Cooking with Tempeh, Tofu & Seitan

25 Mar

Our most recent Gloucestershire Vegan Group event was a vegan cooking skill-share, on the topic of cooking with tofu, tempeh & seitan.

We prepared a dish for each of the featured ingredients, following favourite recipes and chatted about the best ways to prepare these foods.

The recipes we followed were from two cookbooks; Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, and Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero. These are excellent cookbooks, Veganomicon has hundreds of tasty vegan recipes encompassing worldwide cuisines. Viva Vegan focuses on Mexican vegan recipes, and is great for those who love chilli and garlic in equal measure.


 

Tasty Tofu

Tofu comes in many forms, to name a few: silken tofu (used mainly in desserts or Japanese dishes), firm tofu (used in stir-frys, baked or scrambled) and yuba tofu (the rich skin of soya milk, bought as dried sheets and used in stews or Japanese dishes). A our skill share we were cooking with a plain firm tofu, which you can buy in blocks in health food shops and supermarkets. My favourite shop-bought kind made by Taifun, which is extra firm and chewy. But other makes such as Dragonfly and Cauldren work well in this recipe. Firm tofu cooks best after being sliced and patted dry with a sheet of kitchen towel or clean tea-towel. This absorbs some of the moisture and allows the outside to crisp up well.

The tofu recipe we followed was Chimichurri Baked Tofu from the excellent Latin-inspired cookbook Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero, this oven-baked tofu is coated in a rich, smoky, herby sauce and is intensely flavourful, with a wonderful chewy texture.

Chimichurri Baked tofu

Chimichurri Baked tofu

Recipe:
Serves 4, two slices each of tofu
Time: About 55 minutes

Ingredients
* 1 pound extra-firm tofu
* 2 Tb olive oil
* 1 Tb soy sauce
* Chimichurri Sauce with Smoked Paprika (See Below)

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Slice the tofu into eight 1/2 inch thick slices and dab the slices dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. In a shallow glass 9×12 inch baking dish, combine the olive oil and soy sauce. Lay a tofu slice in the baking dish, pressing it into the sauce mixture. Repeat with the remaining slices and bake for 30 minutes, flipping once, until the slices are beginning to brown on the edges. Remove from the oven but don’t turn the oven off.

2. With a rubber spatula or large spoon, spread about a third of the chimichurri sauce evenly and completely over the tops of the tofu. Flip the slices and spread another third or slightly more on top of the tofu. If desired, use a fork to poke holes through the tofu, pressing a little bit of sauce into the center of the pieces. Bake for another 25 minutes, until the tofu is firm and the edges are golden brown. Bake longer if an even chewier texture is desired. Serve the tofu hot with remaining chimichurri sauce.

Chimichurri Sauce with Smoked Paprika
Makes about 1 1/2 cups sauce
Time : Less than 10 minutes

Ingredients
* 4 cloves garlic, chopped
* 2 large shallots, chopped
* 1 large bunch flat leaf ( Italian ) parsley, thick stems removed
* 1/3 cup olive oil
* 3 Tb red wine vinegar
* 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
* 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* 1 tsp dried basil
* 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste
* 1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions
1. Place the garlic, shallots and parsley into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Stream in the olive oil, red wine vinegar, paprika, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, and sea salt, and pulse until creamy. Taste the sauce and adjust with more salt or red wine vinegar, if desired. Store in a tightly covered container and keep chilled until ready to use.

 


 

Tempting Tempeh

Tempeh is traditionally from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds cooked soya beans into patty, much like a veggie burger. Tempeh is looks ugly but taste great if prepared well. It often has black patches from naturally occuring harmless moulds that are part of the culturing process. You can buy it frozen or refrigerated in health food shops, such as Sunshine Foods in Stroud or The Natural Grocery Store in Cheltenham. It’s also sold in jars. The brand most commonly available in the UK seems to be Impulse Foods Tempeh.

Most recipes advise steaming tempeh or boiling for ten minutes in salted water, to help release the bitterness. This process seems to be the key to cooking with Tempeh and keeping it tasty. Tempeh has a fantastic succulent texture, and readily absorbs marinades and sauces, which make it great to cook with.

The tempeh recipe we used was Hot-Sauce Glazed Tempeh from that vegan-bible of a cookbook Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

Hot-sauce glazed tempeh

Hot-sauce glazed tempeh

Recipe:

Ingredients:
8 ounce package of tempeh
1/2 cup wine (whatever kind you’ve got on hand, just nothing sweet)
1/4 cup hot sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice from 1 lemon)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:
Bring a pot of water to boil.
Whisk all marinade ingredients together in a bowl large enough to fit the tempeh slices.
Cut the tempeh to form 8 triangles. When the water is boiling, add the tempeh, lower the heat and steam for 10 minutes.
Use tongs to remove the tempeh and then immediately place them in the marinade bowl for 1 hour, flipping them every now again to cover with the marinade.
Preheat a greased grill pan over medium high heat. Brush lightly with olive oil
Grill each side for 5 minutes. When the second side is almost done, spoon some of the marinade over the tempeh and let cook for 30 more seconds.
:


Splendid Seitan

A ball of steamed seitan waiting to be marinaded.

A ball of steamed seitan waiting to be marinaded.

Seitan or wheat-meat is the insoluble protien in wheat, used historically in the cuisines of China, Japan and other East and Southeast Asian countries. The Natural Grocery Store in Cheltenham sells ready-made seitan. You can buy Gluten Powder online here amongst other places. It’s easy to make and flavour with whatever spices and herbs take your fancy. You can shape it into sausages, or make balls for slicing into sandwiches.

Seitan has a satisfying chewy texture, and works well in pasties, sandwiches, stews, stir-frys and mexican cooking.

We followed the Steamed White Seitan Recipe from Terry Hope Romero’s ‘Viva Vegan’ Cookbook, then marinaded and roasted it.

Recipe:

Steamed white seitan

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken flavoured broth)
4 garlic cloves (grated)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)

1. In a jug whisk together broth, garlic, olive oil. In a large bowl combine wheat gluten, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, thyme, paprika, cumin, and salt. Form a well in centre of dry ingredients and stir well with rubber spatula until dough leaves side of the bowl.
2. Knead for 2-3 mins to develop gluten.
3. Leave dough to rest for 10 min, knead again for 30 seconds.
4. Place dough on cutting board and cut into 4 equal pieces.
5. Tear off 4 X12 inch pieces of foil and place piece of dough in centre of foil, fold the short sides of the foil over the loaf, the fold over the ends the foil should be secure but loose allowing for it to expand. Place in steamer basket and steam for 30 minutes Allow the dough to cool to the touch before chilling in fridge or overnight.
6. Store seitan in the fridge tightly sealed in a plastic bag for up to 2 weeks or freeze, defrost before use.

For the marinade:
1 cup light-colored beer, preferably Mexican
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, seeded and finely chopped
2 teaspoons chipotle adobo sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

2.    In a large bowl, whisk together beer, garlic, chipotles, adobo sauce, oregano, cumin, lime juice, olive oil, and salt. Add seitan strips, and marinate for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3.   Roast in the oven until golden and crispy on the edges, adding the marinade when the seitan is browned and roasting for a further 10 mins.

 

Happy cooking!

Fun, festivities & falafel

4 Feb
Buffet of vegan dreams

The best vegan buffet

Gloucestershire vegan group celebrated the festive break with a beautiful buffet. Various dishes were created by some fantastic home cooks in our group, who drew inspiriation in food from all around the world. We had towers of sushi, stew-pots of sambar, steamed chinese dumplings, gourmet raw cuisine, satay dips, spiralling jalebis, peach tarts and decadent peppermint cheesecakes.

We had some fun with festive decorations too – specially made vegan crackers, with vegan chocolate coins, lollypops and vegan jokes. My favourite was: Q- How many vegans does it take to change a lightbulb? A- Two, one to change it, the other to check for animal ingredients.

A mouth-watering array of food, and great company made for a fabulous social afternoon on a grey wintery day. We all contributed a small amount of money for our meal, and managed to raise £182 which we chose to donate to Evesham Farm Animal Sanctuary, a charity which gives forever homes to over 550 rescued farm animals.

New year brought a whole new array of Gloucestershire Vegan Group meet-ups/events scheduled for the year ahead – you can have a look at our 2014 program here.

The first of these was a trip to Portivo Lounge in Gloucester, which we’ve been intending to visit ever since word got around that they had a separate vegan menu. Located in an historic warehouse in Gloucester Docks, Portivo Lounge has a unique, quirky interior, with lots of interesting pictures and retro/recycled furnishings, including beautiful clusters of lampshades blooming from the ceiling. Having a separate vegan menu makes life so much easier, no tiresome asking of whether this or that is suitable, and lots of choice on the mains. Between us we tried several of the tapas dishes, and the falafel burger was popular. There was only one vegan dessert, but this was sublime – a ginger chocolate torte, the base loaded with chunks of ginger, the top a dark, rich chocolate ganache. The food was tasty, (although I found the falafel burger in need of a very large squirt of hot-sauce) and fairly reasonably priced, and the atmosphere was relaxing. We ate early, as you’re unable to book tables in advance in Portivo Lounge, and by 8.00pm it was bustling with folks looking for a table. So we headed off to a vegan-friendly pub; Robert Raikes House – a Samuel Smith’s Pub where almost all of the draught beers are vegan. By contrast to Portivo Lounge, Robert Raike’s was quiet. We took over one of the cosy side rooms with a large fireplace to keep the room warm, and enjoyed some vegan stout.

As part of our 2014 schedule we are trying to have a regular meet-up at the same place and time every month. After some persuasion from the falafel-addicts in our group, we’ve decided our venue would be the Funky Falafel shop on London Road in Stroud, on the 1st Saturday of every month at 12.30pm. This recently-opened cafe has the most devine falafel wraps, complete with hummus, tahini sauce, harrisa, mango sauce, pickles and chillis. They are really superb, and jam-packed with flavour and texture from the crumbly falafels and crunchy salad. Best of all almost everything in Funky Falafel is vegan. It’s a great new venture to open up in Stroud, and we are pleased to support it. Please do join us if you’re vegan or interested in veganism, we’d love to meet you.

Vegan outreach at Stroud College

8 Dec
Vegan Outreach Stall at Stroud College

Vegan Outreach Stall at Stroud College

Gloucestershire Vegan Group member Sahaya has been busy. A student at Stroud College, she took it upon herself to promote World Vegan Month by having a vegan stall for a week in the foyer at Stroud College. Helped by a team of volunteers, she did a great job of getting the word out there about veganism. They did this by having info leaflets, vegan-pledge forms, recipe cards, information about local vegan-friendly places to eat, as well as ever-popular free food samples. She also worked with the catering company at the college to ensure that during that week, there were several vegan options available for students in the canteens at all of South Gloucestershire & Stroud College campuses.

It sounds as if the stall was really popular, Sahaya writes: “I was so surprised that we had so much interest and a constant queue often made up of entirely teenagers who were not merely interested in the free food  but also what we were there to talk about. I got many dedicated, enthusiastic and helpful volunteers – SU staffs, vegans, vegetarians, friends and people who were interested in the diet enough to help out on the day. Some students were enquiring about a college vegan group and some for vegan food demo. Some of the volunteers even had a great idea of taking platters of food to the people eating in cafeteria.”

It’s great to hear of more World Vegan Month events happening in Gloucestershire.

Loads of interest in the Vegan outreach stall at Stroud College

Loads of interest in the Vegan outreach stall at Stroud College

Pizza party

17 Nov

It’s really refreshing when places are accommodating to vegan needs, and Stroud’s independent artisan Pizza take-away Fat Toni’s have have been vegan-friendly from the moment they opened their doors only a year ago. From day one they offered non-dairy cheese on their menus, or extra veggies as an option, this means that their pizzas can be enjoyed by vegans or those who are lactose-intolerent.

Perfect vegan pizza - 'Alice in Wonderland' made by Fat Toni's

Perfect vegan pizza – ‘Alice in Wonderland’ made by Fat Toni’s

This inspired us to organise a vegan pizza party – to allow us to try the full range of what they have to offer to hungry, pizza-loving vegans. So we arranged in advance to have the pizzas delivered to our door and piled into a Stroud household to eagerly await our pizza-fest.

We ordered 5 varieties – Sicilian Caponata (spiced aubergine caponata, toasted pine nuts and rocket), Vegesaurus (walnut & marinated artichokes), La Franca (artichokes, crushed garlic, olives and cherry tomatoes), Alice in Wonderland (wild mushroom & aspargus) and finally, a firey one – Dantes Inferno (heaps of red & green sliced chilli!). They offer a choice of two types of sourdough – San Franciso and Ischia, giving a variation in the sharpness in the base, we tried both.

The 20″ pizzas were huge and could easily feed 3 people (even hungry vegans!), especially is you make a salad to accompany. They were beautifully cooked – the bases are the perfect balance of chewy, sour dough, and crispy edges.  The toppings were imaginative and tasty, my personal favourite was the La Franca, because it was extra garlicky, but they were all supremely tasty. The vegan cheese melts well, and adds a good salty, gooey element, but it’s not entirely necessary, as Fat Toni’s pizzas are equally tasty with extra veggies instead of cheese.

After pizza we played games, and sampled the puddings we’d all brought along to share.

Vegan Lemon Meringue pie

Vegan Lemon Meringue pie

One pudding that created quite a stir was a vegan version of Lemon Meringue Pie, with an authentic crispy top, the recipe can be found online here.

It was a lovely, warming winter social event and great to catch up with fellow local vegans.

 

 

 

 

Vegan Pizza Dough Recipe

Vegan Pizza is easy to make at home too. Here is my favourite pizza dough recipe.

Ingredients:

1tsp dried active yeast

1tsp salt

2 cups warm water

4 cups strong white flour

Method:

• Dissolve the yeast in the warm water using a whisk

• Add 1 tsp salt and stir

• Add the strong white flour 1 cup at a time, whisking between each cupful until a thick dough is formed

• Cover with a tea-towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 4 hours or more (If you do this in the morning, you have a lovely risen dough waiting for you to make pizzas from at tea-time.)

• Turn out onto a large oiled baking pan and stretch the dough to fit the pan (This recipe can make two pizzas, if you want thin-and-crispy)

• Top with your favourite toppings and bake for 20mins until the dough is golden and crispy, and your non-dairy cheese is melty.

World Vegan Month Stall

2 Nov

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enjoying free vegan food

Gloucestershire vegan group had a fantastic street stall on Saturday 2nd November at Stroud Farmer’s Market to celebrate World Vegan Month. I can’t think of a better way to promote veganism than creating an opportunity for people to have a taste of all of the scrumptious food we eat – and what a spread we put on for the market crowd. We had platters of truffles and chocolate balls, trays of towering cupcakes, indian jalebis, tapenade palmiers, lentil croquettes, seitan sausages, raw food bars and cakes -  so much good food! As Stroud Farmer’s Market promotes local food we tried to make everything as local as possible, so we used local ingredients such as carrots, and raspberries to make cupcakes, and local shallots featured in savoury tarts. The response to our cooking from the public was overwhelmingly positive. So many people commented on how tasty the food was, and asked us for recipes. It makes me happy to think that many people’s first taste of vegan food was such a good one, and that hopefully we may have changed some people’s perception of what veganism is. It’s not all about denying yourself of taste -  it is about all the wonderful food you can enjoy, that doesn’t come from animal cruelty and exploitation.

Free food give away: mushroom & tarragon pithivier, savoury muffins, jalebis, boozy truffles, seitan cherry & sage sausages on sticks, lemon cupcakes, carrot & walnut cupcakes, raspberry & chocolate cupcakes.

Free food give away: mushroom & tarragon pithivier, savoury muffins, jalebis, boozy truffles, seitan cherry & sage sausages on sticks, lemon cupcakes, carrot & walnut cupcakes, raspberry & chocolate cupcakes.

Our stall had some beautiful cards created by a talented artist in our group – depicting farm animal sanctuary residents. The ones with Hosannah the Donkey on proved to be most popular. We also had a selection of vegan leaflets, plenty of recipe cards and vegan pledge forms for folks to take away.

Selection of handmade cards sold to raise funds for Evesham Farm Animal Sanctuary

Selection of handmade cards sold to raise funds for Evesham Farm Animal Sanctuary

We also sold tickets for a prize draw to win two hampers, full of goodies kindly donated by vegan-friendly companies – we had items donated by Goody-good stuff, V-bites, Clearspring, Meridian, Organica, Heavenly-Organics & Pulsin’ – which made up a most luxurious and enticing hamper. All of the proceeds from the stall went to Evesham Farm Animal Sanctuary – and we raised an amazing £300. Our hamper-winners were chuffed – one had three children who were eyeing-up the Goody Good stuff sweeties.

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One of the two luxury hampers brimming with vegan goodness

So a great day at the market, and some great work by all involved at Gloucestershire Vegan Group – we promoted veganism, raised the profile of our group locally, and created enough funds for Evesham Farm Animal Sanctuary to buy winter feed blocks for 200 sheep & 7 cows for two months. What a result.

Gloucestershire Vegan Group Street Stall

15 Oct

1 VEGAN GROUP BANNERS 600X8002VEGAN GROUP BANNERS 600X800

I’m excited to announce that to celebrate World Vegan Month, to promote our group and to raise funds for Evesham Farm Animal Sanctuary, Gloucestershire Vegan Group will be hosting a street stall at Stroud Farmers Market, Cornhill, Stroud on Saturday 2nd November from 9-2pm.

Our stall will have free vegan food tasters – delicious goodies baked and crafted by the excellent cooks in our group. It’s a great chance to try out vegan food if you’re new to the idea of veganism. We will be selling cards depicting animals from the sanctuary, and have two amazing hampers, bursting with vegan goodies.

So if you’re local and interested in veganism, or want to help raise funds, why not pop by our stall and have a chat with some of the friendly folk from Gloucestershire Vegan Group. While you’re at it why not check out some of the other vegan-friendly stalls that are touting their goods at the market. There will be the Veggie Deli Stall, Niangs Thai Snacks, and Funky Falafel, all of whom sell vegan options.

We’d love to see you!

Pizza & beer at Stroud Brewery

23 Sep
Glos vegan group brewery

Sitting out on the decking at Stroud Brewery

In the last few years Stroud Brewery has opened it’s doors on Friday & Saturday evenings to punters in search of a good pint. It has a bar with a laid-back ambiance and comfy seating, an outdoor covered decking area with benches, and a chance to sit amongst the brewing beer kept in towering, impeccably shiny barrels!

Seeing as Stroud Brewery currently has nine different kinds of bottled beers that are organic and Vegan Society certified, produced at it’s small brewery just outside of Stroud town centre, and we as a group are keen to support local vegan-friendly businesses, visiting was a not-to-be-missed event for Gloucestershire Vegan Group. Better still, there is an outdoor clay oven on site, where pizzas are baked by the masterful resident bakers – Velo Bakery. They are very open to vegan ways, and you can bring your own favourite vegan cheese sub, which they will add to any of the veggie option pizzas.

Velo Bakery pizza with vegan cheese

Velo Bakery pizza with vegan cheese

This all made for a great meet-up last Saturday 21st September. Many people had never been to the brewery before, and were surprised at how such an excellent venue could be hidden away on an industrial-looking trading estate. There were over 25 of us, which kept the pizza oven very busy, especially as many people decided the pizzas were too good to only have one. The dough was thin, crispy and perfectly baked. The high temperature of the clay oven blitzed even the most resistant-to-melting vegan cheese to a semi-liquid state. The beer selection down at the brewery is pretty extensive. I personally love the ‘Black Cat’ stout (a nod to the mythical big cat sightings in the area) which is rich, bitter and dark. Other folks were enjoying ‘Tom Long’ (named after the legendary local highwayman) which is light and aromatic, with hints of orange zest and coriander. Another great beer, which is sometimes less easy to find in local pubs and off-licences, but is always in stock at the brewery is Maris Otter – a singe malt, single hopped beer, so special it comes in smaller bottles so you can savour every drop. There is also organic cider, and a selection of non-alcholic drinks and organic bar snacks.

Thanks to everyone who came along, and to the Brewery & Velo Bakery for being our hosts for the evening – we will be back!

Vegan Beer

You may be surprised to learn that beer is not always vegan. It’s unfortunate but most cask conditioned beers contain finings – wikipedia tells us:

“Finings are substances that are usually added at or near the completion of the processing of brewing wine, beer and various non-alcoholic juice beverages. Their purpose is for removal of organic compounds…historically, various substances such as egg whites, blood, milk, fish swim bladder derivatives have been used as finings.”

It strikes me as rather ridiculous that the only reason to add these products, that come from causing suffering and/or death to animals, is for the visual appearance of the beer – to make it look less cloudy.

Bottle conditioned beers more often than not don’t contain finings, but unless the label on your beer says “suitable for vegans” or is Vegan Society certified – as is the case with Stroud Brewery bottled (but not cask) beers, it is impossible to know. Unlike most other food and drink alcohol has very poor labelling, without ingredient listings.

Fortunately there is a fantastic online resource for vegetarians and vegans called Barnivore where information on wine, beer and spirits that don’t contain animal products is compiled. You can even download their phone app so that you can check out what you can drink while out and about.

There are also a few UK based breweries who do produce vegan draft beer as well as bottled, these include:

Samuel Smiths (all of their draft beer is vegan with the exception of Old Brewery Bitter) – there’s a Sam Smiths pub in Gloucester and a bar in Cheltenham

Hop Back Brewery

Marble Brewery

Pitfield Brewery

Why not ask your local pub to get a cask from one of these breweries as a guest ale?

For more information on vegan drinks – look up this page on the Campaign for Real Ale’s website

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