Sep 29, 2011

PPK - american vegan kitchen III

Take Three.

PPK and AVK. Great pair!

Tonight's American Vegan Kitchen (by Tami Noyes) meal was the Southern Fried Seitan with Mashed Potatoes and Homestyle Gravy. It is so much fun to watch the kids' reactions when we are having something they love! And they loved this. I doubled the recipe (which calls for a measly 4 seitan cutlets) and doubled the mashed potatoes and gravy while I was at it. David had just enough to take to work the next day. It's like the kids fill up on the good stuff in anticipation of all the vegetables that will be coming their way sometime in the future. Like I said, so much fun to watch. 

There really is nothing much to report with this recipe. Awesome. That covers it. I made the seitan the day before and then the rest was easy to put together. Peeling the potatoes was the biggest pain. I did add more than twice the milk called for for the mashed potatoes, but I'm pretty sure that is a personal preference and is optional. The gravy kicked some potato rear - super tasty. 

I usually make the gravy last and then I am scrambling to put it all on the table before the food gets cold. This time I made the gravy while the potatoes were cooking and covered it with a plastic wrap to keep it from developing a 'skin.' Worked out very well. I just reheated it a bit when the seitan were nearing their final cooking. 

The only thing I forgot this time, and the kids cheered, was a vegetable dish. Potatoes count in some countries, right?

I did manage to get a dessert made, though! Priorities, folks. Cherry Turnovers. Tami's recipe uses a pie crust, but being lazy by this point, I used puff pastry. The store had it on sale and I wanted more of a turnover than a hand-pie. Not to mention I didn't have to make the crust. So good! And so quick to make. Get the filling made well ahead of time, though, since it needs to cool thoroughly.

We felt like we were celebrating something with this meal. Isn't Hug A Vegetarian Day coming up?

Sep 28, 2011

PPK american vegan kitchen apps

Tonight we enjoyed a trio of appetizers from AVK, by Tamasin Noyes.  We have a Halloween Party coming up and I figured since Tami has some great apps in AVK I would use my family as humane test-subjects. The kids asked if indeed this was dinner, but, my all-powerful-and-knowing-self knew they wouldn't need more food after these.

Baked Poppers with Lime Cream, Deli Reubenettes and Stick-to-Your-Ribs Pot-Sticker.
Quite a line up!

The Poppers are supposed to be jalapenos, but I wanted the kids to try them, so I used small sweet peppers. David and I really liked these and even some of the non-pepper-hating-kids (Cat) liked them. They turned out crispy and crunchy from the oven - just make sure to broil them a bit at the end if the panko seems to be too light. 

AVK Correction: The oil in the 7-in-1 Seasoning Recipe (p. 53) is not supposed to be in there, so omit it. 
(This has been confirmed with Tami.)

Next, the Pot-sticker. The filling was a breeze to assemble! That is when the wind was knocked out of me ... those little wrappers take a village to assemble, forget raising any kids... unless you raise them to help assemble their dinner. No wonder people who are in the know gather in groups to assemble these diminutive packages of food...tamales, stuffed cabbage, pot-stickers, raviolis, egg-rolls, steamed buns, etc. Good thinking, folks! Nevertheless, they are worth it! Stuff and seal..stuff and seal..stuff and...

Last, the Deli Reubenettes stole the dinner by a long shot. NONE of these were left over and I even made about 1/2 a recipe more than the book allocated. Call it a mother's intuition. I changed up the presentation (and therefore the assembly) of these since I was so tired of encasing food in small packages. Instead of stuffing the filling into a triangular package of puff pastry, I cut the pastry into rectangles, baked them, separated each square into two parts, topped each part with a tablespoon of filling and a dollop of the dipping sauce. The puff pastry goes a long way with this method, and my back is saved from a proportional amount of packing-pain. Win-win. And totally a do-again. Nice job, Tami. This is on the Halloween Party platter, but Cat suggested we add green food-coloring to the dipping sauce to make it festive. Ye-ah!

From left: Jalapeno Poppers, Reubennettes, Potstickers

Sep 27, 2011

PPK - american vegan kitchen

Post Punk Kitchen has begun their Cookbook Challenge! For the next 11 weeks, they are challenging the veg community to dive into their vegan cookbooks (assigned weekly) and post to their heart's content. Last year I participated in the week that Tami's American Vegan Kitchen was up, and I am doing so again this year. It is a challenge in itself to not duplicate recipes I've already made and posted about, but I will do my best.

Leafing through the book, Spaghetti Pie with Arrabbiata Sauce jumped out at me, mainly because it looked easy to make. If you turn to the page, perhaps that might not be your first thought upon scanning the ingredients list as it spans the left side of the page. On closer inspection, it becomes a relief that one-third of said ingredients are spices, easily and quickly measured and added to the recipe. The spaghetti is put into a pan, the tofu mixture is added on top and the arrabbiatta sauce (spicy tomato sauce) is spread on top of that. The whole thing is baked and then devoured. At least that's what happened at our table.

We only had a slight problem when it became obvious that the pound of pasta, 2 or so cups of tofu mixture and about a quart of tomato sauce was definitely not going to fit in our baking pan and needed to be divided among two pans. When making it yourself use your judgment. It actually turned out for the better; we scarfed one pan and have the other one waiting in the fridge for the weekend.

Since we are challenging ourselves, the kids challenged me to make dessert. Well, why not? I seldom make sweets and AVK has plenty of it. Chocolate Chip Quick Cake was the natural choice, in keeping with the theme. Very quick (Tami's right!) and delicious. It made just the right amount, too. With five of us, there was nothing left over and no one argued about the last slice since there was none. Perfect. 

Spaghetti Pie

Chocolate Chip Quick Cake

Sep 21, 2011

seitan roast with sausage and pear stuffing and onion-cider gravy

The holidays are fast approaching - it seems faster and faster each year and I seem to get slower and slower with preparing for it! As I was making the Food Network Friday dish last week, I started thinking of different ways to stuff seitan, different methods to cook said stuffed seitan and the different occasions that would be great to have it at.

Last year I did the Holiday Roast, which most resembles a turkey in texture and stature. This year, I wanted to have another option, equally elegant and yet different enough from the Holiday Roast to be appropriate for the holiday table. In addition, I wanted to get it out on the blog to give folks enough time to plan for it. Hence our family's Holiday Dinner in September. Even the kids asked what we were celebrating.

The gluten contains only 8 ingredients, which I am loving a bunch. It is working out really well and is excellent without any weird seitan-y aftertaste.

The gluten is a modified version of last week's FNF, being pliable enough to stretch well and yet strong enough to not rip. I made a sausage (Tofurkey, but homemade, Field Roast or any other sausage would work equally well) and dried pear stuffing - dried apples, raisins, figs, cranberries would be great as well. The roast is braised in the oven for 3 hours and allowed to cool. On the day of the event, sear it in a pan and reheat it in the oven for about an hour. If you stuff the gluten so that it is thinner on the top than the bottom, it will bake into a thin, crispy sheet on the top, which you can see on the second pic.

I served this with an Onion-Cider Gravy, easy to make and complemented the dried fruit in the stuffing, and a Cauliflower Puree. After watching Hell's Kitchen for the umpteenth time,  Cauliflower Puree is a must have for any sophisticated 5-star meal. That and it tastes really good! Steam the cauliflower, drain well, puree in a food processor until it is very creamy, adding a few tablespoons of vegan butter. This will take a few minutes so don't stop short. After pureeing, season with salt, pepper and chives and a little bit of sugar if it is too bitter and let it cool until dinner. Reheat in a pot, stirring often for a few minutes, until hot. After making this, you too will feel a kinship with Ramsey. He can't be that bad - he went on Ellen to cut his finger. The irony.

Sep 16, 2011

FNF - stuffed chicken with smoked mozzarella, rapini and roasted tomatoes


Food Network Friday

FNF, hosted by Tamasin Noyes of American vegan Kitchen, Grills Gone Vegan and an upcoming sandwich cookbook, is recreating Robert Irvine's Stuffed Chicken with Smoked Mozzarella, Rapini and Roasted Tomatoes. Irvine happens to be one of my favorite Food TV chefs mainly because he isn't afraid to cook vegetarian. On the Dinner: Impossible show, he has always made sure to have at least one vegetarian option, as lame as his choice sometimes happen to be.  When he was replaced by that clod "Iron Chef," Michael Symon, my blood boiled - only Emeril and Paula beat him out for being more anti-veg.

This recipe was another something-stuffed with something and then baked.  I have posted two stuffed seitan recipes: one that was braised and one that was baked. I chose the straightforward approach here and just  baked the stuffed gluten with the smokey Daiya and roasted rapini and tomatoes. There are no commercially available smoked vegan cheeses, but it is a simple matter of adding a few drops of liquid smoke to the gluten stuffing. The gluten was very pliable and soft (another gluten recipe that needs more testing, but for which I will post the recipe as is). After stuffing, I rolled the gluten in some panko crumbs and baked them for about an hour. You must make sure to seal up the raw gluten around the filling very well otherwise you will wind up with more melted cheese on your pan than in your seitan.

The potatoes that accompany Irvine's recipe are simply roasted in the oven along with the seitan. I sprinkled ours with smoked salt to echo the smoke in the gluten rolls. They turned out buttery and creamy with just a slight smokey flavor.

The kids, especially Kate, really enjoyed this. In fact, while Mikel and Cat were picking out the strings of rapini stems, Kate casually glanced over as she meticulously cut her stuffed seitan and nonchalantly commented that, "Honestly, you can't even taste the rapini." As an adult, I can testify that you can indeed taste it, but as far as I am concerned, if it isn't discernible to a ten year-old, that's just fine by me.

Cost Breakdown

gluten: $1
olive oil: $1
tomato, rapini: $7
Cribari Tokay: $15
(Opici Marsala is vegan - thanks, Tami!)
shallot, veg stock, thyme: $1.50
Daiya: $5
potato, butter: $2.50
chives: $.25
Total to make 6 servings:

Sep 11, 2011

chiocciole with vodka sauce

Butter and Cream. Two highly difficult, if not impossible, flavors to veganize well.

Vodka Sauce is a basic tomato sauce, with vodka added, and at the end, cream stirred in. There are many 'creamer' substitutes on the market, Silk, So Delicious Coconut, and Mimic are a few that come to mind. Any of these would be appropriate to use as a creamer substitute (make sure they are unsweetened). For this recipe I used readily available vegan sour cream (I am not sure about this claim globally) and non-dairy milk instead of dairy cream. I normally use homemade almond or cashew cream, but I have noticed that these 'break' when heated, so if using nut creamers made at home (without the laboratory-induced stabilizers), do not heat the sauce after adding the 'cream.'

Since this is a Vodka Sauce, use a vegan vodka (Absolut, Skyy, Stoli are vegan friendly according to, but you won't need much, so unless you are also throwing a vegan dinner party, buy small or have an after dinner cocktail.

The pasta I tossed this with is called Chiocciole. Simple sauce on unique macaroni.

I tend not to cook a whole pound of pasta for our family of five as we tend to have too much leftover, but I did this time. Creamy sauces are a favorite at our house and the lack of other vegetables to round out the dish made me sure that the family was going to pile on the starch. As predicted, there was very little leftover, and what remained was secretly eaten by a lucky breakfast-er. If it was solely up to me, this would have been Pasta Primavera with Vodka Sauce - with the addition of lots of sauteed vegetables. I gave in this time and let the majority's voice rule. Just every once in a while. 

Cost Breakdown

pasta: $3
tomatoes: $2
vodka: $.50
vegan sour cream and milk: $1.50
onion, garlic, herbs: $1.50
Total to make 5 servings:


Sep 7, 2011

muffoletta salad

Central Grocery store in New Orleans is the site of the first Muffoletta sandwich, said to have been invented by Salvatore Lupo, a Sicilian immigrant. In the late 1800's there was an influx of Italian immigrants who found their homes in New Orleans and became sort of Creole-Italians. This sandwich is mainly known for its olive salad, but the bread the sandwich is traditionally served on is itself also known as a mufuletta, a close cousin of the focacccia bread. 

Legend has it that Salvatore's grocery customers would buy some meats, cheeses, olive salad and bread and eat them individually, the ingredients balancing perilously on their knees. Salvatore offered to slice the bread and layer everything into it. And so was born the Muffoletta Sandwich. 

Since this sandwich has earned quite a bit of popularity and since Tami and Celine have the sandwich world well in hand, I decided to convert this sandwich into a salad. The Olive Salad part of this salad is the main component and well made ones are sought after with gusto. My Olive Salad is bursting with green and black olives, pimientos, sun-dried tomatoes (not authentic), garlic, capers, pickled cauliflower and carrots, pepperocinis, olive oil and herbs. I couldn't let the bread just disappear; I made fresh croutons with some Italian bread, laced with plenty of garlic and oregano. 

The Muffoletta Salad is vegan cold cuts, Follow your Heart cheeses, pear tomatoes, grilled onions and the Olive Salad covering shredded lettuce. The dressing is the olive salad itself with the acid coming from the pickled fruits and the olive oil providing the body. Julienne everything, even shredding the lettuce, and you are transported to the Central Grocer, circa 1906, sitting with Salvatore, enjoying a new rendition of his now-infamous sandwich, inhaling a bit of history with each bite.  

Cost Breakdown

3/4 of olive salad: $7.50
lettuce, tomatoes: $2
FYH cheese and Yves: $4
pine nuts: $1
bread: $.50
Total to feed 6 people:


Sep 4, 2011

vine and dine - wild mushroom bouillabaisse

Vine and Dine

Tami Noyes' Vine and Dine is brought to you tonight by the Horizon cookbook. The recipe is Wild Mushroom Bouillabaisse. 

As you all know by now, Tami, of American Vegan Kitchen, has TWO upcoming cookbooks, Grills Gone Vegan and the not-yet-named Sandwich cookbook with Celine Steen. Both are exciting additions to any kitchen! 

As for now, we are making Horizon's Bouillabaisse. If anyone would like to join Tami for Vine and Dine, it is as simple as choosing a vegan bottle of wine, cooking the chosen recipe and digging into both. I know Tami would love to have tons of readers join.  

Our chosen wine was a Pacific Redwood Pinot, which my "Ol' Man" will write more about.

As for the recipe: What exactly is a Bouillabaisse? Basically, it is a seafood soup. The herbs and the variety of fish determine the specialty of this soup. But what really sets this seafood soup apart from the rest of the seafood soups in the world, is how it is served. The broth is served first, with a toasted crouton, spread with a rouille (a thick sauce - in this case a red pepper spread) floating in its midst, not unlike a French Onion Soup with its island of floating bread and cheese. The fish itself is served on a separate platter. 

As the name implies, this bouillabaisse is of mushrooms. I used portobello, crimini, oyster, button, and shiitaki  'shrooms. I roasted pear and cherry tomatoes to add to the browned mushrooms, along with a great vegetable stock and white wine. Unfortunately, this recipe does not call for enough broth to serve separately as is traditional, but that is easily remedied by the home cook. There is also thyme, saffron, olive oil and garlic; all collaborating for a wonderful dish. 

David found that making a meal solely of mushrooms was intimidating. I challenged that as diners we have been so ingrained to believe that a meal without a "protein" isn't complete, that his prejudice of the meal was more psychological than physical. I stand by that; we are literally fed mis-information of what constitutes a meal so much that we cannot enjoy a perfectly delicious dish simply because we are programmed to believe it is just not enough.

As for me, deprogramming was instated a while back and I thoroughly enjoyed the dish.  The Bouillabaisse with another bottle of great vegan wine made me one happy diner. 

The meal for this week’s “Vine and Dine” was a rustic and earthy Bouillabaisse made with wild mushrooms, white wine, saffron, garlic and onions and was a hearty alternative to it’s seafood counterpart.
We paired this flavorful culinary morsel with a Pacific Redwood, Organic Pinot Noir (2010) and were pleasantly surprised at the symmetry and cohesion attained.  From the wine bottle's label, we were led to expect a vintage that is “delicate and subtle, with hints of strawberries and mint."  Frankly, neither the “Ol' Lady” nor I could discern the mint, but the strawberries were prominent in the “Nose” of the wine and we very much enjoyed this particular selection.  We usually lean towards Merlots or other reds with more body, but we were both happy that we ventured outside our norm.

Cost Breakdown

Mushrooms: $20
onion, pepper: $3
olive oil, spices: $1
bread: $2
stock, wine: $2
Total for 4 luxurious servings:


Sep 1, 2011

walnut and asparagus scampi pasta

Pasta Night

In another life, seafood and I were partners. Or more to the point, seafood graced many of my plates, as I happily devoured the little creatures, be they swordfish, tuna, shrimp, scrod, halibut, scallops or cod. I was a pescetarian, thinking that sea creatures were not factory farmed and were fair game for the honor of becoming my next meal. In fact, I felt pretty good about my decision to save the lives of their land counterparts - cows, pigs, chickens. It was a sad day for my eating repertoire when I discovered that fish were being factory farmed. The practice wasn't as common back twenty years ago, but it was certainly beginning its snowballing. On top of the fact that fish nowadays are intensely more factory farmed in huge over-populated underwater nets, the animals that are being caught in the wild are dwindling at an alarming rate. Add mercury and other heavy metals and toxic chemicals that leach into the seas from human pollution into the system of these same creatures, and you no longer are eating Omega-3 fatty acids wrapped up in an affordable lean protein, but are stuffing yourselves full of misery, metals and guilt, knowing that you are contributing to the extinction of numerous other species of sea life. 
How does your shrimp taste now?

Lovely segue into tonight's meal. Shrimp Scampi was a long time favorite of mine, ever since my father couldn't serve us the delicacy while owning a seafood restaurant because every penny had to be saved. Scampi was something that was expensive and carefully snuck out to the kids by my mom when my dad wasn't around. Some women lie to their spouses about the cost of the new dress they just bought at Macy's; my mom lied about food. 

While there are plenty of veggie shrimp substitutes on the market, this meal does not utilize any. I was wanting to make a dish that was a memory jolt to shrimp scampi and not a lightning bolt to the gut - in a good or a bad way. The seafood substitutes we've tried over the years have either totally missed the mark or were overwhelmingly 'fishy,' trying too hard to be something that they weren't. 

Scampi, whether shrimp, scallops, or asparagus, all contain tons of garlic, olive oil and lemon. The garlic is slowly infused into the oil over low heat, while the lemon juice gives an extra needed tang right before service. I chose to use asparagus, walnuts, dulse seaweed and parsley. Perhaps the empty serving bowl with the few lone strands of pasta sticking to the sides, sitting in the middle of the dining table gives an indication of how well received it was. Even hours after the dinner dishes have been dried and put away, the house is still perfumed with the garlic and olive oil. A gentle reminder of a meal well enjoyed.

Cost Breakdown

pasta: $1
asparagus: $4
olive oil, lemon juice, garlic: $1
parsley, dulse: $2
walnuts: $2
Total for 4 servings:

Walnut and Asparagus Scampi Pasta Recipe