Southern Style Tempeh with a Side of Hushpuppies

May 29th, 2013 :: 2 comments :: permalink

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Oh, how time has flown the last few months. I’ve been behind on logging my cooking projects, largely due to the fact that the sight of food wasn’t very pleasing for the first half of my pregnancy. Now that I’m over that hurdle, I’m raring to eat.

Fried foods are great for a recovering stomach, but I felt I could use something healthier than the usual deep frying method. I first fell in love with hushpuppies when I was eight years old and living in Fort Polk, Louisiana. My dad would order a six-inch high plate of crawfish when we went out to eat. Being a vegetarian in the making, I refused to eat any fish or seafood. I would instead order a tower of hushpuppies and ketchup. I remember always leaving two hushpuppies on the plate, resolving myself to eating every one of them the next time. No hushpuppy should be left behind.

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BAKED HUSHPUPPIES
INGREDIENTS: 1) 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal 2) 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 3) 1 teaspoon baking powder 4) 1/2 teaspoon salt 5)1/2 cup finely chopped onion 6) 1/3 cup milk 7) 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 8) 2 egg whites, beaten 9) vegetable cooking spray 10) 2 stalks chopped parsley INSTRUCTIONS: Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; make a well in center. In a separate container, combine onions, milk, vegetable oil, and beaten egg whites. Add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Spoon 1 tablespoon batter per hush puppy onto a cooking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan immediately.
Recipe slightly modified from cooks.com.

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BREADED TEMPEH
INGREDIENTS: 1) 1 brick tempeh, sliced into thin triangles 2) 2 cups all purpose flour 3) 1 tablespoon baking powder 4) 1 teaspoon salt 5) 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 6) 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 7) 1 cup corn starch 8) 12 oz water mixed with 1/8 teaspoon of yeast and a pinch of sugar (in place of beer)
INSTRUCTIONS: Heat a pan on medium heat with a generous amount of vegetable oil. Place the corn starch on a plate and set aside. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Slowly add the water/yeast mixture to the dry ingredients, mixing until batter is smooth. Coat tempeh pieces in the corn starch and then dip the in the batter. Place the coated tempeh in the heated pan and fry until golden brown on each side.

Everyone in the household, vegetarian and carnivore, tried this and thought it was pretty tasty, especially considering the hushpuppies were baked and the “fish” was really tempeh. Next time I may brown the tempeh before coating it in batter to give it a little more complexity, but other than that, this hit the spot. Here’s hoping you can create a healthier version of an old favorite recipe of your own.

Not-So-Sloppy Tempeh Joe

November 5th, 2012 :: 23 comments :: permalink

The last time I had a sloppy joe, I was still watching the television series Alf, playing with GI Joes, and riding my bike without shoes out on the gravel trails of Fort Polk, Louisiana. I was such a picky eater growing up and, as the doctor’s growth charts alerted my mother, slightly underweight. Eating wasn’t my favorite pastime. I would much rather have ridden my bike or played in the fields.

My parents used many tricks to get me to eat. Some of them were bribes, which I think every parent tries. A lot of them were disguising my food as something else. My dad tried the “Close your eyes and you’ll get a big surprise” approach, but that only worked a few times. Sometimes they just flat out gave me what I wanted. I had the metabolism of a gazelle at that point in my life, so why not let me eat a Manwich Sloppy Joe?

Fast forward, many, many years and I am a vegetarian and no longer have the gazelle metabolism. My rendition of a sloppy joe uses tempeh, which is very hearty and has a nice grain like texture, savory veggies and toppings, a sweet tomato drizzle, and a sliced pita bread. Enjoy!

FILLING: 8 oz (1 package) chopped tempeh, half an onion, 1 large pepper or two small peppers, 4 minced garlic cloves, handful of cherry tomatoes, and a pinch of salt.

1. Put a skillet/frying pan over medium heat. Add olive olive oil and peppers. Sauté and let them soften for 5 minutes.

2. Add the chopped tempeh to the skillet (a trick to get the tempeh extra brown is to add a little soy sauce while sautéeing).

3. After the tempeh has started to brown, add the garlic, tomatoes, onions, and a pinch of salt. Cook until everything is wilted.

SAUCE: 1/2 cup tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/4  teaspoon black pepper & 1/2 cup water.

1. In a sauce pan, mix together tomato sauce, brown sugar, salt, chili powder, black pepper & water.

2. After the sauce starts to boil, reduce the heat. Let it reduce for 5 minutes and remove from the burner.

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS: Chopped scallions, olives, sour cream & pita bread.

Toast the pita bread and carefully cut it in half from the side. You can add whatever toppings you like. If you want it more traditional, you can stick with cheddar cheese and just the sauce. I, on the other hand, enjoy savory, so I topped mine with the sweet tomato sauce mixture, olives, scallions, and sour cream.

I prefer to have the tomato sauce as a drizzle and not completely submerge the tempeh and veggies. That way I get to see all the healthy veggies I am about to eat.

Looking at all these pictures makes me want to get a second helping. I think I will.

Salmon Eggs Benedict -vs.- The Tempeh Egg Muffin

February 8th, 2012 :: 11 comments :: permalink

Out of all the meals in the day, breakfast is possibly my favorite, though dessert at any meal is pretty high up there too. When we go out for breakfast, Dustin often gets an eggs benedict with either crab or salmon. I have fewer options. I’ve been a vegetarian off and on for 10 years and have slowly found ways to add protein to my diet without using faux meat, which is a good transitional product, but can have a lengthy ingredient list.

We decided to cook everything from scratch for this one, even the muffin.  If you want to save some time, buying muffins from the store will of course work too. Dustin is more of a planner than I am and likes to set all his ingredients out before we start cooking. I’m more of a spontaneous cook, but it does save time to organize all of one’s supplies. After getting some yeast started, flour, bread flour, salt and milk went into the food processor. After a few minutes in there, the dough stuck together as planned. So much easier than doing it by hand. I’ve tried.

Following a couple of rises, I cheated a little and used a cookie cutter to make semi-perfect circles. The dough continued to expand while I waited for my cast iron skillet to warm up. After several minutes on each side in the skillet, the muffins turned golden brown. I know it’s not polite to gloat but these were so much better than the muffins you get from the store! We ate the first one without any toppings while it was still warm from the stove.

Dustin poached the eggs for his benedict in lightly boiling water with a splash of vinegar. I’ve always been a little grossed out by eggs, but it was cool to watch them cook this way. It was super easy too. After watching the movie, “Julie & Julia“, I thought it would be more difficult.

Switching to my vegetarian option, I used my cookie cutter again to cut out my tempeh patties and to mold my egg whites into a circle while they were frying in their pan. Most people are not aware of tempeh unless they’ve been a vegetarian for a long period of time. It comes from cooked and slightly fermented soybeans and, unlike tofu, it is very firm. A huge plus is it has a lot of protein and calcium and is low in fat and cholesterol. For my own peace of mind, I look for non-GMO tempeh and organic veggies to avoid any potential issues that have been raised lately regarding GMO products.

I loved the way both dishes came together. It was interesting to compare the presentation of the casual benedict to the perfect stack of bread, egg, and  tempeh in the sandwich. Both indeed have their place of course, so we’re hoping to experiment like this some more in the future.

In the end, everything came together and photographed well. Maybe too well…I was too hungry to experiment with angles and lighting when it came time to shoot the final photos. Deeelish.
Toppings
I topped my vegetarian muffin with a pan seared tempeh patty, salt, pepper, tomatoes, egg whites, and micro greens. I drizzled balsamic vinegar and olive oil on top. The eggs benedict was a muffin topped with wild salmon (supposedly caught the day prior), salt, pepper, sauteed garlic, a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. Dustin said he will use a blender instead of a mixer for the hollandaise next time as he felt it was under-whipped and separated too easily. I think there is a lot of room in both of these recipes to experiment with different flavors and taste. We just added what we like. Dustin thought dill might be a nice addition to the salmon benedict. I’m thinking Thai chilis and/or avocado might be a nice addition to the sandwich.

See full recipe.

 

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