Sunday, January 28, 2007

After making that great batch of seitan the other week (see previous post), I was excited to try another seitan recipe on the following weekend. My absolute favorite dish when I was a child, was spaghetti and meatballs. Every year on my birthday, I would choose that without hesitation, for my birthday meal. To this day, it is the ultimate comfort food! Of course, red meat was the first thing I cut out, when I began to go vegetarian eight years ago. When I became vegan, I didn't ever want to eat anything that even resembled meat! Well, I thought I would give these a try anyway, and prove to my husband :) that I could make something that didn't involve what he considers "exotic ingredients" (such as coconut milk, curry paste, ginger, or seaweed).

I was so pleased with the way that these came out! They were very delicate, but the taste was heaven! It was even a little creepy, how much the seitan looked like ground beef when I crumbled it in my food processor. It actually made me a little sad, so I had to remind myself that I wasn't hurting any animals with THESE meatballs! :) I didn't have any whole wheat spaghetti on hand, so I used spelt rotini. I sprinkled them with some nutritional yeast mixed with gomashio (a sesame seed/seaweed mixture). Along with some good jarred tomato sauce, a rose wine, and my latest issue of Farm Sanctuary magazine, I was set to go! What a nice, winter meal.

Monday, January 22, 2007

When life gives you snow, make seitan!

After some questions were posted about how to make seitan, I took advantage of a recent snow day to make it again, taking photos of the process. I hope this helps some of you out there! It is not a difficult or scary process, and it makes about two pounds of seitan! You can freeze some in its liquid for later, or refrigerate it in the liquid for about five days. I used the recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's cookbook, "Vegan with a Vengeance," but you can find it easily online at her site: . I think that this recipe makes it a bit soft, so if you simmer it a bit longer than called for, it might be, "meatier" (not that I'm looking for that texture - but some of you may be). Let me know if you try this and how it turns out for you!

Step 1) Gather your ingredients: I have learned from many past mistakes (ok, current ones, too!) that you should gather all your ingredients beforehand! Nothing is worse than realizing you need something halfway through a recipe!

Make sure to use vital wheat gluten. If you use regular wheat flour, you have to rinse and repeat the kneading process several times!

Vital wheat gluten out of the box.

Step 2) Prepare the liquid and dry ingredients.

Step 3) Mix the liquid and dry ingredients with a spatula.

Step 4) Knead the mixture for five minutes. If you have ever made fresh bread (if you haven't, you just have to try it !), this is the fun part. It's sometimes hard to make it stay together. Kneading is pressing with the heels of both hands and pushing it away from you. You do this once, then turn it a quarter clockwise, fold the top back and knead again. If it doesn't feel "spongy" after five minutes, do it for a couple minutes more.

Step 5) This disgusting blob is the seitan dough, resting for five minutes on the cutting board. I can think of few things that look more gross . . .

Step 6) Except this! Form the dough into a ten inch long piece, then cut into about six pieces. Don't worry! They will get much bigger as they cook.

Step 7) Finally! Put the pieces into the cold broth, bring to a boil, and simmer for at least an hour. Remember, the longer it simmers, the "tougher" it gets (Which is a good thing! Too short of a time can make it too mushy).

Step 8) Let it cool all the way down in the broth before you use it for a recipe or put it in the fridge/freezer. Remember to freeze or refrigerate it in the cooking broth!

My next post will be to explain the history of seitan, including health benefits, tips for preparation and use, and some photos of yummy things you can make with it!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Homemade Seitan!

Well, I didn't make the seitan entirely from scratch, but I did use vital wheat gluten, and then followed the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. It came out quite good - less dry than the commerical, pre-made brand. I will post later about the history of seitan, but here is a yummy dish from Vegan Planet, by Robin Robertson. In fact, here are two! The first was Seitan Beer Stew over soba noodles, then I made Sauteed Green Beans (with garlic and tomatoes) for a 'side.' The stew had a wonderfully thick sauce and the seitan (homemade, remember?!) was nice and juicy and not too tough. Great flavor and not too "beery" (I am not a big fan of beer flavor or scent). The green beans were only ok. Maybe they were overpowered by the great flavors in the stew! Overall, an easy recipe to make and enjoyed by my omnivore husband! Rating of stew: *** and a half (stars). Rating of beans: **