiday!
So last year for Mardi Gras, I made the traditional Nawlin's favorite, Red Beans and Rice. However, between experimenting with making my own vegan chorizo and stewing the rice and beans themselves, it was quite a lengthy operation. So this year, I opted for a more forgiving main course. But that's not to say I didn't go a bit "all out." I just can't help myself!
For a starter course, I made up some baked onion rings, using the PPK's recipe on their Facebook page. I used plain yellow onions instead of Vidalias (those suckers are pricey) and panko breadcrumbs for the coating. They were amazing. Definitely highly recommended. However, they were a last-minute idea for a vehicle for the real star of the show: Creole/Cajun rémoulade sauce. This is a far cry from the traditional French rémoulade but just as tasty. And just as fattening. But hey, this is FAT TUESDAY after all, right? Who eats diet food on Fat Tuesday?
Creole Rémoulade Sauce
¼ c. plain, unsweetened soymilk
½ c. canola oil (or any other light-tasting oil; olive oil is not recommended)
1 T. hot sauce, or to your taste
1 T. lemon juice
2 tsp. ketchup
2 tsp. spicy brown mustard
½ tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
½ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. celery seed
¼ tsp. organic cane sugar
1/8 – ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. dried or fresh chives
1 tsp. capers, drained and roughly chopped
Place the soymilk in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and whip for 30-60 seconds. With the motor running, slowly pour in the oil in a very thin stream. (Most food processor lids – not the one with the large shoot – have a tiny hole in the top for this very purpose.) Continue whipping until you have mayo.
Add all the remaining ingredients except the chives and chopped capers. Scraping down the sides of the food processor, pulse the mixture until everything is well combined. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the chives and capers. Serve well-chilled.
The pièce de résistance, the jambalaya, was a real hit with W, who normally loves him some shrimp and pork, the usual suspects in this dish. Now, be warned that this recipe makes a lot of jambalaya, so invite over company, or expect leftovers. And the leftovers are even better. The flavors have a chance to meld together in the fridge... really good stuff.
3 T. canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium yellow squash, diced
2 T. paprika
1 tsp. onion powder
¾ tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
¾ tsp. dried basil
¾ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. celery seed
¼ - ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1½ c. long grain white rice (I actually used jasmine rice because I have so much!)
2 T. tomato paste
2 large, dried bay leaves
4-5 c. vegetable stock (or a mix of stock and water)
1 (14 oz.) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Hot sauce, to your taste (I used about ¼ cup!)
1 small handful fresh parsley, chopped
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven until rippling. Add the onion, green and red bell peppers and celery, and cook until softened – about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the zucchini and yellow squash, and cook until softened and lightly golden – about 5 minutes more.
Season the mixture with the spices (paprika through cayenne pepper). Add the rice and stir to coat with oil; cook for 2-2 minutes, stirring. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until it starts to caramelize. Add the bay leaves, then pour in 4 c. of stock and the diced tomatoes.
Bring to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the jambalaya for 30-40 minutes or until the rice is cooked through and the liquid has all been absorbed. Stir in the beans and hot sauce (to your taste), and garnish with chopped parsley.
And what would the celebration be without a Hurricane cocktail to top it all off? Using what I already had on hand, I used rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, lime juice and grenadine in mine. You can look up myriad other ways to make this concoction using this cool thing called the Internet.
Now after all that, would you believe I had planned on capping off the night with Bananas Foster? But we were far too stuffed to eat a bite more. We are not typically the time to indulge in eating lots of food, but hey, you have to live a little every once in a while, right?
07 March 2011
I've been getting really into a lot of Indian cuisine lately... Here is one of my favorite desserts so far, suji (meaning "semolina") halwa (meaning "dessert" or "sweet"). It is also known as sheera/shira in other regions of India. Made in a similar fashion to a kind of sweet polenta or grits, it's made instead from semolina flour, which is actually pretty easy to find in grocery stores nowadays. I used the Bob's Red Mill brand, but you can also use original Cream of Wheat, which is similar and often easier to find. Suji halwa is so quick and easy to make, both ideal factors for indulging a sweet tooth on the spot. It's lovely as a little snack with a cup of warm chai tea after a hard day of work!
Suji Halwa (Sooji Halva)
(Semolina Dessert Porridge)
1 T. boiling water
1/8 tsp. saffron threads (optional – this technically makes it Kesari Halwa)
¼ c. vegan margarine (½ a stick)
1 T. chopped mixed nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios)
2 tsp. sultanas (golden raisins)
½ c. semolina flour
½ - ¾ c. organic cane sugar (adjust according to your taste - I like mine less sweet)
1/8 tsp. fine salt
1 c. filtered water
½ c. plain almond milk
¼ tsp. ground cardamom or 2 whole cardamom pods*
Combine the saffron and 1 T. boiling water in a small bowl and set it aside until the water takes on a bright orange hue. (This step is optional.)
Meanwhile, add the margarine to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the nuts and sultanas and cook them, stirring constantly, until the nuts begin to turn golden and the sultanas puff up. (*If you prefer to use whole cardamom over ground, you can add the pods now.)
Add the semolina flour and lower the heat to medium-low. Toast the flour, stirring constantly, until it turns a light golden brown color and takes on a sweet, roasted smell. Add ½ c. sugar and the salt, and stir to evenly incorporate them. Add the water, almond milk and the soaking saffron water. Stir and raise the heat again to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring it often, and cook until it comes together in a single mass. If you want the halwa to be a bit sweeter, add up to ¼ c. more sugar and stir until it dissolves. Stir in the cardamom and serve warm or cold garnished with additional nuts.
So I've been doing a lot of experimenting lately, as evidenced by the fact that, yes, I actually tried to make something as un-vegan-friendly as Scotch eggs without using any animal products. And I'm going to tell you, I came pretty damn close. For those of you fortunate enough not to know what these ghastly things are, they traditionally consist of hard-boiled eggs wrapped in sausage, coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. And they are like eating a softball. They also happen to be, hands down, W's favorite food on the planet. So every year on his birthday, his sweet mother makes him a big batch of them. And guess whose birthday was this past weekend? I knew he would have no interest in my experiment, knowing that a whole bunch of the real thing was coming his way. (As an aside: he ate 8 of them in less than 12 hours. I have been trying my best to get him to eat lots of fiber ever since.) Well, I figured what better chance to give this crazy idea of mine a whirl? Mind you, this whirl would not have been possible without my Jell-O Jigglers mold, circa 1995. Ironic that something meant for something un-vegan like Jell-O could make itself useful in this application.
I have to tell you, the"eggs" I made were spot on when they set up, almost a dead ringer for the real thing. Here's where I ran into a bit of a problem: I made the "whites" of the "eggs" with agar-agar. Most of you know that anything made with this ingredient sets up beautifully when chilled but if re-heated, it melts into gloppy pools of ick. Afraid of this (seeing as I was going to be wrapping them in vegan sausage and baking them), I froze them overnight. I'm afraid this was a mistake. My beautiful mock eggs got all cracked on the outside, and I think it changed their consistency. They were kind of mushy and weird after that. In the end, I actually think the "sausage" insulated them enough that this step wasn't even necessary, but I'm not going to be experimenting with them again any time soon. But I'm definitely going to be using the "egg" part of this recipe again. I will get around to posting the method sooner or later, after which point any other crazy vegans out on the interwebs looking to make something as ridiculous as vegan Scotch not-eggs can work out the glitches.
Tinga is a traditional Mexican dish which usually consists of very slowly braised pork shoulder, which is shredded and served over fried tostadas. For things of this nature, I turn to my secret weapon: hearts of palm. Their stringy texture is perfect for replicating tender meat with plant-based ingredients. I initially drafted this recipe to be done in the slow cooker, but I forgot to prep it ahead of time, and I think, in retrospect, that if I had done it that way, it would have gone mushy on me. It really didn't take long to make, and W, my dear meateater, loved it. I also baked the tostadas instead of frying them to lighten them up. On top of the tinga mixture, you will see a quick salsa I put together. W's mom used to make a recipe she called "Firecracker Pork" which was very similiar to tinga. Her recipe included a tropical fruit salad with papaya, mango, pineapple, lime juice, jalapeño and cilantro. I didn't have any appropriate fresh fruit around, but I had leftover pineapple from the Sweet and Sour Tofu I made earlier in the week. The tangy sweetness of the salsa is a great foil for the smoky spiciness of the tinga. Alongside, I made calabacitas y elotes (squash with corn), the recipe for which can be found here. For more info on how to handle hearts of palm as a shredded meat substitute, see this entry.
1 T. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. chipotle chili powder, or ½ (7 oz.) can chipotles in adobo
1½ tsp. paprika
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 large, dried bay leaf
1 (15 oz.) can whole hearts of palm, drained and shredded
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
6 baked tostadas (see this recipe for the method)
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds, or until fragrant.
Stir in the spices (chile powder through black pepper) and cook, stirring, for a few seconds. Pour in the tomato sauce and bring to a gentle boil. Add the bay leaf and shredded hearts of palm, and stir well to combine. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the hearts of palm are tender, then continue simmering, uncovered, for another 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
Stir in the cilantro and serve on the baked tostadas. Top with the optional fruit salsa (recipe follows).
Fruity Lime Salsa
½ c. crushed pineapple, drained
¼ c. chopped onion
3 T. chopped cilantro
½ small jalapeño, minced
1½ T. lime juice
Kosher salt, to taste
Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Note: The original recipe calls for papaya, mango and kiwi, but I didn't have them on hand!
Perfect with an ice-cold Corona...
I was never a huge fan of Chinese take-out, but every once in a blue moon, I indulge W by making him some homemade (American-style) Chinese food. In my pre-vegan days, one of my favorite things to order was sweet and sour chicken. Some restaurants will customize your order and make you a meat-based dish, but for some reason, I still tend to avoid it. I'd rather make it myself and know exactly what's in it!
I have to say, this came out delicious. I may even make it a bit less sweet next time around. I'm also going to be honest and say that the tofu takes a bit of prep time. I always think tofu comes out best when it's been frozen and thawed, but that takes hours to accomplish, not including the time it takes to mariante and fry it. I thought, in the middle of making it, that a good (and healthier) shortcut for getting some protein would be to toss in some steamed edamame instead. However, I was really sort of craving that crunchy outer crust I used to enjoy on sweet and sour chicken... So sue me.
Sweet and Sour Tofu
1 (14 oz.) package extra-firm tofu, previously frozen and thawed
For the marinade/sauce:
¼ c. pineapple juice (reserved from canned pineapple)
3 T. seasoned rice vinegar
2 T. apricot preserves
1 T. organic cane sugar
1 T. organic brown sugar
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. ketchup
½ tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
For the coating and vegetables:
½ c. unbleached all-purpose flour
2 T. cornstarch, divided
1 tsp. sesame seeds, plus more for garnishing
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
3 T. canola oil, divided
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, julienned or thinly sliced on a bias
1 bell pepper (red, yellow or green), seeded and thinly sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
½ c. frozen snow peas or sugar snap peas, thawed
4 canned pineapple rings, chopped
2 T. filtered water
Carefully squeeze out as much excess water from the thawed tofu as possible. Cut it into roughly 1-inch cubes and gently blot the pieces dry.
In a medium bowl, combine the ingredients for the marinade (pineapple juice through chili flakes). Whisk together until well-combined. Place the dried tofu cubes in the mixture and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the flour, 1 T. cornstarch, sesame seeds, baking powder and baking soda in a shallow dish. Season with salt and pepper, then whisk together. Remove the tofu cubes from the marinade with a slotted spoon, reserving the marinade, then dredge in the flour mixture until well-coated.
Heat 1 T. of the oil in a large skillet, then sauté the onion until translucent. Add the carrots and bell pepper, and stir-fry until softened – about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and snow peas, and sauté for about 1 minute. Remove the vegetables from the pan to a bowl and cover to keep warm. Heat the remaining 2 T. oil and fry the tofu pieces until golden on all sides. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
To make the sauce: Add the reserved marinade to a small saucepan and heat over medium. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 T. cornstarch and 2 T. water, then add to the saucepan. Whisk until thickened. Add the pineapple and tofu to the bowl with the vegetables, then pour the sauce over the top. Stir until well-combined.
Serve over steamed brown rice and garnish with sesame seeds.
Served over baked brown rice.
I know it's been a while, and I'm going to have to clean house a bit to get things a little more up to date on this blog. So bear with me, if you would. I'm going to be posting some pictures as I find them. Many a meal has gone by that I did not have a chance to photograph (you all know how dinner is. I commend those dedicated bloggers who take pictures on a daily basis.) I know it's odd of me, but I hate to post recipes without a picture to go along with it. I'm too visual that way, I guess. I wish I had more of an excuse, but there isn't much new going on.
So for now, I'll probably be posting what pictures I find on my camera or computer as I find them and going back to put up the recipes later. Not that anyone really cares. But I care.
Also, I know I'm a day late and a dollar short (as is my usual M.O., unfortunately), but I know that "Accent Vlog" thing made the rounds in the blogosphere in recent months. To be honest, I did take a shot at it, but I was tired and my laptop (with a webcam) wasn't cooperating with me, so I called it quits and haven't revisited the idea since. I was sincerely trying to produce something to fill the vacuum that is this website as of late, but the Universe declared, "Nay, Gothic Homemaker. You shall not share your Jersey accent with the world." But maybe if I get time (yeah, right).
On a personal note, W was grappling with the prospect of switching jobs, and he finally made up his mind, which is a load off my mind. For almost a year, he's moved up the ranks at an unnamed fast food chain, one which is so inappropriate to be associated with a vegan fiancée that it's embarrassing. But a job is a job these days. His true passion is in the world of martial arts, and he's finally taken a job teaching. And I have to say, I'm a bit jealous. I've been at a (let's face it) thankless job for over a year now, working for pennies, and it's nothing to do with anything I care about. I'd love to have more time to devote to my cooking and such (which isn't even my only interest, but it seems to be on the front burner these days). So I'm probably saddest of all that this blog has barely a breath in it as of late. My deepest thanks to anyone still following at this point... it means a lot to me!
Anyway, for those who were kind enough to be concerned, my kitty has been safe and well. We're hoping that his health issues are far behind us, but as I'm sure we all know, when one problem seems to resolve itself, another one crops up to take its place. C'est la vie!
Moving on to the actual "meat" of this post, here is a very quick and easy recipe for tempeh. I made this months ago, but I remember I liked it a lot. If you're not a tempeh fan, well this isn't magic here. It's still going to taste rather like tempeh, only better. But if you do like it, well this is fast and simple to prepare and very tasty. I served it with twice-baked potatoes (see the recipe here) and steamed baby Brussels sprouts.
1 (8 oz.) block tempeh
½ c. soy sauce
2 T. organic light brown sugar
1½ T. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. black pepper
Oil, for frying
Use a sharp knife to cut the tempeh in half diagonally to make two triangles. Then, cut each triangle in half through the middle horizontally to form 4 thinner triangles.
Combine the remaining ingredients (except the oil) in a large baking dish, and whisk to combine. Add the tempeh triangles, turning to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours (overnight), turning the tempeh periodically.
Heat a thin layer of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tempeh triangles, and fry until golden on both sides. Add any remaining marinade to the pan (be careful – it will splatter) and cook until reduced into a syrupy sauce. Serve immediately.
Note: Steam the tempeh before marinating if you find you don’t care for its subtle, nutty taste. Par-cooking it will remove some of that flavor.