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!

 

 

Snobby Joes

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Sloppy Joe day always resulted in stained t-shirts and messy countertops because the food is well, sloppy. However, that does not mean it didn’t bring a tomato stained smile to American faces both young and old. The tradition beef dish is about as american as chared hot dogs and corn over an open grill, but where did it come from? Who is Joe? Is he really sloppy, or is it just the sandwich that is?

Well, the history is a bit more interesting than I had thought. Sloppy Joe’s is a bar located in Key West Flordia.  When it opened in 1933, the bar went through two name changes before they settled on “Sloppy Joes”. The final name was suggested by a regular customer, Ernest Hemingway.  The name was coined from a bar in Old Havana, on the corner of Zulueta and Anímas, that sold both liquor and iced seafood. In the Cuban heat, the ice melted and patrons taunted the owner José (Joe) García Río that he ran a “sloppy” place.

Here is a painting of sailors having a sloppy shindig at the place.

The exact story of how the sandwich came to be is unknown, but we can see how quickly became part of American culture. Women left their kitchens to for factory labor during WWII, and didn’t have much time to cook. Meat rations were low, and were often just ground beef. Sloppy Joes  made it both cheap and easy stretch 1 pound of ground beef to feed a family. Now with women still in the workplace, busy moms still cook the All-American Sloppy Joe. I hope this Vegan version is everything you remember of a sloppy joe, but with a bit more of a grown up appeal.

Ingredients
1 cup uncooked lentils
4 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 green pepper, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon yellow mustard (wet mustard)

4 to 6 kaiser rolls or sesame buns (wheat free if it is a concern)

Directions
Put the lentils in a small sauce pot and pour in 4 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft. Drain and set aside.

About 10 minutes before the lentils are done boiling, preheat a medium soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onion and pepper in the oil for about 7 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and saute a minute more.

Add the cooked lentils, the chili powder, oregano and salt and mix. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add the maple syrup, brown sugar, nutritional yeast and mustard and heat through.

Turn the heat off and let sit for about 10 minutes, so that the flavors can meld, or go ahead and eat immediately if you can’t wait. I like to serve these open faced, with a scoop of snobby joe on each slice of the bun.

Restaurant Review- Terra Burger- Autsin, Tx

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“Fast food doesn’t have to be junk food”

While on my culinary adventures I have never run into a place quite like TerraBurger. I was lucky enough to stumble upon this little gem while strolling through the streets of Austin with the bands The Kominas, Sarmust and all of the tour entourage.

What caught my eye was the small walk up window connected to the kitchen, the European version of the “drive through” and immediately had to take a second look. Upon entering I was greeted by friendly smiles of happy dread-locked employees and a never ending roll of pleasant surprises. I think this was probably my happiest moment on tour.

I was intrigued by the sign the stated “Due to the shortage of locally grown organic potatoes, our french fries will be made from locally grown conventional potatoes until further notice”.  Astonished by the honesty (most places would never bother to mention it) and the assumed standards of both local and organic applied to a fast food joint.

While the vegan options are few, their menu is not complex to begin with. Juicy Veggie burgers, fresh cut fries (both white and sweet potato), soy milk is available to thier full coffee bar, and  some tantalizing vegan baked goods. The crowning glory was my visit to the soda fountain. Not just any soda fountain, but an oasis of cane sugar organic colas, sodas and spritzers.

I was just thrown back by how efficient, yet green the entire operation was. Apparently the owner worked for the “big guys” of fast food for years, and had alot of time to rue over everything wrong with them.

Terra Burger does offer meat for all your omni friends, however, they have very strict standards of using local, organic and free range for all the flesh, along with  separate deep fryers for meat and veggies. Gluten Free buns are also available.

This place is everything I could ever dream of in a fast food restaurant. A bit of a reminder of my time spent in Germany, where people actually cared about the environment. I was able to completely separate all my trash into the well marked containers for glass, paper, plastic and compost. I took a tour of the dual flush toilets (the standard throne  in Europe) and took advantage of the recycled brown toilet paper. A bit, rough, but all in the name of Mother Earth.

This place has a mission statement I can stand behind, and I am elated to hear of a second storefront opening.

Who needs In and Out when there is Terra Burger? 10 out of 10.

This list was taken directly from their website, they really pack a green fisted punch. For more info visit http://www.terraburgeraustin.com/

PACKAGING AND OPERATIONS:

  • Serving our food in containers made from natural, compostable material;
  • Using eating utensils made from corn-based compostable material;
  • Using 100% post consumer paper products in our restrooms;
  • Using only eco-friendly cleaning products;
  • Converting our used cooking oil into usable bio-fuel;
  • Eliminating the use of pennies in all of our transactions (Guadalupe Street location only)

The Exterior:

  • Collecting rainwater to water our plants;
  • Using native plant materials that require less watering;
  • Utilizing eco-efficient stucco;
  • Using low emissivity coatings on storefronts;
  • Recycling jobsite waste;

Interiors:

  • Using the most energy efficient light bulbs for lighting;
  • Installing counter tops made from recycled material;
  • Using recycled drywall material;
  • Using only Energy Star Certified HVAC;
  • Using water saving dual flush toilets;
  • Using reclaimed wood for interior trim;
  • Using eco-safe floor coating;
  • Using water based, low VOC paints;

Skinny-Bitch Pumpkin Muffin Tops

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I recently helped taste test Vegan Cookies for the “Alternative Baking Company” at work. Fuck yeah, I got paid to eat cookies and drink dry soy cappuccino today. My boss and I took bits and peices from 9 varieties of cookies, and finally chose the pumpkin spice as a good vegan option for our coffee shop. The cookies may have  had a decent flavor, but are sold wholesale at $1.35 a cookie (they would have to retail at about $2.35 a piece), and weight in a a whopping 480 calories with 20 grams of fat.

I headed straight to the kitchen to try to come up with a better Vegan cookie. The goal to have the same amount of flavor, but to try to reduce the amount of calories, and ended up with not a cookie, but a scrumptious muffin.

Ingredients :

2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cup canned pumpkin
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup apple sauce
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon each – cinnamon & nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans
1/2 teaspoon shredded ginger

1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
4 cup all-purpose flour

Directions:

Beat vegan sugar, pumpkin, oil applesauce and vanilla.

Sift together dry ingredients. Stir into the pumpkin mixture until smooth.

Blend in raisins and nuts and carrot.

Drop by spoonfuls or oiled baking sheet, and bake at 350°F for 12-15 minutes.

Serves: 5-6 doze

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.

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.