Thursday, 17 January 2019

Vegan Cincinnati Spaghetti

Usually towards the end of the working week, namely Thursday and Friday - the meals I had prepped in advance (at the weekend) to heat up after work is gone, so on these days between D and myself - we will tend to cobble something together with what we have in the fridge or store cupboards.

I often opt to make a relatively quick pasta dish.  Its either Arrabbiata, vegan Puttanesca or Aglio, Olio e Peperonicino), but last week I decided to make a bookmarked spaghetti recipe that looked very hearty. 

Once you start making the sauce for the Cincinnati Spaghetti, you quickly note that lentils are an old fashioned way of mimicking meat for vegans and vegetarians, nothing wrong with that, its quite a humble dish in fact - elevated by some millennials favourite ingredient - avocado.
The recipe for this vegan Cincinnati Spaghetti comes from a very hefty cookbook The Superfun Times: Vegan Holiday Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  I thought it was a made up dish but then I did a little Internet research and its actually a real dish known as Cincinnati chilli made with spicy mincemeat and used a topping for spaghetti.  It was developed by Macedonian migrants in the 1920s.  

It was interesting to eat and made a change.  Not like chilli and not quite like Bolognese.  The avocado topping was welcome as it was cooling next to the rich tomato sauce flavoured with spices and cocoa powder, but the original recipe comes smothered with lots of grated cheddar. 
The recipe for Cincinnati Spaghetti in the Vegan Holiday Cookbook states it serves four people, but I think you could feed up to six people which in our case we had this over two days. I am not going to reproduce the recipe here even though I did tweak it a little.  I thought I'd be able to find it on the Internet, but nope - so I have decided to link to PETA Four-Way Cincinnati Chili (2007) whose recipe is the closest to the one found in the book, except it is made with veggie burger crumbles aka soy mince instead of lentils. I am also linking this vegan Cincinnati Spaghetti to Herbivores Heaven blog as she cooked extensively from The Superfun Times: Vegan Holiday Cookbook in 2017 and you can admire her  homemade efforts. 

I am sharing this with The VegHog who is hosting MLLA My Legume Love Affair this month as this dish contains not only has lentils, but also kidney beans.  MLLA was started by The Well Seasoned Cook and now run by the lovely Lisa of  Lisa's Kitchen

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Vegan Mock 'Ham' Come Streaky Bacun 'Bacon'

I am gobsmacked to see so many social media lovies who have converted to veganism in the last five years or less get vegan cookbooks published and then act as if they are culinary geniuses, fooling people that they are the innovators and creators of recipes such as aquafaba meringues, tofu scrambled eggs, seitan mock mheat (bacon, beef roast, chicken) made with vital wheat gluten, carrot as 'smoked salmon', King Oyster Mushrooms 'Scallops and Pulled 'Pork' as Jackfruit.

It may be true that they are bringing beautifully photographed and presented vegan food substitutes to the attention of the those who do not necessarily cook from printed vegan or vegetarian cookbooks or food blogs and their main source of inspiration seems to be social media and Instagram. I applaud that, but to pretend that these innovative vegan recipes are their own invention by a simple adaptation or a little tweak does not bode well with me.  They do not get my praise or admiration.
One recent example of this is the vegan 'bacun'.  The last decade saw an eruption of innovative interpretations of vegan 'bacon' recipes being made with beans and grains, tofu, tempeh, coconut flakes, but the first time I ever saw a near perfect imitation for seitan 'bacon' was by The Gentle Chef - Skye Michael Conray.  

Chef Conroy's seitan based vegan 'bacun' was one of the most raved about recipes by former meat loving people.  I made his original seitan bacun recipe about three years ago.  I loved it and ordered some of his cookbooks for Christmas a few years back, since then Skye Michael Conray has has also published: Non Dairy Evolution CookbookVegan Eggz Cookbook; and The Gentle Sea CookbookHis influence is definitely found in the UK, but I have not once seen or read anything from these new vegan cookbook writers and food bloggers acknowledge him or any other vegan or vegetarian chef. It appears that because someone has made a minor adjustment or change to an original recipe, some new vegan food writers and food bloggers think they can fully claim credit for the recipe.  I quickly click through these PR blogs and flick through the pages of these flashy cookbooks and there is never ever any acknowledgement of inspiration source or credit to an original recipe in the bibliography, as once was found in published cookbooks. Its seems people are so desperate for recognition, awards, accolades and self-promotion that they will mislead their readers.  It seems discourteous to me and wrong, but it appears to me that this form of recipe plagiarism has become socially acceptable.  Soon they will be claiming credit for the watermelon 'ham'
So unlike those individuals, I put my hand up and say this recipe for vegan Seitan 'Ham' Come Streaky Bacun 'Bacon' does not come from me, it comes from the Gentle Chef.

Is it not magnificent?! 
Score this with a knife, then glaze with some apricot and treat it like vegan Seitan Ham!
As I said before, I have made the recipe a few times since discovering it as well as the recent availability of vital wheat gluten in the UK, which let me tell you was hard up until four years ago.  I have tweaked the recipe a little as I found it a little dry and chewy, but not so much to pretend and claim it as my own vegan mock 'ham' come streaky bacon 'bacon' recipe.  

To the original recipe, I add a tin of cooked chickpeas or white beans.  I divide the tin between the dough mixes.  This makes for a more softer and pliable slice.  
I also steam the seitan, rather than bake it.  As you can see from the photograph below (made a few years back), the oven baked version is dark, whereas the one above is not.  I have also noticed a difference in how long it is good for.  With the chickpeas its good for a week in the fridge; and without the chickpeas its good for ten days.  The recipes makes a huge amount, hence the reason I am holding it (above in one of the photographs) to demonstrate scale of size.  So if you do decide to make the recipe from the Gentle Chef, then please do share it or freeze it, just don't waste it!
Oven Baked Seitan Bacun 'Bacon'
By the way, one of the most popular recipes on my blog from 2011 (see sidebar) is also made with vital wheat gluten for vegan seitan chorizo, but again - the recipe is not mine.  It comes Viva Vegan and at the time Terry Hope Romero was gracious to grant me permission to share the recipe on my blog.  I have always been courteous and acknowledge source or inspiration of my recipes and will continue to do so. I ain't no fake!

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Four Yellow Dishes

Around this time last year I shared a blog post of photographed dishes not worthy of getting their blog posts in their own right.  

This blog post is a continuation of that theme.  I share four very Yellow recipes I made last year, that tasted okay but not very well presented as I just plonked in the bowl.  
The first is Turmeric Pilau with Yellow (aka Split Pea) Lentils and Curly Kale.  It was nice, but not very well photographed as I just hurriedly plonked the food in the bowl.
The second yellow dish was Cauliflower, Fenugreek and Yellow (Split Pea) Dal.  It came about when my darling husband wanted me to make Cauliflower Curry and I had a hankering for the most delicious of pauper dishes - Dal, so I decided to combine the both.  Combing dal with a vegetable is not that unusual, many families of South Asian heritage or diaspora do this, to add either add more flavour or texture or to bulk it up to feed a family.  It was really delicious and quite comforting to eat, but as it was served late in the evening - the lighting was poor and my kitchen table top is not the best either.  
The third yellowish Lemon cheesecake was made over Christmas in place of my traditional Christmas Cranberry Cake.  It did not turn out well.  For a start, look at the scary googly eyes on that angel figure. The cake itself, although edible was a bit of a flop - the biscuit base to hard, the whipped cream too fluffy (and not set) and then I went and smothered it and made it look even messy and clumpy with Prosecco Apricot Jam with edible glitter. 
The fourth Yellow recipe is for Coconut and Lemon Cake.  We liked it.  Its simple and has no airs or graces about it, and its own golden topping is glistening with nature bling, but it was too simple to share - even the lemon sweet slice on top could not make it fancy.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Curried Shepherds Pie Topped with Turmeric Potato Balls

This is not the first flavoured Shepherds Pie on my blog, there are many variations of both vegetarian and vegan Shepherds or Shepherdess Pies on my blog, however this one is actually an enhanced version of my Curried Welsh Shepherds Pie recipe.  The only and main difference is the potato topping. 

Instead of the usual mashed potato topping, I decided to go all fancy and shape the potato into balls. I got the idea whilst flicking through The No Cook Cookbook
I won't be doing it again in a hurry as it was very time consuming, but well worth it - I think you may agree. 
The yellow turmeric mash balls are flecked with red chilli flakes and coriander was really lovely and reminisce of a good vegetable samosa.
The filling is made with textured vegetable protein (TVP) that mimics minced 'lamb', it's mildly spiced so won't upset those with a low tolerance of chillies. 

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Cream of Parsnip Soup with Lemon

I was gifted Meat Free Any Day for Christmas in 2014 and it is perhaps one of my most thumbed and well used cookbooks as it features food that you really want to eat and can easily make at home.  

Over the festive season I decided to make the Cream of Parsnip Soup with Lemon. I served it with homemade sourdough bread. 
Sarah Beattie's original recipe for this soup is made with cream, but I felt the soup once blitzed was naturally thick and creamy, so I decided to omit the addition of cream. I think this is the kind of soup you ant to be tucking into when you are feeling a bit under the weather or a little poorly.  It was a very warming soup with uplifting undertones of ginger and lemon.  If you want to make this soup, then please do check out Sarah Beatties Facebook Page, where you will find the recipe as well a number of other wonderful vegetarian and vegan recipes.
I have written about Sarah Beattie and her cookbooks before, so if you are interested please see here.  Below is a list of recipes that I have made from the Meat Free any Day cookbook including:

Leek and Brie Rostiflette
Parsnip Tamarind Curry
Tandoori Butterflied Aubergine
Winter Vegetable Tagine   

I am sharing this Lemony Parsnip Soup with Soup, Salad and Sammies Sundays hosted by Deb over at Kahakai Kitchen