Friday, September 28, 2012

All Hail Seitan!

Because of a recent sauerkraut jag, I went searching for recipes for vegan reubens and in the process found this blog ( It turned out GREAT the very first time I tried it, which in turn got me experimenting with making my own "chicken"-style seitan....and here you go! 

The "Corned Beef" style seitan

Liz' Vegan Reuben! NOM!

Chicken-Style Seitan
Mix thoroughly in food processor:
1/2 cup chickpeas
1 tbsp oil
1 cup water
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons Frontier brand vegetarian broth powder 'chicken' style
1/2 tsp dried mustard
Transfer to a large bowl and stir in with a fork:

1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten

Make sure all dry flour is well incorporated; I knead it lightly a few times, but I've been hesitant to knead a lot, because I don't want an overly smooth consistency in the final product.

Shape 'dough' into a rectangle, that will fit into whatever steaming device you have. Wrap well in foil, double-folding seams. BUT: don't wrap too tightly - the seitan will expand somewhat during cooking. Steam over medium-low heat for 45 minutes to one hour, depending on how thick your "loaf" is. After 40 minutes, start checking your loaf - it should be not sticky or doughy, slightly darkened, slightly but not too rubbery. If you steam at too high a heat, your seitan will be tougher than a rubber ball, so don't be hasty!

Allow to cool to room temperature, and slice, chunk or whatever! Keeps well in fridge for up to two weeks, but is definitely tastiest and has the best consistency in the first three days. I haven't tried freezing it yet, but I will let you know how that goes when I do. Below are two tacos I made in the cafe - Jamaican Jerk Tacos with Fresh Mango Salsa, and Korean Tacos. ENJOY!

Jamaican Jerk Tacos with Fresh Mango Salsa

Korean Tacos with Kimchi

Again, thanks to Vegan Dad for the inspiration and instructions for making seitan! (

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Banh Mi Obsession, and whatnot....

So, thanks to a friend of mine posting on the FaceBook about his favorite new Vietnamese place (The friend = Richard Wolfgramm, the place = Oh Mai Vietnamese Kitchen), I have been obsessed with pickled daikon radish. So, you know what that means....searching the wide wide world of web and playing with new recipes. I have made the same flavors serve my appetite in spring roll, noodle salad, and sandwich form!

Step One: Carrot & Daikon Pickle

So, this one's simple but intense. Also, daikon stinks something fierce. Just a friendly warning :-)
Cut a large daikon and a couple of large carrots into matchsticks.
In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 cup rice vinegar to a boil. Fill jars or tupperware with veggies and pour the slightly cooled liquid over them. Let sit for a hour before using and will stay good in the fridge for at least 4 weeks. One recipe I tried had you salt the veggies and let them soften until they would bend in half without breaking, then rinse, dry, and pour on the sauce sans salt. I didn't detect much of a difference between the two kinds myself, and I'm lazy :-)

Step Two: Vietnamese Curry Powder, from

  • 4 large bay leaves
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
  • 2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds (or 1 teaspoon ground)
  • 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon annatto powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons turmeric
  1. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.
  2. Toast whole spices for 30-45 seconds by placing them in the hot pan and occasionally shake the pan or stir the spices with a wooden spoon or chopsticks to prevent them from burning.
  3. Place whole spices in an electric spice/coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder.
  4. Add the powdered spices to the grinder and pulse for a few seconds to mix well.
  5. Store in airtight container away from direct sunlight.
Makes about 1/2 cup of curry powder. I used cayenne for the "chili powder" since it didn't specify what kind. Also, I didn't have annatto powder, so I simply left it out.

Step Three: Sweet Chili Dressing

4 garlic cloves
2 red jalapenos, or 2 tsp red chili paste from the jars with the lime green lids
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon potato starch (cornstarch would work just fine)

Throw everything but the starch in a blender. Blend it up! Bring to a boil in small saucepan, then make a slurry of starch plus 2 tablespoons water (slurry= watery paste, blended well with fork or whisk). Add slowly to sauce while stirring. Cook until it thickens a bit.

Step Four: Currify something as a base

There's many options here. I've done onions, mung bean sprouts, tofu, and rice noodles in various combinations.

1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon vietnamese curry powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups whatever you want to curry.

Warm oil, saute powder for a few minutes until nice and fragrant. Add salt and whatever else, keeping in mind that onion would work better cooked for much much longer than the rest of the options (when doing onions, I turn the heat way down and cover the pan for a while, stirring occasionally until they are super soft). Taste and adjust curry powder and salt.

Step Five: Assemble!
Really, let your imagination go wild. My crucial ingredients are listed below:
Cucumber, sliced
Cilantro and other fresh herbs if you've got 'em, like thai basil, mint....
Jalapeno, thinly sliced
Lettuce or Arugula

Baguette for Sandwich-style
Rice Paper wrappers for spring roll-style
Tortillas for taco-style

Go nuts! And...Enjoy!

Here's the Taco version I made at work!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Atlanta Vegan Quest...or, how I cemented my idea of what constitutes a "Jerk Burger"

In March 2012, I tagged along with my better half on a work trip to Atlanta, which spawned some fascinating cuisine experiences. I found a hip vegan bakery/cafe, visited a crazy "Farmers Market," ate at a vegetarian Buddhist restaurant, and tried a vegan "soul food" restaurant run/inspired by the African Hebrew Isrealites of Jerusalem organization...all of which will figure into the next few blog entries!

The first, Jamaican Jerk Burgers, was modeled after a sandwich Russ had at World Peace Cafe, the aforementioned Buddhist establishment ( I'm no restaurant reviewer, so I'll leave out the critique and just say that I knew I had to try to make a better version when I got home, and I did! The jerk seasoning paste keeps well in the fridge, so now I try to have some on hard for whenever the mood strikes. This isn't a quick meal, but it is so worth it...

Liz' Jamaican Jerk Burger:

Okay, here are all the components. I suggest starting the lentils and quinoa, then making the salsa and slaw (make the jerk seasoning paste in advance and have it in your fridge, that's easiest - or make it first). 

Jerk Seasoning, adapted from The Ethnic Vegetarian by Angela Shelf Medearis:
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon dried thyme
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon yellow onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, including seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Pulse first five ingredients in a food processor to chop finely. Add the rest of the spices and mix well. I've been known to splash a little apple cider vinegar to help smooth out the paste. Store in a well-sealed glass jar in your fridge...

Jerk Patties:
1 cup red lentils, cooked until starting to get mushy, drain & let cool
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well, and cooked in 2 cups of water until soft, about ten minutes of boiling followed by ten minutes of sitting covered. Drain if necessary and mix with lentils in a large bowl.
3/4 cup shredded carrots
Mix the following together and then mix well in bowl with the first three ingredients:
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 tablespoon Jerk seasoning paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Form into patties and gently fry in a non-stick pan.

Mango Salsa:
2 ripe mangoes, diced (or pineapple if you can't find nice ripe mango)
1 small red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced jalapeno

Mix all ingredients together.

Coconut-Cilantro Slaw:
1 small head green cabbage, cut as for slaw
Pulverize in food processor or blender:
1 cup cilantro stems and leaves
Juice of one lime
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup dried shredded coconut, soaked in 1/4 cup very hot water for 10 minutes (do not drain)

Mix dressing and cabbage well, allow to sit to let flavors meld for 30 minutes, then adjust salt.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Back to the Blog

Good is crazy to think about how long it has been since I posted anything here! Not that I haven't been busy having lots of culinary adventures - I simply got out of the habit of blogging about them. I think I'll choose to blame my lack of motivation on being the parent of teenagers. EVERYTHING is THEIR FAULT!! :-)