I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ho Ho Ho! To all

When the holidays have us up against the wall, those with less than stellar organization get motivated. Just came back from the holiday shopping trip (yes I did it all on Christmas Eve) and I'm not sure there will be any cooking tonight. Maybe, but no promises. However I'll post my new favorite main dish type "roast", a turkey-style seitan that others have been developing for several years and I just started trying this year.

Didn't do it for Thanksgiving, and probably won't do it tomorrow (nobody else in my family would be interested) but I've made it a couple of times in between and it is now a staple. This was so reminiscent of turkey I got a little freaked out.

VeganDad has done a few incarnations of turkey seitan, Felicity at Thrifty Living has done one too, and there are many others floating 'round on the web, but until the price of veggie lunchmeats started hitting the stratosphere, I hadn't tried my hand. Now I'm a convert.

This recipe is easy (although it takes a while to cook), slices really well, tastes really good, and can be used as a special occasion dish, as deli slices, and for stew or pot pie. I'm actually going to make the next batch to try in a recipe Elise recently posted on Simply Recipes for Curry Turkey Salad. Vegetarians need recipes that use up holiday leftovers too, you know! (Far as I'm concerned, people, let's cut straight to the pot pie or sandwich options- who needs a centerpiece.)

The seitan I usually make never included tofu, but after looking at ThriftyLiving's recipe, I gave it a go, and it does make for a more tender result. I changed ingredients and quantities somewhat (less tofu, more gluten, also added chickpea flour) to keep it a little more on the firm side, and used poultry seasoning instead of individual dried seasonings. It seems to strike a nice balance between firm and tender, meaning it should hold up in a more liquidy recipe.

I went VeganDad's route, steaming and then baking, but per some advice he gave for one of his roasts, baked only for 30 minutes to avoid a too-dry result. Also I made this rather slender (about 3") to ensure even cooking throughout, but the traditional method is to make it more of a small roast-sized diameter, about 4" or so.

(Update 1/10/10- just made it again today in a 4" roast size, and it cooked through fine in the same amount of time.)

So whatever is on your plate tomorrow, I wish everyone a glad heart, a warm house, and a full tummy!

Turkey Style Seitan

Makes a 26 oz. loaf

¼ cup finely ground almonds (I use a spice grinder for the finest grind)
8 oz. soft or silken tofu, crumbled (if you use extra-firm you will need more water)
3 tsp. broth powder (or amount required for 2 cups broth)
1 Tbs. soy sauce
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup onion, minced, or 2 tsp. onion granules
1 large clove garlic, minced, or 1 tsp. garlic granules
¼ cup chickpea flour
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1½ tsp. dried poultry seasoning
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1¼ cups vital wheat gluten (I use a 6.5 oz. box of Hodgson Mill)

Place ground almonds and crumbled tofu in a blender. Place the broth powder in a measuring cup, adding the soy sauce and enough water to make ½ cup. Stir well and place in the blender.

Add remaining ingredients to blender except gluten. Blend until smooth. Empty the mixture into a large mixing bowl, and blend in gluten until well combined.

Knead the dough briefly to make sure the ingredients are well incorporated, and form into a loaf about 3" to 4" thick. Allow it to rest while setting up and bringing water to boil in a steamer.

Wrap the loaf in a double thickness of aluminum foil, to prevent it from bursting out during steaming and baking. Twist the ends like tootsie rolls.

Steam 50 minutes over simmering water, turning over after 25 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F at the same time.

Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes, turning over after 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the loaf to cool a bit before unwrapping.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Maybe you're not from Texas

But you can pretend you are with Texas Caviar at your next soirée.

Wow. Why did I not know about this before? This has to be one of the all-time greatest nibble foods that has ever appeared on this planet, and it's completely veggie, and I'd never heard of it.

Just proves that WTM needs to get out more.

After a version of this recipe appeared at one of the multitude of baby showers we had this year at work (thanks Stephanie!) I got the recipe (now fondly known as "the bean thing"), then did some web surfing, and adjusted to taste for submission at Thanksgiving.

My 80+ year old father, who is not enamored of anything "weird" (i.e., his mother never made it), was kneeling in front of the coffee table, madly scooping this onto chips before the Thanksgiving feast commenced. What you see here is the last of the bowl, very well drained just to get a picture before I ate the last few scoops- a fresh batch will be juicier and much more photogenic.

Can't wait to try this next year with home grown ingredients (actually, the jalapeno was- and there WILL be cilantro in 2010).

Texas Caviar

15 oz. can shoepeg or yellow corn, drained and well rinsed
15 oz. can black eyed peas, drained and well rinsed
15 oz. can black beans, drained and well rinsed (or use an additional can of black-eyed peas)
15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes, well drained
½ cup bell pepper, finely diced
½ cup red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, minced, and seeded if desired
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 - 4 Tbs. cilantro leaves, slivered

¼ cup olive or sunflower oil
2 - 4 Tbs. red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
2 - 4 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

Mix dressing ingredients thoroughly until the sugar is dissolved.

Pour dressing over ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate for at least an hour, stirring occasionally to distribute dressing.

Serve with tortilla chips or over crisp torn greens and tortilla strips.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Let us now praise famous squash

Or, winter begins. The famed Galeaux d'Eysines from this post made it to the soup pot after all. Said pot will undoubtedly be busy this season.

As soup is about my favorite making-while-drinking-wine meal, an inordinate amount of soup recipes pass through the WTM kitchen. And although lots of people can chop, season, simmer, and serve their way to 30 minute soup, in my case it tends to become more of an off-Broadway production in 3 acts. Which is why dinner frequently ends up being at 11 p.m.

I've got the little white bowl routine down (mise-en-place anyone?) but it still takes far longer than any of the cookbooks or websites will 'fess up to. Guess that's what I get for not having a staff. (Repeat after me: Martha has a staff. They fill the little white bowls. That is why it only takes her 30 minutes to make soup.)

The recipe originated from a few places, as usual (see Sara Moulton's recipe for a jumping off point, and also Robin Robertson's). Coconut milk adds the richness that might otherwise be supplied by heavy (dairy) cream, and I adore it.

Winter Squash Soup

1 or 2 large winter squash, to yield about 3½ cups cooked and drained puree
Vegetable oil for coating pan
1 large onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. curry powder
2 Tbs. Earth Balance or other non-hydrogenated margarine
3 cups light broth
14 oz. can of coconut milk
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 Tbs. sugar or maple syrup
1 tsp. salt, to taste
½ tsp. pepper, to taste

Cut squash in half (or in quarters, if large), and remove seeds. Arrange squash cut side down in an oiled roasting pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until very tender.

Allow to cool. Scoop the flesh into a colander to drain a bit. Reserve about 3½ cups of the cooked, drained puree, and refrigerate any remaining puree for another use (like pancakes!)

Meanwhile, as the squash is baking, heat the margarine in a saucepan over medium low heat, and cook the onion through curry powder for 10 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.

Add the broth, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add 3½ cups drained squash pulp to the saucepan and blend well. Puree the mixture in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth, or use a hand blender directly in the saucepan, for a more rustic (i.e. chunkier) result.

Blend in coconut milk, cider vinegar or lemon juice, and sugar or maple syrup. Add salt and pepper to taste, and adjust other seasonings as desired.

Return the soup to the pan and simmer over moderate heat, adding more broth if necessary to achieve the desired consistency, and heat through.