Derek argued that this dish is not truly a kugel since it doesn’t have noodles. Apparently he’s never had potato kugel, and doesn’t know that (although literally a pudding in Yiddish) a kugel can be any sweet or savory casserole type dish. This recipe is from Vegan with a Vengeance, and the anecdote at the beginning of the recipe is quite amusing–I recommend you buy the cookbook and read it for yourself. Apparently it was adapted (switching eggs for tofu) from this Bon Appetit recipe. If you eat tofu on passover this would make a great passover dish.
- 4 cups sliced cauliflower florets (about 1 medium-size head of cauliflower, or half a very large head)
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 3 whole matzohs (2 in the filling, then 1 in the topping)
- 1 (12-ounce) package silken tofu
- 4 Tbs. olive oil
- 4 cups coarsely chopped leeks (white and light green parts from about 4 leeks)
- 1 cup diced onion (1/2-inch dice, from 1 small onion)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
- 1.5 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
I’m going to re-write the instructions since I found the order and details of the instructions to be inefficient, and lacking in sufficient detail. My instructions look quite long but I assure you they will be easier, and faster than the original, shorter instruction set.
- In a 4-quart saucepan (with a lid) add an inch of water and a folding steaming basket. Bring the water to a boil while you prepare the cauliflower. When the water comes to a boil, add your sliced cauliflower, cover, and steam for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Then remove from heat, uncover, and let cool.
- Meanwhile, toast the almonds in a dry cast iron skillet or 12-inch stainless steel skillet until lightly browned and fragrant. Watch the almonds carefully. Don’t burn them! When toasted, chop them in a food processor with a few pulses. Set aside in a small bowl (about the size of a cereal bowl) .
- Crumble two sheets of matzoh into the food processor. Grind the matzoh into large crumbs (coarser than matzoh meal) and pour into a large (4-6 quarts?) bowl.
- Now chop your onion and leeks into large pieces, and add them to the food processor and pulse a few more times. Add 2 Tbs. of the oil to the skillet you toasted the almonds in, and raise to a medium-high heat. When hot, add the leeks and onions, and saute until the leeks are tender and the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Meanwhile, chop the parsley and dill in the food processor. Add all but 1 Tbs. of each herb to the small bowl with the almonds. Add the remaining two Tablespoons to the large bowl with the matzoh. Next, crumble the tofu into the food processor, and puree until smooth.
- The cauliflower should be cool by now, and the leeks and onions cooked. Mash the cauliflower in the steaming basket with a fork. Add the tofu and leeks and onions and cauliflower (without the steaming water) to the large bowl, along with the salt and pepper, and mix well.
- Brush or spray a 9×13 inch casserole dish with oil. Spread the cauliflower mixture evenly in the dish. Pour the almonds and herbs into the large bowl you just emptied, and crumble in the remaining matzoh with your fingers. Add the remaining 2 Tbs. of olive oil and mix. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the kugel.
- Bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes, until browned on top. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes.
Both Derek and I really enjoyed this recipe. We were worried it was going to be bland, but it wasn’t bland at all, it was quite tasty. We couldn’t taste the tofu at all, but it gave the dish an almost eggy consistency, that really reminded me of a traditional kugel. The fresh herbs were present, but not punchy. The leeks were delicious–I think with just onions this recipe wouldn’t be as good. The cauliflower didn’t add a huge amount of flavor, but with the tofu gave the kugel a great texture. I was worried it was going to be too salty so I only added 1 tsp. of salt, but in the end we added salt at the table so next time I’d add the full amount. This dish is quite rich, and Derek thought the oil could be cut in half without ill effect–just use 1 Tbs. to saute the onions and leeks, and 1 Tbs. for the topping. As is it’s about 47% fat, but with half the oil it would still be 40% fat, I guess due to the tofu and almonds. No wonder it’s so tasty! I really liked the cauliflower layer, but in my 9×13 pan it ended up quite thin. I think it could have used a slightly higher cauliflower to topping ratio. If I make it again I may try using 6 cups of cauliflower instead of 4, or maybe just doubling the whole base recipe (except for the topping). Also, I might increase the amounts of fresh herbs just a bit, maybe to 2/3 or 3/4 cup each.
Isa has you use the food processor for the matzoh and the tofu, but not for anything else. I say, why not chop your almonds and onions and herbs in the food processor as well? She also says to boil the cauliflower but I think it’s easier and healthier to steam it. Her instructions are to break the cauliflower into florets. Rather than spending time breaking the cauliflower into neat florets, I suggest just breaking the cauliflower into large pieces then slicing them–it saves time and you’re going to end up mashing the buggers in the end anyhow.
Even with my modifications, this still isn’t a quick and easy recipe. It’s not exactly difficult, but it does use a 4-qt pot, a steaming basket, a large skillet, a food processor, and a large and small bowl. So plan accordingly. To use one less pan, if your large skillet is oven-proof you may be able to bake the casserole directly in the skillet. I thought about baking it in my cast iron pan, but the casserole would have been much fatter than intended. It’s worth a shot, but since it was my first time I followed the instructions and used a 9×13 metal cake pan.
I cut my kugel into 8 large slices; each had about 240 calories. Two slices were quite filling and satisfying. With half the fat each slice would have about 200 calories.
Update Sept 1, 2007: On a second try I used about 6 cups of cauliflower, from one large head. I also used 1/2 cup + 1 Tbs. of each herb, and reduced the oil to only 2 Tbs. total. I had three quite large leeks, and only got 3 cups of chopped leek out of them. I used the food processor to chop the onion and leeks, which resulted in a much more rough, uneven chop than when I did it by hand. The whole recipe took me 45 minutes to make, plus about 15 minutes of clean up time (I don’t have a dishwasher).
Vegan with a Vengeance has quite a few vegan pancake/waffle recipes. Derek likes this one the best. The first time I made them, Derek went bananas over these pancakes. His rhapsody: “fluffy and wonderful, creamy without the cream, better than any pancakes I ever made (including our usual oatmeal walnut yogurt pancakes) .”
After the disaster of the jerk tempeh from Some Like it Hot, I was both excited and nervous about trying another jerk recipe. This recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance was quite different in technique though, so I decided to give it a shot. I’m trying to make all the seitan recipes from vegan with a vengeance.
I don’t have the energy to post the recipe right now, so I’ll just post my comments. I’ll come back and post the details if I make it again.
The sauce is interesting–you basically put all the ingredients into the food processor and blend it into kind of a watery paste. The sauce was pretty good tasting, fresh, and full of caribbean flavors. The recipe calls for you to saute some green peppers, then add the seitan cutlets and fry them for another 10 minutes or so, then add the sauce. This seems odd, since the peppers are getting totally overcooked while the seitan browns. I’d either take the peppers out before adding the seitan, or add them at the end when the seitan is almost done. The sauce is pretty powerful stuff–I liked it, but found that I didn’t really want to eat the seitan cutlets on their own–too strong tasting. I liked it okay on a sandwich, but I feel like I didn’t quite find the right combination of foods to eat this recipe with. Isa suggests serving it with sweet potatoes and greens I think, which sounds pretty good.
Derek’s comment, solicited with difficulty: “That’s some tasty shit. I’d have it again.”
As I’ve said in the past, I really want to learn how to make the seitan in white wine sauce that they serve at Blossom. I found a recipe for seitan piccata from Candle 79, on chowhound. I found a somewhat different recipe for seitan piccata from candle cafe on vegcooking.com. We decided to go with the first recipe, but I might try the second version next time as it’s much lower fat.
* 6 seitan cutlets (mine were a bit small so I used 8, from about 1.5 balls of homemade seitan)
* Whole-wheat flour for dredging (about 3/4 cup?)
* 4 Tbs. olive oil
* 1/4 cup chopped shallots
* 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion (I used red)
* 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (I used one large clove)
* 2 tablespoons drained capers
* 1/2 cup dry white wine
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (I used homemade broth, salted)
* 2 tablespoons soy buttery spread (soy margarine) (I used earth balance)
* 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
* 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I omitted this)
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1. Dredge seitan cutlets in whole-wheat flour, shaking off any excess.
2. In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over high heat. When oil is hot, sauté cutlets until crisp and golden brown, about 30 seconds per side. Place each cutlet on an individual plate or arrange them all on a platter.
3. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the sauté pan and return to high heat. Add shallots, onion, garlic, and capers, and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in wine and lemon juice, and cook 3 to 5 minutes more.
4. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 1 minute to combine flavors. Whisk in soy spread, parsley, salt, and pepper. Pour over seitan cutlets and serve at once.
When you saute the seitan it gets crispy, but I really wanted tender, delicate seitan, so I think I’d omit this step next time, and save 2 Tbs. of olive oil to boot. I’d also probably just use 1 Tbs. of olive oil to saute the onions, or possibly slightly less. I left the salt out since the vegetable broth, capers, and buttery spread were all salted, and found that the dish was plenty salty. With all 6 Tbs. of fat we found this a bit too rich tasting. But the basic flavor was pretty good–lemony but not overpowering, the parsley added freshness and a lovely color, the shallots added a pretty touch of pink to the sauce, and the caper flavor really dominated. It wasn’t perfect, but nice.
When asked to comment Derek replied “It was what I expected, no more, no less.”
Oh, another note about the seitan. I wanted non-asian tasting seitan for this dish, so I used very little soy sauce in the broth, and I thought the seitan came out tasting quite nice, and not asian. The seitan was much lighter than normal, but still had good flavor. I cooked it in a broth of carrots, celery, black pepper, bay leaves, etc.–the kinds of things that I’d normally put in vegetable broth, plus 1 bouillon cube (enough for 1/2 cup of water it says on the package). I saved the broth, and I think it will make an excellent matzoh ball soup.
Update July 31, 2010:
It’s been three years since I’ve made seitan piccata, and I decided to try it again, but this time I used the recipe from the Millenium Cookbook. The recipe is all over the internets.
Taken from The Millennium Cookbook – Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine (see the original recipe in the cookbook)
Makes 6 servings
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1/3 cup polenta
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 cup soy milk
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 6 servings (1 1/2 pounds) marinated seitan, cut into medallions
- 1/4 cup canola oil (optional)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 6 paper-thin lemon slices
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups dry white wine (you can use non-alcoholic wine)
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot, dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water
- Thin lemon slices and minced fresh parsley or chives for garnish
In a shallow bowl, combine all the ingredients for the herb crust. In another shallow bowl, combine the soy milk and mustard. Dredge the seitan with the crust mixture, dip in the soy milk mixture, then dredge again in the crust mixture. Cook the seitan in a dry nonstick pan over medium-high heat until lightly brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. (Or saute in the oil.) Keep warm in low oven.
To make the sauce: Wipe out the pan and place it over medium heat. Add the garlic and toast until lightly browned. Add the lemon slices, the remaining sauce ingredients. Boil until the volume is reduced by almost half. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook until thickened. Serve the hot sauce over seitan. Garnish with more lemon slices and parsley.
I followed the sauce recipe carefully, except that when the instructions said “add the rest of the sauce ingredients” I added them all, including the arrowroot sludge. Whoops! I had to add more arrowroot in the end to get the sauce to thicken.
The sauce tasted truly terrible–way too lemon-y and acidic, and even bitter. What did I do wrong? I compared the Millenium recipe to the Candle Cafe recipe above, and two different recipes from Cook’s Illustrated:
|Recipe||Millennium||Candle Cafe||Cook’s Illustrated||CI Light|
|Fat||none||4 Tbs. olive oil + 4 Tbs. margarine||6 Tbs. butter||none|
|Lemon juice||8 Tbs. + 4 slices lemon||4 Tbs.||8 Tbs. + sliced lemon||2 Tbs + 1/2 lemon, sliced|
|Liquid||2 cups white wine + 3 Tbs. water||1 cup white wine + 1 cup veg. broth||2 cups stock||1.5 cups stock + 2 Tbs. milk|
Okay, clearly I’m not crazy. The Cook’s Illustrated recipe uses the same amount of lemon and liquid, but also adds 6 Tbs. of butter to tone down the acid. And still, on the CI forums many people say that they found the sauce too lemony, and some people complain about bitterness (which presumably comes from the pith in the boiled lemon slices). Some posters suggest simmering the liquid rather than boiling it, to prevent the bitterness from being extracted from the pith. The CI light recipe doesn’t use any added fat, but only calls for 2 Tbs. of lemon juice. The candle cafe recipe uses half the lemon juice and adds 8 Tbs. of fat!
I made a “salad” this afternoon with boiled baby beets and tiny strawberries, drizzled with white balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with black pepper. I thought it was delicious, but Derek tasted it and announced with a disturbed look on his face “that’s really weird.”
This is a good recipe for either late Spring or early summer, when both strawberries and beets should be available, as well as fresh, delicate salad greens.
I’ve decided to start adding cookbook reviews to my blog, as well as recipe reviews. I wrote this one a while back, on Amazon, and it’s a bit out of date, but I’ll come update it once I get a chance.
I knew nothing about this book when I checked it out of the library, except that it had recipes for some of the more unusual grains. It is only now that I looked it up on Amazon that I discovered that it won the James Beard award. I am not the least bit surprised, however, because all the recipes I have tried have been consistently delicious, wholesome, and creative. You will find very few run-of-the-mill recipes in this cookbook.
I check many cookbooks out of the library, but for many I can’t find any recipes that I want to make, or if I do find recipes to try, once I make them I am generally not impressed. So I was amazed when I opened this cookbook to find so many intriguing recipes, each of which turned out better than the last.
Some highlights: The grilled millet and butternut squash cakes had so few spices I was sure they would be bland, but they weren’t. They were subtle but sweet and crunchy and addictive. The millet, quinoa, and burdock pilaf again looked underseasoned, but the burdock adds a great earthy depth to the pilaf, and again, I could not stop eating this dish. Wood’s recipe for Locro, a South American soup, has a large number of ingredients, but it is well worth the effort. The barley and beans that make up the bulk of this soup make it substantial and extremely filling. The celeriac is sweet and delicious, the anise seeds add a subtle mysterious note, and the roasted New Mexican chili and the kombu create a great tasty broth with more depth than a typical vegetarian soup.
The only recipe that I was disappointed in was her basic recipe for “steamed” amaranth. Wood swears it’s the best way to cook amaranth, but I thought it turned out exactly the same as it always does when I cook it–gooey, but tasty. Also, as a previous reviewer noted, Wood doesn’t use too many green vegetables in this cookbook, but since it is a grains cookbook I can forgive this one shortcoming.
Overall, this book is full of healthy, nutritious, creative, well-tested recipes that please the palate and the body, and are reasonably quick to prepare. The flavorings are generally subtle, but perfectly balanced, allowing the taste of the ingredients to shine through. If you like very strong tasting food, however, you might find the recipes a bit bland. The recipes are not all vegetarian, but there are enough vegetarian recipes that I just returned my library book and ordered this book on Amazon.
The food challenge ingredient on myfooddiary this week was cucumbers. I’ve eaten cucumbers before, so I had to try a new preparation. I’ve seen lots of recipes for cold cucumber soup, but have never tried making it. I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten a cold cucumber soup before. I looked for recipes on Epicurious, and found lots, but the reviews are all over the map. No recipe seemed to get consistently good reviews. Frustrated at trying to pick a recipe, I tossed them all aside and just jumped in and improvised.
I put into the food processor:
* 1 of those long skinny english cucumbers, seeded and 1/2 peeled
* 1/3 cup plain lowfat yogurt
* 1/2 avocado
* 1 whole bunch chives
* 3 pinches salt
* fresh ground black pepper
It was tasty! I liked the flavor quite a bit. Even before th avocado I liked how it tasted, but it was too thin. I couldn’t taste the yogurt at all. The texture of the final soup, however, was kind of lumpy. I not sure if the lumps were cucumber, the cucumber peel, or the chives. Also, next time I’ll use a stronger herb than chives (that’s the only fresh herb I in the fridge). I think the soup would blend up better if it was thicker~even with 1/2 an avocado it was quite thin, but I wouldn’t want to add more avocado as then it would taste more like watery guacamole. What else could be added? Maybe a boiled potato?
This made just over 2 cups.
Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat 8.4g
Saturated Fat 1.9g
Dietary Fiber 6.5g
Vitamin A 16%
Vitamin C 45%
Update July 2010:
I recently tried Peter Berley’s recipe for chilled avocado soup with lime and jalepeno, from Fresh Food Fast. Berley says that the recipe results in a “creamy, mousseline” texture. That’s pretty accurate, but I found it quite unappealing. It kind of tasted like watered down, perfectly smooth guacamole. The ingredients were basically guacamole ingredients: avocado, garlic, lime, salt, and jalepeno. The Berley has you fry some tortilla strips until they’re crunchy and golden-brown. I served the soup (with tortilla strips) to Derek and two guests at dinner, and everyone ate a small bowl and had had enough. One guest said “it’s not inedible–I’d eat it eventually if it were in my fridge.” The other guest said that the crunchy chips were essential. Berley says the recipe serves 4 but we had a lot of soup left. I think with 3 avocados it should serve at least 6 people. I don’t want to toss the rest of the soup, so I think I’m going to try mixing with with beans to make a dip.
At Candle Cafe, and more recently at Blossom in New York, I’ve had these marvelous seitan cutlets which are thin and tender and come in some sort of great tasting sauce. I really want to know how to make this type of dish, but my seitan in the past has come out tasting more asian, and not nearly as tender. So I decided to take a seitan class with Myra Kornfeld at the Natural Gourmet Cooking School in New York. Unfortunately, we didn’t make anything quite like I was hoping for, but this was the recipe that was most similar to what I’ve had at restaurants. You have to use homemade seitan for this recipe, because you need large cutlets not small chunks.
- 1 pound seitan sliced into 1/4-inch cutlets
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup shoyu
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup sake, mirin, or sherry
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
- 2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. coconut oil
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 bunches watercress, washed and thick stems removed
- 1 Tbs. sesame seeds
- a few drops of sesame oil
- 1/2 lemon
- Pepper the seitan cutlets. Pour the orange juice into a medium skillet. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and and simmer rapidly, uncovered, to let the liquid evaporate. You don’t need to stir. Reduce until you have 1/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Add the orange juice to a small bowl along with the shoyu, water, and sake. Add the scallions to the bowl.
- Place the flour on a plate. Heat a large heavy-bottomed non-stick skillet on high. Add 2 Tbs. of the oil. Immediately press each cutlet into the flour, making sure both sides are completely dusted, and quickly add the seitan to the pan. Turn the heat to medium, and saute 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until both sides are lightly golden. Divide the seitan onto four warmed plates. Add the remaining tsp. of oil plus the garlic cloves to the pan saute about thirty seconds until lightly browned. Add the orange juice marinate to the pan (be careful, it will steam quite a bit) and let cook and thicken about one minute. Pour over the seitan.
- Add the watercress to the pan, and cook until just wilted, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat. Stir in the sesame seeds, and add a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Drizzle a few drops of sesame oil over the watercress and mound the watercress on the side of the seitan. Squeeze some lemon over each cutlet and serve.
I liked this dish when we had it at the class, but I didn’t love it. The sauce certainly wasn’t as good as the ones at candle cafe and Blossom. I decided to take my extra seitan and make it for Derek and his mom. I didn’t have coconut oil, so I just used olive. I’m guessing she uses coconut because she wants to heat it extremely hot, and doesn’t want to denature the oil. So I didn’t get my oil as hot, and I only used 4 tsp. rather than the 6 tsp. called for, and for less seitan (I only had about 2/3 of the amount in the recipe). My seitan didn’t get as browned, but I’m not sure that made a big difference to the taste. My sauce, however, tasted a bit different than the one at the class–I think it’s that we used sherry and they used mirin. I preferred the lighter mirin flavor I think. We used reduced sodium soy sauce, but I still found the sauce a bit over-salted. The idea of serving the cutlet over watercress was quite nice, but we thought the recipe could use about twice as much watercress, or maybe watercress + another green if 4 bunches of watercress is too expensive. I tried to present this dish as Myra did, laying the cutlet over a mound of watercress, and drizzling it with the sauce, but it came out looking pretty terrible. Presentaiton is clearly something I’ll have to work on if I make it again. Derek really enjoyed this dish–he had thirds.
I’m a bit mystified why the recipe calls for you to reduce the orange juice, then add water. I’m going to email Myra and ask her. It seems like you could just use orange juice concentrate, but maybe the cooking stage makes it taste more carmelized?
The other seitan dishes we made in my class were
- seitan-portobello mushroom sloppy joes, which I didn’t care for–the seasoning seemed off
- avocado cucumber jicama salsa was sweet, crunchy, and tasty
- seitan fajitas–this was a pretty standard dish of grilled peppers and onions, with the seitan added, and a little oregano and garlic for flavor. It was served with a creamy avocado sauce on tortillas. It was very tasty, but I’m not sure how much the seitan added. It would have been tasty with just the sauce and veggies.
- moussaka–this recipe has about 10 million steps, and I was pretty skeptical, because I’m not an eggplant fan, or a mashed potato fan. But I loved the dish! I even liked the eggplant layer! The top of the moussaka was covered with a vegan bechamel sauce, which I tasted and thought it tasted pretty awful–nothing like a bechamel sauce, too much soy and sweet taste. However, I didn’t notice the weird flavor in the final dish at all, it just tasted creamy and rich and savory and delicious.
If I make any of these dishes in the future I’ll type up the recipes.
If you can find early watercress, and still have access to late winter oranges, this makes a nice recipe for late Spring.
I just bought Vegan with a Vengeance, and was paging through it deciding what to make. Derek’s mom and I wanted to test out Isa’s seitan recipe, so were trying to decide which seitan main course to make. She thought the stroganoff sounded good, but I was pretty wary. I have a very distinct memory of ordering stroganoff at West Side Cafe in Austin many, many years ago and being totally disgusted. I also tried making some stroganoff recipes from various cookbooks–I think they all ended up in the trash. I even adore gravy, so I don’t know why I found them so unappetizing. I think stroganoff is typically a dairy-rich dish, and trying to make the creamy sauce out of soy just doesn’t cut it. So I was hesitant, but then I read the recipe’s intro, and the first sentence says something like “So, you’ve been disappointed with vegan stroganoffs in the past…” In one sentence she had hooked me, and we decided to make it. Read the rest of this entry »