Archive forOctober, 2008

Tempeh Sauerkraut Casserole

I’m getting good at making tempeh! Tonight I was wondering what I should do with my latest successful batch and decided to throw together a casserole. My father was proudly observing German-American Day yesterday, so although it’s a day late, I decided to give the casserole a German flair by adding sauerkraut. I don’t know how fair it is to just add sauerkraut to something and call it “German”, but that’s what I’m going to do in order to impress my father. And hey, the mashed potato topping can honor my Irish heritage. It’s the casserole that represents all my ancestors!

Tempeh Sauerkraut Casserole

2 Russet potatoes, chunked
1 onion, sliced into half-moons
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 cups water
1 Tbsp vegan margarine
3 Tbsp prepared horseradish (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups sauerkraut
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
2 carrots, chopped
1 pound tempeh, cubed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes. Cook until tender.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, nutritional yeast, salt, and garlic powder in a medium small pot.

Add the water and heat over medium heat until thickened, whisking often.

While the potatoes and sauce are cooking, heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan. When I was in San Francisco, I mentioned that I had purchased a little oil brush that I like to use to coat my cast iron pan with a thin layer of oil. This is what it looks like:

It’s overexposed, so you can’t see that the brush retracts. Then you store it in a little container that holds the oil so it’s always ready.

Anyway, get a little oil onto your frying pan in some fashion. Then add the onions.

When the sauce is thickened, remove from heat and stir in the margarine and horseradish. I finished up the freshly prepared horseradish my friend gave me, which I think was a bit mild, so you may want to taste the sauce before dumping in a full 3 Tbsp.

By the way, the sauce is just the Yeast Cheeze from Simply Heavenly! (or perhaps more accurately New Farm), substituting horseradish for the mustard.

Check that your onions are reducing nicely…

Meanwhile, when the potatoes are very tender, drain and put in a large bowl.

Mash the potatoes, adding salt, soy milk and/or Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream (my secret mashed potato ingredient) to gain the desired creamy consistency. I was fortunate enough that my husband wanted to help mash the potatoes.

While your husband is goofing off with the potatoes, check the the onions. When they are a deep golden color, remove them from the heat.

In a medium large bowl, mix together the sauerkraut, caraway seeds, onions, and 2 cups of the sauce.

Now take your tempeh, …

(okay, okay, this is a completely gratuitous shot of yet another successful batch of homemade tempeh!)

… chop it, and add it and the carrots to the sauerkraut mixture.

Place the sauerkraut/tempeh mixture into a 2.3 liter casserole dish and smooth into a nice layer.

Smooth the mashed potatoes over the sauerkraut/tempeh layer.

Finish with a layer of the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with paprika, or Creole seasoning if you are like me and get distracted by the Creole seasoning when reaching for the paprika.

Cover and bake for half an hour. Remove cover and bake for 15 more minutes.

Remove from oven.


Your Druid husband will love it!

Actually, he was worshipping it before he even tasted it, but after cleaning his plate, he announced it “excellent” and also “better than a lot of other things”.

Comments (11)

Vegetable Barley Soup

I don’t have much of an intro for this one. I wanted vegetable barley soup so I made some. That’s about the long and short of it. I worked from home today so I was able to bake a loaf of bread, which I thought would be a good accompaniment to the soup, so that worked out well. And it provided enough leftovers for two or three lunches this week. There isn’t really much else to say about vegetable barley soup, except for the fact that I did use a secret ingredient: read the recipe for details!

Vegetable Barley Soup

1 large or three small shallots, diced
2 carrots, chopped into large bite-sized pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
5 cups vegetable stock or vegan “beef” broth
1 14.5 pound can diced tomatoes
1 medium or 2 small potatoes, chopped
3/4 cup pearled barley
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen green beans
1 cup frozen pearl onions (I figured if I was using pearled barley, pearl onions were only appropriate)
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
3 Tbsp (or to taste) grated fresh horseradish (the secret ingredient!)
freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat a bit of oil and sauté the shallots, carrots, and celery for two minutes.

Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.

Add the broth, tomatoes, and potatoes. Bring to a boil.

Add the frozen veggies, bay leaves, thyme, and smoked paprika.

Return to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium low. Add the secret ingredient, horseradish, to taste. Horseradish wasn’t in the ingredients photo because I didn’t think to add it until after I’d already started making the soup. My culinarily-inclined friend gave me a jar of fresh horseradish that she had preserved last week and I’ve been wondering how I should use it. Then it dawned on me that it might be good in this soup. And it was: it added a nice pungent dimension.

Cover and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. After covering my soup pot, I turned around to find Tigger in his usual spot: sitting – very prim and proper – on the very edge of the kitchen island, half dozing off but retaining a modicum of alertness in case I walk near him (in which case he will stick his paw out, catch my arm in his claws, and pull me over to him).

Tigger is one of those cats who can actually smile. It’s one of the things I love most about him.

So I rewarded him for being so cute by giving him some nutritional yeast, for which he goes bonkers.

Anyway, when you’re finished playing with the cat and the soup is ready, season with freshly ground pepper and remove the bay leaves.

Serve with freshly baked crusty bread. This is a loaf of Jeffrey Hamelman’s Rustic Bread, which like every other loaf I’ve made from this book, came together and baked beautifully.

It was really good used to sop up the soup.

I don’t know why the soup caused this expression on Mark’s face:

He seemed a little disconcerted when he found out that barley was to be a big part of his dinner, so maybe that was the problem, although I’m not sure he was sure exactly what barley was before eating it. He wasn’t quite as rapturous about the soup as he has been about other meals (including Saturday’s Soon Tubu Jjigae), however, I thought it was really very good and I definitely intend to make it again. It’s very comforting.

Leftovers should be even better than the first day, however, barley absorbs a lot of water, so you’ll almost definitely have to thin it out. I find that this condensed version is all the easier to carry to work, though, and at lunch time I just add a bit of almost-boiling water from the hot water dispenser, which also reduces the reheat time necessary in the microwave to about a minute.

Comments (9)

Soon Tubu JJigae (Soft Tofu Stew)

One of the best meals I had in San Francisco (and I had a lot of great meals) was the first one: tofu stew at a Korean tofu house in Japantown. As I promised at the time, I decided to replicate it tonight.

There aren’t many vegan recipes for soon tubu jjigae on the internet, in fact, I didn’t find any. Everyone seems to want to put clam juice, beef, and shrimp in it. And egg. But none of that stuff is necessary. The important features of soon tubu jjigage are 1) tofu and 2) spiciness, both of which I can produce in spades.

The first thing you need to consider is your tofu. I wouldn’t dream of making soon tubu jjigage with anything but homemade tofu. The tofu is just too big a part of the dish and I’m used to homemade. So I have to urge you to try making it yourself. I ordinarily make an extremely firm tofu, using as much coagulant as I can get away with without it turning bitter and pressing it under about 25 pounds. Because I wanted a much softer tofu for the stew, I cut back on the amount of coagulant I used (I used nigari as usual, but if I’d been thinking more clearly, I’d have used the calcium sulfate I have because it makes a softer tofu AND adds calcium), and I used just 1.5 pounds (a new bottle of agave nectar, to be precise) to press it.

If you simply can not be bothered to make your own tofu, buy fresh soft tofu from an Asian market if at all possible. If you can’t find fresh, buy the best soft tofu you can find at an Asian market. Sometimes it comes in tubes and it’s usually in the produce department. If you don’t live near an Asian market, you can resort to using silken tofu in a box.

Soon Tubu Jjigae

3 1/2 cups water
1 4″x4″ square kombu
1/4 cup dulse, snipped into bite-size pieces with kitchen shears (optional)
1 handful arame (optional)
2 tsp vegan chicken bouillon (or enough to flavor 4 cups of water at half-strength)
1 Tbsp Korean red pepper powder
6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup cold water
3 Tbsp arrowroot
6 Tbsp gochujang (Korean chili pepper paste) (Susan V of Fat-Free Vegan has a substitute you can make if you don’t live near a Korean grocery store in this post, but get the real deal if at all possible.)
1 cup cabbage kimchi
2 carrots, julienned or shredded
1 pound soft tofu, preferably homemade
1/2 bunch scallions, chopped

Place the seaweed(s) in a soup pot with the 3 1/2 cups of water and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the kombu. (You can chop it up into bite-sized pieces and put it back in if you wish.) Add the garlic, red pepper powder, soy sauce, sesame oil, and “chicken” bouillon. Simmer for five minutes.

Mix the cold water and arrowroot together in a small bowl, whisking to ensure there are no lumps, then add to the soup. Add the gochujang, whisking to make sure it is dissolved. Simmer for another five minutes.

Add the kimchi and carrots.

Chop the tofu into 8 large pieces.

Add the tofu to the stew.

Stir the tofu into the stew, allowing it to break up a little bit, but mostly maintaining the chunks.

Simmer for 5 more minutes, then add the scallions.

Raise the heat a little and cook for another couple of minutes. In restaurants, soon tubu jjigae arrives to your table very, very hot, so let it get very bubbly.

I served the soon tubu jjigae in individual-sized cast iron pots, which even have lids to keep the stew warm while I run around taking photographs. Here’s one of the pots:

Mark was fascinated by the “little cauldrons”.

Serve with several banchan.

The verdict on this one was very good. Mark commented that he tasted “several layers of flavor, followed by a nice spiciness.” He proceeded to clean his cauldron, then steal tofu from mine. Afterwards he told me to announce it had the Mark Seal of Approval.

Brachtune doesn’t care much for tofu, or stew for that matter, but she does love chopsticks.

Tigger prefers red pepper.

(His fur is wet because he took a little shower in the kitchen sink. He’s very weird.)

Comments (10)

A couple of banchan: Korean Bean Sprout and Cucumber Salads

Possibly the best parts of a Korean meal are the banchan, or little side dishes, that almost always accompany it. They usually include kimchi and pickled vegetables (and often tiny little dead fish). I could make an entire meal of banchan. I like to make my own, although since I like to serve four or five different kinds at a time, I often supplement my homemade banchan with a few ready-made items from Super H; they always have several vegan varieties (you do have to watch out for fish sauce). Tonight I made a bean sprout “salad” and a cucumber “salad”. I’m putting salad in quotes because I don’t really know what to call them. I spend enough time at Super H that you’d think maybe I would have picked up Korean by osmosis by now, but it’s still Greek to me. (I hilariate myself. (“Hilariate” is a perfectly cromulent word.))

Although I don’t know what to call these little dishes, they are very fast, easy, and even cheap. Throw them together before embarking on the preparation of a Korean meal, let them marinate while you make the main dish, and then everything will be ready at the same time. Easy!

Bean Sprout Banchan

2 cups bean sprouts
2 tsp seasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
4 drop stevia (or 1 tsp sugar)

Place the bean sprouts in a bowl. Bring a kettle to boil, then pour the boiling water over the bean sprouts to cover. Let sit for 2 minutes, then drain.

Mix the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl …

… then toss with the bean sprouts.

Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least half an hour before serving. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.

Verdict? At dinner, Mark said he particularly liked the bean sprouts and seemed impressed when I told him I made the recipe up. Not that it’s a particularly difficult or involved recipe, in fact, it seems a little silly to bother taking credit for it. But it went over very well!

Cucumber Banchan

Imagine 2 cucumbers in this photograph.

2 cucumbers
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp Korean red pepper powder

Slice cucumbers as thinly as possible, on a mandolin if you have one. Toss with the salt and let sit for 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients.

Squeeze the cucumbers dry, then toss with marinade.

Now, I’ve always just marinaded the cucumbers in the past, however, this time I decided to get fancy and use my new pickle press. If you don’t have one, just let the cucumbers sit in the marinade. But if you want to use a press, put the cucumber into the press and tighten it:

Then refrigerate for at least half an hour. Notice how the liquid has come up through the holes in the “presser foot” of the press:

Simply drain the liquid off before unclamping. Then serve!

Verdict? Nice and crisp, however, not spicy enough for my tastes. I might toss in some more red pepper after pressing next time. You could barely taste the pepper. But I like cucumbers, so it was good anyway.

Comments (2)

New Bento Box

No recipes tonight – we went to a friend’s house to watch Heroes and were treated to a delicious vegan dinner – but I did snap some pictures of my bento lunch yesterday. That’s not even exciting since it was just leftovers from the night before, but I thought I’d show off the bento box I got in Japantown.

Here’s the inside. The bottom layer is leftover sushi rice; yes, it’s best fresh, but it’s okay gently re-heated the next day. Up top is some ume plum paste and furikake (dry seasoning) to mix into the rice and cabbage pickle.

There’s a tight-fitting lid for the top layer …

… and a band to keep the two layers together. What I liked about this box is it is not “cute” like many of them are.

Upon hearing that I was interested in furoshiki, a friend brought me back several from a trip she took to Japan a couple of years ago:

I used one of them to wrap and carry the bento box.

This isn’t a very good bento lunch because it doesn’t contain a protein, but I was very pressed for time and just grabbed what was in the refrigerator!

I’d like to write up a much more informative and interesting post on bentos, but in the meantime, Maki of Just Hungry and Just Bento (both of which often feature vegan recipes) has a very good article on selecting a bento box. One of the things I find fascinating about them is that the number of milliliters the box holds is supposed to be an indicator (on a one-to-one scale) of the number of calories it contains when full (using traditional proportions of starch, vegetable, and protein).

Comments (2)

Next entries »