Tag Archives: Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Roasted broccoli tofu quiche

15 Feb

 

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Poor old quiche doesn’t have the best reputation, people either think that (a) it’s a bit fiddly to make, or that (b) it belongs in the seventies along with vol-au-vents and cheese and pineapple on sticks. If either of these applies to you then please cast aside your doubts and give it a go! Vegan quiche is gorgeous, it’s a good balance of healthy (tofu and veggies!) and naughty (pastry!), and it works both hot or cold. Also, it’s not difficult or time-consuming to make at all. The most active part of the recipe is making the pastry, which takes, what… three minutes? You can do that, right?!

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Roasting the broccoli in this recipe was a last-minute brainwave. I was planning to microwave it, then I read an inspiring article written by Isa Chandra Moskowitz where she said roasting makes everything taste delicious (you can read the full article here for this and five other pearls of wisdom). I’m so glad I did, roasting the broccoli deepens the flavour and contributes to the slight cheesiness. Ground almonds add a little extra firmness to the filling, and increase the cheesy quality of the flavour profile.

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Recipe (serves 4)

For the pastry:

  • 50g margarine (check it is suitable for pastry)
  • 100g flour (white or wholemeal, this time I used half wholemeal spelt and half plain flour)
  • Pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 200g broccoli, chopped into small bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tb vegetable oil
  • A 396g block of firm tofu, drained but not pressed
  • Quarter of a cup (or 4 tb) nutritional yeast flakes
  • Quarter of a cup ground almonds
  • One clove of garlic, mashed to a fine paste
  • 1 ts salt
  • Plenty of black pepper

For the pastry, rub the margarine into the flour and salt. Continue mixing with your hands, adding some cold water a splash at a time until it comes together in a ball. Put it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.

Lightly grease a 20cm / 8 inch quiche dish. Roll out the pastry and use it to line the dish. Trim the edges but not too much, be aware that the pastry will shrink a little bit when you cook it. Prick the pastry all over with a fork, then blind bake it for 15 minutes at 200˚C. You want the pastry to be starting to go dry and golden, but not brown.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Put the chopped broccoli in a small roasting tin with the oil and roast for about 15 minutes, until softened and starting to brown round the edges. Crumble the tofu into a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients, and mix well with a fork.

When the broccoli is cooked, remove it from the oven. Chop about half of it even more finely, then add all of the broccoli to the tofu mixture. Carefully tip this into the pastry case, pressing it into the corners and smoothing out the top. Return to the oven for another 30 minutes, until it is heated through and golden brown on top. Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving, it will be much easier to get out of the dish. Serve hot or cold.

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Seitan doner kebab meat – who knew vegan food could be this wrong?!

13 May

Here’s another one of those posts where lovely, healthy Mrs “all I eat is vegetables” Veg makes something that looks really wrong and unhealthy. Something normally reserved for the journey home from the pub on a Friday or Saturday night. I can’t make any health claims at all, but at least it’s better for you than the real thing (and, come to think of it, better for the lambs and whatever other poor critters end up in the kebab), and it comes with SALAD for goodness sake!

I’ve finally got the hang of making good seitan and I absolutely love it. I don’t make it very often, because vital wheat gluten is pretty expensive here in the UK, but the cost and effort involved is totally worth it because it’s crazily good. It’s the chewiest and most satisfying vegetarian meat I know, and because you can flavour it and shape it however you like it’s brilliantly versatile.

Whenever Mr Veg and I eat seitan, one of us will always observe that it could make excellent doner meat. The seitan recipe I normally use comes out a little on the beefy side, so it needed some work to change the flavour. I halved the amount of soy sauce to make it lighter, and added carrots to the broth to make it sweeter. I’ve also added typical doner spices to the seitan itself.

Recipe notes:

  • I based the recipe on Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Simmered Seitan from Isa Does It. You could use a different recipe if you prefer, but adapt it as described above.
  • If you prefer a stronger spicy flavour, you could try frying the seitan in the cumin and coriander rather than adding them to the raw dough. This could also work if you want to use shop-bought seitan rather than making your own.

Recipe (makes two very generous portions):

For the seitan:

  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin and coriander
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced to a fine paste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Everything else:

  • 6 small pitta breads, warmed and split open
  • Chilli sauce or garlic mayo
  • Salad
  • Pickled jalapeños

Put the vegetable stock and the chopped carrot in a large saucepan and bring to the boil.

While you’re waiting for the pan to boil, mix together the VWG, nooch, cumin and coriander together in a medium-sized bowl. In a small jug, combine the cold water, garlic, tomato puree, and soy sauce. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix quickly until it starts to come together as a ball of dough. Knead this ball for a minute or two until smooth and elastic.

Chop the ball of dough into four equal pieces, and drop these into the boiling stock and simmer for 45 minutes. Keep an eye on the pan and do not let it boil.

Drain the seitan and allow to cool a little. Don’t throw away the cooked carrots – you could add them to a soup or stew later.

Slice the cooled seitan as thinly as you can. Allow to dry out for 10 minutes or so while you prepare the pittas, sauces, and salad.

Heat the oil in a wok or large saucepan over a medium to high heat. Fry the sliced seitan in the oil for 10 minutes until it’s as greasy or crispy as you prefer.

Serve the seitan in pittas, topped with sauce and salad. Enjoy with a beer or two and try to resist the urge to drop half of it on the pavement.

A very veggie Christmas

21 Dec

“So, what do you eat for Christmas dinner?”

It’s the one question all meat-eaters want to ask vegetarians and vegans at this time of year. It’s no surprise they’re curious, food seems like one of the most important aspects of Christmas, and for many people the idea of Christmas day without a massive dead bird in the oven seems a bit weird. To answer their question, and to make a few suggestions, here are a few things I’ve had for my veggie Christmases over the years.

Nothing

I don’t mean nothing at all. What I mean is nothing extra. Pile your plate high with roast potatoes, parsnips, sprouts, stuffing balls, Yorkshire puddings, and drown the whole lot in some lovely vegetarian gravy. I’ve read comments from other vegetarians complaining about being forgotten at Christmas meals and being given a plate of side dishes, but when the side dishes make the meal you don’t really need anything else!

Nut roast

The mainstay of the office Christmas lunch has a terrible reputation, but when it’s done right it’s a fab choice. It’s tasty, satisfying and super healthy, and it’s brilliant for leftovers. Don’t go for a dull, brown packet-mix. Instead, scour the internet for a festive recipe that has things you like in it. To name just a few:

Pie

I’m the only vegetarian in my immediate family, so when I spend Christmas day with them I tend to make my own meat alternative, usually a pie of some sort. Making something different for just one person does sound kind of lonely, but I see it as a real treat, a chance to have whatever I want. Unfortunately I am a creature of habit and tend to always want the same thing – a brie and mushroom parcel. I’ve recently cut out dairy completely, so next time I’m with my parents for Christmas I’ll probably make a mushroom and something else parcel (pine nuts would be lovely). As a rough guide, 100g of puff pastry to 100g of filling makes a generous pie or pasty for one person.

Speaking of mushrooms, one of the nicest meals I ever had was a beautiful mushroom strudel. It was probably nothing more than wild mushrooms cooked with garlic, wrapped in filo pastry, but despite its simplicity it was so special.

Fake meat

I don’t eat an awful lot of fake meat. It’s high in protein but nutritionally it doesn’t have a lot else going for it. I prefer whole foods. However, it is a fun option if you fancy a nostalgic treat, and you can use it to make a very traditional-looking Christmas dinner. A fake meat extravaganza is the usual choice for Christmas dinner in the Veg household, where the vegetarians (me, Mr Veg and his little bro) outnumber the one meat eater (my mother-in-law, AKA Southern Mum). There are several brands of vegetarian chicken-style roasts now, we normally have a couple of these so there will be plenty of leftovers.

I love making veggie pigs in blankets to go with it. Just brush some vegetarian bacon slices with a little oil, and wrap around your favourite vegetarian sausages, hold together with cocktail sticks and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.

A slightly unusual alternative to this that I’ve tried very recently is a shiitake and leek stuffed seitan roast from Isa Chandra Moskowitz: http://www.theppk.com/2011/11/seitan-roast-stuffed-with-shiitakes-and-leeks/. It’s dense and chewy and really tasty, and the best thing is you can adapt the stuffing and other flavourings to suit you.

The only bad Christmas meal I ever had

I’ve written more than once about chefs who don’t have a clue about what to cook for vegetarians and this is probably the worst experience I’ve had in that respect. The vegetarian option for the office Christmas lunch a few years ago was described only as a vegetarian suet pudding. It could have been lovely, but sadly it was suet pastry wrapped around unseasoned, mealy lentils. It probably would have been ok if there was some gravy or other sauce but sadly there wasn’t. It was dry and bland and a real disappointment.

I’d love to hear what other vegetarians and vegans have for Christmas dinner, please let me know your best and worst experiences.

Wishing you all a safe and happy Christmas and New Year!

Vegetarian fun with a slow cooker

27 May

I have a real weakness for kitchen gadgets. I think I might be addicted to them, I really need a bigger kitchen so I can fit them all in. I’ve always been a bit of a mad scientist in the kitchen, and I think having a lot of equipment really helps me play the part. One of my favourite kitchen gadgets is my slow cooker. Pretty much any recipe for stew, casserole, soup, curry or chilli can be adapted for the slow cooker. It’s an economical way of cooking, and with a bit of planning you can put your dinner on in the morning and spend the rest of the day feeling smug about not having to cook in the evening (I fully accept that this is slightly flawed logic, but there are some days when this can be an advantage).

When I first bought my slow cooker, I found a forum thread about them, and excitedly asked if anyone had any vegetarian ideas. I was very quickly shot down by some very condescending folk saying there was no point, slow cookers are made to soften up tough meat, and vegetables cook quite quickly anyway. Well, if you tell me I shouldn’t do something it only makes me want to do it more, so I set out to prove them wrong. Slow cookers are great for vegetarian food, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Here are a few things you should know about vegetarian slow cooking.

The cost. Using a slow cooker is one of the most energy-efficient modes of cooking. Running a slow cooker for eight hours uses less than half the electricity of running an electric stove for one hour. Great if you’re on a budget.

Timing. So, there was a nugget of truth in what the rude forum people said, vegetables don’t take as long to cook as meat. You could cook a vegetable stew in 4-6 hours, if you include dried beans (see below) it will take at least a couple of hours longer. You can get things started a bit quicker by adding hot ingredients, by using boiling water instead of cold, for instance. Don’t do what Mr Veg and I did on the day we bought ours. We arrived home from buying it at about 5pm and were too excited to wait until the next day to try it. We put in frozen veggie sausages, green lentils, raw onion and cold stock. It was obviously a massive failure and we ended up eating slightly crunchy lentils at 10 o’clock at night.

Beans. Dried beans are a lot cheaper than tinned ones, and they work really well in a slow cooker. They absorb flavours a lot better than tinned ones too. As always with dried beans, you must soak the beans in water overnight before cooking them, and then boil them for at least 10 minutes before putting them in the slow cooker. The slow cooker is too, well, slow to destroy the toxins found in the dried beans, so you must soak and parboil them first.

Fake meat. You can cook fake meat in a slow cooker (think vegetarian “chicken” stew or sausage casserole), but I find the result a bit strange. It does take on a lot flavour, but also absorbs an awful lot of water and ends up soft and squishy.

Rice. A slow cooker also works well as a rice cooker, so if you have trouble getting rice right you could try it this way. Put equal volumes of rice and boiling water into the slow cooker, along with any flavours you want to add, cook for a couple of hours and voila! Perfect fluffy rice. I’ve made some pretty mean Jamaican rice and peas this way.

Salt. When cooking in a slow cooker, you should always always check for seasoning and add salt at the end of the cooking time rather than the beginning, for two important reasons. Firstly, if you are cooking dried beans you shouldn’t cook them in salted water as it can toughen the skin (yuck). Secondly, during cooking the amount of water with reduce (through evaporation and absorption), and the flavour will get more concentrated. What tastes right at the start could end up horribly salty later on.

Herbs, spices and other seasonings. Some flavours go a bit flat after eight hours in a slow cooker. It takes a bit of trial and error to work this out. I’d say as a general rule, aromatic or warm seasonings, such as dried herbs or ground spices are best added at the start of cooking. Fresh or zingy flavours, such as fresh herbs, green leafy veg, ginger, citrus and chilli are best added towards the end of cooking.

Dumplings. For me, a stew wouldn’t be a stew without a few dumplings. For eight dumplings (a generous amount for two people), about 45 minutes before you want to eat mix 50g of dry fat (e.g. grated cheese, vegetarian suet, margarine) with 100g self-raising flour, any herbs or spices you like, and enough water to bring it together into a soft dough. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces, roll into balls, and pop on top of the stew. Put the lid back on and leave them to puff up in the steam from the stew. Lovely.

Adapting recipes. It’s easy to adapt favourite recipes to the slow cooker. There are three basic rules and trust me, they are very basic:

  1. the simmering part will take a lot longer than standard cooking;
  2. if the recipe says you should fry something (e.g. onions, spices), then fry them before adding them to the slow cooker;
  3. repeatedly removing the lid of the slow cooker lets all the precious heat out and slows down cooking, so try and add as many of the ingredients at once, rather than in stages.

Here’s an example. I recently made Hottie Black-Eyed Peas and Greens, one of the many excellent recipes from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (you can also find the recipe on the PPK website at: http://www.theppk.com/2011/12/hottie-black-eyed-peas-with-ginger-sweet-potatoes-apples/). Soak the beans overnight, them parboil them for 10 minutes. Fry the onions and garlic as described in the recipe. Put the fried onions and garlic in the slow cooker, along with the drained beans, water, tomato sauce and broth. Cook for around 8 hours. When cooked, add the greens, hot sauce and liquid smoke, and check for seasoning. Leave for a few more minutes until the greens are cooked.

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