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.