Aug 18, 2016


That's correct. I ran out of sriracha. This is the Trader Joe's version, but I am also out of the Whole Foods (Squirrel something) version and the Rooster version (the most popular one), as well. One might expect that I would simply add it to my shopping list, but I am committing to using less and less plastic, and I thought, why not start here??

It's not like sriracha is an essential ingredients. Yeah, right. Of course, it is!

As it turns out, Sriracha is very similar to sambal oelek and garlic chili sauce. All three start with the same red jalapenos, salt and vinegar, but that is where the similarities end.

Sambal Oelek is just the chilis, salt and vinegar, ground, cooked and packaged.

Garlic Chili Sauce is sambal oelek with garlic added, ground, cooked and packaged.

Sriracha is garlic chili sauce that is fermented for about a week, strained and sweetened.

As you can see, sriracha is definitely the most difficult of the three, as far as "difficulty" goes - I mean, it is just a matter of setting the ground chilis aside to ferment and then cooking it. I can think of things far more difficult than that. Like making dinner.

The real question is the issue of the chilis.

I could not find red jalapeno chilis anywhere (maybe because Huy Fong Foods has monopolized them all!) which is what the green top brand uses exclusively, so I had to settle for Fresno peppers and green jalapenos. I cut off the stems but left the crown of the peppers because they add a fruity flavor (so I read).

Then I ground them all with salt, vinegar and garlic. The salt is crucial in fermentation such as this because it prevents unwanted bacteria from forming while allowing the good bacteria to flourish. This is true for all vegetable/(some fruit) fermentation.

Then I packed it in a jar, covered it tightly with a lid and let it do its work. I stirred it (more accurately shook the jar) every day and waited. Tough, I know. After all, I was out of sriracha by this point!

After 5 days the mixture actually smelled like sriracha! I was very excited!

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You can see that the fermentation was working because there were bubbles everywhere, and that was before I shook the jar. Once I shook it this final time the bubbles were just popping up all over, very much like making rejuvelac.

At this point I added the whole thing to my blender, added the sugar and buzzed it until it was as smooth as I could get it.

Then it was just a matter of passing it through a fine (not very fine!) mesh strainer to remove any seeds or pepper skins and then cooking it until the desired consistency was achieved.

Now, admittedly there are a few things I will change when making it the next time:

1. I over fermented it, I think. A day less would have done it. This version turned out a bit too ripe.
2. I will change up the peppers next time. Fresno cost me $7 a pound and I used 1 pound of it, plus the green jalapenos. The cost was way too much. I'm going to try using red bell peppers with green jalapenos. It might be even better because the bell peppers are a bit sweeter.
3. I clearly didn't make enough. But when you are experimenting, you don't want to risk a bunch of wasted product.

Overall, I'm very happy to keep a few more bottles of plastic out of my life and this is so easy and simple to make that I don't hesitate calling this a win-win. For more information, I blog at Plastic Free Vegan.

Makes 1 1/4 cups

1 pound fresno peppers
1/2 pound green jalapenos
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup sugar

1. Cut the stems (but not the crowns) off the peppers and add them to a food processor. Add the garlic, vinegar and salt. Process until finely ground. Transfer to a 1/2-gallon glass mason (to make it easy to stir) and cover tightly with a lid. Place the jar aside, out of sunlight, for 3 to 5 days. Stir the chili mixture once a day and taste after three days. If it tastes fermented it is ready for the next step.
2. Add the chili mixture to a blender along with the sugar. Blend until very smooth. Transfer to a fine mesh strainer (not a very fine mesh) and pass all the mixture through as you possibly can. Don’t forget to scrape the underside of the strainer where pulp accumulates. 
3. Add the strained mixture to a medium saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat until it is at the consistency that you like. I reduced mine to 1 1/4 cups. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and sugar. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. 

*Note: I will update this recipe as I continue to update the process.

© 2016 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

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Aug 15, 2016

classic philly roast sandwich

By now we are all familiar with the Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich, the popular sandwich made with cow parts, cheese-whiz and, sometimes, onion and pepper. I made that sandwich cruelty-free back in 2012 and it is one heck of a great eat. That one comes complete with SteaK Seitan and cheese sauce; I encourage you to go make it as soon as possible.

But, less know is its cousin, Philly's Roast Pork Sandwich. Quite curiously, it turns out that locally this is the more popular of the two, and it is this week's Great Sandwich Remake.

Taking a closer look, traditionally, it is roast pig, topped with provolone cheese and garlicky broccoli rabe (rapini) and roasted or pickled long hots or peppers. Rapini is in the brasssica family and is delightfully bitter. Not to mention, difficult to locate at time. Fear not, I offer you a sub in the recipe.

My kinder version of this sandwich, Philly Roast Sandwich with Provolone and Rapini, is made using seasoned portobello mushrooms. The mushrooms are roasted tightly covered, to retain moisture and flavor, which gives it a tender, yet toothsome-ness texture that this savory sandwich requires.

To get started, we need a good seasoning mixture and a few classic recipes I found use Montreal Steak Seasoning. Since I already have the ingredients to make the seasoning, I see no need to run out and buy some especially labeled that. It only requires paprika, peppercorns, garlic, onion, red chili flakes, salt and coriander. If you want to get fancy and toast the coriander and peppercorns, go for it; I just added everything to my Magic Bullet and buzzed it.

Use a spoon to scrape the gills from the mushrooms, coat with the mustard mixture (we need to add flavor wherever possible) and sprinkle with the seasoning mix. Add a few sprigs of fresh herbs (required are Rosemary and thyme), cover very, very well, and roast for 45 minutes.

Because the moisture is trapped in the pan, the mushrooms braise and roast, leaving a very flavorful and moist sandwich filling. Traditionally the roast sandwich is garnished with au jus because the meat is dry, but the way we cooked the mushrooms that is not an issue, so no au jus is needed.

Slice the mushrooms very thin (about 1/4-inch) and make your cheese sauce (or buy Follow Your Heart Provolone Slices.) Since the classic sandwich has aged, sharp provolone, I decided to make it instead.

My new cookbook, Aquafaba, has 2 cheese recipes in it, so I have become very familiar with cheese flavors and I decided to go for it and make it myslef. For the base I used                   
Somer McCowan's Moxarella recipe and added a few "sharp" ingredients. Somer is also the author of The Abundance Diet, which is a pretty terrific book.

The cheese recipe is really very easy and quick to make, so head over there to get the directions (the recipe is toward the bottom of the post) and then use these adjusted ingredients:

Sharp Provolone-style Moxarella Cheese:

1 cup soymilk or almond milk (unsweetened and plain)
1/4 cup drained (for 24 hours) homemade yogurt or store-bought unsweetened, plain yogurt
2 teaspoons white or chickpea miso
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup raw cashews
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vegan lactic acid (if you have it)

Directions: are HERE on Somer's blog. Add everything to a blender and blend until smooth.

As for the garlicky greens, they are a must! If you can't find rapini, use 1/2 spinach and 1/2 arugula or kale. Don't skimp on the garlic! The mushroom has limited garlic flavor, so the added garlic in the greens adds more flavor. Toast your bun, add the mushroom and cheese and broil until golden. Then top with the greens and peppers and you have this gorgeous delicious sandwich::

Classic Philly Roast Sandwich with Provolone and Rapini
Makes 4 sandwiches

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
6 medium portobello mushrooms (or 4 portobellos and 8 ounces creminis)
2 tablespoons Montreal Seasoning Mix (homemade or store-bought)
1 sprig fresh rosemary
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 large red bell pepper or 2 to 3 long hots
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large bunch rapini or 1 bunch spinach and 1 bunch arugula
Salt and black pepper
4 kaiser or hoagie rolls
4 Vegan Provolone slices or Moxarella, provolone-style (see above)

1. Preheat the oven to 375-degrees F. Combine 2 tablespoons of oil, the mustard and nutritional yeast in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside. Remove the stems and scrape the gills from the mushrooms. Place the mushrooms on a baking sheet, gill-side down, and spread all over with the mustard mixture. If using creminis, spread the mixture on the caps. Sprinkle the mushrooms with the spice mixture. Remove the leaves from the rosemary and thyme and add to the mushrooms. Cover the pan with parchment paper and then tightly cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes.   
2. Chop the peppers into 1/2-inch thick slices. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the peppers. Cook, stirring only after the peppers have begun charring. Season with salt and pepper and cook until crisp-tender. Set aside. 
3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat in the skillet and add the garlic. Cook until golden, stirring often. Add the greens and stir well using tongs. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, but still bright green. If cooking rapini, add 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth, cover the pan and cook until tender. Remove and set aside.
4. When the mushrooms are ready, remove them from the pan and cut into thin slices. Split and toast the rolls. Divide the mushrooms among the rolls, add cheese and broil until the cheese is melted and browning. Top with the rapini and peppers and serve. 

© 2016 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

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