Monday, October 25, 2010

Southern Food Gone Vegan

For this blog post, I made quite a variety of different southern foods (of course, gone vegan). This posts includes recipes for country fried seitan steak, my mom's mashed potatoes, southern greens, biscuits and gravy, and coconut rum cake. A lot in one post, but I had a theme going on!

I also forgot to mention regarding my travel abroad in the summer that I attempted to find a vegan restaurant in Brussels, Belgium, but it was only open for lunch! Disappointing, I know. It is called Den Teepot and is only open from 12-2 p.m., Monday-Saturday. The downstairs is a small, natural, health food store. I ended up getting some sushi instead that night in Brussels.

One other important thing to note before moving on with the recipes is that this week (Oct. 24-31st) is the 5th annual World Go Vegan Week! So, for all you fellow vegans out there, Happy National Vegan Week! Eat with plant-based pride. :D

Country Fried Seitan Steak

* Prep Time: 24-36 hours
* Cook Time:
3 hours
* Ingredients (for seitan):

  • 1/2 cup chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp red wine
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce 
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried mustard
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground fennel seed
  • 1/2 tsp ground fenugreek seed
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten flour  
  • 10 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce 
* Ingredients (for country fried seitan steak):

  • seitan steaks
  • 1 cup bread crumbs*
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning*
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • flour*
  • almond milk* 
  • vegetable oil
* Recipe (for seitan):
  1. Combine wheat gluten and nutritional yeast flakes in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Combine all the rest of the ingredients in a blender.
  3. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in the bowl. Mix well. Let the wheat gluten mixture rise for a few minutes.
  4. While you wait, add the vegetable broth and soy sauce into a big pot. Mix. Do not turn on stove yet.
  5. Form the wheat gluten mixture uneven semi-round masses. You want it too somewhat resemble a "steak" for the rest of the recipe.
  6. Put the seitan into the pot and now turn on the stove to medium heat. Place pot cover on, but allow some room for the steam.
  7. Cook for 2 hours, rotating the seitan here and there.
  8. To store, keep the seitan in the broth mixture and refrigerate.
* Recipe (for country fried seitan steak):
  1. Combine the bread crumbs and all the spices in a bowl. In another bowl, place the flour. Lastly, place the almond milk in a third bowl.
  2. Dredge the seitan steaks in the flour, then dunk in the almond milk (make sure all the flour was saturated), then in the bread crumb mix. Repeat with all the steaks.
  3. Wrap the now seasoned steaks in tin foil and put in the freezer for at least 4-6 hours but preferably up to 24 hours. This helps the seasoning stick better when you fry it.
  4. Heat up a semi-deep skillet with vegetable oil. Once hot, place steaks in the skillet, enough that they all fit (if you have to do batches, do that). Fry each side until golden.
* Note: For bread crumbs, I used Whole Food brand crumbs. Any brand is fine, but check to make sure it's vegan. I can't stress this enough. You'd be surprised just how many bread crumb brands contain milk. Old Bay Seasoning is a poultry and seafood seasoning that is often used in making crab cakes and fried chicken, etc. The seasoning itself is vegan, don't worry! It is just a nice extra touch to add to this seasoning to give the flavor profile an extra uumph. You can find it in the spice section of most grocery stores. I used plain old all-purpose flour for this, but feel free to use whole wheat flour (especially if you use whole wheat bread crumbs, which I did not). The same goes for the almond milk. Feel free to use soy or rice or even hemp! Almond milk is just what I keep in my fridge. :]

My Mom's Mashed Potatoes

* Prep Time: 5 minutes
* Cook Time:
40 minutes
* Ingredients:
  • 8 (or more!) red creamer potatoes*
  • 7 tbsp soy butter
  • 2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • fresh rosemary, to garnish
* Recipe:
  1. Place washed potatoes in a pot of water and boil until tender.
  2. Once tender, strain the potatoes until warm (but not cold or extra hot!).
  3. Place potatoes in a large bowl and mash with fork until thoroughly mashed. Add in the butter and spices. Combine until well mixed. Taste to see if you need any more butter or other spices. It should be buttery and one should get a hint of that garlic salt and nutmeg.
  4. Garnish with fresh rosemary.. 
* Note: Feel free to use any type of potatoes, but I find these to be the most tender and tasty for this recipe.

Southern Greens

* Prep Time: 5 minutes
* Cook Time:
20 minutes
* Ingredients:
  • 1 bunch collard greens, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp soy butter
  • 1/2 small white onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke*
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
 * Recipe:
  1. Wash the collard greens and chop them up into bite site pieces. Set aside.
  2. Heat up skillet with the olive oil. Place the onions in and let them sweat until they start to get translucent. Add in the garlic and then the butter. Now add in the collard greens.
  3. Once all vegetables are in, add the spices, apple cider vinegar, liquid smoke, and vegetable stock.
  4.  Let simmer until most of the liquid is gone. I prefer my greens a little crunchy, so I let them become almost over done. It is up to the chef as to when one wants to stop cooking. If you prefers them just tender, watch the greens until you can pierce with a fork.
* Note: Liquid smoke is used to give it the greens an almost bacon-y feeling. Obviously, we are not using bacon, so look for Colgin's Liquid Smoke in your grocery.

Biscuits and Gravy

* Prep Time: 10 minutes
* Cook Time:
20 minutes
* Ingredients (for biscuits):
  • 2 cups flour*
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup almond milk (+ 1 tbsp)*
  • 1/4-1/3 cup soy butter
  • 1 tsp distilled white vinegar*
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
* Ingredients (for gravy):
  •  3-4 tbsp soy butter
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small white onion, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup Upton's Naturals Italian Sausage-Style Seitan (1/2 package), crumbled well*
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 4-5 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1-1 1/2 cup almond milk, more to taste*
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground corriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground oregano
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
* Recipe (for biscuits):
  1. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in one bowl. Place in the fridge.
  2. Combine the almond milk and the vinegar in a bowl. Place in fridge and let sit alone for at least 5 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  
  4. Combine the almond milk mixture with the dry mixture, then add in the butter. Do not over kneed! Combine to get most (if not all) of the lumps out but don't go over board. Only use a fork!
  5. Place in the fridge until the oven is ready. In the mean time, grease a baking sheet.
  6. In a small bowl, combine 1 tbsp almond milk with 1 tbsp vegetable oil.
  7. Form the dough into small balls and place on baking sheet. With a brush, lightly brush over the dough. This will give it a golden look when it comes out of the oven.
  8. Bake for 8-12 minutes. Some ovens take longer. Check on them after 8 minutes and see where they are at. The biscuits should look golden brown with firm tops.
 * Recipe (for gravy):
  1. In a skillet, add the soy butter under medium heat. Place the onions in the pan and stir-fry until translucent. Add the garlic, sausage-style seitan, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Cook until tender.
  2. Add in the flour. The vegetable should look like a flour-y crumbled mess. This is good right now!
  3. Next, add in the almond milk. If you do this step the other way around (adding the milk before flour), you'll get a lumpy disaster. Not good.
  4. Add in all the spices and mix well. The gravy should be relatively thick, but not too much so. It also should not be like a dressing, thin. If too thin, combine a little more flour in a bowl, add soy milk, mix well (get those lumpy's out), then put it in the gravy. If too thick, add more almond milk.
* Note: It is incredibly important that the ingredients of the biscuit dough stay very cold before going in the oven. This is how they become fluffy. Make sure the dough stays in the fridge until you are ready to bake it! For the biscuits, I used all-purpose flour. Again, please use any non-dairy milk you prefer (for both biscuits and gravy). Instead of vinegar, you may also use 1 tbsp of lemon juice, if that is easier. For the gravy, I used a local Chicago seitan company called Upton's Naturals. If you have a grocery near you that carries flavored seitan, use that. Tofurky makes an Italian sausage that would work in this recipe. Just cut it up into tiny pieces.
Coconut Rum Cake (with Coconut Frosting)

* Prep Time: 20 minutes
* Cook Time:
40-50 minutes
* Ingredients (for coconut rum cake):
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 oz silken tofu
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut rum*
  • 2 cups vegan white sugar*
  • 1/2 cup soy butter
  • coconut shreds
 * Ingredients (for frosting):
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup soy butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch (mixed with water)
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut shreds
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
* Recipe (for cake):
  1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in one bowl. Combine coconut milk, vanilla extract, tofu, rum, and soy butter in another bowl. Mix well. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture. Combine well until no lumps are present.
  3. In two greased baking pans, place half of the batter in each tray.
  4. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
  5. Cool to frost. 
* Recipe (for frosting):
  1. Combine coconut milk, butter, shortening, extracts, and salt in one bowl. Mix well. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with just enough water to make it dissolved entirely when you mix. Add this to your wet ingredients.
  2. In another bowl combine sugar and coconut shreds. Add the wet ingredients. Mix well.
  3. Put covered in fridge until ready to frost your cake.
* Cake Assembly: 
  1. Take one cake and frost it entirely. Place the second cake on top of the frosted cake and now completely frost this second cake. Cover the layered cake with coconut shreds.
* Note: For rum, I used Malibu Coconut rum. You can feel free to exclude this from your recipe if you choose. Make sure you are using vegan white sugar! Whole Foods carries marked vegan white sugar, but if all else fails, use raw cane sugar.

Phew, done typing all those recipes! I hope you try some out and enjoy them! In other news, I adopted a new kitten about a month ago and named her Lucy. She is 100% blind (missing both eyes) and is very sweet and active. Popeye, my other blind cat (3/4th blind or so), has gotten used to her and they play with each other now. My house is one blind kitty central! to special needs pets. 

A couple weeks ago was Chicago's annual vegan celebration, Chicago VeganMania. It is an all day, free event where vegan vendors, musical artists, restaurants, authors, doctors, etc. come to sell their things or speak about whatever it is they do. It is an event you don't want to miss as a vegan in Chicago. This year's was super fun! I got the shirt I've wanted for a while, screen printed by the talented Dan Dunbar, which says, "Vegan Cupcakes, Fuck Yeah!". After the event, Mercy For Animals held the official after-party which I spent over a month helping to plan. It was at the Funky Buddha Lounge. Good times raising money to help the animals.

Lastly, I started using Chicago Vegan Co-Op and I received my very first order on Saturday. I bought Upton's Naturals gyro seitan, pastrami seitan, bacon seitan and Ste Martaen (another local Chicago vegan company) colby and smoked gouda cashew cheeses, along with a spinach quiche from them. My freezer is packed! I'll be eating sandwiches for months (not complaining). Check out the co-op if you live in the Chicago area. The picture is of Upton's Naturals pastrami and bacon with Ste Martaen colby cheese on fresh French bread from Whole Foods.

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