Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Turkey", Tarragon, and "Mascarpone" Lasagna

There's something about being "stuck" in the Valley that's opening my creative doors. True, I also feel like I should run out, bleach my hair, get a nice set of fake tits and some microdermabrasion, but that's just an urge I'll have to resist. Regardless of my newly reawakened creative streak, Jane and I quickly realized this isn't the place we want to live. We've been here only a few weeks, and we already miss the city. I miss waking up to the smell of homeless man and burned french toast. I miss being able to walk to Whole Foods and 7-Eleven. I miss my Gayborhood. And I'm stuck here for a year. Just to placate our longing for city life, we broke into our old apartment last night and smoked some hash. It made me feel a little better. Oh well, I guess that just means I'll have to cook a shit load to take my mind off of it.

I'm trying to comprise my second book of recipes that are less complex than the first. Well, the recipes in the first book aren't really complex. Several of the recipes just have a lot of steps from start to finish. Making the seitan is what I fear will overwhelm readers the most, but it truly is so simple once you try it out. Yes, I use a lot of ingredients in the broths. Deal with it. It's what makes my fake meats taste authentic. Woops, I just got sassy there for a minute. Sincerest apologies.

What I like to much about this recipe in particular is that, aside from making the seitan, it's really simple to throw together. Especially if you do all the prep in advance. And one really great thing to know is that if you're too lazy to make the seitan, just go out and buy a pound of Gardein chicken breasts to use instead. The recipe will be (almost) just as good. You can also just use frozen broccoli (thawed, of course) to skip the whole blanching step. Definitely try to locate the Dr. Cow cheese for making the sauce, though. Just one package of it grated over a Microplane zester will yield way more than you need for the recipe.

Happy Tuesday :)

"Turkey", Tarragon, and "Mascarpone" Lasagna

For the Lasagna...
  • 2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 batch of Vegan Turkey, finely chopped
  • 1 batch of Vegan Mascarpone (recipe follows)
  • 3 TBSP Fresh Tarragon, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 lb Broccoli Florets, broken into bite size pieces
  • 1 lb No Bake Lasagna Noodles
  • 2 cups Vegan Mozzarella, finely grated

For the Sauce...
  • 1/4 cup Vegan Margarine
  • 2 TBSP Unbleached White Flour
  • 2 1/2 cups Soy Milk (or other Non Dairy Milk)
  • 2/3 cup Dr Cows Tree Nut Cheese, finely grated
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then saute the onion and garlic until softened but not browned. Add in the diced vegan turkey, raise the heat to high, and saute for about 5 minutes longer. Remove the pan from heat, then stir in the mascarpone and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then blanch the broccoli for 1 minute. Drain in a colander over the sink, then immediately rinse with cold water. Drain well and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the vegan margarine over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from heat, then gradually whisk in the soy milk. Return the pan to heat and bring to a slow boil, stirring constantly. Simmer for 1 minute, then slowly whisk in the Dr Cow cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the lasagna, first place a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish, then layer in the following order:

1) Layer of Noodles
2) Layer of "Turkey" Mixture
3) Layer of Broccoli
4) Layer of Mozzarella

Repeat the layers twice more, finishing with a sprinkle of fresh tarragon for garnish, if desired. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes.

Vegan Mascarpone

  • 1 package Mori-Nu® Silken Soft Tofu
  • 1/8 cup MimicCreme
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar

A stand mixer with a whisk attachment is ideal for this, but a strong arm and a whisk will do the job as well. Combine ingredients in a stand mixer, and whisk together on the highest setting possible (the setting that doesn't leave you covered in tofu chunks), and mix until light and creamy. Chill until ready to use.

Vegan Turkey Recipe

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 MimicCreme
  • 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!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Roasted Marcona Almond, Sun-Dried Tomato and Sage Ricotta Baked Ziti with Miniature Vegan Meatballs

I hate moving more than I hate meat. It's the most pain-in-the-ass process I've ever endured. The worst part about it is that my kitchen is in boxes, and I'm reduced to ordering take-out or making simple stir frys. The funny thing is is that my kitchen required more boxes than any other room in my apartment. At least it'll be all over on Monday, and I can return to my typical schedule of fiendish cooking.

I really have nothing to whine about. Our new home is fantastic. Did I mention I have my own washer and dryer that DOESN'T require quarters? Instant orgasm when I found that one out. I also finally have a yard where I can garden and my pup can run free, so I know how great life will be once I'm finally settled in. And I have a real grill! I am so effing excited to just move and get this process over with.

Life's been great, otherwise. I'm planning a trip to one of my favorite vegan cities: Portland. I plan to stuff myself silly while drinking pint after pint of PDX's great beer. And the best part is, we're driving there. Road trips are at the top of my "Favorite Things" list, and I couldn't be more stoked.

As a teenager, I took more than my fair share of road trips. My favorite one was an extended "Life On The Road" experience that ultimately ended up in rehab. Quite the adventure, indeed. Regardless, I'm looking very forward to 16 hours in a car with my sweetheart, the music blasting and being surrounded by countryside.

On to the food. Baked Ziti was one of my all-time favorite childhood comfort foods. I had to snazz it up a bit for the sake of my ego, but this dish is great when you're craving something hearty and delicious. Give it a whirl..you won't be sorry!

Have a great week!

Roasted Marcona Almond, Sun-Dried Tomato and Sage Ricotta Baked Ziti
with Miniature Vegan Meatballs

  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 2/3 cup Marcona Almonds, roasted
  • Canola Oil, enough for coating Almonds
  • 8 oz jar of Sun Dried Tomatoes packed in oil, drained well
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Sage Leaves, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup Dr Cows Aged Cashew Cheese (any flavor), finely grated or Vegan Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil, plus more for "de-sticking" pasta
  • 1 batch of Vegan Ricotta
  • 2 1/2 cups Vegan Mozzarella, finely grated
  • 3 cups Marinara Sauce
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 batch of Vegan Meatballs (recipe follows), made 1-2 cm wide instead of full size, or substitute Nate's Savory Mushroom Vegan Meatballs
  • 1 lb Ziti Pasta Noodles

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook the Ziti in a large pot of salted, boiling water until just al Dente. Drain well, toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking, then set aside.

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then spread the Marcona almonds out evenly on the foil. Drizzle a bit of canola oil over the almonds, then roll them around to coat fully. Bake for 7-10 minutes, until beginning to brown, then set the pan aside so the almonds can cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, move on to making the "ricotta".

Using a food processor or blender, first blend the garlic and almonds until finely chopped. Add the "ricotta", sun dried tomatoes, sage, Dr. Cow (or "Parmesan"), and a touch of salt and pepper to the food processor. Turn on the machine, and while it's running, pour the olive oil in and allow the ingredients to blend until fully combined. Scrape the sides of the blender or food processor down once or twice during the blending process.

Turn the oven up to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss together the Ziti, half of the miniature meatballs, 2 cups of the marinara sauce, half of the vegan mozzarella, and "ricotta", then pour the mixture into a casserole dish. Cover the pasta mixture with the remaining marinara sauce, remaining miniature meatballs and remaining "mozzarella". Bake in the preheated oven for 20 until fully warmed through, then turn on the broiler to the "high" setting and broil until the "cheese" is brown and bubbly.

Allow to cool for a moment before serving.

Vegan Meatballs

"Meatball" Seitan Dough:
  • 1 1/2 cups Arrowhead Mills® Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1 1/2 cups Water mixed with 1 1/2 tsp Better Than Bouillon® No Beef Base
  • 2 TBSP MimicCreme
  • 1/3 cup Breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup Wheat Germ
  • 3 "Flax Eggs" (6 TBSP finely ground Golden Flax Seed mixed w/ 6 TBSP Water)
  • 1/4 cup Vegan Parmesan
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp of dried parsley
  • 1/3 cup MimicCreme
  • 1 TBSP Vegan Margarine

"Meatball" Seitan Broth:
  • 7 cups prepared Better Than Bouillon® No Beef Broth
  • 6 dried Shitake Mushrooms re-hydrated in 1 cup Water
  • 1/8 cup Tamari
  • 1 Portobello Mushroom Cap, chopped
  • 1 TBSP Garlic Powder
  • 2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 2 Bay Leaves

Okay. First, make sure you re-hydrate your dried shitakes in the 1 cup of water 1/2 hour prior to making the "Beef" dough. Don't discard the water once they're hydrated.

Using a stand mixer (if you have one...by hand, if not), mix together vital wheat gluten, water/bouillon and the first 2 TBSP of MimicCreme well. Set aside.

In a large pot, bring all of the "Meatball" Broth ingredients to a boil. Take the "Meatball" dough and break off little pieces, dropping them into the boiling broth until all the dough has been used. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and let cook for 1 hour. Stir every ten
minutes or so.

Remove from heat, and place a strainer in the sink, and pour the contents of the pot into a strainer. Remove the bay leaves, then let the seitan and mushrooms cool to room temperature. Once cool enough to touch, use a food processor to grind up the seitan and mushrooms until it's a very fine texture.

In a small skillet over medium-high heat, melt the first tablespoon of vegan margarine and sauté the minced garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the garlic, oregano and parsley to the ground seitan, and mix in well. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Once cool enough to touch, move the ground seitan mixture to a large bowl, then add in the flax egg, MimicCreme, breadcrumbs, vegan parmesan and wheat germ. Use your hands to mix well.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking sheet.

Form the mixture into 1/2 inch balls, then bake in the oven until brown and warmed through, about 15-20 minutes.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cracked Coriander Seed and Chai Tea-Rubbed Vegan Steak Lo Mein

I'm turning into motherfucking June Cleaver. First, marriage, now we're moving to a house...in The Valley. That's right. The San Fernando Valley. Have I lost my mind? No. I've been trying to find it since '97. Regardless, I'll finally have a yard where I can garden my little ass off. I've been having wet dreams about harvesting my own kale and basil for years. Just the mere thought makes me tingly all over.

The one thing I severely dislike about moving, aside from all the chaos, is the fact that I can't cook while my kitchen's in boxes. I'm left with no other options except to order *shudders* delivery. I know, I know. I'm a lucky bastard to live in a city where vegan delivery options are aplenty. But I'm such a dweeb about needing to reap the rewards of cooking my own dinner.

So what have I been up to lately besides packing? Well, I've taken a recent liking to the show Weeds. "Gasp!", you say. Jenn aka Stoney McPoterstein has never watched Weeds? Nope, I'd never seen it before. But I've plowed through seasons 1 and 2 so far, and I'd also like to plow through Mary Louise Parker. DAMN what a hottie. All my former pot dealers had names like "Blitz" or "Lo Down" and were built either like line backers or Shaggy from Scooby Doo. Lucky me.

I'm hoping the crazy in my life dies down sooner than later so that I can return to my normal, cracked out cooking regimen. Until then, I leave you with this tasty masterpiece.

Cracked Coriander Seed and Chai Tea-Rubbed Vegan Steak Lo Mein

For the Steak:
  • 1 batch of Vegan Beef Style Seitan (about 6 "Steaks")
  • Light Sesame Oil, enough for coating "Steaks"
  • 1/4 cup Chai Tea Leaves, finely ground
  • 1 TBSP Coriander Seeds, cracked in a pepper grinder
  • 1/2 TBSP ground White Pepper
  • Sea Salt

In a small bowl, combine the ground chai tea leaves, cracked coriander seeds and white pepper well.

Lightly coat each "steak" with a bit of sesame oil, then sprinkle with a touch of salt. Rub each "steak" with an equal amount of the tea leaf/coriander blend, then set aside.

Oil a grill pan or large saute pan well, then heat the pan until it's hot and ready. Grill the "steaks" on each side for about 4-5 minutes until browned and cooked through, then remove from pan and set aside to cool.

Once cool enough to handle, slice the steaks on a bias into this slices, then set aside until the Lo Mein is finished.

For the Lo Mein:
  • 1 lb Spaghetti or Soba Noodles
  • 1/2 cup Seasoned Rice Vinegar
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 cup Light Soy Sauce
  • 2 TBSP Canola (or Vegetable) Oil
  • 2 cups small Broccoli Florets
  • 1 lb White Button Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large Onion, largely chopped
  • 1 cup Sugar Snap Peas
  • 1 cup prepared Better Than Bouillon's No Beef Broth, chilled in the refrigerator until cold
  • 2 TBSP Cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves
  • 1 tsp Dark Sesame Oil
  • 1 batch of Cracked Coriander Seed and Chai Tea-Rubbed Steak Strips (above)
  • Black Sesame Seeds

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook noodles until just al Dente. Drain well, toss with a touch of canola oil, and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the seasoned rice vinegar, garlic, ground ginger, and soy sauce. Set aside.

Heat the 2 TBSP of canola oil in a large wok until hot, then add the rice vinegar mixture and broccoli. Stir fry for 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms, onions and snap peas and saute until tender.

Combine the chilled No Beef Broth and cornstarch in a small bowl. Pour it into the wok, and allow it to cook until thickened. Add in the cooked noodles, and toss to combine, and allow the mixture to cook until the noodles warmed through completely.

Remove from heat, toss with fresh cilantro and dark sesame oil, then serve topped with slices of Cracked Coriander Seed and Chai Tea-Rubbed Steak.