Coconut Bacon

IMG_0231    This fast, easy and delicious Coconut Bacon recipe takes five minutes to prep for baking.    I adapted this from the wildy-popular recipe by Fettle Vegan.  Of course, you can always buy coconut bacon from Phoney Baloney, but it’s so easy to make your own.  Wherever you get your coconut bacon, it’s great strewn over salads, and chowder, in BLTs, or eaten out of hand.  I plan to try this in an Elvis Sandwich someday.


Makes 2 Cups

2 Cups large flake coconut, unsweetened
1 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke
1 Tablespoon Tamari
1 Tablespoon plus one teaspoon real maple syrup
1 Tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Set coconut aside.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine all other ingredients, whisking or stirring to blend.  Add coconut and fold gently with a wooden spoon or spatula to evenly coat the flakes.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread coconut flakes evenly onto it.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  BE VERY CAREFUL during the last five minutes, checking it several times to make sure it does not burn.  Coconut will crisp up as it cools.  Strew over salads, chowder, use in sandwiches or eat out of hand.  Cool completely and store in fridge for two weeks (I store mine for a month if the flaked coconut is not due to expire soon).

Notes:  Bigger coconut flakes may take longer to cook.   After cooling, if your coconut bacon is not crisp, put it back in the oven for 2 to 5 minutes, checking carefully to prevent burning.

Vegetarian Plus Vegan Tuna Rolls

IMG_1458    This vegan tuna tastes so much like tuna fish that it’s freaky.   It even smells like tuna fish.  I ordered these Vegan Tuna Rolls from Healthy Eating, a good resource for all kinds of things.   Here in the U.S., the word roll can refer to a type of sandwich–the exact type of sandwich pictured on the box (see photo below).   However, the world “roll” as used on this box of tuna rolls means you literally get two frozen, sausage-shaped rolls of vegan tuna filling (see last photo below).  So, the tuna filling comes all by itself, with no bread or anything.  You simply thaw and then cut open these tuna logs and use the filling as you would a can of tuna fish.   About price: I had no choice but to order six boxes of tuna rolls for a total of $59.99.  Shipping and handling was another $14.95, for a total of $74.94, let’s call it $75.   However, we got three sandwiches out of each tuna roll, and that means enough vegan tuna to make six sandwiches per box.  $75 divided by 36 = $2.08 per serving, and that includes frozen shipping with cold packs.  Now, the box says there are “about 4” servings per box, and that would make some big sandwiches.  The sandwiches I made were a generous-average size, in my opinion.  So, price would vary depending upon use.

As far as “dressing up” this tuna, the sky’s the limit.  My favorite ingredients include Vegenaise, chopped pickled red onions, sweet relish, salt and pepper.  I had a friend who always put Celery Salt in her tuna salad, and finely-chopped celery.  You could put capers or grated carrots, etc.  If these Vegan Tuna Rolls are not your thing, please check out the other vegan tuna salad also on this site–it’s delicious and easy.   p.s.  Lars never liked tuna fish salad, so I was surprised that he really likes this vegan tuna!
IMG_1454  Two rolls of vegan tuna filling per box.

Vegan Brazil Nut Pate

IMG_1411    What we have here is a really nice vegan pate.  Inspired by a very simple Brazil Nut Pate I saw in Vegan For Her, I referred to my 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking, and also my 1961 copy of Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Cook Book.  Pates in those old tomes call for some common elements to choose from, including salt, pepper, Worcestershire, allspice or nutmeg, pistachio nuts, truffles, grated onions, parsley or chervil and lemon juice.  Also, a single type of alcohol, such as brandy, cognac, Madeira or sherry.  A bit of flour is often added, possibly for a binder.  Also, sometimes, whipping cream, which can easily be replaced by cashew cream.  And we now also have vegan substitutes for other commonly-used pate ingredients like gelatin and cream cheese.

Garnishes often include parsley and cornichons, or even stuffed olives and thinly sliced limes.  I would suggest that tiny sweet gherkins would do if cornichons are not readily available.  I added olive oil to mimic the fatty quality of outdated pates.   We like this on Ritz crackers or very thin slices of toasted garlic bread.  I know some consider Ritz a bit lowbrow, but we like the buttery, salty quality of them, and their delicate crispness.


Yield: 1.5 Cups?  (not sure)  This recipe will fill two 4-inch ramekins for a party though.

1 Cup raw Brazil nuts
1/2 Cup blanched almonds
1/3 Cup pickled red onions (or regular red onions), finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or crushed and minced
juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon grainy mustard
2 Tablespoons vegan cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 Tablespoon organic vegan Worcestershire sauce, such as Wizard brand
2 Tablespoons Madeira wine  (or cognac, or brandy or sherry)
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin organic olive oil
1 to 2 Tablespoons water

Soak all nuts for two hours, or overnight.  Drain and rinse nuts in colander.
In a food processor (not a blender), add all ingredients and process to as fine a consistency as you can, scraping down the sides often.  Add an extra Tablespoon of plant milk or water if necessary.  Set in fridge for a few hours or even better, overnight, for flavors to meld.   Garnish with parsley and cornichons.

Serve with thin slices of garlic bread, crackers, and/or raw vegetables such as slices of sweet red bell pepper, or endive.  I could also see stuffing cherry tomatoes and garnishing with a thin round slice of olive, for example.

Notes:  Read the lead-in for variations suggestions.  Brazil nuts are definitely a power food, providing calcium, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, omegas, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, zinc, etc., etc.  Another vegan Worcestershire sauce is by Whole Foods 365 Organic.  You can also sprinkle with Paprika.

Vegetarian Plus Vegan Ham Roll

IMG_1369    After having such good success with the Vegetarian Plus Vegan Whole Turkey, I decided to give the Vegetarian Plus Vegan Ham Roll a try.  And I’m glad I did.  I got this specifically for Christmas day, but I could also see having it at Easter.  I was amazed at how much it smelled like ham as it was baking, and the flavor is very hammy as well.  Everyone knows that Ham Biscuits are a Southern Tradition.  For many, Ham Biscuits are served on New Year’s, but I have a girlfriend from South Carolina who always serves them on Christmas Eve.  I ordered this from Vegan Essentials and it was shipped with cold packs around it.  When it arrived, I called Vege USA on their 888 number and was told I could put it immediately into the freezer, which I did.  I paid about $40 for it, including $4 for the cold-pack shipping.   The box says this 2 lb. vegan ham roll serves 14 and I believe it.  When it was partially thawed, I cut it in half and put half of it right back in the freezer, and we had ham every which way for the next 4 or 5 days.  On Christmas Eve I made a bunch of vegan Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits and put them in the freezer (un-baked).  On Christmas Day, I made the ham roll and some of the biscuits and we had them with slices of Daiya cheese and my homemade mustard (photo below).  I did prepare the Apricot Plum Glaze that came in the box and it’s surprisingly good (Lars has been having it on his ham biscuits).  I also made a delicious ham salad, with some Vegenaise vegan mayonnaise, organic sweet relish, and a bit of salt and pepper.  This minced ham salad would be good for a rustic ham roll, or tiny finger sandwiches for afternoon tea, or on the aforementioned biscuits.  With the half that’s still in the freezer, I’m thinking Portuguese Bean Soup, and Lars suggested Ham and Pineapple Pizza.  This is a convenient, delicious solution for those transitioning or entertaining omnivores, and for vegans who want traditional flavors on holidays.  I also like that it allowed me to focus on the baking and side dishes and holiday preparations, and not worry so much about the main dish.  If you want to make this at home for pennies, try this vegan Candied Ham.   We’re talking about vegan ham, of course.  Bless all the pigs and may we never torture and eat them again.  Happy New Year.
IMG_1383  Real Southern Style Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits (vegan) for the traditional holiday Ham Biscuits.


Seitan Bacon

IMG_0623    This Vegan Bacon Seitan is adapted from a combination of two recipes–this one from Vegan Nosh,  and this one from Veggie in Milwaukee.    You make two simple doughs that are easy to work with, stack them atop each other, bake and slice.   We had BLTs on sourdough bread with Old Virginia heirloom tomatoes, and we agreed this tastes more authentic than the store-bought vegan bacons we’ve tried.  It’s been years since I had a piece of bacon, but I remember it well.  I tweaked the original recipes–added some smoked paprika, changed amounts, added some oil (it is bacon, after all), etc.  This is meaty, smoky and chewy, and the best part is, nobody got hurt.


Red Dough
1 Cup Vital Wheat Gluten
1/4 Cup soy flour  (or garbanzo flour)
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
2 teaspoons regular paprika
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2/3 Cup warm water
3 Tablespoons Tamari
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
2 Tablespoons peanut oil

White Dough
1/2 Cup Vital Wheat Gluten
2 Tablespoons garbanzo flour  (or soy flour)
1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 Cup warm water
1 Tablespoon peanut oil

Red Dough:  In a medium mixing bowl, dry whisk together the dry ingredients.
Separately combine all the wet ingredients and stir or whisk until well blended.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until mixed.
Shape red dough into a fat log and cut into three equal pieces.

White Dough:  In a small mixing bowl, dry whisk together the dry ingredients.
To the dry ingredients, add in the water and oil, and stir with a spoon until mixed.
Divide the white dough into two equal pieces.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and put one piece of red dough on it.
Cover the red dough with another piece of plastic wrap.
Gently roll out dough until it’s about 1/4-inch tall.  I suggest making it approx. 6″ x 7″.
Spray a piece of tin foil with cooking spray and transfer the flattened dough onto it.  I did this by picking up the piece of plastic and flipping it onto the foil.
Repeat the rolling process, alternating the white and red doughs, and stacking them onto the first piece that you laid onto the foil.  Don’t try to make them perfect.
Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the stacked doughs.
Rest a medium-heavy book on top of the plastic for about 20 minutes.
Remove the plastic wrap, and wrap the whole slab of bacon in tin foil.
On a baking sheet, bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.
Your seitan will be a bit undercooked, but this is good because it will be easier to slice, and it will pan-fry better.
Cool and slice.

When you’re ready to use the bacon:  pan fry in a non-stick skillet with a bit of vegan butter and a few sprinkles of seasoning salt.  I used McCormick Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple Seasoning for some extra bacony kick.

Notes:  It’s my understanding that you can switch up the soy and garbanzo flours.  The red dough won’t look red until you add the liquid.  Once baked, you can freeze this bacon, and it’s good crumbled on casseroles, on mac and cheeze, in tofu breakfast sandwiches, etc.
IMG_0617  After pressing, before baking.

Breaded Vegan Shrimp by Sophie’s Kitchen

IMG_9824With shrimp being one of the most polluted and earth-polluting things one can eat,  Breaded Vegan Shrimp by Sophie’s Kitchen is a real find.  100% vegan, Non-GMO and gluten free, it tastes a lot like the many deep-fried shrimps I ate over the years.  I served these hot out of the oven, with cocktail sauce, homemade vegan tartar sauce and plenty of lemon wedges.  If you look closely, you can see the faint pink markings underneath the batter, that make it look even more like non-vegan shrimp.  Lars and I agreed they really satisfy that old seafood craving we get every now and then.  I’ll definitely be buying these again.   We found them at Whole Foods in Annapolis, and there were 23 vegan shrimp in the box.  Thumbs Up.

90 percent of shrimp we eat, more than 1 billion pounds a year, comes from foreign farms that decimate natural landscapes.  Because of the terrible density of this farming, the shrimps are swimming in lots of solid waste, and require antibiotics and chemicals to keep them alive.  For instance, health officials in the U.S., Japan and the European Union have found chloramphenicol, a dangerous antibiotic banned in food.  The inspection of these shipments of shrimp is minimal, less than one percent.  Five percent of the world’s mangroves have been destroyed, in some places 80% of them are gone.  This contributes to global warming and then conversely increases storm damage from hurricanes and tsunamis.  Two pounds of sea life is caught and ground up to feed and create one pound of shrimp.  With almost 1/3 of shrimp dying from the filthy living conditions, the dead shrimp, shrimp excrement and chemical additives are flushed into seas and rivers.  These shrimp come in every year, from China, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Indonesia, Mexico, Honduras, India, Bangladesh, Guyana, Vietnam, Thailand, etc.  Carcinogens and bleach in non-vegan shrimp are not the only issues.  In impoverished areas, shrimp farms are surrounded by armed guards, local fishermen are found murdered by guns and machetes, and no one is prosecuted.  Eating American shrimp is no better.  The bycatch is staggeringly harmful,  with 3 to 15 marine animals killed so we can eat one shrimp.  This includes sea turtles, marine mammals, fish, etc.  American shrimp is also very polluted, due to giant garbage patches the size of Texas, oil spills, etc., and this says nothing of the boat/fuel pollution into the oceans.   For more information, see this article.


A few years ago, before I went vegan, I had these at a girlfriend’s.  There were these meatballs that had a nice flavor, sort of sweet-and-sour, but mild.  She wrote the recipe down for me on a scrap of paper, and I remember being surprised at the ingredients.  Here they are in their vegan incarnation,  perfect appetizers for a cocktail party, or Super Bowl or football food.  You could also bring these to any gathering calling for Heavy Pupus, and they take 5 minutes to make.  You could make your own vegan meatballs, but then it’s no longer a five-minute recipe.  I also read that homemade meatballs tend to fall apart in the slow cooker.  Happy New Year, Everyone.  In 2013, I plan to start blogging more raw food, less processed food, as I go along.  In the meantime, here’s this easy, delicious recipe that will have all the men at your house gathered around the crock pot.

Serves:  however many meatballs are in the bags

2 twelve-ounce jars Heinz Chili Sauce
1 32-ounce jar grape jelly, such as Welch’s
2 16-ounce bags vegan meatballs, plain flavor

Put chili sauce and jelly in a large pot or slow cooker.
Cook on medium heat until jelly is melted smooth, stirring often.
Add frozen meatballs, and heat until thawed.
Simmer for an hour or so.

Notes:  I used a four-quart Crock-Pot slow cooker, and set the temperature to Low for half an hour while the jelly melted, stirring occasionally.  Then I added the meatballs and set it to High for an hour.  This way, the meatballs stayed nicely intact in the beginning when the stirring of the jelly was happening.  The crock pot also is a great party tool since it keeps the stove free, while keeping your appetizers hot.  I used Trader Joe’s vegan meatballs, but there are quite a few brands now, even at regular grocery stores, in the freezer section.  There is an easy variation–just use canned, jellied cranberry sauce instead of the grape jelly.

Candied Vegan Ham

I love whole foods, but Lars went vegetarian and really likes seitan.  So, the Candied Vegan Ham I saw on Pinterest caught my eye.  This recipe is from Chubby Vegan Mom, is very easy to make, and has the flavors  of the candied hams my Mom used to make when I was a kid.  What you see below is the recipe in half, because my slow cooker is only a 4 quart.  I changed a few little ratios, and in future, I would add ketchup, both for the red color, and some added acidity/tenderness (although this was not tough in texture).  I cut back on the fat–just used a Tablespoon of oil, and it worked great.

Serves 4 to 5

1.5 Cups Vital Wheat Gluten
1/2 Cup water
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
1/4 Cup pineapple juice
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon liquid smoke
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1.5 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 Cup vegetable broth  (I use any of the vegan Better Than Bouillon)
1/4 Cup of ketchup  (my addition)

For the glaze:
1/4 Cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons pineapple juice
1 Tablespoon oil
1 Tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1.5 teaspoons molasses

Spray/oil your crock pot and turn it on low.
In a large bowl, dry whisk together gluten, nutritional yeast, pepper, onion powder, paprika and cloves.
In a smaller bowl, stir together pineapple juice, soy sauce, liquid smoke, maple syrup, water and catsup.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and stir until well mixed, using your hands if you need to.  I ended up having to add a few Tablespoons of extra water to get rid of any dry spots.
Form a round loaf and place in slow cooker.
Pour vegetable stock over and let it cook for two hours on low, and then three hours on high.
Once your vegan ham has cooked, place the loaf in a greased casserole dish.
Score the ham (make shallow criss-cross slices in the top of it with a knife).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, mustard, pineapple juice, oil and molasses.
Pour this glaze over your vegan ham and bake in oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
Let it sit for 15 minutes before slicing.

Notes:  This makes good vegan ham-and-cheese sandwiches.  It’s also great on vegan sweet potato buttermilk biscuits.   If you double the recipe, then you must shape it into two loaves so that they cook properly, and use a larger slow cooker.  If you want to get fancy, you could also garnish each loaf with a ring of pineapple and a maraschino cherry, like my Mom used to do.

Vegan Tonkatsu

Here’s a complementary post to the Tonkatsu Sauce I did just prior to this.  This main course is special enough for company, and just right to serve with a light cabbage salad, and maybe some edamame.  You can use whatever vegan meat you like.  I used some vegan cutlets and just sliced them into fingers, such as you would see in a Japanese restaurant.  This is the perfect dish to introduce Japanese cuisine to kids or picky eaters.  This recipe is from the American Vegan Kitchen cookbook, which has high reviews on Amazon.  She has several recipes for seitan in her book, but I just used what I had on hand.

Serves 4

seitan or soy meat, cut into 1-inch strips
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 Cup soy milk (we love WestSoy Organic Unsweetened)
2/3 Cup all-purpose flour
1.5 Cups Panko crumbs
safflower oil, peanut oil or vegetable oil for frying

Dry whisk flour, salt and pepper together in shallow bowl.
Place soy milk in separate shallow bowl.
Place Panko crumbs in another separate shallow bowl.
Line a baking sheet with paper towels for draining.
Dip each vegan meat strip into soy milk, then dredge it in flour, and then
dip the strip back into the soy milk and then dredge it in the Panko crumbs and arrange on prepared baking sheet.
Repeat until all vegan meat is coated.

Heat a 1/2-inch layer of oil in a tall pot to reduce splatter, over medium heat.
Test oil by carefully dropping a single drop of water in the oil, where it should sizzle.
Add two or three pieces of seitan to the pot at a time, do not crowd.
Fry first side golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.
Turn and fry second side until golden, 2-4 minutes.
Arrange on prepared baking sheet.
Serve with Tonkatsu Sauce.

Vegan Fried Chicken

I had some hydrated chiken cutlets burning a hole in my pocket, but I needed a breading recipe.  Enter The Sweetest Vegan.  This site blows my mind with how multi-layered it is.  After I watched the first adorable video, then I saw a second one, and so on.  I even saw Moby cooking on there!  So, I used some Penzey’s vegan buttermilk seasoning and cut down on the mustard, but the backbone of it is her basic, easy recipe.  I was impressed with the old-fashioned baking-powder crust, and the way it actually stuck to the cutlets.  This would be great to have with my vegan biscuits, my vegan macaroni and cheese and any of my vegan greens, salads or vegetables.  What we really want with fried chicken is the crust, the fat and salt and flavor, and we totally get that here.  We took our vegan fried chicken and made KFC-esque sandwiches (see photo below).
Vegan Fried Chicken Breading

Yields:  4 Vegan Fried Chicken Breasts (at least)

2 Cups peanut oil or safflower oil
2 teaspoons Penzey’s Buttermilk Ranch Seasoning  (or whatever seasonings you have in your cupboard)
1.5 Cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 Cup water
2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
4 vegan chicken cutlets

Heat oil over medium heat in a pot with tall sides.
Whisk seasonings, flour and Nutritional Yeast in a shallow bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk mustard and water.
Stir 1/3 Cup of the flour mixture into the mustard water.
Whisk Baking Powder into the remaining flour mixture.
Make sure your hydrated cutlets or vegan meat is dry.
Make sure oil is hot by dropping one droplet of water into it.
Dredge, dip and coat the vegan chiken cutlets into the mustard and then the flour, and then right into the oil, one at a time.
Do not crowd the pot; cook only one or two at a time.
Fry the vegan meat until crispy and golden brown, and this took me less than one minute.  Watch closely or they will burn.

Healthy Eating Chiken Cutlets

This is supposedly the product used in the Native Foods Restaurant chain, and the Native Foods Restaurant Cookbook (page 76).  I first heard about this product from my girlfriend Piliki who had eaten it at the Native Foods Restaurant in Oregon several times.  After some searching, I found the product online at the Healthy Eating web site.  I ordered the one pound bag of dehydrated cutlets for $12.99 plus shipping, and was amazed to see how many cutlets I got for the price.  So I tried boiling the cutlets in vegetable broth (as per package directions) and they came out quite tough.  Disappointed, I emailed the Healthy Eating company and got a nice email back with some helpful tips.  I tried again and made some bodaciously-good fried chiken that was light and tender!  I have typed out a simple recipe for hydrating these cutlets below, because they are a great pantry staple.  They can just be kept in the cupboard, in an airtight container, and don’t take up any space in the freezer.  Another thing I like about them is that they don’t have the aftertaste that the Trader Joe’s or Gardein chiken products can have sometimes.  Make sure to check out my vegan fried chicken that I made with these!
Healthy Eating Chiken Cutlets


Bring a small stock pot of water to a low boil.
Add 2 big squirts of ketchup to the water.
Add 1 big squirt of lemon juice to the water.
Place cutlets in boiling water and keep on low boil for 15 minutes, turning the cutlets several times (they float).
Turn off burner, remove pot from heat and place lid on pot.
Leave cutlets soaking in the hot water for about 30 minutes.
If you are using the cutlets right away, drain off water and pat dry with paper towel.
If you are NOT using the cutlets right away, leave them in the cooking water, covered, for one hour in the refrigerator.
Drain and blot on paper towels before refrigerating again, breading or cooking.

Notes:  The ketchup and lemon juice acids help to keep the cutlets tender.  I did NOT add salt to the water because I thought this might be why my first cutlets came out tough.  I added my seasonings to my breading afterwards.  You can cut the cooked cutlets in half or so, to approximate the size of chiken nuggets.  Then you can bread them and deep fry them, or bread them and bake them, etc.  I have not tried marinating them yet but the Native Foods Cookbook recommends a marinade that has lemon juice in it.  I can’t wait to try other cooking methods!

Vegan Sweet and Sour Chicken – Luau Soy Curls

This easy vegan main dish will satisfy any cravings for sweet-and-sour chicken.  You know, that classic “Chinese Restaurant” dish the Cantonese created for their American customers decades ago.  Good enough for company, and great over brown rice, You can use Butler Soy Curls, which are a nice staple for the pantry.  Or you can use a product like Beyond Meat Chicken Strips, which is even easier.  I saw another recipe for a similar dish, on Chez Bettay, but I haven’t tried it yet.  I adapted this version below directly from the Butler Soy Curls web site.  The first time I made this, we felt the Butler recipe was too salty, so I omitted the extra salt below.

Hawaiian Luau Soy Curls

Serves 4

3 oz. Butler Soy Curls
or  Beyond Meat Chicken Strips (any flavor)

1 Cup hot water or vegetable broth
1 onion chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
20 oz. Can of pineapple chunks in natural juice (reserve juice)
3 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast (aka Yeast Flakes)
4 Tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos   (I actually prefer Tamari or soy sauce)
2 Tablespoons oil for sautéing (I like Dr. Bronner’s Fresh-Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil, unrefined)

Reserved juice from pineapple (entire amount from can)
juice from one lemon, or up to 1/3 Cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch

Put Soy Curls into a bowl and cover with hot water or broth,  let stand for about 10 minutes.  Drain well.    Chop onion and set aside.   Chop peppers.
Reserving the juice, drain pineapple.

In a small bowl mix sauce ingredients (pineapple juice, lemon juice, sugar and corn starch).    Stir until cornstarch is completely dissolved, and set aside.

In frying pan on medium heat, put 1 Tablespoon of oil.   Sauté vegan chicken in hot oil until a hint of crispiness appears.    Add Nutritional Yeast , and Bragg’s or soy sauce, and sauté until golden brown.   Remove vegan chicken from frying pan.

Add final Tablespoon of oil to pan, add chopped onion and sauté until soft.Add chopped peppers, and pineapple chunks to onions, and sauté until peppers are cooked but still a bit crunchy.

Add cooked Soy Curls back to pan with vegetables. Pour Sauce mixture into pan and stir until mixture becomes slightly thick (this happens pretty quickly)Remove from heat and serve immediately over brown rice.

Notes:  If using soy curls:  If using vegetable broth to rehydrate the soy curls (instead of water), and it’s got sodium in it, you might want to reduce the Bragg’s by one Tablespoon.

Butler Soy Curls

This is my new favorite meat substitute.  Butler Soy Curls are so easy to prepare and can go in any dish.  They are non GMO, have a decent shelf life, and don’t need to be refrigerated.  They are simply textured whole soy beans that plump up like shreds and strips of chicken when you hydrate them.  Then they soak up any flavors you throw at them.  So far, I’ve made the Hawaiian Luau Soy Curls, which is really delicious, and tastes just like sweet-and-sour chicken.  I also hydrated some and then put them in a skillet with chopped onions, a little hot water and bottled barbecue sauce, and made BBQ sandwiches on buns.  Then I used them in my pot pie recipe.  I don’t know that anyone would really know it wasn’t chicken if you didn’t tell them.  Recipes seem to call for a whole bag of this stuff, which I cannot buy locally yet.  So I figured out that 1 to 1.5 oz. per person works great.  I hydrate them in 2 cups of hot water that’s been made into a broth with 1 teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon.  After they hydrate for 10 minutes, you drain them in a colander and they’re ready to go.  If you want to be decadent, you can then pan fry them in a tablespoon or two of unrefined coconut oil to give them a crispy outer texture, before adding to your dish.  I order Butler Soy Curls through Vegan Essentials and also Pangea Vegan Store.  More photos below.  These don’t weigh a thing, so a bag of soy curls could be thrown in a suitcase or carry-on when you travel to friends or family.

Susan’s Ribz with a Z – Seitan Barbecue Ribs

I saw this easy recipe on Everyday Dish, and had to try it.  It originates from the popular FatFree Vegan Kitchen site, but it’s worth watching the Everyday Dish video because Julie Hasson eliminates the kneading, saving time and effort.  You could use your own barbecue sauce, but I simply opened a bottle of accidentally-vegan Kraft Original barbecue sauce and it saved a lot of time and really stuck to the ribs well.  I  don’t have a cast-iron grill pan, so I just used a cast iron skillet on the stove, with great results.  The ribs came out really delicious and I can’t wait to make them on the grill this summer.  If you don’t cut them all the way through, they hold together enough so that you can flip them in racks (see video), which would make outdoor grilling a lot easier.  I served them with my baked stuffed potatoes and steamed, chopped kale sprinkled with umeboshi vinegar.  Lars said these would make great vegan McRib sandwiches, so that’s what I made with the leftovers, and they were even better than just the plain ribs.  I never had a McRib but they can’t be as good as this.  I unthinkingly cut my ribs into only 10 pieces so they might look a little wider than those on the video.  Finally, this is a “man pleaser” as they’re very meaty in texture and really smell like classic BBQ while you’re cooking them.  They taste like good barbecue too, because what we really want is the sweet, spicy, smoky flavor, and you get that here.
Susan’s Ribz with a Z – Susan V’s Barbecued Seitan Ribs

Makes 10-16 pieces

1 Cup Vital Wheat Gluten
2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika (I only had regular paprika)
2 Tablespoons “nooch” (Nutritional Yeast)
2 teaspoons onion powder or granulated onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic

3/4 Cup water
2 Tablespoons peanut butter, or other nut butter, or tahini, etc.
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (I like Wright’s All Natural Hickory Seasoning)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce (I prefer Tamari)
about 1 Cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (I used 3/4 Cup at most)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lightly spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with canola oil.
Mix the first 5 ingredients together in a large bowl.
In a smaller bowl, mix the water with the nut butter, Liquid Smoke and Tamari, until blended.  I used a Caffe Latte Frother for complete emulsion.
Add water mixture to the dry ingredients, and stir to mix well.
Put dough into prepared baking dish and flatten it so it evenly fills the pan.
Take a sharp knife and cut into 8 strips, but do not cut all the way through.
Then turn the pan and cut those strips in half to form 16 pieces (in 2 racks).
Bake for 25 minutes.
While it’s cooking, prepare your grill pan, or grill or cast-iron skillet; spray with oil, etc.  I just used a little Earth Balance vegan butter.
When it’s done baking, carefully cut down that main center line to break it into two racks of ribz.
Generously brush the top of one rack with barbecue sauce.
Invert onto hot pan or grill, sauce-side down.
While it’s starting to cook, brush the top with more sauce.
Watch it closely to make sure it doesn’t burn.
When it’s sufficiently caramelized and brown on one side, flip it over and cook the other side, adding more sauce if necessary.
You may want to brush and flip a few times.
When done, remove to a platter and finish cutting apart the riblets.

Notes:  I did the baking part and then put the whole pan in the fridge so I could throw it all together quickly on the stove top at dinner time.  The liquid smoke is a key ingredient, don’t skip it.

Vegan Momofuku Pork Buns a la David Chang

Here’s a vegan version of what is arguably David Chang’s most famous dish, from Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City.  These Vegan Pork Buns are so good that we had them for dinner two nights in a row.  Using vegan bao buns and vegan char siu might seem complicated and time consuming, but they are really neither.  All the elements of this dish are easy.  The only thing that can’t be made ahead are the quick pickled cucumbers, and they take literally 2 minutes to make and are ready in 10 minutes.  One tip is to make the bao buns ahead and put them immediately into the freezer.  Then they’re ready when you want to make the char siu and throw the whole thing together.  Another thing to consider is that the scallions are absolutely essential to the taste of this dish, as is the hoisin sauce.
Vegan Momofuku Pork Buns


vegan bao buns
vegan char siu
small jar of hoisin sauce
scallions, washed and trimmed, and cut into small circles
1-2 “meaty Kirby” cucumbers, peeled (I used regular cukes)
1 Tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (for cucumbers)

Steam frozen bao buns for 2-3 minutes until soft and warmed through.
Slice cucumber into 1/8-inch-thick rounds.
Mix the one Tablespoon of sugar with the 1 teaspoon of salt.
Toss cucumber rounds with salt/sugar and wait 5 minutes.
Rinse cucumbers and set to drain in colander.  They are ready.
Chill cucumbers in fridge if you are not using them immediately.
Open bao buns and slather with hoisin sauce.
Arrange cucumber pickles on one side of the bun and vegan char siu on the other side.
Scatter with scallions, and EAT.
Serve with sriracha sauce if you like (we did not).

Notes:  The scallions and hoisin are essential parts of this dish.  Supposedly, the pickled cucumbers will keep for up to 4 hours, but I found them too limp for my liking even one hour later, so I suggest not making them until the last minute.

Vegan Char Siu Seitan – Vegan Chinese BBQ Pork

I found this easy recipe for vegan char siu pork on Cooking With Leyla.   I used her versatile seitan recipe, and I found the NOH Chinese Barbecue Char Siu Seasoning Mix packet in the Asian section of my local grocery store.   Leyla uses half of the seitan for Char Siu, and sets aside the rest for other recipes.  This BBQ pork seitan would be great in my Local Hawaiian Fried Rice, or in Char Siu Bao, using the Bao Buns recipe also on this site.  I used it to make David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar “Pork” Buns.
Vegan Char Siu Seitan  or  Vegan Chinese BBQ Pork


2.25 Cups gluten flour Vital Wheat Gluten,  such as Bob’s Red Mill brand
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Cup water
1 vegetable bouillon (or 1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon)
1 Tablespoon Tamari sauce

10 Cups water
2 vegetable bouillon cubes (or 2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon)
2 Tablespoons Tamari sauce
3-4 slices of fresh ginger (at least 1″ x 1″ each)

NOH Chinese Barbecue Char Siu Seasoning Mix (1 or 2 packets)

Heat the one cup of water,  add bouillon, and mix until dissolved.
Let water sit until it’s room temperature.
Add Tamari to the water and stir.

Put gluten flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl, and dry whisk.
Add the one Cup of bouillon water and bring together.
You can use a spoon but you’ll have to use your hands at the end.
I added another 1/4 Cup of water, to bring it together.
Turn dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead about 30 times.
Put dough into a clean, oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rest for 15-20 minutes.

Cut dough into four sections.
Stretch each section into a long oblong.  Then cut them at least in half.
Put at least half of them aside to marinate whole for char siu.
You can marinate the rest as char siu too, or use a different marinade on it.  You can cut the other two stretched sections into half-inch pieces, for individual pieces.

In a very large pot, bring 10 Cups of water to boil.
Add bouillon cubes or Better Than Bouillon, and Tamari and ginger.
Reduce heat to a simmer.
Add the smaller pieces of dough in 15-20 pieces at a time, because the seitan will swell in size as it cooks.
Let simmer 15-20 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon or spider strainer, lift cooked seitan pieces from the pot,  and set aside to cool in a colander.**
Then cook the two large pieces of char-siu seitan, in the same way.

Once they are cooked, marinate the two large char siu seitan chunks in the NOH sauce mix for almost 24 hours.  This will simply entail adding 1/2 Cup water to the dry seasoning packet mix to make the marinade.  I used two packets for ease, but one is fine.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line a sided baking sheet with parchment paper and place a metal cooling rack on it.
Put the two marinated seitan chunks on the rack.
Bake in oven for 30 minutes; 15 minutes each side.
Remove from oven, and let stand about 3 minutes.
Slice (I sliced mine about 1/4 inch or 1/3 inch thick).
Use char siu in fried rice, or char siu bao.

**You can then freeze the smaller pieces of seitan in portions for future dishes.
To use frozen seitan, remove from freezer at least one hour before cooking.

Notes:  Leyla suggests that you could alternate the flavour of the seitan in the dough stage.  Add liquid smoke to make “bacon” or poultry spice to make “chicken,” etc.

Grilled Seitan Bulgogi

This vegan seitan bulgogi (Korean barbecue) tastes authentic; very good.  I’ve seen a version of this recipe in several places, so it’s hard to know who started it.  The oldest posting I found is from a now-defunct vegan blog, but the new “hot” recipe is from a blog called Get Sconed!, and it’s a tribute to one of her favorite TV shows, Lost.  I’m thinking I’ll make this for my Dad the next time he comes to visit.  Lars and I really liked this and I’ll be using it again on the grill  this summer.  I served it over short-grain brown rice flavored with coconut milk and dried (unsweetened coconut).  I used seitan sausage I made myself, sliced on a slant.
Vegan Grilled Seitan Bulgogi

Serves 6

1/4 Cup vegetable broth
3 Tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce (no Bragg’s, please)
2 Tablespoons sherry
2 Tablespoons dark agave nectar (light colored agave works fine too)
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic crushed or minced
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 green onions chopped (1/4 cup)
2 lbs. plain seitan, sliced on the bias

Whisk together broth, Tamari (or soy sauce), sherry, agave nectar, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic and pepper in a shallow dish.
Stir in green onions.
Add seitan, marinate two hours.
Preheat grill or grill pan to medium heat (or cook it in a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop, as I did).
Drain seitan, and grill 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until browned and firm.

Note:  If using a cast-iron skillet, you must watch it so it doesn’t stick, maybe scoop it with a spatula and add a touch of oil.   A non-stick pan might be useful here, not sure.  I only had time to marinate mine for an hour but it still tasted wonderful. 

Vegan Swedish Meatballs (Kottbullar) from The Vegan Table cookbook

This recipe for vegan Swedish Meatballs (kottbullar) from The Vegan Table cookbook was a success for us.  Before I went vegan, I used to like the Swedish Meatballs plate at IKEA but it was not vegan, of course.  I did tweak this recipe a bit, but it’s a winner, especially when paired with classic accompaniments such as gravy and potatoes.  I did not have any lingonberry jam, but cranberry sauce made a good substitute.  I did read some complaints about the sauce in this recipe, so I made a gravy of my own.  Either of the easy gravies on this site would be good here.  I made mashed potato puffs with dill, but any potatoes would do.  If you have a KitchenAid Stand Mixer, this is the time to use it, because the vegan sausage is very dense and hard to mix.  Colleen Patrick Goudreau suggests using your hands to mix, so I’m guessing that works ok too, but perhaps you’ll get it more evenly incorporated with the flat beater on the KitchenAid stand mixer.  I added just a few things to make the meatballs richer:  1/4 teaspoon of dried dill, a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh flatleaf parsley, a Tablespoon of olive oil to the mixture (Gimme Lean is fat free), and 2 teaspoons of vegan Worcestershire sauce (such as Wizard brand, which is so delicious).  Make sure to dice the onion fine, because the meatballs are small.  I pan fried these in a cast-iron skillet which gave them a nice, authentic crust.  The main comment I have is that I will use the plain Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style with this dish next time, and not the Gimme Lean Ground Sausage Style.  You see, the “Sausage” has a distinct maple’y flavor, like that of breakfast sausage, that is not quite right in the Swedish meatballs.  Whereas, the Ground “Beef” is a plain flavor that should not mask and confuse the lovely seasonings in Colleen’s recipe.  I’m guessing the result would be more pure and simple, and classic in flavor.  I wasn’t too careful on measuring, I just used a cereal spoon to scoop up the meatballs and so I got 46 small meatballs, not the 60 “tiny” meatballs Colleen specifies.  This took an hour or so but now I have enough to freeze for the two of us, for 3 or 4 more meals.  Fry them before freezing because prior to frying, the raw meatballs are a bit gooey.  Lars is of Scandinavian descent and he really liked these, and I did too.  So, the next time you’re at IKEA, pick up some Lingonberry jam and make these vegan Swedish Meatballs!

Vegan Swedish Sweet and Sour Meatballs

My parents used to make a version of these for their family gatherings back in the 1970’s, so now it’s a real retro party dish.  I remember sitting around my Dad’s homemade sawbuck table with my sister and my Mom, rolling these petite meatballs.  I pulled up Mom’s old recipe, wondering if I could successfully veganize it.  Enter Gimme Lean “sausage” and “ground beef” vegan meats.  This is the same product I used for the delicious vegan meatloaf I recently created.  The Gimme Lean label says they do NOT use soybeans that were produced using biotechnology.  Because this vegan meat does not have fat and cholesterol, I modified the original recipe,  to give more taste and flavor and make the sausage mix a bit moister.  And wow, they’re just great!  The slight crunch of the toasted slivered almonds, and the blend of the sweet and the sour.  On the one hand, it was so NICE not to have to disinfect the kitchen after making these.  On the other hand, I had to get out my big KitchenAid mixer in order to get everything incorporated well.  These vegan ground meats are stiffer and harder to mix than the bad meats.  I think it would have been slightly difficult even with my hands.  I used the flat beater attachment.  An added thought is that these products are stamped “pareve” (par-uh-va) and so are very useful for those wanting to prepare Kosher dishes.  So with a lot of holiday spirit, here is the recipe:
Vegan Swedish Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Makes approx. 70 to 75 meatballs

1 pkg. Gimme Lean sausage style
1 pkg. Gimme Lean ground beef style
½ C slivered almonds  (or a bit more, if you like)
½ C dry bread crumbs (plain)
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced,  or pressed
Ener-G egg replacer, to equal 2 eggs, frothed
3 Tablespoons Tamari sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos
¼ tsp of Tabasco
¼ tsp fine sea salt
1/16th tsp (a dash) of nutmeg
One inch of peanut oil  (enough to fry meatballs in a medium sized  saucepan)
A cup or so of cornstarch, for coating
Toothpicks for serving

In a medium saucepan, heat peanut oil, on medium heat.
In a small skillet, put almonds with one tablespoon of Earth Balance vegan butter, on medium heat and brown on medium low heat, stirring occasionally (don’t burn).  Remove from heat and sprinkle with a tiny bit of sea salt.

Thoroughly combine all above ingredients, including browned almonds. (a strong mixer, such as a Kitchen Aid, does help in this process)

Scooping with a teaspoon, form into small balls about the diameter of a quarter coin (approx. 1 inch), no larger!

Roll balls in cornstarch, gently brush off excess corn starch, and fry in oil for approx. seven minutes, turning after 4 minutes.

Drain on paper towels.  There will be a flaky white coating of cornstarch here and there.  Do not worry about this.  Once the meatballs are added to the sauce, these cornstarch flakes will melt and add to the thickening of the sauce.

IF making ahead, cool and drain and freeze meatballs here.

See below for sauce recipe.

1 large can (at least 20 ounces) pineapple chunks, drained
1 C pineapple juice
2 C apple-cider vinegar
½ C tamari sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos
1.5 C brown sugar
4 T cornstarch

-In a small to medium sized stock pot, mix pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar.
-Mix cornstarch into a bit of pineapple juice and stir into a smooth slurry, and then add to the stock pot.
-Cook, stirring constantly over medium heat for 15 minutes.
-Sauce is done when it visibly darkens and thickens (you will know).
-Add meatballs and pineapple chunks, and serve in chafing dish.

TipsI bought the small Dole brand six-pack of pineapple juice, which is not from concentrate.  This way, I didn’t have to open a big bottle for just one cup of juice.
Also, if you have leftovers and you go to reheat, the sauce will be a bit clumpy.  Just pour in one of the six-ounce cans of pineapple juice when you re-heat, and whisk or stir, and it will smooth out the sauce again.
Lastly, if you’re buying good pineapple in its own juice, you can use that can juice instead of opening one of the smaller cans.  Just drain it into a one-cup measure to make sure there’s enough of the can juice to equal the one cup called for.
p.s.  Pineapple is high on the list of the “Clean Fifteen” so it’s more OK to buy the standard supermarket brands that are (sadly) not organic.
My mother made a note on her recipe that she sometimes substituted wine vinegar, but the flavor of these is what I remember; that fruity acidic pineapple with the almost-alcoholic aromatic tang of the apple cider vinegar in the original recipe.

So, this is what the meatballs will look like immediately after frying, with some fried cornstarch still clinging to them.  You can freeze the meatballs at this point.  Don’t worry about how they look, as the bits of cornstarch will help thicken the sauce in the final stage of preparation.

Vegan Meatloaf – Hilo Style

IMG_3045     I adapted this delicious vegan meatloaf from my Auntie Pat’s Hawaiian-style recipe.  I also added in my Mom’s favorite–a surprise layer of green olives in the center.  A nice feature of this recipe is that the tomato soup makes a built-in gravy.  I serve it with my own simple, twice-baked stuffed potatoes.  A salad is nice too, but there are already plenty of carrots and onions hidden inside this decadent meatloaf.  This dish is perfect for picky eaters who want real comfort food.

Vegan Meatloaf – Hilo Style

Serves 6 to 8

1 pkg. Gimme Lean, Ground Beef Style
Ener-G egg replacer to equal one egg
2 heaping Tablespoon Vegenaise mayonnaise
1 rounded Tablespoon Hoisin sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed or pressed
3 Tablespoons catsup (ketchup)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup finely-grated carrots (about three carrots)  (I use a food processor)
2 slices sandwich bread, soaked quickly in water and lightly squeezed, then torn apart.  (or, instead of bread, use 1/4 Cup rolled oats plus 2 Tablespoons golden flax meal)
2 Tablespoons Lipton Onion Soup mix, dry  (plus a little more to sprinkle on top)

1 can tomato soup  (I used Health Valley brand, low-sodium)
Optional: 5-10 green olives, thinly sliced
Optional: 5 or 10 sliced fresh mushrooms, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.   Set aside tomato soup, olives and mushrooms.   With an electric mixer, mix well the rest of the ingredients.
Pour ½ of the can of tomato soup on bottom of loaf pan.
Put half of the loaf mixture in pans and press with back of spoon.
Optional: scatter sliced olives and/or mushrooms on top of this bottom layer of loaf.
Put the 2nd half of the loaf mixture in the pan.   Pour rest of soup on top.
Optional:  Scatter a few sliced fresh mushrooms on top (I do).
Scatter some remaining dried onion bits from soup mix packet on top, trying not to put  the powdered salty part of the mix on.  Cover tightly with tin foil to avoid leakage.  Place loaf pan on baking sheet and bake 1 hour or more, until bubbling at edges.  It might take one hour and 15 minutes, especially if chilled.

  Bottom layer topped with olives.

Notes:  If you don’t have the Lipton Onion Soup Mix, add some dried minced onions and a sprinkle of salt on top instead.  Another thing you can do, if you’re cooking for two, or you want to freeze some or give some away, is use four of those mini quick-bread foil pans that you buy at the grocery store.  Usually, you can buy them in a pack of five (each pan is approx. 5.63″ length by 3.19″ width by 1.95″ depth).

Vegan Turkey Roast

This is the Vegan Turkey Roast from Everyday Dish TV.  As a new vegan, I no longer want a dead animal in the middle of the table, but there was still a bit of angst as to how my husband would like a veganized version of such an iconic meal.  Before I get into the details, I’ll sum it up.  We felt this Vegan Turkey Roast was underwhelming as a centerpiece dish and would not have it again for that purpose.  However, the next day, we sliced it up and had it for “turkey” sandwiches and it was really good!  I had some excellent lemon/rosemary bread.  We mixed some Vegenaise with homemade cranberry sauce, added some baby romaine lettuce for crunch and it was so good.  In this sandwich, it tasted like turkey.  So, back to the beginning; I was waffling about what to make for a main dish, and had my eye on several amazing looking recipes that I’ll definitely be making sometime.   I was wavering between several entrees for this Thanksgiving meal.  There’s the Acorn Squash and Black Bean Empanadas from Veganomicon.  Tal Ronnen came up with Sage and Pumpkin Seed Battered Cutlets with Cranberry Cabernet Sauce.  But, I made this Vegan Turkey Roast instead and don’t regret it.  It was a good way to further experiment with seitan, it was quick and easy, and in the process, we found a really good homemade lunch meat that has no chemical taste whatsoever!  While versatile and loaded with protein, seitan is not the prettiest food, so I did use the phyllo dough to gussy it up.  Lars felt the thyme was too strong, so next time I’ll cut that in half.  Also, I substituted Tamari sauce for the soy sauce.  Tamari is just vegan soy sauce anyway.  Here’s my amended recipe below, with half of the thyme.
VEGAN TURKEY ROAST – single batch

Serves 8

Also makes great sandwiches!

1 gallon water
2 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
1/2 cup Nutritional Yeast Flakes
1/2 tsp thyme (original recipes calls for 1 tsp but we felt it was too strong)
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups vegetable broth (if using homemade broth, you may need to add salt to this recipe)
1/4 cup light olive oil (I used canola for this high heat)
1 tbsp soy sauce  (or Tamari sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos)
Cheesecloth (one double thick 24-inch by 16-inch piece)
2 6-inch pieces of string
1 batch uncooked stuffing (optional)

1) In a large pot, bring 1 gallon of water to a low boil.
2) In a large bowl, whisk together the gluten, yeast flakes, thyme, onion powder, and salt.
3) Add the vegetable broth, oil, and soy sauce, stir just until combined.
4) Form into a loaf shape (making sure your loaf is shorter than your stock pot width).
5) Place gluten loaf on cheesecloth and roll up (not too tight). Tie each end with a piece of string.  (video shows four string ties spaced evenly apart)
6) Place in simmering water, covered, for 1 hour (2 hours for a double batch).  (you can make stuffing while it simmers)
7) Preheat oven to 325.
8) Take roast out of water and remove cheesecloth. Place in baking dish with prepared stuffing, if desired.
9) Bake, covered, for 30 minutes.

Variation: Vegan Turkey with Puff Pastry
After turkey is done boiling, remove it from the water and remove cheesecloth. Roll out a piece of puff pastry so that it will cover your turkey. Cover turkey with puff pastry. Brush puff pastry with a mixture of half ketchup and half water. Sprinkle with a little bit of thyme. Bake turkey, uncovered, at 400º F. for 25 minutes.

Copyright © 2008 Brian McCarthy

Vegan Italian Sausages

One of the first things you do when you go vegan is expand your spice rack, and this seitan dish will use a lot of your arsenal.  I adapted this recipe from a video on Everyday Dish TV (this was before they started charging for subscriptions).  If you flatten it into cutlets instead of sausage shapes, you can also make Everyday Dish TV’s Spicy Italian Cutlet Parmesan.  Also, it makes 8 sausages or cutlets, so you can freeze some.  You could also make meatball-type subs with the leftover tomato sauce and sausages, and dress them up with whatever else you like.  Or you could make the “sausage and peppers” subs I mentioned in an earlier post.  My friend Piliki suggested slicing it thin and putting it on pizza, which I hadn’t even thought of.  I urge you not to omit the fennel seeds, because they give that hint of authenticity.  Again, you can always hit the bulk section at your health food store for a tablespoon of anything not in the pantry; it really saves money on things you think you won’t use again soon.  You can play with the spices, or you could even add some finely-chopped sundried tomatoes.
Vegan Italian Sausages

Makes 8 links


2 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup chickpea flour
2 tbsp granulated onion (or onion powder)
1 tbsp fennel seed
1 tsp white pepper
3 tsp ground paprika
¼ tsp dried chili flakes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground mustard seed
½ tsp Bells Seasoning
½ tsp McCormick Grill Mates “Montreal Steak” flavor

2 1/4 cups cool water
6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke


In a large bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients.
Whisk together the water, garlic, olive oil and soy sauce and using a fork, gently stir into the dry ingredients.
Stir just until ingredients are mixed. If dough mixture is too dry, you can add another tablespoon of water or as needed (I did not need any extra water).

Scoop 1/2 cup dough mixture at a time and shape into logs (or shape some into flattish patties for Parmesan cutlets)

Place logs on piece of aluminum foil and roll up, twisting ends.
For patties, wrap in foil envelopes.
Steam sausages covered for 30 minutes.

Once sausages have cooled, remove from foil and refrigerate until ready to eat. After cooling, the sausages may feel a bit dry on the outside. Don’t worry, as they will soften and firm up considerably after chilling.  Make sure to pan fry them with minimal oil before using, to give them a sear and a better texture.  See photo below.

Adapted from Julie Hasson’s Spicy Italian Vegetarian Sausages, on Everyday Dish TV.

Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders

I was kind of stuck without much prepared for dinner last night, so I headed for the freezer.  We found these the last time we were at Whole Foods, and so I decided to go for it.  I just baked them per package directions and served them with sweet-and-sour sauce (not included).  And . . . they were great!  I think kids would absolutely love these.   They coating is crispy and slightly sizzling when they come out of the oven and they’re a great size for finger food.  I haven’t had a McD’s chicken nugget in 10 years, but these taste like what I remember.   These take only a short time to bake, and there are 10 crispy tenders per bag.  The nutritional information is pretty great too, with 2 tenders having 9 grams of protein and only 1.5 grams of fat.  Makes you feel like a kid again.

Sausage and Peppers Sandwich

This is what I call “fair food,” meaning it’s something you buy at a County Fair, like cotton candy.  I don’t know about other parts of the U.S., but in the Northeast, we always looked forward to “sausage and peppers” every time went to the Fair.  I like to hollow out the buns so that there is less bread to the bite.  I used the vegan bratwurst I made recently, but any store-bought vegan sausage will do.  The trick with frying seitan sausages is to get them browned and then finish them in the pan with a Tablespoon of water and covered, to soften them up.  I just fried up one sliced green pepper and half a sliced onion, in one teaspoon of oil, in a non-stick skillet.   A crank of sea salt in the pan helps sweat everything out and give it a bit of savory.  Brush a little Vegenaise on the hollowed-out bun, and load it up.  Sprinkle Malt Vinegar generously over the sausage and peppers and onions, and it tastes delicious!

Vegan Bratwurst

This recipe is from The Blooming Platter vegan blog.  I actually made her entire meal but we weren’t crazy about the overwhelming vinegar in the sauerkraut, and I like my old recipe for braised cabbage better (so I’ll post that soon).  Also, her cabbage dish makes enough for at least 10 people, and there’s just the two of us at most suppers.  However, we really liked two elements of her festive Oktoberfest platter; the Vegan Bratwurst and the Horseradish Cream, which is killer.  If you make the entire meal, I recommend replacing most (or at least half) of the vinegar in the red apple sauerkraut with apple cider or apple juice, and I think that would render it pretty delicious.  The vegan bratwurst are so easy to make, and you can do other things while they’re steaming away.  I made them in the morning and then sliced them lengthwise and did a quick pan-fry just before serving, to give some crispness on the outside.  I put two of the brats in the freezer and will use them chopped up into my Thanksgiving cornbread stuffing in a few weeks.  All in all, this meal really reminded us of the French/German meals we had a couple of years ago, on the Route du Vin in Alsace, and again in the Black Forest; delicious with lots of contrasting flavors and textures.  And, I was thinking that this basic sausage recipe could be flavored any way you like, such as adding fennel seeds and oregano to make Italian sausages, or adding a finely minced apple to sweeten it up some.  Either way, these would be great in a hoagy bun with fried onions and peppers, or with a vegan breakfast, etc., etc.  This is a good time to remember that you can buy only the amount of spices you need for a recipe, for just pennies in the bulk section of your local health food store.
Vegan Bratwurst

Yield: 4 whole sausages or 8 halves

1/2 cup cooked white beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup vegetable broth or stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons tamari sauce or Braggs Liquid Aminos
1/2-1 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten (available at health food stores)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (available at health food stores)
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon mace (I bought mine bulk, for a few cents)
coarse sea or kosher salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place steamer over water in a large saucepan, cover and bring to a boil while you make the sausages, which go together very quickly. Tear off 4 sheets of foil about 6″ wide and set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the beans until no whole ones remain. I processed the beans for finer texture.  Add remaining ingredients in the order listed and mix well with a fork. Divide into four even pieces. Place one part of dough onto tinfoil and mold into a log about 5 inches long. Roll up and gently twist ends, like a piece of candy. Don’t be too concerned about the shape, as the vital wheat gluten will cause the sausages to rise as they steam, filling out any uneven areas. Place wrapped sausages in covered steamer and steam for 40 minutes, with the watering simmering. Unwrap and use immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat. These are especially tasty sliced in pieces or halved lengthwise and sauteed in olive oil over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes on each side. You may also grill them whole and then slice. They reheat better in the oven or a skillet than in the microwave.

Source: Adapted from the white bean sausage recipe in Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  This recipe was adapted by Betsy DiJulio on her blog:  The Blooming Platter.

Chickpea Cutlets

This recipe from the Veganomicon cookbook reminds me of chicken-fried steak.  These cutlets come out meaty and crusty and dripping with savory Golden Gravy.  I followed the recipe to the letter, and instead of baking them, I fried them in a minimal amount of oil in a cast-iron skillet.  They came out steak-y and had a nice crispy crust on the outside.  And the best part–no cholesterol, no guilt, no violence, no heart attack.  You can make the gravy the day before, to save time.  Some mashed potatoes really authenticate the meal.  Online, some people mentioned adding a bit of jerk seasoning to the cutlets, or cutting them into chickn nuggets and serving with a dipping sauce.  I can tell this recipe is pretty versatile, a real winner.  Just before we get to the cooking instructions, a word about gluten:

Alicia Silverstone says, “Wheat has gotten a bad rap lately because–like corn and soy–some form of wheat appears in almost every processed food, so our bodies have been bombarded and overloaded with wheat, sometimes creating a mild intolerance.  Some people have a hard time digesting just the gluten found in wheat (and barley, oats and other grains).  True gluten intolerance is a genetic disorder called celiac disease, and it’s relatively rare.  If you think your body is not digesting grains properly, you can have your doctor order a blood test that will determine if you have celiac disease.  For most people who consider themselves “allergic” to wheat, white flour is often the culprit.  Highly processed, often rancid and commonly overeaten, white wheat flour can cause problems that feel like allergies.  Cut out all flour for a while–to give your intestines a rest–eat healthy, and you may be able to tolerate whole wheat flour products after a few months.”

Here we go with the recipe:
Chickpea Cutlets from the Veganomicon cookbook

Makes:  4 cutlets
Time:  30 minutes

1 C cooked chickpeas (I used canned)
2 T olive oil
1/2 C vital wheat gluten
1/2 C plain bread crumbs (I use Ezekiel Bread and process)
1/4 C vegetable broth or water (I used Better than Bouillon, but only the vegetarian ones)
2 T Tamari sauce (fish-less soy sauce)
2 cloves garlic pressed or grated
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp dried thyme (I only had fresh)
1/2 tsp Hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp dried sage  (I found rubbed sage at my local grocery)
olive oil for pan frying

In a mixing bowl, mash the chickpeas (I used a potato masher this time) together with the oil until no whole chickpeas are left.   Add remaining ingredients and knead for about 3 minutes, until strands of gluten have formed.   Preheat a large heavy-bottomed nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  Meanwhile, divide cutlet dough into four equal pieces.  To form the cutlets, knead each piece in your hand for a few moments and then flatten and stretch each one into a roughly 6×4 inch rectangular cutlet.  The easiest way to do this is to first form a rectangular shape in your hands and then place the cutlets on a clean surface to flatten and stretch them.

Add a moderate thin layer of olive oil to the bottom of the pan.  Place cutlets in pan and cook on each side over medium heat for 6-7 minutes.  Add more oil if necessary (in cast iron, it’s not necessary).  They’re ready when lightly browned and slightly firm to the touch.  I just waited until a nice seared crust formed on parts of the outside, and didn’t really worry about it.

Notes:  I’ll probably add some onion powder next time, and use a food processor for the bread crumbs,  and the chickpeas, for a more uniform texture.  The recipe says you can bake these too, and that baking gives them a toothsome, chewy texture and firm bite.  Due to online reviews, I did not bake mine, but here are the directions to do so.  Maybe next time, I’ll bake one and see what happens.  Preheat oven to 375, lightly oil baking sheet.  Brush both sides of each patty with olive oil, place on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.  Flip patties and bake another 8-10 minutes until firm and golden brown.

Gardein Chick’n Scallopini

As I transition into a healthier, more peaceful diet, I still crave many of the dishes I once ate, and that’s where a product like this comes in.  Gardein Chick’n Scallopini is lightly seasoned already, but will absolutely take a teensy bit more salt and pepper, and whatever else you throw at it.  These high-protein cutlets are delicious, and already nice and flat, in the traditional scallopine shape; so there’s no pounding raw poultry and no disinfecting the counters and sinks!  The nutritional information is here.  I’ve used this product twice so far; the first time to make a recipe from the cookbook The Conscious Cook by Tal RonnenThat recipe had a shiitake sake sauce, braised pea shoots and crispy udon noodle cakes.  I had to improvise on the udon noodle cakes that night, so I used Nasoya brand Japanese-style noodles, cooked them and then put them in the fridge in a bowl and then later cut the round noodle cakes out of the cold stuck-together noodles, before frying them.  This recipe was good, and didn’t take as long as I thought it would.  However, there are quicker, simpler, more-classic scallopine recipes that we’ve all seen and had in restaurants.  So last night, I dug out an old Jacques Pepin recipe and also printed a different one from epicurious, and put together a delicious chick’n scallopine with this Gardein product.  I will post that recipe soon, but first I want to prepare it one more time and make sure it’s just right.  In the meantime, I’m realizing I could do a lot more with these healthy cutlets, and will try dishes like this chick’n marsala, chickn’ parmesan (with vegan Daiya cheese, of course), and my favorite tomato sauce, which I’ll also post soon.  p.s.  If you click here, and here, you can see other recipes by Chef Tal Ronnen.   There are also some videos and recipes here on Oprah.

Trader Joe’s Chicken-Less Strips

I have used this product in two dishes:  a chicken cheese steak sub made with Daiya cheese, and also a chicken salad (see post under sandwiches).  20 grams of protein per serving.  I do find there is an aftertaste with this product.  However, I can see using this in hot dishes such as chicken curry, fajitas, etc.   I prefer Butler Soy Curls, but this is ok in a pinch if there are lots of other flavors going on.

Morning Star Grillers

Ok, here’s the first official product review.  MorningStar Farms Grillers Vegan Veggie Burgers.  We have tried Boca burgers and thought they tasted like cardboard.  Then I bought some other veggie burger only to get it home and find egg whites or whey in it.   So then I began making my own veggie burgers which are very good, but aren’t sturdy enough for the grill.  Then I stumbled upon these in the market, read the label carefully and thought it would be worth getting them to throw on the grill when everyone else was eating the flesh of some poor, tortured cow.  So tonight I was pressed for time and it is insufferably hot and humid outside, too hot to grill.   After reading the label, I just sprayed a bit of olive oil in a non-stick pan and cooked over medium heat for 15 minutes, turning often.  We had these on ultra-thin hamburger buns, and doctored them up with mayo, heirloom tomatoes, pickles, etc.   Lo and behold, they really taste very much like a beef burger.  It’s pretty amazing.  At 100 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber, zero cholesterol and 12 grams of protein, I’d say these are a winner.  Next time, I’ll throw on some sweet onion and some Daiya cheese.   We had these with some local corn on the cob and homemade iced tea (oolong).  Here is an updated link (June 2011) for the rest of MorningStar vegan products.