January 31, 2012

Seitan Porcini Beef Stew

Serves 6 to 8
Time: 45 minutes

Vegan Beef Stew

I’ve been on a mission to build a better vegan beef stew. Anyone can throw some wine and tomatoes into a pot but even with all the right ingredients, it’s all too easy to make a flat stew. I wanted deep complex flavors, a thick and silky base, chunky carrots and potatoes cooked just right. And of course, beefiness. And I wanted it to all happen in one pot. A simple filling stew shouldn’t destroy the entire kitchen.

Put plainly, I wanted the “DAAAAYAMN!” factor. Nothing too fussy, but a bowl that not only comforts you on a cold winter’s night, it straight-up makes you look forward to the snowiest, windiest, all-the-roads-shut-downiest night possible, just so you can make stew.

So I pulled a Cook’s Illustrated and made vegan beef stews all week. Chipping away at the recipe, then building it back up. I tried several different “beefs”; tofu, tempeh, and seitan, finally settling on a mix of homemade vegan sausage and dried porcini mushrooms. Tofu was a little too mushy, or took too much work to make it not mushy. Tempeh just crumbled too much, despite my best efforts. The seitan sausage provides flavor and hearty texture without needing to be sauteed, while the porcinis create a sultry broth and a falling-off-the-bone meatiness (that phrase isn’t gross when you consider that there aren’t any actual bones here, right?) that just sings “Beef Stew.”

For the base I knew I didn’t want a limp tomato sauce. In fact, I wanted to steer away from tomato as much as possible. I tried lentils as a backdrop but it was too…lentil-y. I also tried starting with a roux, and it was yummy but too thick…more like a sauce than a stew, plus it made the veggies cook unevenly. Finally, I settled on a slurry — a mix of water and flour that can be added after the veggies have cooked. When slowly heated it becomes thick (but not too thick) and velvetty, and holds in all the great flavor from the wine, mushrooms and spices. Just a touch of tomato paste provided even more body and a hint of tang.

The other challenge was getting the veggies to cook perfectly. Potatoes overcook easily and I didn’t want potato soup. Adding the potatoes after the initial ingredients come to a boil and then simmering them until tender is a fool proof method. Then the slurry is added and cooked just long enough to marry the flavors and create TSH (Total Stew Harmony.)

Vegan Beef Stew

So yeah, long-story-that-I-just-made-you-read-short: I love this stew! The one thing that maybe isn’t ideal is that you need to have the sausages on hand, but they are so very easy to whip up. Make a batch the night before and you’ll have more than you need for this recipe so it’s totally worth it. But there are some alternatives, see below.

Anticipated questions:
Can you make this gluten free?
Yes! Sub the flour for 2 tablespoons organic cornstarch or 1/4 of your favorite gluten free flour mix. Sub the sausages for thawed extra firm frozen tofu with the water pressed out (this was my second favorite “meat” while experimenting.) Slice tofu into 1/2 inch thick triangles. Add an extra 1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seed to the stew for sausage-y flavor.

Can you use a different dried mushroom?
Yes! Shiitake or portobello will work. But chop them up a little finer before adding.

Can you use seitan instead of sausages?
Yes! Use 2 cups of sliced seitan but saute it first, then remove it from the pot and add later, otherwise it will be rubbery.

Can you make this in a slow cooker?
I haven’t tried it. Why don’t you give it a shot and let us know?

Ok, now let’s stew!

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, quartered and thickly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium carrot, peeled, sliced on a bias, 1/2 inch thick
1 cup red wine
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel or crushed fennel seeds
Fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
3 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 pounds potatoes (any type), lazily peeled, cut in 1 1/2 inch chunks

1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 vegan sausages, sliced into chunky half mooons

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium high heat.

Saute onions and a pinch of salt in oil until until translucent, 4 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, for about a minute, until fragrant.

Add carrots, wine, rosemary (crushed in your fingers), thyme (crushed in your fingers), paprika, fennel, fresh black pepper and salt and bring to a boil. The liquid should reduce in about 3 minutes.

Add porcinis and vegetable broth, cover and bring to a full boil for 5 minutes or so, to quickly cook the procinis. Now add the potatoes, lower heat and bring to a simmer (not a full boil). Let the potatoes cook just until fork tender, about 15 minutes.

In a measuring cup, mix the flour into the water with a fork until no lumps are left. Slowly add the broth/flour to the pot, mixing well. Mix in the tomato paste. Let thicken for 5 minutes or so. Add the sausages and continue to cook. In about 5 more minutes it should be perfectly thick but still smooth. Taste for salt and seasonings, and serve! Sprinkle individual servings with fresh parsley if you want to be 70s food chic.

January 29, 2012

Simple Italian Sausages

Makes 4 Sausages
Time: 50 minutes || Active time: 10 minutes

Vegan Sausages

I realized I don’t have a super basic sausage recipe on the site and so here it is! The now classic, always magical, seitan and bean steamed-in-tinfoil sausage. Perfect for grilling, sauteeing or tossing into stews.

In case this is your first time making a vegan sausage, here’s what’s going down: You’re going to mash some beans in a mixing bowl and then throw in the other ingredients and mix. Then you’re going to roll ’em in tinfoil like a Tootsie Roll, and steam them. And then, like magic, you will have vegan sausages. Easiest thing in the world! A few versions of these sausages appear in Vegan Brunch.

1/2 cup cooked white beans (great northern or navy), rinsed and drained
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon olive oil *or* 1 tablespoon tomato paste (tomato paste is a great fat replacement)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon granulated garlic *or* 2 cloves fresh garlic, finely grated
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed, crushed *or* 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Several dashes fresh black pepper

Before mixing your ingredients, get the steaming apparatus ready, bringing water to a full boil. The rest of the recipe comes together very quickly.

Have ready 4 square sheets of tin foil. In a large bowl, mash the beans until no whole ones are left. Throw all the other ingredients together in the order listed and mix with a fork. Divide dough into 4 even parts (an easy way to do this: split the dough in half and then into quarters). Place one part of dough into tin foil and mold into about a 5 inch log. Wrap dough in tin foil, like a tootsie roll. Don’t worry too much about shaping it, it will snap into shape while it’s steaming because this recipe is awesome.

Place wrapped sausages in steamer and steam for 40 minutes. That’s it! You can unwrap and enjoy immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

January 27, 2012

Friday Giveaway Mania!


Thanks for participating! All 1000 plus of you. I included both entrants here and on the PPK 100 post and came up with 4 winners. Winners, I will be contacting you shortly. And the winners are…

Willow who said
“I absolutely need to start making “broth bags” (#11). I always over think making broth, and end up buying because it’s just easier, but this might just make my life easier.
Broth in the crockpot? perfect right? You just throw it in there and forget about it.
The Quinoa sushi is also on my list…”

Willow will also get the $100 donation to the kitty charity of her choice.

Sarah Cowett who said
“I think I could make a vegan meal from your list. For the main course, my family and I love tacos, and I would definitely love to try out the lentil taco meat. Also, although the thought of green smoothies is unappetizing to me, one that tasted like Skittles might make me change my mind! Finally for dessert, the Obsessive Confection Disorder caramels look insanely gorgeous.”

Bonnie who said
“Make your own mixes was genius for me. Being a mom of four this makes a quick grab and eat kind of deal. Hope I win!!!
Love all you do,

And lastly…
matthew who said
I really want to have at the vegusto cheeses!

Congrats, all!



In order to keep it you gotta’ give it away! Or so they say.

It’s been awhile since I’ve hosted a giveaway. Why am I hoarding all my stuff? And so I am going to go a little wild on this one and give you lots of chances to win.

What will you be winning? Well, four winners each will win a PPK T-shirt and your choice of any of my softcover books! I’ll sign the book and personalize it to anyone you like.

So you get this hot tee in your size (Unisex or Women’s fit):
PPK Tshirt

And you get to pick a book! Choose from Vegan Brunch, Appetite For Reduction, Vegan with a Vengeance

Isa Chandra Books

Or maybe you’re in the mood for dessert? Vegan Pie In The Sky, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar!

Isa Chandra Books

And to sweeten the pot, for one lucky winner, Teal Cat Project will donate $100 to the kitty cat charity of your choice. I KNOW! Best giveaway ever.

I am not going to make you “like” and “tweet” and do cartwheels and cast magic spells. All you have to do in order to enter this giveaway is check out the Post Punk Kitchen 100, and answer either of these questions here in the comments: Which items do you look forward to trying this year? Or… what have you tried and loved? If you’d like to share the PPK 100 on Facebook and Twitter, hey, I won’t complain! But it won’t affect whether or not you win. All winners will be picked randomly and the shipping must be to the US, Canada or Mexico. (Sorry other continents.) Winners will be chosen sometime tonight and you MUST leave a valid email address to be eligible. If you win and don’t respond to my email within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen. You snooze, you lose!

Ok thanks for playing, everyone! Good luck and have fun.

January 25, 2012

Porcini Crusted Tofu With Shallot Gravy

Serves 4
Active Time: 30 minutes (not including marinating and tofu pressing which is 2 hours)

Porcini Crusted Tofu

It’s every girl’s worst nightmare. Just a few weeks shy of my 39th birthday, trying to drift off to sleep, I was suddenly seized by a terrifying thought. “I have never porcini crusted anything.” Maybe porcini crusting went out of style with The Rachael haircut, but it’s still my idea of a fancy meal.

And Valentine’s Day is coming up, so maybe you wanna’ get a little fancy? Porcinis remind me of wet leaves, red wine and cozy cloudy evenings. Their sensuous woodsy taste just oozes romance. They’re a little pricey, but dried ones aren’t too bad — I think one ounce set me back under four bucks at Whole Foods. You grind them up in the blender, mix with breadcrumbs and seasoning and voila! Delicious crust.

Even though you might not make this recipe any day of the week (but you might), it isn’t difficult to do. My favorite part is that the accompanying Shallot Gravy is made with both the leftover marinate and the leftover crusting mixture.

I served over Scallion Mashed Potatoes and Caramelized Beets. You can definitely have the whole menu done in an hour or so (not including marinating time). Here’s how: Marinate the tofu during the day. Then when you get home, first thing you do is prep the beets and get them in the oven. Then prepare the potatoes. Now prep the shallots (this is the hardest part! Shallots can be a real pain.) Blend the porcinis before blending the mashed potato ingredients so that you don’t have to wash the blender out. Now make the sauce, porcini crust and, finally, cook the tofu. That may sound confusing, but once you read through the recipes, you’ll get it.

Ok let the romance begin!

14 oz extra firm tofu, pressed (here’s how to press tofu, I wrap it in a kitchen towel, too.)

For the marinade
3 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
1 1/4 cups veggie broth
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil

For The Crust:
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 cup fine bread crumbs
Pinch each tarragon, rosemary, thyme crushed with your fingers
1/8 teaspoon salt
Several dashes fresh black pepper
1 clove garlic, finely minced

For the Shallot Gravy:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup leftover porcini/breadcrumb mixture
1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup of the tofu marinade

You’ll also need:
Extra olive oil for cooking

Slice the tofu into 8 even slices widthwise. Slice each of those diagonally corner to corner so that you have long triangles.

Mix together marinade ingredients in a large bowl and marinate the tofu for at least an hour and up to 8 hours, turning when you can.

When tofu is ready, prepare the crusting mixture. In a blender, pulse the porcinis until they’re powdery. Now toss them in a wide bowl along with the breadcrumbs, herbs, salt, pepper and garlic. Reserve 1/4 cup of the mixture to use in the sauce.

Prepare the sauce first:
Preheat a saucepan over medium heat and cook the shallots in oil until browned, about 8 minutes. Add the breadcrumb mixture and toss to coat. Now add the vegetable broth and marinade. Let cook until nicely thickened, 10 minutes or so. Taste for salt and pepper. Keep covered and warm until ready to serve.

Now cook the tofu:
Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat. In the meantime, dredge half the tofu slices in the breadcrumb mixture and place on a plate. Pour a thin layer of oil in the pan and cook the dredged tofu slices on each side for about 4 minutes each, until golden brown. Use a thin metal spatula (as thin as possible) so that you can easily get under the tofu to flip it. A thick spatula might cause the breading to fall off. While the first batch is cooking, dredge the second batch. Keep cooked tofu warm by placing on a plate and covering with tin foil.

Serve over mashed potatoes smothered in gravy. Scatter a few roasted beets. Place a few slices of tofu on top and garnish with extra scallions (from the mashed potatoes) or whatever fresh herbs you can on hand.

January 23, 2012

Scallion Mashed Potatoes

Serves 6 to 8
Time: 35 minutes || Active time: 10 minutes

Scallion Mashed Potatoes

Who doesn’t love mashed potatoes? No, seriously, that wasn’t a rhetorical question. Just give me a name and I will take care of them Brooklyn style. Well, 80s Brooklyn style, not 2012 Brooklyn style. Meaning: I will beat them up, not take them to a fancy French restaurant in Bushwick. Anyway…

This version is one of my favorite ways to devour spuds. First of all — they’re bright green! They definitely look like a Photoshop mistake. But they’re also fluffy and flavorful and perfect for any mashed potato application, be it building a mountain or smothering in gravy. And the ingredients are so very simple.

You can use either green onions or scallions, although I like the ring of “Scallion Mashed Potatoes” best. The flavor works equally well with spicy South American inspired dishes or savory French sauces. The method is easy: blend a few things up in the blender, throw everything together and mash mash mash mash mash. When using Yukon golds I keep the skin on, but if you’re using russets I’d say to peel ‘em. One bunch of scallions ought to do the job, but if they’re cheap enough get an extra bunch just in case.

And if you’re looking for an even richer mash, try cashew creme instead of almond milk. You won’t regret a thing!

1 1/2 lb yukon gold potatoes

2 1/2 cups chopped green onions or scallions, green and white parts
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your fave unsweetened non-dairy milk)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon salt (plus more for the water)
Fresh black pepper to taste

Cut potatoes into about 1 1/2 inch chunks. Place in a pot and cover with cold water. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of salt into the water. Cover and bring to a boil, keeping a close eye so that they don’t boil for too long.

In the meantime, set aside 1/2 a cup of the scallions to garnish with later. Throw the other two cups into a blender with the almond milk and olive oil and blend until relatively smooth. Set aside.

Once the water is boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 12 minutes, until fork tender. Drain potatoes, then place back in the pot. Do a preliminary mash with a potato masher, just to get them broken up. Add the blender mixture, salt and pepper and mash until fluffy. You may want to add a bit more milk, if needed. Taste for salt and pepper and serve garnished with extra scallions.