Curried rice noodles with dino kale and spicy panfried tempeh

•June 20, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Summers in Washington, DC, are heavy and slick with the sweat of suited government interns.  The forecast predicts highs of ninety and above, and I can only wear my one pair of shorts so many times until the threads melt from my body.  If anyone can suggest a thrifty thrift store where I can find some pants to cut up, please do let me know!

Two days left until the end of the school year!  After waiting so long for this moment to arrive, I’m a little disappointed by my lack of excitement, though a soon-to-be state of joblessness is certainly cause for apprehension.  Quarterlife crisis, jeez, let me chill out for just a week!  On the plus side, Le seitan au vin will definitely be getting a lot more attention in the weeks to come, so look out!

Before getting to the titular dish, I just need to briefly mention my favorite comfort food at the moment–creamy red lentil, quinoa and polenta mash.  I’m going to call it mash since, despite requiring no mashing, the word “mush” seems to have a negative connotation around these parts.  This dish is super easy and is a great hangover accompaniment, as I discovered this morning.  I started with the quinoa (as it takes the longest to cook), then added the red lentils and, finally, the yellow grits.  I threw in some nutritional yeast, along with some Bragg’s and some dried herbs and black pepper.  The three main ingredients go so well together, especially texture-wise.  Normally, polenta/grits don’t have a lot of fiber (or much of anything), so the addition of some healthy lentils and quinoa also makes sure you don’t add on a feeling of gross fullness to a throbbing head.  Just make sure you measure the water out appropriately, and add more as needed.  Stirring consistently is a must.

Anyway, curried rice noodles, kale and tempeh.  The curry was easy enough–just a simple sautée of garlic, dried arbol chiles, and onions with turmeric, garam masala, cumin seeds and a dash of Bragg’s.  I was going to use coconut milk, but its state of freshness was a little dubious, so I used water and a little bit of cornstarch to thicken up the curry.  I mixed in the rice noodles (I used vermicelli, though udon would also be tasty) and immediately threw it onto some shredded dino kale to “cook” it a little bit.  For the tempeh, I used the spicy marinated tempeh recipe from the Veganomicon.  Instead of grilling the tempeh, I panfried it until lovely and crispy.  Altogether, it was quite a satisfying (read: filling) dish.

To be honest, I really enjoy the taste and texture of raw tempeh.  The fried version was a little much for me.  The next time I make this, I think, at most, I’ll add some agave and thicken the marinade into a glaze, then just brush it on some lightly toasted tempeh triangles.  Who follows recipes to a T anyway?  Happy Sunday.

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What do you think?

•June 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Yesterday, I took my last exam for GWU ever!  Well, technically, it was for DCPS, since it was one of the Praxis II’s, but if I want a masters I have to take it.  One important caveat, however, is that I don’t have to pass to get the degree.  With that in mind, I had A and my friend G over for dinner, then went to bed around 12:30am.

Turns out the test was a joke.  Not caring at all and not even cracking open a study guide really helped me stay on task and finish on time.  I expect a decent score, and hopefully a teaching license that I can tack up to my wall and be done with all of this DCPS nonsense.

After the exam, I went with my friend J to Vegetarian Soul Exodus on Georgia Ave (a few blocks north of the Howard U. School of Medicine).  If you want to be stuffed to the gills with some awesome vegan soul food, check it out!

While shoveling food into our faces, we actually managed to have some conversation.  I was very pleased to hear that Le seitan au vin does indeed have some readership!  With that in mind, I’m proposing something to all of you loving readers…how about, instead of me getting all irritated with having to recall and write down recipes, I just post some pictures of what I made and give you a little background on the dish?  Hear me out…

Food, at least for me, isn’t only about refueling our bodies with nutrients.  It isn’t even really about feeding ourselves something tasty.  I have my own ideas about what food is, but, when I sit down and blog about the things I make, I’m much more motivated to share the series of events and circumstances that brought such meals to my (or our) table.  For a minute, let’s make believe that food isn’t just a pit-stop on some fabulous trip we’re taking.  Let’s imagine that food is the fabulous trip, and we’re all, just for a minute, proverbially taking the same fabulous “candy tab” to enjoy the journey together.

Sound good?  Cool.

Here’s a sandwich I made a few weeks ago, with some home-made seitan (duh!).

Seitan, when made in huge batches like I always seem to do, is a great go-to protein for workday lunches.  I had it on top of a slice of multi-seed bread, some raw dino kale, raw bellas, and topped with a home-made barbecue sauce.  I topped it all with some basil leaves, which I arranged to look like sails on a boat.  This step, I believe, was the most important of the construction of this open-faced sandwich.

Since being with A, I have found myself eating a lot more bread that I had been for the past year.  My carbs of choice are usually pasta, rice or some other grain (quinoa being my absolute favorite, although technically not a grain).  I have, however, opened myself up to some hot, hot loavin’ as of late, and I must say that it feels pretty damn good.

A recently discovered 52 Loaves, by William Alexander, which explores “one man’s relentless pursuit of truth, meaning and  a perfect crust.”  Diane Rehm repped it like whoa on NPR, so it’s probably worth checking out. Personally, I can’t wait for A’s Amazon shipment to come in, so I can “borrow” his copy for an extended period of time.  Six-thousand years of bread-history (breastory?  breastory.) should be an awesome summer read…

…But not before I get my hands on the Encyclopedia of Pasta by Oretta Zanini de Vita.  In a similar vein of 52 Loaves, the author approaches her carbsploration within a slightly more academic framework, which is super sexy in my nerd book.

Librarian friends: let me know if either of these books ever get ordered.  As soon as they do, I’m swooping down and snatching them up for myself.

Seitan Medallions in Mushroom Gravy, Courtesy of Vegan Soul Kitchen

•June 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Last week was my birthday, on which I turned the big, big, big 24!  The fact that I am still able to rouse myself from the bed without slipping and shattering my hip (then using my old-person whistle to call out for help) is a wonder to me.

Sadly, however, time seems to have taken its toll on my memory, as I seem to have forgotten that I have a blog beloved by many.  I have been terribly inconsistent over the past few months, for a number of reasons, the first of which is clearly dementia.  Secondly, I announced my resignation from DCPS, so I’ve been scrambling to and fro trying to find someone to hire me.  Thirdly, I have been seeing someone wonderful–A.

I asked A to choose a recipe to make for dinner on my birthday, and he chose the seitan medallions with mushroom gravy from Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry (Are you reading?).  Making the seitan from scratch, plus the gravy and the salad you see below, seemed like it would be a pain in the culo, but cooking with a dashing sous-chef has its definite advantages!

Altogether, it took A and I about two hours to complete the meal.  Instead of baking or boiling the seitan, I chose to steam it, which, for me, produces the best texture–firm, but moist.  Terry calls for a home-made mushroom stock, but I used some vegan boullion instead, which worked just fine.  A liked it as well, but thought that it was perhaps a little too salty.  He was definitely wrong–Algernon LeBon-Hsu doesn’t make mistakes.  Take a look here:

Absolutely delicious!  Following the dinner, we went down to Larry’s Lounge on 18th, where my friends and I proceeded to hang out in Larry’s basement.  Feels ok to be 24.

Agave-glazed tempeh in a roasted red pepper boat; green tea soba noodles in a shiitake mushroom broth

•June 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

About one week four months ago, I made a visit to Hana Market, a lovely little Japanese grocery store at 17th and U.  Originally, I had merely intended to pick up some tofu (can someone tell me why organic tofu at Hana costs about $1.50, while it can cost up to double in *certain* gargantuan grocery stores?), but, lo and behold, hath mine eyes deceived me?  No!  EGG-FREE wonton skins!  And organic green tea soba noodles!  I shouted in delight upon seeing these items, then was promptly asked to leave.

I’m going to leave the dumplings for another day, because I already loaded the pictures of this dish onto the computer.

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If anyone is interested, I can post this recipe in the comments section.

Tempeh burgers: addendum (good pictures!)

•March 21, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I made these again at SB’s house yesterday.  SB was awesome enough to have picked up all the ingredients, so I brought a bottle.  I had great luck that day–found a great bottle of Priorat at Dean and Deluca!  Naturally, I bought two.

This time, the burgers were served on a bed of dinosaur kale tossed with a simple vinaigrette, and the burgers themselves were topped with “rustic” barbeque sauce (diced tomatoes, agave, chili powder, balsamic vinegar, fresh parsley, maybe some other herbs…I don’t quite remember).

Great location (SB’s backyard), great people, great weather–all in all, an awesome little dinner.

Curried tempeh burgers/”burgers” with roasted eggplant

•March 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Before I forget: I made curried tempeh burgers tonight.  Of the off-the-cuff things I make with what’s lying around, these are probably my favorites.  I’m sure they’d be great on bread, too.

That lumpy purple liquid is ground flaxseed and rice milk.

Crumbled tempeh into a bowl, added garlic powder, turmeric, coriander, cumin seeds, diced onions, chipotle powder, rice vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, nutritional yeast, agave, and olive oil.  I made a flaxseed binder (one part flax to three parts rice milk, which I’m sure could also be replaced with any liquid…) and mixed that with the tempeh.  I added bread crumbs, but I imagine they would be good without them.  I left them at 450 F until the tops browned, then turned them to brown on the other side.

Yes, this is the toaster oven I use like a regular oven.  Funny thing–my regular oven makes a weird smell when I turn it on, so I have only used the stovetop.  This took some observation.

So good.

Not the best lighting situation, but they were the perfect texture, dense as anything so I just had one with some sweet kale salad and roasted eggplant slices.  I liked this one.

Pizza crust attempt #14: Success!

•March 13, 2010 • 2 Comments

So, after my undeserved hiatus, I have returned with a relatively successful baking story.  Some person once told me, “You are either a good cook or a good baker, nothing in between.”  To that person, I submit the challenge: Can you be a mediocre cook AND bake vegan pizza crusts? Let’s experience this journey together, reader, just you and me.

Now, as my dear wife Ladée and our friends AB and CS have witnessed, my prior experiences with vegan pizza crusts have not been too terribly wonderful.  First, I made the mistake of throwing all of the toppings on the raw crust and putting everything into the oven at once.  Chewy, gooey, not too pleasant.  Round two resulted in a blackened crust, which we trimmed and ate anyway.  Meh…

I seem to have found a happy medium in the process I used two days ago.  I mixed one cup of flour with dried oregano, thyme and salt.  Oh yeah, and a tablespoon-ish of baking powder.  I drizzled some olive oil, and added rice milk until the mixture reached a doughy consistency.  I think this is the part of the process that usually screws me over–the dough is either too gooey or dry.  I suppose one could achieve a successful ratio with practice.  Or making someone else do it.  I baked it at 450 F for around ten minutes, just enough to cook it a bit.  I took it out to put toppings on it.

For this round, I made my typical casheese, then tossed some yellow onions and kale–enough to make it chunky but spreadable.  I smoothed all of this on top of the crust then threw it in for another ten minutes or so, just enough to brown the toppings.  The result was delightful:

I had enough to make it all over again, so I made the crust and saved it for the next day.  I made the same toppings, but also threw some diced Peruvian olives on top of the casheese mixture.  Yum:

Hooray!  Now that I’ve gotten the hang of (crispy) flatbread, be on the lookout for more recipes that utilize this one new skill I’ve acquired.

Also, I have been working very hard on memorizing the lyrics to:

I am confident that my neighbors have truly appreciated this throwback to the eighties and all of the memories associated with it, which now include me singing it over and over and over again and again and again.