Well, my friends, I finally cooked with seitan. Actually, I shouldn't say 'finally' because I had done it before. I made some from scratch for a soup a while ago but it was in small chunks and very easy to cook. So I consider last night the actual first moment.
I made V-con's Seitan Cutlets, which, I guess, are supposed to be both for consuming after frying/grilling as well as using in other 'meaty' meals. I did 'em up burger style.
First, let me just say, that vital wheat gluten is impossible to work with! Maybe it's just me, but every time I would knead, press and stretch the dough, it always shrunk right back towards the center. Does anyone else have a problem with this? Isa and Terry do mention that it will be a little stubborn at first but to keep at it. Well, I kept at it for a while (so long, in fact, my hands turned red) and it was nearly impossible! I ended up making two different batches because the first ones looked nugget-sized. In the end, I mashed the two together and had chunky cutlets. You'd think this would be better, but it made them quite difficult to fry in the middle.
I baked them in boiled veggie broth for about an hour then let Mikey handle the rest. He's the master fryer, so while I was cooking up some soup, I let him take care of the rest. With suggestion from the book, he smothered them in flour and tossed them in a pan lined with canola oil.
They came out smelling and tasting pretty good. They were very meaty, but had a pork texture to them. I'm glad they didn't taste like pork because I've always found the meat pretty disgusting. They definitely had their own taste and were very reminiscent of the beefy gluten dish Mike loves to get at Grasshopper, but without the seasonings and sauce.
Next time I hope I can make them thinner so the inside cooks better. If anyone has any tips on how to tame wheat gluten, I'd be glad to hear 'em!
To go along with our dinner, I made a Swamp Soup. The dish is really called 'Spring Garden Soup', but it is filled with every green you can think of, so I'm gonna call it what I like! Seriously, this soup is probably the healthiest soup I've ever had. You boil 8 cups of water and toss in nettles, collards, kale, mustard greens, swiss chard, dandelion greens, a fennel sprig, green onions, carrots and firm tofu.
It looked like miso, but tasted nothing like it despite the fact that I actually did put 1/4 of a cup of miso in there. I have to say, the flavour left something to be desired. Firstly, there was no veggie broth. Just plain water. Secondly, other than a little bit of Braggs sauce, there was no seasoning. Thirdly, the tofu was not cooked. Fourthly, it was filled with green! Now, it wasn't disgusting in the least. It had some flavour and was easy to swallow down. I'm sure my body thanked me for the load of health I sent its way. But it's not something I would make if I was looking for a lot of flavour.
My stepfather teased me that I always have to do everything by the book, and he's right- the first time. I like to make things exactly as a recipe says to, no matter how odd it may sound, to see exactly what the chef is raving about. Once I've made it one time, then I can change it and spice it up the way I see fit. So maybe some day soon I'll make another swamp soup but switch the water for veggie broth and load it with spices.
Lunch time! For work lunch this week, I made a bulgar cannellini salad from V-con.
I love cannellini beans, so this definitely intrigued me right away. After cooking the beans and steaming the bulgar, you mix together the dressing: red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, paprika, salt, pepper and pressed garlic. After marinading the cremini mushrooms, beans and onions in there, you mix in the bulgar and some bite-sized arugula leaves. This can be eaten with a fork, but this week we're gonna eat it on some whole wheat wraps.
Before I take my leave, I've just gotta mention this. One of my pet peeves is having hands that smell like onions for a week straight. Well, today my hands do not smell like onions. They smell like seitan. Seitan smells good and yummy, but when it's on my hands, it drives me crazy. I scrubbed and scrubbed and even put pumpkin-scented lotion on, but it still sneaks up on me. How could flour smell so darn strong? It drives me nuts! Mikey's hands smell like seitan too. He got mad at me when I told him. Tee hee...
Guess we'll have to pull out the lemon juice!