Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter feaster

In Australia, Easter is celebrated like Christmas—lots of days off work, big meals of seasonally inappropriate foods (who roasts and bakes in the summer?!), sweets, and alcohol. Why mess with tradition? I took advantage of the four day weekend to make lots of food that we don’t normally have. And to celebrate with irony, I though seitan would be the most (in)appropriate food to eat on a religious holiday. Like Christmas, though, we got impatient and had our feast early—on Good Friday, in fact.

The first step was to make the stuffing. Four slices of whole grain bread were cubed and mixed with sautéed onions, leftover vegetable soup, mustard and a handful of oats.

The stuffing was wrapped inside of raw gluten dough and glazed with orange marmalade (thinned with just a splash of carrot juice). The whole thing went into the oven and came out looking like this:

To go along with the seitan roast, Andy made sweet potato wedges spiced with a creative mixture of rosemary, cumin, Mexican seasoning, pepper, turmeric, and a few other things.

For dessert, what else could we have but hot cross buns? They are big in Australia, so much so that they show up in grocery stores immediately following Christmas. This is usually a good thing, because they are accidentally vegan, and they make a great snack at uni. But, they are $4 to $5 for a pack, so we only buy them when they are reduced to clear. As Easter looms, they are reduced less and less. So I made some myself.

First, soak a handful of dried fruit in some hot tea. Chop up some crystallised ginger. Mix them all with three cups of flour, two tablespoons of sugar, 2 ½ teaspoons of yeast, and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Stir in 1/3 cup of oil and ¾ c. of warmed soy milk. Knead that all together for 10 minutes, then cover and let rise until it’s doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, make the crosses by mixing ¼ c. of flour (NOT wholemeal, trust me) with two tablespoons of margarine. Add a splash of water, just enough to bind it all together. Roll this out into thin strips.

Once the dough has doubled, punch it down and knead for 5 minutes. Divide it into 12 balls and put them into a greased baking tray. Heat up the oven to 180 (350F). While the oven is heating, mix 2 tablespoons of sugar with 30 ml of water and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Heat up until the sugar dissolves, and then remove from heat. When the oven is heated, glaze the tops of the buns with sugar/cinnamon mixture, and top with the crosses. Bake the whole lot until they’re golden, which took me 45 minutes (despite the recipe saying 20).

For some reason, my glaze didn’t stick and went all to the bottom of the pan. Plus, we ran out of white flour and had to use wholemeal for the crosses—bad idea. They’re so grainy! Still, they kept us full throughout the four-day weekend.

The seitan roast was resurrected (ha!) for lunch on Saturday in sandwich form, with lettuce, beetroot and cucumber. I think the seitan could have cooked a little more on top, because it was quite chewy, but it made for good sandwiches anyways.

In addition to cooking and eating, we also went for a few swims, a leisurely bike ride along the river and through a botanical garden, took a trip to the market for our weekly shop, and otherwise took it easy. There was lots of playing with the Nacho, a bit of uni work, and some lazy movie-watching and radio-listening. We also bottled some home brew which we started to ferment last weekend.

All in all, it was a good four days of recovery from being busy and being sick.

Whether you celebrated a holy day, a family gathering, or simply a relaxing long weekend, I hope you all enjoyed it!


Anonymous said...

Your seitan roast looks beautiful I hope you had a Happy Easter!

Veggie said...

Happy Easter!
I made some hot cross buns too, look on my blog!

Your seitan roast looks absolutely amazing! Very creative.

That's interesting that Aussie's are so into hot cross buns and Easter.

Anonymous said...

Seitan + Christian Holidays always = a giggle.

My Mum and he family are Catholic, so they always eat fish on good friday, and eat hot cross buns for breakfast, but that as celebratory as my family ever got at Easter.

I don't much care either was for Easter or Xmas, but I sure love hot cross buns and fruit pudding :P

Totally vegan, of course...

Bianca said...

I made my first vegan hot cross buns this year...I'd never had them before...they're not as big over here in the States, I guess. BTW, your seitan roast looks AMAZING!

Alec said...

Sounds like a great relaxing weekend with some delicious food as well. I've never seen or eaten those hot cross buns before. They look wicked tasty. Reading the name of those buns makes me think of the CSS song "Music is my hot hot sex" except these are your
"Hot cross buns" ;) Do I secretly have a dirty mind like Lindy Loo over at Yeah that Vegan Shit?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_Is_My_Hot_Hot_Sex

Cookiemouse said...

Everyone seems to be cooking seitan this Easter. We made it for the first time and I was surprised how little you get from a whole load of flour. Your roast looks amazing! We used to have hot cross buns in Wales when I was a kid. I haven't seen them in years.

vko said...

What a lovely Easter holiday! The roast looks great and I love it in the sandwich with the beets and those hot cross buns still look pretty tasty.

Glad you are feeling better!

the little one said...

Ah, the grad student life. It is crazy and yet in a wonderful way.

bazu said...

Happy belated easter! I love the line "seasonally inappropriate foods"- ha!

pleasantly plump vegan said...

thats quite an impressive roast. i would for sure eat that.

textual bulldog said...

beautiful seitan roast and yummy sammiches! i have never had hot cross buns before, but you're inspiring me...

Liz² said...

ooh, you made buns with *pastry* crosses! I wanted to try that, but I'm so used to the flour kind. I can't believe they're so expensive where you live!

and that roast looks great!