Friday, April 23, 2010

Corned Seitan Reuben

I modified this recipe:

1/2 cup pinto beans, mashed well
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar (didn't have any apple cider vinegar)
1 cup water combined with 2 teaspoons miso to create broth
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp molasses (optional)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten

Mix the wet ingredients and dry ingredients in separate bowls, then add the wet to the dry, mixing well with your hands.

I used my pressure cooker to cook the seitan. The cooker I purchased in India has a metal insert, essentially two small stacking pans that fit inside the cooker, used to cook dal and rice at the same time. I thought the steel cylinder would be a good stand-in for the foil wrapping called for in the original recipe.

I kneaded the seitan dough then shaped it into a rough ball and plopped it into the cooking container (the lower of the two sections). I added a bay leaf to the steaming water. Instead of steaming for 50 minutes as the original recipe calls for, I pressure cooked it for about 45 minutes.

The unusual, um, texture you see there is the fact that my home-cooked, fork-mashed beans were not quite as well mashed as they could have been.

After cooking the seitan had expanded some, but not a ton, but was nice and firm so I pulled it out and let it sit.

We made the standard dressing of 2 parts vegan mayo, 1 part ketchup (or if like us, you don't use ketchup often enough to have it in the house, use tomato sauce), 1 part mustard, 1 part capers or minced pickle and 1 part minced onion.

B. baked this rye bread from a recipe I found online -- we just happened to have all the ingredients. Pretty good for a first attempt at baking bread (though he's become an expert bagel-baker).

After letting the seitan sit for about 20 minutes, we toasted the bread (the loaves were small, per the recipe, so a sandwich was about the size of a half sandwich), warmed up the kraut on the stove, and assembled!

Over all, I thought the recipe was pretty solid, though not too much different from other steamed seitan recipes I've tried. I like that I now have a method of cooking seitan that doesn't involve using tin foil, and look forward to experimenting to see if I can get a denser, firmer 'meat' by cooking longer. B. thought the cloves were a bit strong, so I might leave those out in the future. I've made steamed seitan before, and can't believe this is the first time I've offered a recipe. It's no Chicago Diner, but not bad, and incredibly easy. We recommend the bread, too!

Friday, April 9, 2010

TRUEBEN: Tempeh Reuben on Rye at The Green Sage (Asheville, NC)

Sorry for the bad photo--the Green Sage had a nice atmosphere but was admittedly a bit dimly lit.

Here, however, is a beautiful photo that I found on Flickr.

Though ultimately the tempeh reuben at Green Sage was nothing revelatory, after various veganization fails, I was grateful to finally sit down to this hearty and comforting, though familiar, vegan reuben.

Though the Green Sage is clearly very vegan friendly (as well as environmentally friendly, like most places in Asheville, with composting and bike delivery), you do need to request the reuben vegan. (I'm labeling it a trueben nonetheless because the vegan option is clearly indicated on the menu and easy to order). There are four side options, all vegan: regular fries, sweet potato fries, soup (they have a vegan vegetable lentil) and salad. We went for the salad, which you can tell from the picture, was pretty generous.

Though the website claims they are open late, and that the kitchen is open til close, I would call if coming for dinner. Our first attempt to go failed because I called ahead and the staff informed me the kitchen was closing shortly, well before 9 pm.

As for the sandwich, it includes tempeh, sauerkraut, russian dressing and a modest amount of avocado on a light caraway rye. B. thought the tempeh had a slightly mushroomy flavor. I definitely detected a lot of soy sauce in the marinade. Over all the sandwich was pretty well-balanced. The tempeh didn't overwhelm, but I might have liked a little more kraut.

Over all this is a solid sandwich, and if in Portland, we'd probably give it a 3.5. There are more exciting options in Asheville, to be sure, but I appreciated the easy veganization (including a clearly marked menu) and hearty portions at Green Sage. At the price (8 bucks) it seemed like a good deal, and avocado was subbed for cheese without any fuss. Also a nice local beer, Pisgah Pale, is to be had on tap. The Green Sage seems like a good spot for various dietary inclinations--the vegan breakfast menu looks great and they also offer omni as well as gluten free options. In the heart of downtown Asheville, it's a convenient spot for visitors, especially those of us who like to eat healthy, local and organic, to grab a bite.

The Green Sage
5 Broadway Street
Asheville, NC