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Vegan Italian-style Shellfish Soup

8 Nov

I owe you a wrap-up post for October Unprocessed, but the cooking bug caught up with me tonight, and I decided to go for it and share this recipe with you instead.

First, let me say this: I’ve always hated seafood. With the occasional exception of tuna in childhood sandwiches or casseroles, even in my meat-eating days I wanted nothing to do with fish or shellfish. Which is why it’s sort of odd that my reaction today, upon reading a reference to Italian-style shellfish soup, was immediately, “I need to veganize that!”

I’ve never had shellfish soup, and other than a mention that the soup in question was made with tomatoes–and clams and mussels–I really had no idea what I was doing. But a few minutes with Google fixed all of that, and a stop at Whole Foods on my way home had me ready to go.

Ready for some fish-o’-the woods soup!

Here’s what I came up with, and I’m pleased to report that I’m quite happy with it. It’s kind of exactly what I wanted. I have no idea whether it resembles any traditional shellfish soup, but it’s really good in any case–warming against the cold front that just showed up, full of vegetables and tangy tomato and lemon, and with just a hint of seafood flavor that could be played up for those who don’t share my aversion. The soup is relatively light, so round it out to make a meal. Some blackened tempeh and avocado would be great with this.

No shells–just tasty soup

Vegan Italian-style Shellfish Soup

6 large cloves garlic, minced and divided
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced, ends and any leaves reserved
1 medium bulb fennel: green tops cut off and set aside; white bulb quartered, cored and thinly sliced.
1 large leek: green tops cut off, washed well and set aside; white part quartered, washed well and thinly sliced.
4 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
3/4 lb. oyster mushrooms: thick/tough stems trimmed off and set aside; remaining parts chopped in small bites
1/4 lb. lobster mushrooms (more if you like fishier flavor), minced and divided
3 sprigs thyme or 1/4 tsp. whole dried thyme. Lemon thyme would be great if you have it.
1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. yellow mustard seed
1/2 tsp. dill seed or 1 tsp. dried dill weed
olive oil
1 tsp. Herbamare (or 3/4 tsp. salt)
1-1/2 tsp. fish seasoning
1/2 tsp. aji amarillo paste (optional–adds a little heat and a nice, fruity flavor. I found mine at Big John’s PFI)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 15-oz. can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (if the tomatoes are salted, you might want less salt in the recipe)
good handful flat-leaf parsley
juice of 1/2 lemon
black pepper

First, make a “fish” broth based on many of the trimmings from your soup vegetables. If you have a pressure cooker, this won’t slow you down much. If not, you should build in another 30-60 minutes. In a pressure cooker, combine half of the garlic; the ends and leaves trimmed from the celery; half of the tops trimmed from the fennel, coarsely chopped; the leek tops, coarsely chopped; the stems from the oyster mushrooms and about 1/3 of the lobster mushrooms; and 1/4 of the shallots. Add the thyme, whole peppercorns, mustard and dill. Add 1 quart water and seal the pressure cooker. Bring to high pressure; lower the heat and keep at pressure for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let pressure release naturally. Strain and set aside. Without a pressure cooker, start with a brief sautéing of the vegetables, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 30-60 minutes before straining.

Straining the broth with my handy nut-milk bag

While that’s cooking, chop the rest of your vegetables and start them cooking.

Shallots, leeks and fennel, chopped and ready to go

In a Dutch oven or other soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the remaining garlic, celery, fennel, leek, and shallots. Saute 8-10 minutes, or until vegetables are softened but still have some texture.

While those vegetables are cooking, on another burner heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add a bit of olive oil and then the lobster mushrooms, stirring until about half tender. Add the oyster mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are softened and reduced in volume by roughly half–about 4-6 minutes.

When the vegetables in the Dutch oven are ready, add the fish seasoning, the chili paste (if using) and the Herbamare or salt. Cook for one minute more. Add the white wine and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until liquid is mostly evaporated. Add the cooked mushrooms, the broth and the tomatoes. Cook another 5 minutes, not allowing the soup to get above a simmer. Add the parsley, the lemon juice and several grinds of black pepper. Check for salt and other seasonings and adjust as needed. If you really want it fishy, you’ll probably want to add some dulse, nori, or kelp to the broth or the finished product. Makes about two quarts, which should serve 4-6.

Northwest Niblets

23 Feb

Ok, I’m going to try to be more regular with this Northwest Niblets thing–a round up of cool little things you may have missed on Twitter or Facebook or the grocery store when you were busy with the rest of your life. If you know of something I should include in Northwest Niblets, please email me or tweet at me.

  • Corina Bakery in Tacoma has new digs, and from the look of it, they’re gorgeous! The new address (their website is not yet current) is right around the corner from their old location. Find them at 602 Fawcett Ave. If you don’t know the deliciousness that is Corina, I suggest you read this right away, or just get down there and discover it for yourself.

  • If you’re a bit farther to the north, maybe you should head to Seattle’s Bang Bang Cafe, where my Seattle Times colleague Tyrone Beason wrote about “a little scoop of heaven that is spicy, smoky and wonderfully crunchy”–that being the vegan mac and cheese that is the talk of Belltown and much of Seattle.

  • Seattleites might also like to know that Rachel’s Ginger Beer is now available, among other places, at Central Co-op. Delicious on its own or as a mixer.

  • Maybe you’re even farther north, all the way into BC! If that’s the case you’re SO in luck next month. On March 10-11, Fairy Cakes Cupcakes is having its Grand Opening, complete with samples (some gluten free, all vegan and free of tree nuts and peanuts) and other great stuff. But wait! There’s more! On Thursday, 3/22, New Westminster is the place to be for a Vegan Wine and Cheese Soiree. Yes, you read that right. And if you’re wondering what else you would do if you were to venture to New West for this event, you should instead be wondering why you’re not already there.

  • Our friends to the south might like to know about the opportunity to help start a vegan, artisanal ice cream truck in Portland. More into savory than sweet? Then check out the Kickstarter campaign to help Homegrown Smoker add a second truck, on Portland’s east side. And if you haven’t tried Homegrown Smoker’s magically delicious street food, you need to plan a trip to their current downtown cart right now.

  • Two favorite food discoveries this week: FatFree Vegan’s Polenta Lasagna, which was deliciously rich, hearty and loaded with vegetables. It’s also gluten free, easy to make and reheats beautifully. And then for dessert, Eat Pastry cookies (or just eat the dough!). Warm, soft, vegan cookies out of the oven in about 15 minutes. And Whole Foods Westlake has three varieties on sale right now, through 2/28. Other Whole Foods stores probably do, too. Now is the time to try this wonderful stuff.

ETA: Thanks to Brooke for reminding me about Jodee’s Desserts in Seattle, which is celebrating its first anniversary this Saturday, 2/25, with special treats in the storefront. You can read how much I love Jodee’s desserts here.

Barbecue Sliders with Coleslaw

20 Feb

Friday night I went to a Meet-up hosted by Anika, of Seattle Vegan Score (which blog, by the way, was a primary inspiration for starting Northwest Herbivore, and if you’re not following it I can’t imagine why not). It was a gathering of local vegan food bloggers–most of whom I’d never met, at least in person. I settled on taking BBQ sliders made with Soy Curls, even though I’d a) never cooked with Soy Curls b) never made sliders c) to the best of my recollection never eaten a slider.

But I wanted to eat a slider, and this is how my brain works. Despite the apparent lack of wisdom in not making a favorite, practiced dish when short on time (and perhaps trying to impress some new acquaintances), I rarely make the same thing twice and rarely follow recipes, so I often look at situations like this as a chance to push myself a bit more and try something that inspires me rather than something that feels familiar. This time it worked out; other times it totally flops, but I always learn a lot.

So. Here’s my learn-as-I-went version of Barbecue Sliders with Coleslaw (with just the one picture since I was running late enough as it was!). They went over really well with the group, and although a bit time-consuming, you could easily split up the work to make them easy for a party or other gathering.

If you’re doing this all at once, start with the buns. Normally I’d make buns from scratch (there’s a great sandwich bun recipe in The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook), but with all the other stuff to do and limited time I just used blobs of pizza dough out of the Whole Foods refrigerated section, and they worked great.

Slider buns (Makes 32 buns about 1-1/2″ across)

2 11-oz. packages refrigerated pizza dough (I used whole wheat from Whole Foods. Trader Joe’s makes several delicious vegan pizza doughs that are cheaper and would work just as well here). If you use frozen, you’ll need to thaw it well in advance, per package instructions.
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds (Optional. I used half white and half black.)

Take the dough out of the packages and knead briefly to mix in any dry areas or sticky spots. The Whole Foods dough didn’t need any flour on the surface for this; Trader Joe’s dough is stickier and definitely would need some flour. With a dough scraper or sharp knife, cut each ball of dough into 16 pieces, as equally sized as you can. If you want slightly larger buns, you might try dividing into 12 instead. Cover dough pieces with plastic wrap (or a clean towel or an overturned bowl) and let it warm up to room temp (this would be a good time to make the coleslaw).

Roll/pat/stretch each small piece of dough into a disc about 2″ across and 1/4″ thick. Arrange on a lightly greased baking sheet. These actually pull in a bit as they bake and rise into more of a ball shape, so you can put them very close together. Brush tops with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds (if the dough is somewhat sticky when you’re shaping it, you can do what I did and just dip the shaped pieces into a little bowl of seeds before putting on the tray).

At this point, preheat the oven to 450 F.

Let sit in a warm place until the oven preheats, or at least 10 minutes. Bake on the bottom rack about 10 minutes, or until puffed up into little balls and golden brown. Cool before slicing most of the way through each bun with a bread knife.

Barbecue Soy Curls

1 large onion, diced (I used a sweet white one)
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 package Soy Curls
16 oz. barbecue sauce (I used my own Chipotle-Peach Barbecue Sauce that I canned this summer.)
Extra seasonings to taste, which will depend on your sauce. I used a couple tablespoons each of soy sauce, cider vinegar and unsalted tomato paste, a teaspoon or so of smoked salt, and maybe 1/2 tsp. powdered chipotle.

In a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, cook the onion in the oil until very soft and starting to brown. While that’s cooking, soak the Soy Curls. I used very hot (almost boiling) water and soaked them longer than you normally should, which produced very soft curls that worked well for this dish. When they’re as soft as you want them, drain thoroughly and then chop coarsely to get the long strips down to something that will fit on a slider.

When the onions start to brown, add the Soy Curls to the pan. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, to evaporate some of the liquid that remains after draining. Add the barbecue sauce and stir well. Cook another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, and taste to adjust the seasonings. By the time it’s done, it should be very moist but not have liquid spots in the mixture, so it will hold together on the buns without immediately making them soggy.

I’m thinking this would work great in a slow cooker, which could also really manage the prep time needed before serving, and you could use the cooker to keep the mixture hot on the table.


1/2 head cabbage, cored and quartered (Purple makes for some nicely festive slaw, or you could do a mix of purple and green. Savoy would work, too.)
1 medium carrot, scrubbed and trimmed
1/4 of a large, sweet onion
1/3 to 1/2 cup Vegenaise
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1/2-1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. whole celery seed
1/8 tsp. salt

Shred the vegetables (I used the grating blade of my 7-cup food processor, which was a bit too fine for my taste, but it certainly did the job quickly and easily) and mix with the remaining ingredients. Adjust seasonings to taste and keep chilled until serving.


Put a tablespoon or so of barbecue on a bun, top with a teaspoon or two of coleslaw, and pin it together with a party frill or just shove it in your mouth.

Shout-out to my super-accommodating mom

18 Jan

I grew up (and originally went vegetarian) in rural, northwestern Virginia.

That’s our driveway, fording a creek. Like I say: rural.

My parents still live in the house I grew up in, surrounded by encroaching suburbanization that is depressing but has made a lot more veg*n-friendly ingredients and even prepared foods available at places like Wegmans. Still, that hasn’t done a whole lot to change the meat/potatoes/fast-food culture of the place, and going home to visit is always an exercise in suspending the spoiled vegan expectations that result from living in the PNW.

Except–there’s my mom. When my sister and I went vegetarian nearly 20 years ago, and when we subsequently went vegan a few years later, Mom expressed the usual worries about protein, calcium and the like, but never balked from making sure we’d have foods suitable to our changing diets. Despite being raised (and taught to cook) in a household where dinner consisted–every night–of meat, potatoes and another vegetable, Mom’s always been up for culinary adventure and is also the clear source of my obsession with making things from scratch.

So when the holidays and the sad loss of our aunt meant that my sister, Maren, and I made two trips east within a month–and Maren’s doctor recently advised her to cut all gluten from her diet–Mom once again rose to the occasion.

At risk of inspiring severe jealousy in those of you not so fortunate, I wanted to walk you through some of the things we ate on our visits, partly to share the perspective of things that appealed enough to our omnivorous parents to suggest them for meals that we all enjoyed. Maybe those with less-accommodating families could try these recipes on them? And perhaps veg*n readers can pick up some ideas for feeding those in their lives who are avoiding wheat or gluten.

Ahead of our pre-Christmas visit, our parents took the initiative to get the Kindle edition of The Vegan Table for their iPad, and identified a bunch of potential recipes to make that looked good to them. This advance work helped a lot with having appropriate groceries on hand and being able to narrow down options based on time available and what people were hungry for at a given time. We had Red Lentil Artichoke Stew for a lunch and Fast & Fabulous French Toast for a breakfast. I was in charge of “Christmas” dinner for the group of 11 relatives who assembled at our house, and with cooking help from Jud and Mom, plus one of Maren’s signature salads, we put together an entirely vegan menu:

From left: my own seitan roulade in puff pastry (the second one was not yet on the table), Herbed Scalloped Potatoes (hidden behind centerpiece, from Vegan Table), Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Onions (from Vegan Table), two different roasted sweet-potato dishes (one with cinnamon/ginger/brown sugar/orange and one with thyme and lemon, both improvised on the spot), and a green salad.

Dessert? Flourless Chocolate Tart, also from Vegan Table:

Every bit as good as it looks, and not at all hard if you have a two-piece tart pan. The only tweak I would make: reduce the margarine from four tablespoons to three, or the crust might seem a bit too oily.

Other than Maren and me, only one person in attendance was vegetarian, but the whole group of omnivores–including two young kids–either enjoyed the meal or were very polite, convincing liars. At this point Maren was still eating gluten, but the only gluten-containing dish was the roulade.

When we returned for a shorter visit this past weekend, Mom took the gluten-free thing completely in stride. We had a delicious (and quick to prepare) Better Than Tuna Salad (once again from Vegan Table) for lunch one day:

Sunday was a group gathering to which we took three dishes to make sure those of us with more limited diets would have enough to eat. Maren made another of her green salads; I made the quinoa-bean-and-vegetable “Aztec Salad” that is one of my favorite potluck dishes and will some day get written up for this blog; and Mom declared that she wanted to make (for the first time ever) tamales.

After November’s epic tamale adventure, I have a healthy respect for how time-consuming tamales can be, and I admit I was more than a little wary of the prospect of fitting that into the weekend. But Mom’s adventurous, not crazy, and so instead of three complex tamale fillings she had singled out a simple one, dug up online (made without the cheese and with a different wrapping technique). We wound up adapting the dough recipe as a hybrid of the one from that page, the one from the masa package, and my memory of Terry Hope Romero’s recipe from Viva Vegan.

Let the record show that Mom took to tamale-making like a duck to water:

Stirring together the dough. Totally doable by hand, but if you’ve got a stand mixer, use it!

Tomato and corn filling, going onto the first tamale.

Tying it closed

Mom’s first tamale. Seriously, duck to water.

On a roll. We made double batches of filling and dough and wound up with around four dozen tamales.

Was Mom done after all that? Mais non. On our last morning there she suggested a tofu scramble for breakfast–and then acknowledged that she wasn’t quite sure what that would entail. Maren and I talked her through the basics, and mentioned the value of pressing the tofu ahead of time to get rid of excess water. How to do that, she asked? Just put it between two plates and then weight it, we said. Shortly thereafter, I found this in the kitchen:

TofuXpress, you have met your match.

We had the broccoli-and-red-pepper scramble with Fakin’ Bacon (not gluten-free; you can follow my recipe for a gluten-free version.) and toast from this shockingly good gluten-free bread. Seriously, all four of us were amazed at how normal this bread seemed, and we enjoyed it with Earth Balance. The brand (not all of which is vegan) appears widely available in Washington and Oregon in Safeway and Albertson’s stores; in Canada it seems to be available by mail order only.

Add in some savory black-bean soup and warm French apple pie (made with wheat flour, but there was plenty of chocolate tart to keep Maren supplied with desserts), and it all went way beyond just getting through a weekend with some sad times and instead helped us relax and really appreciate the opportunities our far-flung family had to spend time together.

So there you have it. In talking to countless veg*ns and near-veg*ns over the years I have learned just how rare this level of support is from families, so I wanted to celebrate it with a big, public thank-you to Mom for going above and beyond (and the rest of my family for the wide-open acceptance of so many unfamiliar dishes, especially during this stressful time for all of us).

I’d say it was also quite a solid endorsement (not that any more were needed) of The Vegan Table, which obviously played a huge part in helping with menu planning and preparation and came through with tasty, omni-friendly recipes without too many hard-to-find ingredients.

What other recipes, resources or strategies have you found helpful in bridging dietary gaps between you and those you’re close to?

Black-eyed Peas with Greens (make it for New Year’s Day!)

26 Dec

Black-eyed peas and greens are both traditional and much-beloved foods in the American South, so when Jud and I made Christmas breakfast for his (very omnivorous, Southern) mom and her husband, I wanted to include them in the menu. Black-eyed peas are particularly traditional to eat on New Year’s Day, so you can try this easy recipe then or any time you want something hearty and savory for breakfast or any meal.

Black-eyed Peas with Greens

3-4 cloves garlic, chopped (about 1 Tbsp. chopped garlic)
1 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
red chili flakes to taste (optional)
1/2 lb. kale, collards (or a “braising mix”), washed and chopped into large bites. Trim stems if they’re large. I used mostly kale with some chard.
2 cups cooked black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained (Mine had no salt added. If yours are salted, reduce the soy sauce and/or added salt in the recipe)
1-2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. soy sauce (I use this one, which is also gluten free)
1/2 tsp. smoked salt (you could also use smoked paprika, chipotle, or a dash of liquid smoke instead of the salt)
1/4 tsp. dried thyme, rubbed between your fingers

In a large skillet or sauté pan that has a lid, sauté the garlic and chili flakes in the oil over medium heat until garlic just starts to color. Add the greens and stir well. If the greens aren’t somewhat wet from washing, add a tablespoon or two of water. Cover and let cook for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients (starting with one tablespoon of the vinegar). Stir well, cover again and let cook 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add a bit of water and/or reduce the heat slightly if needed to prevent sticking. The mixture should be neither saucy nor dry. The dish is done when the greens are just tender. Serve with your favorite hot sauce if you want it spicier.

This will serve two greens-lovin’ people as a main course or four as a side.

For Christmas breakfast, we served the greens with Herb-Roasted Potatoes from Vegan with a Vengeance, Tempeh bacon (which was a surprise hit with two omnivores skeptical of soy products), fruit salad (Honeycrisp apples, Asian pears, kumquats and dried cranberries in a sweet-tart lemon dressing) and Cinnamon Rolls from The Joy of Vegan Baking (I will say again, that recipe alone will justify the purchase of this excellent book).

Here are the potatoes and fruit salad, ready to serve while the rolls baked:

I hope you all had tasty holidays, whatever you celebrated! What new favorite recipes did you discover?

Roasted beet salad with avocado, hazelnuts and smoked salt

9 Dec

I recently discovered smoked salt, and it’s been even more revelatory than smoked paprika (Seattleites, you know you can get both in bulk at Big John’s PFI, right?). I’m pretty sure that there are few things in life that aren’t improved when you add a little (or a lot) of smoked salt to them.

If you’re looking for an excuse to buy or use some, you could make this salad.

Roasted beet salad with avocado, hazelnuts and smoked salt

On a bed of lettuce or mixed greens (frisee would be pretty with this, if you want to be one of those people who force others to try to eat frisee without making a mess of their faces and clothes. It is a hardy, winter salad green), arrange roasted, peeled beets, cut in 1/4″ slices. If you use cylindrical beets (easy to find at farmers’ markets now) you’ll get lots of consistently sized discs from each beet. Top with a sprinkling of shallot, cut in very thin rings*, and a small mound of perfectly ripe avocado cubes. Drizzle with high-quality olive oil and a light-colored, sweet vinegar (I used an oak-aged, apple-based “Rocksalmic” vinegar I got recently from Rockridge Orchards, but a golden balsamic would be just as good.) Sprinkle with a generous pinch of smoked salt and a few grinds of fresh black or white pepper. Toast and skin some hazelnuts (or use toasted pecans or walnuts), and chop them coarsely. Sprinkle on top. Serve immediately.

* Some people might find the dark grey color of smoked salt on fresh avocado unappealing, since it winds up looking a lot like the spots that show on overripe avocado. If you want to avoid that, you could add the salt to the beet-and-shallot layer, before adding the rest of the ingredients. I didn’t think to do that, so judge for yourself from the photos whether it’s a problem.

Seitan roulade in puff pastry

26 Nov

Over the week or so before Thanksgiving I was busy dreaming up a dish to take to the annual vegan Thanksgiving potluck hosted by some close friends of mine. Even though I knew there would be Tofurky and some Field Roast grain-meat items, I couldn’t resist the idea of making my own seitan roulade, from scratch. And there needed to be puff pastry involved (not from scratch–my mom is that patient and focused, but I am not!). I was still researching Thanksgiving-appropriate seitan recipes when a certain tweet filtered through the intertubes and onto my screen. Shiitakes are the one kind of mushroom I don’t like, and I was already mulling a squash-and-kale filling, but Isa’s seitan recipe and roulade technique? Exactly what I needed.

Here’s how I modified her excellent recipe. I apologize for the very minimal (and not very good) photographs. The timeline was tight, and I didn’t take as many photos as I should have!

Puff Pastry:

1 package (two 9″x9″ sheets) vegan puff pastry. I used Aussie Bakery brand from the co-op, but Pepperidge Farm is also vegan and widely available.

Thaw it well in advance! Ideally, this would be overnight in the fridge, but you can also thaw on the counter. Separate (but keep wrapped against drying) the two sheets of pastry as soon as you can without damaging them if you need to complete the thawing more quickly.

Vegetable filling:

16 oz. butternut squash, peeled and cut in small (less than 1/2″) dice
Oil (I used canola; olive would be good)
1 good-sized shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 lb. kale, stemmed and finely chopped (any kind)
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. Champagne vinegar (or white wine or golden balsamic or even apple cider vinegar: something light-colored, relatively mild and a little fruity)
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt

Heat the oven to 350 while you chop the squash. Toss with just enough oil to coat, and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake approximately 20 minutes, stirring once, or until the squash is tender and starting to brown. While the squash is baking, heat another tablespoon of oil in a medium or large skillet over medium-low heat, and add the sliced shallot. Saute 7-10 minutes, until the shallot is very soft and starting to brown. Add the kale and water. Stir to combine, then cover for 5-10 minutes, stirring every couple minutes, until kale is just tender. Add cooked squash to the skillet and gently mix.

Combine remaining ingredients and whisk to blend well. Add gradually to kale and squash, tasting as you go. I found I had about an extra tablespoon of dressing, but you might want to use more. Set aside mixture to cool.

Roasted garlic cashew creme:

1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1/2 cup water
4-5 cloves roasted garlic, peeled (About 1/3 of a good-sized head. I’d suggest roasting the whole thing, then using the other cloves for other recipes*)
1 tsp. Champagne vinegar (In this case, I’d sub with something minimally sweet like white wine vinegar or white vinegar)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. rubbed sage
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. salt

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until thick and very smooth, scraping down the sides periodically. If you’re using a smaller food processor, you might want to add only half the water at first, and add the rest as the mixture comes together to avoid liquid splashing out. This recipe will make more than you need for the seitan recipe, but the extra creme would be delicious spread on crackers, as a dip for raw vegetables, or thinned just a bit and added to soup, either stirred in or dolloped on individual servings. Or you can just eat it with a spoon.

* Leftover roasted garlic? Coarsely mash it with a fork along with a generous splash of good-quality olive oil, another splash of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt and some crumbled rosemary. Serve with bread. It won’t last long.


Once you’ve got all of that made, scrape out the food processor and follow the instructions to make Isa’s seitan. It goes together quickly and easily! Here are the dry ingredients:

I followed the shaping method of another blogger who had quickly posted her step-by-step instructions for making the recipe, spreading the seitan dough directly onto the tin foil, and rolling it up like a sushi roll, using the foil to help hold the shape as you go. With the dough spread out, I spread about a cup of the cashew creme in a thick layer near the bottom of the dough, forming a rectangle maybe 4″ deep and going to within an inch of each side. In the center of that, I put a strip of the greens and squash, gently pressing them together as I went, maybe 3″ wide and an inch tall, and within an inch of each side of the cashew mixture. Then just roll it up, making sure that by the end of rolling you have seitan mushing against seitan, and not overambitious filling. Reach in through the foil ends of the roll and pinch the seitan together to seal. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it will help.

The one hitch I ran into in Isa’s recipe, which she’s since addressed in the comments and an edit, is that the original posted cooking time was not nearly enough for me. It appears it was for many others who rushed to make this recipe when it came out, but for several of us the seitan was still gooey at that point. I don’t remember the final count, but it was at least 90 minutes before it was done baking for me. Check it at an hour, poking the roll for firmness. It should be noticeably firm and not squishy, so bake it longer if you need more time. Also, if you take it out and unwrap the foil for a closer look to determine doneness and decide it needs to go back in, try to re-roll it tightly. Otherwise, the roll will flatten/spread/expand like mine did. Not the end of the world, but not quite as symmetrical for a fancy presentation.

My roulade wound up being about 13″ long, which is far too long to cover with a 9″x9″ piece of puff pastry. Once the seitan was cooked and cool enough to handle, I just sliced it in half and used each pastry square to cover a half. Here’s the roll and one square of pastry, pre-cut:

Per instructions I found somewhere online, I rolled the puff pastry to make it about an inch wider, which left me a bit of extra dough to cut out some decorations for the top.

Here’s the seitan freshly cut in half, ready to wrap in puff pastry dough:

You can cut and wrap the seitan while it’s still fairly hot (but cool enough to handle safely), or you can cool it if you’re spreading out the prep time on the dish. When you’re ready to go, make sure the oven is at 350. Center each half of a loaf on a piece of puff pastry. Fold the top and bottom over on the long dimension. The dough should overlap slightly on the seam; press gently to seal. Fold the short ends just like you’re wrapping a present, and press them against the ends to seal. If the seitan is warm, the pastry dough will tend to melt a bit and stretch while you’re working with it, so be very gentle and work quickly.

Put each wrapped roll, seam-side down, on a baking sheet. I recommend lining it with parchment, foil or a Silpat to make it easier to transfer the finished loaves to a serving platter or cutting board. The puff pastry is very delicate once baked, so you’ll want to handle it as little as possible. Decorate the top with cut-out shapes of pastry, if you want (brush with a bit of water to help glue them into place), and bake 20-30 minutes, until lightly browned all over.

Without tooting my horn too much, these were a huge success at the Thanksgiving potluck. The seitan has great flavor and texture, and the fillings and pastry worked well with it. The pastry will fall apart pretty thoroughly when you slice it, so if you’re going for visual wow, make sure your guests see it before you slice it! The slices still look nice with the contrast of the seitan and the different colors of filling, though.

Here’s what else we devoured on Thursday!

Finding room on the crowded table for new additions to the meal

Dessert! Apple crisp with pecans, and Flourless Chocolate Tart from

Quick dinner of broccoli and chickpeas with polenta

14 Nov

Sometimes I struggle with quick-and-easy weeknight dinners that are reasonably balanced, but I was very pleased with how this turned out, mostly using things I had on hand. The recipes below will make enough for two servings.

The spice sprinkle on the polenta is something I do variations on now and then. It’s a nice way to add color, flavor and texture (and some beneficial fats), especially when the fresh herbs you might otherwise use for a tasty garnish are harder to come by and pine nuts are running $30 a pound at the co-op. Use any kind of nut or seed you want, pairing its flavor with herbs and spices of your choosing to complement the dish you’re serving it with.

Roasted Broccoli and Chickpeas

Medium head broccoli, cut into florets
1-1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about one can)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked if not oil-packed, and chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. fresh lemon zest
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
pinch salt
pinch or more red chili flakes

Toss everything together and bake 15-20 minutes at 400, stirring once, until broccoli is crisp-tender and starts to brown on the ends. While this is baking, make the polenta.


1/4 cup dry polenta
1 cup water
1/8 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly once it starts to simmer (I like to use a whisk to minimize lumping). Polenta is done when thick. Pour directly onto serving plates or onto an oiled pan to cool and cut before serving.

Spice Sprinkle

2 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds, raw or toasted
1/8 tsp. garlic powder or granulated garlic
1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
Pinch dried whole rosemary
Small pinch fennel seeds
A few grinds of fresh black pepper and/or red chili flakes
Pinch salt

Pulse everything in a mini food processor (I use the one that came with my immersion blender, similar to this) until coarsely ground. Make in small batches and use quickly so the flavors and beneficial oils stay fresh.

Butternut Squash Enchiladas

29 Oct

A couple weeks ago PCC tweeted this recipe from the Detroit Free Press for “Enchiladas Calabaza.”

Here’s my tweaked and veganized version of it, which turned out great. It made a lot (the original recipe calls for WAY more squash than you’ll need. I’ve scaled it down here, but you’ll still have enough for lots of servings). Feed a crowd or freeze individual portions for quick lunches and dinners later. I used canned sauce but made the tortillas from scratch. The recipe could easily be gluten- and soy-free with the right sauce.

Makes: about 22 small enchiladas


3-4 pounds butternut or favorite winter squash
3-4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 cups diced onions
1 cup sliced green onions
2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt

Cashew Cream
(I have always hated cream cheese, so this is the sub I used rather than a more direct vegan replacement for the cream cheese. If you like it, feel free to use 8 oz. of your favorite brand of vegan cream cheese instead.)

1 cup raw cashew pieces
1 cup cold water
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt, or more to taste

22 corn tortillas (4 to 5 inches in diameter)

14 oz. can red enchilada sauce (Be sure to check ingredients, as not all commercial sauces are vegetarian. This amount made for minimally saucy enchiladas, which I liked because it let the flavor of the filling really come through. If you want them saucier, you might want as much as double this.)

Equivalent of one package Daiya cheese (we used a combination of cheddar and pepperjack flavors.)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To make the filling: Peel and seed the squash. Cut squash flesh into 1-inch pieces and spread the pieces out on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons oil and toss to coat.

Bake about 30-45 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from oven (leave oven on) and transfer squash to a large bowl. Mash up the squash a bit, then set aside.

Roasted squash cubes, ready to go. In the background, purple cauliflower for a side and chopped green onion for filling and garnish.

While the squash is roasting, blend the cashew cream ingredients together into a smooth, thick cream. You can save a bit of loud blending time by doing a quick grind first for 30 seconds or so, then letting the tiny cashew pieces soak in the liquid until the squash is nearly ready before blending the rest of the way to a silky consistency.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and sauté the diced onions. When soft and nearly transparent, add the spices and sauté for 5 more minutes.

Onions and spices, smelling fantastic.

Remove from the heat and stir in the mashed squash, green onions (reserve a few for garnish), and cashew cream.

Filling is a just few stirs away from being ready to go.

Pour a thin layer of sauce in a large, shallow baking pan (a lasagna pan works well). Freshly made tortillas will be ready to go, but if using store-bought ones, steam or microwave them to soften so they don’t split when you roll them. Place about 1/4 cup (more if using larger tortillas) of squash filling in the center of the tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in a lightly oiled baking dish.

Pour sauce evenly over enchiladas. Bake 30 minutes, until just starting to brown on the edges. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake ten more minutes, until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and serve.

We went a little crazy with the sides, but they were all great! From the left, there’s purple-cabbage slaw with sriracha-Vegenaise dressing and orange slices, garlicky black beans spiked with Flameboy XXX hot sauce (which has a nice smoky note in it) and topped with counter-ripened tomato (amazingly juicy and flavorful!) from a neighbor’s yard, and roasted cauliflower with chipotle-flavor Yumm! sauce. Both sauces are made by Oregon companies and highly recommended if you can get them!

Chipotle-Peach Barbecue Sauce

7 Oct

Last summer, just as I maxed out my patience and storage space for canning, I threw together some produce I had for dinner into a chunky peach barbecue sauce, baked onto tempeh. It was so good I vowed to make and preserve a regular batch this season, and last week I did just that. The recipe below shows what I put in. Adjust to your taste–and what you have on hand–but this should point you in the right direction.

Ingredients mostly ready to go. Because I was making the recipe up as I went, not everything here made it in, and the agave nectar isn’t pictured. But you get the idea.

Chipotle-Peach Barbecue Sauce

1-2 Tbsp. oil, optional
2-1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (one large onion)
1/4 cup chopped garlic (I used four huge cloves of my favorite garlic.)
1 Tbsp. cumin, whole
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard seed, whole
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns, whole
1 tsp. smoked paprika (use more to sub for chipotle if you want smoky flavor without heat)
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
3 canned chipotles in adobo sauce, adjusted to taste (I’m a spice wuss, so I seeded my peppers and wound up with roughly a 2.5- or 3-star sauce on a scale to 5.)
2 tsp. celery salt
5 lbs. peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped Roma tomatoes (using canned tomatoes would save a lot of time and often a bit of money, unless of course you grow your own tomatoes or have access to others for free or cheap)
2 lbs. peaches, (be sure to get freestone ones, or you’ll go nuts getting the pits out) peeled and chopped
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup or more roasted sweet peppers, any color, seeded and chopped (I used these from a jar)
3/4 cup agave nectar
3 Tbsp. molasses

Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a large, nonreactive pot (I used my 7-quart enameled Dutch oven). Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, translucent, and just starting to color. Meanwhile, grind the whole spices finely in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. When the onions are ready, add the garlic and spices (including the powdered ones and the whole chipotles) to the pot. Cook another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, to bring out the flavor in the spices. If you skip the oil and saute the onion and garlic in water instead, dry-toast the spices in a small pan before grinding and adding to the recipe to maximize their flavor.

Onions, garlic and spices. My kitchen smelled so good at this point!

Skinned yellow peaches, ready for pitting and chopping.

I decided to go for it and use only fresh Romas from Alvarez Farm, skipping the fire-roasted canned tomatoes I’d gotten as a back-up. Skinning and seeding tomatoes takes a fair bit of commotion and time. You can do whatever you’d prefer.

Add the tomatoes, peaches, roasted sweet peppers, vinegar, molasses and most of the agave nectar. Hold back maybe 1/4 cup in case you want your sauce less sweet than mine.

Getting saucy. Everything’s in; it’s time to cook, cook and cook some more.

Now is when you realize, if you’re me, that you should have started this process sooner. Or taken shortcuts. Or done this project on a Saturday. All that delicious juice from the tomatoes and peaches needs to be cooked down so the sauce is nice and thick. Keeping the heat relatively low to avoid scorching the bottom, and stirring now and then, cook for a couple hours, until most of the liquid is cooked down. At some point you need to blend the mixture (unless you want chunky sauce, which is tasty also), and it’s best to do this as late in the process as possible to keep the spattering to a minimum. If you have a spatter guard, you should use it with this recipe. If you don’t, this recipe will inspire you to buy one, and meanwhile you want to wear an oven mitt and long sleeves when stirring the pot.

When you think the sauce is about as thick as you want it (probably in 2-3 hours), purée it with an immersion blender or by pouring batches into an upright blender, being careful to vent the top of the blender jar to allow steam to escape when you run it. Once blended, check and adjust seasonings, and check the consistency. If needed, cook a bit more to achieve a nice, thick sauce that holds its shape at least a bit when you stir it.

If it hadn’t already been so far past bedtime, I would have cooked this a bit longer and blended it a bit smoother before processing.

While the sauce is cooking down, prepare your canning jars. This batch made just over 12 half-pints. Sterilize the jars, and heat the lids in a pan of water. Also bring your canner of water to a boil near the end of the cooking. When the sauce is ready, fill the jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.

Almost ready to process.

Clean rims and threads, add lids, and screw on rings finger-tight. Process 20 minutes; once cooled, check for good seals and remove rings for storage.

A dozen jars of spicy, tangy, sweet goodness, ready for grilling or for gifts.


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