Tag Archives: brussel sprouts

Sagra – An Italian Dream come true for vegans and the gluten free in East Austin

Italian food seems to be universally loved. I did an informal poll in my office asking “do you like Italian food” and everyone said yes, and then looked at me with questioning eyes as if I was about to give them a piece of lasagna or something. Sorry y’all! Somehow getting vegan Italian food in Austin isn’t always that easy. If you go to a fancy place they often use eggs in the fresh pasta. Rarely do they have vegan specials or delicious vegan cheese. You’re lucky to get Daiya at a pizza place here. If you go to a shitty place – I’m looking at you Olive Garden- you can’t even order a salad. I guess it comes shipped in pre-made from god knows where.

There is one place, however, in Austin that does it right, not only does Sagra have a multiple course vegan menu but they also offer homemade cashew cheese and special meaty substitutes. When I went the other day I was also impressed that they were able to assure me, without asking, that the table bread was vegan and they could easily leave items on the side so my dining companions could have their precious cheese. And yes GFers, they can make any dish gluten free. We started with the polenta fries with fried brussels and chickpeas in a salsa roja. I was a bit worried with all the fried items that this dish would be a bit greasy or heavy but it wasn’t at all, the large portion was enormous for the three of us too. 

We also tried the Barbietolla which was roasted beets, fruit mostardo, truffle salt. This dish was very sweet but a really nice complement to the polenta dish and we all enjoyed it as well. 

My favorite dish of the night was undoubtedly my pizza. When I originally looked at the menu I thought I might try the Macaroni al Forno, (baked macaroni and cheese, cashew cheese, spinach, bread crumbs, truffle oil, spinach macaroni), but once I saw the pizza I knew I had to try it. 

If you know anything about me, you know that I love olives and Star Trek and the only thing that could have made this pizza better would have been if I was sharing it with Captain Picard. Or actually, if they hadn’t run out of cashew cheese. No matter! I didn’t miss the cheese in the least and they added pine nuts to compensate. The pizza is called the Maialina and comes with pesto sauce, walnuts, black olives. Interestingly, they chopped up the walnuts and olives together which gave the pizza a salty delicious meaty texture. From now on it’s going to be my go to home topping. I loved it! And the large was so big that I got to eat it for the next few days although obviously it was much better in the restaurant.

So Sagra is a big win for me, their cocktails were fantastic too and they have a nice happy hour special so when it cools down I think it might become my after work meet up spot. Let me know what you thought or think if you try it out! I’m curious about the rest of the menu.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday. It is a holiday that involves cooking, eating, being with your loved ones and being thankful for what you have got instead of buying something else. What could be better than that?

I started cooking yesterday by making a stock to carry through the rest of the meals and it worked really well. The stock started with all the vegetable odds and ends in the freezer bag and garlic and then I baked the seitan in it. While the seitan was in the oven I simultaneously roasted celery, parsnips, carrots, leeks, onions, and garlic and then when the seitan came out I used the leftover stock from that and added the roasted vegetables. Soon the stock was so rich and tasty that I couldn’t believe it. I added some soy sauce, a bay leaf, and some apple cider vinegar and at that point I could have just eaten the stock, but instead it was time to put the stuffed roulade back in the oven with the vegetables and some of the stock. The rest I saved to make the gravy which I made using a method from gourmet magazine.

All you do is roast a head of garlic, take it out of the peel and puree it with a fork, Make a roux: whisk together a tablespoon or so of earth balance and sprinkle in flour until you have a paste. Add the garlic puree and then incorporate as much stock as you like, if it gets to thin just sprinkle in more flour. I also added in kitchen bouquet gravy magic because I love it, it really rounds out the gravy and gives it some depth, salt and pepper and it was good enough to eat directly from the pot. It made me really happy to make this gravy because it is exactly how I used to make gravy except using roasted garlic instead of animal fat. I have to say that it was much better! It was so flavorful and you can make it any time.

The roulade turned out perfect, I must thank Emilie from the conscious kitchen for her fabulous recipe. (Note: That site is sadly down now but the video and recipe is still up) I was a little worried because during the first cooking I didn’t wrap it up well enough and it stated to look like it would fall apart, but after stuffing it and wrapping it the second time it worked perfect. The wild rice and fig stuffing was really good. I added sage, apple cider vineger, and used oat flour and it all came together so well. The Roulade was so yummy, I want to make it again except that it took forever and didn’t yield enough leftovers! I guess I will have to wait to enjoy it again next Thanksgiving.

and so I roasted fingerling potatoes in olive oil and then topped them with earth balance with chopped garlic. Instead of making Mashed Potatoes I decided (for the second year in a row) to opt out and make roasted potatoes. I had an epiphany that the thing that I always overeat on Thanksgiving that pushes me over the edge is the mashed potatoes. They are mostly just take up room that could be better utilized by alcohol. So now I make the multi-colored potato you have to chew, ahh, the healthy choice! They were so perfect.

The Brussels Sprout were my favorite part of the meal though I think. The recipe was from the Voluptuous Vegan except that I used miso instead of Dijon. Basically you brown pearl onions and the sprouts in olive oil and then add a mix of maple syrup, miso, and water. After that, you cover and cook for a few more minutes until it turns into a glaze and finally add in the pecans. They were delectable. I ADORE Brussels sprouts and these were next level.I also made cranberry sauce from the Voluptuous Vegan which was less of a success. The idea of cranberries, dates, and balsamic with sugar sounded great on paper but the recipe called for a whopping one and one fourth cups of sugar. My instincts told me that this was way too much sugar and I hope to some day learn to follow my instincts because the cranberries were good, but way too sweet.

It was the perfect thanksgiving meal you couldn’t ask for anything more, so thanks to everyone for the recipes and cooking tips! And thanks to everyone in the office who donated money since we were able to save three turkeys!

Thanksgiving is also McPuppenstein’s favorite holiday because there are always leftovers. He is not, however, allowed to eat from the table which  I guess is rather specist.

I am also thankful that there is still some pumpkin pie

Stuffed Sweet Dumpling

Did you ever want to just eat stuffing for dinner? Was there a time when you cracked open a squash and said “Where is the stuffin’ in my dumplin” well if so folks I have the meal for you. The Wild Rice & Pecan Stuffed Sweet Dumpling Squash. I think this could even be a good Thanksgiving or Christmas meal with some gravy and a cranberry dish. I was worried that it would be dry but I ended up just stuffing the squash not roasting it all when it was done. Mostly, because I was hungry and the squash was already cooked.

Recipe

2 Sweet Dumpling Squashes (or any other similarly sized squashes)
1 cup of uncooked wild rice
1 medium onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped,
2 ribs of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 small apples, chopped
1/2 cup of pecans, chopped or crushed
1/2 cup of broth
1 TBSP fresh sage, finely chopped
1 TBSP fresh parsley
1 tsp rosemary
.5 tsp thyme
1 tsp marjoram
salt and pepper

First, bring the wild rice to a boil on the stove with 2 cups of water, reduce to heat to low and cover once it starts boiling. Next, cut around the stem of the squash in the same way you cut off the top of a jack-o-lantern. Remove the seeds and the stringy flesh and put the tops loosely back and place in the microwave. Heat on high for 7 minutes, rotate and flip, and microwave another 7-9 minutes. (If you don’t microwave you could also roast the squash in the oven for an hour or so). Meanwhile, heat olive oil or margarine in a large saute pan to medium high heat. Start sauteing the onion, leek, celery, and carrot until the squash is done (about 10 minutes). Open the squashes and remove as much flesh as possible with a spoon or knife without puncturing the outside. Chop the freed squashes into pieces and add to the pan. Add the apples and pecans and some broth to deglaze the pan. After apples are cooked through and starting to soften add the herbs, stir well but carefully and then add the drained wild rice. Salt and Pepper to taste. Stuff mixture into the squash and Enjoy!

Pecan Crusted Seitan Cutlet with Balsamic Glazed Carrots & Brussel Sprouts

One of my favorite restaurants in town is called Threadgill’s. It is this really old southern style comfort food place that is famous because Janis Joplin and others got their start there. I love it because they actually mark their vegan options on the menu which is very unusual for these southern-style places. Usually they go out of their way to add bacon or lard to every vegetable side dish. In my pregen days my favorite entree to order was the pecan encrusted chicken with brussels sprouts and candied yams. The other great part about Threadgills is that they have free refils on sides. How absurd is that!

Anyway, I decided that my seitan cutlets needed to be pecan crusted so I mixed some ground flax seeds with almond milk in one dish and chopped pecans, paprika, and minced garlic in another dish. The flax bath adhered to the cutlets really well, better than anything else I have tried and the pecan mix mostly stayed attached.Meanwhile, I had been sauteeing some baby carrots in eath balance on another burner. When it was time to panfry the seitan cutlets I moved the carrots to another saucepan with balsamic and brown sugar and placed the halved brussels sprouts face down in the remaining margarine and let them carmelize. Everything finished up 10 minutes later, I topped the carrots with chives from the backyard. The meal was truly delcious. I think I really captured Threadgills spirit. The seitan came out just perfect and the sprouts were ncie and carmelized.

Brussel Sprout’s Tower of Seitan

I have been wanting to try Joanna’s Chicken Style Seitan Cutlets for some time because they looked really nice and I haven’t had a lot of luck with other boiled seitan recipes. Rolling the pieces between parchment paper worked a lot better than what I have done in the past and my dough seemed really nice so I thought these cutlets would turn out just perfect. I decided to make broccoli polenta at the same time as the cutlets so I would be able to watch over them and make sure that the water didn’t boil- if it does then the seitan turn out spongy. I put the cutlets in a big pot and went to make my polenta and the water didn’t boil. As I was stirring the polenta I was inching the temperature up on the seitan so that it would start to simmer. Finally it did, I turned it down a little, covered the pot and watched as the simmer stopped. With the polenta cooling now I had nothing left to do but stand over my pot of seitan and watch to get it to simmer. I was worried that if it wasn’t simmering it wouldn’t cook right either so I boosted the heat a little more and hoped for the best and went into the living room. Five minutes later I came back to check and the pot was rapidly and frantically boiling. NOOOOOO! I couldn’t believe it after all that time. What a disaster.

The seitan cutlets finished and they tasted pretty good but the texture was all wrong so I decided to chop them into pieces and add to another dish where texture wouldn’t play a role. I came across this recipe in the Veganomicon for Braised Seitan with Brussels, Kale, and Sun-dried tomatoes. I checked and I had everything but the Kale so I supped spinach and made the recipe. It was terrific! The polenta was already chilled and I broiled it while the braised seitan finished up. When It came time to plate the dish I knew there was only really one plating option and so Brussel Sprout’s Tower of Seitan was created and it was delicious! The sun dried tomatoes went so well with the Brussel Sprouts, I don’t think I ever had that combination before and the broccoli polenta was so good a creamy. A perfect meal.