Seitan from Scratch + Salsbury Seitan- Take Two

Okay, I've gone off the vegan deep end. I made seitan from scratch today! It's in a few of my cookbooks, but it always seemed overboard to make not only a recipe for the dish (plus the sauce, plus the side dish, plus whatever else), so I've bought a delicious one by Westsoy. Some of my favorite recipes use seitan now (Ethiopian Seitan and Peppers, East Side Tacos, etc), and the stuff is rather expensive ($10 a meal). More importantly, when we went to Real Food Daily and ate their homemade seitan, it was noticeably faaaaar better.

The process of making it made me feel like a real cook. Combine wet into dry, blah blah, but then... you put parchment paper in an 8x8 pan, you lightly oil the paper, put the seitan dough in it, cover that with tin foil, and THEN put that in a 9x12 pan that's filled 1/2 way with water, and bake the whole shebang for two hours! Then, you take it out, and that gooey dough turned in to something that very strongly resembled seitan brownies! Once cooled, it can be cut however you please.

But here's the magic part. I made the Salsbury Seitan, which I made before and wasn't too fond of.The marinade never soaked in with storebought seitan, it just sat on top in a paste (see my comments HERE), so I almost wrote it off as a bunk recipe. After eating it at RFD, though, I knew it wasn't them, it was me. So, I tried it again with the homemade seitan and voila! Super magic! The marinade was entirely absorbed, it was beyond delicious, it was moist, flavorful, non-gritty, and awesome. In fact, we ate hours ago, and the only thing keeping me from going in for more is that I'm in bed and I've flossed already. Also, the golden gravy from the RFD book is an absolute must with this. I could do shots of that stuff.

And, just because I was getting over a cold and had nothing better to do all day, I made baked potatoes too. The only way that I've ever known how to make these is to wrap them in tin foil and bake them (or the micro way which seriously creeps me out now). I looked up how long to leave my tin foil pressies in the oven, and found that other people oil the skin of the potato and salt it and then bake them. There was even a tirade about my treasured tin foil method online! So, I tried the oil/ salt method, and holy Pete! What a different beast! I still think that the tin foil method is great too, but this is good in its own right. They get amazingly fluffy inside, and the skin is crispy and salty goodness. So, I'm sure most of you know this, but this was what I did:

• Scrub baking potatoes
• Puncture them with a fork a few times
• Coat in oil lightly with a brush or your fingers
• Put in a metal baking pan, sprinkle with salt
• Bake for 30 minutes, turn
• Bake for 30 more, enjoy perfection

Anyway, five recipes later, we had a phenomenal dinner, and I cannot recommend the Real Food Daily cookbook more, particularly now that I've made this seitan! And now, I feel like I have to re-make all the seitan dishes that I heretofore thought were awesome just to have my mind blown out of my head from deliciousness overload.

Lentil Shepard's Pie

I can't believe that it took me this long to write about this one. It's been a staple for us for years- particularly at holidays. It's a very carnivore-friendly recipe. It's hearty and comfort-y (mashed potatoes!) I also add corn to the mix, which isn't in the recipe. It's from the Compassionate Cook (p.160). Seasoned brown lentils, mashed potatoes (with skins) and corn... you kinda can't go wrong.

Salsbury Seitan

Ah, a healthy vegan version of the classic Swanson tv dinner! This is from p188 of RFD's cookbook (aka my bible). The marinade/ sauce is good, although there's kind of an overpowering mustard flavor to it (I think I'll 1/2 it next time- that or maybe the tahini is giving it a bit of an almost pasty flavor. But, with a ton of the golden gravy (p68), some smashed taters and corn, it still is a delicious comfort food meal.

RFD Tempeh meat loaf (and golden gravy)

Ah, comfort food. It's just so... well, comforting. Last week, before the current summer renaissance that's going on in L.A., temps had dipped to about 70 or so (I'm adapting to west coast weather- that signalled fall) and I decided to make some cozy food. This is from the amazing, fantastic, wonderful Real Food Daily cookbook- the loaf is p 177, the Golden Gravy is p 68.

This recipe is amazing. Like all RFD recipes, it took a good 2 hours to make, but it's so worth it. I highly recommend making the gravy with it as well, that recipe makes enough that you'd have some left for the salsbury seitan too. Potatoes are also a must as it's a good balance to the other flavors.

This is hearty, and has a rather complex- but really good flavor. It turns out that we also went to the RFD West Hollywood restaurant a week after I made this and Davey ordered their version. He preferred mine ;) Also, on the gravy, I used about 1/2 to 2/3 the amount of nutritional yeast, because I feel that that flavor is just too overpowering in most recipes. In the restaurant, where they use the recommended amount (I assume), you can really taste it far more than in mine. So, adjust to your preference, but to me- that ingredient is like cilantro- too much of a good thing wrecks the whole dish.

Vegan Pot Pie!

What's awesome about this is that it not only tastes amazing, but I can divulge the recipe! This one is from Ellen's tv show, so it's right on her site! Not only is she a dancing doll face, but she's vegan, and occasionally has guest chefs as well as her personal chef on with recipes (I'm still looking for an army to make the tamale recipe for).

I first made this for the holidays in fall, and it has become a J-R house staple. It is so tasty and such great comfort food! I have a few switch outs and recommendations:

- Instead of multiple veg bags, I get the 4 veg variety bag from Trader Joe's (with green beans, peas, carrots and corn, I think). It's the perfect amount- and the different veg are excellent in it.

- I can't find the Gardein scallopini to save my life (even though I'm in the same city as Ellen's chef!)- I use the Gardein faux chicken cutlets, cubed.

- Also, I can't find vegan Pillsbury crust, I looked at multiple packages in different stores and they all have lard and spooky things in them. Which is good for me, b/c I use the "Sister's Pie Crust" recipe from The Compassionate Cook (p188) instead which is quite frankly kind of a pain, but is bar none the best crust possible.

- I also make mine in a 8 x 8 pyrex pan vs ramekins only b/c we're in a 2 bedroom apt with a galley kitchen that really doesn't have ramekin storage.

You gotta try it: The Ellen show's Vegan Pot Pie