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Corned Seitan and Cabbage

This St. Patrick’s Day consider making the Corned Seitan and Cabbage from Vegan on the Cheap.  Not only is it a delicious way to celebrate the holiday, but the leftovers will reward you with the makings of the most amazing Reuben sandwiches this side of a New York deli. 
If you don’t already have Vegan on the Cheap, I do hope you’ll get it soon because the recipes in that book can save you some serious $$$ (and give you great meals in the bargain!) In the meantime, though, I’ll share the recipe for Corned Seitan and Cabbage so you can celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day in style. 
If you prefer some lighter fare to mark the day, try my Colcannon Quesadillas. You can find the recipe on OneGreenPlanet.  Mashed potatoes + spinach (or kale) + tortillas = an easy and delicious treat that can be enjoyed as is or served with picante sauce or a spicy mint chutney (for an Irish-Mexican-Indian fusion feast).

For more St. Patrick’s Day recipes, check out Party Vegan.  Here’s the menu from Party Vegan‘s St. Patrick’s Day chapter, along with the recipe for Colcannon Fritters.

Now here’s that seitan recipe….Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Corned Seitan and Cabbage
Look for pickling spices in the spice aisle in your supermarket. From Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson © 2010. 
Tip: For extra flavor, try replacing 1 to 2 tablespoons of the water in the seitan mixture with 1 to 2 tablespoons of pickle juice (from a jar of dill pickles).
1 sweet yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large carrot, cut into 1/4-inch slices or 1 cup baby carrots, halved lengthwise
1 small head cabbage, sliced, reserving 2 large leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups vital wheat gluten
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 cup water, or more as needed
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon coarse brown mustard
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pickling spices
1 pound Yukon Gold or small red potatoes, halved or cut into chunks if large
1 cup vegetable broth
1.  Lightly oil the insert of a large oval slow cooker or spray it with cooking spray. Arrange the onion, garlic, carrots, and sliced cabbage in the bottom of the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  
2. In a large bowl, combine the vital wheat gluten, onion powder, coriander, allspice, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Add the water, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of the mustard, and vinegar. Mix well, adding a little more water if the mixture is too dry, then knead for 2 minutes until smooth. Shape the seitan to fit inside your cooker.
3.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons mustard and the sugar until well blended, then spread evenly on top of the seitan.  Sprinkle the pickling spices on top, pressing them with your hand to imbed them in the mustard mixture.
4. Carefully place the seitan in the cooker on top of the two reserved cabbage leaves. Arrange the potatoes around the seitan.  Pour the broth over the potatoes and season them with salt and pepper.   Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on Low until the seitan and vegetables are cooked, 7 to 8 hours.
5. To serve, remove the vegetables and seitan from the slow cooker.  Cut the seitan into slices and arrange them on a serving platter.  Surround with the vegetables and spoon the cooking liquid over all. Serve hot.
Note: This is best when made in a larger cooker to accommodate vegetables, but if you have a smaller 4-quart slow cooker, you can still make this recipe—just use half the amount of vegetables so you do not overfill the cooker.  Alternatively, you can cook the potatoes and cabbage in the oven or on top of the stove and just use the slow cooker to cook the seitan on top of the onion and cabbage leaves (these give added flavor to the seitan and help hold its share), adding the vegetable broth and garlic. 
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The Apple of My Pie…

…or, more correctly, the apple of my “not-pie” — this is one of the luscious baked apples we’ve been enjoying.  Northern Virginia is apple country and there are so many varieties to choose from, it’s hard to decide what to bring home from the various farmstands and orchards in the area.  This week we tried York and Cortland.  I’m sure they’d be wonderful in an actual pie, but I chose to use them in a more virtuous way by baking several of them in my slow cooker.  The flavor is as indulgent as apple pie — without the indulgence.  I’ll be making them again soon.  Next time, I think I’ll stuff them with a little granola to make them reminiscent of apple crisp.  Yum.

Three’s the Charm:  I have lots of good news to share today, I hardly know where to begin.  Let’s start with the amazing honor of having one of my recipes chosen as 1 of 4 “Recipes of the Year” on Vegan.com.  My Singapore-Style Rice Noodles with Tofu and Vegetables was named “Quick Recipe of the Year.”  This recipe happens to be a personal favorite of mine.  Try it yourself and let me know what you think!

Also today, I found out that my Roasted Cauliflower Picatta recipe from my post on One Green Planet was chosen to appear on the Huffington Post! A huge thank you to all who voted for this recipe on One Green Planet.

Good news must come in threes, because, also today, Vegan on the Cheap got a nice shout out in the Philadelphia Daily News, along with my recipe for Tuscan White Bean Pizza appearing on philly.com.

Exciting stuff! Not bad for a Thursday, huh?

White Bean Pizza from VOTC

For this week’s “Flashback Friday” we revisit the pleasures of the Tuscan White Bean Pizza from Vegan on the Cheap.  This insanely delicious pizza recipe is extremely popular among fans of VOTC and it’s no wonder:  it tastes fabulous and is ideal for cooking vegan “on the cheap,” because it doesn’t call for any expensive vegan cheese.  Instead, it has a creamy garlicky bean topping that is low in fat, high in protein, and, best of all, cheap to make. Remember, all the recipes in Vegan on the Cheap cost between 50 cents and two dollars to make, so you can easily eat wonderful vegan meals for just a few dollars a day.
As I mentioned the first time I posted this recipe, you can make the pizza dough using white whole wheat flour, but you can use anything from regular all-purpose flour, to half whole-wheat/half a.p. flour, to your favorite gluten-free flour blend. You can also add some dried herbs to the flour mixture when making the crust for added flavor. If you want to include extra toppings, here are some ideas:  (Keep in mind that certain toppings, such as olives and artichokes, are pricier than others and will add to the cost of the pizza.)
Topping ideas:
vegan pepperoni slices (recipe in Vegan on the Cheap)
roasted or grilled vegetables
tossed baby greens salad with a light vinaigrette
crumbled vegan sausage and marinara sauce (recipes in Vegan on the Cheap)
sliced artichoke hearts and tofu feta (recipe in Vegan on the Cheap)
hummus, sliced tomatoes, and sliced pitted kalamata olives 

And, finally, here is the recipe:
Tuscan White Bean Pizza
Makes 1 (12-inch) pizza
(Recipe from Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson © 2010, John Wiley and Sons.)
Dough:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup lukewarm water
Topping:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup water or vegetable stock
3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
2 ripe plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1. Make the dough: In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt.  Stir in the water until combined then use your hands to knead it into a soft dough.
2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding additional flour as needed so it doesn’t stick. Shape the dough into a smooth ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature in a warm spot until double in volume, about 1 hour.
3. After the dough has risen, transfer it to a lightly floured work surface, punch it down and gently stretch and lift it to make a 12-inch round about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer the round to a floured baking sheet or pizza stone.  Let the dough rise in draft-free place for 20 minutes. Adjust the oven rack to the bottommost position of the oven.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
4. Make the topping: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.  Add the beans, salt, and pepper. 
5. Mash the beans to break them up, then stir in the water and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is creamy, about 8 minutes.  Stir in the basil and set aside.
6. To assemble the pizza, spread the bean mixture evenly on top of the dough round, to within 1/2-inch of the edge.  Arrange the tomato slices on top and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Bake until the crust is browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.
Splurge a little: Add sliced pitted kalamata olives when you add the tomatoes.  Garnish with thin strips of fresh basil leaves.

Watermelon Hearts with Sweet Mint Pesto

I think the adage about a watched pot never boiling holds true for ripening blackberries as well.  Every day I check on my almost-ripe blackberries and even with the crazy hot days we’ve had recently, they’re still not ripe — almost, but not quite. 

Our mint, on the other hand, is going crazy.  Jon’s been making good use of the crop with copious batches of mint juleps, but I wanted to use some of these fragrant leaves for more than a bourbon delivery system.  So I took a cue from the nearby basil leaves that I’ve been turning into savory pesto, and decided to turn the tables on the whole pesto experience with — ta da — Sweet Mint Pesto!!  What a revelation. 
As you can see from the above photo, my first inclination was to go all fancy and cut out some watermelon hearts.  Place just a little dab of sweet mint pesto onto a piece of watermelon, pop in your mouth, and let the fun begin.  It made me wish watermelons were in season for Valentine’s Day, because they are perfect for shaping into hearts of all sizes and could be used in all sorts of elegant dessert presentations.  But since lots of us have our wedding anniversaries in the summer, I’m sure the idea of heart-shaped watermelon will be getting lots of use.  Here’s the recipe for Sweet Mint Pesto:

Sweet Mint Pesto
1/3 cup unsalted cashews or macadamia nuts
1 teaspoon white chocolate chips (optional)
2 cups loosely packed mint leaves
2 to 3 tablespoons agave nectar
In a food processor, grind the cashews and chocolate chips (if using). Add the mint leaves and 2 tablespoons of the agave and process to a paste.  For a sweeter pesto, add more agave.
Ways to use Sweet Mint Pesto:
·        Serve it alongside watermelon cut-outs (as shown) to dab on top of the melon.
·        Spread the mint pesto on a plain cake, cupcake, or muffin.
·        Add mint pesto to a brownie or cake batter recipe (in place of some of the wet ingredients).
·        Stir almond milk or coconut milk into the pesto to thin it a bit and make a thick creamy sauce:   Add blueberries and toss to coat for: Blueberries in Sweet Mint Cream. Yum.
Speaking of blueberries…. While I’m waiting for my personal supply of blackberries to ripen, I’ve also been having lots of fun with blueberries (even beyond tossing them with the mint cream!). 
I love the combination of blueberries and chocolate, so you know those Chocolate Surprise Brownies from Vegan on the Cheap — the ones made with not only black beans, but also coffee and banana?  Last week I substituted blueberries for the banana (I pulsed the blueberries to a chunky puree) and — wow.  I also tossed some whole blueberries on top of the brownie batter about halfway through baking.  They may not have been the prettiest brownies in the world, but they sure were the tastiest!

Red-Hot Chili Tofu over Pancit

With the first week of Vegan Mofo coming to a close, I thought I’d end the week with a post I’ll call “Flashback Friday” because it features two recipes that I blogged about a year or so ago.

The photo shows Red-Hot Chili Tofu over Vegetable Pancit which are actually separate recipes from my book Vegan Fire and Spice. And while I blogged about each of them separately (and provided the recipes), what I didn’t mention back then is what I did with the leftovers.

So here’s the update: As you’ve probably surmised, I served the tofu over the pancit and it made enough for a third meal. Best of all, we enjoyed them as much together as we did separately!

Now for a special surprise Weekend Giveaway: Leave a comment at the end of this post to win a coupon for a free container of Nasoya Tofu Plus. This contest closes Sunday 11/7 at midnight, EST. I’ll announce the winner on Monday 11/8.

And if you haven’t entered my Special Weekly Mofo Giveaway for a copy of Vegan on the Cheap, there’s still time to enter by commenting at the end of the November 3rd post — that contest closes Monday 11/8 at midnight and that winner will be announced on Tuesday, November 9.

Whew, I just exhausted myself keeping all that straight — TGIF!

Best Ever Birthday Pizza

Jon’s birthday was Saturday and, as is our custom, we always begin celebrating a few days leading up to the event — mostly with the honoree’s favorite foods being enjoyed.

This year, Jon’s birthday blow-out coincided with a visit from some of our best friends who also enjoy the same food penchants we do, including doubling up on the garlic, olives, or hot chiles in most any recipe!

One of Jon’s birthday meal requests was pizza (as it is most every year!) I decided to make the Tuscan White Bean Pizza from Vegan on the Cheap (see May 13 post: http://veganplanet.blogspot.com/2010/05/tuscan-white-bean-pizza.html).

Don’t get me wrong, that pizza is utterly fantastic in its own right, but I have to tell you that I’ve made a good thing even better with a few embellishments. Here’s what I did:
1. I doubled the amount of garlic in the white bean topping.
2. Not only did I mix lots of fresh basil into the topping, I also liberally spread basil on top of the topping as well.
3. I used thinly sliced super-sweet grape tomatoes on top along with halved and pitted kalamata olives.
4. For a big finish: I dabbed small spoonfuls of green olive and tomato tapenade on top of the pizza.

Everyone eating this amazing pizza was speechless — mostly because their mouths were stuffed with pizza! But between bites, we all agreed it was outstanding. If you haven’t tried it yet, I hope you will — and let me know if you add any “extras” — I think next time I’ll add a few shakes of hot red pepper flakes or some slices of my homemade vegan pepperoni!

More than a Meat(less) Loaf

Whenever I get one of those nagging food cravings I usually give in to it right away so I can get it out of my head and get on with my life. That’s how it was with this vegan meatloaf. Despite the fact that it was 90 degrees outside, I just had to turn on the oven.

First I cut up some veggies and got them roasting. For the loaf, I used the recipe for Three-Bean Loaf from Vegan on the Cheap. It’s an easy and versatile recipe that combines minced onion, carrot, celery, and garlic with beans (you can swap different kinds), oats, wheat gluten flour, bread crumbs, and seasonings. That’s it. Just shape and bake at 375 for about 50 minutes. The recipe calls for adding a topping made with ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, and vinegar, but I just added a strip of ketchup on top instead.

As dinner baked in the oven, I inhaled the wonderful fragrance. It got me to reminiscing about my first foray into cooking a vegetarian meal back in the ‘70s. It was a bean loaf I made from a then-rare vegetarian recipe I found in a magazine. I admit that first bean loaf I made wasn’t the greatest, but to me it tasted like freedom. For the first time I felt empowered that I could go vegetarian and never look back.

At dinner that night, I thought about the significance of that first meatless loaf so many years ago and it made my delicious dinner taste all the more satisfying.