Jul 31, 2014

hungarian seitan paprikas - throwback thursday foods

When I read Cadry's post, 11 Ways to Know You're a Food Blogger, it struck me that, one, not only am I food blogger [busted] but that there are so many of us around the blogoshpere. Although Cadry didn't limit her list of obvious tip-offs to just vegan food bloggers, there happens to be many of those, as well. Again, caught red-handed.

And, two, that these self-professed food bloggers happen to be excellent at their photography and blog content. I'm sure many of us have our favorites and religiously visit the sites at least weekly. Just noticing my personal food blog, it is quite apparent that my photography and recipe writing skills have dramatically improved over the years.

That is not to pat myself on the back; I'm just pointing out that from where I began, many lessons have been learned. In other words, I may have gotten better, but that is only because I had such a long way to go!

I am sure many of us can look back on our first few blog posts and laugh - yes, I took that photo! and I wrote that?!?

As I was assembling last week's menu (using my Menu Template), my son asked me to make Paprikas, a Hungarian paprika and sour cream stew. I recalled having made it just a few years ago (yes, that is exactly what I told him! "We just had that a few years ago.") and it hit me that, hey!, I can improve on said recipe, but if not the recipe, that photo can only get better.

And then Cadry's post came creeping back on my mind. Why, yes, I do, indeed, have more cloth napkins, plates and mason jars than any sane person would. I even have an equal number of plates and bowls reserved only for photos as there are in my cupboard reserved for daily meals.

I can't really write a blog post about something I've already done! Can I? Yes! I can if I improve it and call it Throwback Thursday -- only this TBT is about food posts!

Here is my first installment of Throwback Thursday - Food Blogger Style:

Remaking this dish, I enhanced the recipe, and therefore the flavor and retook the photo. If you'd like to check out the original attempt, you are welcome to gaze upon the curiosity that was Paprikas 1.0

Paprikas happens to be a variation on the Hungarian Goulash and if you omit the sour cream, you would have a great Seitan Goulash, but if you include it, voila!, it's transformed into a completely different dish.

Serve the Paprikas with pasta, rice or thick slices of bread to soak up the sauce. I made my stew using my SteaK Seitan recipe, but any good seitan recipe will be wonderful.

I also added some kale sprouts on top of my serving to boost nutrition and because I love a little bit of green with my rich stews. However, minced parsley is just as welcoming.

I'm sure we all have our fair share of Throwback Thursday Foods lurking in the back of our food blogs; I know I have plenty enough to keep this theme going for many, many moons to come.

Hungarian Seitan Paprikas
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 teaspoons toasted sesame seed oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup unbleached all-purpose white flour
1 large Hungarian wax or bell pepper, diced
1 large ripe tomato, diced
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
2 cups vegetable broth
1 pound seitan cutlets (about 4)
¾ cups vegan sour cream
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast

1. Heat the olive oil and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and stir and cook until the onion is golden, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
2. Stir in the flour and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the flour smells toasted, about 3 more minutes.
3. Add the bell pepper and tomato. Stir and cook until the pepper softens, about 3 minutes. Stir in the paprika and the broth. Stir well to combine. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce to a medium simmer, and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes.
4. Toss the seitan slices with the remaining teaspoon of sesame oil. Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Cook the seitan until grill marks appear, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a work surface and coarsely chop the seitan. Add the seitan to the sauce and cook to heat through. Remove the pot from heat.
5. Stir in the sour cream and nutritional yeast, season to taste and serve over cooked rice, cooked pasta or with crusty bread.

© 2014 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

I am linking to these recipe parties: Healthy Vegan FridaysWhat I Ate Wednesday and Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck. 

Jul 28, 2014

cream of celery soup with spinach and crispy onion

I'm relatively sure we are all experiencing quite a hot summer, regardless of where we are individually located. While the weather is so scorching, soup might seem to be the last meal on your mind to make, but this Cream of Celery Soup with Spinach and Crispy Onion is light and delicate.

I chose celery as the base of this soup because celery automatically brings to mind a level of coolness and it is easy on the budget.

Since celery is very stringy (in fact, I like to peel my celery before I dip the stalks in any dip) it is imperative that the soup be strained through a fine mesh strainer, otherwise instead of enjoying a delicious soup, you'll find your mouth full of celery fiber.

This is not as difficult as it sounds, and the straining can be accomplished in around five minutes. Transfer your soup to the strainer set over a clean pot and use the back of a ladle to swirl the soup around in the strainer. This motion will effectively push the soup through the strainer without back-aching strain.

There was a comedian on Last Comic Standing a few weeks ago who joked that since celery is about 10 calories, the digestive process requires more energy than the celery provides, therefore you can kill yourself eating celery.

To avoid this calamity, I've added thin ribbons of spinach to increase the nutrition.

The soup is garnished with crispy fried onions, which adds another layer of flavor, and minced celery leaves, which increases the celery flavor.

There is a little bit of vegan cream cheese in the soup and some might be tempted to omit it, however, doing so is the difference between a creamy potato soup with celery and cream of celery soup.

Cream of Celery Soup with Spinach and Crispy Onions  
Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as an appetizer

1 tablespoon neutral oil
1 bunch celery, trimmed and chopped, leaves reserved
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium (9 ounces) waxy potatoes, peeled and chopped
pinch cayenne
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
Sea salt and ground white pepper
2 tablespoons vegan cream cheese
1 cup thinly sliced spinach, tough stems removed
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Crispy Onions, recipe below

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the celery and onion. Cook for 2 minutes to soften the vegetables. Add the potato and cayenne. Stir and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in the vegetable broth and water. Season with salt and white pepper. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes.
2. Blend the soup until smooth using an immersion blender or use a standard blender, taking care not to overfill the blender jar. Strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer into a clean pot. Use the back of a ladle, swirling the soup in the strainer, to move the soup through the strainer and into the pot.
3. Return the soup to a simmer, add the spinach and cook gently until the spinach is tender. Stir in the cream cheese, using a wooden spoon to stir until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice, taste and adjust seasoning.
4. Mince the reserved celery leaves and serve the soup garnished with the Crispy Onions and celery leaves.

Crispy Onions
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch or cornstarch
1 tablespoon neutral onion

1. Toss the onion and arrowroot. Season with salt and black pepper.
2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add the onions, stir with the oil and cook until crispy, stirring occasionally.

© 2014 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.



Jul 9, 2014

pulled carolina bbq sammie

Hoo-wee! That's tangy! Carolina BBQ is known for its tang - and they aint kiddin, folks. Most Carolina BBQ sauce is almost all vinegar with a dash of sugar to "mellow" things out. I thought I had an odd-ball recipe I was looking at when I first began my search, but it turns out that's the norm and not the exception.

Only thing I can figure as to why this is the case is because the meat used is very fatty and the vinegar helps temper the heaviness. As does the required slaw.

Since our vegan version of this very traditional dish contains no saturated fat or any inherent fat at all, really, it is important to add some, otherwise the same flavor will elude us. In fact, it is completely realistic to add two or three tablespoons of melted vegan butter to the cooked bbq - and if you are looking for a very authentic vegan sammie, please go for it! We didn't, but we might next time!

As this recipe stands, it has about four tablespoons of added fat, but, dang it, it's worth it. With the added richness, the vinegar-based sauce is a bonus, instead of an overpowering distraction.

Having said that, I nevertheless went ahead and tempered the vinegar with a bit of mustard and ketchup - both ingredients still well withing the wheelhouse of the Carolina barbie (all you Food Network fans, did you catch that?).

As for replacing the animal product in this 'cue, well, dadgummit, it aint hard - I used Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips and separately made another variation using tempeh. Loved both! The strips give a more meaty texture, but the tempeh adds a nutty undertone, which was very welcome.

As usual, this recipe is ready in a jiffy. Come and get it!

And GO AND GET IT! Get entered in the contest at Simple Beauty Minerals, that is. Enter....

-----> HERE  <-----

for a chance to win my cookbook, Everyday Vegan Eats, and gift certificates to Simple Beauty Minerals. The chance to win is on-going once you enter, so why wait?

This week Lisa is giving away another gift certificate for her make up (which I simply ADORE!) and this week up for grabs is a natural fragrance by Pure Diva Natural Botanicals.

Once you are done entering the contest, come back here to get the recipe for that there Carolina BBQ. Not a second sooner!

Pulled Carolina BBQ   
Serves 4

2 tablespoons neutral oil, plus more for sauteing
½ teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil
½ teaspoon liquid smoke
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 (12-ounce) package Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips or 1 (8-ounce) package tempeh
Carolina BBQ Sauce (recipe follows)

1. Combine the oils, smoke, salt, garlic, sugar, paprika, mustard and black pepper in a large bowl. Set aside.
2. Shred the strips or tempeh using a box grater. Use a sharp knife to thinly slice any pieces that are difficult to shred with the grater. Transfer the shreds to the marinade and mix well to combine.
3. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the marinated protein and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
4. Add half the BBQ sauce to the skillet, mix and remove from the heat. Serve the barbecue on toasted buns, with coleslaw and the remaining sauce.   

Carolina BBQ Sauce

1 tablespoon vegan butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt

1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and chili flakes. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Add the vinegar, ketchup, mustard, sugar, black pepper and salt. Whisk to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.

© 2014 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

I am linking to these recipe parties: Healthy Vegan FridaysWhat I Ate Wednesday and Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck. 

Jul 2, 2014

mojo marinated fajitas + simple beauty minerals giveaway

Happy July! Happy Independence Day in a few days! And Happy 6th Anniversary Birthday to Simple Beauty Minerals!

In a few days the biggest celebration of the year will be occuring, Independence Day of the United States of America, and grills and cookouts are bound to be the happenings of the day. Vegan grilling and cookouts are the bestest and I'm here to bestow upon you an easy marinade, suitable for tempeh, tofu or seitan.

I made my tacos using seitan, because we LOVE seitan over here, and fixed it up right by serving it with warmed corn tortillas, adding slices of avocado, vegan sour cream and purple cabbage, also marinated in the mojo marinade and lightly grilled to cut some of the cabbage-y bite.

I used my SteaK Seitan, which is very easy to prepare and really, really good, so there is no reason not to make it, but, naturally, any setian or other vegan protein will be great with this marinade. The point is to make vegan grilling and cookouts fun and easy!

Mojo Marinade is citrus-y and garlicky and completely addictive.

Mojo Marinated Vegan Fajitas   
Serves 4

¾ cup orange juice
¼ cup lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
8 SteaK Seitan or other vegan protein
As needed: corn tortillas, vegan sour cream, avocado, thin slices of jalapeƱo, thin slices of cabbage or cole slaw, lime wedges, diced tomatoes, vegan cheese

1. Combine the orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, oregano, garlic, sugar, cumin, salt and black pepper in a personal blender. Blend until smooth.
2. Combine the seitan and mojo marinade in a large baking dish or zip top bag. Set aside for 10 minutes, or up to a day, to marinate. Cover the dish and refrigerate if marinating longer than 30 minutes.
3. Heat an outdoor grill or grill pan over medium heat. Grill the seitan until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes per side, basting with the marinade as needed.
4. Slice the seitan into thin strips and serve with warmed corn tortillas and any fixings you desire.

© 2014 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.


Before you get in the kitchen to whip up this grilling marinade and celebrate the nation's independence with loads of vegan food, fireworks and adult beverages, join me in celebrating Simple Beauty Minerals' birthday with a month-long contest.

Simple Beauty Minerals is a small make up company owned by a great friend of mine. I've known Lisa since our youngest daughters met when they were six years old - they are now 14 - a long time. Lisa and I began constructing our business lives when we realized that our kids were growing up and moving on, most likely without us :) A little scary, but an amazing time for our kids.

Lisa's business is veg-owned, responsibly operated, and mostly vegan. Just as good, the make up is fantastic and contains minimalist ingredients. In fact, Lisa makes sure that all ingredients in all of her make up is top quality, contains no preservatives and, is, to sum it up, completely garbage-free.

I began my business involvement with Lisa when my daughter began wanting to wear make up. I didn't want her exposed to toxic chemicals, and Lisa's Simple Beauty Minerals was just the answer I needed.

Lisa and I are teaming up this month to celebrate SBM's birthday in style - with a month-long giveaway. The prizes are nothing short of awesome! Gift Certificates to Simple Beauty Minerals, a fragrance from Pure Natural Diva Botanicals and my cookbook, Everyday Vegan Eats, are the prizes up for the winning:

Not a moment to lose! Enter HERE.

I am linking to these recipe parties: Healthy Vegan Fridays,What I Ate Wednesday and Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.