Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Scrumptious Seitan Tacos

I'm a little embarrassed to say I've never cooked (or eaten) seitan. Back in my meat-eating days I enjoyed chicken tacos. I figured I'd make a vegan version with seitan. I bought a 8 ounce package of Westsoy seitan strips instead of making it myself. Many of the recipes for seitan tacos call for black beans - too much protein for me. Instead I used half of package of organic broccoli-carrot slaw. (Next time I'll use the whole package.) I also dialed up the flavor with the addition of some pinot noir that was languishing in the fridge. I was so thrilled with the results I was eating it out of the pan.


1 tbsp of olive oil
2-3 scallions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 fresh jalapeno, diced
1 tbsp of cumin
2 tsp of red chile powder
1 tsp of coriander
salt & pepper to taste
8 ounce package of seitan, chopped a bit
1 15-oz can of diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained; reserve liquid
1/2 10-ounce package of broccoli-carrot slaw
1/2 cup red wine
salt and pepper to taste
taco shells
diced zucchini, tomatoes, avacodo, etc. for garnish

Preheat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onions, garlic and jalapeno until limp. Add spices and stir for a minute or so. Add seitan, broccoli slaw, tomatoes & chilies, some of the reserved liquid and wine. Cook down, add more of the reserved liquid if necessary.

This would make excellent filling for burritos, tostadas, or even a wrap. Serve with Mexi-Tatie Nuggets.

Mexi-Tatie Nuggets

Never met a potato I didn't like. This is quick and easy and goes great with the Scrumptious Seitan Tacos (see post).

4 small potatoes, washed and diced into 1/2 inch chunks
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of red chile powder
1 tsp of cumin
1/2 tsp of garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients into a plastic bag and shake until potatoes are coated. Put on prepared cookie sheet and bake at 425 for around 40 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Pizza with Daiya Vegan Cheese

The biggest issue to becoming a vegan was "giving up" cheese. I used it a lot in my cooking. Too much, in fact. I had to rethink my cooking and quit making cheese "the star of the show." Now, I really don't miss it. However, I have to admit to using fake cheese from time to time. There is a Lisette Jalapeno Cheese made from almonds that I really like to have on crackers when I need a little snack. It's a tasty cheese imposter with a little bite. For my pizzas I've been using a ricotta-like basil mixture from tofu that is quite yummy. But I kept reading about this "Daiya Vegan Cheese." Google it and you will see there are a lot of fans. Here is a pizza I made with it. And you know, I'm just not wild about it. It's... okay. To be honest, I think I'd prefer to make a basil "ricotta" cheese and dress my pizza with that. Anyway, here's a QUICK & EASY pizza I made using my favorite techniques. I urge you to make one and you be the judge.

dough for 1 pizza
sauce of your choice
toppings of your choice
Daiya cheese, shredded

1) Preheat your oven (and pizza stone) to 500 degrees for 30 minutes. Use dough on hand from the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes book (see my posts on this wonderful book). It's as simple as going to your fridge and hacking off a piece of dough.

2) Roll the pizza dough out on a pizza peel with a piece of parchment paper. That's my secret. That way my pizza NEVER gets stuck on the peel when I try to put it in the oven.

3) Add all your goodies to the dough. Try to be conservative and not overdo it. I also like to brush a bit of olive oil on the exposed dough.

4) Slide the pizza with the parchment paper on to the pizza stone and cook around 8 minutes if you are using the Daiya cheese. About half way through the baking cycle, slide the parchment paper out from underneath the pizza so it can crisp up on the bottom. The Daiya cheese needs to be shredded and added the last several minutes. Bon appetit!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Uber Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

The book "Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar" have a version of this recipe that is quite good but I cannot leave well enough alone - got to make it healthier, less sweet, etc. This recipe makes about 2-1/2 dozen cookies.

2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup white whole wheat flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cup sugar*
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
2/3 cup soy, rice, or almond milk
2/3 cup walnut oil
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon chocolate extract
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 and line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix together the first seven (dry) ingredients.

In a large bowl, beat together sugar, flax, and milk until smooth. Add oil and both extracts and beat until well mixed. Fold in half the flour mixture and stir until moist; add the rest of flour mixture and mix until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop a generous tablespoon on to cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until firm. Let sit for a few minutes before transferring to wire rack. Store in tightly covered container.

*Use smaller amount of sugar if you like your cookies less sweet.

Bavarian Wheat Beer

I just have this "thing" about making it myself that has extended into beer. This is the 34th batch of beer I've made. The wheat beers are fairly simple and straight forward to make. This recipe assumes some knowledge of home brewing. If you've never made beer, go to youtube and watch some videos. There are also plenty of websites with information. The only thing to remember is to keep it clean (as in clean & sanitize) and have fun with it. It is so satisfying to brew the beer, watch it ferment, bottle it and then drink it. Cheers!

Bavarian Wheat Beer (5 gallons)
6.25 lbs. liquid wheat extract
1.5 lbs. dry light extract
1/2 ounce Tettnanger hops (boil 60 minutes)
1 ounce Tettnanger hops (boil 30 minutes)
1/2 ounce Tettnanger (steeped after boil)
1 packet of Wyeast 3638 Bavarian Wheat yeast

My beers have been most successful when I've made yeast starters. It takes forethought and several extra days but it is worth it. Trust me. If you're brewing on Saturday, begin your starter on Tuesday.

2 cups water
1/2 cup dry malt extract

day one
Boil water and extract for 10 minutes. Put a lid on the pot the last couple of minutes to sanitize the lid and keep stuff from flying in while it's cooling. Watch the pot closely to make sure it doesn't boil over. Cool pot in water. Have a sanitized 1/2 gallon jug ready. Add cooled extract, add yeast, cap and shake till foamy. Put on stopper with airlock. I like to wrap a hand towel around the bottle. Everytime you pass by it, give it a few swirls to add oxygen to the mix and keep the yeasties happy.

day two
2 cups water
1/2 cup dry malt extract
Boil as above for 10 minutes. When cool, add to the 1/2 gallon jug that's already going. Keep paying attention and swirling as above. It needs you.

day three
Repeat all the steps from day two.

day four
Everything should be all settled down (i.e., no foam). Time to "cold crash" the starter. Put it in the fridge for 24 hours before brewing. If it sits a day or two, that's okay.

I have a 4 gallon pot I brew in. If you have a bigger one, use that. Fill with water about 2/3 full. Bring to boil. Take off heat and add DRY extract. Put back on heat, stir to dissolve and bring back the boil. Add the "60 minute" hops. Cook for 30 minutes and add the "30 minute" hops. Boil for 15 minutes and add the 6.25 lbs. of liquid extract. This is called a "late extract addition" and it will make your beer tastier. Get it boiling again and boil for 15 minutes. Add the "steeping" hops and take off the heat. Cool pot in sink filled with cold ice water. I like to drain and add more water and ice after about 20 minutes. The main thing is to cool it as quickly as you can. If you can get it to around 80-90 degrees that's great.

Add to sanitized 6 gallon fermenting bucket or 6 gallon jug. Add enough cool, clean water to bring the level to 5 gallons. Aerate the hell out of the wort. I like to use my immersion blender. DO have one of those self-stick temperature gauges on the side. When the temperature is down to 62-68 degrees (lower is better if you can wait that long) get your starter ready. Take it out of the fridge, drain off all the liquid, leaving the yeast layer on the bottom. I have some sanitized water that I add, maybe a cup or so, and swirl it to loosen the yeast layer. Pour in to the fermenting jug. Put on the lid with stopper and airlock.

If you're fermenting in a clear jug, you will see fermenting begin in just a few hours. If you're using a bucket, you'll just have to peek every now and then. I use a bucket and it doesn't fit tight enough for the airlock to bubble. Not to worry; I peek and I see activity - nice big head of foam. After 10-14 days when the krausen (foam) has dropped, you're ready to bottle.

Have ready 2 cases of clean, sanitized beer bottles and caps. Make a priming solution with 3/4 cups dextrose and 2 cups water; boil 10 minutes. Cool and add to bottling bucket. Siphon beer from fermenting bucket into bottling bucket. Bottle. Let bottles sit in 66-70 degrees for about a week and try one out. If it's nice and carbonated, move the rest to a cool, dark spot. Enjoy!

Roasted Tomatillo and Black Bean Tacos

This is adapted from a Vegetarian Times recipe. The ingredients used queso fresco cheese and sour cream. I substituted that with Pine Nut Cream which is quite rich and delicious. This is a lot of stuff for a taco and if you can't control yourself (like me) make a burrito instead!

3/4 lb. fresh whole tomatillos, husks removed, cut in half
1/2 red onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 small red bell pepper, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
3 Tbs. coarsely chopped cilantro
1-1/2 tsp. minced jalapeño pepper
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
4 6-inch corn tortillas, warmed
1 small avocado, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
corn kernels, I used organic canned
drizzle with Pine Nut Cream (see recipe)

To prepare fresh tomatillos, strip off the husks and rinse under warm water to remove any sticky sap clinging to the skin. Cut out tough part of top stem.

Preheat oven to broil. Place oven rack 3 inches from heat source. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray, and spread tomatillos, onion, red bell pepper, and garlic on baking sheet. Broil 8-12 minutes, or until tomatillos are blistered and charred, and onion and bell pepper are softened and charred, tossing once halfway through cooking time.

Pulse roasted vegetables and cilantro in food processor until chunky. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix tomatillo sauce with black beans.

Fill tortillas with black bean mixture, avocado, corn kernals, Pine Nut Cream and sprouts.

Pine Nut Cream

Use this delicious cream on the Black Bean Tacos or anything else that needs a dash of something tart and flavorful.

1 12 ounce box of soft silken tofu
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons corn starch
1 garlic clove, chopped

Buzz all of the above ingredients in your food processor until smooth.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tofu Curry Stir Fry with Red Wine Sauce

I had some leftovers: half a 16 ounce package of tofu, a little jar of Red Curry Paste, cabbage, and some pinot noir sitting in the fridge. Oh, what to make! This turned out quite delicious...

8 ounces of firm tofu, drained, cubed
bit of olive oil
2 scallions, sliced
5 large mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1/2 - 3/4 cup red wine
large chunk of cabbage, chopped

Heat oil and add tofu. Saute until lightly browned. Add scallions and mushrooms and saute till mushrooms start to wilt. Add red curry paste to wine in small bowl and mix to thin paste. Add to pan. Add cabbage, place lid on pan and cook for several minutes until sauce cooks down a bit and cabbage is al dente. Good served over brown rice or quinoa.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hash Browns VitaMix Style

I finally sprung for a VitaMix, which is basically a blender on steroids. It's pretty sweet. So far I have made a couple of soups and hummus. I adore hash browns so I thought I'd try out their recipe for it. It's very fast! The potatoes are in small chunks instead of shreds but that's okay with me. You might want to add enough oil to make it crust up better than mine - I tend to be stingy with the oil.

Hash Browns VitaMix Style
1 tablespoon or more olive oil
2-3 potatoes, chopped in large chunks
onion to taste, in large chunks (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

Put the potatoes in blender. Cover with water to about the 6 cup mark. Blend on high for 10 seconds. Pour into strainer, rinse, and press dry. Heat up pan with oil and add potato mixture, pressing down. Add salt and pepper.

Cook on low-medium heat until brown on bottom. Loosen the bottom. Place plate on top of skillet, hold it tight and carefully flip the skillet so the potatoes are on the plate. Slide potatoes back into the skillet and cook until brown.

Quck & Easy Cabbage Tofu Soup

I was hungry and wanted to make something fairly quickly. I really like the Garden Vegetable Soup but I needed a little more "oomph." So this is the Garden Vegetable Soup with an Asian twist.

Cabbage Tofu Soup
1 tsp olive oil
ginger, fresh, diced, about 1 tablespoon
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 scallions, or other onion, chopped
1 small hot pepper
2 carrots, sliced
16 oz. tub of firm tofu, drained and cubed
3 cups vegetable broth
1-1/2 cups diced green cabbage
1 tablespoon miso
1 tablespoon Shoyu or other soy sauce
2-3 tsp of good tasting boullion
1 zucchini, cut on the diagonal and then sliced into half moons

Heat oil in large pot. Add ginger, garlic, onion, pepper, carrots, and and saute a bit. Add some broth if it gets too dry. Add tofu and saute until browned. Add rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the zucchini. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add zucchini and simmer 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.