Thursday, November 26, 2009

White Pepper Vegan Turkey Shawarma with Chipotle Tomato Relish and Roasted Garlic, Sage and Artichoke Tahini Paste

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Since I've already broached the topic of "What I'm Thankful For" in last week's post, this week I'm looking towards the future and how I want to improve upon my life. In fact, I've already purchased my 2010 planner...and intend to use it past January. My ultimate goal by the end of next year is to be completely financially independent of my parents. I can't really be considered a loser because I don't live in their basement. But by 25, I really need to stand on my own two feet.

The most ironic part of all is that my father is a financial planner. Instead of Goodnight Moon, I had pop-up books like "Don't Break The Piggy Bank" and "How to Make Your Allowance Work For You!". Yet I'm still clueless about and outright avoid budgeting. I partially blame Daddy Shags for my fears. I remember one day in particular during my teenage years, he gave me a calculator device that shows you how much buying a cup of coffee and a pack of cigarettes each day will ultimately add up to in one year. Instead of heeding his advice after seeing the astronomical sum of money, I adopted the "ignorance is bliss" philosophy.

Well, 7 years down the line, ignorance definitely does not feel blissful when I log into my US Bank online banking and view my account balance. So point A of improvement this year will be my financial well-being.

On a related note, if you are in the Los Angeles area and own any kind of business, please hire me. I'm smart. I'm overly punctual. I'm a quick learner, and I guarantee to make you laugh when you're feeling stressed. I'm also not that bad looking and tend to smell nice, so you won't mind having me around. My only limitation is that I'd like to work days as opposed to evenings, but it's not a deal breaker. Alright, that pretty much takes care of Point B...to find a job.

My final focal point of self-improvement is to be a better friend. Anyone familiar with lesbian relationships knows that we tend to sink into oblivion when we're in a stable relationship. The term "Cat Lesbian" can easily be linked to this behavior. I have indeed holed myself up in my domestic lesbian haven, and it's time for me to get out and live it up a little more. Just because I'm getting married doesn't mean it's time to hang up my dancing shoes, put away my eye glitter and let my amazing tolerance for alcohol drop. Point C is: Plan to party! Hopefully, this won't conflict with Point A: Plan to budget. And no, I don't really wear eye glitter.

Enjoy your UnTurkey Day!

White Pepper Vegan Turkey Shawarma with Chipotle Tomato Relish
and Roasted Garlic, Sage and Artichoke Tahini Paste

For the Shawarma:
  • 1 batch of Vegan Turkey, cooked in one large piece (recipe follows)
  • 2 Yellow Onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 TBSP Turmeric
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 2 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 2 tsp White Pepper
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided (amounts indicated in recipe)
  • 8 Whole Pitas
  • 1 cup of Pickled Eggplant, thinly sliced (or thinly sliced Pickled Cucumber)

Slice the giant piece of Turkey Seitan into 8 cutlets. Take a large, shallow baking dish that's large enough for all the cutlets, then place the cutlets in the baking dish.

Combine all the spices together in a small bowl.

Place the sliced onion in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of the spice blend and drizzle 2 TBSP of the Olive Oil over top of them, turning them over to make sure both sides are coated well.

Sprinkle the remainder of the spice blend over both sides of the Vegan Turkey cutlets, using your hands to rub the spice blend in well. Drizzle 4 TBSP of olive oil over top of the cutlets, again turning to make sure both sides are coated.

Cover both the "Turkey" and the "Onions", then place in the refrigerator for 4-8 hours.

Pre-heat your oven to the "Keep Warm" setting, or between 150 and 200 degrees F.

After the 4-8 hours of chilling time, rub a grill pan or your grill rack with olive oil and get it pre-heating. Brush each pita bread with enough olive oil to coat well. Grill slices of onion until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes per side. Then grill the Vegan Turkey cutlets until browned and warmed through, about 3 minutes per side. Finally, grill the pita bread until you get some nice grill marks, about 2 minutes per side. Place on a baking rack in the oven to keep warm until ready to assemble the shawarma.

Place the Vegan Turkey Cutlets and onion slices on a cutting surface....

Make a kind of sandwich, placing a "Turkey" cutlet on the top and bottom, then onion slices in the middle. Thinly slice the cutlet sandwich crosswise, repeating the process until all the "Turkey" and onions have been thinly sliced. Transfer the sliced "Turkey" and onions to a large bowl.

Place even amounts of the "Turkey"/Onion mixture on each pita bread, top with Chipotle Tomato Relish, Pickled Eggplant, and Roasted Garlic, Sage and Artichoke Tahini Sauce.

Roasted Garlic, Sage and Artichoke Tahini Paste

  • 1 1/2 cups Tahini
  • 1 can of Artichoke Hearts, drained
  • 1 whole bulb of Garlic
  • Olive Oil, for drizzling on Garlic
  • 2 tsp Fresh Sage, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 cup Hot Water
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel away the outer layers of skin on the garlic bulb, then slice of the top 1/4-1/2 inch of the bulb so that the cloves are exposed. Place the piece of garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil, then drizzle the bulb with olive oil so that it's coated well.

Wrap the garlic up in foil and bake in the preheated oven for 1/2 hour. Set aside to cool.

Pulse the Artichoke Hearts several times in a food processor or blender to break them up a bit.

Once the garlic is cool, squeeze out the cloves into a food processor or blender, then add the remaining ingredients. Blend until the mixture becomes a smooth paste.

Taste for salt and pepper.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Chipotle Tomato Relish
  • 1 1/4 lb Vine Ripened Tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup Red Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Dried Chipotle Peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/8 cup + 1 TBSP Lemon Juice
  • Handful of Flat Leaf Italian Parsley, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
Combine all of the above ingredients in a medium sized bowl, then taste for salt and pepper. Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to use.

Vegan Turkey

Vegan Turkey Dough
  • 1 cup Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1/3 cup No Chicken Broth
  • 1/3 cup White Ale
  • 1/3 cup MimicCreme

For the Broth...
  • 4 cups prepared Better Than Bouillon's No Chicken Broth
  • 2 cups Low Sodium Vegetable Stock
  • 1 cup of Dry White Wine (I use Chardonnay)
  • 1/2 can of Light Ale
  • 1 1/4 cup MimicCremeTM
  • 1 TBSP Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 cup Mirin
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Yellow Mustard Powder
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Stalk of Celery, sliced
  • 1 TBSP Mellow White Miso Paste
Combine all of the broth ingredients EXCEPT the mellow white miso paste in a very large stock pot. Bring to a boil, then add the mellow white miso paste and stir until dissolved.

Whisk together the liquids for the dough (No Chicken Broth, White Ale and MimicCreme), then by mix with the vital wheat gluten and knead until it’s completely mixed. Squeeze out any excess liquid, then depending on the recipe you're using the vegan turkey for, either shape into one large rectangle or flatten the dough into a circle and and use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to cut into four pie wedge “Turkey Breast” shaped pieces.

Drop the dough into the pot of boiling broth, reduce heat to simmer, and cover the pot with a lid. Let the seitan simmer for about an hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

Once done cooking, drain the Turkey Seitan well. Place the pieces (or piece) of seitan on top of a drying rack, then allow it to drain for a few hours to achieve that "dry" element that real turkey has.

Use as directed in any of my vegan turkey recipes, or substitute for real turkey in one of your favorites!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oregano and Basil-Rubbed Marsala "Flank Steak" stuffed with Saffron Wild Mushrooms

I'm pretty sure that this time of year indicates the need to reflect and "give thanks" for all we are grateful for on this earth. I find it most helpful to make a pros and cons list, thus the cons highlight the pros of the past year.

Pro:
I met the woman of my dreams and am happily engaged.
Con:
I lost my reigning title as "Pimpstress of Mystery".

Pro:
I have two adorable little doggies.
Cons:
Said dogs do not always understand that outside is the bathroom.

Pro:
My cookbook is getting published.
Con:
My desire to tackle my workload must now overpower my desire to smoke a bong.

Pro:
I bought some new furniture.
Con:
The furniture was from Ikea.

True, the pros far outweigh the cons. I feel I've also grown a great deal as a chef, lover and human being in general. A year ago, I never imagined I'd be sharing my home with someone I care for so deeply. I never imagined my thoughts would wander towards the desire to start a family. I also never imagined I'd have so much laundry to do every week. Indeed, I have much to be thankful for.

But if so much can change for the good in just one year, it also makes me fearful for the year ahead. I want to believe that all will continue on a positive path. The past has shown me the many ups and downs of life, and I'm just not quite ready for any downs to rain on my parade...except on my wedding day, because I hear that's good luck. It's tough for me to imagine anything going completely screwy. To protect myself a bit, I find it important to note that, even during one of the best years of my life, there was a little bad in the good.

What am I truly thankful for? My future wife. Our life together. My family's undying support of my creative endeavors. My OCD cleaning tendencies that prevent our apartment from turning into a bachelorette pad. My new lime green vacuum. The Veggie Grill for opening up the street from me. The now 5+ restaurants that will deliver vegan pizza to my home. My new oven. Armor-All doggie training pads. The roses Jane bought me last week. My sister being amazing and graduating from college this year. My super cool neighbor that sells cosmetics to Sephora. And lastly, Best Buy for declining my credit card application and saving me excess debt.

2009 was a good year indeed.

Oregano and Basil-Rubbed Marsala "Flank Steak"
stuffed with Saffron Wild Mushrooms

  • 1/2 cup Tamari
  • 1/8 cup Marsala Wine
  • 1 1/2 cups tightly packed Fresh Basil Leaves
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Oregano Leaves
  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Pinch of Black Pepper
  • 2 TBSP Vegan Margarine
  • Pinch of Spanish Saffron Threads
  • 1/4 cup Shallots, finely diced
  • 1/2 Leek, white part only, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup Oyster Mushrooms, sliced
  • Large pinch of Salt, for Mushrooms
  • Black Pepper, to taste, for Mushrooms
  • 1 1/4 batch of Vegan Beef* (See specific preparation instructions below)

*When making the Vegan Beef, instead of cutting into steak size pieces before dropping into the broth, leave it all in one piece. Shape it into a long, flat rectangle that's about 7-8 inches long and about 4-5 inches wide. Drop into the broth and boil for 1 hour, turning every 15 minutes. Drain well, and you're ready to go. It should look like this...

Place the vegan Steak in a large, shallow container. Combine the Tamari and Marsala wine, then pour over the "steak". Allow the "Steak" to marinate for 1/2 hour on each side. When finished marinating, reserve the marinade for a dipping sauce. You can also reduce it in a saucepan if desired.

In your food processor or blender, puree the Basil, Oregano, Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Salt and Pepper until it forms a uniform paste. Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Preheat the broiler on your oven.

In a medium saucepan, melt the vegan margarine, then add the Saffron, Leeks and Shallots. Saute 5-8 minutes, until soft. Add all the mushrooms to the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes until tender. Set aside.

Butterfly slice the "steak" so that it opens like a book, being careful not to cut the "steak" into two separate pieces. Place the mushroom stuffing inside of the steak, then roll it up lengthwise and tie up well with twine. It will now look like this...

Rub the "steak" all over with the Basil/Oregano paste, then broil for 5-10 minutes per side until brown but not drying out.

Serve.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Individual Broccoli, "Cheddar" and Rice Casseroles in a Chanterelle and Rosemary Cream Sauce


I had my first "mom" moment today. Our lovely little Jack Russel/Chihuahua mix, Shwee, took a trip to the vet for her vaccinations. We thought all was well, then a few hours later, her muzzle turns redder than a strawberry and starts puffing up like a penguin in heat.

Me: "Jane...does Shwee look funny to you?"

Jane: "Oh shit."

We grab Shwee in our arms and run across the street to the pet hospital, hearts beating faster than the sound of our feet on the pavement.

The second we bust in the door, the guy running the desk takes one look at her. "Oh no. Allergic reaction!", he yells. He pages a tech to the front who whisks Shwee out of Jane's arms and off to some unknown place where sick animals go to either be saved or bite the big biscuit. My heart falls to my feet. I feel this deep churning in my gut that I've never felt before: the pang of a worried mother.

Now I know how my mom felt every time I fell terribly ill...or if I even just had a bad case of the hick-ups.

Besides doing an excellent job at being a hypochondriac for me, my mom is also one hell of a chef. She could bang out one hell of a casserole. As the leaves turn to their autumn hues (but not in sunny California, bitches...hah!), I start planning my Thanksgiving menu. Sure, it may be a bit in advance, but I'm a highly motivated kid. This week marks the start of my slew of Thanksgiving goodness.

Stay warm, east coasters :)

Individual Broccoli, "Cheddar" and Rice Casseroles in a
Chanterelle and Rosemary Cream Sauce

  • 1/4 lb Vegan Margarine
  • 6 cloves fresh Garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP Fresh Rosemary, finely minced
  • 3 TBSP All Purpose Flour
  • 2-3 TBSP Water
  • 1 3/4 cup MimicCreme (or Vegan Buttermilk)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Freshly Cracked Black Pepper, to taste
  • 1 16 oz package Frozen Chopped Broccoli, thawed (or 3 1/2 cups Fresh, chopped)
  • 1 lb Chanterelle Mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Vegan Cheddar Cheese, finely grated (preferably Daiya)
  • 3 cups cooked White Rice
  • 1/4 cup seasoned Vegan Bread Crumbs

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the vegan margarine in a large skillet over high heat, then add the garlic and rosemary. Saute for about 30 seconds, then stir in the flour to create a roux.

Add the chopped chanterelles, and stir well to fully combine.

Lower the heat to medium high, stir in the water, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2-3 minutes until the mushrooms begin to soften.

Slowly whisk in the MimicCreme, then lower the heat to medium and bring the sauce to a slow boil while stirring frequently.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Combine the thawed broccoli, rice, 1 cup of the vegan cheddar and chanterelle sauce in a large bowl, then spoon the mixture into 6 separate ramekins. (You can also spoon all of the mixture into one large casserole dish, but see the different baking directions below*.) Top each ramekin (or the 1 large casserole) with even amounts of the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar and bread crumbs.

Bake in your preheated oven, covered with foil, for 15 minutes. Remove the foil, then allow the casseroles to bake an additional 5 minutes until the cheese is bubbly.

*For one large casserole dish, bake in your preheated oven, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, then allow the casserole to bake an additional 10 minutes until the top is brown and the cheese is bubbly.


Serve.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Vegan Black Garlic and Chanterelle Chicken Korma with Saffron and Cinnamon Infused Basmati

Despite the sexual allure of the above photograph, Indian food is not really "my type". Don't get me wrong, I'm very open minded and love something about every cuisine. But let's imagine this scenario...

I walk into a bar, hungry and ready for action. I casually slide up on a bar stool, being careful to sit so that it looks like my feet can actually reach the ground. I look up from my Mai Tai to notice that a gorgeous plate of pasta puttanesca is batting her sultry lashes at me. I give her a sly grin and wave her over.

"Can I buy you a drink?" I ask.

"Dirty Martini with Olives and Olive Oil" she states.

Yes ma'am.

I am immediately lured by her intoxicating aroma of fresh minced garlic. She takes a long slurp of her drink and I...Oh my, this is too much. I lean in for a huge bite, then pull away. My cheeks are red from a mixture of blushing and sauce.

"I'm sorry. I couldn't resist".

I look away for a moment to collect myself only to notice that a bowl of Tofu Paneer is attempting to make accidental eye contact. *Sigh*. Women. I look back to Puttanesca.

"Let's get out of here. I've got a batch of vegan parmesan you can slip into and feel a little more comfortable. Did I mention I have sterling silver forks?"

Her eyes light up and she takes my hand. On our way out, I give a casual nod and smile to the Paneer. "I'll be back", I mouth at her, making sure to wink in a non-'lester fashion. Hopefully she'll stick around.

Ok...maybe that's a slight over-exageration on how I feel about Indian food. Italian food always wins, but I really love the exciting combination of spices and flavors utilized in Indian cuisine.

Just so Paneer doesn't feel too badly about herself, I thought I'd give a go at one of the more popular dishes of her native land.

No recipe for this week. I just thought I'd post some fun, alluring photos. I'm saving this bad boy for the cookbook. Have a great week!

Some Lovely Chanterelles

Simmering in the pot...