Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vegan 'Beef' Stew

The Closet thing you can get to beef stew (as a vegan)

This recipe is modified from the recipe on Meet the Shannons. It is modified because I didn't want to use my oven, and spinach has no business in a beef stew. I have previously blogged about my intense love for gardein's beefless tips. I could live without most fake meats, I'm not a huge fan, but these have such a complex flavor, and add so much to your meal, you will really appreciate them.

I put every single step in this recipe, because often I forget to do something, or I do stuff in the wrong order, and I've got everything else frying in oil and then I'm like 'I have to dice 2 lbs of potatoes!?!?!?', and then stuff burns, which is bad.


1 Package Gardein Beef-less tips
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Large Red Onion (1/2 sliced into rings – the other 1/2 diced)
3 Stalks of Celery (chopped)
1 Cup cremini Mushrooms (sliced)
4 Carrots (cut into coins – should make 2 Cups)
1 14oz Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Cup Frozen Peas
1 Cup Frozen Green Beans
1 Cup Red Wine
3 Teaspoons Shoyu or Tamari
1 Teaspoon Thyme Leaves (dried)
1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Mustard Seed
1/2 Teaspoon Celery Seed
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 Cup vegan Beef-flavored broth, Preferably Better Than Bouillon's Not Beef Base
2 TBS WW Flour

Herby Biscuits

1 cup WW Flour
1 cup White Flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/2 Cup Thinly Sliced Scallions
1/2 Teaspoon Thyme Leaves (dried)
1/4 Teaspoon Sage Leaves (dried and crumbled)
1/4 Tsp black pepper

Heat oven 450.

Spread your Gardein out on your toaster oven's solid tray. Bake for 10 mins in the toaster oven at 300. While you're doing that...

Break out a bottle o' red wine and start drinkin'.
Chop your carrots (keep 'em separate) Chop mushrooms (keep 'em separate from carrots), slice half your onion, set aside, chop your celery, then dice 1/2 the onion and put celery and diced onion together. Measure out your spices and put in a small dish for later. Microwave a little over 1/2 cup water for 2 mins 30 seconds, add your brothy cube or paste, and dissolve. Add the 2 tbs of WW flour to the 1/2 cup water and whisk till even. Use can opener to open your tomato can.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the diced red onion and celery, and saute until softened. Add the mushrooms and continue to saute. Once they’re released some moisture, add the soy sauce (or Bragg’s), diced tomatoes, wine, veggie beef broth (with flour whisked in), spices carrots, frozen peas and green beans. Stir occasionally and when it begins to boil cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Continue to check on the Stew and stir occasionally. Remember the sliced onion and that Gardein in the toaster oven? Pour the juices from your gardein toaster oven pan into your stew. Don't lose that yummy gardein flavor! Time to fry those sliced onions in a cast iron pan till they are all caramelized, then remove them, then spray the pan with oil again, then add gardein and heat it up, a little bit of frying, just don't burn it. Just to get it heated through and properly cooked.

While the stew is simmering, mix your dry ingredients of the biscuits. Then add the soymilk and scallions and oil, and don't overmix, you don't want them to be tough. You can use less oil, but the biscuts won't be as tender. Drop them onto 2 greased cookie trays and cook for 10-15 mins.

You’ll want to remove the pot from heat when the carrots have reached your desired tenderness. You might need to add a bit of water to the stew if it evaporated too much liquid off.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Beet Brownies


I was reading through the Vegetarian Times magazine, because someone had left it on the free table at Jon's work, and was shocked at really how vegan-unfriendly it was. Many of their vegetarian recipes relied solely on cheese to provide flavor, and for instance, the below brownies had eggs + butter. I modified the recipe. Actually, I put in 1.5 cups of beets, which frankly was too much because they came out pretty beety, but I hadn't read the recipe properly. I also was freaked out about using egg replacer for the 2 eggs, so I added 2 tsp cornstarch as well. Don't do that, they came out too rubbery. I'm going to try these again but with the following proportions as reccomended in the recipe

About 2 cooked beets, depending on size - (the amount required to make 1 cup of puree) or One 14 oz. can of beets, rinsed & drained
1/4 cup earth balance margarine
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp egg replacer powder + 6 TBS warm water, beaten
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 TBS cocoa powder
1 TBS instant espresso powder (or instant coffee)

Puree the beets till super smooth. Then beat the egg replacer with water. You can pretty much just mix everything together at this point, because since there's only 1/2 cup of flour you don't run as much risk of overworking it and developing the gluten. Put into greased 9 inch pan, bake at 350 for 30-40 mins, check at 30 with knife inserted at center. I think around 5 points per brownie, same as regular brownie but the benefit is you are eating more of a whole food I guess, maybe I'm just kidding myself here. I might try the 'replace the oil with pureed prunes + water' trick from the millenium. I'm super curious about that idea. Why am I ruining brownies? I don't know, I just think its interesting! I have to admit I've only had a decent brownie 4 times since becoming vegan, so I guess I should probably try to make a delicious vegan brownie instead. :)

I like these brownies, but they are pretty beet-y though that may be my fault for using more beets than called for. I caution the reader against using canned beets, I think they are for experienced beet people because they just aren't as good. Newbies to beets should start with a beet in top form, a fresh beet peeled and roasted (yum!), or steamed (I steamed mine for 20 mins in the pressure cooker).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ratatouille Soup + Mushroom Olive Polenta

When I was in HS I worked at a pizza shop which served a ratatouille pizza. That thing was gross, and so I thought I hated ratatouille. When we were invited to a friends house for dinner recently, they served ratatouille - and I was really nervous but committed to wolfing it down no matter what. Well, I'm very glad to have been re-introduced to it as an adult because I really don't hate ratatouille at all!

I was pleased to find a ratatouille recipe in our new pressure cooker cookbook by Lorna Sass. This is our first cooking experience with the cookbook. Well, we have been using it to look up cooking times for beans and things previously, but these are the first 2 actual recipes. I started out making the Mushroom Olive Polenta. I actually used 1 cup of corn meal instead of corn grits for this, because I didn't have any corn grits. As such I reduced the water to 3.5 cups, but it still came out nicely. I pre-mixed a little of the water at a time with the corn meal to form a thick paste so there wouldn't be so many lumps. That made it easier to prevent lumps I think. This is my 2nd experience making corn meal polenta, the first was quite lumpy but still yummy. The polenta is really yummy, though I did put more olives than were called for so it is on the salty side. Be warned, if you use a large qty of olives, reduce the salt.

[insert photo later]

The recipe only called for 3 minutes at high pressure. I was certain would take longer than 3 mins so I put it to 6. Well, everything got cooked, but the zuchini got a little overdone so next time I'll trust the cooking time and go with it. The eggplant came out meltingly tender though. Overall I liked the recipe, but I felt the tomato flavor was too strong for me, so next time I will reduce the tomato - or use another brand of canned tomato. Also instead of diced onion I'd like to try just slicing the onion into little half moon shapes. That's how our friend cut the onions and I liked that. As for the eggplant, I'm going to try 1/2 inch strips about 3 inches long as is called for in Julia Child's recipe which is what our friend made. Perhaps I should saute the zuchini separately since zuchini cooks super quickly and I'd like to have the freedom to cut the zuchini differently, and add in some parsley. However, that's making the recipe harder, isn't it, and the point is this recipe is really easy to put together.

Pressure cooking eggplant is really the way to go because I find it difficult to cook evenly and it seems like it takes forever on the stovetop. I love my plug in pressure cooker. I'm hoping this cookbook speeds up my kitchen experiences, because I need all the help I can get. I am the slowest chopper/slicer ever so cooking always takes me longer than Jon by a long shot.

We have another recipe coming up from Lorna Sass' pressure cooker cookbook and perhaps if that goes well you will know if you should invest in this cookbook. When you page through the cookbook, you do get a little worried because the recipes look really HEALTHY, which immediately starts you wondering if they have any flavor and whether you will you crave them. So far, so good - more later.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

An s'load of cooking, plus actual recipes!

Some of this is from a series of days, and then there was Sunday, where I cooked THE ENTIRE DAY. I cooked a lot of different dishes. My response to stress, I guess. So, back in time, we will observe: Root Vegetable Dal from Appetite for Reduction from last week or so.

Root Veggie Dal

Sigh. This was just kind of blah. We used Muchi Curry powder from WF, and it just isn't that good. This dish relies on curry powder for much of the flavor, and if you aren't feeling the curry powder, you won't be that into the end result. I wonder though if its the lack of oil too, because I'm starting to wonder if you can make delicious low fat things. Except we do love the phanch phoran cauliflower dal from Fat Free Vegan (we double the spices in that recipe) - which has even less fat. Maybe we just aren't curry powder people? I liked the rutabega though, its my first time eating rutabega. Very sweet, kind of like a sweet potato but more juicy. Or like a white carrot but more potatoey. Also, who doesn't love parsnips?

This is recipe maybe #2 or #3 from AFR, Jon loved the onion rings, I didn't think they were oniony enough. We will keep trying both LOVE sweets so much its nice to eat healthy things when you aren't stuffing your face with cupcakes and cookies, so you can feel like you are getting nutrition.

So excited, tonight, I'm making the ratatouille stew from Lorna Sass's pressure cooker cookbook. Plus the pressure cooker mushroom olive polenta to go with it.

Okay, I did promise you recipes. Jon got two Indian recipes from his Mom recently, and one was Lamb Biryani, which he decided to veganize. They were recipes from his childhood which he misses, though his Mom never followed recipes really, so who knows how the Lamb Biryani really was. The original recipe calls for and ENTIRE CUP OF GHEE. Yes, for only 2 lbs of lamb and maybe 1-2 cups rice, a cup of ghee. No wonder the boy had freakishly high cholesterol in High School (okay, probably that was from eggs & bacon for breakfast every day of his life, but the cup of ghee couldn't have helped). He reduced the fat to 1/2 cup and used earth balance. (will post recipe when I figure out where Jon stashed it).

Seitan Lamb Biryani

The seitan turned out really awesome, we were quite impressed with its tenderness. Jon said it was as tender as veal, which of course creeped me out. We will totaly use that seitan recipe again. The recipe itself though, was too sour for my preference. I added agave nectar to the end product, which made it better. I felt it was kind of greasy with not that much other flavor besides the sourness, or maybe the sourness was so dominant I couldn't taste the other stuff. Jon disagreed.

Sunday morning, I made Matt of My Veggie Kitchen's chick'n burgers

Chickn Patties which we liked a lot. We used Appetite for Reduction's cashew-miso mayo (at the back of the book), but I added extra water till the flavor was less strong because it was initially too strong for us. But thank the FSM we finally found a non-mayo-esque mayo replacement, for Jon is a mayo-hater. I also made Robin Robertsons' herb sandwich bread from Vegan Planet, but, due to my uncontrollable desire to eat more whole wheat, I put in a lot more WW flour than was called for and in addition to it being super hard to knead, the crust turned out tough and the bread was too dry unless you toast it, in which case its quite tasty - though next time I'll surely double up on the herbs. I really just need to bite the bullet and get Peter Reinharts book about WW breads and get baking. Just imagine Jon, delicous, healthy, fresh made bread EVERY WEEKEND! Isn't that worth having one or two more measely little* cookbooks on the shelf?

Back to cooking. So after the chick'n sanwiches and non-mayo, and sandwich bread, I made Taymer Masons vegan holiday ham. However, instead of steaming it for 40 mins I did it in the pressure cooker for 20. I guess that was wrong, because it was totally raw - even after baking 20 mins in the oven afterward. seitan ham The flavors were really awesome, if, according to Jon, not ham-like. I used low sodium soy sauce and so that was probably an issue, and I reduced the smoke flavor out of fear, that was another mistake. I really want to try this again, but with a longer cooking time. Its a great flavor combo. In our Carribean theme, I also made 2 bunches lacinato kale with bajan sauce (from except with some changes:

Bajan Spiced Lacinato Kale

4 large garlic cloves peeled
4 scallions (white and tender green parts), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (didn't have fresh so used 2 tsp dry thyme instead)
1 Scotch bonnet chile, seeded (I didn't have this so instead used 1 tsp red pepper flakes and 1 tsp sriracha chili sauce)
One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped (we keep peeled diced frozen ginger in our freezer, so I used that)
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
salt to taste
Combine all except salt in food processor and pulse into a fine paste. Season with salt.
Then I put some oil in the pan, added half the paste, and then added the kale...cooked a few mins, added the rest of the paste.

We loved it, and I can't wait to make it again! Also, since I had the oven on so much, I plopped some sweet potatoes in a baking dish in there and let them roast until done (oven was around 350-400 during various times). I just waited till I poked them with a fork and they were super soft. I took:

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut shreds
2-4 tbs dark rum
2-4 tbs maple syrup

soaked that for 1 hr, then heated up on the stove till some evaporation occured (not until it was dry - just moist). I added 1/4-1/2 cup soymilk to the sweet potatoes, mashed them, and topped them with the coconut and some candied pecans I'd made. We really liked that a lot! We'll certainly have Caribbean night again - and if you haven't made the jerk seitan from Vegan w. Vengeance and coconut rice, (which you must make your seitan from scratch for that its a million times better), its awesome, and that would be an excellent sub for the faux ham should you want to have your own Caribbean night.

Finally, I made some coconut cookies, just made up a recipe. They turned out super crispy. I think too greasy for my tastes though. However, we still have a ton of coconut shreds in our house, so gotta do somethin' with em. Not posting the recipe because they were okay but not really share-worthy.
Coconut Cookies

*size of little cookbooks may vary, and may indeed weigh up to 5 lbs, and contain up to 500 pages.