Bangin’ Vegan Bulgogi Cheesteak Recipe

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You heard of tex mex, right? Well, imagine a Korean baseball player Shin Soo Choo had a sandwich-love child on a lunch break at Gino’s in Philly, and there is the Bulgogi Cheesesteak. Fusion cuisine  goes beyond borders, it’s a little like the free-jazz of the food world. One must fully understand the rules of each cuisine in order to break them and create new and interesting flavors and textures. My challenge is to not only make a kick-ass vegan version of one of the top 10 american sandwiches, but to make it healthy, not too hard with a little research and some clever swaps. http://www.endlesssimmer.com/2011/01/20/americas-top-10-new-sandwiches/

So what about understanding both sides of the story?

The cheesesteak. I had one of the famous ones in Philly, waited 45 minutes in line for steak-ums on white bread with cheeze whiz at a premium of $7, needless to say I was disappointed.  The cheesesteak was developed in the early 20th century “by combining frizzled beef, onions, and cheese in a small loaf of bread,” according to a 1987 exhibition catalog published by the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. I find nothing appetizing about “frizzled beef”.  Most places will use cheeze whiz, provolone or white cheddar to hold together the globby mess.

I am not against Cheesteaks, in fact on a road trip through Connecticut, and friend brought me to Kruaszer’s, and I couldn’t seem to get enough. Who would know the best cheeseteak would be in CT?  Freshly baked bread, globs of sauce and heavy amounts of cheese…. not to mention the next day my pee would smell like garlic. Pure heaven, but looking back at these photos, I can see why my eating habits had me about 20 pounds heavier.

 

Bulgogi literally means “fire meat” in Korean, which refers to the cooking technique—over an open flame—rather than the dish’s spiciness. Usually made with beef, the term is also applied to variations such as dak bulgogi (made with chicken) or dwaeji bulgogi (made with pork), although the seasonings are different

Bulgogi is made from thin slices of prime beef marinaded with a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, pepper, sesame oil and sugar.  Possible add-ins are shitake mushrooms, button mushrooms, scallions and onions.  Some regions serve it over a bed of cellophane noodles and others over rice.

 

Cleveland, Ohio serves it up on a whole wheat hoagie, because we’re classy.

 

Let the fusion of late night comfort food between the east and west begin…

 

 

  • One block very dense extra firm tofu frozen, thawed and drained, or 2 handfuls shitake mushrooms and 1 package seitan
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 average sized onion, sliced
  • 1 heaping tsp fresh grated ginger (grate fine, otherwise you may end up with unpleasant chunks of ginger in your bulgogi.
  • 2/3 cup wheat free tamari or soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 6 tbsp organic sugar
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup shredded pear, skin and all or 1/2 cup apple sauce

 

-Chop all your veggies and thinly slice your seitan, tofu, mushrooms or any combination of the aforementioned delicacies.

-Mix the last 8 ingredients (you know, for the marinade!) on the list in a shallow bowl or pan.

-Place your tofu, seitan or mushrooms in the bowl with the marinade and cover with the veggies. Make sure that everything is covered by the marinade.

-Cover and refrigerate overnight. 8-15 hours is best.

-Remove the goodies from the marinade with a slotted spoon and fry in a hot skillet or pan. Pour enough marinade to lightly cover the goodies. If you want to go the traditional route, you can BBQ them on a grill with some foil, but my iron skillet works just fine for creating a nice char and carmelization.

-Let cook until most of the marinade has reduced, and the bottoms of the goodies are a nice caramel brown. Flip over tofu strips and cook until other side turns brown. Continue to cook until all of you normal vegan goodies have transformed into delicious Korean bulgogi goodies!

 

Now for the cheesesteak part.

-1 whole wheat roll (I used sourdough because I am a bread snob)

-daiya mozzarella, or 1 slice low fat provolone if that’s your game.

-1 teaspoon reduced fat veganaise

– handful baby spinach

Cut the roll lengthwise and hollow out the center, creating a little boat to stuff all your goodies in. This not only reduces calories, but I think just makes the sandwich more aerodynamic. Lay cheese on the bread and place in a toaster oven until the cheese is slightly melted.  Spread the veganaise on the bread, spoon in some bulgogi and cover in spinach! I enjoyed mine with baked sweet potato fries!

 

 

Low Fat Banana Cake as “Vegan Stuffed Rabbit”

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This Easter I thought that I would use some of the many cake pans I had lying around and opted to tackle the 3-d bunny pan I bought at the thrift store a few years back. After a little research I discovered that the cake will naturally rise, and take on the form of the “lid” pan.

Seemed simple enough. The end result was indeed a cute 3 dimensional rabbit, but I did not want to frost it for fear of loosing the cake’s definition.  My solution was to carefully cut a slit through the center of the rabbit, and stuff it was a almond butter and coconut stuffing. The end result was stuffed rabbit.

That’s right folks, I made vegan stuffed rabbit for Easter. It was actually devoured by my family before I could even take a picture of it, but for some reason, I feel like the stuffed rabbit needs to make another debut.

The recipe also happens to be surprisingly low in fat because of how many bananas are added.

  • 2 cups flour (you can use whole wheat if you like)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar or sucanat
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 rice milk (or any other replacement milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preparation:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan.In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil, then add bananas. Add rice milk and vanilla, stirring to combine.

Add the flour mixture, stirring just until wet.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Mango Tofu Curry

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I finally know that spring has arrived by the arrival of beautiful Mango all around Cleveland’s China town. Every year I celebrate by eating fresh mango, having it drip down my chin and hands…. But this year I have decided to go with a savory thai dish, but I will admit some of the mango did not survive the chopping process.

1 ripe mango – peeled and cubed
1 small pack of firm tofu – chopped
1 crown of broccoli – chopped
1/2 pack of mushroom – cleaned and chopped (I used shitake mushrooms)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 medium onion – chopped
1 cube ginger – paste
2 cloves garlic – paste
2 green chillis – slit
few sprigs of basil – chopped
1/4 tspoon – cinnamon and clove powder
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1tablespoon olive oil
salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Saute the tofu pieces until they turn golden brown and set aside.
Saute the rest of the oil with bay leaf, basil leaves, green chillis, ginger and garlic paste for a couple of minutes until  fragrant.
Add the onion and stir fry till it turns translucent.
Add the broccoli and mushrooms and saute it together for a few minutes.
Add the mango pieces and cook on a low flame till the pieces turn tender.
Add coconut milk, soy sauce, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper and cook on low for for 5 -6 minutes.
Add the cooked tofu and cook for another 7-8 minutes till they all mix together.
Garnish with fresh basil and serve with rice.

Killer BBQ Tofu

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Remember watching Doug on Nickelodeon? Remember the greatest band that never was, The Beets. Every time I make this dish I have their hit single “Killer Tofu” stuck in my head. I got this recipe from my friend Julia”s personal cook book while on a field trip to her apartment’s humble kitchen. All of her recipes are gems, and might I say, works of art.

Julia also gave me an amazing tofu-trick! Freezing the tofu, then thawing it gives it a spongy texture, allowing it to soak up lots of liquid (in this case some finger lickin’ BBQ).

Also, feel free to use wooden skewers and long strips of tofu to achieve a wonderful party snack. Just place the wooden skewers in the tofu as you arrange them on the baking sheet.

So here is the final recipe for the tofu:

-2lbs of tofu cut into 1/2 inch strips (frozen and thawed)

-2 tablespoons oil

-1/2 cup water

-2 tablespoons peanut butter

-1 tablespoon soy sauce

-1/2 teaspoon garlic

-1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients but the tofu together, then Place the tofu on a cookie sheet with oil. Press the liquid mixture lightly into the tofu and bake at 350. Bake 15 minutes, flip, then continue the baking process for another 15 minute. Lather them up with some BBQ sauce (recipe below) and bake for another 10 minutes for some finger licking BBQ. The end result should look something like this…

Lip smacking BBQ sauce recipe:

-2 tablespoons oil

-1 medium onion

-2 cloves garlic

-1 cup tomato sauce

-3/4 cup brown sugar or sucanat

-1/2 cup mustard

-1/2 cup water

-1 tablespoon molasses

-1 tablespoon fresh parsely

-1 teaspoon allspice

-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

-1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

-2 tablespoons soy sauce

Saute’ the onions and garlic in a medium sauce pan until translucent then add everything but the apple cider vinegar and soy sauce. Bring this to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Add the remaining 2 ingredients and simmer for another 10 minutes.

UNSTOPPABLE Vegan Mac n’ Cheese

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Mac and cheese is enjoyed all over the world, long before Krap, I mean, Kraft, got their paws on it. Its popularity in the United States has been attributed to Thomas Jefferson serving it at a White House dinner in 1802, although a spontaneous and diffuse appearance of the dish is more likely. It has been popular in the United Kingdom since the Victorian era. Here is my take on a soul food version of the popular dish. It’s also a nice way to sneak in veggies to unsuspecting children, or in my case, my dad.

  • 14 ounces macaroni noodles (feel free to substitute brown rice pasta for a gluten free version)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric (this is a natural way to turn it yellow)
  • 1 cup soymilk (or any other milk substitute)
  • 8 ounces tofu
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 6 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoons margarine (I like Earth Balance Soy-Free)
  • 2 heads broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup grate-nuts cereal (optional for a crispy crust, also try subing bread crumbs)

Boil the water and add the noodles once the water has begun to boil. Turn of the flame and continue to cook for about 5 minutes until Aldente. Strain and wash lightly with cool water to stop the cooking process.

Mix the tofu and the soymilk in a blender or food processor until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the tahini, tumeric, mustard, red pepper, garlic paste, and nutritional yeast. Fold the mixture with a spatula or large spoon until well blended.

Place broccoli, noodles and peas in a large skillet or casserole dish and mix well with your hands.  Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles and mix well, making sure not to miss the corners.  Top with tabs of margarine and sprinkle with grate nuts or bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.



St. Patty’s Seitan

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St. Patty’s is a standard meat and potato type holiday filled with green beer and large portions of dead cow and beer filtered with fish bones (Guinness). Here is a recipe to help celebrate the drunken holiday, without the guilt. As for the beer, try imbibing on anything through a nitros tap, and you will have the same creamy head as with Guinness.

Use in corn beef and cabbage, ruebans, etc.

Equipment:
Large ceramic or glass bowl, Smaller bowl for liquid ingredients, Skillet (Cast Iron is best), Large soup pot with lid

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1 cup very cold pickling spice “tea”
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated on a microplane grater

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/4 cup pickling spice

For Simmering Broth
10 cups  vegetable broth
1/2 cup soy sauce

Directions

Boil the pickling spice and veggie broth in a large bowl for 30 minutes. Extract 1 cup for the dough and pour through a sieve. Make sure not to let any of the spices into the dough! Place in the freezer briefly until cool, this is your “tea”.

In a large bowl, mix together Vital Wheat Gluten Flour and nutritional yeast flakes.
In a separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients: water or veg broth, soy sauce. tomato paste, garlic, lemon zest.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine with a firm spatula, knead dough for about 3 minutes until a spongy, elastic dough is formed. Let dough rest for a couple of minutes and prepare your broth, but don’t start boiling it.
Now roll your dough into a log shape about 8 inches long and cut into 3 equal sized pieces. Place the pieces in the broth. It is important that the water/broth be very cold when you add the dough, it helps with the texture and ensures that it doesn’t fall apart. Partially cover the pot (leave a little space for steam to escape) and bring to a boil.

When the water has come to a boil set the heat to low and gently simmer for an hour, turning the peices every now and again.

Now you’ve got gluten. Let it cool in the simmering broth for at least a half an hour. It is best if it cools completely.

What you do next depends on the recipe you are using. If it calls for gluten use it as is. If you want to store some of it for later use put it in a sealible container covered in the simmering broth.

If your recipe calls for seitan cut your pieces up as desired. I prefer to use a cast iron skillet for the frying because it produces the best flavor and texture. Use as little oil as possible to coat the bottom of the skillet, 1 teaspoon may suffice. Heat the skillet over medium high and add your gluten. Cook for about 20 minutes, turning the pieces occasionally. And there you have it. Yummy St. Patty’s seitan.

Low Fat Raw Vegan Ice Cream with Raw Chocolate Sauce

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What do I miss most about being vegan? Ice Cream. I love the stuff. This past summer a friend of mine worked at Ben and Jerry’s and would bring home a pint of my favorite, Half Baked Fro Yo. We would pass around the carton like a joint and each take a creamy spoonful, until the whole thing was devoured. Sometimes in a group of people we would have multiple cartons going at the same time… Well, there is the answer to how my ass got so big. However at an average of 200 calories per 1/2 cup and 14 grams of fat, I must say that I don’t miss saddle-bag enchancing side effects.

I was quite skeptical when I started to read about raw vegan Ice Cream, and remembered my granny’s biggest diet secrets were frozen bananas and frozen grapes. This is just my twist on granny’s best kept secret. The protien in the nanners hold the air beautifully, resulting in a light, fluffy whip. Eat directly from the food processer or place in small containers to freeze (I used espresso cups for a delicious snack!). If you would like a scoopable version, try placing in an ice cream maker, I have a special bowl and attachment for my cusinart standing mixer.

Take 2-3 frozen bananas, chop and freeze. Use a bowl, plate or Ziploc baggie.

Thaw slightly and place in a food processor with 1 vanilla bean. Feel free to add 2 tablespoons rice milk if you like it creamy.

Voila, you’re done! Powder with some cocoa powder or…….

if you are feeling jazzy, place 2 tablespoons agave nectar with 1 tablespoon raw dark cocoa powder for a raw chocolate sauce!