Monday, November 27, 2017

Simple Seitan from Whole Wheat Flour

I've been working with gluten for a couple of my favorite veggie meats and I've always used store-bought vital wheat gluten. I'm fortunate enough to have a local market offer vital wheat gluten in bulk at less than 3 bucks a pound, but in areas where it's less readily available, buying a small pack at a high price from Whole Foods or Amazon can quickly turn this wheat meat into filet mignon. Curious about how viable it would be to make seitan without access to dry vital wheat gluten, I tested out a recipe deriving it from whole wheat flour, and it's surprisingly simple, albeit more time-consuming.

I'm not sure how well this method would work for the recipes that call for other ingredients, like beans and/or beets in sausages or burgers, to be mixed in. I imagine it can be done with a bit more squishing and squeezing, but it would require more effort than the ease afforded with being able to mix dry with dry and wet with wet before kneading the dough. I plan to use this method for basic chewy mock meat to sauté in stir fries, or cook and cool to use in salads.

Whole wheat flour
Vegetable broth or seasoning and water for boiling (I used water and Chik'Nish seasoning)

1) Knead flour with just enough water to form a firm dough

2) Cover with cold water and let sit a few hours

3) Rinse and squish and rinse and squish the dough in cold water until the water runs close to clear (it starts out very milky and I got it down to a slightly cloudy, so I wouldn't be discouraged it you can't get it all the way to clear). This took about 10 minutes. It'll start out smooth and slimy and will be stringy and stretchy when it's ready. It will be much smaller than your original dough; my flour dough was the size of a tennis ball and my gluten dough was more like a brainy golf ball.

4) Squeeze as much liquid out as possible and cut and pat into strips
5) Boil in broth or seasoned water for about half an hour

I didn't put any measurements in this because you can work with as much or as little as you want, and the amount of water is as needed to get the dough to the right firmness and make sure there's enough (or add more as it boils to make sure there's enough) broth or water to not boil down all the way before 30 minutes is up. I used 1 cup of flour, which yielded 6 small strips of seitan.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Faux-Sausage Fest

These sausages are some of my favorite faux meats. They’re so chewy and delicious, and versatile, too (it’s easy to alter their flavor depending on which spices and sauces you add to the mix, and work well in a bun, cut up and thrown into pasta sauce, in a stew, or as a standalone main dish served with sides). Another advantage over most homemade veggie meats is that these are firm enough to stand up to a grill, too.

Can of white beans
Heaping cup of vital wheat gluten
Couple big spoonfuls of nutritional yeast
Just under a cup of water
Spices to your liking (garlic, onion, pepper, paprika, oregano, sage, etc.)
Splashes of sauces (soy, bbq, ketchup, tomato paste, sriracha, maple syrup... whatever depending on the taste you're going for)
A spoonful of oil 

Drain and mash/blend the beans. Stir in everything else (just enough water to make a not-too-sticky ball of dough) and knead until elastic. Divide (I usually make 8 but you can make them whatever size you like) and shape (yes, it will resemble a turd). Wrap each in foil with the ends twisted. Steam for about an hour (they'll swell up and be firm when done). After this you can apply heat however you like (frying pan, barbecue, stewed) or just eat as they are. I often freeze them (sans foil) and they come out just fine when I’m ready to thaw and grill them.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Shepherd’s Pie and Beer Bread

This meal is suitable for March 17, or any day you're feeling particularly Irish (not that it's 100% Irish, but it is 80% made up by me, 20% gleaning from online recipes, and I'm 12.5% Irish, so you do the math). Authenticity level aside, it's yummy, and I'd say well within the spirit of St. Paddy's Day.

For the beer bread:
A beer (Guinnessy type), room temperature
2 ½ cups flour (you could use self-rising flour, or add baking powder, but I'm partial to it chewy so I just use whole wheat)
2 spoonfuls of sugar

Mix flour, sugar and beer together and pour into an oiled baking pan. Drink the second beer from the 6-pack.

For the pie filling:
1 cup TVP, rehydrated
½ or whole onion, chopped
Couple cloves of garlic, minced
About a cup each of peas and carrots (I used half a frozen bag of each)
2 cups broth with a little flour mixed in (or water with Chik’nish seasoning)
Salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary
Oil for pan

Saute the onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat, then add the TVP, peas and carrots, water or broth, and spices. Simmer covered for 15 or 20 minutes as you drink the third beer from the 6-pack until most but not all the liquid is cooked away. Pour the filling into a casserole dish.

For the pie topping:
2 Yukon gold or russet potatoes
Gob of Earth Balance or butter
Splash of any kind of milk
Salt, pepper, garlic powder

Peel, boil, drain and mash the potatoes, mixing in milk, butter and spices. Scoop and spread on top of the filling in the casserole dish, all the way to the edges to create a seal. Drink the fourth beer from the 6-pack.

Baking both:
Drink the fifth beer from the 6-pack while preheating the oven to 400. Bake the shepherd’s pie for about 20 minutes (until the top starts to brown) and the bread for about 40 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes while drinking the last beer from the 6-pack.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Black Bean Beet Burger

I’m settled on this as my quintessential recipe for burger patties. They’re delicious, healthy, simple, hold together well, and look the part. Years of veggie-burger R&D has laid the groundwork for these puppies. They’re the result of much improvisation and improvement, and I’d like to share the finely tuned product.

-Beets (either 1 can of steamed beets, a full pack of Trader Joe’s steamed & peeled baby beets, or steam and peel maybe 2 large fresh beets, but that's hard), blended
-1 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed, then blended or mashed
-½ or whole onion, blended (or add onion powder)
-Few cloves of garlic, minced (or add garlic powder)
-½ cup rolled oats, coarsely ground
-½ cup vital wheat gluten
-Paprika, salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, sage (any spices of your choosing)

Mix all of these together after preparing each as specified above. Form into 8 equal patties (to conveniently correspond to the bun count in a common pack). Lightly oil a frying pan over medium heat and cook until they look done, flipping once (covering the pan helps).

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

'Tis the Season for Burgers and Fries

Summer cravings have once again possessed me to spend two hours in a hot kitchen making a seasonally appropriate dinner, but these lentil burgers were worth it. They’re close to my black bean burgers, with a few tweaks (well, and lentils instead of black beans). They’re not exactly barbecue material, since they require more finesse in cooking than throwing onto a grate, but you could still eat them outside if you want.

The Burgers:
Get this:
A bag of lentils
An onion
A vegetable or two (I used a red bell pepper, but you could use mushrooms or whatever else)
A few cloves of garlic
2-4 cups of instant oats (whatever it takes to get the burger batter to stick together)
Spices (I used salt, pepper, paprika, oregano & basil, because that’s what I had)
Some flour

Do this:

  • Cook and drain the lentils.
  • Grind the onion, garlic and other vegetables to a pulp and set aside.
  • Grind the oats to a powder and set aside.
  • Smash the lentils with a masher a bit, leaving some whole and some squashed.
  • Mix the lentils, vegetable goo and spices together and add oats as needed until it thickens and sticks.
  • Use your hands to make balls of burger and coat each lightly with flour.
  • Heat a little oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  • Cook the burgers on one side so that they’re mostly cooked through, and then flip once (sort of like pancakes). They’ll obviously be more fragile than their fleshy counterparts so it’s best to disturb them as little as possible while cooking.
  • Put them on buns with fixings of your choosing.

The Fries

Get this:
Sweet potatoes
A little oil
Salt, pepper and garlic powder

Do this: Cut the sweet potatoes into fry shapes and coat them with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder, put them on a sheet pan, and throw them in the oven at 375ish until they look done. They don't take long, maybe 20 minutes in the oven.

This makes a fairly massive amount -- about enough for 16 huge burgers by my count. So unless you’re insatiably hungry and consuming these in close proximity to a toilet, I’d freeze some for next week’s dinner. Or just use half the bag of lentils and fewer oats. Wing it... it’ll work.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sweet & Sour (& Spicy) Tempeh Sandwiches

This experiment turned out pretty tasty, so I figured I’d share it. I’ve been into sandwiches this summer, so I wanted to get a little more creative than just BLTs (with tempeh) or egg salad (with tofu), not that those aren’t delicious. This isn’t the most colorful meal, but I’m sure you could find a way to make it pretty if you tried (or cared). Brown is fine with me, as long as it tastes good.

Do these things first:

  • Make the marinade - This is about as experimental as it gets and you can use pretty much anything you see fit (half of the ideas for these ingredients originated from what I had in my cabinet), but this seemed to work: Mostly soy sauce (about a quarter cup), a spoonful each of sugar and tamarind, a splash of vinegar, a squeeze of sriracha, some red pepper and paprika, and a few cloves of chopped garlic. Mix all of that together.
  • Thinly slice a slab of tempeh - Any shape or thickness of your choosing really.
  • Pour the marinade over the tempeh, stick a lid on it, and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  • Chop up an onion

And then:
  • Sautee the onion in a little olive oil in a deep-ish frying pan/wok.
  • Add the tempeh mixture, fluid and all.
  • Cook on medium, cover and mix around once in awhile.
  • When it looks done, it is. I think it took around 15 minutes.
  • Toast some bread, spread on some spicy mustard and veganaise, and pile on the tempeh and onions.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Really good chickpea-quinoa-tomato-garlic-lime-avocado thing (More clever name TK)

It’s a really good idea that you make and eat this. It’s a chickpea-quinoa-tomato concoction with garlic and lime juice, topped with avocado. I suppose you don’t have to top it with avocado, but I would question your sanity if you didn’t. By the way, how is 4 avocados for 5 dollars a sale? Really? I’m adding 25-cent avocados to my “Good Things About Southern California” list, which brings the number to 3, but I don’t know if fruit, fruit trees, and avocados should all be considered different things. I’m just kidding; tacos and burritos are on there, too, and my adorable family. This is off topic.

This is a protein-packed, zinc-tastic, iron-rich, high-fiber dish that is so very worth eating. Can you tell it was inspired by research on a vegan diet for pregnancy? None of us actually eating it were pregnant, but still, I’m a girl who likes to be prepared. Speaking of pregnancy (and at the risk of providing too much information for a food recipe), there is no way constipation could be a problem if you eat this. But seriously, I don’t see how talking about bowel movements is terribly off track when discussing dinner. They really couldn’t be more related. At any rate, this will fill you with delicious food, and then clear you out.

Here’s what you need:
Chickpeas (half a bag)
Quinoa (a cup, dry)
Tomatoes (a couple)
Garlic (1 or 5 cloves)
Lime (more specifically, the juice from it)
An Avocado
Salt and pepper

Here’s what you need to do:
Cook the chickpeas, drain them, and set them aside.
Cook the quinoa.
Mince the garlic and cut up the tomatoes.
Add the chickpeas, garlic, tomatoes, lime juice, and salt and pepper to the quinoa and mix it up.
Throw on some sliced avocado. I think we should call it chickoamatocado.