Saturday, October 16, 2010

The blog formerly known as Some Like it Spicy.

It's got a new name and it much less of an eye fuck now! Don't get used to it though, I'm still playing around with things. Although the name will stay because I love it. Stay tuned for a post tomorrow on the cupcakes I baked and the pumpkin seeds I roasted today.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The beginning of a love affair

With Vital Wheat Gluten. Whoa that shit is amazing! I had a box sitting in the cabinet for a while and my intentions had always been to attempt making seitan for the first time. To be honest, seitan really intimidates me so it's something I keep putting off.... Someday I will get to it. But until that day comes, I have cutlets. Chickpea Cutlets. TVP Cutlets. And whatever other types of cutlets I can dream up. When the vwg is kneaded in with whatever you are making cutlets out of you can see the gluten strings forming and it gives it an amazing and slightly chewy texture.

I saw a post on the PPK about 2 weeks ago about Chickpea Cutlets. The recipe is in Veganomicon, which I did not own yet. Luckily for me, and you if you don't own it either, the recipe is only a short Google away. I read the reviews and the recipe and decided I HAD to give it a try. I can only take so many store bought faux meats. I made them a few weeks ago with a nooch gravy(nooch is nutritional yeast for all those who don't know the term) and veggies. The recipe came out fantastic even though I didn't follow the recipe exactly(i changed the spices around but that's it), but I didn't take any pics and forgot to blog about it. The very next day I went out and bought my very own copy of Veganomicon as well as Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World and The Uncheese Cookbook.

Fast forward a week and I was craving those delicious, crispy, chewy cutlets again. This time my mom and I made a big dinner out of it for us and my dad. I forgot to photograph alot but I did get one good one.
That's the uncooked cutlet. You can see the minced bits of garlic and even though I just ate, it's making me hungry. We pan fried them til they were nice and crispy on the outside and served with a side of sweet potato fries, nooch gravy and green beans. Even my dad loved it. He is mostly vegetarian but I don't think he is big on faux meat unless it's a veggie burger.

All I have been able to think about for the past two days is what else can I make cutlet type foods out of. And then I remembered the bags and bags of TVP sitting in the cabinet with the vwg.

When tvp is rehydrated it has a smiliar texture to the chick peas when they were all food processed up so I figured, why the hell not? That idea literally consumed me ALL DAY. I couldn't get home fast enough to test it out.

I couldn't find any recipes on line for the creation I had in my head so I modified the Chick Pea Cutlet recipe which resulted in a serious party in my mouth. Here is my recipe for TVP Cutlets:

1 cup dehydrated TVP
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 1/4 boiling water
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, garlic and/or any other combinations of spices you like - to taste
olive oil for frying.

In a mug or bowl mix the boiling water with the vegetable bouillon cube and stir until dissolved. (Normally you are supposed to do i cube for every 2 cups of water but I wanted the flavor a little more concentrated since tvp is virtually tasteless)
In a medium bowl mix the tvp, bread crumbs and spices together. Add 1 cup of the hot liquid and stir until everything is moist and all the liquid has been absorbed.

Add the vital wheat gluten and remaining liquid to the tvp mixture. Knead with your hands until everything is mixed and you can see the gluten strings forming

 Gather all of the mixture into a ball and form it into a rectangle log and cut into 4 sections.
Take each section and flatten out on cutting board.
Heat oil in skillet over medium to medium high heat.Add cutlets. Fry about 5-8 minutes per side until nice and crispy. Serve with whatever sides you want and devour!

I had them with some Road's End Organics Mac & Chreese topped with some cut up grape tomatoes, leftover mashed cauliflower and left over gravy. It really was the perfect comforting meal for a chilly, rainy New England night.

 I can't wait to keep modifying this recipe to see what I can come up with. Maybe half chick pea half tvp, black beans with Mexican spices, an Asian cutlet, buffalo, bbq?!?!!? The possibilities are endless!!!!!!!!!!!

Gizmo and Gimli waiting very patiently for me to drop something.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Baking Success!

So after my big fail from last week(see previous post) I was more motivated than ever to bake something delicious. Especially because I had already offered up baked goodies to a bake sale for today, I had to come through.

I spent the majority of the morning and afternoon in the kitchen yesterday, baking, mixing, washing, testing, tasting and obsessing over cookbooks and cookies.

My first batch of cookies were the basic Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I followed the recipe exactly and it says to roll the cookies in your hand and flatten them. My dough was a little too oily for that. Since I had a seemingly endless amount of time and supplies I decided to just drop them onto the cookie sheet with spoons and see how it came out. If they tasted good, than I didn't care.

Well taste good they did. They spread out a little more than I think they should have during cooking but whatever I did, they were the perfect amount of crisp on the outside and an even more perfect amount of soft chewiness on the inside.

The second batch was the exact same recipe except I added a dash, or two, of cinnamon to the batter. It's something one of my best friends, Janine, taught me years ago. She always used to do it in her cookies and it made the cookies 100x better than plain chocolate chip.  This dough seemed more like it was supposed to. I was able to roll it in my hand and flatten it. I made them sort of small to get the most cookies possible out of the batch. They came out much more round and even looking.They too were the perfect amount of crisp on the outside as well as the perfect softness and chewiness on the inside.

My third batch of cookies were the Peanut Butter Crisscrosses, also from VCIYCJ. There really isn't a lot I can say about this recipe. It has very common ingredients, takes minimal time to prepare and bake, is very easy, and tastes delicious. The recipe called for using the dark metal baking sheets for crispiness. I prefer soft and chewy(and I don't have dark metal) so I stuck with the light baking sheets. It isn't a fancy recipe, but definitely a basic worth keeping around and one that I will certainly go back to again and again.

My baking skills magically reappearing weren't the only success of the weekend though. According to Beth(a PPK peep) so far the amount made on bake sale items(all of my stuff sold!!!), raffles, donations and table fees for the craft fair (some of the crafters are donating portions of their sales so those amounts haven't been factored in yet) was $2,500. This all goes to the Milton Animal League. They are having a new shelter built because the one they are in now was originally built as a temporary shelter in the 1970s. This shelter is run entirely by volunteers and because they are a 501 C3 non-profit they receive no funding from the government at all. Every animal that goes through those doors is taken care of until they are adopted into their forever home. No animal is ever put down because it has been there too long, or may need expensive medical treatment. If they need it, they receive it. If you would like to make a donation to help this local shelter meet their goal and achieve their dream of a new, modern building that will allow them to greater serve these animals while they are in the care of the shelter, please visit Milton Animal Rescue. There are several ways to help. Become a volunteer(if you live in the area), send items from their wish list, adopt an animal or make a donation.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Baking Fail

This post is a week overdue but I've been running around like a mad woman all week. I suck at getting this blog going.

When I was an omni and a vegetarian I was always good at baking and used to do it alot, but in the past 2 years I think I have baked a total of 4 times(mainly because I was living with my [ex]bf and our oven was broken, I cooked in a toaster oven, not fun.) And the times I did bake were all before I was vegan. This is my first fall as a vegan, and fall is when I do alot of cooking and baking(asides from the 2 years mentioned) I decided that it was about time that I get back into it. Of course I couldn't just start out with something quick and easy like cookies to boost my confidence. Nope. I had to start with cupcakes and pumpkin brownies. Big mistake.

The cupcakes I made were the vegan vanilla cupcakes from Crazy About Cupcakes. I followed the directions exactly with the exception of adding a handful of confetti sprinkles to make them "Funfetti" cupcakes, so I don't know where I went wrong but they came out like dense little pound cakes. They were heavy too. The flavor was o.k. but nothing I would serve to anyone else. I also made the vegan frosting in the same cookbook which called for cooking some of the ingredients together. I think I let it boil for 1 second too long because instead of a smooth creamy frosting I ended up with a lumpy bowl of what looked like man juice, you know what I'm talking about...... That had to go in the trash. I also tried veganizing a regular frosting recipe subbing vegan butter for dairy butter and soy milk for cow. This frosting ended up just like a glaze, I beat in a ton more confectioner sugar to get more of a frosting consistency but once it was piped on to one of the cupcakes it went from a perfect little spiral of frosting to a melted goopy mess all over the counter... I think part of what my problem was that I used Smart Balance Light, according to some peeps over at the PPK forums, Earth Balance is the way to go when baking and make frosting.

The recipe for Pumpkin Brownies was the one from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. Another fail, but only a semi-fail. The brownie batter tasted amazing and cooked up nicely too, they were fudgy and moist. The pumpkin layer however was a mess. It was really liquidy when I put it and and it stayed that way throughout the cooking. I am not giving up on that recipe though, I will try again, and I will succeed.

After all of that, I felt like I was not meant to bake as a vegan. But I had already offered a fellow PPKer to donate some baked goods for a bake sale at a craft fair that benefits the Milton Animal League so I couldn't give up. The bake sale is tomorrow so of course I waited until today to try baking again. Luckily this time I used different recipes and everything came out delicious. I'll save that for another post though. And I actually took pictures of stuff this time!