Monday, September 6, 2010

The Tempeh Tempest!

We celebrated Labor Day early by having a feast yesterday. DS has to get up sooooooo early in the a.m. for school that celebrating tonight wasn't really an option. So yesterday, as often happens, my BFF, Todd, and I called each other at the exact same time to suggest getting together for dinner. So, dinner and a movie at my house was the plan. Over the years, we have spent many an enjoyable afternoon Doing Something (like going to a pottery festival or the art museum) and then cooking dinner together afterwards. Todd even cheerfully watched every episode of Glee in my DVD set this summer.

Here are Todd & DS at the Sanford Pottery Festival:

I'm pretty sure this was the day we whipped up Dee's fabulous Easy Sour Cream Enchiladas and some borracho beans to go with 'em back at my house post-festival.

Girlichef has one of the most awesome food blogs on the planet (if you haven't been there, check it out ASAP!) . I remember when her blog had a cute subtitle referencing her "fun-size kitchen." Well, my kitchen is so small I'm not sure it even qualifies as "fun-size!" It really kinda drives me nuts. You get out two bowls and an ingredient or two, and the whole place is trashed. Uff-da!!

Due to the difficulty of preparing ANYTHING in what passes for my kitchen, our feast was somewhat minimalist. I made 2 dishes from the Veganomicon: Hot-Sauced Glazed Tempeh, and Pineapple-Cashew-Quinoa Stir-fry. (I chose these recipes because I had most of the ingredients on-hand already! Hey, it's Labor Day-- I didn't want to be laboring all day at the grocery!) For dessert, we had sorta-vegan crepes. Todd, just returned from a trip to Michigan to visit his fam, brought us back some Vernor's (America's oldest soft drink) to go with. His last 2 bottles in fact: what a pal!

The Hot-Sauce Glazed Tempeh from the Veganomicon is out of this world! I have to tell you, tempeh is one of those "whole foods" I have just never been able to get behind. Todd (who mostly eats vegetarian) also suffers from Tempeh Terror.

Tempeh is a cultured/fermented soy product. I know it's supposed to be good for you with all those "cultures" in it (that probiotic stuff). To me, it always tasted bitter and of raw beans. Disgusting, really. However, in the skilled hands of the Veganomicon chefs, tempeh is transformed into something so truly delicious I would welcome it at my table just about any time.

I think the secret is the one extra step I had never before heard of when preparing tempeh: you have to par-boil it before cooking. That gets rid of that nasty raw bitter taste, and it improves the texture immensely.

If you have never been that crazy about tempeh, you've gotta try this fabulous recipe! It just might turn your Tempeh Terror into Tempeh Triumph.

Hot-Sauce Glazed Tempeh from the Veganomicon

1 8 oz. pkg. tempeh (*I used the LightLife 3-Grain variety)
1/2 c. wine (whatever you've got on hand, just nothing sweet, Manischewitz lovers!) (*I used some Merlot)
1/4 c. hot sauce (*I used my fav, Cholula)
2 T olive oil
2 T soy sauce
3 T fresh lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
2 cloves garlic, crushed (*I used 4-- you can never have too much garlic!)
1 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/8 t. cayenne (we know, with hot sauce? Yes.)

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl large enough to fit the tempeh slices. (*I find it is easiest to place the marinade ingredients and the tempeh in a large zip-top bag to marinate.)
Cut the tempeh in half, widthwise, then cut each of the resulting squares diagonally to form four large triangles. When the water is boiling, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook the tempeh triangles for 10 minutes. This steams the tempeh and removes any bitterness, plus readies the tempeh to absorb the marinade. (*I'm here to tell you. it really does. I boiled mine for 15 minutes just to be sure.)
Use tongs to immediately place the tempeh in the marinade bowl. Let marinate for 1 hour, flipping the tempeh every now and again to cover with the marinade.

Here's my tempeh, marinating:

Grilling Instructions:
Preheat a cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat. To grease it, brush lightly with olive oil or, if you have a spray bottle of olive oil, that works, too. (Get a spray bottle of olive oil already!)
Grill each side of the tempeh for5 minutes. When the second side is almost done, spoon some of the marinade over the tempeh and let it cook for 30 more seconds. (*I am a believer in frequent basting: we brushed our tempeh with marinade right after we put it in the pan, just before turning, and just before removing from the heat.)

Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side.

Ta-da!! Here is our succulent glazed and grilled tempeh (Todd did the grilling using my cast-iron grill pan):

The Pineapple-Cashew-Quinoa Stirfry from the Veganomicon was a flavorful and delicious sidekick for the tempeh. I admit, I cheated and used canned pineapple tidbits (and juice from same) instead of fresh, but it was still very tasty. I am sure it would have been better with fresh, but it was still pretty awesome.

Todd graciously supplied us with fresh basil and mint from his garden, as well as bringing the potables (iced tea and Vernors). If you have some cooked quinoa already on hand, this would go together very quickly. Cooking the quinoa in pineapple juice is a great touch and adds a lot of flavor. I used red quinoa instead of the usual gold kind, because I prefer the flavor of the Inca Red (and besides, it comes pre-rinsed!).

Pineapple-Cashew-Quinoa Stir-Fry from the Veganomicon
Quinoa: 1 c. quinoa, well rinsed and drained
1 c. pineapple juice

1 c. cold water

1/4 t. soy sauce


4 oz. cashews, raw and unsalted

3 T peanut oil (*I didn't have any, so I just used canola oil)

2 scallions, sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, minced (*I used 4)

1 hot red chile, sliced into very thin rounds

1/2 in. piece ginger, peeled and minced (*I used a 1" piece)

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 c. frozen green peas or cooked edamame (*I used a box of frozen peas, thawed)

1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, rolled and sliced into thin shreds (just like slicing collard greens)

2 T fresh mint

10 oz. fresh pineapple, cut into bite-size chunks, about 2 c. (*I used a 14 oz. can of tidbits)

3 T soy sauce

3 T vegetable stock

1 T mirin (*didn't have any, used tawny port instead)

Lime wedges for garnish

Prepare the quinoa first: combine the quinoa, juice, water and soy sauce in a medium-size pot. Cover, place over high heat, and bring to a boil. Stir a few times, lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 12-14 minutes, until all the liquid has absorbed and the quinoa appears plumped and slightly translucent. Uncover, fluff, and let cool.
For best results, place the quinoa in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. If you're in a hurry, chill the cooked quinoa for at least an hour. When ready to use, break up any chunks of the cold quinoa with a fork.

(*NOTE: I didn't bother chilling the quinoa, and the finished product turned out fine.)

Prepare the Stirfry:
Use the largest non-stick pan you have (at least 11 in. oin diameter) or a wok. Have all of your ingredients chopped and easily within reach. Place the cashews in the dry pan and heat over low heat, stirring them, until lightly toasted, 4-5 minutes.

Remove the cashews from the pan, raise the heat to medium, and and add the peanut oil, scallions, and garlic. When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the sliced chile pepper and ginger. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes, then add the bell pepper and peas. Stir-fry for another 3-4 minutes, until the pepper is softened and the peas are bright green. Add the basil and mint, and stir for another minute before adding the pineapple and quinoa.
In a measuring cup, combine the soy sauce, vegetable stock, and mirin. Pour over the quinoa mixture. Stir to incorporate completely and coat the quinoa. Continue to stir-fry for 10-14 minutes, until the quinoa is very hot (it helps to use two spoons/spatulas to scoop the quinoa around).
Serve with lime wedges and additional soy sauce, to season individual servings to taste.
Serves 4.

Here is the finished stir-fry in the skillet. All the colors and textures are so pretty!

This stuff was fantastic. I was really happy that (besides fresh pineapple), the only things I didn't already have on hand were the scallions, peas, and fresh herbs, the latter which Todd had growing in his garden.

To maximize the flavor and prevent overcooking, I added the basil, mint, and peas just before serving. Ditto the cashews, which were never mentioned again after the roasting instructions, but which I assume were supposed to be added to the finished dish. The crunch of the cashews and the tangy bite of the lime juice really added a nice touch to the finished dish.

Todd's plate:

Dinner conversation:
ME: Well, Todd, now that you have tried Hot-Sauce Glazed Grilled Tempeh, how you feel about tempeh?

(You can see my tiny rat-hole of a kitchen behind Todd-- we don't even have enough storage space for the food wraps, so they're all in a heap on top of the fridge)

This meal was satisfying but not too heavy-- all the better to enjoy our crepe-making (and devouring) experience after dinner!

Sorta Dairy-Free Crepes by DomesticMuse
(based on a Sara Moulton recipe)

Makes 8-10 small dessert crepes

1/2 c. + 2 T vanilla almond milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 T melted butter
1 T sugar
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
pinch of salt

1. Combine the batter ingredients in a blender and blitz for about 5 seconds to mix. Then scrape down the sides and blend for 20 seconds. Transfer the batter to a small, deep container.
2. Brush an 8" non-stick skillet with vegetable oil and spray with nonstick spray and heat over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles on contact.
3. Fill a 1/4 c. measure about 2/3 full with batter and pour into the prepared skillet. Swirl the skillet to coat the bottom with a thin layer of batter. Pour any excess batter back into the container.
4. Cook until the center of the crepe is set and the edges are lightly browned. Loosen the edges with a rubber spatula.
5. Turn the crepe over and cook until you see bubbles forming, about 30 seconds.
6. Remove crepe from pan and either cool on a rack or stuff and eat immediately.
7. Re-spray the pan with non-stick spray and repeat until you have made as many crepes as you need, re-spraying before you cook each crepe.

We stuffed our crepes with Nutella and bananas and/or strawberries. Some whipped cream and powdered sugar on top would have looked pretty, but I didn't think of that!

Here are Todd's finished crepes:

This was a fabulous meal!


  1. Great dishes here! I would certainly love to try the hot-sauce glazed tempeh! Nice to see you back online!

  2. Hey stranger =) Thanks for the awesome shout-out. My kitchen has been upgraded from "fun"-sized to small. Um, not that much better...but a bit ;) I love the glaze and the whole dish you've made. Fabulous! I hope you do whip up some tortilla soup and send it my way!

  3. tempeh scares me a little bit, but the way you've prepared it is oh-so-tempting! yep, it's tempting tempeh. good stuff. :)

  4. Hey Natasha! Thanks for stopping by. I think you would love the tempeh-- and it probably isn't too spicy for Hannah.

    Hey, Heather!! It's so great be getting back. You guys would really LOVE the tempeh, I think. I have been pondering the idea of tortilla soup deeply, and you may see the fruits of my labors soon.

    Hey Grace!! I totallu understand. OMG, I used to HATE tempeh. Now I love it. We'll put some cinnamon on yours, LOL! That should make it all better for you :)


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