This post is all about wheat and gluten and how much I love them and how sometimes when you love something too much, it can be unhealthy, and you have to let them go. Or, take a relationship break, ya' know a "trial separation."
I'm trying to do that. After suffering with extreme muscle pain and knots for the last 18 years (fibromyalgia), it's suddenly occurred to me that I could have a wheat or gluten intolerance. So me and wheat/gluten are taking a little break, and I'm gonna get my blood tested too, just to be sure. Because, just as much as I love pizza, parathas, roux, pasta, cakes & cookies and seitan, it's not worth it, if this is my ticket to a more pain-free existence.
|Look what showed up in the fridge this morning! A super-wheatastic cream cheeze cinnamon roll!|
However, since I'm still feeling the wheaty love, and as part of my purging process, I want to share my current favorite recipe (the metaphor I'm thinking of here involves a synthetic feather and chometz). If you remember in the brown roux post, I am working on a shit-ton of vegan New Orleans/Louisiana recipes. It's pretty slow-going, but I am really happy with the few recipes that have evolved so far. In my eyes, the most successful has been a new seitan/gluten recipe. Thanks to Julie Hasson's amazing seitan steaming technique, I think I've come up with something really special. In my quest, I wanted to make gluten that was tender like the "Kale Bone" I've eaten at Soul Vegetarian in Atlanta, but had a more rounded flavor than most of the seitan recipes I've tried. I figured if I could improve on the umami characteristic in the gluten, that would be the way to get more of the complex flavor undertones I wanted--that's when I thought caramelized onions might be the way to go. Anyway, not to get too chest puffy, but I think this is the best seitan ever, if you try it, please let me know what you think.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
*this yields a 3 pound loaf, so you need a really big pot.
*don't half the recipe, one of the reasons the texture is so good is that it is steamed as a thick loaf.
*the seitan may seem underdone, especially if you compare it to other seitan recipes--let it come to room temp, or better yet, chill it in the fridge overnight (besides, most seitan recipes call for additional cooking, so if you're freaked out that yours is still jiggly)--take that.
*it slices thin, is tender and is the perfect consistency to stuff.
*it holds up to browning and long low heat simmering, without toughening.
*it freezes well.
*this stuff is amazing if you slice it in 3/4" rounds then dip it in a combo of non-dairy milk, lots of lemon juice and tabasco and then dredge it through a combo of whole wheat panko, ground cashews and nutritional yeast--brown it up in a pan and serve it with wilted spinach on top. yes.
Basic Gluten Log
Makes one 9" loaf, approximately 3 pounds
- 4 cups finely chopped red onion, about 2 medium (yellow onions can be used, but the color will be a little lighter)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon unsalted Creole seasoning
- 1/4 cup ketchup or prepared bbq sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 cups water
- 3 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/3 cup chickpea flour (besan or gram flour)
1. Caramelize the onions in a small uncovered sauce pan with the olive oil and salt over medium low heat for thirty minutes. Stir every 4-5 minutes to make sure they don't burn (they should develop a light caramel color and turn into an almost paste-like texture).
2. When the onions are just about done, sprinkle in the thyme, paprika and Creole seasoning. Cook until the thyme is effervescent-- 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Place the onions, ketchup/bbq sauce, soy sauce and water into a blender or food processor and blend until almost smooth.
4. In a large bowl, combine 3 cups vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast and chickpea flour (sift the chickpea flour if lumpy).
5. Pour in the onion puree and mix with a large spoon until combined. Sprinkle in the extra 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten and mix until all of the flour is absorbed.
6. Place the mass of gluten onto a big sheet of tin foil and form it into a log Tootsie Roll style that is about 8 1/2" long with a diameter of 3 1/2 inches. Wrap the log in another piece of tin foil (going the other direction) to make it very secure.
7. Steam in a large pot over boiling water for 1 hour, turn over with tongs halfway through.
8. Let rest until until loaf has reached room temperature, but the texture is best refrigerated over night to fully chill. Can be frozen for later use.
Note: You can jerry-rig a big steamer pretty easily. Get a big stock pot and put in a few shot glasses. Fill with water just to the top of the glasses and top with a heat-proof plate. Place the gluten log on the plate and cover the pot to steam.