Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Glazed carrots, Bryanna's seitan "turkey" with a light maple dijon glaze, mushroom gravy, broccoli casserole, roasted brussel sprouts, bread dressing and mashed potatoes.

Thanksgiving 2009

Bryanna's seitan "turkey" with a light maple dijon glaze, broccoli casserole, bread dressing, roasted brussel sprouts, freshly baked bread, cornichons, dill cream "cheese", Tartex vegan pate. Not shown: Mushroom gravy, chickpea gravy, glazed carrots, mashed potatoes and brought by our guests, a salad, apple pie and ice cream.

I love cooking for people and back home I used to always have people over for Thanksgiving. In RVA however, I didn't have any friends there so there were no dinner guests. Not this year though! I was determined to feed some friends and I was delighted to be able to cook a big dinner for more people than just me and the Mr. In the food frenzy, I only took a few flash pics which didn't turn out great (second set of photos) so the next day I took a pic of my leftovers (top photo).

The full menu was:
  • Bryanna's seitan "turkey" with a light maple dijon glaze
  • roasted brussel sprouts
  • bread dressing/stuffing
  • mashed potatoes with scallions
  • mushroom gravy
  • chickpea gravy
  • glazed carrots
  • broccoli casserole (like green bean casserole but with broccoli)
  • fresh bread with some sides of Tartex brand pate, dill cream "cheese", cornichons
Now I know that a bunch of you are going to ask, "how was the seitan 'turkey'"? How did I know that? Well, that recipe has been floating around for some time and is fairly involved so a lot of people don't try it but it always sounds amazing. Before I made it, I read mixed reviews which some said the texture was too soft or too spongey. Those were the main gripes. I was a little worried but well, Bryanna is the seitan queen and everyone's favourite vegan grandmother, so I put my trust in her. Boy, am I ever glad I did. That was by far the best textured seitan I've ever made. Taste-wise it could have used more sodium (I like salt) but the addition of gravy took care of that.

Bryanna's description of the roast is spot on: "tender, not rubbery, and which slices easily". All I have to say for those folks that had sub-par texture results is to try it again and follow the recipe to a "T". When it says 12 oz of tofu, shave approximately 2 oz from your 14 oz block. Don't try and over compensate by adding in more gluten flour because you might mess up. The texture of this dough when you first mix it is very different than your usual seitan dough. Also when she says to knead it in a bread machine or mixer with dough hook for 10 minutes, rest for 1 hour and then knead for 10 minutes more, she means it. The dough will indeed be shiny and uniform in texture after the extensive kneading — something that is very difficult to do by hand. This step is really important for the proper texture. In addition, when she says to bake it until the liquid is absorbed, do it. If you follow all her instructions AND cook a day before, cool in fridge and reheat the next day (I glazed mine for the reheating), you will be rewarded with one of the best textured seitan "turkey" recipes you'll ever make. It takes some planning to make this but the results are worth it. Trust me. This is definitely going to be my "go to" holiday seitan recipe.

Let's see, what else. Well, everything else was my own concoction (I cook by taste so I generally don't have anything written down so no recipes). The broccoli casserole was like green bean casserole but I used porcini mushrooms and homemade french fried onions. Everything was made from scratch (even the bread for the stuffing/dressing) except for the pate and the cream "cheese". I wish I had better pictures of the sides but oh well, next time. I had several other dishes planned but after seeing the amount of food that I already made I had to scale down the menu.

All in all, I was really pleased with how things turned out. Good food and good friends. A perfect way to spend a holiday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pad See Ew

Pad See Ew with Seitan

Ah, Pad See Ew. It is probably the Thai dish I order most often and it only just dawned on me the other day (after reading about it) that "see ew" means soy sauce. Big "dur!" moment for me since "see ew" (various pronouciations depending on dialect) is also soy sauce in Chinese. Even though I like Pad See Ew a lot, I don't actually like it over Pad Thai. I order it but because I know I can actually get it vegan easily without worrying. The main ingredients in the sauce are simply sweet thick soy sauce. For omnis, a dash of fish sauce is thrown in but the key thing is that the soy sauce and fish sauce are not pre-mixed.

Call me paranoid, but since I found out a couple of years ago that many (almost all?) Thai restaurants pre-mix their Pad Thai seasoning (same also goes for most curries), I don't order it. See, the seasoning is pre-mixed in most cases because it would take too long, and would be inconsistent in taste to add the ingredients one by one while stirfrying the noodles. If it takes too long, the noodles turn to mush. Even street vendors in Thailand pre-mix their sauces. Almost every Pad Thai recipe also specifies to pre-mix the sauce. I don't know why it didn't dawn on me earlier. A waitress at a restaurant I used to frequent told me that the Pad Thai sauce is always pre-mixed there despite the fact that I would specify "no fish sauce" on previous visits (Thai Diner 2 in RVA if anyone is interested — Pad Thai is not vegan. Tara Thai in Short Pump mall though can be made vegan). I appreciated her honestly and it is possible that the other wait staff weren't even aware of how it's cooked. Anyway after that I pretty much stopped ordering Pad Thai. I'm sure not all restaurants pre-mix but I'd be willing to bet that most do. The waitress did tell me that Pad See Ew (which I also love) can easily have the fish sauce omitted and judging from other recipes I found, she's right.

Okay I'm totally rambling. Above is Pad See Ew that I made using this recipe (not vegan but easily made vegan) as a blueprint*. I didn't have any sweet soy so I boiled down some soy sauce with sugar. I threw in some onion, garlic, broccoli and tatsoi. I absolutely love Chinese broccoli (gai lan) and would have used it instead of regular broccoli but didn't have any on hand. I also fried up some strips of seitan I had on hand in the fridge and added that in.

Even though I have made Pad Thai lots of times (similar steps, this is the last one I made), her instructions are great for the new cook. It was delicious and definitely worth the effort. It may seem daunting at first to do things separately but once you get the hang of it, it'll be a piece of cake. Give it a try!

*Pim also has an excellent blueprint for Pad Thai as well (also not vegan but easily made vegan). Going to try it her way next time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pseudo Ethiopian Dinner

Pseudo Ethiopian

Due to a few people talking about Ethiopian food for the past day or so (looking at you Lisa), I really wanted it for dinner tonight. A slight problem though: a) we weren't going out to get it (too lazy); and b) I didn't have the key ingredients of berbere or teff (or injera). Regardless, I was determined to cobble something together. I poked around the kitchen cabinets, pantry, fridge and CSA box and after 2.5 hours in the kitchen, the following was served:
  • Pseudo Injera (white flour, water, vinegar and baking powder)
  • Tikil Gomen (cabbage, potatoes, carrots, cumin, turmeric and I threw in some radish greens)
  • Kik Alicha (yellow split peas, onions, garlic, cumin, turmeric)
  • Pseudo Doro Wat (soy curls, onions, dark seasoned chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, dash of cloves)
So how was it? Pretty good but of course not very authentic. I ran out of pans so I baked the fake injera batter which of course didn't bubble like it would in the pan. Actually I shouldn't really call it "fake" injera since injera can be made with other flours for different occasions. Teff injera is the most common (and super yummy).

Anyway, the meal did manage to satisfy my cravings but I need to stock up on real Ethiopian spices and mixes and I need some good Ethiopian food very soon. Until then, I'm going to gorge on the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Weekly" Round-Up (November 8, 2009)

Yeah, I know I said I was going to make something for this blog but I've been super busy. So here's my posts from the other blog with one photo from the list.

Country-Fried Tofu with Golden Gravy

Since my last post I've made:
I'm going to really try and break out the pasta maker this week. Hopefully I'll do that and be able to post about awesome homemade pasta!
Blog Widget by LinkWithin