Saturday, June 27, 2009

Vegan Roasted Plum and Marjoram Puttanesca "Hamburger" Helper

I have a shameful addiction I'm just going to let off my chest right now.

I am a Food Network crack whore.

I know, I know. I have to avert my eyes from the television more times than I care to acknowledge whenever Paula Deen makes love to the camera with her demon-like eyes before placing raw meat in her cast iron skillet. Their lack of Vegan, even vegetarian friendliness, is more than appalling. But something about that damn channel fascinates me. Most of the time, I just leave the television on as I shimmy about my kitchen. As I listen, I learn. And during more than one culinary experiment in my kitchen, I've spoken aloud and even tossed about witty banter as if a camera and audience were 10 away.

Go ahead and laugh at me now. I'm a geek's dream date.

Done? Ok.

Occasionally, The Food Network airs programming about eating contests. I can't say I've really payed close attention to many of them, but I do know that it's usually the tiniest of the bunch that can miraculously slam down 10,000 coconut cream pies. Right now, I really regret not giving those shows a closer look. Well, not really the shows, per se. But they have to air some kind of behind the scenes reality-show style training tips like the Olympics, right? If a 100 pound girl can eat 500 donuts, she definitely doesn't just wait to compete until PMS hits. She's doing something to prepare!

Why the deep remorse? I'm writing this post from the city of San Francisco, which has more delicious Vegan dining options than my body has room to accommodate. True, I am one tiny little fucker. But I can EAT. I feel like I need to develop a solid pre-San Fran training regimen that would allow my body to eat double it's typical amount. I usually only spend 3-4 days here, and I never leave for Los Angeles feeling like I've conquered enough of my "must try" list. I either need to condition my stomach to expand twice it's normal size, or start smoking weed again.

I do, however, always leave San Francisco firmly remembering why I love to cook. Two days ago, I enjoyed the pleasure of my second annual birthday dinner at Millennium Restaurant. While everything I've ever tasted there has been more of a gastronomic experience than a meal, this visit definitely one-upped the last. They had a special seasonal tasting menu with a Morel Mushroom dish listed, and I knew I had to taste it. I bat my long blonde lashes at the waitress and sweet-talked my way into asking the chef if I'd be allowed to order that one plate off the tasting menu. Let's just say at least my flirtation skills are more finely tuned than my stomach's food capacity. My palate was spoiled rotten.

Ike's Place was also every ounce as amazing as Quarrygirl divulged on her blog. It made for a perfect lunch before marching my Queer little ass around San Fran for the rest of the day. I still have 24 hours left in this fair city, and I plan to hop on the plane tomorrow morning looking pregnant. I will eat my regrets away.

Anyway, my recipe. My lady unexpectedly had the day off from work on my "Blog Cooking Day" last week. I told her that my day was mostly free, but I needed to spend a few hours in the kitchen that morning. "What are you making?", she asked. "It's like a fancy Vegan version of Hamburger Helper. Have you ever had Pasta Puttanesca?".


"Puttanesca. It's kind of Italian for Whore's Pasta."

"What? You're really gross sometimes".

"No. Seriously. Go on Google and look it up. During trying times in Italy, the Brothels were owned by their government. The sex workers were given very little time to shop or cook food, and this dish became well known because they could throw it together quickly. That's why I'm making it today. I want us to have time to hang out."

"Are you calling yourself a whore?"

"Get out of the kitchen. I'll be done in an hour or two".

Well, if I am really a whore, even a Food Network crack whore, at least I have a healthy hobby.

Roasted Plum and Marjoram Puttanesca "Hamburger" Helper

For the Pasta and Sauce...

  • 1 Pound Dried Conchiglle Pasta
  • 1 Large Red Plum
  • 1 1/2 Pounds Canned Pureed Tomatoes (Pomi brand are my favorite)
  • 2-3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • 3 Sprigs Fresh Marjoram
  • 1/2 Pound Large Black Olives, pitted and quartered
  • 4 TBSP Capers, drained + 1 TBSP Reserved Caper Brine
  • 1 TBSP Red Miso Paste
  • 2 TBSP Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • Dr. Cow's Cheese or Vegan Parmesan, grated (optional)

For the Ground "Beef"

  • 1 batch Beef Style Seitan (recipe follows), ground in a food processor (Or 1 12oz package frozen Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Sausage Crumbles)
  • 1-2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Basil
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • Pinch of Spanish Smoked Paprika
  • 2 TBSP Water

First, roast the Plum.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Halve the plum, remove the pit and squeeze a lemon over top of it. Line a small baking dish with foil, and place the plum halves inside with cut side facing upward. Place about 1/4-1/2 tsp Vegan Margarine atop each half, then bake 35-45 minutes until completely softened. Set aside to cool.

Next, make the Ground "Beef".

Note: If you're using pre-packaged "Beef" Crumbles, be sure to defrost them before browning in the skillet.

Place the Olive Oil in a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the ground "Beef", Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Dried Basil, Dried Oregano, and Paprika . Cook until the "Beef" is begins to brown, then add the water to the skillet to deglaze. Continue cooking until the "Beef" is browned and heated through. Remove from heat and set aside.

Lastly, make the Sauce and Pasta.

Begin a large pot of salted water boiling for cooking the Conchiglle pasta.

Combine the 1 TBSP of Red Miso Paste with the 1 TBSP of Caper Brine, and stir until the Miso Paste is completely dissolved. Set aside. (This is meant to take the place of Anchovies an authentic Puttanesca recipe.)

Heat the 1/2 cup of Olive Oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, then add minced Garlic and Marjoram Sprigs. Saute about 30 seconds. Add the Pureed Tomatoes to the Oil and Garlic, then the Olives, Miso/Brine mix, Capers and Tomato Paste. Stir in the Red Pepper Flakes, then taste for Salt and Pepper.

Lower the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the sprigs of Marjoram, then add the cooked ground "Beef" to the sauce. Simmer for an additional 3-4 minutes, then remove from heat.

Cook the Conchiglle pasta in the large pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain well, toss with a touch of Olive Oil, then mix with the Sauce and "Beef" crumbles.

Serve garnished with Dr. Cows or Vegan Parmesan (optional).

Beef Style Seitan

“Beef” Seitan Dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1 1/2 cups Water
  • 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon® No Beef Broth paste (not diluted in H20)
  • 2 TBSP MimicCremeTM (or Alternative, pg 33)
“Beef” Seitan Broth:
  • 8 cups prepared Better Than Bouillon® No Beef Broth (8 tsp paste diluted in 8 cups water)
  • 6 dried Shitake Mushrooms
  • 1/8 cup Tamari
  • 1 Portobello Mushroom Cap, chopped
  • 1 TBSP Garlic Powder
  • 2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 2 Bay Leaves

First, add all of the Seitan Broth ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil. While it's heating up, using a stand mixer, mix together all of the Seitan Dough ingredients. Don't over-mix...just let the mixer go until it's all combined. The dough should be softer than usual.

Using your hands, mold the dough into a large ball. Flatten the ball out on a cutting board, and use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to cut into six pie- wedge shaped pieces. Drop into the boiling broth. Let it cook for about 1 hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Using tongs, remove the "beef" from the broth, and place in a colander to drain. Allow to cool until ready to use.


Gina said...

I, too, am a Food Network whore. Its terrible. I just kind of ignore the fact that absolutely nothing is any sort of vegetarian friendly.

Is it strange that I have actually never had regular hamburger helper? Its weird now that I think about it because my mom hates to cook and, based on its name, I can only imagine that it is simple as anything.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha--I love the Food Network too! It is sad, but for cooks/foodies/etc., there really are no other food related shows out there (or very few, anyway). Although, I have to say, I still cannot stand Rachel Ray. Seriously? If she comes on, the Food Network goes off!

Your recipe looks great! I have never had Hamburger Helper before, but I am gonna have to try your version :o)


bucky said...

dude I swear i saw you in dolores park on friday, if not at least I got to tell my friends that I read blogs right?

Jenn Shagrin said...

Hell yeah! That was definitely me. Did you see me when I was awake or when I passed out on my friends legs?

Haha I know. I wrote a post about her a while ago and how I secretly think she's a fembot. Bitch is whack attack ;)
And thank you!

Jes said...

I'm addicted to Tony Bourdain which I think is the worst thing a vegan can admit to. :) Eating my way through San Fran is definitely one of my top 1 things to do before I die. Lucky you!

The puttanesca is fanfrickingtabulous looking. I'll have to beg my boss for some more marjoram sprigs!

Jim Nichols said...

My wife & are vegetarians & we are also addicted to Food Network even though they rarely have vegetarian/vegan options. Still learn techniques and many of the dishes can be made vegetarian. Perhaps you should pitch an all vegan show to them and show them it's not just salads & lentils that vegans eat!

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

I can't believe I'm missing you on this trip! I hope you're having a fabulous time.

Jenni (aka Vegyogini) said...

I'm a big Food Network fan, too! Food Network taught me how to cook.

I think you're underselling this dish a little by calling it "Hamburger" Helper because it's far more gourmet than that!

Jenn Shagrin said...

Jim Nichols: It's definitely a secret dream ;)
Thank you!

quarrygirl said...

i think we need to go on an SF roadtrip and EAT EVERYTHING. i am so glad you liked ike's. i really need to go back... :/

Unknown said...

wow that looks great!
i can't wait to get back home to the kitchen..this recipe sounds perfect to make! :)
ohh and i did go to hummus brothers!! gosh it was so amazing..they need to have those in philadelphia and i'd be set! haha

Nick said...

I don't watch TV much at all but I just started watching some of the cooking videos at
She has some really good recipes and a dazzling, crooked smile!

Jenn Shagrin said...

Thanks, Nick :)

Julie Hasson does indeed kick ass.

Anonymous said...

Nice Post
Steven Spurrier

Ratsofritz said...

I made this dish over the weekend for a group of friends and it was delish! Thank you Jenn Shaggy for your vegan culinary genius. You kick ass!

Jenn Shagrin said...

Thank you so much, Ratsofritz!
I love hearing that my recipes pan out well :)

Chrissy said...

Hey Jenn! First things first- I absolutely loved this. I wish i had taken a picture of it, but I ate it all before I had the chance. It was the perfect thing to stick in my fridge and just snack on the entire week, so thanks for the great recipe.

Secondly, I've attempted to make your ground beef recipe twice now... I think I may be doing something wrong. When it's finished, I usually comes out a very light brown color and doesn't taste like much, let alone like beef, and it doesn't really resemble being beefy looking like yours does... I've made your chicken without a hitch but for some reason, the beef isn't coming out quite right for me. What color is it supposed to be when it comes out of the pot?

oh, and congrats on your amazon listing for the book, and I'm eagerly awaiting your veganized version of the KFC double down!!

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