Sunday, September 5, 2010


Vegan food: does the very thought of it make you feel like this?

Or maybe this?

Not to worry. You really must try the Vitameatavegamin ... er, I mean, the Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

As many of you know, I try to avoid dairy products as much as possible. I've been doing this for about a year now. Is it worth it?? ABSOLUTELY. After suffering for 20 years from sinus disease, I am pain-free and nearly symptom-free. It has been almost 14 months since my last sinus infection! This is a miracle, since I used to get them 4-5 times a year.

My quest for delicious dairy-free food has not been easy. One great place to find dairy-free recipes is the many vegan cookbooks you can find at your friendly neighborhood or online bookstore. Depending on how adventuresome you are feeling, you can definitely find some great, quick, tasty, and inexpensive dairy-free recipes. Of course, being vegan, they also tend to be meat- and egg-free as well. Since DS loves vegetarian food and will happily eat it, that's not an issue for us.

The Veganomicon is responsible for luring me back into the kitchen recently. I really do love this cookbook. It's very accessible, even for non-vegans. The writing style is sassy and fun, a big plus in my book. It's been so nice to feel excited about cooking again! Since I purchased this tome a year ago, we've tried several recipes from it. Some were great, some, not so much. But it is packed with creative and interesting recipes for everything from "Greek Tofu Benedict" to "Green Tea 'Ice Cream' Sammiches." I picked it up the other day looking for a dairy-free recipe for crepes, and DS spied some things he wanted me to try. All of them were fantastic!

Our first contestant was the Braised Seitan with Brussels, Kale, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes.

Naturally, if you hate brussels sprouts, kale, or seitan, this is not the dish for you. However, both DS and I adore just about any kind of greens (as long as they are prepared properly, no stewed spinach, please!) and we enjoy brussels sprouts as well. When Brussels are not drearily boiled to death, they can be very yummy, with a sweet and nutty flavor. Although for most people, seitan (sometimes called "wheat meat") is love at first bite, I have been a slow convert. The Veganomicon's recipe for homemade seitan is really what convinced me that seitan can actually be enjoyable (see recipe below). The dish below brings out the best in all the ingredients, creating some very delicious vegan magic!

Braised Seitan with Brussels, Kale, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes from the Veganomicon
2 T olive oil
6 shallots
2 c. seitan, sliced on the diagonal into bite-sized pieces
1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, quartered (about 2 c. once sliced)
4 cloves garlic, minced (I used 6)
1/2 t. dried thyme (I used 1 t.)
1/2 t. dried basil (I used 1 t.)
1/4 t. dried tarragon
1/2 t. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 c. vegetable broth (I used Wolfgang Puck's, as it was on sale)
1/2 c. sundried tomatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces (I find it is easiest to snip them with kitchen shears)
1/4 c. red wine (the authors say "any kind will do, really")
4 c. chopped kale (I used 1 bag frozen chopped collards)

Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots and seitan in 2 T of the olive oil for about 7 minutes, until they have both browned. Add the brussels sprouts and saute for 3 more minutes, adding a little extra olive oil if need be. Add the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and saute for another minute. Mix in the sundried tomatoes.

Add the vegetable broth and wine. Once this liquid is boiling, which should be pretty quick if the heat is right, add the chopped kale. Stir the kale until it is wilted. Cover the pan, leaving a little room for steam to escape, and lower the heat. Simmer for 5-7 more minutes. Taste and adjust the salt, and serve immediately.

Serves 4. Prep time: 30 min.

The authors recommend serving this over mashed potatoes, pasta, rice, or polenta. We served it over whole wheat penne. It really was very quick to prepare. Slicing up the seitan was the most time-consuming task. I added extra garlic and spices as noted above, and also substituted frozen chopped greens for the fresh kale. This saved a LOT of time and it was quite tasty as well. I was delighted because I had half a bag full of fresh Brussels sitting in the fridge (they were on sale) and wasn't quite sure what to do with them: this dish was a GREAT way to use them up! The only "luxury" ingredient was the sundried tomatoes, so this dish is also pretty inexpensive to prepare, particularly if you already have some sundried tomatoes in your pantry!

Somehow, all these flavors are magic together-- it does NOT taste like a giant pot of cabbage (which was my own personal fear about making this!). The brussels sprouts were pleasantly nutty and a bit crunchy, the seitan, chewy and savory, and the sundried tomatoes added the perfect bright, sprightly note to a dish intended to be, as the authors state, a "Fork You" to winter.

DS and I found this dish to be exceptionally tasty, and we will most certainly make it again.

DS's plate, before:

And after:

Oops, almost forgot! Here is the Veganomicon's recipe for homemade seitan.

How can you not love a cookbook where the intro to the recipe reads like so:
"This is the Vegan With A Vengeance seitan recipe simplified. After publishing that book, we got a lot of questions, often asking if one could substitute this, leave out that-- sometimes just asking how we got to be so beautiful. While we won't reveal our beauty secrets, we will present you with this bare-bones boiled seitan recipe with clearer directions, simpler ingredients, and just the right amount of seitan for most recipes in this book."

Simple Seitan

1 c. vital wheat gluten
3 T nutritional yeast (NOT Brewer's yeast)
1/2 c. cold vegetable broth
1/4 c. soy sauce (I had run out, so I used Worcestershire sauce)
1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated on a microplane grater

8 c. cold water plus 3 vegetable bouillon cubes, or 4 c. broth plus 4 c. water
1/4 c. soy sauce (again, I used Worcestershire)

Mix together the gluten flour and yeast in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix together the veggie broth, olive oil, soy sauce and garlic. Pour the wet into the dry and stir with a wooden spoon until most of the moisture has been absorbed and the wet ingredients are partially clumped up with the dry ingredients. Use your hands to knead the mixture for about 3 minutes, until the dough is elastic. Divide with a knife into three equal pieces and then knead those pieces in your hand just to stretch them a bit.

Prepare the broth:
Fill a stockpot with the water, bouillon cubes and soy sauce, and add the wheat gluten pieces. Cover and bring to a boil but watch carefully; you don't want it to boil for very long or the outside of the seitan will be spongy. Try to catch it as soon as it boils and then lower the heat as low as it will go so that it's at a low simmer.
Partially cover the pot so steam can escape and let simmer for an hour, turning the seitan occasionally. Turn off the heat and take the lid off; let sit for 15 minutes.
Remove from the broth and place in a strainer until it is cool enough to handle. It is now ready to be sliced up and used. If you have extra seitan, store in the cooking liquid in a tightly covered container.

As I said, this is the recipe that won me over to seitan. I had no idea you could make it so easily at home. My previous experience was with the expensive pre-packaged seitan from the health food store, which I always found to be salty, squidgy, and icky. This stuff is really easy to make. But PLEASE don't make the same mistake I did when I tried making it the first time: instead of kneading by hand, I used my stand mixer. The resulting product had the approximate texture of an old rubber boot. So, be sure to knead by hand! Also, DS and I actually enjoyed the flavor of the seitan prepared with Worcestershire sauce instead of soy sauce. You might want to give that a try.

!Buen provecho!

Yours in Domestic Bliss,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Go ahead! Make my day! I LOVE comments!

I try to respond to every comment. I usually answer comments Right Here, so check back. If you are new to DomesticMuse, Welcome, and I will be by to visit your blog soon!

Chi miigwetch SCL: thank you to my son for creating this logo
CLICK to enlarge image