Monday, August 1, 2011

Vegan Crab Cakes and Wedge Salad

This picture and presentation is terrible! I will be making these again soon and will post a better picture next time!

It has been quite awhile since I last posted. Honestly, I lost some passion for cooking. I became bored with the food I was making and needed a hiatus to regain some perspective. That perspective finally came while I was visiting my family last week in North Carolina. My brother and sister-in-law took me out to dinner to a tapas restaurant called Humble Pie ( where we ordered about 9 or 10 tapas plates (my bro is a big guy!). Immediately after chowing down and devouring said plates, my sister-in-law said to me, "So, are you inspired now?" And I was. This dish comes from that inspiration. This is my rendition of vegan crab cakes. I hope you enjoy!

Crab Cakes
Makes 10 cakes

8 ounces of tempeh
1 cup of water
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp Vegenaise
1 tbsp hot sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
1 cup panko breadcrumbs + more for dredging
salt and pepper to taste
oil for pan-frying

Makes enough for 10 cakes

4 tbsp Vegenaise
2 tbsp whole grain mustard or stone-ground mustard
2 tbsp hot sauce
1 tbsp capers (optional)

Crumble the tempeh into a saucepan. Add the water, soy sauce, olive oil and bay leaves. The tempeh will not be fully submerged and that is fine. Cover and bring to a boil. Boil 12-15 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir once during boiling.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, onion and celery and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes before adding it to the tempeh mixture.

Transfer contents of saucepan with tempeh mixture to a mixing bowl, remove the bay leaves and mash with a fork (I tried a potato masher-it does not quite do the job). Let cool for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure the tempeh is barely warm before you proceed or the cakes may fall apart when you cook them. Add the sauteed veggie mixture and stir thoroughly. Add the Vegenaise, hot sauce, lemon juice, Old Bay, salt and pepper and mix well. Add the breadcrumbs and stir to combine.

Once you are ready to form the cakes, preheat a thin layer of oil in a heavy-bottomed, nonstick skillet (cast iron is great in this capacity) over medium-high heat. Pour some panko breadcrumbs into a bowl. Scoop a little less than 1/4 cup of batter into your hands and form into a ball. Flatten between your palms and then roll the sides gently to smooth them. You should have ten 2 1/2 to 3-inch patties. Press them into the panko to lightly coat. Fry a batch of five cakes for 4 minutes on one side and flip when dark golden brown. Fry for 2 minutes on the other side and transfer to a paper towel to drain excess oil. Prepare the second batch of cakes and in the meantime compose the remoulade by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Wedge Salad
Serves 4

1 head iceburg lettuce, cut into quarters, stem removed
1 recipe Homemade Ranch Dressing, recipe follows
3 strips tempeh bacon (I use Lightlife), cut into bits

Saute tempeh bacon in a skillet over medium heat until heated through and a little crispy. Assemble salad with dressing and tempeh bacon.

Ranch Dressing
Makes 1 cup

1 cup Vegenaise
1/2 tsp dried dill
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped or 1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic salt or 1 clove garlic, minced
Fresh ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Use an unsweetened milk substitute to thin out the dressing or serve as is. You will never buy store bought ranch again!