Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chinese Honey-Hoisin Seitan Ribs

I know a lot of skeptical meat eaters. When I tell them that I made a pot roast or chicken parmesan that's vegan, they raise an eyebrow. When I tell them I made ribs that are vegan, both brows tend to go up. When they try these ribs, they're usually pretty shocked because the texture and flavor are right on. These things win over my meat-eating friends and family every time.

Normally, I slather these in a homemade barbecue sauce or braise them until they're tender. Lately I've been using a honey alternative that is out of this world and it got me thinking about honey-hoisin ribs instead. These are a nice combination of sticky, sweet and tangy.

The honey alternative is called Bee Free Honee and I can't recommend it highly enough. If you're in Seattle, you can find it at Vegan Haven or Central Market. Bee Free Honee is made from apples and it looks, pours and tastes just like honey. The only thing that gives it away is that there's a slight apple-y aftertaste. You could use agave nectar for this sauce, but it's not even in the ballpark of honey flavor. If you're wondering why honey isn't really vegan, you can find some good info here.

These ribs are very easy to make, so don't be intimidated by the final product. They take less than an hour and very little of that is "hands on" time.

For the ribs:

dry ingredients
2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp garbanzo flour
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder

wet ingredients
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup tamari
2 tbsp vegetable oil

For the sauce:
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
4 tsp tamari
2 tsp sriracha
2/3 cup Bee Free Honee or agave nectar

green onions, sliced
2 tbsp sesame seeds

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Make the ribs: In a large bowl, stir the dry ingredients until combined. In a medium bowl, stir the wet ingredients together. Add the wet to the dry and stir with a sturdy wooden spoon until combined. Don't get too aggressive or overwork the dough or the ribs will be tough. It should all come together pretty easily and look like this:

Spray a 9x13 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Put the ball of dough into the dish and knead it out toward the edges, making sure that it's being spread evenly. If some spots are thinner than others once it's spread, just work some over from a thicker spot. Once the dough is spread out evenly, score rib shapes into it with a sharp knife. One lengthwise and several others across, depending on how big you like them.

Brush the top of the dough with a little vegetable oil and put it into the oven for 30 minutes.

Make the sauce: While the ribs are cooking, combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Get a large sheet pan out and line it with aluminum foil.

Once the ribs have been cooking for 30 minutes, take them out of the oven and re-score the lines. You'll be taking them out of the baking dish and moving them to the pan, so feel free to actually cut the slab into 2 segments to make it easier to work with. Just split them along one of the lines. Turn your broiler on low.

Brush both sides of the ribs generously with the sauce and place them on the foil-lined baking sheet. Put the ribs into the oven and let them cook for 5-7 minutes, or until they start to char a bit and the sauce caramelizes. Once that happens, pull them out and flip them and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes.

Cut along the pre-scored lines and separate the seitan into rib shapes. Brush with a little more sauce and sprinkle on some sesame seeds and chopped green onions.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Carrot and Potato Stew with Lemon-Thyme Dumplings

I love this stew. It's easy and fun to make and always hits the spot, especially on a chilly fall or winter night. Our neighbor got a spot at Pike Place Market for his soda business and gave us some veggies from the market. This was the perfect dish for them. Look at these beauties:

Which reminds me: don't get stuck in the mindset that there has to be some kind of meat-type ingredient in order to make a stew. The potatoes and carrots, along with a thick broth, are more than enough to make this stew satisfying. Some seitan or field roast would be a perfectly fine addition, but I think you'll find that you won't need them.

For the stew:
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 bunch carrots, peeled and sliced (about 1 1/2 cups after they're diced)
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped into small chunks
6 cups warm veggie stock
1 tsp salt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp tarragon
1 tbsp rosemary
1 tsp smoked paprika
Black pepper to taste

For the dumplings:
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp thyme, crushed between your fingers
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil

Make the stew: First, dice up your veggies and have them at the ready. You can put the potatoes, carrots and celery on a plate or in a bowl all together to save space. Leave the onions by themselves. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Once it shimmers, add the flour and stir it around in the oil, making sure it's absorbed completely. Stir the mixture around for about 3 minutes, until it's a little darker and smells kind of nutty.

Add the onions and the salt and stir them around to coat in the flour mixture. Sweat the onions over the heat, stirring pretty regularly, until they're nice and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir it around, cooking it for another 20-30 seconds.

Slowly pour in the veggie broth, stirring constantly with a whisk to make sure there are no lumps. Add the other vegetables and the seasonings and stir it all up. Put the lid onto the pot and turn the heat up to high. When it starts to boil, turn the heat back down enough to keep it at a nice simmer. Let it cook like this for about 20 minutes, stirring it around occasionally.

Make the dumplings: While the stew is simmering, combine your dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the liquid ingredients and stir them around. This won't be like pizza or bread dough, all dry and easy to handle. It should be sticky. Only add more flour if it's liquidy or runny (it shouldn't be).

Remove the lid and drop in large spoonfuls of dumpling dough directly into the stew. They'll sink and won't look like much, but trust me on this. Put the lid back on and leave it alone for 15 more minutes. Once you lift the lid, they'll go from looking small and sad to this:

Ladle the stew into some bowls, top with a couple of dumplings and enjoy!