Thursday, April 12, 2007

Fabulous food finds and farewell, Daiku

You know those great Eureka! moments, moments where you find something so cool, so good, that you wondered how you ever lived without it? Well, in the past week, I've been lucky enough to have two Eureka! moments, both of them food-related.

First up Susan's vegan pepperoni recipe, based on the infamous Seitan O'Greatness from the PPK boards. (I've heard that recipe itself is based on an older vegan pastrami recipe from Joanne Stepaniak, so this is definitely a gem that's been around the block!) I know a lot of people have already made this, but if you haven't, I say do it! This was officially my first attempt at cooking seitan from scratch, and it was so easy. The texture and taste are not just better than regular boiled seitan, but honestly better than any store-bought meat substitute. Make it yourself, know what goes into it, save money, get a better taste, you can't lose!

While it was baking, the whole house smelled like an Italian restaurant. We used this pepperoni to fill some calzones. (The dough was left over from the infamous deep dish pizza night). The fennel seeds and other Italian seasonings made this pairing perfect, but the seitan o'greatness has an infinite combination of flavors that you can play with to make it suitable for any recipe.

Calzone out of the oven.

Calzone food porn: filled with pepperoni, broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms, red sauce, tofu ricotta, and other goodies.

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Next revelation? I've found it. After years of searching and many recipes, I've found the perfect vegan brownie recipe! It's moist, chewy, and fudge-like, not fluffy and cake-like. Click here for the recipe from the Vegan Ice Cream Blog. This satisfied a late-night chocolate craving like nothing else. The only thing I might change next time is reducing the fat a tiny bit. But if you've been craving that perfect fudge brownie taste and texture in vegan form, this is a must-make recipe.

The other great thing about this recipe is that it gives instructions on how to make a proper flax egg substitute. In the past, I've merely mixed some ground flax meal with water when a recipe called for an egg substitute. However, I've now learned to blend it with warm water at a high speed (i.e. in a blender, not by hand). The result is much more gooey and suitable as an egg replacement. Bonus: I've kept the extra in the fridge for any future recipes that call for flax egg. And, I've added it to my morning smoothies instead of straight-up flax meal, resulting in a MUCH smoother, less gritty smoothie.

This brownie heart goes out to the lovely Daiku who will be gone from Friday until Tuesday. He will be attending a conference in New Orleans. (Enjoy the French Quarter Festival, sunshine, and warmth, traitor!) If any of you know of any good veg-friendly restaurants that he can check out while he's there, please let us know! I'll miss you, pookie.

Ok, time to go back to the books.

Bijou and I usually have the same expression when we sit in front of schoolwork!

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P.S. One more shameless plug: a BIG thank you to everyone who has voted for me in the Blogger's Choice Awards! You still have time to vote for this blog (and all the other wonderful blogs nominated). Click here to vote! And a special shout-out and thank you to Domino for the nomination.



Agnes L. said...

I'm so glad you liked the brownies! It's really all about the flax egg replacer. I use it in all my baked goods now.

SusanV said...

Bazu, I am so glad to hear that you liked the veggeroni. Isn't it easy? I'm going to make some bologna-flavored to try to replace the LightLife stuff that my daughter eats too much of. It's wonderful to control what goes into it. I'm also going to do a veggie Brat flavor soon. So many possibilities!

Those brownies look divine!

Also, Domino is a friend of mine and said to tell you that your nomination is very well-deserved. Good luck!

And (finally) I hope Daiku has fun in N.O. If you haven't already, check out Kittee's vegan restaurant reviews at Paku-Paku. I recently saw a mention of a restaurant with vegan breakfast items, but I can't fine it now. If I do I'll let you know. (I'm also working on finding your tea; I have one local place that I'm optimistic about. I'll let you know.)

aTxVegn said...

I gotta make the seitan this weekend so I'm not the last one to try it. Yours looks perfect and perfect for those calzones! I love fudgy brownies and these sure do look gooey good. They will be good company while Daiku is away. By the way, I'm pretty sure sunshine is the only healthy thing in New Orleans.

SusanV said...

Here's the place I heard of recently: Slim Goodies Diner. It was mentioned here.

Jackie said...

Thanks for letting me know you can still nominate but I found blogs like yours which I would have been happy to nominate were added since my last visit so all I needed to do was vote :)

They also have some great animal related blogs there.

Joanne's Uncheese Bok was the first Vegan book I ever purchased but never got around to getting her others so missed out on pastrami recipe. I will try the Veggeroni as it sounds wonderful.

Nijou is such a cutie.

Chantal said...

So, are you enjoying Breton's manisfesto? Tough read... Your brownies look awesome. I shall try the flax-seed egg again. I have always just mixed milled flax seeds with water, and it always "felt" wrong.

Village Vegan said...

I really really really want to make that seitan pepperoni this weekend. I've been reading about baked seitan on everyone's blog, so it must be good...and I used to love pepperoni seasonings so I'm sure this will be good. And I've never baked with flax eggs before, so I should really try those brownies...or some cupcakes. Or both!

Where do you buy vital wheat gluten? I don't think I've ever seen it, but I haven't really looked for it either. I guess Whole Foods or a health food store would have it?

Vegyogini said...

Hi Bazu! Thanks for linking to that fabulous-looking brownie recipe! Do you have any idea what the equivalent measurement would be for ground flax seeds as opposed to whole? I only have the ground ones at the moment... :-)


Dori said...

Love the kitty.... I kinda look like that also when I am studying. I wish a great trip for Daiku and that he finds some great eats. I love the calzone, I really need to make this sometime soon. Yeah for your blooger choice award nomination!

Urban Vegan said...

seitan o greatness--the trend that's sweeping the blogosphree. the calzones are so lovely.

i know you'll miss Daiku but at least you have the kitties and Andre Breton to keep you company.

Congrats on your nomination! The vegan bloggers are dominating the best food blog category, becuase we have, well, the best food.

KleoPatra said...

Bazu, wishing Daiku a fab fab fab trip and hoping you will be blogging (we'll keep you company, too!) till he makes his return. New Orleans i haven't been to in years... not sure what is happenin' there food-wise these days.

(I can tell you how horrified i was back when i was 11 and my family went there, some of the things i saw on the menu at restaurants there. I wasn't a vegetarian until i was 16 but i never knew people at duck, frog's legs and turtles. i was shocked and upset...! It was my first foray into foreign foods, and i'll never forget N.O. for that...)

Bijou is BEAUTIFUL. i love the expression and i laughed out loud for what you wrote about how you have the same expression sitting in front of schoolwork!! Hilarious, Bazu!!

Thanks for making it clear that i really need to go for that seitan recipe... saving money, that's always nice as well. I need to do more of that at the moment! It doesn't look that complicated, and that always stops me from making things from scratch... And if the flavour is terrific, that's the best of all.

That calzone is lovely. That's such comfort food for me, right up there w/mac 'n' "cheez."

Thank you so much for the vegan brownie recipe link! The way you write about it, it sounds truly fabulous. The heart you made for Daiku is incredibly sweet, in every way possible.

Congrats again on your nomination. Well-deserved!!

KleoPatra said...

(oops: i mean ATE at restaurants, above there, not 'at' in my rant about animal foods in N.O.) (and it's frogs' legs, too... the editor in me, sorry)

Emmie said...

I am so trying that pepperoni. I bought gluten flour yesterday but forgot to get some nutritional yeast. I know there's some in mums kitchen so I'm going there to steal some soon. So it's either tonight or this weekend. I'm so excited!

Carrie™ said...

You got my vote!
Brownies?! Say no more! I prefer fudgy to cakey and these ones look spectacular. Calzones look great too!

Anonymous said...
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springsandwells said...

Oh yeah!!
What a fun post! That veggieroni is at the top of my list, I can't wait to try it.

Isn't it funny, how all of us vegans have different staples? You make all sorts of things that seem so new and exciting to me - and then I was so surprised to learn that you hadn't made seitan or proper flaxy eggs before. How fun! Congrats on trying something new!!

The flaxy eggs are amazing. They even get all weird and gloopy, right? I used to always make flax eggs, but I do get a bit fatigued with all the blender cleanup, so lately I've been taking the easy route and using EnerG egg replacer.

Good luck with the studies!

Neva Vegan said...

Everything looks so good. I will have to try making my own seitan as I've never done it. Brownies never really turn out for me, so I'll have to give the flax a try.

I hope Daiku has a good time in New Orleans. Good luck with the school work.

laura jesser said...

The pepperoni seitan sounds excellent. I just tried the seitan o'greatness, and maybe I'll try this one next. I've actually never bought premade seitan--and now I will never have a reason to!

Gooey brownies are absolutely the best. And I learned something here today about flax eggs--I'll try that technique next time, too!

laura jesser said...

PS--I hope Daiku has a great trip!

Vincent Guihan said...

Mmmmm, calzone food porn! To quote Paris Hilton, that's hot! I use my immersion blender, too, when I work with flax. It's just easier. Apparently, there's an Ethiopian dish that involves dry grinding the flax and then mixing it with water to make a butter/margarine substitute. I've tried it to mixed results (depends on how much you like the flavour of flax, I guess), but if you're looking for ways to add flax...

bazu said...

Thank you for your comments, everybody!

Susan V, Paku-Paku is so full of interesting sounding restaurants! Wow the African restaurant sounds really unique.

Chantal, yes, I think Andre Breton is the man! ;-) Now, I have to come up with something interesting to say about him.

Village Vegan, I usually buy wheat gluten (same as gluten or vital wheat gluten or wheat gluten flour) from the bulk bins at my co-op, but you can also find it in the flour section, packaged. (E.g. Arrowhead Mills, Bob's Red Mill, etc.)

Vegyogini, I'm not too sure. I'll take a wild guess and guesstimate that 1 TB whole flax seeds = 2 tsp. ground flax seeds. If anyone knows for sure, please feel free to correct me.

For everyone thinking about making this seitan, I say, JUST DO IT! you will NOT regret it. I just had a pepperoni sandwich for lunch. mmmm.

Emmy said...

I saw the pepperoni recipe and I want to try it. Glad to know the recipe is a winner. I just need to get some fennel seeds and then I'm good to go. The calzones look perfect!!! Rob is a huge brownie fan and I bet he'd love those brownies. Thanks for the heads up about the recipe.

That's a great pic of Bijou...she looks less than thrilled to be sitting near that book. LOL

I hope Daiku has a safe trip. Have a good weekend studying Bazu :)

Melody Polakow said...

I swear, almost every post I've been to today has a version of this! hehe.. Vegan Vittles is where I first came accross is several years ago... of course, as with almost everything from that book, I changed the spices and added more. Isn't it so cool that we can cook better stuff at home than we can buy at the store?

vko said...

Hope Daiku is having a good time down in the Big Easy!

That Bijou in front of the Breton book is just too precious.

Pepperoni sounds delicious, I too will try it, but I have to say in your picture- the ends almost look exactly like sausage casing which is a little bit freaky. Calzones & brownies look super yummy for this cold cold weather and the spring that never seems to come...

Anonymous said...

Ah Bazu, I just found out about the Blogger Awards and I went to vote for you and Susan right away.
I wish everybody would just drop whatever they are doing right now and go vote for you. <3

I always love everything you post about so you are a winner in my opinion, no matter how many vote you get in the end :)

I hope Daiku has a wonderful time.
Bisous to you and Bijou !

Anonymous said...

I hope Daiku has a great time in New Orleans. I'm sure your house feels empty without him.

I've tried to register to vote twice but my computer is not cooperating! I'm going to try again before the deadline.

Your calzones look great. I too am a fudgey brownie fan so I'll have to check out the recipe.

KathyF said...

Oh, do you know how long I've searched for a good vegan brownie recipe? Every time I try they turn out awful!

There used to be a veggie restaurant in NO called Old Dog New Trick. Don't know if it's still there, in the French Quarter, but if so check it out. Otherwise, NO is not very veggie friendly, unfortunately.

Vincent Guihan said...

Poor Bijou. I'd make the same face if I had to read Andre Breton (although I do love Magritte). ;)

scottishvegan said...

I love your little brownie heart…too cute! Bijou is adorable in that pic. Everyone is making seitan at the moment…I feel almost obliged to make some now!

Anonymous said...

looks very good, specially the brownie hearth. thanks for the links.

Mikaela said...

"Calzone out of the oven." More like "Calzone out of heaven!" :D