Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mark-Style Seitan

We've recently fallen in love with a new technique for using up okara - Mark-Style Seitan.  This recipe comes from a chain of other internet sources.  Andy found it on The Airy Way, who based this recipe on one from The Irreverent Vegan,  who adapted it from Scrumpdilly, who got the recipe from Joanna of Yellow Rose Recipes.  Did you follow that?

The first time Andy made these he followed the recipe fairly precisely, and they came out gorgeously!  The okara makes the seitan roll-able, so that it doesn't spring back quite so much when you're trying to shape the seitan dough.

Things we made with it were: Hawaiian Seitan (marinated in pineapple juice, soy sauce, and some other stuff) served with pineapple fried rice.

Dijon-Lemon Seitan, marinated and baked in a thick and tangy sauce.  Served with a stuffed capsicum, smashed potatoes, and cauliflower popcorn.

And Seitan Piccata, based on the recipe for Gardein Chicken Piccata from The Conscious Cook.  This is a lemony-capery sauce that we added dill to for a delicious and quick meal.

The next time, Andy tried to incorporate flavourings like tomato paste into the dough.  And he swapped the whole wheat flour for chickpea flour. 

The result was even less springy.  When Andy rolled these out they didn't even think about bouncing back.

But when we boiled up the first batch, they kinda dissolved.  Into a mushy, yucky mess.  There were a few salvagable bits of seitan left, but they were spongy and generally not nice.  However, fried up to a crispy, oily state they weren't too bad on a sandwich.

(We also tried turning the small mushy bits into a pie, but that was a serious waste of food because it was Not Good.)

Luckily Andy experimented with a double batch.  Before boiling the second lot, he kneaded in some more gluten flour, and some whole wheat flour (wearing gloves, of course, to avoid getting smelly seitan-hands).

This saved them, I think.  The result was still spongier than the original, but definitely edible.

These ones went well as a burger, with caramelised onions and dill mayo.
Also delicious marinated in a BBQ-like sauce and baked (served with smashed potatoes and cauliflower popcorn).

The moral of the story: If you have access to okara, you should try this recipe.  It is tender and cooks up into so many delicious meals.  Just don't stuff around with the recipe too much!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Some Things Vegans Eat - Baked Yums!

Vegans don't only eat tofu and veggies.  We also love cake - at least, I do.  Cake, and muffins, cookies, bagels, and pretty much anything sweet and/or chocolatey.  This edition of Some Things Vegans Eat is dedicated to delicious, delicious baked goods.

 Carrot-pineapple muffins, each with a little pineapple chunk in the top.  These were more cake than muffin and made a fantastic snack at uni.

 This is an improvised marmalade cake, which was only okay.  To be honest, the only reason I made it at all is because I had a severe craving for Macho Fudge Sauce, from Urban Vegan.  This sauce is rich and hearty, and I thought I should probably put it on something, rather than just eating it alone.  The cake made an excellent vessel for the still-warm fudge sauce.

 Once refrigerated, Macho Fudge Sauce thickens right up, making it dollop-able.

 But when you leave it at room temperature it become spreadable, so we cut the cake in half and sandwiched some Macho Fudge Sauce in the middle.  And spread some on top.  Sure, this is a bit of a cheat - I just showed you the same cake with the same topping three times.  But it was gooood, so it deserves it.

 Andy made this chocolate-orange cake, with okara, and topped it off with a spiced orange glaze.  This was really good.
Bagels with sultanas and sunflower seed - great for breakfast, or a perfect afternoon snack.

Monday, October 25, 2010


As part of our quest to use up the several cups of okara we get from the soy milk maker each week, I was flicking through the helpful blog Okara Mountain and I happened upon this recipe for granola.  I used to make my own muesli for breakfast, as it is much cheaper and nicer than storebought varieties.  So I thought, why not granola?

I started simply, mainly following Toontz's recipe, but subbing marmalade for orange juice because that's what we had in the house.  It was good, and simple, and a batch lasted us just over a week so it was kind of perfect.

Then I saw Hannah's post about peanut butter granola, and badly wanted some PB in my breakfast cereal.  But, the point of granola is to use up okara, so I couldn't follow Hannah's recipe exactly.  So I did some combining and altering, and came up with Peanut Butter and Jam Granola.  It was wondrous - nutty and fruity and toasty-delicious.

I've since identified a formula to follow in terms of granola, within which there are endless flavour combinations and variations that can be experimented with.  Here is the skeleton of my recipe...

4 c. oats
2 c. extras (nuts, seeds, oat bran, flaked grain mix, roasted buckwheat, rice flakes, coconut, etc.)
1 tsp. spices (cinnamon, allspice, etc.)

1 c. wet okara (I suspect soy yogurt would work as well)
1/2 c. juice or jam
1/4 c. rice bran oil
1/2 c. brown sugar (less if the juice/jam is very sweet)

1 c. dried fruit

In a large bowl, combine the dry stuff.  In a jug, mix the wet stuff.  Then add the wet to the dry. Mix until all the dry stuff is coated in the wet stuff.  Spread into two baking trays and bake at 160 (275F) for 1 hour, mixing every 15 minutes.  Add the dried fruit at the last mix.  Cool completely on trays, then transfer to an airtight container.

Now, for PB&J granola, I used about 1/2 cup of peanut butter instead of oil, and I used strawberry jam.  I melted these together over the stove before mixing with the okara and brown sugar, so they were nice and runny.

In the future, I'm going to see what tahini granola is like.  What other flavours should I mix up?

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Whirlwind Trip.

Last week I went to Melbourne for a day.  It was for a job interview - I'm crossing my fingers that I get this job, because it is a permanent, full-time teaching position.  But, the interview only lasted about 20 minutes.  That left me the rest of the day to hang out in Melbourne.

Although it was rainy, and cold, I spent several hours wandering around the city centre, just getting the feel for the city.  There were loads of people in suits, and even more people in skinny jeans.  I saw salons offering eye lash perms (only in a city...).  I saw cupcake bakeries.  I went on a search for Melissa shoes, which took me into some interesting boutique shops.  I scored myself a pair of Summer sandals, in black.  They smell like cake and they make my feet happy.
The highlight of the trip, however, was lunch.  I headed over to Lord of the Fries and ordered more than I ever thought I could consume in one sitting.  And I was lucky enough to find an empty park bench which was under cover, so I could sit and eat (though photos proved tricky).

I got a vegan burger, which tasted like fast food from my pregan days, but so much nicer -- a soft, delicious bun, and really great pickles.

I ordered the onion rings too, with tomato sauce.  They were beatiful - crunchy and greasy with that sweet onion-y flavour.

I also got a serve of 'chicken' nuggets, with Thai satay sauce.  I didn't get a shot of these, but they looked strikingly similar to the last time I ordered these - but with a different sauce.  The satay sauce was tasty, but really thick.  And either the sauce or the nuggets were a bit salty.  I am impressed with myself that I ate all of this food in one go.

After lunch, I ducked into the public library to warm up and read a magazine.  Then I wandered around a bit, looking for the free City Circle tram - I got hopelessly lost on more than one occasion, but eventually found what I was looking for.  I had a ride around the circle on the crowded tram, and then it was time to head to Southern Cross Station to get the bus to the airport.  Of course, when I got to the airport I found that my flight was delayed by more than 2 hours, which was a huge pain in the ass.  But I eventually made it home.  I guess I wasn't away long enough for Nacho to miss me, but she did appreciate the souvenir I brought home for her...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Some Things Vegans Eat - the Seitan edition

Seitan is a cheap and easy mock meat made from wheat gluten (sorry, gluten free-gans, you should avert your eyes for this post).  You can mix in a range of flavours into the dough, so when it is cooked it will taste delicious.  It also marinates really well.

 Andy wanted souvlaki, so I looked up some recipes and made a batch of seitan with lots of lemon and herbs in it.  Then I marinated it in more lemon & herbs, and olive oil.  Here it is, at the top/back of the plate, with a little bit of cucumber/yogurt sauce, bulgur, a greek salad with tofetta, and ratatouille.  This was gooood.

These are unbaked chicken-style strips.  I followed the recipe from Real Food Daily except instead of baking in a big block using a double-boiler style cooking technique, I formed them into little blobs and baked straight up.  They got really puffy but were yummy with sauce.

 This seitan was marinated in jerk sauce and fried up alongside some quick stir-fried veggies.  We also served with coconut rice, and coriander-corn-tomato relish.

This seitan was marinated in a barbecue-style sauce and baked until it absorbed most of the sauce.  Served here with cauliflower popcorn, roasted potatoes and a stuffed capsicum.

Seitan also makes a great vessel for gravy, as seen here on this pile of mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Friendly bloggers...

Although my garden is a bit pitiful, Townsville is generally a wonderful place to grow almost anything, if you just have the space.  I was given firsthand proof of this fact when Townsville blogger Dee sent out a call for help getting through some of the bananas and pawpaws that she has grown with her partner BoaB

These two have an amazing garden (and a gorgeous house!) and a generous spirit.  They piled my panniers with fresh herbs and fruit, so I was heavily laden on the ride home.  Luckily they are only about 2kms from us, so I didn't have to pedal too hard for very long.

We got home and emptied the bags and this bundle of greenery was our bounty.

What you see there is a small bunch of delicious, sweet bananas; several handfulls of fresh basil; 3 pawpaws in varying stages of ripeness; fresh mint; kaffir lime leaves; 6 or 7 tahitian limes; fresh parsley; and a few branches of lemon myrtle (an Aussie native similar in flavour to lemongrass).  We also found ourselves with two caterpillars who hitched a ride with us.
So what did we do with all of these fresh and delicious goodies?  Most of the kaffir lime leaves, and all of the lemon myrtle, went straight into the freezer.  That way we can take them out and use them as we want, and they will stay as good as new.

A few of the kaffir lime leaves, however, made a great addition to a stir fry.  First we cooked up some homemade tofu...

 And then we tossed everything with yuba sticks and veggies and put it over rice.
 One stalk of mint became a delicious pot of tea, while the rest was laid out on racks to dry.
 And the basil and parsley turned a quick pasta meal from meh to mmm
Thanks so much for your generosity, Dee and BoaB! 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Some Things Vegans Eat - the Tofu edition

I am a tofu-loving vegan.  We now make our own (wonderful, amazing, fabulous) tofu for about 20 cents a block, but even when we were buying tofu it was still heaps cheaper than animal proteins.  And much more versatile.

 Tofu cut into strips, marinatd in some kind of soy sauce concoction, and then stir fried with veggies makes a quick and summery meal -- perfect for the warm weather we've been having lately.

I don't mind my tofu rather bland, however.  This was not marinated, but did have some kind of sweet chilli-style sauce on it.  

 Who can go past a tofu scramble for brekky?  Tofu, grated carrot, spices and tomato served with toast is hearty and healthy and a perfect way to start the weekend.

These were really yummy spanikopita-inspired pastries.  A filling of tofu, silverbeet and mushrooms wrapped up in puff pasty and shaped in various ways.  I remember making the dipping sauce -- a squeeze of mayo, a squeeze of tomato sauce, a squeeze of sweet chilli, a spoon of mustard, a spoon of tahini... Surprisingly, it worked and was a delicious dip for the tofu & veggie filled pastries.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How does your garden grow?

Not with silver bells, or cockle shells, or pretty maids all in a row.  Truth be told, our garden doesn't grow all that well at all.  But that doesn't stop us trying!  It's just the start of ceylon spinach season, which is a great tropical plant that just goes gangbusters, so before our tiny backyard-space is taken over by twining green vines, I thought I would showcase our winter & spring garden.

 As Queenslanders, it would be remiss of us to not have a pineapple growing, no matter how squeezy our back garden is.  This plant, formerly the top from another pine, has given us one fruit so far.
 Aloe vera is a really handy plant to have around, so I'm glad this one has survived.  Whenever we get burns, or sunburns, we lop off a leave and get the goo from inside.
 Herbs are our most common garden occupant (also a common garden failure, but that's okay!).  I reckon it makes more sense to grow herbs than anything else because they can be harvested over and over, and they qre pretty expensive to buy from the shops - plus, they're never that fresh when you do buy them.  These are parsley and garlic chives.
 And here is a big pot of dill.  I adore fresh dill, so I get a little sad in the summer when this goes to seed and stops being such a massive, productive bunch of herbs.
 This winter we tried a capsicum.  Wait, actually we tried growing a chilli, but this is what popped out of the ground instead.  It didn't get very big, less than 30 cm, before it flowered and miraculously fruited.  We got two small capsicums off this plant.
We get lots of sun in our front garden, so we've moved a few pots out there to take advantage of it.  Fresh thyme is going well out there, and we've just put an oregano.
 The surprise of the season, though, is this cherry tomato.  We don't really get enough sun for tomatoes - they tend to grow and then die.  This one grew - and grew and grew and grew.  It is now taller than Andy (who is 6'6), and covered in fruit.
 Part of the reason it has survivied is that it's against the house, so we have tied it up to the window at various places.  Who needs stakes when you have security screens?
 The thing is, it's very top heavy.  There is about a metre of empty stem at the bottom of the plant before it bushes out.

 Here it is next to me, all sweaty after a ride home.
But who can get annoyed with how much space it takes up when this is the result?

The other thing our garden is good for is green tree frogs.  This one mooned me one evening when I was admiring him and his 6 closest mates.  They sure are cute, but they are also very noisy at the most inopportune times.