Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thick & Tangy Tomato Soup

It has been REALLY cold here in Portland, so I've been obsessed with soups. I made this one over a week ago, but it was so tasty that I don't want to forget what I did. I'm a little hazy on some of the amounts of things - but I added them based on taste. So if you try making this, just sample as you create - but always use a clean spoon so you don't spread your cooties!
This soup served two (big bowls), but if you add veggie stock for a thinner soup it would serve more. 

In a food processor:
~1 can Italian spiced stewed tomatoes with liquid
~1 tablespoon or more Balsamic vinegar (if you like it REALLY tangy - add more than 1 tablespoon)
~1/4 cup white wine (optional)
~4 to 5 big spoonfuls of sun dried tomatoes with oil.
~Black pepper - add to taste
~Basil (dried or fresh) - add to taste
~Sea salt - add to taste
~Paprika - add to taste

Heat soup in saucepan and serve. 

I garnished mine with some fresh spinach leaves and fried onions (the kind you put on top of green bean casseroles).

UPDATE: I made this soup again but with a twist. I added 1/2 can white beans in the food processor mix then the rest of the can when heating in the saucepan. It was nice and creamy. I left out the wine, but it probably would have been fine with it. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Southern Style Mock Meat Loaf

A snow storm hit us this weekend and I ended up spending a lot of time in my kitchen. I'm not a fan of the snow, so spending the day next to my oven was just fine with me. I didn't step outside my house (that would have required me to change out of my comfy yoga pants) so I had to work with what I had on hand. Good thing, because it forced me to improvise and through this I came up with a tasty "meat" loaf that held together beautifully. Plus, it made killer left-overs.

*Whenever I have a block of tofu that is about to expire before I can use it, I stash it in my freezer. Tofu takes on a different consistency when it has been frozen and then defrosted (you can do this in the microwave in a matter of minutes - just be sure to squeeze as much water out as possible). It is more spongy and therefore is able to suck up marinade like nobodies business. So, if you have one of these blocks of frozen tofu, get it out - I have a recipe for you.


~one block tofu (previously frozen and defrosted)*
~one cup TVP (texturized vegetable protein - put one cup of TVP in a bowl with 1 cup of water and set aside until water is thoroughly absorbed. Drain off any residual water)
~1/3 purple onion - chopped
~3 mushrooms - thinly sliced/chopped
~approx. a cup garbanzo flour (soy flour would work too)
~ 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
~1/2 to 1 tsp garlic powder (optional)
~Panko (approx. 1/4 cup)
~Matzo meal (approx. 1/8 cup) - If you don't have matzo meal, you could use more panko or another type of bread/cracker crumb
~BBQ sauce
~Teriyaki Sauce
~Organic ketchup
~Hot sauce (optional)
~Black pepper
~Paprika (optional)

Pre-Heat Oven 350 to 375 degrees.

STEP ONE: In a skillet with a little olive oil saute the onion and mushrooms until soft. 

STEP TWO:  In a large mixing bowl prepare the wet ingredients...

A. Mash tofu (be sure to squeeze out as much water as possible) into small chunks with fork
B. Add TVP
C. Add sautéed onions and mushrooms
D. Mix ingredients together
E. Add teriyaki sauce - add a little at a time, mix to thoroughly coat - add more for flavor. 
F. For more robust taste add a little BBQ sauce and/or ketchup.  For a spicier twist add some hot sauce to taste. 

STEP THREE: In a small mixing bowl combine the following dry ingredients....

Garbanzo flour, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, panko, matzo meal, ground pepper to taste, paprika to taste. 

STEP FOUR: Combine dry and wet ingredients in large bowl and mix well. Depending on how much wet ingredients you have, you may need to add more panko/matzo meal to make the ingredients stick together. 

STEP FIVE: Pour mixture into large loaf pan. Then....

A. Coat the top of the loaf with a combination of BBQ sauce and ketchup, creating a nice layer on top. A basting brush works great for this. 
B. Bake uncovered for approximately 40-50 minutes, depending on your oven. The loaf should be solid when you remove it from the oven. 
C. Let chill for approx. 5 to 10 minutes. Slice and serve. 

I made a shiitake mushroom gravy that tasted great with the loaf. It takes fine without it, but I love any excuse to eat gravy! 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sweet Potato Pie

I created this pie for my Southern Comfort Food themed dinner. I served it cold, although I'm sure it would have been yummy hot as well. 

~1 large deep-dish pie crust - I used a store-bought deep-dish pie crust, but if you're into making your own pie crust - go for it! 
~3 medium to large sweet potatoes
~approximately 2 tablespoons of vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance)
~1/2 cup (regular) soy milk
~1/2 cup maple syrup
~2 tsp vanilla
~2 to 4 tsp brandy (bourbon would work too) - This item is optional and should be added according to your own taste buds.
~1 tsp cinnamon 
~1/2 tsp sea salt
~1/4 tsp ground ginger
~1/4 tsp nutmeg
~Agave syrup - This item is optional and can be added to make the pie sweeter. Add a little at a time until you get the desired sweetness. 
~Whole pecans for garnish (optional)

PRE-HEAT OVEN: 375 degrees

Cook sweet potatoes 
I cooked mine in the microwave to reduce prep time, but you can steam or bake them.

In a large mixing bowl, mash sweet potatoes (remove skins) with vegan margarine and soy milk. Mix in maple syrup, vanilla, brandy, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg and agave syrup. 

Pour mixture into pie crust. Garnish with pecans (I put pecans in a circle around the outer rim of the pie and another circle of pecans within the center of the pie. 

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes and cool on a rack before serving. 

I served this as a side dish, but it could also be served as a dessert. I didn't make mine too sweet, so it complimented the food well. A sweeter version would be great after dinner with coffee. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

BBQ Pulled Seitan

For my dinner parties, I typically come up with a theme and cook within it. My last dinner party was centered around Southern Comfort Food. Here are some of the dishes I created and served:

~Sweet Potato Pie
~Pan Fried "Chicken" (created from homemade seitan)
~Collard Greens, Sweet Corn and Black Eyed Peas cooked in southern spices
~Potato, Leek, Corn and Black Bean Chowder (clear broth)
~BBQ Pulled Seitan over Brown Rice

My BBQ Pulled Seitan creation was the wild card of the evening and it turned out to be the most popular dish served. Although time consuming, it was well worth it. This dish took two days to make due to preparation, cooking, marinating and simmering time. This dish was created in total improvisation, but through the same ingredients I think a tasty variation of this is in your future.

There are several steps involved, but don't get intimidated. These steps are all pretty easy.

PRE-HEAT OVEN: 350 degrees

In a food processor (with bread mixer blade) mix the following until it forms a dough (approx. 6 minutes).  ~~~~If you don't own a food processor, then mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl and blend the wet ingredients in another. Then combine the wet and the dry and mix and knead until dough is formed.


Dry Ingredients:
~1 cup vital wheat gluten*
~1/4 cup garbanzo flour (or soy flour)
~3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
~2 tsp onion powder
~ 1 tsp roasted garlic powder (or regular garlic powder)
~2 tsp paprika 

Wet Ingredients:
~ 3/4 cup water
~ 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
~ 1 tsp liquid smoke
~ 2 tablespoons tahini

In an 8x8 baking dish (lined with parchment paper) - press out your dough until it takes up most of the pan. Next do the following
  • Bake in oven for 20 minutes uncovered.
  • Remove from oven, with a basting brush apply BBQ-Sauce**
  • Return to oven for approx. 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, flip seitan and apply BBQ-Sauce.
  • Return to oven for approx. 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and cool.


After the seitan has cooled, take two big forks and pull/shred the seitan into little pieces. A combination of bigger pieces with stringy smaller ones is perfect.

In a lidded container mix up the marinade (add a little of each, for spicy sauce add more hot sauce, for sweeter sauce add more maple syrup, for tangy sauce add more BBQ-Sauce):

Maple syrup
Hot Sauce
liquid smoke
Mesquite Spice Blend (or BBQ blend spices)
Organic Blue Agave (optional)***
Ground Pepper

Then add the seitan and mix thoroughly so that the seitan is perfectly covered with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate. Shake up the seitan and marinade once in a while. If possible, marinade for at least 24 hours. 


In a frying pan saute in olive oil:

~1 large purple onion or sweet onion (chopped into small pieces) 

Once the onion is soft add:

~1 large spoonful of crushed garlic
~1 large or 2 small red bell peppers (chopped into small pieces)
~The marinated seitan

Cook until thoroughly hot.

In a mixing bowl combine the following (add a little of each, for spicy sauce add more hot sauce, for sweeter sauce add more maple syrup, for tangy sauce add more BBQ-Sauce and ketchup):

BBQ Sauce
Maple Syrup
Organic Ketchup****
Tamari or Soy Sauce
Organic Blue Agave (optional)
Water (one cup or more, depending on how saucy you want it)
Gravy thickener (add enough for the amount of water added)
Mesquite spices***** 
Ground Black Pepper

In a medium sized crock-pot scoop in the seitan mixture, then add the liquid, then another layer of the mixture and more liquid. Repeat until all the contents are in the crock-pot. Cook on low heat for a few hours. ~~~~If you don't have a crock-pot then simmer in large saucepan on low heat for an hour or so. 


Serve over brown rice. Collard greens makes a good side dish. 


*I typically use Bob's Red Mill's vital wheat gluten, but you can also buy this in bulk at places like WinCo and it is WAY cheaper. 

**I love Trader Joe's Kansas City BBQ sauce. It has a great taste and it doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup. 

***Agave syrup can add sweetness to nearly any recipe and is a good substitute for honey. I get it at Trader Joe's and it's pretty cheap. 

****I love Trader Joe's Organic Ketchup. It has only a few ingredients and doesn't contain any high fructose corn syrup. 

*****Costco has killer deals on spices. I got a great blend of organic mesquite spices and it was super huge and cheap.