Thursday, November 29, 2012

50 States of MoFo: West Virginia: Pepperoni Rolls

Who knew that Pepperoni Rolls were a West Virginia thing?  But they are, and there are many websites devoted to them.   Here you have buttery, soft, sweet white bread baked around pepperoni.  How could that be wrong?  You could make your own seitan pepperoni, but I used the Tofurky brand from the grocery.

I started from this recipe which I found on a Pepperoni Roll website, and made some modifications:

1. Mix together 1 1/2 c warm water, 1/3 c unrefined sugar, 2 1/4 t dry yeast, 1 t salt, and 1/4 c powdered soy milk.   Gradually add about 4 c bread flour (more or less) until you have a cohesive ball of dough which pulls away from the side of the bowl, while remaining soft and sort of sticky.   (This will be easier if you use a mixer with a dough hook.)  Knead about 5 minutes, let rest 5 minutes, and knead 2-3 more minutes.  Turn the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled - about 30 minutes to 1 hour.  (Mine was easily doubled in 45 minutes, in a fairly warm kitchen.)

2.  Take a 4 oz package of vegan pepperoni, and chop it into whatever size pieces you want.  Toss with a little olive oil.  (Vegan pepperoni is not greasy enough.  You need to up the fat.)

3.  Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.  Heat the oven to 400 F.

4. Punch down the risen dough, and divide into 12 even parts.   On a floured surface, press each ball of dough out into a rough rectangle.  Cover most of the surface with pepperoni, roll up like a jelly roll, folding the ends under to seal.   Place the rolls on the parchment.  They do not need to rise again.

5.  Brush the tops with a warm mixture of 1/4 c soymilk, 2 t sugar, and 1 T vegan margarine.   Bake for approximately 20 minutes until brown on top.   Immediately after you remove the rolls from the oven, brush the tops with more melted vegan margarine.

If you are trying to bring all the boys to the yard, these might well do it!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bonus Territory: Puerto Rico: Mofongo

Puerto Rico is probably the best known of the US territories.   Puerto Rican food and culture are among the things I miss from my days in New York City.   It is hard to find Puerto Rican food - much less vegan Puerto Rican food - in Tennessee.   It's really a shame as PR cuisine is amazing.  One could do 50 posts of delicious Puerto Rican food, and still have plenty more to go!   For this evening, I decided to make mofongo.  Mofongo is one of my favorite PR dishes.  It is also easy, warm, and comforting -- all good things on a cold November worknight.

Mofongo is one of those recipes which is infinitely variable once you grasp the idea.  You can go crazy with variations, but I made a pretty basic vegan version:

1. Fry some tempeh bacon and set it aside.   Out of laziness, I used a 7 oz package of the pre-marinated stuff from the grocery store.   I will shamelessly confess that I have often made this with vegan bacon bits (the kind in the jar which you sprinkle on salad).

2. In the same skillet, fry 2-3 T chopped garlic for a couple of minutes.   Set aside, and mix with 1 - 1 1/2 t salt.  Go easy on the salt.  You can always add more.

3.  Peel and chop 4 green plantains.   The incredibly phallic green tool in the photo is an E-Z Peeler, which makes short work of the task.   Fry the plantain pieces until they are golden brown.   I deep fried them in a cast iron dutch oven, as I had oil left over from making the Seitan Finger Steaks.

4. Toss everything (garlic, tempeh, fried plantain chunks, salt) into a food processor.  Process until you have a fairly even texture.   You won't get quite the same texture as if you mashed everything with a pestle, but, hey, it's a hell of a lot faster and easier.   Taste, adjust salt as needed, and add whatever else you like, e.g. a bit of black pepper and smoked paprika.  If it seems too dry, you can add a little broth and/or olive oil -- but not too much!

5. Form this mixture into balls (or a mound, but balls are more fun), and serve surrounded by the broth or thin soup of your choice.   I used veggie broth stirred up from a commercial paste -- no big effort tonight!  A sprinkle of parsley or cilantro and you are ready to eat!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

50 States of MoFo: Idaho: Seitan Finger Steaks

Finger Steaks were created by Milo's Torch Lounge in Boise, Idaho in 1957, and have become a local specialty.   It is not difficult to make a vegan version with seitan.   I used the excellent beef seitan from Cookin' Crunk by Bianca Phillips, but any "beefy" dark seitan will do.   My seitan was in chunks and I left it that way.  If you want to be more authentic, you could cut it in 3" x 1/2" strips.

With thanks to the Trailer Gypsy for inspiration, here's what you do:

Mix together:
1 1/2 c nondairy milk
1 t thyme
1 t marjoram
1 t garlic powder
2 T seasoned salt (I used Lawry's)
1 T vegan worcestershire
2 1/2 c all purpose flour

Refrigerate this batter for at least a couple of hours.   Then heat oil in a deep fryer or heavy dutch oven.  If your seitan is wet, blot it dry with a paper towel (or the batter may not stick as well).   Dip the seitan pieces in the batter and fry for about 5 minutes until crispy.  Work in batches so that you don't overwhelm the fryer and drive the temperature down too far.

Serve with cocktail sauce:
6 T ketchup
2 T prepared horseradish (watch this, as not all brands are vegan)
1 t. brown sugar
1/4 t. lemon juice

Adjust the ingredients to taste, and mix thoroughly.

While not exactly healthy, this was a real winner.  We will definitely make it again!

50 States of MoFo: Montana Cherry Pie

A little internet research indicates that "Smettanick" or "Smetannik" is a name attached to a range of Russian-derived desserts, all involving sour cream, and most being somewhat cake-like.   While proper smetannik seems alien to Montana, something like it has been melded with pie made from the region's tart red cherries.  I found a number of recipes from Montana for cherry pie with a layer made from sour cream and flour.   Smetannik or not, it's good.  If you like cherry danishes, you'll love this.   I looked at several online recipes, and came up with the following:

1. Line a 9 inch pie plate with an unbaked crust.  

2. Drain 2 14.5 oz cans of tart red cherries (packed in water), and pour into the crust.   Dot the cherries with about 1 T vegan margarine.   (Sure, fresh cherries would be best, but it is November!)

3. Mix together:  1 1/2 c vegan sour cream (homemade or store-bought), 1 3/4 c unrefined sugar, 1 c all purpose flour, 1/2 t. salt, 1 T lemon juice, and a few drops of almond extract.   Spread this evenly over the cherries.

4. Sprinkle the top of the pie with 2 T unrefined sugar, and 1/2 c sliced almonds.

5. Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes.  Lower the temperature to 350 F and continue to bake for about 30 minutes until the top is set.   It slices best when completely cold.   

Edited to add:  The cherry layer was a little too wet and runny.   When making this again, I will toss the cherries with a little cornstarch or Bird's Custard powder or instant clearjel to bind the liquid.  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

50 States of MoFo: Wyoming Apple Pudding

I lied when I said it would be a week before the next post.  I managed to work through another recipe before Thanksgiving took over my life.

Whenever I think of Wyoming, my mind goes to a friend and former neighbor who is a Wyoming native and whose (very omnivore but inspiring) food blog can be found at Westchester Eats.  However, his recipes are mostly inspired by New York's international culture or the Italy of his family background.

Searching further, I found that there is something known as Wyoming Apple Pudding.  It manifests in several different forms.   Many of the modern recipes I located involve dumping together a number of convenience foods (spice cake mix, canned apple pie filling, etc) and baking.  I'm sure the results are good in that middle American processed food way.   However, I dug a bit deeper, and found a recipe from Cooking in Wyoming (1965) which must predate the compulsion to open a box from the supermarket.  I put it through the veganizer and this is what came out:

1. Grease and flour a pie plate.  Heat the oven to 350 F.

2.   Mix together the following:

2 c. grated apple (I used two huge Fuji apples)
1 c. chopped nuts (I used pecans, although they are surely untraditional, as they do not grow as far north as Wyoming.)
1/2 c. unsweetened plain soy yogurt
2 T. Bird's Custard powder (you could use cornstarch if you don't have this)
1 c. unrefined sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/8 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. vegan butter flavoring

Pour into the prepared pie plate and bake for about 40 minutes until it appears set on top and is bubbling with molten sugary lava around the edges.

The result, while not very photogenic, is quite tasty.  It's in the apple pie / apple cobbler family and yet different:  an autumn apple dessert which is a bit of a change from the usual.   When cold, you can slice it like a pie.   Thanks, Wyoming!

Bonus Territory: Northern Mariana Islands: Pitaya Salad

In addition to the 50 states, the US has a number of territories.  Many of these are just a spit of sand with some scientific and/or military presence.  However, five of the territories are large enough to have a culture of their own (and, thus, food!):  Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam.   Maybe they will remain territories -- or maybe they will become states or independent nations.   Who knows?   Unfortunately, they get short shrift -- but not here at the I-40 Kitchen!  Scattered in between our posts on the remaining states, I will add some bonus posts for the territories.

We'll start with the Northern Mariana Islands.    A lot of the recipes I found online were very heavy on pork or seafood.  I wasn't feeling up to veganizing something like that (although let me know if you do it!).  I then happened across a recipe from the NMI which won a place in a healthy school lunch contest.  There are quite a few interesting (and veganizable) recipes from this contest, so you may want to check it out.   Anyhow, with some light veganizing and a little adjustment to quantities, here is the recipe:


1 1/2 c. cooked, chopped Gardein chick'n scallopini (or seitan, tofu, tempeh, or your preferred vegan protein)
1 chopped pitaya/dragonfruit (or 4 kiwis -- I used kiwis as dragonfruit was not to be found)
2 large slices fresh pineapple, diced
1/2 head green cabbage, chopped


1/3 c. plain, unsweetened nondairy yogurt
1 T. soy sauce
2 t. white vinegar
1 t. vinegar
pinch of cayenne (I used Indian chili powder, as I like it better)
2 t. black sesame seeds

Mix the salad ingredients.  Mix the dressing ingredients.  Combine.  That's it!

This was a fresh and delicious dinner.  The dressing was unexpected and very nice.  Who knew that soy yogurt and soy sauce would combine so pleasantly?   If you have leftover Thanksgiving Tofurky, this would be a good use for it.   Maybe Esther Huh, from the NMI, will see this and be inspired to try a vegan version of her recipe.

Edited to add:  After posting, I went to the market to buy apples, and they had pitaya/dragonfruit!  I got a little crazy with the pinkness of it all, and chopped up two to add to the salad:

Tip:  After sitting in the salad for a day or so, the Gardein became a bit mushy/pasty.   If you don't plan to eat this all at once, you may want to keep the Gardein separate until ready to serve.  When making again, I will probably use cooked, cubed tempeh, as I think it would hold up better.

With upcoming holiday travel, it will be a week or more before the next post.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Howdy, pals!  There will be a new recipe post (from a territory - not a state! so exciting!  so avant garde!) tomorrow.  For now, I am here to remind you that the I-40 Kitchen has you covered for US Thanksgiving:

Main dish:
Gravy-Baked Polenta Seitan  (the best, many years running)

Unity Inn Rolls  (for true, the Baby Jesus will cry if you don't make these)
Sweet Potato Yeast Bread

The Dressing/Stuffing:
Squash Dressing

Caraway Potatoes
Scalloped Collards  (I have fresh collards from my mama - I am making these)
Sweet Potato Curry
Green Bean Casserole from The Picnic
Squash Casserole (Lord, have mercy.  If you make one thing, make this.)
Sweet Potato Pudding
Raw Turnip Greens (brave and seasonal!)
Funeral Potatoes (more, please...)

Spiced Apple Pie (present for my Thanksgiving dogsitter)
Fresh Apple Cake
Japanese Fruit Pie
Great Aunt Pearl's Coconut Cake  (work, but worth it)
Shoo Fly Pie
Three Seasons Pie

The Leftovers:
"Chicken" Corn Pudding (make this with your leftover Tofurky)

I'm sure there are more Thanksgiving-appropriate posts, but these are the ones which immediately come to mind!  May all those who are celebrating have a good holiday!

Friday, November 16, 2012

50 States of MoFo: Texas: Pan de Campo (and Chili!)

If you've made more than one stop at this blog, you have probably gathered that I like bread and baking.  When I looked up traditional Texas recipes, I was surprised to find that the official state bread of Texas was something I had never heard of:  pan de campo or cowboy bread.   I had to try this!   However, it seemed a bit odd to make it on its own, so I stirred up a big pot of Texas-style chili to go with it.

For the chili, I used a recipe from one of my favorite Texans, Joanna Vaught.  The chili recipe is in her excellent book, Yellow Rose Greatest Hits.  If you don't own it, you should pick it up -- or put it on your Christmas list!   The recipe is a little quirky (no chili powder, a half a cup of coffee, etc), but the result is very authentic.

Back to the bread...   Pan de campo is pretty much a giant, quasi-steamed biscuit, cooked in a covered Dutch oven.   It makes a delicious, pleasingly dense accompaniment to chili (or, I imagine, any soup).   I consulted some recipes online, and this is what I did:

4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. vegan shortening
2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
hot water (about  1 3/4 c. in my case)

Stir together the flour, salt, and baking powder.  Work in the shortening.  (I find it easiest to do this with my hands, but suit yourself if you prefer a fork or pastry blender.)   Add enough hot water (as hot as you can get it from the tap) to make everything come together in a thick dough.  It will be thicker than regular biscuits.

Grease a cast iron Dutch oven.  Shape your ball of dough into a large circle and pat it out until it fills the bottom of the Dutch oven.  Cover with the lid and place in a 400 F oven for about 25 minutes.  The top will look soft and steamy.   If you are unsure if it is cooked through, you can stick a toothpick in it.  Turn out onto a cooling rack.   Slice and serve with chili!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

50 States of MoFo: Wisconsin: Lefse

Scandinavian immigrants have marked the food of the upper Midwest.   Norwegians brought with them lefse, a potato flatbread.   Lefse could be assigned to more than one state in this region, but I found a lot of recipes arising from Wisconsin, and decided to go with that designation.   I started from this Wisconsin recipe and made changes as given:

1. Peel and chop 1 lb potatoes.   Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, and boil until very soft.

2. Drain potatoes, and put into the bowl of a stand mixer, together with 1/4 c. vegan margarine, 1/4 c. plain unsweetened soy yogurt, and 1/2 t. salt.    Mix until completely smooth.  Pour into a bowl and refrigerate at least 8 hours.   (The internet warns us not to skip the refrigeration step.)

3.  Using your hands, work about 1 c. all purpose flour into the cold potatoes.   Divide into 16 balls.  

4. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high.   On a floured surface, roll out each lefse ball into a thin, round (or, in my case, sort-of round) pancake.  Go as thin as you reasonably can.   Transfer one at a time to the hot skillet, and cook 1-2 minutes per side, until brown spots appear and it looks cooked.

5. Roll up with whatever you like, sweet or savory.  While completely non-traditional, I rolled them with peanut butter and jelly!  Vegan margarine and cinnamon-sugar would be more traditional, and I think Tofurky slices would be fabulous.

Lefse was much easier to make than I anticipated, and really, really good.   Try this!

*The statue in the first photo is St Olav, the patron saint of Norway.  A friend gave the statue to me.  He normally hangs out on a bookshelf, but I thought he could help me in the kitchen tonight.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

50 States of MoFo: Kansas: Sunflower Steam Buns

German immigrants to Kansas brought steam buns (dampfnudeln) with them.  Kansas is known as the sunflower state, and I thought it might be nice to add some sunflower seeds to the steam buns.  I started from this recipe, posted by the Kansas Tourism Division.   After some adjustment, here's what I wound up with:

Mix together:
1/4 c. unrefined sugar
4 t. dry yeast
1 c. warm nondairy milk
1/2 c. unsweetened plain soy yogurt
1 T. ground flax

Add, and beat on high for 2 minutes:
2 T. oil
1 t. salt
1/2 c. finely ground sunflower seeds, toasted in a dry skillet
2 c. bread flour

Switch to a dough hook and gradually add more bread flour (about 1 1/2 c.) until you have a nice dough.  Knead for about 5 minutes, rest 5 minutes, then knead 2 minutes more.  Turn this out into a greased bowl and let rise until doubled.   Punch down, divide into 8, shape into rolls, and let rise, covered, on a greased baking sheet until doubled.

You really need a non-stick pan for these.  I made the first three in another pan, and they stuck like the devil. Maybe your karma is better than mine, but I switched to non-stick for the rest, with good results.   In the pan, heat 1/2 c. water, 1 T. vegan shortening, and 1/8 t. salt until just boiling.  Carefully place as many of the buns as will reasonably fit in the bottom of the pan, cover with a well-fitting lid, and reduce the heat.   Cook for 10-15 minutes until the water is absorbed and a toothpick run through one of the buns comes out clean.  (The original recipe warns not to uncover the pan to check for at least 10 minutes.)   Flip the buns with a spatula, raise the heat to medium-high, and cook uncovered for another 1-2 minutes.   You want them browned on both side.  This will flatten them a little bit, so they look similar to giant English muffins.  Repeat the cooking procedure with the other buns.

This was a fun and different way to make delicious dinner rolls!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

50 States of MoFo: Michigan: The Yooper Pasty

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan has a special love for the Cornish pasty.  Cornish and Welsh miners brought this savory hand-pie with them when they immigrated to the region in the 19th century, and it was quickly picked up by the Finnish community and others.  

The internet and a couple of friends from Michigan report that most Yooper pasties are not far off the Cornish original - beef, onion, potato, and rutabaga.  Nonetheless, one can put most anything in a pasty.  At first, I toyed with variants including ingredients often grown in Michigan, such as asparagus or cherries.  However, these items are out of season in November, and the available supply looked rather pitiful.  Undaunted, I stirred up a filling based on items I had on hand.   Here's a recipe -- but please branch out as you see fit.

Make the dough:
Stir together 2 c. all purpose flour and 1/2 t. salt.   Cut in 3/4 c. vegan margarine.  With a fork, stir in 6-7 T. cold water just until a ball forms.   Divide into four balls and refrigerate for at least an hour.  You could do this the day before.

Make the filling by combining:
2 c. roasted brussels sprouts
2 c. chopped raw potato
2 c. chopped chickpea tofu
1 T. nutritional yeast
1 T. dried parsley
1 t. seasoned salt (I used a Greek mix I found in the cupboard) or more to taste
1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. paprika
black pepper to taste

Make the pasties:
Heat the oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment.   Roll out each dough ball into a rough circle.  Pile on as much filling as you can fit, fold over into a half moon shape, and crimp along the edge.   Bake 50-60 minutes until golden brown.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

50 States of MoFo: Oklahoma: "Chicken" Corn Pudding

Considering Oklahoma, I thought of a batch of pepper butter, which would be easy to veganize and good with anything.  However, I settled on chicken corn pudding, which is pretty much what it sounds like.  I looked at recipes here and here, and then did what I felt like.  We were very happy with the results, and will surely make this again.  It was warm, satisfying comfort food on a cool autumn evening - and easy to make after work.

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Grease a 9 inch pie plate.

Mix together in a bowl:

10 oz package Gardein chik'n scallopini, cooked and cubed (or chicken-style seitan, soy curls, tempeh, etc)
1 c. frozen corn
4 oz. can mild green chiles
large handful parsley, chopped (1/4 - 1/2 c)
1/4 c. shredded vegan cheese, optional

Set aside.  In a food processor, blend:

1 lb. silken tofu
1/4 c. all purpose flour (you could use rice or chickpea flour if making this xgfx)
1/4 c. chickpea flour
2/3 c. plain unsweetened soymilk
1/2 t. black salt
1 t. onion powder
1/2 t. salt
black pepper to taste
1/4 c. melted vegan margarine

Stir in the protein-corn mixture, and pour everything into the pie plate.  Bake for about 40 minutes or until set.   Enjoy!  

I have upcoming work travel, but will return with another state in a week or so!