Sunday, March 13, 2011


According to a certain someone, March means Birthdays (important, milestone birthdays), Reuben Sandwiches and Shamrock Shakes. Instead of making the trip to Chicago Diner, home of the award-winning Radical Reuben Sandwich, we decided to tackle this recipe on our own.
Vegan Reuben Sandwiches

1 lb. seitan, thinly sliced (we made our own seitan as the store bought version leaves something to be desired - see recipe below)
1 cup pickle juice
1/2 cup beet juice
1 tsp. pickling spice
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
(we doubled this recipe in order to cover the enormous amount of seitan we made)
Reuben Sauce
1/4 cup soy mayonnaise
3 Tbs. ketchup
2 Tbs. finely chopped pickles
(we just kind of added ingredients to the bowl until we found something that tasted good)
rye bread
mozzarella style rice cheese
sauerkraut, for garnish

To make seitan: Place seitan in baking dish. Bring pickle juice, beet juice, pickling spice, garlic powder, pepper, and 1 cup water to a boil in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes. Pour over sliced seitan. Cover and cool. Chill overnight.

To make reuben sauce: Combine all ingredients in bowl.
To make sandwiches: Preheat oven to broil. Butter one side of each slice of rye bread and place on baking sheet. Place in broiler for 2 minutes or until bread is crispy. Remove two slices of bread and set aside. Top the remaining two bread slices with drained seitan and cheese. Broil 5 to 7 minutes, or until seitan is hot and cheese is melted/slightly brown. Transfer seitan-topped bread slices to serving plates, and garnish with sauerkraut. Spread remaining 2 bread slices with reuben sauce, and place on top of sandwiches.

We served our sandwiches with boiled cabbage.
Pretty simple: cut cabbage and place in a pot with water. Cover and boil until tender. Add salt, pepper, and vegan margarine to taste.

Easy Do-It-Yourself Seitan
1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cups nutritional yeast
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 - 1 cup cold water
1 tbsp. ketchup
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp garlic powder

Truth be told, we kind of just added spices at random.  This recipe acted more like a loose template for important ingredients like water, wheat gluten, etc.

Preheat oven to 325.
Mix dry ingredients.
Mix wet ingredients.
Combine and knead for several minutes.
Roll into a log and wrap tightly with tin foil.
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 90 minutes.
The loaf will expand and possibly break the foil. Continue to bake for full 90 minutes.

Vegan Shamrock Shake

soy ice cream (we used SO delicious vanilla)
soy milk (vanilla flavored)
mint extract
green food dye

basically scoop some ice cream in a blender, add a little soy milk, a splash of mint extract to taste, and 5 drops food coloring.  blend.  add more soy milk as needed for consistency. Serve.
Take that McDonald's!

Ethiopian Dinner Adventure

Last winter, about this time, we went to Ethiopian Diamond in Chicago for dinner. It was amazing. The food, the dinner, the experience, amazing. We both had a craving for Ethiopian food again and decided this time we were going to attempt to make it ourselves. It went surprisingly well.
During our visit to Ethiopian Diamond, we had the vegetarian version of a combination platter called "Taste of Ethiopia". We were served an enormous platter covered with spongy injera bread and small servings of six Ethiopian dishes. Our favorites were the chick pea fish, the gomen wat (collard greens), and a cabbage dish with potatoes and carrots. So that's what we decided upon for our menu.

Side note, the injera bread takes days to make. There is fermentation involved.  We bought this delicious and integral portion of our meal from a local Ethiopian restaurant.  The berbere spice mixture was also purchased from a local African market. Both of these were inexpensive, about $10 total.

On to the cooking.
Number One:
Yeshimbra Assa aka Chick Pea Fish
For the fritters

3 cups chickpea flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3/4-1 cup water
2 tablespoons finely grated onion
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
vegetable oil, for frying

For the sauce
2 cups finely chopped onion
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup berbere
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Sift the flour, 2 teaspoons of salt and the pepper into a deep bowl.
Make a well in the center and combine 3/4 cup water, the onions and garlic in the well.
Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the water and onions and, when blended, beat vigorously with a spoon or knead with your hands until the dough is smooth and can be gathered into a ball.
If the dough crumbles, add up to 1/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dough comes together.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick.
With a small sharp knife, cut the dough into fish shapes about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide.
Pour oil into a deep fryer or a large, heavy saucepan to a depth of 2-3 inches.
Heat until it reaches 350 F and fry the “fish” for 3-4 minutes, turning them frequently until they puff slightly and are golden brown.
As they brown, transfer them to paper towels to drain.
Once you are done the fish you can make the sauce.
In a heavy 10-12 inch wide pan (it’s best if it’s non-stick), cook the chopped onions for 5-6 minutes until they are soft and dry.
Pour in the 1/4 cup oil and when it’s hot add the berbere and garlic and stir for a minute.
Pour in the 1 1/2 cups water and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened.
Season with salt and then place the “fish” in the skillet and baste them with the sauce.
Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes.
To serve, arrange the “fish” on a platter and pour the sauce over them.

These have quite a kick so be prepared. Also the berbere spice smell is STRONG. It will linger on clothes, bags, coats, hats, etc for days. I would suggest not wearing dry clean only sweaters during this process otherwise your sweater will forever remind you of that time you cooked Ethiopian food.

Number two:
Gomen Wat aka Collard Green Dish

1  pound collard greens - rinsed, trimmed and chopped
2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onions
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced green bell pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root

Place chopped collard greens in a pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover, and simmer until collards are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, but reserve the cooking water. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Stir in onions and cook until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the cooked collards, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and the reserved cooking water. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-high heat until liquid is nearly evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the green pepper, lemon juice, salt, turmeric, paprika, allspice, and ginger root. Cook until peppers are soft, about 5 minutes.

This dish and the following cabbage one are both very mild, making for nice companion dishes for the spicy chickpea fish.

Number Three:
Tikel Gomen aka Cabbage, Potatoes and Carrots
1 onion chopped
5 carrots sliced into coins
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large head of cabbage cut into 1 inch pieces
4 potatoes, chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cumin, to taste
1/2 to 1 teaspoon turmeric, to taste

Saute onion and carrot in olive oil.  Add potatoes, cabbage, water and spices. Cover, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender.

Place injera on a platter, spoon dishes onto injera, and enjoy. Ethiopian food is traditionally eaten without utensils. Rip off pieces of the injera and use it to scoop the food. (It is also traditional to only eat with the right hand)

All three of these turned out delicious and I highly recommend the chickpea fish. It is a great source of protein and easy to make. We will be using the fritter portion of the recipe for future adventures. Possibly a chicken parmesan?

Vegan Borscht

Apparently this Russian beet soup is a helpful hangover cure. It's a little labor intensive to prepare while hungover, but the end result is delicious.

Disclaimer: This requires a great deal of chopping, mixing, stirring, blending, waiting, but it not only makes a whole bunch of soup, it also tastes pretty darn good. In the words of Dwight K. Schrute "Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica".

Here we go:
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 beets (including greens), diced
1 16oz can whole, peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup canned peeled, diced tomatoes
2 potatoes, quartered
1 cup shredded white cabbage
2 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
2 tbsp. chopped dill
salt and pepper to taste
1 16oz package silken tofu

Labor intensive preparation:
1. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and stir in garlic and onion. Cook and stir until onion has softened and turned translucent.
2. Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and stir in celery, carrots, pepper, beets and beet greens, whole tomatoes, diced tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, and sauteed onions/garlic. Cook until cabbage begins to wilt (4-8 minutes).
3. Stir in vegetable broth, water, dill and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low.
4. Simmer for 1 hour.
5. Strain half the beets from the broth and place in food processor or blender. Add tofu and puree until smooth.
6. Add tofu and beet mixture back into the pot and simmer for another hour.
Serve chilled or warm. We topped ours with shredded cabbage and used fresh dill as a garnish.

Vegan Beer Bread

An excellent recipe to utilize my new KitchenAid Stand Mixer (in pistachio green of course)
*Another shout-out here.  This time to my mama for an incredible Christmas gift - she has really upgraded my kitchen.*

3 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 12oz bottle of beer (we opted for a Fat Tire)
1/8-1/4 cup melted vegan margarine

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
Add margarine and beer.
Mix well, but not too much.
Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan.
Bake 50 minutes.
Brush top with margarine and bake an additional 3-5 minutes.
Cool 5-10 minutes, remove from pan.
Allow bread to cool another 15 minutes before cutting.

vegan cookies n' cream cupcakes

recipe from: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
*Shout-out to Elizabeth for a great birthday gift*

basic chocolate cupcake recipe:
1 cup soy milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup coarsely chopped oreos (yes, an amazingly delicious vegan dessert treat)

Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin pan.
Whisk together soy milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle (we saw no curdling but proceeded anyway)
Add sugar, oil, and vanilla extract to soy milk mixture and beat until foamy.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain.
Mix in oreos.
Pour into liners, filling 3/4 of the way.
Bake 18-20 minutes.
Allow to cool before topping with the delicious butter cream frosting.

Delicious butter cream frosting:
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup vegan margarine
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 plain soy milk
1/2 cup finely mashed oreos

Beat shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy.
Add sugar and beat for another 3 minutes.
Add vanilla and soy milk and beat for 5-7 minutes until fluffy.
Stir in oreos.

Enjoy vegan deliciousness.