Tuesday, April 27, 2010

So now I have a giant lunchmeat...

...BUT boy does it taste GOOD!! 

I'm not sure what it IS about this log o'seitan: the spices, the taste, the texture... but, I think I like it.  It has a totally different texture than any of the seitan I've ever had before. If memory serves me correctly, I'd say it's something like spicy bologna or mild pepperoni...

So, I sliced it and cut it into triangles, and made a fajita, or soft taco...or quesadilla... something along those lines.

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I sauteed the seitan pieces in a little olive oil, added some baby spinach leaves...

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then melted a mound of shredded TEESE over it (Thanks to the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival: Teese is not sold in stores here...)

Wrapped this up in a whole wheat tortilla and dinner was ready.

Sauteing the seitan pieces give them a wonderful, crispy outside.  Be sure not to overcook, as the pieces can get dry and had VERY quickly ^_^

Monday, April 26, 2010

Orzo With Roasted Red Peppers & Asparagus

This was a quick dish I threw together the other night...

As a child, and even today, I loved orzo pasta simply prepared with margarine, salt and pepper. Since I didn't want to eat just that for dinner, I decided to add some veggies that I had on hand as well.

I used a 12 oz bag of frozen asparagus from Trader Joes, thawed for 5-6 minutes in the microwave, and then chopped into 1" pieces. Trader Joe's frozen asparagus tends to become very mushy, VERY fast, so keep an eye on it in the microwave, and add it to your skillet at the last minute. Spices were kind of a mix and match. I use a mix called Sandwich Sprinkle from Penzey's Spice Company, as well as basil and thyme.

Photo by ~Rita~

Orzo With Roasted Red Peppers & Asparagus


1 cup orzo pasta
12 ounces asparagus, thawed, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 large roasted red peppers, chopped
3 tablespoons margarine (Earth Balance)
2 garlic cloves, minced
garlic salt, to taste
basil, to taste
thyme, to taste
oregano, to taste
salt and black pepper, to taste


1.  Cook orzo according to package directions.
2.  Heat skillet over medium heat.
3.  Spray with non stick cooking spray.
4.  Add Earth Balance margarine and garlic and cook until fragrant.
5.  Add chopped roasted red peppers and spices to taste.
6.  Reduce heat to low, add chopped asparagus and stir to coat.
7.  Drain orzo, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
8.  Add orzo to skillet, and gently mix, adding pasta water as needed.

Photo by ~Rita~

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My search is over!

The newly renovated Dave's Marketplace here in Smithfield, RI had Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten!!  I've been looking for this EVERYWHERE, and have not been able to find it until now

I bought myself two bags in case I never find it again...

So....let the seitan experiments commence...

The infamous Seitan O'Greatness is going to be my first attempt. Any Post Punk Kitchen fan reading this will know exactlly what I am talking about.  For those of you unfamiliar, feel free to click the link above, and read all about the fun!

I have always been extremely intimidated at the thought of making seitan.  I've read countless cookbooks and blogs, describing the process, the DOs and DON'Ts, and I basically came to the conclusion that my attemps at making seitan would turn out to be a complete and utter F A I L U R E...

But then I read the description (the entire thread actually) of this Recipe O'Greatness, and thought "This can't be THAT hard"...

All the picutres I see of this thing look like a giant lunchmeat of some sort. Kinda cool, kinda different...I can't wait!

The only thing I'm personally planning to change in the recipe is the addition of cinnamon... (not really feelin' it).  Allspice is enough "earthy-ness" for me  But that is it. I figure I will make it once as written, and then play around with it...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Seitan Worship

Seitan is pronounced [SAY-tan]

A protein-rich food made from wheat GLUTEN and used in many VEGETARIAN dishes. Seitan's firm texture is definitively chewy and meatlike (which is why it's also called wheat meat), and its flavor rather neutral. That mildness, however, allows seitan to be a kitchen chameleon that easily picks up the flavors of the foods with which it is cooked.

Homemade Seitan - chicken style

For those of you who only know gluten as "taboo" in many of the gluten-free diets that seen to be cropping up all over, Gluten is actually the name of the insoluble protein in wheat, probably most familiar as the stuff that makes bread dough elastic. This elastic protein is actually know as “Seitan” in Japan, as “kofu” in China, and as "wheat meat" and "gluten" here in the U.S.

Seitan is a low fat, high protein, firm-textured meat substitute. It has been eaten in China, Japan, Korea, Russia and the Middle East for thousands of years. Gluten is often referred to in Chinese restaurants as "Buddha food", because of the claim that it was developed by pacifist, vegetarian Buddhist monks as a meat substitute. It is a food rich in tradition as well as nutrition.

It's a versatile healthy, low fat, low carbohydrate, high protein, cholesterol-free animal protein replacement for vegans, vegetarians and even meat lovers who want to give their intestines a break.
Three ounces of seitan contain 130 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 8 grams of carbohydrates and 20 grams of protein. This compares favorably with three ounces of steak, which contain the same amount of protein, but also 200 calories and 12 grams of fat – almost all saturated fat. And, unlike the steak, seitan contains zero cholesterol.
Making seitan the traditional way is extremely time consuming.  If you use regular whole wheat or unbleached white flour, you first mix it with water and then KNEAD and KNEAD for at least 10 minutes.  Wheat flour is basically just starch and gluten, and to get seitan, you must RINSE all the starch from the gluten, which involves lots water and patience.
Of course, the simplest option is to buy it already prepared in vacuum packs or plastic tubs at health food stores from the refrigerated section, BUT these are pretty expensive when you break down the price per ounce. This is the kind of seitan they sell at the Whole Foods I go to.

So that brings me to the magic of Vital Wheat Gluten Flour.  This stuff is basically instant seitan in a bag, and I am sad to say, I've been having one heck of a time finding it anywhere lately!! 

Our local Job Lots are now carrying the Bob's Red Mill brand grains and flours at a great discounted price, however, they have stopped carrying the Vital Wheat Gluten Flour...I suspect to make room for all their Gluten-Free mixes now *sad face*