Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Seitan is Satan - but it's oh so good!

So I finally figured out seitan and it's really not that hard to make (you do, however, have to be aware of how humidity in your area - I live in FL - might affect the outcome). If you really want chicken-like fake meat, or if you really want dishes where a fake meat is the main ingredient to take terrific, making your own seitan is the way to go. It stores well so make it ahead of time to save yourself a marathon session in the kitch.

For the batter:
1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1 cup very cold water or vegetable broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste (or 2 T ketchup if that's easier)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the broth:
10 cups water or vegetable broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
Feel free to optionally add sprigs of fresh herbs if you'd like (rosemary or thyme perhaps)

In a large bowl, mix together Vital Wheat Gluten Flour and nutritional yeast flakes.

In a separate bowl, mix together remaining batter ingredients.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine with a firm spatula, knead dough for about 3 minutes until a spongy, elastic dough is formed. Let dough rest for a couple of minutes and prepare your broth, but don't start boiling it.

Now roll your dough into large meatball-size pieces (probably should make 8-12). Once you have all the meatballs, flatten them out (like little pancakes) – they cook better this way.

Place all the pancake-shaped pieces in the broth. It is important that the water/broth be very cold when you add the dough so it doesn't fall apart. Partially cover the pot (leave a little space for steam to escape) and bring to a boil.

As soon as the water has come to a boil (be careful to watch it) set the heat to low and gently simmer for an hour, turning the pieces over a few times throughout the hour.

Now you've got gluten. Let it cool in the simmering broth for at least a half an hour. It is best if it cools completely.

What you do next depends on the recipe you are using. If it calls for gluten use it as is. If you want to store some of it for later use put it in a sealable container covered in the simmering broth.

If your recipe calls for seitan coat the bottom of a skillet (cast iron if you have it) with about 1 teaspoon of light olive oil. Heat the skillet over medium high and add your gluten. Cook for about 20 minutes, turning the pieces occasionally.

You can now slice this seitan or crumble it. Whatever kind of meat you are trying to mimic will likely dictate how you prepare it when you re-heat it in a recipe.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Seitan is Satan and other notes from the kitchen.

First thing's first: Seitan wings are ahhhh-mazing!

Friday night, following the recipe posted just previous to this entry, I attempted to replicate a meat-eater favorite, spicy wings with celery and dip. They were amazing! Honestly, crispy and spicy and yummy! The wing sauce was great, the tofu ranch was great, the crispy cold celery was the perfect compliment! I can't recommend giving that recipe a go enough. It's well worth the little effort (and it's really not a lot of effort.

Next up: faking out my mother with Seitan Stroganoff.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Tonight: chick-un wings; Tomorrow: seitan

One thing I actually really, really miss (don't tell) is chicken wings. I don't miss the gnawing on the bone of a chicken bit. But, I do miss the spicy, sweet ooey gooey-ness of a little chewy morsel smothered in wing sauce dipped in ranch and finished with finger-licking. Yum. So, tonight I am going to attempt seitan chicken wings with tofu ranch. Super vegan, super healthy (well, comparatively!)

It will be a combination of a number of recipes. I will post my recipe now (ever the optimist) and the results tomorrow!

Tasty Seitan Wings:
One 8oz package of store bought seitan
1/3 c. plain soymilk (vitasoy)
1/3 c. whole wheat flour (to be healthy)
1/2 t. salt
2 t. dried thyme
1 t. paprika (might go with smoked)
1 t. fresh ground pepper
1/2 t. garlic powder
2/3 c. Panko bread crumbs (the big Japanese ones)

1/3 Earth Balance Margarine (or any vegan margarine)
2/3 c. Frank's Hot Sauce (if you can't get Frank's or want to make your own try 1/4 c. tomato sauce, 1 1/2 T. chili powder, 1 t. cayenne pepper)

Tofu Ranch:
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning
1 package of extra firm silken tofu (10.5 oz like mori-nu)
1 T canola oil (evoo will work in a pinch)
2 t fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 t apple cider vinegar
1 t sweetener (maple syrup, agave nectar, sugar substitute of your choice)
1/2 t salt

Directions: food process all of the above until creamy and delicious.

Add crisp cold celery sticks and extra hot sauce on the side for a true Wing experience!

This better be as good as I think it is going to be. I just drooled on myself.

Tomorrow I am making dinner for a vegan friend and semi-vegetarian friend. All vegan of course! The dish is from Isa Chandra (of PPK and Vegan with a Vengence fame) and is called Seitan Portobello Stroganoff. I am making the seitan from scratch. I will post the recipes and my experience with them this weekend!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Eating healthy, eating vegetarian, eating vegan...it's all been easier than I thought. The key is to be adventurous and not be afraid to cook, really cook, with fun things like mustard seeds and fresh rosemary and fennel bulbs.

You don't have to be a vegan to be healthy and you aren’t necessarily healthy if you are a vegan, but I do think the two things go hand-in-hand very nicely. So whether you're interested in dropping twenty or saving a few cows, this is the place for you. Because, I've done both. Actually, I've dropped over a hundred pounds and saved a whole lot of cows I'd guess.

When I was 14 I went out for hamburgers with my friends after school. I ordered a grilled cheese and they balked. I explained that eating animals felt...strange. I think this had something to do with the puppy I’d gotten for Christmas.

Last year, when I turned 29, I started researching the farming industry in the United States. If you've ever undergone the horror that is reading about the living conditions of pregnant pigs...well, you can understand why I no longer eat animals.

In the years in between I went through stages. I'd eat fish and make sure people knew I was not a "real" vegetarian, but also made sure they knew I did not eat any other animals. I'd each chicken, but claim it was because I needed protein in my diet. I'd have a bite of steak, but only if absolutely no one was watching.

Today, nearly 30 years old, I’m all in. I am simply not willing to contribute to horrific suffering so that I can have bacon with my eggs and turkey on my sandwich. And, frankly, the healthiest times in my life have been when I'm eating the most fruits and vegetables and passing on the sour cream as it comes around the table. I know too much to be anything but animal-free.

I will make mistakes. I will probably cook things that taste terrible. But hopefully I learn a few things and feel good about myself along the way.