Tag Archives: Soul Food

Easy, now. Tempeh, tempeh!

The Vegan Month of Food 2009

The Vegan Month of Food 2009

VSK-Tempeh 006A

“Open-Faced BBQ Tempeh Sandwich” topped with “Straightforward Coleslaw,” from “Vegan Soul Kitchen” by Bryant Terry. Want the recipe? Click on the pic!

Until today, I’ve never made anything with tempeh that would make me call home.  Well, somebody get my mother on the phone, because this sandwich has put tempeh at the top of the charts!  Seriously, Dawgs (am I channeling Randy Jackson or something?)  This dish is in the big leagues.  This is the one that will make your meat eating friends ask for seconds.  This is the one you serve when someone says “I could never be a vegan; it would be too boring.”  Is your mama nagging you about your diet?  This is the one that will shut…your…mama… up.   All the same, I have a few caveats, so stay with me, okay?

When I finally sat down to prepare this dish, a fortuitous thing happened: I misplaced my cookbook.  Yup.  I panicked.  And then I got on the internet and searched for the recipes.   The original recipe was the “Open-Faced BBQ Sandwich with Carrot-Cayenne Coleslaw.” I found both recipes at The Atlantic. In the comment section, somebody named “Lara” had made this dish and said the sauce was “FANTASTIC,” if a bit on the hot side.  She planned to make a vat of the sauce, but decided to omit the cayenne from the coleslaw, as it did nothing to mitigate the heat from the tempeh.  Okay..Note taken.  Then I found Victoria, who had already blogged her efforts at The Idle Loaf, and she had a mixed review:  She liked it. Her husband didn’t. Victoria really likes barbecue, so considering “cayenne” was in the title, she was surprised that the sandwich wasn’t very spicy.  (What?!?!)  Victoria said if she were to make this sandwich again, she’d use her own BBQ sauce.  On top of that, both she and her hubby agreed there was too much vinegar flavor in the dish.  Her husband said he would have preferred a creamy coleslaw for contrast.   (Victoria also baked her own sandwich bread.  Sounds like a winning idea!)

With these reviews in mind, I set about preparing the BBQ sauce with a little trepidation.  Everyone has their own idea about what a good BBQ sauce should taste like.  Mostly, your ideas simply come from whatever you’ve been exposed to.  If all you’ve ever had was a simple, mass-produced commercial sauce full of corn syrup, well then anything that tastes bold or spicy might be tough to take.  If you’ve been lucky enough to try a variety of BBQ sauces, including regional and homemade sauces from around the U.S., as well as Korean and Japanese sauces, to name a few, your mind might be open to experiencing  other types of flavors as the top note.  Whatever the case, here’s the good thing– if you simply taste this sauce before you pour it on, you can tweak it to  fit your personal taste.  I added additional tomato sauce, two extra chipotles, and a tad more agave to mine, so the final result was thicker and spicier.  If you don’t like a lot of spice, you might want to stick to one chipotle, and skip the cayenne.  You might even want to add maple syrup, molasses, or pinapples bits- whatever floats your boat.  Somebody on VegWeb said it was too salty for her tastes.  She recommended diluting the tamari or using a low sodium tamari and low sodium tomato sauce– all excellent ideas for the salt-sensitive Soul Food lover.  Whatever you do, simply taste the sauce before you make your decision.   Once you’ve got the BBQ sauce tweeked to perfection, pour and bake or barbecue for the requisite time.  I baked mine for an hour, but when I saw some tempeh pieces on the edge that were darker than the ones in the middle, I knew I wanted the darker, richer results.  I shoved the pan back into the oven, uncovered, and baked it for another 10-15 minutes.   (Despite what it says on the dial, oven temperatures vary, so your results may differ.)

Now…the coleslaw/vinegar issue:  I like vinegar but I have my limits, so I take this criticism seriously.   At this point, I’ve made 16 of Bryant Terry’s recipes, and I know that for me, some of his recipes run a bit on the citrus and astringent side.  (Maybe it’s because he lives in California, where citrus fruits are plentiful?)   I’ve already put apple cider vinegar and lime juice in the BBQ sauce.  The Cayenne-Carrot Coleslaw that originally went with this dish calls for a lighter-flavored champagne vinegar, which I don’t have.  I use apple cider vingar instead.   I made a small sample of the coleslaw, and taste-tested it in conjunction with a piece of the barbecued tempeh.  Hmmm.  I decided that Victoria’s husband was right.  Lucky for me, right next to the “Carrot-Cayenne Coleslaw” recipe was the “Straightforward Coleslaw” recipe.  There were fewer ingredients used in the “Straightforward” version,  and 1/4 cup of silken tofu served to make a creamy, delicious tasting coleslaw that took almost no time to whip up.  I drizzled in a little extra agave, and YUM.   I had the contrast I was looking for.  (And now I’m thinking Victoria’s hubby has to give this recipe a second try!)

The end results?  Hubby and I devoured these open-faced sandwiches without mercy.  My husband called Bryant Terry a genius. (Seriously, I kid you not.)   He also added that this was the first time he was ever looking forward to left-overs.

Nuff said.   Make this sandwich and let me know what ya think!

Faith

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Filed under Beans and Vegan Protein Foods, Entrees, Sandwiches, Side Dishes, Snacks

Sexy (Vegan) Sadie Struts Her Stuff

Sweet Avenue Bakery Sexy Sade CC Dough PosterWhat’s a “food-porn” blog that doesn’t show a little icing every now and then? “Sexy Sadie” and “Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough” cupcakes from the Sweet Avenue Bake Shop: Serving Cholesterol and Cruelty-Free Decadence since 2007.

Marc Skinner, Photographer/Guest Blogger

Participating in the Vegan Month of Food can be daunting the first time out.  It’s exhausting spending every second thinking one of two things: the ubiquitous “What’s for dinner?” and the even more distressing “I wonder if I’ll ever be able to eat dessert again.”

So, when the opportunity to get out of the kitchen and let someone else do the cooking, driving, and blogging came along, my wife jumped on it.    (That’s why I’m writing  today’s post.)  And what’s a better way to escape the kitchen than to take the family out on a nice little day trip that ends with yummy cupcakes?  I couldn’t think of  anything better.  (As I already mentioned, lately I’d been missing dessert.)

The Girls at the Sweet Avenue Bakery

Our great escape was a road trip up North to visit the Sweet Avenue Bake Shop in Rutherford, New Jersey. The Sweet Avenue Bake Shop serves up a variety of vegan sweets, but mostly it’s a  “gourmet vegan cupcakery.”  (I know.  I looked up “cupcakery” in the dictionary, too.)  We sampled the “Sexy Sadie” (best “red velvet” anything I’ve ever tasted, topped with a truly awesome vanila icing.)  The “Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough” cupcake was a cute, baked confection that actually tasted like raw chocolate chip cookie dough. (How did they do that?!?)  Our 2 year old devoured the “White Chocolate Chai Latte” cupcake.  Our 4 year old is a little ghoul in training, so it took her a minute to choose between the two Halloween-themed cupcakes: “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and the “Corpse Bride.”  She settled on the “Corpse Bride,” then slowly savored the icing. (By the way, Sweet Avenue also sells “icing shots.”)

Sweet Avenue Bake Shop is a family run business. The owners/bakers (that’s two of them on the right, not the left) are friendly and helpful.

Sweet Avenue Bakery 122A Cupcake and Staff

They rotate through a menu of  about 30 flavors at a time,  serving at least 12 different flavors each week, to vegans and non-vegans alike. (The non-vegans form a devoted, neighborhood clientèle, so shhhh!  Don’t tell them there aren’t any eggs or dairy products in the cupcakes!)  The bakers don’t use any pre-fab mixes.  They make their own dough and concoct many of their own flavors using really good stuff, like Madagascar vanilla and imported European chocolate.  They bake everything in small batches, so if you want a lot of cupcakes, call and order in advance.  (They also do mail order, deliver door-t0-door, and cater events.)
Okay, so at this point my might be thinking this is nice, Marc.  But what does this post have to do with “Soul Food?”  Well, I admit it: I can’t find cupcakes on any “official list” of “Soul Food Desserts,” per-se.  (I can’t find tempeh on the list either, but I hear Bryant Terry’s working on it. )  All the same, I don’t think since the 1970’s there’s been a single, soul-food cooking mama who hasn’t had to make a few batches of cupcakes for a bake sale or two.  So in my opinion, you have to consider the spirit in which the item was cooked.  Was the cook creative?  Were the flavors intense yet blended well?  Did everything just melt in your mouth?  Were there moments of pure, insane decadence?   Yup.    When it comes to baking cupcakes, Sweet Avenue definitely puts their foot in it.” That counts as “cooking vegan with soul,” to me.

Now, what’s for dinner?

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Filed under Desserts, Snacks