Shield of the Shepherd

It is that time of year again. Wednesdays in the Spring mean adventures in vegan cooking.

Stoke the forge to 425 degrees. Spread a bag of frozen veggie medley on a baking sheet and insert while still pre-heating along with three russet potatoes.

Meanwhile, saute half a sweet onion and half a carton of button mushrooms, both diced, with salt and non-olive, neutral flavored oil in your largest skillet. Once they begin to brown, add pepper flake and two cartons of course chopped seitan (wheat gluten) and combine. Slide into the forge as well.

Meanwhile yet again, in a sauce pan, make a roux. [1] Add enough veggie broth to begin to make a gravy. Keep it on low heat and whisk until it begins thickening, but don’t let it get too thick.

Take your skillet out and your veggie medley and add the veggies to the seitan and savories. Pour over the gravy. Keep on low heat to simmer while the potatoes continue to cook through.

When the potatoes are soft enough, remove from the forge and cut open. Chop the skins up small and add to the simmering skillet. In a large bowl use a hand mixer to render the russet innards fluffy and fine. Sprinkle sumac on top for color and a bit of salt for seasoning.

Spoon the skillet contents into two pie shells and cover over with the potatoes.

Return to the 425 degree forge for 10 minutes. Cover with ultra thin plate mail armor sheeting and give it another 10-20 minutes to ensure the pie crusts are cooked through.

Set aside to cool but serve warm.

Ain't it purdy?

Ain’t it purdy?

[1] I used left over french fries, cold, ground fine, mixed with oil.

Advertisements

Dragon’s Breath Stew

What to do with all that napalm sauce I made?

Yet another spicy tofu dish, of course.

Slice a carton of extra firm tofu into 1/2 inch thick sheets and press between two plastic cutting boards with heavy weight for at least an hour.

Put your noodle cooking pot on to boil as you ordinarily would.

In your blender combine two ladles of your napalm with a generous spoonful of dashi miso paste, a handful of garlic cloves, a tablespoon of Chinese five spice, a quarter cup of sugar and two tablespoons of corn starch with two cups of vegetable broth. Obliterate into a smooth liquid.

Remove press and slice tofu into 1/2 inch cubes.

Fire up your wok on your hottest flame. Coat with safflower oil and toasted sesame oil. Brown the tofu cubes.

Open a carton of silken tofu and dump into the wok. Toss vigorously to break up into curdles. As all the water cooks out and pools, transfer to a sieve and back to the heat, repeating until no more water pools out.

Pour the spicy liquid over the tofu and stir occasionally to prevent burning on the bottom and to encourage thickening and evaporation.

Cook a generous portion of rice noodles in your boiling water and drain, do not rinse but immediately portion out — leaving starches on the outside of the noodles helps the sauce to stick, rinsing them makes it slide off into the bottom of your bowl.

When the sauce is quite thick, kill the heat and serve.

Do not breathe near anything flammable for some time.

Sour and Spicy Sea Bug Soup

Strictly speaking, the Lenten fast is not “vegan”. Vegan is a contemporary term and does not really correlate directly to what is and is not proscribed during this season. For example, honey is always permitted during this time. Also, aquatic animals which have neither spine nor fins (shellfish, basically) can be consumed. This seems to be a quirk of culture. “Oil” is specifically off limits, because in the ancient Byzantine Empire, fine oils were eaten more or less alone as a feasting food, while shellfish were essentially viewed as “bait”. So yes, in today’s world, during Lent, you can have a $30 lobster, but not a $0.50 hot dog, and still be “fasting”. In the Gamer Geek world we call that “rules lawyering” and it isn’t seen in any better light in the faith than it is at the gaming table.

Why am I talking about this? Because today’s recipe involves shrimp, and I didn’t want to confuse anyone. My wife is out of town for a few days, which means I can cook seafood in the house without her complaining about the smell or running around casting “scented candle” spells everywhere (which make me sneeze).

One concession I made to the Lenten season was that I bought a bag of block frozen shrimp (better quality than individually frozen, actually, just more frustrating to get thawed out for use) rather than fresh, to keep the expense down. For this recipe, though, you want shell on, raw shrimp. Ideally you would make this recipe with fresh, whole shrimp. Whole as in heads and legs intact. Shrimp shells and brains contain an enormous amount of flavor which is ideally suited for sauces and broths. However, I’m unaware of a way to get frozen shrimp with the heads still on, so I had to settle for shells intact but headless.

Shellfish should get cooked one of two ways: as hot, fast and brief as possible, or as slow and low as possible. Given that I was starting with something frozen, I had to opt for the latter. I used a stainless skillet for this, and the glass lid with the vent hole from my pasta pot just happens to fit onto this skillet. So, I put the shrimp into the pan with the lid on over very low heat, and turned them over from time to time. This cooking is going to create a lot of water in the pan. Keep this. Hence the lid. Once the shrimp are cooked through, put the shrimp into a bowl in the freezer and transfer the resulting liquid into a large sauce pan.

In a food processor or blender combine stewed tomatoes, roasted garlic, lots of lemon juice (lots), a couple tablespoons of white vinegar, heavy coconut milk, fresh cilantro, a generous amount of “rooster sauce” (or similar sriracha type hot sauce) or a combination of hot peppers and honey/sugar, and kimchee if you have some (I make my own approximation of this as a source of probiotics).

Once the shrimp have cooled, shell them. Put the meat aside, and put all the shells into the sauce pan where your retained liquid is. Add a carton of vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for a long time. Strain, and dispose of the now thoroughly depleted shells. Add the blended items and bring back to a simmer. Make adjustments with lemon, vinegar, honey and heat to create your desired level of “ouch”. If you have access to kaffir leaves, add them during this simmer stage. Be sure to remove them before serving.

Put shrimp meat into a bowl and pour hot broth over them. This will warm them through without making them over cooked and tight. I recommend serving this with either glass noodles or rice noodles. Prepare them separately and add them to the bowl with the shrimp, and then pour over the broth.

Just don’t forget to cast an immunity to fire spell on yourself before digging in. And to have a breath mint after.