Sauerkraut Noodles with Seitan

Every October 6th my father emails me to wish me a happy German-American Day. And every October 6th at least one food blog reminds me it’s National Noodle Day. So for dinner tonight, obviously I was having German noodles, right? The only trouble was the noodles involved in German dishes are always egg noodles, and even if I found a non-eggy noodle I thought would suffice, I’ve been eschewing the heavy dinners I feared anything “German noodly” would turn out to be. So I went browsing around Wegmans looking for a wheat-alternative noodle that would help me make a lighter dish. I found this rice spaghetti, which are absolutely, positively nowhere near being German. Nonetheless, I decided to try them. You could absolutely be much more authentic and use wide wheat noodle, although if you are vegan, you’ll probably end up having to use linguine or something similar.

Sauerkraut Noodles with Seitan

1 1/2 cups chopped seitan (I like to make a big batch on the weekend and freeze it in smaller portions)
1 cup vegan “beef” broth
3 Tbsp German mustard
2 Tbsp vinegar – I used malt, but really any kind would be okay
1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 white onion, sliced into slivers
14 oz sauerkraut
2 Tbsp vegan sour cream (optional)
noodles of your choice, cooked unless you are using rice noodles like me

Whisk together the broth, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, caraway seeds, chili pepper flakes, and celery seeds in a medium bowl. Chop the seitan and add to the broth. Let it marinade for a while, say, half an hour or so (or much longer in the refrigerator).

The directions on my rice spaghetti said to soak it in water for two minutes before cooking. If you are using any other noodles, cook them as directed and set aside.

Heat some oil in a Dutch oven and add the onions. Cook until they begin to get soft.

Drain the seitan, reserving the marinade.

Add the seitan to the onions and cook until the seitan begins to brown.

Stir in the sauerkraut. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any homemade, though I do have a pot fermenting that will be ready in a couple of weeks, so I had to make do with an authentic German brand from Wegmans.

Add the broth and the sour cream. I’m not sure the sour cream added that much flavor to the final dish so I wouldn’t go out of my way to include it next time.

CAT INTERLUDE. I have THIS whining at me the entire time I’m cooking anything:

I swear, that is SO like Tigger!

If you are using regular cooked noodles, boil off the broth a bit, or perhaps thicken it with a bit of cornstarch dissolved in cold water. I, however, needed to finish cooking my now-soaked rice noodles, which were softened, but not al dente. So I gently stirred in the noodles, lowered the heat a bit, covered, and let the noodles cook for 5 to 10 minutes. My original plan was to bake this dish like a casserole, but I wasn’t sure if the rice noodles would go soggy before everything else was heated through, so I kept it on the stovetop. The noodles stayed al dente.

And that’s all there was to it. I can’t figure out if that rice spaghetti was being marketed towards an Asian crowd (it seems proud to be a product of Singapore and I did find it in the Asian section) or a gluten-free crowd (it’s labelled as such) or what, exactly. I think it would seem more natural in an Asian dish, but then, I eat a lot of rice noodles in Asian dishes so maybe that’s just what I expect. You won’t get an experience like the European egg noodles that come to mind when you think “German noodle dish”, but I think I felt a little less fat after dinner than I would have had I used heavier noodles. Mark really liked this; he had three servings and informed me it was “elite”. So I don’t know, maybe my German ancestors would have found this meal absurd, but it was tasty and it’s hard to argue against something when you have people going back for thirds.

As I mentioned in my last post, we released some more raccoons a couple of weeks ago. Here’s a glimpse:

I think this one looks like he’s picking a lock…which by the way would be a great profession for a raccoon if he were human, and not just because they have built-in masks. I think that’s why I find this picture so hilarious.

Back inside, we have a few younger raccoons who will be over-wintering with us or who will be released around January. What is this one doing?

Gnawing on my camera strap, that’s what. If you want to know what kind of person I am, I’m the kind of person who will give a raccoon my camera strap when asked. I also give them my shoes, which they find just as fascinating.

Like I’m going to turn THIS face down.

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Pierogi for people who cheat

I’m not a big cheater. I’m one of the most honest people you’ll ever meet – I can not stand telling lies – and I really do believe that you only cheat yourself when you cheat others. And you know me: I make my own tofu, miso, pasta, pickles, bread…everything. Today, though, I was trying to figure out what to make with a fresh batch of homemade sauerkraut, and simultaneously wondering what to do with leftover mashed potatoes, when it all became so clear to me: pierogi. But then a minute later I thought, “ugh, I REALLY do NOT feel like rolling out pierogi dough”. But I still thought pierogi were a brilliant idea. So I cheated. I used gyoza wrappers. Sue me. But it was easy and, as far as pierogi go, fast. And still tasted great. So here you go: pierogi for people who cheat, or can’t be bothered with making pierogi dough.

Unfortunately for people who require strict measurements in their recipes, I cheated that way too. I didn’t measure anything. I just smooshed everything together. I’ll try to estimate what I used, but this is really more an idea than a recipe.

Pierogi for people who cheat

pre-made gyoza wrappers (check that they are vegan)
1 small or medium onion, diced
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes – mine were made with (vegan) sour cream and Dragonfly’s Bulk, Dry Uncheese Mix, a happy accident as they are my standard – and delicious – mashed potatoes and they turned out to be absolutely perfect for pierogi
1 cup sauerkraut
another small onion, diced (optional)

In a heavy (preferably cast iron) skillet, heat some oil, then add the diced onion and saute until beginning to brown. Remove from heat and cool at least slightly. Meanwhile, use kitchen shears to cut the sauerkraut into smaller pieces in a small bowl, then mix in the mashed potatoes and sauted onion.

Next, assemble the pierogi. I found it easiest to use my fingers to place about a teaspoon of the potato/sauerkraut mixture into the middle of each gyoza wrapper, and since that made for messy fingers, I set several pierogi up at a time before closing and sealing them. Keep the remaining gyoza wrappers covered with a damp towel while working in batches.

I used a simple Asian dumpling contraption to make my pierogi. I lifted each one onto the dumpling maker …

… then squeezed shut to seal. If they aren’t sealing well, dab some water on the edges first.

Alternatively, close and seal with your fingers. Continue until all the filling is used up. I made about 32 pierogi.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and drop about 8 pierogi in at a time – you don’t want to crowd them.

Boil until the pierogi float, then remove with a slotted spoon. Continue boiling the rest of the pierogi this way, or you can freeze half of them, which is what I did.

You can eat the pierogi boiled, with (vegan) sour cream if you like, or you can take the extra step of pan frying them. If you pan fry them, you can first brown a diced onion in some oil in your heavy skillet, then add the pierogi and brown on each side.

Pierogi are really, really, really, really good. I served them with additional sauerkraut and some leftover cucumber salad.

In other news, I know I keep talking about how huge Gomez is, but this weekend I noticed Torticia is getting bigger too. I think she’s going through a growth spurt because she is eating a ton of food and she looks noticeably larger to me. (She is also currently sitting on my lap “helping” me type because she’s the sweetest cat on the entire planet.) She’s still much smaller than Gomez, though she’s also still the dominant one. Gomez would hardly ever get into trouble if his sister didn’t lead him there, but she does, and she does it often. You can see “trouble” written all over her, can’t you? That’s Torticia with a capital “trouble”.

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