Vegan Buffalo Bites
Pan Sauteed Seitan Bathed in Buffalo Sauce

I am hooked on Whole Foods Buffalo Soy Nuggets.  I literally go to the prepared foods counter and ask for “a small carton vegan crack.”  They know exactly what I mean.

This recipe isn’t that because I use my delicious seitan (“wheat meat”) in place of soy for a more tender product.  Their soy nuggets are rather toothsome, especially cold, which is how I devour them, as they never make it all the way home.

Of course, if you have a favorite seitan recipe, use it.  BUT, I have perfected my recipe after some serious “R & D” in my kitchen.  You can read the backstory and access my recipe for the most delicious version I have ever tasted right HERE.

Vegan Buffalo Bites

Yield: 8 pieces (easily multiplies)

8 pieces Booming Best (Vegan) Seitan, pan sauteed a couple of minutes on each side until lightly browned in a skillet lightly coated with non-stick spray

1 tablespoon melted vegan butter

1 teaspoon hot sauce like Texas Pete’s or Sriracha

1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

1/4 teaspoon Liquid Smoke

1/4 teaspoon molasses

1 teaspoon diced celery

While seitan browns, whisk together all remaining ingredients, except diced celery, in a small bowl. Pour over seitan and toss quickly to coat. Keep gently stir-frying for a minute or two until heated  through. Serve immediately garnished with diced celery.

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Blooming Best (Vegan) Seitan
Recipe + Tips & Tricks

First, the back story (or scroll to recipe just below)…

I am not a huge proponent of vegan meat substitutes.  But I do crave them on occasion or need them to make a recipe seem complete, e.g. a pot pie.  And I am completely addicted to Whole Foods Buffalo Soy Bites, so I decided to make my own, though not from soy, as theirs are a bit toothsome.  Making them with my seitan creates a much more tender product.  But the flavor of my basic seitan–which is anything but basic–has been dramatically enhanced by studying their ingredient list.  The two key ingredients gleaned from their label: Liquid Smoke and Molasses.

My tips and tricks for lip-smacking seitan:

Tip 1:  SEASON.  Seitan only tastes as good as it has been seasoned, both the dough AND the stock.  Most of it is dramatically underseasoned to me.  It should be absolutely lip-smacking on its own and not dependent on a sauce or coating.  Do not be fooled into thinking you can merely season the stock, which allegedly permeates the dough as it simmers.  It does.  But not enough.

Tip 2:  INGREDIENTS. My recipe calls for a fair number of ingredients in both the dough and stock–virtually the same ingredients, save the celery, onion, and optional bay leaf in the stock–which may be a deterrent to some.  However, when something is as blank of a slate as vital wheat gluten–the main ingredient–it needs some serious, careful, and judicious balancing of flavors.  But, yes, if you are in a hurry, you may use a generic poultry seasoning in place of all of the dry spices.  It won’t be as scrumptious, but it will be good.

Tip 3:  TASTE.  Granted, seitan, even seasoned, is quite a bizarre texture before it is simmered.  But tasting it, as with anything you prepare, is completely necessary.  So, pinch off a teeny-tiny bit of the dough, rest it on your tongue, make an assessment, discard it rather than swallow it, and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Tip 4:   DON’T OVER-KNEAD.  Never knead the dough more than 3 minutes.  Recipes tend to recommend longer, but that yields an unpleasantly tough product.  Gluten develops as it is kneaded which is why wheat flour-based recipes for baked goods caution against “overbeating” the batter or dough lest  you end up with something too tough to enjoy.

Blooming Best (Vegan) Seitan

Yield: 1 pint walnut-sized pieces

Note: if pressed for time, you may substitute 2 tablespoons + 1 1/4 teaspoons poultry seasoning for the all of the dried spices.

Blooming Best (Vegan) Seitan Stock

3 cup water

1/4 large onion, separated into rings

3 stalks celery, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

Optional: 1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon all purpose seasoning

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

1/2 teaspoon dried, powdered rosemary

1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 large vegetable bouillon cube (for making 2 cups broth)

1/2 teaspoon molasses (or slightly more)

1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Blooming Best (Vegan) Seitan Dough (recipe follows)

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine all ingredients, bring to a gentle boil, and reduce heat to a simmer.  Tear off slightly smaller than unshelled walnut pieces of dough and drop into simmering stock, using entire recipe.  Cover with a lid slightly ajar and simmer very gently for 45 minutes; stir occasionally (if you think of it).  Don’t worry about over-crowding.  It will puff up as it cooks, but it won’t stick to neighboring pieces.

Blooming Best (Vegan) Seitan Dough

1 3/4 cups vital wheat gluten

1 tablespoon all purpose seasoning

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

1/2 teaspoon dried, powdered rosemary

1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 large vegetable bouillon cube (for making 2 cups broth)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to 0taste

1 3/4 cups warm water

1/2 teaspoon molasses (or slightly more)

1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke

Stock (recipe follows)

In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients with a fork–it helps to mix water, molasses, and liquid smoke together first–and knead for just 3 minutes directly in the bowl.

 

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Vegan Buffalo Wings with Creamy Blue “Cheez” Sauce and Celery Sticks–My Annual Super Bowl Post

(Vegan) Buffalo Wings and the Super Bowl go together like Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz!

I wouldn’t touch chicken wings many years ago when I ate chicken, but my vegan version is a slam dunk…hmmm, wrong metaphor. But you know what I mean.

Find my delicious recipe here and may the Seattle Seahawks, er, I mean, may the best team win.

🙂

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Vegan No-Chicken Salad with Tomatoes, Basil, and Smoked Almonds

No-Chicken Salad with Tomatoes, Basil, and Smoked Almonds

Yield: 4 servings

I have created quite a few no-chicken salad recipes from seitan, tempeh, and textured vegetable protein.  (To find them, just search “chicken salad” here on The Blooming Platter or consult the index of TBP cookbook.)

This tempeh version, made with two of the glories of summer–tomatoes and basil–is made even more addicting with the addition of smoky and crunchy almonds plus a little celery.

There is something about the saltiness of the almonds playing off the sweetness of the tomatoes with a hint of that herby freshness from the basil that is utter perfection.  Every rendition I create becomes my new favorite so, for now, this no-chicken salad is my “favorite.”  I think it is destined to become a classic and hope you agree!

(I am participating in Virtual Vegan “Linky” Potluck  with this recipe.  Follow the link to discover other tasty potluck contributions.)

 

1-8 ounce package tempeh, cut into 8 pieces, lightly oiled and salted,  baked for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, and slightly cooled

1/2 cup smoked almonds

4 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces

1/2 cup quartered grape tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped basil or chiffonade (stack leaves, roll, and slice very thinly)

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Crumble tempeh into a medium bowl.  Process smoked almonds and celery until finely chopped and add to tempeh along with remaining ingredients.  Toss all together and refrigerate to allow salad to chill and flavors to marry. Serve as you would any such salad, though I like it especially well scooped up with veggie chips.

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Vegan “No-Chicken” Salad with Green Grapes and Toasted Pecans

Chicken Salad with TVP, Grapes and PecansI grew up in the Deep South where a tasty chicken salad is a staple in every cook’s recipe files.  I haven’t eaten chicken for many years, but I still love the combination of flavors, so you will find quite a few vegan renditions here on The Blooming Platter (just enter “chicken salad” in the search box).

This version was inpired by a luscious one I saw Ina Garten prepare on “The Barefoot Contessa.”  I substituted textured vegetable protein (TVP) for the chicken–though all of my other recipes call for seitan–as that’s what I had on hand.

I loved both the flavor and texture and know you will too!

TVP got a bad rap when I was in school; we regularly mocked the “hamburger” patties made with TVP, a meat substitute and extender, favored by high-volume cooks for it’s low cost, high protein content, versatility and long shelf life.  Little did I know back then that I would grow up to seek out TVP and sing its praises!

2 cups coarse TVP (textured vegetable protein)

2 cups water

1 bouillon cube

1 bay leaf, torn in half

1 teaspoon rubbed sage

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup finely chopped celery (I use a food processor for this task)

1 cup lightly salted toasted chopped pecans (toast with a sprinkle of sea salt at 350 degrees in a single layer for 5-7 minutes or until slightly more golden brown and toasted in flavor)

1 1/2 cups green grapes, halved (or quartered, your preference)

3/4 cup vegan mayo (more or less to suit your preference)

In a 2-quart (medium) saucepan, bring water, bouillon cube, halved bay leave, sage, thyme, garlic powder, and sea salt together.  Stir in TVP and simmer, stirring frequently, until moisture is absored, or about 5 minutes (it goes very quickly).  Season with black pepper.  Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.  Transfer to a medium size mixing bowl, add remaining ingredients, and stir gently until completely combined.  Use as you would any chicken salad.  I love it atop cucumber slices or crackers, or in a sandwich or wrap.

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Vegan Tempeh Salad with Grapes and Smoked Almonds

Tempeh-Salad-as-Soft-TacoThis salad from The Blooming Platter Cookbook is a personal favorite and drew raves at a recent cooking demonstration I was invited to give for a group of women fairly new to veganism  who wanted to know more about cooking with some of the vegan proteins, like tempeh and seitan.  I knew you will love it too!

Grapes add color, moisture, and natural sweetness to this hearty salad, while nuts add depth of flavor, crunch, and nutrition. In addition to being terrific in a whole grain sandwich, the filling is also great with crackers, celery sticks, or in a lettuce wrap. Some people prefer to steam their tempeh before using in recipes to mellow the flavor – this recipe allows for that option.

And as you can see in the top photo, this salad also makes a delectable soft taco or, at bottom, a scoop of deliciousness on a bed of super-greens.
Yield: 4 servings
16 ounces tempeh
Sea salt
1 cup green seedless grapes, quartered
1/2 cup smoked almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons minced dill
6 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper
8 slices whole grain bread

1. Preheat the broiler. Steam the tempeh for 10 minutes, if desired. Season both sides of the tempeh with salt and broil 2 to 3 minutes per side. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the grapes, almonds, celery, dill, mayo, maple syrup, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Crumble the tempeh and add it to the bowl and combine gently with a fork to mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings,
if needed.
3. To serve, divide the mixture onto four slices of the bread, top each with another slice of bread, cut each sandwich in half and serve.

Variation:  Make the recipe above with these substitutions: red grapes for green grapes; toasted walnuts for smoked almonds; orange bell pepper for celery; tarragon for dill.

Tempeh-Salad-on-Bed-of-Greens

 

 

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Get Your Super Bowl On with A Platter of Vegan Buffalo Wings with Creamy Blue “Cheez” Dressing and Celery Sticks

I created this recipe in 2009 and have posted it for the Super Bowl each year since.  With their creamy blue “cheez” dressing and fresh, crunchy celery sticks, no one need miss out on this all-time sports bar favorite.  So roll up your sleeves, grab a stack of napkins, and enjoy the authentic taste of my spicy wings.

 

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Five-Ingredient Vegan Chicken Salad (a la Yorgo’s Bageldashery in Norfolk, VA)

Yorgo's Chicken SaladOur schools just started last week and it’s going to be a super year!

As a teacher, my culinary mind has turned to healthy, tasty, quick treats I can pack for satisfying mini-meals throughout the day.

I live in VA Beach, next door to Norfolk, VA, where you can regularly find me “Jonesin” for Yorgo’s Bageldashery’s vegan chicken salad (Yorgo’s has a VERY vegan friendly menu).  I try to pick up a carton when I “cross the border” for some other reason, but the deli closes at 2 p.m., so I can only make it on the weekends during the school year.  And I have been known to drive to Norfok just for the chicken salad.  I know, it’s a shameless waste of gas.  But I drive a Prius…does that make it almost okay?

At any rate, I have tried–unsuccessfully–in the past to duplicate their vegan chicken salad.  But, I tried again and I do believe I got it!

In addition to the taste, the texture is divine.  It’s almost a spread, but not quite.  It’s more like a very fine mince bound together with a creamy vegan mayo.  Pulsing the ingredients in the food processor a few times after each addition did the trick.   But, from past experiments, I knew that using all mayo overpowered the other flavors, so keep reading to learn my secret.  And, finally, I also realized that I was trying to add too many additional flavors.  Keeping it VERY simple was the key.

3 celery hearts, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

3 green onions, white and green part, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1-8 ounce package Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Chick’n Strips (or 1/2 pound purchased or homemade chicken-flavored seitan, cut into thin strips or chunks)

3 tablespoons vegan sour cream

1 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise, purchased or homemade (I like a neutral tasting mayo like Vegenaise for this)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional: for a Vegan Dill Chicken Salad, add 1/2 teaspoon of dried dill weed or, in the summer, 1 tablespoon of fresh minced dill and stir to evenly distribute.

Place celery in food processor and pulse a few times until finely chopped.  Add green onions, and process until very finely chopped.  Add vegan Chick’n Strips or seitan, and process until chicken is finely chopped.  (Other ingredients will be minced at this point.)  Add mayo and  pulse a very few times, just until combined.  Throughout the process, scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary for uniform chopping.  Transfer to a serving bowl or storage carton and stir in salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in dill weed or fresh dill if desired. Serve as you would any other chicken salad or cover and refrigerate until serving time.  Because of both its taste and texture, this chicken salad is especially well-suited to spreading on a cracker, a toasted “everything” bagel or rolled in fresh spinach leaves to create healthy little wraps.

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Vegan Brazilian “Chicken,” Cauliflower, Peanut, Cashew & Coconut Milk Stew (Xim Xim de Galinha)

DSCN1204Yield: 6-8 servings

Shame on me…to my knowledge, I have never eaten, much less cooked authentic Brazilian cuisine.  I don’t even know why, as I am naturally curious about all cuisines.
However, recently, my beloved cousin and hiking buddy has had to spend a lot of time in Brazil for work.  So, on a recent Sunday morning, when I was flipping the TV channels around and trying to wake up, an episode of Sara Moulton’s “Weeknight Meals” caught my attention, as her featured guest was Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, a Brazlian chef and cookbook author.  Their theme was “A Trip to Brazil.”
The food they prepared was hardly vegan, but a chicken and shrimp stew called, Xim Xim de Galinha caught my eye;  it  looked mouthwatering and seemed easy to veganize.  It was!  I think it was the ground cashews and peanuts plus the coconut milk that captured my fancy, as I am a sucker for any recipe featuring nuts and coconut milk.  This one held particular appeal because it was different than the Thai and Indian dishes I love to prepare.
If recipe derivation interests you, here are the main alterations that I made to Moreinos Schwartz’s recipe (if you could care less, just click HERE now!):
  1.  Substituted cauliflower florets for shrimp and thawed Morningstar Farms “Meal Starters” Chick’n Strips for Chicken (seasoned seitan would be a fine substitute).  HOWEVER, so that I didn’t have part of a head of cauliflower around, I basically reversed the amount of shrimp and chicken, using only 1/2 pound of faux chicken (that is how it is packaged) and a 3 to 4 pound head of cauliflower (which is an average size head).
  2. I didn’t pat the cauliflower dry as the recipe says to do with the chicken, so I ended up needing to cook it 8 minutes (instead of 6) in order for it to brown nicely.
  3. I used lightly salted instead of unsalted nuts (and still added salt).
  4. I don’t cook with tomato paste much, so instead of using fresh tomatoes, which aren’t in season, and the paste, I just used a can of organic fire roasted diced tomatoes in place of both, which was exactly the 1 1/2 cups called for.
  5. I substituted faux chicken stock for chicken stock.
  6. Because I couldn’t find dende oil here (and the shipping cost to mail order a bottle was exorbitant), which supposedly has a fabulously indescribable taste and orange color, I quadrupled the amount of turmeric and paprika (I used smoked paprika) specified in the recipe for a total of 1 teaspoon turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika.

Thanks to Alisa Fleming and Go Dairy Free for publishing my “Vegan Brazilian ‘Chicken,’ Cauliflower, Peanut, Cashew & Coconut Milk Stew” on her popular website!

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