Monday, April 13, 2009

Our Eggless Easter Feast

This is a learning week in my kitchen. Some recipes and techniques on other vegan cooking blogs sparked my curiosity, and I've set aside time to play around with them. If my experiments don't result in any original recipes, I'll at least have some commentary and delicious photos.

Traditionally people have either lamb or hamb for Easter dinner, but the breakfasts and lunches of the next few days usually feature all those eggs the Easter bunny either laid himself or stole from birds (we don't really know). Ever since Bangor's vegan-friendly Barking Cat Cafe closed, I've been searching for a go-to tofu scramble, but my previous attempts have been bland. I finally gave the Post Punk Kitchen recipe a try, substituting chopped bell pepper for the mushrooms and omitting the nutritional yeast because I was plumb out. The seasoning was just about right, though I might omit the lime juice--it was a little too fresh and lively, and I was really looking for a greasy spoon-style scramble. I'm excited to try this recipe with other vegetables; red pepper and broccoli would add a nice crunch. If you've never eaten tofu this way before, its bouncy texture is identical to that of scrambled eggs, and since tofu has little flavor on its own, it nicely accommodates whatever seasoning you care to add. It's an easy alternative to eggs and a nice vehicle for hot sauce.

If finding out things like this about your egg producer bums you out, try scrambling tofu instead.

This recipe for steamed seitan sausages has been spreading like wildfire online, with rave reviews. I don't usually eat fake meat; I feel that if I'm always on a quest to replace the meat, eggs, and cheese I've given up, I'm still structuring my diet around animal products, albeit chemical-laden vegan imitations. I prefer to focus on beans, grains, and vegetables in all their natural glory, but this was a special occasion, and I don't object as much to meat substitutes I make myself from scratch. I like knowing what's in my food, and if I put the effort into making my own veggie sausages I know they don't contain unpronounceable texturing agents and preservatives. You'll find an instructive video at the link above. It's worth watching, especially if you've never worked with seitan or used a steamer.

I modified the recipe out of necessity (bare cupboards) rather than creativity, using black beans instead of pinto, water and salt instead of broth, and italian seasoning instead of oregano. I also cut the nutritional yeast to 2 tablespoons. And you know what? The sausages turned out beautifully. They are eerily similar to the real thing in flavor, texture, and appearance. Here they are, all wrapped up like Christmas crackers:

And here is a freshly-steamed sausage unwrapped and taste-tested:

Perhaps not the prettiest food, but no less appealing than real sausage. In honor of the new baseball season, you could serve these on a bun and top them with mustard and a big mess of fried onions and peppers. Bring them to the table shouting "HOT sauSAUGE! HOT sausage 'ERE!" at the top of your lungs.

Beside our protein-heavy tofu and sausage we needed some starch, so I fried potatoes with diced green pepper and onion. Toast was a must, but since Giacomo's is closed for renovation, I decided to make my own bread. I will do almost anything, including 40 minutes of kneading by hand, to avoid having to get in the car and go buy something. I used the basic bread recipe from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. It was nutty and mildly sweet. Next time instead of molasses I'll try maple syrup.

Kneading is a workout, but it creates a bond of understanding between you and your bread. When you pull your hand-made loaf of out of the oven and see how warm and golden and fragrant it's become, you'll feel like a proud parent. Perhaps you get your kicks some other way, but my happiest Sundays are spent listening to npr and baking.

The bread was definitely the most photogenic part of the meal:

The morning's efforts added up to this:

A filling brunch, fit for a lumberjack. I wasn't hungry again until lunch the next day.

Coming up later in the week: experimenting with pizza dough, and I learned to knit entrelac. Whatever shall I do with it?

4 comments:

  1. What a tasty looking brunch meal!

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  2. Fantastic !! I've got to try that seitan-sausage recipe.

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  3. Tom, you would love that sausage! It's so easy. I'm putting the rest on pizza tonight and I can't wait to eat it!

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