Friday, March 23, 2012

Country Fried Seitan, Sesame Kale, Fried Zucchini & "Fried" Rice

This is one of the many times the Hubby has come home and said "Mucho Hambre Mami", meaning "I'm very hungry honey!".  Insert roll of the eyes here.  Since when is he not hungry?  Seriously?  It's scary thinking what it's going to be like if/when there's another guy added to the family - like a son!  They would eat me out of house and home!  I always tell people I have to cook for at least 3 people (Hubby counting as 2 people)!  Anyway, knowing that he loves rice and can literally eat it everyday, I made some fried  - more like sauteed - because I already had some cooked rice in the fridge.  And since I was making country fried seitan, which takes a while to make, I'm not going to lie, I wanted to make something that would be a little simpler.  I got this recipe idea from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook.  The original recipe wasn't exactly super tasty, so after messing around with the spices a few times, I hit it and now it's amazing.  Since the thing that takes the longest time is mixing together the spiced flour, I have wised up a little and made a giant batch of it and now keep a Ziploc of it in the refrigerator at all times so that whenever Hubbs or I have a craving, it's not as far away.  Also always having a batch of homemade boiled seitan in the freezer definitely helps.  (After I finish with this recipe, I will have emptied my supply and am going to have to replenish it soon.)  I've also got the fried zucchini down and can whip that up ridiculously easily.   I have figured out that the key to making a quick meal is to have things ready before hand to help you out and save time for those days when you're really busy.

Country Fried Seitan, Sesame Kale, Fried Zucchini & "Fried" Rice:

Country Fried Seitan, Sesame Kale, Fried Zucchini, Fried Rice

Serves about 4, with extra seitan left over

Fried Zucchini

Fried Rice:
2 cups cooked rice, cold
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup green peas, cooked
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon tamari/shoyu
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 small onion, small diced, about 1/2 cup
2 green onions, sliced

Country Fried Seitan:
1/2 - 3/4 lb. homemade seitan steaks

Spiced Flour Mixture:
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
4 teaspoons baking powder (yes, baking powder!  It will make the seitan crispy)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon boullion powder
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
2 pinches cayenne, optional, but a good idea

Wet Seasoned Mixture:
1/3 cup seasoned flour
1/2 cup filtered water
3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard

1.  Begin by getting everything ready for the fried seitan.  Mix together the flour and all the spices.  Set aside.
2.  Begin making the rice.  In a wok over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and let it become hot.  Once it's hot, add the onion and carrot and saute until the onion is fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the peas and stir for a minute.  Add the rice and "fry" aka saute for about 10 minutes, letting the grains become a little crispy.  Add the rest of the ingredients, being sure to combine thoroughly.  Continue to cook for an additional couple of minutes.
3.  Back to the country fried seitan.  Set up a station: 1 bowl will have the wet seasoned mixture, the second bowl will have some seasoned flour and a clean plate should end this assembly line. 
4.  Place a large pan over medium heat and cover the bottom with a layer or no-taste oil, like canola.  Allow the oil to become hot.  In the meantime, prepare the seitan.
5.  Assembly line:  keep one hand for the wet mix and the other hand for the dry mix.  Squeeze out any liquid that may be in the seitan into the sink.  Dip the seitan pieces into the wet mixture, coating well.  Shake off excess liquid.  Now place the seitan into the spiced flour.  Cover every surface of the seitan with the flour.  Shake off excess flour and place on clean plate.  Repeat with remaining seitan. 
6.  The oil should now be hot.  Carefully place the coated pieces of seitan into the oil, cooking for several minutes on each side, until browned and crispy.  Once browned on both sides, drain on paper towel covered plates. 
7.  To serve, place portions of each item on the plates, and be prepared to serve seconds.  Delicious!



Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tofu with a Tahini Sauce, Rice, Brazilian Braised Kale, Hominy

This is certainly not the prettiest of dishes I have ever made, but damn was it tasty!  I am by no means a Southerner.  I am from pretty much as high north as you can go in Michigan.  Therefore, I have never eaten Southern food, nor have I ever really felt the need to eat any kinds of Southern looking foods in the past.  This has changed recently once I started working with B, a lovely intern from the Natural Gourmet Institute, the culinary school I graduated from in NYC.  She happens to be from Charlotte, North Carolina, and is the sweetest person ever!  She also helped disabuse me of all of my preconceived notions I hadn't even realized I had about Southern people.  Weird, right?  Anyway, she was always telling me about foods her mother would prepare for her and things that are typically Southern.  Keep in mind though that she is a culinary graduate living in NYC, so she certainly has creative, delicious ideas, but still talks about the foods she ate.  So this was my tribute to her in a not-really Southern way, but a Southern-inspired way, with the greens and hominy.  I'm not even sure where I came up with the idea for the tahini baked tofu, but there it is, and it was a tasty meal. 

Tofu with a Tahini Sauce, Rice, Brazilian Braised Kale, Hominy

Yields enough to coat 1 lb. tofu

Tahini Sauce:
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon tamari
1 teaspoon agave
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 pinches black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
pinch cayenne, or to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly oil a baking tray with spray oil and set aside until ready to use.
2.  Remove the tofu from the package, carefully squeezing out some of the water and being sure not to break the tofu.  Cut in half the hamburger way, then cut each half into 4 slices. Lay each slice on the prepared sheet tray and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.
3.  Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the top has browned.  Use a spatula to flip over the tofu.  Sprinkle with additional sea salt and black pepper and continue to bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. 
4.  While the tofu is continuing to bake, prepare the tahini sauce. 
5.  In a medium saucepan, add all of the ingredients except for the water and tahini.  Mix together the water and tahini in a separate small bowl until smooth and the tahini has thinned.
6.  Add the thinned tahini to the rest of the ingredients in the pan.  Whisk everything together and turn the heat to medium-low.  You only want to heat the sauce.  Be sure to stir the contents continuously. 
7.  Once the sauce is simmering, add the tofu into the pot, flipping each piece to coat. 
8.  Serve with additional sauce on top. 



Sunday, March 4, 2012

Homemade Hummus

Snack time!  Seriously!  Lately at my new job we have not had enough coverage in my department, and I have been having to cover the shifts, which means no break and long hours.  Since there are always customers around and I am working with food, I can't just stop and grab something to eat - it doesn't look good.  So, I came home from work yesterday super hungry, and since it was Hubbs' day off he didn't want to cook, so I had to throw something together really quickly.  I was looking through my fridge and found some cooked chickpeas and immediately thought hummus!  It's been a while since I've made it - I usually make the recipe out of the Candle Cafe's cookbook  - it is delicious and perfect every time - with my modifications of course!  I was too lazy to do that though, so I just improved this recipe and it turned out really nicely.  The only thing I did was toss the chickpeas into a pot of boiling water briefly to heat them up - hummus is much much much better when it is made when the chickpeas are hot.  While they were heating, I put all of the other ingredients in the food processor.  Once the chickpeas drained, I added those to the processor and blended everything. 

I was feeling hungry and lazy, but you can be really creative with this recipe.  You can roast a pepper, skin it and add it to the mix.  Or roast a head of garlic, squeeze out the bulbs and add it.  Or roast a tomato with some garlic and herbs and add it to the mix.  Or add a ton of garlic, lemon, parsley and finely chopped carrots.  Or add some sour cream and dill!  Yum - seriously the possibilities are endless!  Try whichever one suits your fancy at that moment.  Even kalamata olives!  Or chipotle peppers!

Homemade Hummus:

Creamy, Tasty, Spicy Goodness (That's cayenne & olive oil on top!)

Yields: about 3 1/2 cups

3 cups cooked chickpeas, preferably still warm
1/4 cup tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon cumin
2 pinches cayenne
3/4 cup filtered water, or as needed

1.  Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, but leave 1/4 cup of water on the side in case you don't need it.  Pulse until the mixture is completely smooth and silky, adding more water as needed to achieve your desired consistency.  That's it!
2.  Eat immediately.  Serve with raw baby carrots, celery sticks, raw broccoli or cauliflower, or be bad and eat it with chips!