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

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Savoring success

A beefy style seitan has finally been achieved! (The previous attempt is documented here). Well, if not exactly 'beefy', it is at least darker than my standby turkey seitan, and it has officially been added to the WTM recipe files.

The way it slices up is not much different from the turkey seitan, but it has a deeper flavor and will definitely be more suited to dishes that need that beefy edge.

Often I question the necessity of long ingredient lists in recipes, but I would say none of the ingredients are superfluous in the recipe below; they all contribute to the flavor and texture of the end product. Now if you absolutely can't find one of the seasoning ingredients, give it a go anyway, especially if you will be using the seitan in another dish, and not just all be itself. It will still be good!

I tried to use as many 'real' ingredients as I had on hand for this recipe- i.e., minced onion and garlic instead of dried/granulated, but I also tried soy protein powder, which is of course a highly refined product. It worked great, and I don't eat boatloads of soy protein powder by any stretch, so it's not a concern here. You can use another flour instead of the soy protein if you do have a concern; I typically use garbanzo bean flour for sausages or turkey seitan.

Vegan beef-style broth powder, Marmite, and Liquid Smoke are also refined and/or concentrated products, but the small amounts used in the recipe contribute greatly in the flavor department. OK, that finishes the justification of the non-whole food ingredients!

Vegan Worcestershire (Wooster) sauce is becoming more widely available, so don't skip it if you can find it. Google it to find a recipe for homemade if your store doesn't carry it. The link is for a Martha Stewart (of all people) vegan Wooster sauce- go figure... I will post my version at some point, but usually get the Wizard brand if in a pinch.

There is no table salt added, as there is plenty of salty going on in the Tamari and Marmite, at least for my taste. And the black pepper seemed to be just enough- I get a hint on the back of the tongue, nothing that screams "Pepper!" I think sometimes people over-season meat and dairy alternatives to try to 'make up' for them not being meat or dairy. It's just not always necessary. At any rate the seasonings may be adjusted to taste.

Using a combination of steaming and baking makes this tender, yet plenty firm enough for thin slicing. I think steaming/baking has become my method of choice for larger seitan roasts, but I will likely continue to use just steaming for smaller sausages that cook more quickly. They seem to firm up just fine with steam all by its lonesome.

Savory Seitan Roast
Makes ~ 3 lbs.

Dry ingredients (will be about 4 cups, not packed):
2½ cups vital wheat gluten (two 6.5 oz. boxes of Hodgson Mill)
½ cup soy protein powder
½ cup finely ground almonds
½ cup nutritional yeast
1 Tbs. vegan beef-style broth powder (or 2 vegan beef-style bouillon cubes, blended with the wet ingredients to dissolve)
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Wet ingredients (will be about 28 oz.):
15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained, or about 1-2/3 cups home cooked (start with 4 oz. dry beans)
1½ cups water
½ cup minced onion (about half of a medium onion)
¼ cup Tamari or regular soy sauce
¼ cup neutral tasting oil (such as light olive oil or canola oil)
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 Tbs. minced garlic (about 2 medium-large cloves)
1 Tbs. vegan Worcestershire sauce (preferred), or steak sauce
2 tsp. Marmite (available in the 'international' section of the grocery store)
2 tsp. liquid smoke

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. In a blender, puree the wet ingredients. Scrape the wet puree into the dry mix, blend well, and knead to form a smooth dough. Shape into a loaf about 4" in diameter. Now it's a roast!

Prepare a steamer with at least an inch of water in the bottom, and bring water to a boil.

While water is coming to a boil, cut about a 24" length of foil and place roast in the middle of the foil, long sides of roast parallel to long sides of foil. You can wrap the roast in parchment first if you prefer- some people don't like the foil contacting the seitan, but I don't think these conditions are going to leach aluminum into the food.

Wrap foil up snugly around the roast, place in the covered steamer, and steam with heat reduced to maintain a steady simmer for 30 minutes.

Turn roast over in the steamer, meanwhile preheating the oven to 350° F, and allow to steam covered for 15 more minutes.

When finished steaming, place roast in the preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. I took this roast out after 30 minutes, and it turned out great, but will try 40 minutes next time to see if it gets even a little firmer without drying out.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit before slicing. The roast will firm up even more after refrigeration.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super [Something] Bowl Sunday

Since I've never exactly been a football fan, today is not being spent prepping for the Super Bowl, but painting doors and occasionally checking in on the Toilet Bowl! The all day bath renovation blow-out extravaganza on the DIY (Do-it-Yourself) network!

I have picked two squares in the Super Bowl pool at work, however, and fully expect to NOT win any quarter, as in the past. But if by some miracle my numbers win (8-0 or 2-7, Steelers-Packers) that could mean two gallons of paint per quarter, woo-hoo! So I may have to switch from the TB to the SB to check the game from time to time, just to see how much paint I've won!

The brothers and Dad are gathering at his house to consume mass quantities watch the game, so yesterday I took over some supplies- Dad's weekly ration of Banana Bread, and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies, to make sure they get their sugar quota met. The bro's will take care of the salt, fat, and alcohol quota.

Oatmeal cookies are my absolute favorites and frankly I could skip the chocolate component, but once in a while some chips are OK. This batch started out with the original Nestle Choc-Oat-Chip Cookies recipe, and is dead-easy to make plant-based. Unfortunately the store I went to at the last minute didn't have non-dairy chips, so I did get the dairy kind for this batch, but next time I will plan ahead and stop at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods to get just plain ol' no milk chocolate chips.

For this batch I only made half a recipe (although the quantities below are for a full recipe), used Earth Balance and soy milk for the original butter and dairy milk, and egg replacer for the egg. Also I doubled the soy milk since the batter seemed a bit dry, and may add a tablespoon or so more next time, so they spread out a little better. Finally- no nuts! These cookies are chunky enough for my taste, but if you want, add a cup of chopped nuts with the chocolate chips, as per the original recipe.

These guys are scrumptious but very rich, so proceed with caution! I advise following cookie consumption with lengthy dog-walking, if you are not yelling yourself silly at a Super (or Toilet) Bowl party.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Makes 5 dozen ~2½" cookies

1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt

1¼ cups packed brown sugar
1 cup Earth Balance
½ cup granulated sugar

2 prepared egg replacer servings
4 Tbs. soy or almond milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

2½ cups quick or old-fashioned oats
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour through salt in small bowl. Blend brown sugar through granulated sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Blend in egg replacer through vanilla.

Gradually blend in the flour mixture. Stir in oats and chocolate chips and mix well. Place rounded tablespoons on ungreased baking sheets. I got thirty 2½" cookies from a half recipe, so expect sixty of the same size for the full recipe.

Bake 9-10 minutes for chewy cookies or 12-13 minutes for crispy cookies. My preference is crispy, and 13 minutes should be perfect, but I let them go for 15 minutes last time and some of the chips at the bottom of the cookies burned a bit.

Remove pans from the oven and cool for a couple of minutes in the pans, then remove cookies from the pans and place on wire racks to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container.