Jun 18, 2015

zuppa toscanan

Zuppa Toscana is an Italian soup made of sausage, potatoes, kale and cream. I made a simple bechamel sauce to replace the cream, which is nothing more than cooking some flour in a little oil and adding the liquid. The flour-based roux thickens the soup and makes it creamy, therefore replacing the need for the cream.

I used ground Tofurkey sausage in this, along with seasoned lentils, but you can use either with equally great results.

I garnished my soup with some leftover Bacon Tofu from Everyday Vegan Eats (page 134) because I made a quadruple batch earlier in the week and I had a little bit leftover. The crisp vegan bacon was quite delicious in this soup and I recommend it highly.

If you have EVE and haven't tried the bacon, I urge you to do so...but go full out and pan-fry it because it gets crispy and crunchy and oh! so tasty.

Zuppa Toscana
Serves 4

3 tablespoons  olive oil, divided
½ medium onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups ground vegan sausage (such as Tofurkey Italian sausage) OR 2 cups cooked lentils (see note)
3 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1 ½ cups unsweetened plain vegan milk
3 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf (if not using seasoned lentils)
1 pound red potatoes, chopped
8 ounces kale, tough stems removed and chopped
Sea salt and black pepper
1 cup chopped prepared vegan bacon (such as Bacon Tofu from Everyday Vegan Eats)
½ cup minced fresh basil
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium high. Add the onion, garlic and sausage, if using. Cook until golden,about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
2. Add the remaining oil and the flour. Cook the flour for 2 minutes and add the milk. Whisk well to prevent lumps. Add the broth, bay leaf, if using, the potatoes and kale. Season with salt and black pepper.  Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Serve the soup garnished with  bacon and basil.

Note: Cook the lentils with 1 bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds and 1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes.

© 2015 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

Jun 16, 2015

moo shu seitan

This northern Chinese dish is typically made with cabbage, wood ear mushrooms, lily buds, eggs and animals. It is also more often than not made with hoisin sauce, a Chinese barbecue sauce, of sorts, made with bean paste, soy sauce and chiles.

In this delicious vegan rendition, we make our own hoisin sauce as part of the dish using red miso, sambal oelek and tamari.

It is important to note the distinction between white and red miso - white miso is fermented for only a few short months, is sweeter, milder and is the main ingredient in miso soup. Red miso, dark miso and the like, are fermented for more than a year, more often up to three years, is more pungent, is darker and saltier and not sweet.

While hoisin is made with soybean paste and not miso, dark miso is very close in flavor and robustness to soybean paste and is more readily available in stores near you.

The seitan I used is from Vegan Bowls (Amazon, B&N); it is robust, hearty and stands up well to grilling, sauteing and searing. It is the perfect replacement for the traditional meat in this quick stir-fry.

My hubby and I adore wood ear mushrooms, which are curiously black on one side and white on the other when dried, but rehydrate to a dark purple. These mushrooms are very toothsome and give a nice bite without any overpowering mushroom flavor. If you can find it, great, but it not use shiitakes or even button mushrooms.

Moo Shu is served with Mandarin pancakes and they are incredibly easy to make, but if you'd rather not, then just serve the filling with flour tortillas.

Moo Shu Seitan
Serves 4

Mandarin Pancakes:
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed oil

2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari
1 tablespoon red miso
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon sambal oelek
Black pepper

1 pound seitan medallions
2 tablespoons arrowroot starch or cornstarch
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, grated
4 garlic cloves, sliced

2 tablespoons neutral oil
1 cup wood ear mushrooms, rehydrated in hot water, drained and rinsed
1 small cabbage, shredded
5 scallions, minced

1. Pancakes: Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add the water and stir using a fork. Knead lightly and set aside for 20 minutes. Knead until smooth on floured surface and divide into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten using your palm. Spread ½ teaspoon oil on one disk and top with another disk. Press together and roll into a 6 to 7 inch circle.

2. Preheat a skillet over medium heat and spray with oil. Cook one rolled disk for 20 seconds, covered with a lid. Flip and cook uncovered until puffy, another 30 seconds. Remove from pan, separate the disk into 2 pieces and keep warm between kitchen towels. Repeat with the other 3 pairs.

3. Sauce: Combine the vinegar, tamari, miso, sugar, sambal oelek and black pepper, to taste, in a small bowl. Whisk well until smooth and set aside.

4. Seitan: Combine the seitan, starch, ginger and garlic in a shallow pan. Mix well using your hands to massage the seitan. Set aside.

5. Stir-fry: Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add the seitan and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and scallions and cook until wilted, about 4 more minutes. Stir in the sauce and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Serve the stir-fry with the pancakes.

Substitute: Substitute 8 (6-inch) flour tortillas for the pancakes. Substitute 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms for the wood ears.

© 2015 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

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