VeganDad’s Meatloaf

I’m definitely through with that pesky nausea. I’ve been eating like a champ. In fact, I seem to be eating even more than usual, possibly to make up for all the calories I missed when I was ill. Also, the Mid-Atlantic is currently suffering wild weather fluctuations, which is fairly typical for May but still annoying. This pattern has been on repeat for a couple of weeks: Saturday it was in the 80s and sunny – I got sunburned driving around in my convertible – then Sunday was mild and cloudy, Monday was cool and rainy, and today it is DOWNRIGHT FREEZING. So between my recently ravenous state, an invigorating swim this afternoon, and an unseasonably cold and rainy day today, this evening’s stroll through my starred Google Reader posts for dinner ideas ended with VeganDad’s Cajun Meatloaf: hearty comfort food fits the bill.

VeganDad’s recipe calls for 2 packages of tempeh and I only had one. I did have, however, leftover grated Tofurkey Italian sausage links, which I’d used in lasagne on Sunday and really wanted to use up. So after looking over VeganDad’s recipe, I went into the kitchen and figured I’d just throw together what I had in a dish “inspired by” VeganDad. Later when I went back to look at his original, I realized I’d actually followed it pretty faithfully, so I’m not taking any credit for this. But believe me, I’d like to: the texture was perfect. This was probably the most successful “meatloaf” I’ve ever made. Not that I’m surprised – VeganDad’s recipes are always a guaranteed success, aren’t they?

Here’s what I used:
1 package tempeh
about 2 links Tofurkey Italian sausage links
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
3/4 cup vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup whole wheat panko
about 1 cup marinara sauce (also left over from the lasagne and needing to be used up)
2 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
several strong shakes Tabasco (to appeal to Mark, who has been drinking eating about a bottle of this stuff every other day lately)

For the glaze:
3/4 cup ketchup
6 Tbsp brown sugar
several more strong shakes Tabasco
pinch salt

I used a mini-chopper to grate the sausage, tempeh, garlic, and onion, and I just whisked the glaze together without cooking and glazed the unbaked loaves. I baked them covered at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about half an hour, then uncovered for another 20 minutes or so. I wasn’t really keeping track.

I also loved VeganDad’s “individual meatloaf” idea, which makes for easy serving. I made 8 fist-sized, egg-shaped individual loaves and put four into each of two small glass loaf pans (see first photo). I served with roasted potatoes, peas, and some kale chips. Tonight was the first time I’ve ever made kale chips, which is weird (why haven’t I made them before today?) but true. I was surprised that I didn’t love them – I found them bitter – although I compulsively ate them despite not really liking them, which is strange.

Last night I got to attend an artisan bread baking class with Peter Reinhart.

I tend to get so caught up in the picture-taking process that I don’t pay real attention to what’s going on in front of the camera, and I didn’t want to miss anything Peter said, and I didn’t want to be obnoxious, so I didn’t take my “real” camera. All I got, therefore, was this iPhone picture, which I had to crop.

I wish I had a better picture or two, but I’m actually glad I didn’t take my camera because I know myself and I know I would have missed a lot of what he said if I’d been messing with it. If you ever have a chance to attend one of Peter’s classes, I strongly urge you to do so. He’s full of knowledge, he’s so enthusiastic about bread, he’s funny, he’s nice, and he just genuinely wants to teach others everything he knows. Very inspirational. What I liked and disliked about the class is probably completely backwards from everyone else in the class though! The one bad thing about the class? The bread! I knew this going in, of course, so I wasn’t surprised, but most of the loaves he made were from enriched dough, which means milk, butter, and/or eggs. I’ve mentioned that I was a tester for his new book, Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day, so I have made just about all the loaves he made in the class (the only one I didn’t test was the challah, which I felt had too many eggs to warrant a vegan’s perspective on testing), and I know they are all DELICIOUS. But of course, although he says in his books you can use non-dairy milk, etc., he wasn’t using it in the class, so I had to pass on all the samples except the French bread. This was heartbreaking because they smelled and looked soooo good. I was especially drooling over that babka that he’s glazing in the photo, because my vegan rendition of it was amazing (use silken tofu for the eggs). In fact, I’m going to have to make it this weekend.

What I liked most about the class was all the things that went wrong. Which may sound weird, but hear me out. I’m a fairly experienced baker, and I’ve made most of Peter’s breads, and often everything goes exactly as it should. But it’s not unusual for something to go wrong. So what I got the most out of during the class was watching Peter adapt to problems that arose. I think you learn much more from mistakes than you do perfection. The ovens in the classroom were terrible: they baked unevenly and not at the temperature on their knobs. Undaunted, Peter showed us how to deal with that: by rotating the loaves, covering them with aluminum foil, telling us at what point in the baking process it was safe to lower the temperature of the oven. That’s the sort of thing it’s hard to learn from books, which tend to assume perfect conditions. The doughs were mixed the day before by the store’s staff, and the first batch of lean dough (which is what I could eat) didn’t rise well and didn’t spring much in the oven, and basically came out dense and not what Peter was going for. Which was too bad because I was really hungry for that sample after jealously having to pass on the thumbprint rolls and sticky buns. But that gave Peter the opportunity to discuss what might be wrong with it and how we would avoid or deal with it. (After trying a single bite of the finished loaf, he realized the problem was too much salt. I scarfed down my sample anyway.)

And I know I’m really going to seem perverse, but my favorite moment was when he broke the Kitchen Aid mixer. Okay, it very well may have been having problems before he used it (I’m sure it wasn’t really his fault), and I’m sure he uses Kitchen Aids in just about all of his classes without incident, but I’ve mentioned a few times how many problems I have had trying to mix dough in a Kitchen Aid mixer (as I mentioned in just my last post, I destroyed two of them in a year), so I felt vindicated seeing Peter struggle with one as well. My reaction to my final broken Kitchen Aid was to (make Mark) buy Hieronymous, the trusty Bosch Universal Mixer, but I really liked having the opportunity to see Peter react to a broken mixer. Which was basically to not react: he happily mixed the dough by hand. What’s great about the recipes in Artisan Breads Every Day is, with the refrigerated fermentation method, you barely need to knead, so a mixer isn’t really saving you that much time or effort anyway. Peter removed all of the fear of hand mixing that I somewhat irrationally have by showing how easy it really is. So I’m glad the mixer broke. For those recipes, it’s probably not even worth dirtying Hieronymous.

Well that’s my probably-overlong review of the class. Peter’s touring around the States a bit right now; if he shows up in or near your town and you like bread at all, I definitely recommend you go.


  1. Josiane Said,

    May 19, 2010 @ 12:36 am

    Thanks for the review of the class! It sounds like it was great (except for all those samples you couldn’t touch). I agree with you: it’s good to have a few things go wrong precisely when there is someone to teach you how to deal with them. 🙂

  2. Jes Said,

    May 19, 2010 @ 10:09 am

    Go Reinhart! I haven’t had any issues with my kitchenaid (yet), but your new mixer is pretty nifty. And as for the meatloaf, I’ve been meaning to try it out for awhile, so I’m stoked to see a good review. Perfect for meatloaf sandwiches!

  3. jamie Said,

    May 19, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

    I was interested to read your review of the class. It sounds like all the things that are appealing about him in the books are transmitted in the flesh in class, too. Cool!! I’d love to take one of his classes, glad yours was a treat….except for passing the samples!! Good point about things going wrong in the class setting – the tricks for dealing with a faulty oven situation would be very very very interesting!!!!!


  4. Vegan Dad Said,

    May 20, 2010 @ 6:15 am

    I am so freakin’ jealous you got to take a class with Reinhart!!

  5. Ksenia Said,

    May 22, 2010 @ 1:25 am

    I must say that now jealous 🙂 It would be wonderful to attend to classes of someone like Peter! I’m not a experienced bread baker (usually I bake more cakes and cookies), so I’m sure I would learn a lot. And I can imagine you had to go through a hard test, not being able to taste most of the bread.

    I was in a similar situation when we went to Paris. In every (and I mean EVERY) corner there was a baker’s shop or a crepêrie, and we were smelling freshly baked bread, buns and cakes from everwhere. I had to be pleased with a baguette and forget about the tempting croissants, but because even the baguette was delicious I didn’t mind 🙂

    And you’re right: the good news about the grades and the waiving of fees cheered me up ^^ I think that at this moment, half of my relatives from Russia must know it already xD (my mother was too happy to keep it to herself)

  6. Amy Said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 8:54 am

    I was interested to read your review of the class. It sounds like all the things that are appealing about him in the books are transmitted in the flesh in class, too. Cool!! I’d love to take one of his classes, glad yours was a treat….except for passing the samples!! Good point about things going wrong in the class setting – the tricks for dealing with a faulty oven situation would be very very very interesting!!!!!


  7. Vegan MoFo Day 6: Gluten-Free Vegloaf « Eating Appalachia Said,

    April 22, 2011 @ 9:46 pm

    […] of Eat, Live, Run‘s recipe for Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf, Renae of i eat food’s riff on VeganDad’s meatloaf, and Chow Vegan’s Home-style Vegan Meatloaf, just to name a few. And for over a year now, […]

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