Sunday, October 25, 2009
Soy-Tan Dream Cutlets, Mushroom Gravy & Barley Pilaf
Whew! That title was a mouthful and it wasn't even the full titles. Be prepared for the WoT (wall of text) that follows below. If it's tl;dr (too long; didn't read), just skip to the last paragraph. :p
I love love love comfort food. I often make some sort of seitan with gravy and vegetables for a big dinner at least once a month, but sometimes two or three times a month. I'm a total sucker for this type of meal. Heavy and comforting! It was inevitable that I would then make the Soy-Tan Dream Cutlets (page 294) with Mushroom Sauce (page 546) and decided that I may as well make a side so I also made the Barley Pilaf with Carrots, Walnuts, and Golden Raisins (page 276) and a side of oven roasted broccoli and cauliflower (my own, not from the book).
As I mentioned in my Pad Thai post, seitan is another recipe that I will try from a book despite the fact that I already have my own tried and true recipes for seitan (of all variations). Because of that, I had the Soy-Tan cutlets bookmarked from day one. These were also made by The Divine Miss V in her Vietnamese Po-Boys post. Before I go any further, I need to stress to you, especially to my fellow freaks with a Tofu Xpress, DO NOT PRESS THE TOFU. It's tempting, I know, but don't. Put the gadget away. :p This is actually attempt number two since I did actually press my tofu the first time since I was on Tofu Xpress autopilot and it totally screwed things up.
The Soy-Tan Cutlets came together really quickly and easily. I doubled the recipe and removed a little bit of the tofu from a 14 oz package (the recipe for one batch calls for 6 oz) I substituted Braggs for the soy sauce since I was out and used the suggested amount of seasonings. They were pretty easy to work with, soft enough to press down into thin cutlets — a little sticky but not so much that they could not be handled. I fried them up as per the directions in the book. Now, here's where texture results may vary. My stove/range is electric and it is awful. I believe that the controls are not accurate so that when something is set as low, it's really more like medium and when set to medium it 's more like high and of course it takes forever after you adjust for the temperature to come down. As the the cutlets were frying and covered, they puffed up a lot in the pan. I make seitan of all sorts a lot so I knew that the quick expansion usually happens when there is too much heat applied too quickly. Also, I knew ahead of time how the texture is supposed to be versus what I got just by looking at the recipe. Stupid stove. When I removed them and put them on a rack to drain and cool a little they did lose a bit of puff but the interior wasn't quite like how it was supposed to be. It had quite a bit of air pockets due to the high heat (my stove's fault). It looked spongey but luckily it didn't actually feel spongey when you were eating it. Taste-wise it is seasoned perfectly to be used for other applications — not too salty and no one seasoning was overwhelming. I should also mention that with seitan, the texture is better the next day after being in the refrigerator overnight and that is also true for this (just tasted a leftover piece). The next time I make them I'll make them the day before I need them and I will fry on low heat due to my sucky stove. Update: I had a full piece reheated for lunch today and after sitting in the fridge overnight, the texture is perfect, so if you run into the same thing I did, eat it the next day.
The Mushroom Sauce was also quick to put together. With any gravy that uses vegetable stock, the stock you use is what's going to make or break the taste so use your favourite vegetable stock or bouillon cube. If you use a stock that doesn't taste good to you, the end product is going to suck. Okay back to the gravy. It is very similar to how I make my own gravy except that it uses a cornstarch slurry instead of a roux for thickening which works great especially if you are concerned about fat content. It also uses thyme as the main herb whereas I usually add in a lot of other herbs. Really it's just personal preference. Make as is the first time and adjust to your liking. If you want more of a holiday taste, throw in some sage as well. I did have a couple of minor changes. I used Braggs instead of soy sauce and also threw in some gravy browning for colour. I think the Braggs gave it a little extra taste and a little more depth. The gravy was pretty tasty and worked perfectly with the cutlets. I should mention that I also used a salted bouillon cube. With two cups of liquid and only a few spoonfuls of soy sauce, I think you need to use a salted stock or you'll really need to up the amount of soy sauce and salt.
Next up, the Barley Pilaf. We had guests in from out of town so I needed to double the recipe. One problem though, I only had 1 cup of barley but I had a ton of brown rice. So I made the doubled recipe with 1 cup barley and 1 cup brown rice. I also used some baby heirloom carrots instead of regular carrots and used dark Thompson raisins instead of golden raisins. Like the gravy, a pilaf made with vegetable stock is only as good as the stock you are using, so use your favourite stock or bouillon cube! The pilaf came together easily but needed to simmer for a bit since I had brown rice in the mix (about 50 minutes). I also put the raisins in when it was simmering since my raisins were sort of dry and hard and not super soft and plump. The pilaf was indeed a really nice change from my usual pilaf and the carrots, raisins and walnuts gave it some nice differences in texture and taste. It's also really nice with a spoon of margarine mixed into your individual portion for a little extra richness.
All in all this was a delicious dinner and everyone enjoyed it. Our houseguests weren't vegan but they also enjoyed it and finished everything on their plates. So that's 8 thumbs up in total from us 4 and another score for Team Vegan for showing folks that vegans eat very well.
— Ms. Veganorama
P.S. Time-wise this all took about 2 hours from start to finish including prep time. I probably could have shaved some time off that if I had managed my tasks a little better.