Archive forSeptember, 2010

Simple Seitan Stew

I tend to cook all day on Sundays. I generally begin the day baking bread, making tofu, and usually one or two other things, such as pizza today, then later I make something fairly involved for dinner. It’s my domestic day. Today started off strong – I got my tofu mojo back – but I started getting what I suspect may be a sinus headache and all I wanted to do was read the rest of the afternoon. So all my plans for an extravagant dinner went out the door and I instead made something very simple and very comforting, although since it simmered for so long, it still felt a little bit like I was putting a normal effort into it. Really, though, prep time for this is next to nothing if you have seitan on hand. I had some in the freezer, so I was good to go.

Simple Seitan Stew

1 lb seitan, chopped into bite-sized chunks
wine or sherry for deglazing, optional
4 small cooking onions, peeled but left whole
2 huge carrots, chunked
4 small to medium potatoes, chunked
4 cups vegan “beef” broth
1 cup tomato sauce
1 Tbsp Marmite
1 tsp Kitchen Bouquet
2 bay leaves (I used 4 because they were fresh and young and I think less potent)
1/2 tsp (or to taste) freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup frozen peas
1 Tbsp malt vinegar, optional
2 Tbsp cornstarch + 3 Tbsp cold water

Brown the seitan in some oil in a heavy Dutch oven, deglazing the pot with wine, sherry, or broth. Place the rest of the ingredients except the frozen peas, vinegar, and corn starch into the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are soft, probably 45 minutes to an hour. Add the peas and the malt vinegar if you wish – mine tasted sort of sweet and I wanted to cut that a little bit. Remove the bay leaves. Whisk together the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl, then stir into the stew and simmer another minute or two until thickened. Squish any onions that are still whole to break them up.

Serve with crusty bread.

What’s that you say? You won’t leave without a kitten photo? Well, I guess I can scrounge one up for you this time. Gomez has taken to helping me cook.

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Grilled Stuffed Peppers

Well, I don’t know if weather GETS more perfect than it was today, and I was looking for any excuse to be outside. Grilling seemed like a good one. I’d been checking out the offerings at the farmers market this morning with an eye towards what would make good grilling fare and had the idea to grill some stuffed peppers. And that’s what I did.

Grilled Stuffed Peppers

2 large bell peppers
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 chili pepper, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 cup minced or grated seitan (I used Zoa’s chicken-style okara seitan)
1 cup crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce (I used about 1/2 cup each)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 cup cooked rice
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp Dragonfly’s Dry, Bulk Uncheese, or vegan parmesan
grated vegan cheddar, optional

Dice the onions, mince the chili, press the garlic, and dice the seitan.

Remove the top of the peppers, remove the seeds and white membranes, and dice the removed tops.

Slice the peppers in half.

Heat a heavy skillet over medium high heat, add some oil, and when it’s hot, add the onions, then cook until beginning to brown.

Add the chilis and minced bell pepper, cook for a few minutes, then add the garlic.

Add the seitan. Ignore the tomatoes in this picture – I forgot the seitan and added the tomatoes like a doofus, so I pushed everything out of the way, moved the skillet so it wasn’t over the heat, and added the seitan to the other side of the skillet that was over the heat, then browned it before mixing it all together. Cook until the seitan is beginning to brown.

Add the tomatoes/tomato sauce, soy sauce, rice, and pepper; cook for a few minutes, then stir in the uncheese.

Stuff into the pepper halves.

If you’d like, top with shredded vegan cheddar.

Prepare the grill. I don’t know enough yet to tell you how hot you want it; I know it never seems hot enough for me, which is something I’m working on. If you have a grill wok, put the peppers in that; otherwise, put them directly on the grill.

Close the lid and grill until the bottoms of the peppers are charred. Check out the awesome plate/platter I scored at the thrift store for $3 today! Have I ever mentioned I have the best thrift store luck?!

These were the best stuffed peppers I’ve made! By the way, you can make them in the oven – just don’t cut them in half; stuff them whole and bake at, I don’t know, 375 Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or so? I can’t give you an exact time because I haven’t done it that way yet, so check on them.

I hope everyone’s weekend is going well.

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Roasted Tomato Lentil Soup

I’m not going to lie to you: I love tinned tomatoes. I have several cans of several different kinds in my cupboard at all times and freak out if the supply gets low. Mark claims all my meals are red because they all contain tomatoes, and they are usually from a tin. Unless I’m eating them raw, I rarely see the need to waste money on expensive fresh tomatoes when tinned ones taste better, which is true at all times except summer. I do cook with fresh tomatoes sometimes during the height of tomato season when they are cheap(ish) and abundant, but really Mark and I have a hard time keeping fresh tomatoes around long enough to cook with them – we eat tomato sandwiches nonstop during the summer. I wanted badly to start growing and canning my own tomatoes, but I have a black thumb, so I rely on the farmer’s market. Sometimes, though, I get a little overzealous at the farmer’s market and buy more than we can handle. Before they went bad, I wanted to do something with the tomatoes I had on hand, so I decided to roast them. Because I wanted a light dinner, I also decided to use the roasted tomatoes in a soup. Hence

Roasted Tomato Lentil Soup

3 – 5 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 head garlic, peeled
olive oil
8 cups vegetable broth
1 cup lentils
1/2 cup pearled barley
2 large carrots, chopped
4 small potatoes, chopped
several leaves cabbage, chiffonaded
other leftover veggies – I used a few stalks of asparagus, chopped
1/2 tsp thyme
3 small dried red peppers
freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
2 oz small pasta, optional

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the tomatoes, onions, and garlic on a baking sheat and toss with olive oil.

Roast until beginning to char, 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. When you remove it from the oven, smash the garlic up a little bit.

Meanwhile prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Put the rest of the ingredients except the optional pasta into a pressure cooker.

Bring up to pressure, reduce heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes. Release pressure using the quick release method. Return to burner over medium heat, add the tomatoes, onions, and garlic, as well as the pasta if you are using it, and simmer until pasta is al dente. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, simmer the soup for 45 minutes or until barley is cooked, then add the pasta. Add the tomatoes whenever they are done.

This was definitely screaming for some crusty bread, but alas, bread never lasts until Thursday night.

So, I was wondering: have you ever seen a cat cuter than Torticia?

Didn’t think so. She’s watching her brother climb all over me in this picture.

Speaking of her brother, LOOK HOW HUGE GOMEZ IS:

This is going to sound weird, but in this picture he looks like an old friend of mine from the record store I worked in in college. I’ve never thought that when looking at him in person, but something about this picture (which doesn’t really look like Gomez to me) just really looks like the friend.

This picture captures more what Gomez looks like to me – with his super cute huge round eyes – but it’s hard to take a good picture of him because once he sees me, he gets up and comes trotting over to the camera…which is exactly what Brachtune used to do. (Speaking of whom, I had another dream that the ghost of Brachtune came to live with us…I must miss that girl a lot.)

I was wondering tonight what the kittens should be for Halloween….

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White Chili

I have only a short post for you tonight; it’s been a very long weekend and I’m eager to just kick back and relax for an hour or two before going to bed and braving a new week. As I mentioned, when I reorganized my kitchen after I bought a bunch of vintage Mason jars, I found a few things I had several packages of because I couldn’t see things hidden in my cabinets and kept buying more. One of the things I have a ton of was dried navy beans. Always one to go against the grain, though it was allegedly the first weekend of fall (although fall has traditionally been my favorite season, I’m still fighting the passing of summer and am rather depressed about this) and the weather was relatively cool, and soup has been popping up on everyone else’s blogs, I didn’t want to make soup with them. I don’t feel the need to start making more soup this time of year because I never stop making soup. Soup’s my favorite food; I love it. I just didn’t want to make navy bean soup. Nor did I want to make baked or barbecued beans, probably because I did so pretty recently. So I thought about it and eventually came up with White Chili, and it was good enough to write up here, although I didn’t take preparatory pictures.

Torticia involved herself in the photo shoot….and a whole lot of other trouble today.

White Chili

8 oz navy beans
1/2 onion, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, smashed
3 large pickled jalapenos, chopped
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
vegan “chicken” stock, enough to cover the beans after soaking
1 1/2 cups vegan “chicken” or chicken-style seitan, cubed – although I made some seitan today, it wasn’t ready in time to use in this dish, so I used Gardein Chicken Scallopini

Soak the navy beans, either overnight, or, after boiling for two minutes, for an hour. Put the rest of the ingredients, except the “chicken” in a pressure cooker, bring up to pressure, and cook for 25 minutes, then use the quick release method. Reduce any additional broth by boiling it off. Meanwhile, prepare the “chicken” by grilling or browning in a skillet. Combine the bean mixture with the “chicken” and make sure it is warmed through. Serve with rice and Tabasco sauce for additional seasoning.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, simply cook the beans on the stovetop until tender, which may take two or more hours.

While Torticia was interfering with my photo shoot in the dining room, Gomez was getting some love in the kitchen.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a picture of the flowers I couldn’t resist buying at the farmers market this morning. They look very nice with my dried beans when I use one of the Mason jars as a vase.

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Split Pea and Barley Soup

Wow, have I been busy in the kitchen this weekend! I’m not someone who ordinarily slows down as far as cooking goes during the summer; Mark runs the air conditioner constantly, so it’s usually not too hot for me to cook. So I don’t know if it’s just coincidence that Hurricane Earl brought us a cool Labor Day weekend – an upper 70s reprieve (and very sunny skies! no hurricane here; the weather is amazing!) from the summer-long near-100-degree days – and I ended up cooking even more than usual or if cooler temperatures were somehow responsible. Yesterday I made sauerkraut and kimchi, and for dinner, seitan ham, cooked fresh lima beans, and barley. Today I’m making pain au levain and I made tofu for the first time in months (it didn’t turn out very well; I guess I need to get back into the swing of it), and I even saved the okara to make Zoa’s chicken-style okara seitan. This morning I also made split pea soup; the great thing about which being I used up a bunch of leftovers doing so.

Split Pea and Barley Soup

1 onion, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 cup fresh lima beans
7 cups broth, chickpea cooking water, or a combination of both (I had saved the water leftover from cooking chickpeas a couple of days ago)
2 cups green split peas
1 cup diced vegan “ham”
several splashes liquid smoke
1 cup cooked barley, or 1/3 cup uncooked
1 tsp salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, saute the onion in some olive oil until translucent.

Add the carrots and garlic; saute for another 3 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients, except the barley if cooked, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half, until peas are done. If using cooked barley, add it 5 to 10 minutes before the soup is ready.


This was my lunch today.

So as not to drive Zoa insane with curiosity, the book is Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. The bread is a baguette from the farmer’s market, sold by a real live Frenchman, who spoke French at me for a full three minutes and made me feel bad about myself – after feeling good that I’ve been understanding Josiane’s French tweets – because I only understood a single word (“français”). Le sigh. I don’t buy much bread because I bake my own, but since I usually bake on Sundays, I’ve been picking up a baguette on Saturday mornings to tide us over. I’ve been taking one of my baguette bags so my Frenchman doesn’t need to put it in a paper bag – another great use for the bread bags! (I got a lot of compliments on the baguette bag yesterday. The Frenchman also commented on it, but I don’t know what he said. What did those five years of high school and college French get me?!?)

Also pictured above is my first batch of water kefir. Actually, I’ve made it before but didn’t keep up with it, but I got more grains this week and am going to try to maintain it better this time. So far so good; it tastes great! I made the mistake(?) of telling Mark it was probiotic when he asked what it was, so he refuses to drink it. More for me! I also found this great water bottle in my favorite antique store. It’s the perfect size for chilling my quart of water kefir, and it has this awesome valve lid that is shut when it sits upright and opens when you tilt the bottle to pour. I love it!

The cool weather is energizing the kittens; they – well, mostly Torticia – have been getting into trouble this weekend. Here she is attacking Hamelman’s Bread book.

She’s not the only one who likes cookbooks a little to much; earlier in the week Gomez was lounging on Veganomicon

… until he decided to eat the cheesecloth covering some fermenting pickles.

But then they do this. I love them.

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