seitan redux

I’ve been tinkering with my seitan recipe, and I’m really happy with the current incarnation. It’s much cheaper and tastier than buying seitan at the store. I hope you like it too! broiled seitan

Dry Ingredients:
– 1 cp wheat gluten flour
– 1/8 cp nutritional yeast
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/2 tsp sage
– 1/4 tsp paprika
– 1/8 tsp allspice

Wet Ingredients:
– 2 tb soy sauce
– 2 tb tomato paste
– 1/2 cp cold water or stock

Broth Ingredients:
– large pot of veggie broth (I like to save the broth from making chickpeas as it has a chicken-stock-like flavor – I usually cook it down to a small volume and then store it in the freezer) OR water with some garlic cloves, bay leaves, soy sauce, and nutritional yeast
– a bunch of ice cubes

1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.

2. Add the wet ingredients. Mix with your hands until it is one, big, rubbery blob of dough.

3. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, then let rest, covered, for 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, get the stock ready in a large pot, and make sure it’s very cold. Do NOT turn it on until the next step.

5. Cut the dough into two pieces and stretch them into logs. Place them in the stock, uncovered and turn on the heat to high, until it just reaches a boil. You’ll need to use a spoon to dislodge the seitan from the bottom of the pot as it heats up, as they tend to sink until they’ve cooked a bit.

6. When the stock reaches a boil, turn the heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.

7. Remove the seitan to a colander and let cool completely — this is part of the cooking process, so you don’t want to just leave it in the warm stock. Then you can get the seitan ready to cook, or you can store it in the broth, refrigerated, for up to a week.

My favorite thing to do with the prepared seitan is to cut it into medallions, marinate in fresh lemon juice, rosemary, garlic, salt, and olive oil, and then broil until lightly browned on both sides.

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vegan mac and cheese

I avoided this vegan pot-luck meal forever. It’s difficult to convince non-vegans that a meal based mostly on nutritional yeast is worth making and eating. For those that already eschew cheese, most people I know prefer the version of vegan mac & cheese that involves multiple sticks of margarine. That version is delicious, but I was looking for a recipe that could be less special-occasion-meal and more healthy-weeknight-meal. This is modified version of Veganomicon’s recipe was exactly what I was looking for. It tastes like comfort food, if not exactly like mac and cheese, and it’s full of protein, veggies, and whole grains. Image

Serves 8-10, and freezes well.

The Sauce:
– 4 cps vegetable broth
– 1/2 cp all-purpose flour
– 2 tb olive oil
– 6 garlic cloves, minced
– 1/4 tsp dried thyme or sprig of fresh thyme
– 1/2 tsp salt
– freshly ground black pepper
– 1/4 tsp turmeric
– 1/8 tsp hot pepper flakes
– 1 1/2 cps nutritional yeast flakes
– 2 tb lemon juice
– 1 tsp prepared yellow mustard

The Mac & Cheese:
– 3/4 lb whole wheat macaroni or other curvy noodles
– 1 lb extra-firm tofu
– 1 small bunch of kale, cleaned, de-stemmed, and finely chopped
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tb olive oil
– 2 tb fresh lemon juice

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta until it is mostly cooked – not yet al dente – and drain and set aside. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325 F and make the sauce.

2. Make the sauce: Combine the broth and flour in a small bowl and whisk until mostly dissolved. Preheat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, then the garlic and cook for a minute or two. Then add the thyme, salt and pepper and cook for 15 seconds. Add the broth, turmeric, pepper flakes, and nutritional yeast and – while constantly whisking – raise the heat a bit until it starts to bubble, and continue to whisk it as it simmers for about 3 minutes or until it thickens a bit. Add the lemon juice and mustard and taste for salt. Turn off the heat and cover until you are ready to use. Optional: dip tortilla chips in it for a snack while you cook.

3. Crumble the tofu into an 11 x 13-inch baking dish, and mash the tofu with your hands until it resembles ricotta cheese. Add the salt, olive oil, and lemon juice, and then stir. Add about 1/2 cup sauce and mix in. Then add the macaroni and kale to the tofu mixture, plus 3 more cups of sauce, and mix well. Smooth the top of the mixture, pour the remaining sauce over it, and smooth it again.

4. Bake for 30 minutes. The top should be a bit browned. Let cool for 10-20 minutes so that it firms up a bit. Enjoy!

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miso soup as a meal

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I’m all about easy, quick-to-prepare food right now. It’s been an insane few weeks of work recently. It’s also winter, so I want warm, comforting soup. This does the trick. It’s my basic miso soup recipe, but seeing as the usual miso soup has barely enough calories to qualify as a snack, has some add-ins to make it a full meal. You could definitely sub some other protein for the egg if you have some pre-cooked tofu or seitan, but I used eggs since we just got a big batch of “happy eggs” from our CSA farmer. Also feel free to play with the veggies – these were mostly local and easy to prepare at the time of writing this post.

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • Broth:
  • 2 soup bowls full of water
  • 4 tb soy sauce, or to taste
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar or rice wine
  • pinch of sugar
  • a few large pinches of dried wakame
  • 1-2 tb miso paste
  • Add-ins:
  • somen noodles (other noodles would work too — these just cook so quickly) – about a quarter-sized handful of dried noodles
  • a few handfuls of spinach
  • 1-2 carrots, shaved with a peeler or sliced thinly
  • 1 small dried mushroom, crumbled; or sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 scallions, sliced

Directions:

[If you are using fresh veggies, like mushrooms, that you’d want to saute first, then start with those in the pan with some oil, and then add the ingredients for the broth]

1. Add all broth ingredients to a small pot — EXCEPT the miso paste (you never want to cook miso paste, or you’ll kill the enzymes that are so good for you). Heat the water until simmering. Taste the broth – it should be pretty flavorful, so add more soy sauce or sesame oil as needed. Add the carrots. If they are cut thickly, you can add the carrots at the beginning and let them soften a bit as the water heats up. This does result in some discoloration, as you can see in the photo above.

2.  Add the crumbled dried mushroom, if using.

3. In the serving bowls, put 1-2 tsp miso paste on the bottom of the bowl. Add a few tb of broth to the miso and stir until you have a thick broth in the bowl.

3. Place the somen noodles in the pot, trying to keep them in one part of the pot so you have room to cook the eggs. I like to lay them across the diameter of the pot, leaving me space along either side of the noodles.

4. Make sure that your soup is just barely bubbling before adding the eggs. Then break each egg, separately, into a small bowl, and slip each egg gently into the water from the bowl. Set a timer for three minutes.

5. As soon as you’ve put the eggs in the pot, add spinach and scallions on top of the eggs, and cover the pot.

6. To serve: After the eggs have cooked for three minutes, use a slotted spoon to carefully fish out the eggs without breaking the yolks – add them to the bowl. Then, use tongs to transfer half of the noodles into each bowl. Then ladle the rest of the ingredients into the serving bowls. You’ll need to stir it a little to get the miso slurry to mix in with the rest of the soup. Enjoy!

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anything goes composed salad

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So maybe this is a lazy “recipe,” but this meal got me through my prelim exams. I like to prep all the items ahead of time, or even make it out of leftovers – roast some sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper, grate some carrots and beets (yes! you can grate beets and eat them raw in a salad, just like carrots), cook some beans and quinoa or rice. In the summer, I’ll make it with tomatoes, cucumber, and other seasonal items. Then it’s all about making a pretty composition, topping it with a vinaigrette, pepper, and parsley. This is especially ideal if you are aiming for a low-key cooking week. With these items prepped, you can saute them one night with rice, sesame oil, and soy sauce, or put them in a tortilla with some cumin, cilantro, and salsa . . . you can just prep all the ingredients on the weekend and make different meals all week.

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picking this blog back up

I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions, but I’m going to go ahead and make a public statement that I’m going to start posting again. The blog also has a new, easier-to-remember name. New posts to come after my prelim exam next week. Yikes!

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white bean and kale soup

This soup is everything I want in the winter: hearty and comforting, yet healthy and nourishing. Plus, there wasn’t that much to prep or chop. You have to soak the beans first, and then cook the beans within the soup for a while, but most of the time is unattended cooking. I adapted it from a recipe Nick found on Epicurious (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Kale-and-White-Bean-Soup-106153) which was heavy on the meat. We substituted vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and my own baked seitan for the sausage. The best part, though, were the beans we bought at the farmers’ market a few weeks ago: marrow beans.

These delicious heirloom beans actually taste like bacon – not overwhelmingly, but enough that you would think we cooked the beans with pork. For this kind of soup, they are perfect. I wish I had bought more of them while they were still available!

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pita bread

It’s finally cool enough out to make me want to bake, so we are back to making all our own bread. I like to make a triple-batch of pita bread, because I can throw it into a bag and into the freezer. They are already in portions that freeze well, because no inner-crumb is exposed. I use a recipe from The Bread Bible, adapted to be about 1/2 whole wheat for nutrition. Be warned: once you taste freshly-made pita, you will never want the stuff from the store again.

IMG_1228

Makes: 12 4-inch pitas or 8 6-inch pitas.

Ingredients:
1.5 cups (plus a scant 1/4 cup if you need it later in the recipe) all-purpose flour
1.5 cups whole wheat flour (if you can find the very finely ground middle-eastern variety, atta, this is even better)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast
2 tb olive oil
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature or a bit warmer

1. About 1.5 hours before shaping, or for more flavor, 8 hours to 3 days ahead of time, mix the dough:
In a large bowl, combine both flours (excluding the scant 1/4 cup) and yeast. Whisk in the salt (this prevents direct contact between the yeast and salt, which would kill the yeast). Add the liquid ingredients, mixing with a large spoon or your hands until the dough comes together a bit.

Sprinkle some of the reserved flour on the counter or a large cutting board and scrape the dough onto it. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding as little of the reserved flour as possible (you want this dough to be as wet as possible, so that it forms a pocket). You can use a bench scraper or large spatula to scrape up the dough as you knead it. At this point it will be very sticky, so let it rest for 5-20 minutes with an inverted bowl over it.

Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes more until it is soft, smooth, and just a bit sticky to touch. Add flour or water as necessary.

2. Let the dough rise: Grease a bowl with olive oil and scrape the dough into it. Press the dough down and lightly oil the top. Cover with a lid or with plastic wrap. Mark the bowl with a piece of tape to estimate where double the height of the dough would be. Then,
-if you want to shape and bake in 1.5 hours, let it sit in a warm-ish part of your house, or in an oven (just with the pilot light on) until doubles-if you want more flavor, and will work with it again between 8 hours and 3 days, refrigerate the dough.

3. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level, with either a baking stone or a baking sheet placed on it BEFORE preheating.

4. Shape the dough:

Cut the dough into 8 or 12 pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the rest covered with a damp cloth. On a lightly floured counter, with lightly floured hands, shaped each piece into a ball and then flatten into a disk. Cover the dough with oiled plastic wrap and allow to rest for 20 minutes.

Roll each disk into a circle a bit less than 1/4 inch thick. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes before baking.

rolled and resting before baking

5. Bake the pita: Quickly place 1 piece of dough directly on the stone or hot baking sheet and bake for 3 minutes. It should be completely puffed but not browned. If it isn’t moist enough, it won’t puff properly. If this first one doesn’t puff, spritz the pitas with water, knead a little, and re-shape them. If you don’t want to bother with this, they are also delicious without pockets. Finish baking the pitas, 3-4 at a time, allowing the oven to reach 475 degrees after each batch (about 5 minutes). Use a large metal spatula to transfer the pitas to a clean towel. If you want them to be hot when you serve them, you can reheat them for 30 seconds in the oven.

the pita is puffing!

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