Saturday, September 11, 2010

Vegan Cooking 101

My friend, Harriet, graciously invited me to her home yesterday for lunch and a crash course in Vegan Cooking.  How lucky am I?  I learned (and ATE) so much and I my brain is on overdrive thinking up recipes for dishes using new ingredients with amazing new textures. I also brought home some borrowed cook books for even more inspiration. 

What a beautiful setting.  In Harriet's sun drenched kitchen, we enjoyed a fresh garden salad with crisp romaine, cherry tomatoes, quinoa, and baked marinated tofu.  The salad dressing was made with tahini (kind of like sesame seed peanut butter).  The tofu in the salad had an amazing texture (not like the icky weird scrambled-egg-like tofu I ended up with a few weeks back).  The tofu was marinated and baked in a mixture of soy sauce (or tamari), olive oil, lemon juice, and agave nectar.  The yummy looking sandwich in the photo is a TLT (tempeh, lettuce, and tomato) sandwich on sourdough bread.  Is your mouth watering yet?  Mine kind of is just remembering how good it was.  I learned tempeh is fermented soy (sometimes soy and other grains such as brown rice).  The tempeh we had in this sandwich came packaged like bacon (cut into thin strips with a smoky flavor).  Harriet cooked the tempeh in a cast-iron skillet and made the sandwich with vegan mayo, tomatoes, and lettuce. The sandwich was then grilled with Earth Balance spread with with olive oil (looks like margarine in a tub) to make the outside of the sandwich extra good and toasty.

Tofu two ways.  Harriet marinated these slices and cubes of tofu in a combination of soy sauce (or tamari), nutritional yeast flakes, dried sage, rosemary, thyme, onion powder, and garlic.  The cubes of tofu were fried in a hot skillet with oil which resulted in a crunchy/crispy crust and a soft center.  The slices of tofu were dredged in a combination of flour, nutritional yeast flakes, salt, pepper, as well as garlic and onion powder. The flour-coated slices were also fried in the skillet.  I can tell you this... If I dont tell my son this is tofu, he might just eat this.  The flavors are great and the texture is terrific.  The herbs in this are often used with chicken so this dish was chicken-like to me. I could imagine the cubes of tofu in an Asian-inspired fried rice dish with lots of different vegetables. 

Sure looks like chunks of meat doesn't it? It's seitan with BBQ sauce.  After the seitan marinated in BBQ sauce, Harriet the it on the outdoor gas grill.  Seitan, I learned, is acutally a wheat product.  To me it had the texture of pork tenderloin.  It can be used in dishes such as stew with roasted root vegetables, with the seitan taking the place of stew beef.  Dishes such as stroganoff are a good use as well with vegan sour cream.  Wow, I learned so much! 

We finished off lunch with Chocolate Mint Mousse.  A freshly plucked sprig of mint with a little lavender flower is garnishing my yummy dessert.  This dish is made with silken tofu, cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla, and peppermint extract.  I think there might be a few other ingredients in there, but those are the main ones.

What a fun time I had. I even got to bring some left-overs home! 

I hope all the details in this post are accurate.  I am learning more and more every day.  As for home cooking, my cooking frenzy has been cut short this weekend, as we had our new kitchen sink installed last night.  It was quite an arduous task for the poor guy installing it!  It was touch and go there for awhile... I'll tell you all about it in another post.


Anonymous said...

It was equally as fun for me to share with you. I hope your sink is just what you hoped for when you chose it out.

affectioknit said...

That is so awesome! I hope you enjoy making some more vegan food too...