Archive for the ‘Recipe’ Category

Faux Pho: Vegetarian Pho

And we’re back. (the royal we, that is, since you have little to do with these posts.) This is part two of our pan-Asian feast, and you should still be hungry after the TVP egg rolls, considering they were over a month ago.

Below is my recipe for faux pho, or vegetarian/ vegan pho with seitan. If you knew me in the last year before my veggie turn, you know that I wanted to inject pho directly into my veins; I used it to celebrate, to mourn, to energize, to relax, to turn on, and turn off. I used to live in a town outside of DC and frequented a place—Pho 75—that looked like a shitty high school cafeteria had a baby with a scene from Apocalypse Now. But they served a huge, cheap, steaming bowl of pho replete with Sriracha and tripe. Wondrous offal aside, the staple beef broth makes pho a no-no, so I had to adapt. Welcome to the adaptation, kids.

And please no asshats who say, “This isn’t pho because it isn’t beef based,” “The noodles/ sprouts aren’t correct,” or any other frivolous critiques. Shut up and, like I say in my about this veg virgin, take my recipe and do with it as your tongue sees fit.

Ingredients for the broth:

7 – 8 cups vegetable broth

1 medium onion, quartered

1-inch hunk of ginger, skinned and sliced

8+ garlic cloves, crushed

2 tbs. ground anise

3 tbs. ground clove

1 tsp. cinnamon

4 tbs. soy sauce

1 tbs. cayenne pepper

1 tbs. olive or sesame oil

Ingredients for everything else:

1 lb. buckwheat soba noodles (or rice noodles)

8 – 16 oz. diced seitan, depending on your protein concerns (tofu also works; just double the amount)

7 scallions, thinly sliced

2 big handfuls of bean sprouts (I used the skinny ones, but the fat are excellent too.)

2 big handfuls of basil leaves, whole

1 – 2 limes, cut into wedges (or a really convenient bottle of lime juice)


hoisin (although I don’t really use hoisin)

Makes 4-6 servings.

To make the broth, heat the broth over a medium to medium-high heat. Use a big ass pot, because it’s a group swim by the end of the recipe. Char—but do not burn!—the onion, ginger, and garlic in the oil. After the broth begins to steam, dump in all of other ingredients for the broth, veggies included. Slowly bring the broth to a boil, drop the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the broth, and keep the solids if you’re feeling economical. For the faux pho, though, you’ll only need the liquid.

To make the soup, cook the noodles appropriately (or inappropriately, if it doesn’t get too messy and weird). Strain. When you’re getting close to serving time, add the seitan to the hot broth to heat it through. Divide the noodles into the desired portions and portion out the seitan with a slotted spoon. Next, cover the noodles with your beefy non-beef broth. Serve with the basil, sprouts, lime (juice), Sriracha, and hoisin. This is an interactive meal, so everyone can dress as desired.

Enjoy, bitches. Make sure to keep chopsticks, a big-ass spoon, and sweat napkin handy throughout.

Non-Veg Friendly Factor: 4.734. Everyone I served this to loved it, from vegetarians to dedicated and stubborn omnivores, two of who aren’t even big fans of standard pho. The dish was just as comforting, tasty, contingently spicy, and satisfying as I remember. It was at my kitchen table instead of a dive pho place with Vietnamese on the menu, but I found some familiar escape in my steaming bowl of noodles. I will be honest about something: I don’t exactly remember what beef broth tastes like; so while I stand by mine as a good approximation—especially of pho broth—I’m not willing to say it will make you forget about bovine liquid (although the phrase bovine liquid might).


Baked Egg Rolls

It's like food porn on an ugly bed.

I know; I know: I’ve been away awhile. My fairly deep, fairly sincere apologies. I won’t hold it against you if you’ve all turned into tofu trollops without me. In fact, I hope you have been out there, playing the field, and experimenting—you know, getting your veggie freak on. But I’m glad we’re reunited now, back to our painted people of tempeh ways. (If you haven’t noticed, I’m slowly compiling a compendium of ways to link overt sexuality and vegetarianism. Actually, if you haven’t noticed, shame on you; it’s in the blog’s title, people.)

What’s on the menu for this glorious comeback? Try a three-course, eastern-Asian inspired meal. In a few days, there will even be my first interweb foray into desserts, which will blow your simple minds. First thing’s first, though. The appetizer: baked eggrolls with textured vegetable protein (TVP).


16oz. shredded red cabbage

1 cup ginger dressing

1 cup textured vegetable protein

7/8-cup miso broth (thanks to the most helpful vegetarian I know–see comments below–I now know to be on the look-out for miso with bonito, or dried Mackerel flakes, in it. Consider yourselves warned.)

1 pkg. Nasoya egg roll wrappers (comes with 21 wraps, but I recommend splitting them for 42 wraps if you bake them)

A note about TVP: I haven’t used it much, but, so far, I’m pretty impressed. It’s a soy-based protein, and is a very well-rounded one at that. It’s completely flavorless, so it will soak up whatever flavor you use to reconstitute it. I recommend going with a strong flavor, since I’m not kidding when I say “flavorless”; some sources call the taste “neutral,” but that’s not nearly descriptive enough. Simply put, don’t fret about over-flavoring TVP. It’s even great for meat-eaters looking to cut back on calories, since it (reportedly) works well as a low calorie, low fat, high protein extender in things like ground beef. I promise you’ll be seeing it more on the VV.

Now for the steps.

Preheat the oven to 425degrees and allow it to warm up. Pour the ginger dressing over the shredded cabbage, making sure to coat every shred. Every damn one, slacker. Let it sit while you accomplish the paragraph below.

Slowly bring the miso to a boil and quickly add it to the TVP, stirring the slurry together until all of the liquid is soaked up. (Think making oatmeal with boiling water.) Taste the TVP, and make sure it’s cooked enough; you don’t want any crunch, but a subtle, spongy give.

Now comes a crucial decision: bake or fry. If you want to fry, just use the wraps as-is and—this is a VV guess—fry with the peanut oil at 350degrees until the mothers float. If you’re baking, though, tear the two sheets of wrapper apart from each other—like peeling a sticker away from a surface—so you have a thinner wrapper. I tried both as-is and peeled versions, and I preferred the latter; they were less gummy and baked more evenly.

I hope your burrito/ egg roll folding skills are on point. If not, just flip over the Nasoya package and follow their graphic guidance. (Or, just check out this video; I use more filling than this person does. My recipe isn’t for gastronomic wussies and culinary quitters.) Orient the wrapper in a diamond and place the filling—I did about a 1:1 of cabbage and TVP—just south of the middle, from left to right. Now fold the bottom point of the wrapper over the filling, fold the right and left sides in, and roll the bad boy up into a tasty tube of tasty, making sure to use water, non-stick spray, or an egg wash to seal the final corner.

Spray each side of the egg roll with a nonstick spray or rub with oil—extra virgin olive oil or, better yet, sesame oil—and bake at 425 for 8 minutes, flip, and put ‘em back in for another 8 minutes. By the end, they should be crispy wonderful.

And, if you’re feeling adventurous, serve with my peanut dipping sauce or some more of that ginger dressing.

I don’t have an exact number, since I experiment with wrapper thicknesses, but this should about 15 – 20 egg rolls. Should.

Non-Veg Friendly Factor: 4. They come out like hearty spring rolls, which makes for a nice appetizer or side dish. Plus, the TVP is barely distinguishable from meat, so you’re good to go there. It has a light flavor without the sauce and there’s a subtle crunch, thanks to the wrapper and cabbage. I really liked the purple color hinted through the thin wrappers, but I did hear some complaints about the aesthetics. They don’t microwave so well, though: they end up kind of soggy and flaccid. My main complaint, however, is that they’re flat, not round. I guess my rolling skills aren’t as on point as they should be. Eff.

Egg rolls are fun, easy, and exciting for my tongue. You’ll definitely be seeing more recipes. Next time, however, will be course two: Faux Pho.

Mushroom’s Cream Soup

I don’t care what any of you godless atheists say; good soup is proof that there are powers bigger than–and beyond the understanding of–us humans. Refute me; I dare you. In the meantime, though, get mushroom-slapped in the mouth with this recipe.


1lb mushrooms, sliced

1 small onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

4-cups vegetable stock, heated

1-cup fat free cream

1-2 tbs. Veggie Grated Topping (more on this at the bottom of the page)

1/4-cup  butter or butter substitute

2 tbs. all-purpose flour

2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves

1 tsp. ground clove

2 tsp. cayenne pepper

2-3 tsp. dried marjoram

Salt and pepper, to taste (probably significantly more of the latter)

The following group of steps involves making a rue, albeit with a couple steps between the rudimentary ‘melt fat, add flour’. Don’t worry–this rue isn’t complicated; it just has some added steps. A rue is a great way to thicken up things like soups and cheese sauces (you’ll see it again when I do my–so far–all-time favorite recipe: my yet-cleverly-named mac & cheese. It’s more or less equal portions of fat and flour, although I kind eyeball it when I’m doing it and adjust the butter and flour as necessary. If you want a more detailed account of how to make a rue, check out this video and description over at Mom on Wheels. Just a little aside, though: I do not use the initial oil before I add the butter; I just jump right into it. Oh, and heat up the liquid (veggie stock, here) before you add it; this will help the butter and flour de-clump faster. The liquid shouldn’t boil, but warm or steaming is good.

Ok, enough with that–I’m hungry. I recommend using a large, high-walled frying pan for this (think a large sauce pan) to allow for good heat distribution (or, if you have it, a medium sized pot, which, unfortunately, I don’t have.). Melt the butter over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, and thyme, stirring and cooking for a minute or two, until the garlic is translucent and just beginning to brown. Add the mushrooms, ground clove, marjoram, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are soft and brown. Finally, add the flour and stir.

Lower the heat a bit and add the vegetable sock, stirring vigorously. Try to get out as many clumps as you can, but don’t worry about making it perfect–the smaller ones should cook out. (Just try to make sure there are no clumps in your finished product, since no one likes flour balls with a squishy exterior.) Up the heat and bring the thing to a boil. During this time–when it’s coming to a boil–is when you want to work out the remaining clumps. Now reduce the heat to low and let the bad boy simmer for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally.

Whisk the cream and Veggie Grated Topping into the soup. Up the heat to medium-low and make sure to not let the soup boil. Trust me, you don’t want it to burn; it will taste horrible and cleaning the pan/pot will suck. A lot. Just get it hot enough to serve. If you want to make it thicker, feel free to whisk in some low fat sour cream or (my always popular) fat free mozzarella cheese. Just do so a little at a time so you don’t end up with a paste.

Feel free to garnish with some additional Veggie Grated Topping, full sprigs of thyme, or chives. The soup also goes great with some whole wheat or grain artisanal bread. In fact, I have a feeling this is going to be a huge cornerstone of my Thanksgiving dinner (something I’m still trying to figure out as a veg virgin). Also, mix it up with the mushrooms a bit. I only used simple white mushrooms and I’m allergic to portobellos, but this soup should be great with some wild, porcini, and/ or cremini cremini mushrooms. Go: experiment. Just don’t you even think of feeding me a portobello, ass.

Non-Veg Friendly Factor: 5. Fine, so between the Baked Chili Rellenos and this soup I’ve kind of been cheating with the Veg Friendly thing because I’m just making standard (although healthified) recipes. Bite my bird. This soup is a great way to quench a craving for cold weather comfort food, especially with a big hunk of bread. If anything, I hope some of these recipes can prove to any non-vegs that a transition to vegetarianism–or almost vegetarianism–is wholly possible without being a huge pain in the ass. So for all of you haters looking for a new way to incorporate seitan: wait and enjoy this soup. Ass.

As for the Veggie Grated Topping: it may sound gross, but it tastes exactly like Parmesan cheese. Plus, remember my Parmesan retraction at the bottom of my Silken Sun-dried Tomato Alfredo post? Retraction retracted, kind of. Eat this stuff and you’ll never buy–or miss–animal stomach Parmesan again. You’re welcome.