rants & recipes

Archive for December, 2010

How to make a Seitan Pipe Bomb

Posted by trktos on 29-December-2010

Ok, it’s taken us a while but we think we finally figured out a way to make seitan sausages without all the aluminum foil wastage. We’ve tried lots of things, but, under pressure and heat, seitan has always managed to escape. Below is the solution that’s worked for us (albeit only with 3 tubes but that’s greater success than we’ve had with all sorts of other contraptions) … I should add a disclaimer now, however – anything that blows up in your kitchen, including any bodily harm you may encounter, as a result of methods tried from this post below, is solely your own responsibility. Attempt at your own risk. If you proceed, use cation, due diligence and common sense.

Ok, so our reusable seitan solution uses:

  • cannoli forms – we used these.
  • silicon stoppers – we used these – this size fit in the above cannoli forms well.
  • silicon rubber bands – you don’t want to put regular rubber bands in a pressure cooker. Ask me how I know this. ¬†They might not be necessary, though? We had them on hand, from previous attempts.
  • some random stainless steel wire, sent to us by mistake/wrong order … not sure of the gauge – fairly thick
  • small stainless steel washers
  • large stainless steel washers

We only tried one “bomb”, with three filled forms, as we didn’t want to waste effort on too many failures. It was very cool, opening the pressure cooker and it not being full of escaped sausage! Even cooler – hopefully, this is the last time I’ll use so much aluminum foil for sausages. The only drawback, I suppose, is these sausages are fairly skinny. But I can live with that.

After construction (bending the little curls in the wire), this was very easy to assemble – just separate the washers to their ends and insert filled, stoppered forms. (Another note of caution – the pressure actually, slightly, deformed the larger washers!)

Here’s the little “pig tail” in the end of the wire. Note, this is the only “pig part” involved in the making of these sausages! =)

Close-up of stoppers in forms:

Posted in 0: Recipes, meat subs, seitan | Comments Off on How to make a Seitan Pipe Bomb

Pistachio Brittle … take one

Posted by trktos on 25-December-2010

We recently bought a spiffy new thermocouple thermometer. And a really long, type-J thermocouple to go with it … regular candy thermometers don’t go up high enough to make them good for deep fat frying and even with candy, I was always worried about the probe touching the bottom of the pan and getting ruined by too much heat. Our new thermocouple can read up to something like 2000 degrees, so no more worries about getting too hot!

I’ve used it twice, now, for candy. A few weeks ago, I made caramel for turtles – that turned out really good. (In fact, I’m now reminded of the caramel I have in the freezer … need to find out 1) if caramel freezes ok and 2) if so, something else yummy to make with it.)

Yesterday, I decided to try some brittle. I tried this recipe, but used roasted pistachios that I added at the end … the result was ok, but not quite as “buttery” as I had in mind. It reached 296 degrees, but maybe I should have cooked it a little longer? It also didn’t foam up as much as I was expecting, when I added the baking soda … maybe I’ll try a different recipe next time. (And something less expensive than $10 pistachios!)

Brittle Candy


  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tbsp margarine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 cups nuts of your choice


  • Combine sugar, syrup water and salt in a medium stock pot. (I used a 4 quart, though 2 quart would have worked, especially since it didn’t foam very much, at the end.)
  • Cook until mixture reaches 296 degrees.
  • Add nuts, margarine, vanilla and baking soda. Stir until combined, about 30 seconds.
  • Pour out to cool on a cookie sheet.
  • When cool, break into pieces.


Posted in 0: Recipes, candy, desserts | Comments Off on Pistachio Brittle … take one

Chocolate Chai Spice Cake

Posted by trktos on 25-December-2010

Baked this cake for a work potluck recently … second time I’ve made it, it turned out well both times. Though, most recently, I used whole wheat spelt because that’s what I had on hand … next time, I’ll go for white spelt.

I actually made 1.5 times this recipe and baked 3 layers. The third layer turned out a little smaller (It’s hard to measure out batter equally between 2 pans, much less 3!) but the 2 larger layers rose really well and tall, with a little more batter.

I learned two things, baking this cake. One – if you want a layer cake but that’s too much cake – bake one layer, slice it in half, and you can have half of a layer cake. Two – you can’t add extra fat to a frosting recipe and expect it not to be lumpy. I should have emptied my mixer, creamed the extra fat and then started adding the already-made-but-too-sweet-frosting back in.


  • 3 cups spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups soymilk
  • 4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup apple vinegar
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, optional
  • Chai Frosting, see below


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Oil, parchment and dust 2 9-inch cakes pans with cocoa.
  3. Mix dry ingredients, including sugar.
  4. Mix oil, applesauce, soymilk and vanilla.
  5. Combine wet and dry ingredients in barely mixed.
  6. Add vinegar and stir until batter is smooth and vinegar is incorporated.
  7. Fold in chocolate chips, if using.
  8. Bake 25-30 minutes or until cake tests done.
  9. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove to racks. Frost when cooled.


Chai Frosting


  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup soymilk
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp cardomom
  • pinch salt


  1. Cream fat.
  2. Add in powdered sugar, cornstarch, spices alternately with soymilk.


Posted in 0: Recipes, cake, chocolate, desserts, frosting | Comments Off on Chocolate Chai Spice Cake


Posted by trktos on 12-December-2010

A month or so ok, I gave veganizing this gingerbread recipe a shot. It was rather disastrous – way too oily and crumbly. Ever since, I’ve been a little annoyed at that failure (though, granted we didn’t throw it out or anything) … today I decided to give it another shot. The result was much better. Topped with a spicy ginger glaze – yummy!

Gingerbread Loaf


  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • approx 5 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 2/3 cups brown sugar (I used regular sugar and about 1 1/2 tbsp molasses)
  • 1 1/3 cups flour (I used almost all cake flour that needed to be used) – later, I added an additional 1/4 cup flour – this batter is really thin.
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ener-g prepared with 3 tbsp soymilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • some freshly ground nutmeg
  • dash black pepper
  • 1 cup boiling water + 1 tsp lemon juice


  1. Grease and parchment a loaf pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix spices, leavening and flour.
  3. Cream margarine, applesauce and sugar.
  4. Prepare ener-g. Add to fat mixture.
  5. Heat water.
  6. Alternatively add fat mixture and water to flour. Stir until batter is smooth.
  7. Pour into prepared pan.
  8. Bake 30 minutes. Lower heat to 325 degrees. Bake an additional 15-20 minutes.

Glaze was maybe 3 tbsp powdered sugar, 2 tbsp soy milk, 3 tbsp cream “cheese”, 1 1/2 tbsp shortening and maybe 1/2 tbsp freshly grated ginger.

Posted in 0: Recipes, cake, desserts, ginger, spices, flavors | Comments Off on Gingerbread

An Army of Vegan Turtles

Posted by trktos on 5-December-2010

Last night, I tried this recipe for caramel. It turned out really well. This morning, I toasted some pecans, melted some of the caramel, melted some vegan chocolate chips and made turtles.

Turtles without their shells:

Turtles with their shells:


Caramel (from this post):


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegan margarine
  • 2 cups ‘milk (I used plain, unsweetened soymilk)
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  1. Grease an 8*8 pan and line with parchment.
  2. Combine all ingredients except vanilla in 4+ quart pot. (I used a 4 quart and it just was big enough.)
  3. Heat, stirring frequently, until candy reaches 245 degrees F.
  4. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.
  5. Pour into prepared pan.
  6. Once cool, you can use in other recipes or cut into bite-sized pieces. Be sure to wrap them, though – this caramel glues itself to pretty much everything it touches, except cling wrap and parchment paper.

Posted in 0: Recipes, chocolate, desserts, nuts, seeds, pecan | Comments Off on An Army of Vegan Turtles