Sloppy Joes

14 12 2011

I’m always searching for the best vegetarian takes on comfort food. Veggie pot pies, mac n’ cheese, burgers. That is my ZONE. Yeah!

I’ve tried out a couple of sloppy joe recipes and none of them seem to really do the trick. This one though, after some slight adjustments from the original recipe, is getting pretty darn close; deep, rich flavors from the addition of brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce, mixed with a hot pop from mustard and hot sauce.

The only thing I haven’t completely perfected yet is the texture. I’ve used tempeh in the past, but that ends up being too clumpy. The TVP is a lot better, but I think I’m looking for something a bit softer and creamier. Perhaps lentils, or some sort of bean. Anyone have a suggestion?

While I search for the perfect vegan sloppy joe, this recipe works just perfectly.

Sloppy Joes
Adapted from Hot Damn and Hell Yeah: Recipes for Hungry Banditos

1 cup TVP granules
2 tbs. vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
1 tb. garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tb. yellow mustard
2 tbs. worcestershire sauce
1 tb. tomato paste
3 tbs. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Few splashes of hot sauce (optional)
Hamburger buns, toasted

Combine the TVP granules with 1 cup hot water in a bowl and set aside to soak.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onion, bell peppers and garlic for about 5 minutes.

Add mushrooms and cook for another few minutes before adding all of the remaining ingredients, including the TVP. Stir well and reduce heat, simmering for 10-20 minutes until it reduces and thickens a bit. Serve hot on toasted buns.

Tofu Reuben

22 11 2011

Layers of warm tofu, tons of sauerkraut, Russian dressing and swiss cheese, nestled between toasty pumpernickel bread… gah. I would have stacked this sandwich to the ceiling if I had the means.

I didn’t use a marinade with the tofu. Though I wonder how it would taste marinated in some type of corn beef brine. Oh well, didn’t have the time or patience for the stuff tonight. I just sliced the tofu thin and fried it in oil with salt and pepper.

You can use any vegetarian sandwich stuffer when making a reuben; tofu, tempeh, seitan, I don’t care. And even though you’re using a meat substitute, don’t you dare try to make this a healthy sandwich. It is not/should not be one. Slather it in dressing, rub butter all over them breads, melt cheese over the whole thing, vegan or not, either way, make it decadent. Perfection, thy name is reuben.

Tofu Reuben
Adapted from Vegan Planet

2 tbs. soy or regular mayonnaise
1 tb. ketchup
1 tb. sweet pickle relish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs. olive oil
4 slices bread (Rye is the standard, though I love me some pumpernickel)
1 package tofu, drained and sliced thin
1/2 cup sauerkraut, drained and warmed (You can use a microwave, but I think the best method is heating it up on a skillet with some oil, salt, pepper and caraway seeds)
Swiss cheese/vegan cheese/whatever cheese

In a small bowl, combine the mayo, ketchup and relish. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Set aside.

Brush a small amount of the olive oil on one side of each slice of bread. Place the bread oiled side down on a flat surface and spread the mayo mixture on the other side of each slice.

Layer the tofu, sauerkraut and cheese on 2 of the bread slices and top with the remaining 2 bread slices, oiled side up.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the sandwiches in the skillet and cook, turning once, until toasty on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet, cut in half, and serve hot with a pickle!

Fried Green Tomato Po’Boys & Vegan Caesar Salad

20 09 2011

I always imagined green tomatoes as being tart and well, green tasting. I pictured the disappointment and agony in our faces as we spit them out in unison, cursing the unripe fruit. But lo! Not was the case! Succulent and flavorful, with a tobasco-kick and my bacon portobellos melting over everything, these sandwiches are anything but agony.

Try pairing with this *vegan cesar salad (almost vegan, minus the Parmesan I added..) Vampires beware. This dressing packs a garlic whollop. Love it.

Fried Green Tomato Po’Boys
Adapted from Vegan Planet

3 small green tomatoes, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-in. slices
Salt and black pepper
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning (or if Old Bay can’t be found, some Cajun seasoning will work)
3 tbs. olive oil
Tempeh Bacon (my substitute for tempeh was to take 2 portobello mushies, slice, marinate in my tried & true “Bacon” marinade: equal parts liquid smoke, real maple syrup and soy sauce)
2 romaine lettuce leaves
Mayo (or soy mayo)
Hot sauce, to taste
Bread/sub roll of choice

Cesar Salad
Adapted from Vegan Planet

1 loaf crusty bread
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tb. tahini
1 tb. white miso
2 tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Romaine lettuce
Parmesan cheese, shaved (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cut the bread into 1-inch. cubes and spread on a baking sheet. Coat in olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake, turning occasionally, until lightly toasted on all sides, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl or food processor, combine the garlic, tahini, miso, lemon juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and olive oil until blended. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the romaine leaves into bite-size pieces and place in a large serving bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until evenly coated. Add the croutons and cheese, if using, toss again and serve.

Vegetable Melt with Wasabi Mayo

2 05 2011

Besides food, music is one of the biggest passions in life. I grew up listening to punk rock and have been playing power chords since I was 15. Sadly though, my guitars have been collecting dust for a while. Besides picking one up to play the occasional Violent Femmes or Patsy Cline cover, it has been sucking to see music slowly fading out of my life. But. I see that changing very shortly.

I have recently come into possession of a banjo and thanks to Ebay, a vintage Horner accordion. Pretty much my dream instruments. And after a weekend out in my college town of Amherst, MA and re-connecting with people who inspire me on so many levels, including musically, I am back in the music bizz. I will learn how to play my sad accordion clown music, some lively banjo ditties, and I think that will push me on the way to being more one with myself. Oh yeah.

These little veggie melts make me feel pretty at one with everything too. Mild Muenster melting into a creamy rollwich (I sort of roll them up when I eat them. Allows me to eat more furiously), with a hint of wasabi spice and crunchy soy-sauce covered veggies. Wicked rules.

Vegetable Melt with Wasabi Mayo
Adapted from Quick Vegetarian Pleasures

1 tsp. wasabi powder
3 tbs. mayonnaise (or Trader Joes Wasabi Mayo)
1 tb. olive oil
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored & cut into thin strips
1 bunch broccoli, cut into small pieces
2 tsps. soy sauce
2 pita pockets
1 1/4 cup Muenster cheese, grated

Mix the wasabi with 1 tsp. water, or just enough to make it the consistency of mustard. Let sit for 10 minutes. Place the mayo in a small bowl and stir until smooth, then stir in the wasabi paste. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in the pepper and broccoli, sprinkling on 1 tb. of water. Cover and cook until the broccoli is tender, but still a little crisp, about 5 minutes.

Remove the cover from pan. If there is any water remaining, raise the heat to high to evaporate it. Stir frequently. Pour on the soy sauce, tossing to coat. Remove from heat.

Preheat the broiler. Split the pitas to make 4 discs. Place them on a baking sheet, then spoon on the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle on the cheese and broil until melted, about 3 minutes. Spoon on the wasabi mayo!

Lentil Burgers

27 01 2011

When I’m not too busy sleeping in late, I do other things, like write a food column for a Cape Cod news site. For this weeks column, I originally intended to write a fluffy piece on homemade veggie burgers. I’ve been out of town for a few days. Picking up my boyfriends mothers dog to bring home to the Cape and dog-sit for a week. Here’s LucyWhich has led to most of my brain space being devoted to preventing our cat Ché (AKA El Gato, The General, there he is below, taking up the whole damn counter) from hunting and killing this mini chihuahua. We’ve been watching over Lucy like she’s the president and we’re secret service. So it has come down to the night before my column is due. I’ll just write about veggie burgers. I’ll make these lentil burgers that I made a while back, snag a photo, boom dee doom. But while writing my article, I get stuck on a political tangent about how so many organic food brands are actually owned by agribusiness giants and disgusting corporations. AKA:  Boca owned by Kraft, ConAgra owning Fakin Bacon, etc.

So what was originally a pretty basic article has become a diatribe against these corporations, calling them out by name, citing cases in which they fought against labelling GM-foods. And now I’m wondering if my editor is even going to publish this. I’m sure I could drop a note to her saying that if necessary, all politics can be cut from the piece, and the readers will be left with a cute lil’ article on makin bean burgers. But that’s why I’m drinking limeade and vodka now, because I’d hate to take a pussy compromise on things that matter. Oh, and because it’s Wednesday.

Here are my infamous lentil burgers. Even my boyfriend likes them and he ate about 8 Tyson’s chicken patties today.

Lentil Burgers
Adapted from Hot Damn & Hell Yeah
½ cup dry lentils
1 bay leaf
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tb. olive oil
1 ½ tbs. peanut butter
2 ½ tbs. ketchup
½ tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
½ tsp. parsley
dash of salt
dash of hot sauce (optional)
1 cup dry bread crumbs

Cover the lentils with water in a saucepan and simmer with the bay leaf for about 30 minutes. Once cooked, drain the lentils and throw out the bay leaf.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes, then place all of your ingredients in a food processor and blend for about 15 seconds.

Pour contents in a large bowl and stir in the bread crumbs. Form into patties and cook in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat until the center is firm and the patties are slightly browned. Serve with all your favorite burger fixins!

Curried Tempeh Salad

6 11 2010

I’m creating a menu. One day, hopefully within the next five years, I intend on opening a vegetarian diner on Cape Cod. Jinxed it. Anyways. This is going on the menu. Stuffed in pita bread with some romaine. Curried salads are scrumptuous. But really, cover an infant in curry and I’ll be tempted. This curry tempeh salad is really a perfect recipe though. Its got a sweetness, as well as a crunch thanks to raisins and almonds.

So now’s the time. Do you appreciate loaded sexy breakfasts, seitan sandwiches, craft beers, vegan shakes, meatless comfort food? Do you find that you have too much money just hanging around? Or are you willing to go to great lengths, depraved and terrible lengths to acquire cash? Tired of donating to thankless charities such as the church. Please donate now to my restaurant start-up fund. I’ll name a menu item after you. Hell, I’ll name the restaurant after you. Do your part people.

Curried Tempeh Salad
Adapted from Vegan Planet

1 12-oz package tempeh, poached, cooled, and chopped (poaching tempeh mellows out the flavor and increases its digestibility. Place the tempeh in a saucepan with water to cover and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes, then pat dry)
1 celery rib, minced
2 scallions, minced
2 tbs. seeded & minced bell pepper
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tbs. slivered almonds
1 tb. minced fresh parsley
1 cup soy mayonnaise
1 tb. sweet pickle relish
2 tsps. curry powder
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine everything in a large bowl and mix it up! cover and refridgerate for 30 minutes to let it cool and allow for flavors to blend.