Sunday, July 17, 2016

Down Home Tempeh "Chicken" Salad Sandwiches

Oh man these are good. I made a batch last weekend and ate them for lunch three days straight. Then this weekend I went to four grocery stores and stocked up on ingredients for a few new recipes to try. But when I finally got home I wanted nothing other than more of these sandwiches! So made another batch and they were just as awesome. Something about hot summer weather makes this sandwich the ultimate comfort food solution.

The original recipe is from Ann Jackson's Cookin' Southern: Vegetarian Style published by the accurately named Book Publishing Company in 2000.  It's a book I checked out from the library so many times in a row that I decided to finally buy it. The book itself is fun to read just for Jackson's entertaining narratives about southern food, floral aprons, washing dishes, and cast iron pans. She says that you can bring an old and rusty cast iron back to life by dropping it in the middle of a bonfire and letting it glow red. Apparently, when you fish it out of the ashes the next day it'll be clean and ready for seasoning. If anyone's tried this, I'd love to hear how it worked!

You might want to start keeping tempeh in your freezer at all times so that you can whip these bad boys up when the craving strikes. Because when it does you'll need to be ready. The tempeh "chicken" salad is everything you'd want it to be: savory, rich and creamy but with crunchy little taste explosions of minced celery, onion and fresh parsley. I tweaked Jackson's original recipe here and there, but noticeably by dropping the 1/2 to 3/4 cup of mayo down to 3 tablespoons and adding a dab of mustard and parsley.

Down Home Tempeh "Chicken" Salad Sandwiches 
Makes 3

8 oz tempeh
1/2 medium minced red onion or a few green onions (about 1/2 cup)
2 stalks of celery, minced (about 1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons vegan mayo
2 to 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon grainy mustard (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

To serve:
3 bagels, toasted (onion, garlic or sesame would all be good choices)
several leaves of lettuce
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
mustard, butter, or mayo for the bagels if you want

Steam the tempeh for 15 to 20 minutes and let cool to room temperature. While the tempeh steams, mix everything else (onion through black pepper) in a bowl and combine well. Stir in the cooled tempeh and refrigerate the whole thing until chilled. When it's nice and cool, assemble your sandwiches and go to town.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Summer Berry Vegan Muffins

The weather here has been cool and rainy, so I decided to seize the moment and do some baking before July heats up. These vegan muffins are on the light and sweet side, not like a dense bran or banana muffin and not as healthy either. But there is always time for healthy muffins later; while the summer berries are in season, make a batch of these!

Summer Berry Vegan Muffins
Makes a dozen regular or six giant muffins

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cups sugar
1 cup nondairy milk
1/3 cup canola or sunflower oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line muffin pan with paper liners.

In a large bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients (but not the berries yet). Gently stir the wet mixture into the dry until just combined. Fold in the berries so that they are evenly distributed in the batter.

Pour the batter into the muffin liners, about 3/4 full. I like my muffins to have a pretty big top, so I over filled mine and ended up with 11 instead of 12 muffins and they worked out just fine. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown for regular sized muffins or for about 26 minutes for six giant muffins.

When the muffins are done baking, let them cool in the tin for a while. Since they are packed with juicy berries, they tend to stick to the paper liner if you dig in while they are still hot. On the other hand, warm muffins straight out of the oven are pretty great so if you don't care how they look, go ahead and wolf them down as soon as you want!