Save the Lamprey Ale & Seitan Pie

It’s Sunday morning, I’m up far too early (jetlag has me running on London time) but if I accomplish one thing today it’s going to be catching the season 3 premier of Game of Thrones. And what better way to re-familiarize myself with my kitchen than crafting a vegan approximation of everybody’s favorite GoT food item (the book series is bursting with detailed descriptions of food and drink) the fascinating and gloriously gnarly medieval lamprey pie.

Sadly, lamprey eels, which look a little like nature’s cosplayers of that perfect X-Files episode, are endangered in the U.K., home to a long tradition of lamprey pie. Any renewed interest in the pie may not only be illegal depending where you live, but just bad news for the slippery little guys. Either way, I’m never going to eat a lamprey, but I love making pie. So an adventure in vegan eel pie is on the menu tonight.

Chewy, adaptable seitan, sliced into thin strips, is my stand in for these beloved parasitic bloodsuckers. Ancient recipes for the pie reveal the medieval chefs’ fondness for flavoring meaty foods with sugar, wine or ale and exotic spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and occasionally mustard. Rather than throw sugar into this savory pie, I opted for pairing it with naturally sweet parsnips and a long sauté of the onions to unlock their sugars. I love cooking with booze so naturally I reached for the of ale (a domestic IPA) and a touch of nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground mustard creates an aromatic, hearty pie worth getting in trouble in a castle dungeon for (something I recall reading in one of the books, maybe? It’s been a while).

Round out this meal with a shot of green: toss together fresh spinach with toasted hazelnuts, fig balsamic vinegar, a dash of olive oil, Maldon salt, and a twist of black pepper. I recall characters in the book dining on something salad-like at lavish dinners, along with olives and a certain “Dornish chickpea paste” that sounds too similar to hummus, proof that the world of Game of Thrones is totally vegan friendly.

For the crust I use my go-to favorite, the rich and flakey Olive Oil Double Crust in Vegan Pie in The Sky, made with 1 part all purpose flour and 1 part white whole wheat flour. Or use any double crust pie dough you like; a coconut oil crust would be especially decadent. I like to make potpies in a variety of different shaped oven proof dishes and bowls; the wavy edge square dish in the photos is just big enough for two, and the remaining pie stuff was baked in a deep 9 x 11 ceramic dish.

I have no idea if this tastes like genuine lamprey pie, or if these pies can rescue an endangered species (but if a few lamprey are left uneaten, it may help a bit). But when you play the game of (tasty vegan) pies, everybody wins!

Save the Lamprey Seitan & Ale Pie

Serves 4-6 made in a 10 inch round deep dish or 13 x 9 inch square plate

Crust tip: Make any pie crust recipe suitable for a 9 inch double crust, flatten the dough to about an inch thickness roughly the same shape of the baking dish(s) and sandwich between two large pieces of waxed paper. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a shape about 1 inch wider than the edges of the dish and chill while the filling is prepared. When ready to bake, rip off the top layer of paper and slap it directly on top of the filling in the dish. Gently shape the edges against the sides of the dish, pressing the dough to seal the edges. Use the tip of a knife to slice a few air vents through the top of the crust.

Seitan tip: If you’re making seitan, use any Veganomicon seitan recipe or the Red Seitan from Viva Vegan!. If using store-bought, slice up 2 eight-ounce packages.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe double pie crust, rolled and chilled as directed above

Filling:

  • 16 ounces seitan (purchased or homemade) sliced into thin 1/4 inch slices.
  • 3 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (sliced into half moons)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large parsnip (about 1/2 pound) peeled and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups light colored ale (about one 12 ounce bottle)
  • 2 cups richly flavored vegetable broth (I used a concentrated batch of veg Better Than Bouillon)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked salt (or kosher salt) or season to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Have ready a deep dish 10 inch pie dish or 13 x 9 rectangle baking dish. Over medium high head preheat a 12 inch stainless steel pan. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté seitan until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer seitan to a bowl, add 1/2 cup of the ale to the pan and simmer and stir a few minutes to release any fried bits of seitan from the bottom and the ale is reduced by half. Pour the ale (now loaded with tasty bits of fried seitan) over the seitan in the bowl and set aside.

2. Heat the remaining oil in the pan, add the onions and saute for 8 minute or until very tender and golden brown. Add the bay leaves, celery, and parsnip and fry for 4 minutes. Sprinkle on the flour and stir for 2 minutes to coat everything in flour, then stir in the remaining 1 cup of ale. Stir and simmer for 2 minutes until thick and bubbling, then add the broth, mustard, cinnamon, nutmeg, and seitan. Stir occasionally and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes to thicken up a bit. Taste the gravy and add smoked salt and pepper as desired, then stir in the chives. Turn off the heat and discard the bay leaves.

3. Pour the filling into a baking dish(s) and cover with pie crust as directed in the tip above. Brush with a little plain almond milk and slide into the preheated over; slip a large baking sheet either underneath the pie or onto a baking rack directly beneath to catch any bubbling juices. Bake for 30 minutes; the pie is ready when the gravy is bubbling through the either the sides or the ventilation slits (told you it would bubble!). Remove and cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Broken oven creates a knead for old fashioned soda bread

The oven is broken.

For someone for whom a baking session is the equivalent of a relaxing massage or a few hours of Skyrim, I’ve been a little in crisis mode the past month. Month? A whole month without a working oven! I’ve been busy and not home a lot, so repairing the poor dear has fallen to the wayside.

I wanted to present to you an updated version of my favorite twist on soda bread (just in time for March 17th) from Veganomicon, the Whole Wheat Soda Bread with Millet and Currants. It’s a rich, tender bread similar to a scone with the snappy addition of crunchy millet.

I love it. You should make it sometime.

But that’s not in the recipe cards for me. However, I’ve been told that true Irish soda bread is not baked in an oven but over an open fire or stovetop. Very well, I have a fabulous cast iron Dutch oven that I’ve used for countless versions of no-knead bread. Seems entirely feasible to craft old fashioned soda bread (with new fashioned whole grains and vegan adjustments) with a similar set-up, only setting the covered oven on top the oven instead of inside it.

But I did have my reservations: old fashioned soda bread is a lean thing indeed: no added fat, not sugar and only buttermilk (or for me, clabbered soy milk) and baking soda to make it rise. I was skeptical going in, but it made for a fascinating process…and hells bells, the bread rose and baked all the way through.

And it’s wonderful. The texture is light and springy, and a crunchy roasted crust forms on the bottom (and slightly on top after flipping) with the aroma of the currants and caraway penetrating though the golden brown crumb. It’s unlike any other quick bread I usually make, and is relatively low maintenance for a stove top treat. I adore currants (or here, affordable faux currants made from Zante grapes) and caraway seeds, but you could leave these out for a very simple loaf.

Here’s a few tips for your stovetop bread adventures:

-This is lean bread without any added fat, so the key to a tender crumb is to just barely mix the dough; over-knead it and the bread can be tough and tasteless. So be careful to stir only enough to moisten everything (some streaks of flour in the dough are fine), drop it into the floured surface and shape immediately into a ball.

-Preheating the Dutch oven is key! Using cast iron is probably the best material for making any stove top bread.

-Being generous with the flour coating. No need to grease the Dutch oven; the coating of flour and the preheated surface will prevent sticking. If you bread sticks, you haven’t preheated the pot enough and you didn’t use enough flour

-For a sweeter bread, try using sweetened milk and adding 2 tablespoons sugar along with the soy/almond milk

Broken Oven Soda Bread

Makes 1 generous loaf

  •  1 ½ cups graham flour, whole wheat pastry or white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for dusting
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups plain soy milk or almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup dried Zante currants or genuine dried currants
  • 1 rounded tablespoon caraway seeds

1. Cover cast iron Dutch oven with a lid and preheat over a medium-high flame for at least 15 minutes. If you have a heat diffuser plate, place that underneath the pot.

2. Sift together both flours, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a large measuring cup whisk together soy milk and apple cider and set aside to curdle for 2 minutes.

3.   Form a well in the flour, add the curdled soy milk, currants and caraway seeds. Stir only just enough to moisten ingredients. The dough will be slightly sticky, that’s fine…don’t be tempted to add extra flour.

4.   Generously flour a work surface and drop the dough into the flour. Gently pat the dough into a circle, then carefully flip over a few times to coat generously with flour. Pat the sides with a little additional flour.

5.   Use a shape knife to slice a deep X into the top the dough at least 5 inches long (cut deep, about 2 inches deep). Uncover the Dutch oven, lower the dough into the pot and cover. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the bread is about doubled in size and feels firm to the touch. Uncover the pot. Use a long handled spatula (and wearing oven mitts to protect your hands!), carefully flip over the bread and bake uncovered another 5 to 10 to minutes to lightly toast the top of the loaf.

6.   Remove the bread, transfer to a cooling rack and cool for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve warm. Wrap leftovers tightly and reheat before serving.

See me in London: Vitality Show March 23 & 24

Hey UK!

Saturday March 23st and Sunday 24nd I’ll be presenting at the Vitality Show in London at the Health & Nutrition stage talking about all things vegan cuisine with:

Beginner’s Guide to the New Vegan Cuisine
Tofu or tempeh? Chia seeds or cacao nibs? Can I get enough protein without eating animal products? Wholesome baking without eggs or dairy? Absolutely! Healthy, eco-friendly plant-based cuisine is hotter than ever, but where does one begin the culinary journey of a lifetime?

Join Terry Hope Romero in a lively discussion about the changing palate plant-based cooking for everyone! From actors to athletes to regular people, everyone has questions about preparing healthful and delicious meatless meals at home. For the omnivore that’s curious about where to start, to the long-time vegan who’s seen it all and looking for something new, join Terry in talking about the world of meatless cuisine that’s changing faster than ever before.

I’ll also be signing copies of Vegan Eats World.

It’s been years since I’ve been in London, and I want to make sure I experience all the vegan goodies in addition to bringing home a suitcase full of Cheezly. And I’ll need your help!

I’m giving away 10 daytime event passes to The Vitality Show (good for entry on Thursday or Friday). To win a pass, enter your name in the comments below and tell me one fantastic veganlicious food item or restaurant that I shouldn’t miss while in London (winners will be drawn at random, fyi).

Kale Takes the Kake Every Time

If you’re in NYC this weekend (unfortunately I am not) please allow me to nudge you towards where the cool kids will be having all the fun at the 3rd annual deliciously exciting NYC Vegetarian Food Festival. There’s something for everybody at this vibrant, growing festival and the hardest part may be just deciding to attend either Saturday or Sunday. Or you can do it like a pro and go both days to get your fill of the diverse line-up of speakers and presentations. Nosh on the trendiest vegan delights, get a live earful from the exciting line-up of speakers and celebrate into Saturday night for me!

While I’m sad not to be in town this year, I’ve had my share of excitement these past few months post release of Vegan Eats World: collaborating on recipe development projects, trying my hand at some restaurant line work, assisting food photography shoots. I’m also fresh from a trip from northern Italy that has given me a slow-food feast of ideas that I hope to express more fully in the following months.

But for right now, there’s the matter of that strange hankering for fresh foods that happens every year for me around this time. Late winter has lengthening days and has me yearning for warmer weather, but local fresh produce is almost two months away. So I turn to the staples that have kept me going all this time: kale, potatoes, legumes and olive oil, shaping them into something new.

Here I’ve literally shaped these essential components into plump cakes, dredged them in crunchy panko crumbs and pan fried them in a little olive oil to golden browned perfection. I like to keep these rustic and scrub the skins well rather than peel the potatoes, but I’ll leave that up to you. Serve them with a spicy Indian chutney (tamarind or tomato is ideal) or a dollop of olive tapenade, with or without a crisp green salad. I adore these vegetable-full croquettes; they have the heartiness of cold weather food with a hint of longer, warmer days ahead.

Potato Kale Kakes

Serves 6 or more

  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed and roughly diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups roughly chopped kale, stems removed
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup cooked, drained green lentils
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • About 1 ½ cups panko crumbs for breading
  • Olive oil for frying

1. Cover the diced potatoes with at least 3 inches of cold water, bring to a boil over high heat and simmer for 12 to 14 minutes until tender (easily pierced with a fork). Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl to cool.

2. In a deep 12 inch skillet heat olive oil over medium high heat, add the mustard seeds and don’t stir. Once the seeds have finished popping, add the onion and garlic and fry until onion is translucent. Stir in the oregano, cayenne and chopped kale and fry for about 3 minutes or until the kale is tender and reduced in bulk by about half. Turn off heat and cool for 2 minutes.

3. Pour panko crumbs into a wide, shallow bowl or large dinner plate. Pre-heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.

4. Transfer kale mixture to the cooled potatoes, add the vegan mayo, pepper, lentils and salt. Thoroughly mix (I use my hands for the greatest control), making sure all the ingredients are moistened and the lentils and kale are evenly distributed. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Scoop up a generous ½ cup and shape into a patty about 1 ½ inches thick, dredge both sides in bread crumbs and set onto a clean, dry surface while you finish shaping the rest of the patties.

5. Fry patties in the preheated cast iron skillet with a little olive oil until both sides are golden brown, about 4 to 6 minutes. Serve hot!

 

Happy (kimchi) Pancake Day!

Apparently it’s pancake day (according to IHOP). Or if you could care less about IHOP, at the very least next Tuesday is as good enough as any to prepare yourself for celebrating everyone’s favorite flat, round tasty thing.

Pancakes may be my favorite food group: dosas, crepes, blini, gimme. Say no more, I’m coming over.

Here’s a nibble from Vegan Eats World to add to your pancake recipe treasure trove (you do have one, don’t you)? Gluten-free, Korean-style pancakes bursting with kimchi are just what you need on a cold Feburary day like today. Use store bought vegan kimchi or make your own; if possible use “old” kimchi that’s very juicy and soft as those juices will go straight into the batter.

While you can show off and make huge round pancakes, my advice is to take it easy and make lots of small pancakes. Use about ½ cup of batter per cake and spread it to slightly less to 1 inch thickness.

Gluten-Free Kimchi Pancakes (kimchijeon) from Vegan Eats World

Makes up to 3 thick, 10-inch pancakes or a bunch of little pancakes!

For a fast dipping sauce, serve this kimchijeon with a sauce 2 parts soy sauce, 1 part rice vinegar and a dash of toasted sesame oil.

  • 2 cups cabbage kimchi, drained of juices (reserve it) and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup mixture of kimchi juice and water (use whatever amount of drained juice is reserved from the kimchi, the rest should be water)
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 4 scallions, root ends trimmed and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Korean red pepper powder (gochugaru)
  • ¾ cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying
  • Additional cooking oil spray

1. Preheat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for at least 6 minutes. In a large bowl combine kimchi, kimchi juice/water mixture, oil, scallions, garlic, sesame oil, and red pepper powder. Pour in the rice flour, cornstarch, and salt. Stir to form a thick, chunky batter.

2. Pour 1 tablespoon of the oil in the skillet, then tilt the skillet to spread around the oil. Spread a third of the batter over the griddle, using the back of a spoon to evenly distribute the kimchi chunks throughout. Fry for 5 or 7 minutes, occasionally shifting the pan to evenly brown the pancake. It’s ready to flip when the edges appear dry and bubbles have form all over the top. If the pancake begins to stick, use a little more oil on the next pancake or spray the pan with additional cooking spray.

3. Slide a thin spatula underneath the pancake to loosen the bottom and check the color; it should be golden brown and firm. Using a large wide spatula, carefully but quickly flip the pancake; if it’s too difficult, try sliding the pancake onto a plate first, then flipping it over into the skillet. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the other side is golden. Loosen the pancake with a spatula, then slide it onto a dinner plate, slice into wedges and serve with the dipping sauce.