Category Archives: Food

Cooking Fresh Pumpkin Pulp

Yay Halloween! Time for costumes and pumpkins and other fun things.

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This Halloween was especially fun and we hosted a pumpkin carving party at our place.

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Once the jackolanterns have been made, many people just roast the seeds and toss all the guts away.  This is an incredible waste because pumpkin innards are edible and delicious. Making fun things out of them should be an essential part of pumpkin carving!!

After all our pumpkins had been carved, we ended up with 3 giant bowls full of pumpkin pulp (which we pureed in a food processor) . We still have a little bit left in the freezer, but my roommates and I managed to create many different pumpkin creations.

So far, we have made pumpkin soup, pumpkin chili, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin pecan balls, pumpkin hummus.

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I even made vegan entrails for our Halloweeen party (and put a few dabs of pumpkin inside). They turned out great!

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Vegan Chicken Fried Steak

I depart for my RTW trip on Tuesday and I decided to have one last dinner gathering before I leave. The theme? Country dinner!!

Miguel made biscuits and gravy.

Kasia made rosemary mashed potatoes.

And we had green beans, broccoli, grilled mushroom and onions, lemonade and orange juice.

I’ve been wanting to make vegan chicken fried steaks forever, so I finally got around to doing it. I’m not very good at frying things, so I was a little worried they wouldn’t turn very well. But…they turned out great!

The seitan recipe I usually use is from the cookbook Vegan with a Vengeance. It’s a really good recipe, but I decided to compare a few other seitan recipes and combine parts I liked from each. Here are some other recipes I looked at:

Country-Fried Seitan Steaks–Bengarland.com

Gluten Steaks–EllensKitchen.com

The end result basically went something like this:

Vegan Seitan Chicken Steak Recipe

  • 4 cups vital wheat gluten flour
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (+ some extra for fun!)
  • 4 Tb flour
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 cup Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • flavoring (onion powder, Spike seasoning, fresh minced garlic, tomato paste, Marmite, fresh chopped parsley)

1. Combine dry ingredients.

2. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients.

3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients in a large bowl and knead the dough until it becomes spongy and elastic.

4. Pull small chunks off the dough and try your best to stretch, smush, and smash them into small flat patties. The texture is pretty odd and stretchy, so this is a difficult task to do. They kinda look like lumpy cookies – not very appetizing looking, but neither is raw chicken.

5. Let the patties sit for a few minutes while you prepare the broth (see vegetable broth idea below).

Vegan Vegetable Broth

I made a quick vegetable broth from things I had at the house: fresh oregano, fresh parley, tomato paste, molasses, dried sage, Marmite, cayenne pepper, asfoetida powder (kinda tastes like onion and garlic powder mixed together). I added all these things to a large pot of water. You could really add all kinds of things to the broth…this is just what I had.

6. Place seitan pieces in the broth, bring the broth to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer for about 90 minutes.

*The seitan recipes I’ve read say that the seitan should be simmered in the broth rather than boiled because that will prevent it from puffing up so much. They were probably right about that – my seitan patties tripled in size once they were boiled. This wasn’t a problem…they were just VERY large (which actually helped stick to the country theme of serving large portions of meat at a meal). Next time I make the steaks though, I’ll pay attention to that tip and try simmering them in hopes that it will help keep the seitan steaks thinner.

7. Remove seitan patties from the broth and let them sit out to cool off. At this point, you can do all kinds of things with your seitan chicken creation (like make vegan meatballs, vegan seitan tacos, or many other things). I used it to make chicken fried steak. Below, I’ll outline more or less how I did it.

Vegan Chicken Fried Steak Recipe

1. So now you’ve made your seitan chicken patties (recipes above). As they’re cooling off, prepare three bowls:

  • 1 bowl with flour (I used besan flour. Since it’s made from chickpeas, it has a more beany taste that I like a lot. But, you can probably use any type of flour you want).
  • 1 bowl with Erner G egg replacer (prepare equivalent of 4-6 eggs), a few cups of soy milk, and a few squirts of Bragg’s. Stir the mixture with a fork and let it get thick and bubbly.
  • 1 bowl with crushed up crackers and other spices (I used onion powder, chopped parsley, chili powder, salt, nutritional yeast, and montreal steak seasoning).

2. Coat each chicken patty in the flour first, then the egg/soy milk mixture, then the cracker mixture. Really pack on the cracker crumbs so it has a nice thick coating.

3. Pour about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a pan. Let the oil get really hot before adding the patties. Once it’s hot, add the patties and cook each side until browned and crispy.

3. Yum. Now you’ll have quite a few large seitan chicken steaks. Invite a lot of friends to eat it with you because you probably won’t want to eat them all yourself.

So now…what do you do with all the leftovers?

The chicken fried steak was even better the next day – it became denser and more steaklike on the inside. We sliced it into thin strips, heated them in a pan with some gravy, added some leftover mashed potatoes, and made breakfast tacos!

Vegan Biscuits and Gravy

Miguel makes delicious vegan biscuits and gravy.

The vegan biscuit recipe that he used is from eHow. It’s important to remember that the margarine should be very cold when it’s combined with the dry ingredients (salt, baking powder, flour). The colder the margarine, the flakier the biscuits. For this reason, it’s best to combine the ingredients with a fork so the warmth of your hands doesn’t mess up the consistency. After combining the margarine, you can add the milk (either soy milk or rice milk is fine). Knead it with your hands, roll it out flat, use the top of a can to cut the biscuits, place them on a cookie sheet (ungreased), stick them in the oven…and then you’re done. They should be ready in 10 – 15 minutes. Check them regularly so they don’t burn on the bottom.

Here is more or less the vegan gravy recipe:

1. Start with a few tablespoons of vegan margarine.

2. Add garlic, onions, peppers, mushrooms (in that order).

3. Add flour to turn into paste (it is important that you add the flour before the liquid if you want a smooth gravy. If you do it the other way around, the flour will make big goey chunks that are very difficult to break down).

4. Add soymilk, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, and spices (some ideas are coriander, paprika, or sage).

Dhaba Joy

Dhaba Joy is a vegan bakery located next to 29th and Guadalupe, next to Toy Joy and across the street from Vulcan Video.

The only thing not vegan about Dhaba Joy is that coffee drinks can be made with organic dairy milk instead of soy milk. Everything else about it though is 100% vegan. All the baked goods are vegan, all the sandwiches are vegan, they have a huge case full of delicious vegan creations, and their menu seems to grow and change each time I go in there.

Their coffee is dark and strong – just as I like it.

(Don’t get too excited about ordering this skull face coffee though – I’m pretty sure it’s not a typical creation. One of the guys working at Dhaba Joy made it for his friend and I asked to take a picture of it.)

Their juices are also amazing. You can watch as they make them from fresh ingredients right in front of you. My favorite is the “Luck Now”, made with carrot, celery, ginger, and cayenne. Their ginger lemonade is also a good choice.

This is a great place to take non vegans just to show them how flavorful and delicious vegan food can be. Occassionally I feel like they overcompensate by making things extra super duper sweet, but I think I’m probably alone in this opinion. Most people like their deserts to be sweet, right? I guess I’m just not a huge fan of sweets. I think I’m also one of the few people in the world who don’t really like ice cream all that much….which is probably why I love their oatscreme swirl (their vegan ice cream that tastes more like blended, frozen oatmeal than ice cream).

Dhaba joy seems to be growing! When they started, they had some vegan and some non vegan items. Now they only serve vegan items.

Next they added vegan sandwiches to the menu (like Tempeh Reuben, Chicken Salad, and some others).

Then they added vegan quiches (like Tofu Spinach or Tempeh Cheddar). They were so yummy looking, I had to try both. I was right – they were good. 🙂

They also starting serving sushi, soups, salads, vegan mac and cheese, and a few other things. I think their slow, steady growth is a good approach and one that will prove to be successful for them.

Now they even make large vegan cakes that can be ordered for parties (which I learned during my birthday). Being the spoiled birthday girl that I am, I got the pleasure of getting to try both of their cheesecakes. They were delicious, but I think I’m partial to the lemon one (the raspberry one was a tad bit too sweet).

My coworkers bought me the vegan raspberry cheesecake:

My mom bought me the vegan lemon cheesecake:

Oh, did I mention that Dhaba Joy is next to the best toy store in Austin?

Toys and vegan goodies! Seriously, how can you go wrong with that?

Titaya’s Thai Cusine

I really love Titaya’s Thai Cuisine. The restaurant is clean and comfortable, they have a great lunch special ($6.50, M-F from 11:00am to 3:00pm), and food portions are large and delicious. Another thing I like about this place is that when you order something extra spicy, they take you seriously and add lots of spice rather than assuming you don’t really mean it.

You can substitute tofu for every meal item and there’s a small notice at the bottom of the menu saying that all vegetarian and tofu dishes are automatically prepared vegan. I haven’t grilled the waitstaff about their definition of vegan – I’ve always just assumed (and hoped) that it is the same as mine. Next time I go, I should ask. The lunch special usually comes with a chicken coconut soup, but if you order a vegetarian dish they usually know to bring you a salad with peanut sauce instead. If they don’t mention the salad option though, remember to ask for it – as they may forget and try to serve you the chicken soup.

There are sooo many options here for vegetarians and vegans. I’ve had the Gang Dang, Gang Musmun, Green Curry, Pad Cashew, Pad Ginger, and several others. I wish I had a photo of all these dishes, but I’m usually so excited to eat there that my camera is an afterthought.

Here are a few things I’ve ordered and remembered to photograph:

Jungle Curry

Spaghetti Kee Mao

Pad Kee Mao (with added Broccoli)

The waitresses at Titaya’s Thai Cuisine also make me happy. They’re really nice and helpful. If you’ve been there more than twice, they usually remember your face and greet you with a big smile. If you’re having trouble ordering, they’ll make suggestions for you based on your preferences and they’ll tell you honestly if they think a particular dish will taste weird with something added (I tried to add basil once to something and the waitress said she thought it was a bad idea. I appreciated that she didn’t just let me order it and end up disappointed).

I go there pretty often with my grandparents. We always get spring rolls as an appetizer.

Titaya’s recently opened and I’ve noticed that it’s been getting increasingly crowded during the weekdays. I’m glad that people are spreading the word about this great Thai place.

This place makes me giddy and excited that I’ll be going to Thailand soon and I’ll get to eat Thai food every day for a month!

Bombay Express

I just discovered Bombay Express recently because a coworker recommended it to me. (thanks Dale!) It’s located near Curry in Hurry on Parmer Lane, although it’s just off of I35. They’re open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00am to 9:00pm.

Like Curry in Hurry, Bombay Express also unfortunately uses Styrofoam containers and plastic silverware. Food is great though – I’ll definitely be back. Everything is vegetarian, many items are vegan, vegan dishes are clearly labeled, and some vegetarian items can be prepared vegan upon request. It’s hard to go wrong with that. Plus – the employees were super nice. I couldn’t decide what I wanted so they offered to make me a vegan version of their vegetarian combo.

Here’s their menu. There are so many other things to try, I’ll have to go back again soon.

Taqueria La Canaria

Taqueria la Canaria is a little taco stand on Airport and 51st street. I used to pass it every day to go to work. One day I decided to stop and check it out.

Although it is a very meat heavy place, their beans are vegetarian (no lard, no meat stock) and both the beans and potatoes are cooked with vegetable oil. Since they cook their food in a small cart, I imagine that the vegetables do touch surfaces where meat has been, but I didn’t watch them make my tacos so I can’t say for sure. If this is not ok with you, I’d probably avoid this place…but I don’t usually worry about that sort of thing.

I’ve ordered tacos from this stand twice so far and both times service has been very very slow! If you’re not in a huge hurry, and if you’re in the area (I probably wouldn’t go far out of my way to eat here), the tacos are good, filling, and relatively cheap. But, if you’re nearby and need a taco, it’s a good option – especially since the popular Tamale House nearby uses lard in their beans.

The only vegan option is as follows: beans, potatoes, cilantro, and onion on corn tortillas. Their green salsa is yummy. And their tortillas are homemade!

*In search for Taqueria La Canaria online, I came across this site: Taco Journalism

Not at all vegan, but perhaps I can do a similar taco journalism thing vegan style?