Saturday, June 23, 2012

Vegan Chopped!

If anything could get me back on the blogging wagon, a good vegan cooking contest could! This post is inspired by Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan Chopped contest, judged by some of my favorite vegan bloggers. I've been gone for quite a while, but have been cooking up vegan fare the whole time and been looking forward to getting back into blogging. Now that my daughter is about to embark upon preschool, this contest has inspired me to use my new-found time more wisely and get this place back up and running. Lots of changes in the works, so I hope you'll be back to see what I transform DGMGV to in the near future!

I should apologize for the quality of the pictures. Seems it's been so long since I dusted off the Nikon we are no longer getting along. Plus, with the stopwatch ticking (oh yeah, I totally timed myself ;) it was easier to just snap pics at the end with my phone.

So, without further ado, here is my entry for the Vegan Chopped Contest,

Seitan Mignon & Black-Eyed CaulPeaFlower Mash under Chocolate Pinot Gravy
with Broiled Peach & Blackberry 'Chutney'

Prep time: 38 minutes, 24 seconds. whew!

What you'll need:

For the Seitan Mignons I use this recipe, a family favorite, but made some adjustments*
I made mine the morning before and just took it out of the 'fridge this morning, let sit in the cooking liquid to room temp.

For the Sauce:

A good Pinot Noir, I used Castle Rock's as it's vegan, inexpensive, and tasty and, according to my Wine/Pairing Guru Friend Dan, should work perfectly for this recipe

1 cup cooking liquid from Seitan Mignons
leeks (i sliced thin the white part of a large leek, enough to blanket the medium saucepan)
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken up (I used a 70% cacao variety)**
Smart Balance (I love the Organic SB in a tub)

For the CaulPeaFlower Mash:
1/2 large head fresh cauliflower, choped into florets, rinsed well and drained

1 cup canned black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
onion powder
nutritional yeast
Smart Balance
sea salt
1 large bunch fresh spinach, chopped
2 cloves garlic, slivered (i love some paper thin garlic in my greens!)

For the 'Chutney' (okay, okay, it's more a salad):

2 peaches, sliced in half, pit removed
1 cup fresh blackberries
1 cup grapes, sliced in half
1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves

2 T. Florida Crystals
couple generous pinches ground ginger (or fresh grated if you have some!)


Open bottle of Pinot, empty into decanter to breathe. Or just skip the whole 'use cooking with wine as an excuse to drink copius amounts of vino' and let it breathe in the bottle until needed for recipe ;) I will strongly urge you, however, to turn up some of your favorite music. This dish is fun and full of flavor, why shouldn't your ears benefit as well as the rest of your senses? I am currently rocking

Preheat oven to 425. (I am very annoyed with TS Debbie and all her rain today for ruining my grilling plans. Seitan and peaches were meant to be warmed and cooked on grill, respectively. Pan-warmed seitan and Broiled peaches it is!)

Place mint, sugar, and ginger in blender or processor (I used the Magic Bullet) and pulse until ground and well incorporated.

Cut peaches in half and remove pits. place in baking dish, cut side up. Dot with Smart Balance. Sprinkle with a third of sugar/mint/ginger mixture (I LOVE ginger so I sprinkled an extra pinch on each half at this point). Bake for about 25 minutes or until tender and bubbling.

Mix remaining sugar mix with blackberries and grapes. I didn't use all of it, just added until they looked coated. Have about a scant T. left and will use for some tea ;) Set aside.

Heat saucepan on medium heat. Spray with olive oil. Add leeks and garlic and saute until they start to brown a bit and are caramel in color. Add a glug or two (or three....or four) of wine to deglaze and stir. Stir in seitan simmering stock (or veggie beef-like stock if you have no simmering liquid). Once gently bubbling add rosemary and chocolate. Stir occasionally, allow sauce to simmer until

thickened so that it coats spoon. Add 1-2 tablespoons Smart Balance, stirring to melt and incorporate. Reserve sauce on low.

Remove peaches from oven, chop one, toss gently with fruit/sugar blend, set aside. Use remaining peach halves for plating under 'chutney' (i can't help myself. My husband is half Indian. I so wanted this to be a chutney!).
Heat non stick skillet on medium heat and spray with olive oil (I love my Misto!). Chop spinach and add to skillet turning to coat a bit, add garlic and a pinch or two of coarse sea salt. Once it starts to wilt, add a scant tablespoon of water, cover, reduce to low heat. Spinach is done when fully limp but still vibrant green. Don't
overcook! Instead, move to a bowl and throw mignon in that pan and cover, allowing it to heat thru on med lo while you prepare CaulPeaFlower Mash.
Meanwhile, rinse well and chop cauliflower into florets and place in microwaveable bowl. Add pinch of coarse sea salt. Cover and nuke for three minutes. Remove from microwave and mash with (to taste), onion powder, nutritional yeast. Add black eyed peas and blend together. I used my

immersion blender here, but a blender or food processor would also work. You could also just try mashing with a masher by hand and allow for the cauliflower to be studded with the peas rather than fully incorporated.
Stir drained sauteed spinach into CaulPeaFlower Mash.

Plate the CaulPeaFlower Mash and top with seitan mignon. Drizzle (or pour! Mmmmm!) on Gravy, top with a pinch of rosemary (fresh if you have it. I didn't.) and a pinch of coarse sea salt.

Plate a broiled peach half and top with Chutney/Salad/Fruit&Sugar Mix.

Notes on this entree:

When I heard Isa was doing this challenge, I knew exactly what I would do. Not very out of the box or crazy original, but it just sounded like something I wanted to eat, but maybe would never have pieced together these four ingredients otherwise. I did a quick search for chocolate sauce for beef and consulted my wine/pairing guru friend for advice on the wine and if the flavors had a chance together and one for 'peach blackberry mint chutney'. The sauce I didn't really modify from what I found here other than using Smart Balance (2T instead of 4 of butter) but did choose a Pinot Noir that my friendly guru suggested rather than the Burgundy blend it called for. ** The chocolate I used was 2 oz of a Perugina 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate bar. The ingredients are all vegan, but

there is a note reading: made on equipment that also processes tree nuts and milk. The 'chutney' didn't really feel like a chutney, but I couldn't see chopping or blending such beautiful plump blackberries so I added ginger (because what's a chuntey without some spice or other?!) because ginger, mint, peach, and blackberry just sounded like a perfect combo in my head. I also modified amounts a bit as I was only cooking for myself (and maybe some leftovers ;).

*I'll be honest. Seitan is not my favorite vegan protein source; it has this 'gluteny' flavor that I spend a lot of time finding ways to mask. And by 'finding ways' I mean 'searching for great recipes that'. I do think it's fun to work with and very versatile. One of my most favorite preparations is Tracy's Seitan Mignon that I linked to above. That woman knows her way around some wheat gluten! I have tinkered with the original recipe as I cannot get NutriMax here and have had to adjust things to avoid it being overly salty. Since I was working with black-eyed peas already for the challenge and had no silken tofu (that is usually used when using this recipe), I subbed the tofu for six ounces

black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained, and a scant T. of chickpea flour. In doing so I found that the seitan dough came together as easily as the original preparation and was firm before the entire 1/2 cup of gluten that is typically used at the end was used up. I barely used a 1/4 c. there at the end, but it was sticky-ish so I coated the outside well before putting in the simmering liquid.

Here are the changes I made to the seitan recipe:
Instead of 1 1/2 T. Braggs Aminos, I used 1 T. Gravy Master + 1/2 T. Shoyu
Instead of 6 oz. silken tofu, I used 6 oz. rinsed, drained black-eyed peas + 1 T. chickpea flour
In simmering liquid:

Instead of 3 T. beef-style bouillon, I used 1 T. Better Than Beef Style Bouillon.
I always add the optional garlic powder, but double it. Same for the garlic powder.

Also, I have no biscuit cutters and often use a juice glass to cut the dough into five (approx 3 inch across) mignons with some scraps. I felt like these should be bigger and used a very large mouthed container (about five inches across) yielding three larger mignons, one of the 3 inch and a scrap that was shaped like a steak (oh, irony! ;).

After cooking, I think that the texture of these larger, flatter cuts is a little less visually appealing and will use the smaller size forever in the future as it was perfect the way it was, smaller and thicker.

Black-Eyed CaulPeaFlower Mash:
I have been making mashed cauliflower for ages. Sometimes I'll add a potato to one head of cauliflower to give it more structure (shout out to Caulipots!), but when eating alone I will typically skip that step. This often means that if I don't drain the cooked cauliflwer enough it's a bit watery, but I just add more nutritional yeas
t and it's all good. Since Black Eyed Peas were one of the contest ingredients, it made perfect sense to me to mash some in there for that texture and starchiness. The canned ones I used were a bit salty so it was perfect, not having to add extra salt. I love stirring cooked greens into mashed potatoes, so why not CaulPeaFlower Mash?

The verdict:

I really loved this! It was almost exactly how I thought it would be. The seitan was tender and flavorful, the gravy was rich and went really well with the mignon and the mash. If I made a gravy like this again, I'd use a bit less chocolate and a bit more wine, honestly. The mash had awesome stick-to-your-fork structure and the greens did what they always do when I stir them into a mash, give a tender salty, garlicky som'n som'n to bite into. I love black-eyed peas and their flavor was definitely present, complimenting the natural sweetness of the cauliflower nicely, I think.

The fruit on the side really balanced well as it was light and fresh and minty and tasted sweet without being syrupy. It went really well with the earthy seitan/mash/gravy combo and I felt really satiated after eating every last bit of what was on my plate. Edited to add: I just spooned the fruit mixture into a container to save and now that it's sit for a while I think it'd be great if I used the stick blender just for a pulse or two to get some of it even more incorporated. Then I could even hold my head up high while calling it a Chutney ;).

The one surprise was that the chocolaty gravy was AMAZING on the 'chutney'. So much so that when my lunch was polished off I grabbed another generous spoonful of the fruit and ladled on a bit of the gravy and enjoyed it just like that.
So. Good.

and yes....I did have wine with my lunch. It's Sunday. The kid is 'rearranging the pantry' for me (oh boy), TS Debby is ruining my light, my grilling plans, and any chance we had of releasing our painted lady butterflies today, and some of my favorite tunes are dancing around us in the kitchen. I have a great bottle of vegan wine now open from this dish, seems a total waste not to enjoy some of it ;) It's a good thing, too.....I just was reminded why I plan to leave Blogger for
Wordpress. No matter how many times I change it, Blogger won't change my font. It also won't let me post today at 4:30, just says 'scheduled'. Yeah, It's now 4:37 pm. So, ugly font? sure! Pretend I posted this yesterday? Fine! I'm gonna kick back with my girl, my glass of vino, and play a game of I Can Do That while the rain falls and I totally don't check the clock for the next 27 minutes, anxiously awaiting being able to enter. ;)

Happy Sunday everyone. Feels good to be back!