Sunday, December 30, 2012

Capital Finale: District of Columbia: Senate Bean Soup

For a relatively small place, DC has its share of distinctive foods.  One of you sausage gurus needs to work out a veganized half-smoke.  Also, mumbo sauce is often (but not always) already vegan, and is good on much more than Chinese food.  (Mumbo sauce recipes are splattered across the internet -- see this one and this one, for starters.)

Whenever I visit DC, I head out for excellent Ethiopian and Eritrean fare, as well as authentic mouth-numbing Szechuan (cold ma la noodles, ma la cucumber, ma po tofu, etc).

One of the most famous DC recipes is the bean soup served in the Senate dining room.  You can find the original recipe on the Senate website.    Of course, we will remove the grotesque ham hock, but we need to add flavor.   What better to add than some Ethiopian berbere and Szechuan peppercorn?   If you are not familiar with berbere, it is an Ethiopian spice mixture.  You might be able to find prepared berbere, or you can make your own.  I like the recipe in kittee's Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food.  There is another very fine berbere formula in Terry Romero's Vegan Eats World.   The import of Szechuan peppercorns into the US was illegal until 2005.  Thankfully, the FDA got over itself, and you can now enjoy that special tingly feeling without looking over your shoulder for the Feds.

Here's my new and improved version of Senate Bean Soup:

1. Soak 1 lb navy beans in cold water in the refrigerator, at least 8 hours or overnight.

2. Drain and rinse the beans.   Put them in a pressure cooker with 10 c water, 1 large carrot (chopped), 1 T olive oil, 1 t berbere, and 1/2 t ground sichuan pepper.  Bring to high pressure, and cook for 14 minutes.  Allow pressure to release naturally.   (If you have never used a pressure cooker, be sure to read the directions for your device carefully!   Of course, you can make this soup without a pressure cooker, but it will take a lot longer.)

3. While the beans are cooking, fry 1 onion (chopped) and 2 stalks celery (chopped) in 1 T olive oil until the onion browns.  Add 2 cloves garlic (chopped) and cook for another minute or two.

4. Once the pressure has been released, carefully remove the lid of the cooker.   Add the onion mixture and 1/4 c chopped parsley to the soup, and simmer for a couple of minutes.   Add celery salt and additional berbere and sichuan pepper, to taste.  (I added 1 1/2 t celery salt, 1 t berbere, and 1/2 t sichuan pepper.  This resulted in a fairly spicy but not incendiary soup.   Go slowly and taste frequently until it is the way you want it.)  Finally, add about 1 c dry/instant mashed potatoes (not all brands are vegan - check carefully) to thicken the soup, and simmer another few minutes.

While I was making the soup, I chopped injera into triangles and baked it on a silicone baking mat at 275F until it was  crispy.   (It takes longer than you might expect, as injera is very moist.)  A handful of these were very nice, alongside the soup.  If you cannot buy injera where you live, and don't want to go through the rather tricky process of making it, kittee's zine and Terry's cookbook (linked above) both have easier/quicker copycat recipes which yield good results.

This is the final post in this series, which I began back in October for the annual Vegan Month of Food:  50 states, 5 territories, and 1 federal district!  I've certainly enjoyed this journey, and I hope you have, too.   This blog will probably go dark for a little while, but will return in due course for the next VeganMoFo, if not before. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

50 States of MoFo: Oregon: Brown Rice Hazelnut Burgers

A vegan recipe for Oregon should not be a challenge.  After all, Portland must be one of the most vegan-friendly cities on earth.  While plant-based cookbook authors, bloggers, food carts, grocers, and restaurants abound, it was hard to put my finger on something distinctively Oregonian.

Finally, I decided to go with a recipe involving hazelnuts, as the vast majority of North American hazelnuts are grown in Oregon, and thus it is a crop often associated with the state.  One of my favorite Oregon residents is vegan cookbook author Julie Hasson.   In her wonderful book, Vegan Diner, she has an Oregon-inspired recipe for Brown Rice Hazelnut Burgers, which fit the bill nicely!  The burgers have a lovely, hearty flavor, and are definitely on the "make again" list.  If you don't have Julie's book, you need to pick up a copy.  We've made many recipes from it, and all have been superb.   While you are waiting on your copy to arrive, you can find the recipe online here.  

(The buns are the excellent 50/50 Burger Buns from American Vegan Kitchen by Tamasin Noyes.  They have become our standard buns for hamburgers and hot dogs.)

Friday, December 28, 2012

50 States of MoFo: South Dakota: Tempeh Chislic and Apple Kuchen

South Dakota is one of the most beautiful states I have ever visited, and I hope life takes me back there one day.   I was there for a brief time, and I don't have any helpful food memories so I had to do a little research.

Chislic - fried meat on a toothpick - appears to be uniquely South Dakotan, in name if not in concept.  As we've done a lot of gluten/seitan during this project, it seemed time to break out the tempeh.   I looked at a number of online recipes for chislic marinade (such as this one) before stirring together something which I hoped would work well with the tempeh.

1. Cube an 8 oz block of tempeh, and steam the cubes. You can steam the cubed tempeh in a saucepan with a little water and lemon juice (and maybe a dash of salt) for about 15-20 minutes.  Or put your water, lemon juice, salt, and tempeh in a micowave-safe dish, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 5-6 minutes.   Both methods work!  You can probably skip the steaming, but I thought it would promote better absorption of the marinade.

2. Make the marinade by stirring together: 1/4 c vegan worcestershire, 1 T brown sugar, 1/2 t liquid smoke, 1/4 t black pepper, 3/4 t Lawry's seasoned salt, 1/2 t onion powder, 1/2 t garlic powder, and 1 1/2 t chili powder (hot or mild as you see fit).  Taste and adjust the seasonings to suit yourself.  Toss the tempeh in the marinade and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.   

3. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a cast iron skillet.  Fry the marinated tempeh cubes until well-browned on all sides.  Serve with toothpicks, with saltine crackers, hot sauce, and garlic salt on the side.

The chislic made a very pleasant snack dinner.  I think I will make tempeh this way again, and perhaps toss it into a salad.

We also made the official state dessert of South Dakota, which is kuchen.  There are a number of quasi-similar baked desserts which go by that name.   Helpfully, the South Dakota Secretary of State has provided a recipe for authentic South Dakota apple kuchen, in the 2011 South Dakota Legislative Manual.   We put it through the veganizer, and here's the result:

1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.   Grease and flour a 9x13" baking pan.

2. Make the crust:   Place 2 c all purpose flour, 1/2 c unrefined sugar, 1/2 t vanilla, and 1 c vegan margarine in a food processor.  Process until combined, and press into the prepared baking pan.   Bake 12-15 minutes until it looks baked, but not really browned.

3. Lower the oven temperature to 350 F and make the filling:  Mix together 1/4 c plain unsweetened soy yogurt and 2 T ground flaxseed, and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine:  16 oz vegan cream cheese (homemade or store-bought), 3/4 c unrefined sugar, and 1 t vanilla.   Beat until well combined, and then beat in the yogurt-flax mix.  Pour into the baked crust.

4. Make the topping:  Stir together 2 T unrefined sugar and 1 1/2 t cinnamon, and set aside.  Peel, core, and thinly slice 3-4 Granny Smith apples.   Place the apples on top of the filling, and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.   Bake 30-40 minutes until nicely brown and set.

Not diet food, but very tasty!

Monday, December 24, 2012

50 States of MoFo: Delaware Raisin Cake

I had trouble determining what to make for Delaware.  I found a large number of seafood recipes, which were uninspiring, difficult to veganize, or similar to the non-crab cakes we made for Maryland.  There were also a number of peach dishes - as peaches are the state fruit - but nothing that caught my fancy.  I used to visit Delaware with some frequency, and my primary food memories involve good Italian food -- but nothing distinctive.

We usually make a fruitcake at Christmas, but I did not get to it this year.   Thus, I was pleased to find a recipe for "Delaware Raisin Cake" floating around the internet.   With a few small changes, here you have it:

1.  Grease and flour a bundt pan.   Heat the oven to 325 F.

2. In a saucepan, combine 16 oz raisins, 1 1/2 c apples (peeled and chopped), and 2 c water.  Bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes.

3.  Into the hot fruit mix, stir 1/2 c vegan margarine, 2 c unrefined sugar, 1 T baking soda, 1 T cinnamon, 1 t nutmeg, 1 t cloves, and 1 c water.    This will foam up because of the baking soda, so be sure there is enough room in the pan, or switch to a larger container.   Gently stir in 4 c all purpose flour.

4. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake at 325 F for 1 hour.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Bonus Territory: US Virgin Islands: Callaloo and Fungi

Our final territory takes us to the Caribbean and the US Virgin Islands.   The US VI has its own version/s of the wonderful cuisine of the larger Caribbean.   Being somewhat overwhelmed by recent holiday baking, we opted for a healthy dinner.  (These recipes are also gluten-free, for my xgfx pals.)

Callaloo is always some form of cooked greens, but which greens, how cooked, and with what other ingredients?  The answers vary widely.   We opted for this recipe from the VI, which is already vegan, and includes sweet potato, eggplant, and okra, in a 50-50 mix of spinach and chard.

Fungi - which goes by other names in other parts of the Caribbean - is a cornmeal-okra mixture, which is astonishingly fluffy (and delicious).   I started from this recipe, but made a few small edits.  Here's our version:  Chop 10 oz fresh okra, and boil for about 5 minutes (until soft) in salted water.  Drain.   Mix together 1/4 c fine yellow cornmeal and 3/4 c cold water, and set aside.   Bring 2 1/2 c water to a boil.  Pour in the cornmeal-water mix, whisking constantly, and cook for about 1 minute.   Gradually pour in 1 1/4 c additional cornmeal, continuing to whisk.  It will thicken quickly.  Pull off the heat, and stir in the cooked okra, 2 T vegan margarine, 1/4 t salt, and black pepper to taste.   Return to a low heat, and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes.   You will be surprised by the texture!

Serve the callaloo over, or alongside the fungi.   I'm looking forward to the leftovers tomorrow!   I doubt I'll get to another post before Christmas, but the remaining states (Delaware, Oregon, South Dakota - plus a DC finale) will be coming along in the near future.   Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

50 States of MoFo: Nebraska: Runzas

Nebraska has been the secret headquarters of American veganism for many years.   At the time that George Burke wrote his very important vegan cookbook, Simply Heavenly, his monastic community was located in Geneva, Nebraska.  (They later moved to California, and are now located in New Mexico.) More recently, the prominent vegan cookbook author, Isa Moskowitz, moved to Omaha, Nebraska.  What is it about Nebraska?

The runza is often associated with Nebraska, and it seemed only right to make Isa's recipe for seitan & sauerkraut runzas for our Nebraska post.  These were easy and completely delicious.  Highly recommended!

Nebraska must have a special fondness for sauerkraut.  In addition to runzas, it claims to be the birthplace of the Reuben sandwich.  By the way, if you've never made sauerkraut, you should!  It's so simple.  Sandor Katz will show you how:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

50 States of MoFo: New Jersey: Trenton Tomato Pie

When pondering New Jersey, I gave serious consideration to the New Jersey Italian Hot Dog -- a deep fried hot dog served in bread made from pizza dough, and topped with onions, peppers, and deep fried potatoes.  It is most certainly a project for the future, along with its variant form in which said hot dog is served in a folded slice of pizza.

I also investigated Disco Fries, the New Jersey version of poutine, perfect for a wee hours meal after a wild night across the river at Studio 54.  However, Wonder Vegan has already tackled these in her 50 States project.  You can find her worthy veganized version, with a mix of potato, sweet potato, and turnip fries, here.

Thus, I finally settled on tomato pie, from New Jersey's capital, Trenton.  Trenton tomato pie is a thin crust pizza, on which the cheese is under the sauce.  The sauce is usually very simple, being canned Roma tomatoes broken into chunks, with little (sometimes nothing) else added.   Trenton tomato pie has even been the subject of a documentary film.

Drawing to some extent on the recipe given in the film, here is my version:

1. Make the crust.   Dissolve 2 1/4 t dry yeast and 1/4 t sugar in 3/4 c lukewarm water.   Add about 1 1/2 c bread flour and 1/2 t salt.  Knead this for about 5 minutes.  You can add a little extra flour if it is too sticky, but go easy.  Let it rest 5 minutes.  Then, knead 2-3 minutes more.  Some authorities claim that for a proper thin crust, you should not allow the dough to rise, but use it right away.  I didn't let mine rise at room temperature, but I plonked it an oiled bowl and put it in the fridge overnight.

2. Make the sauce.   Drain one 14.5 oz can of plum tomatoes (whole tomatoes packed in juice), and put the tomatoes into a bowl.  Mash with your hands until chunky.    If you are hardcore, stop right here.  Your sauce is done.   However, you can stir in a little salt, pepper, basil, garlic, and/or olive oil to taste.   I made the sauce the night before, also.

3. Make the pizza.  Heat your oven, with a pizza stone in it (if you have one), as high as it will go -- in my case 500 F.   Gently work the dough into a thin circle - as thin as you can go without it tearing.   Sprinkle with your choice of vegan cheese (I used Daiya mozzarella with a little of Miyoko Schinner's vegan parm) - not too much.    Cover with the sauce - again, don't overdo it.  Slide it into the oven, and watch carefully.  It will cook quickly -- about 5-7 minutes.   Slice and enjoy!   Pizzas which have the cheese below the sauce (like this one and Chicago-style pan pizza) seem to make the best of the qualities of most vegan cheese.