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Saturday, March 27, 2010

COMFORT FOODS TO THE RESCUE!

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Mocha Soy Cappuccino made with my homemade soymilk

It has been a busy and stressful few weeks. Lots to work on; some family business going on; on grandchildren-sitting duty a fair amount; and a pesky on-going headache (seeing the chiro tomorrow), etc., etc. Consequently, I have not been blogging that often, for which I am very sorry! We have been eating pretty basic stuff most of the time. I have craved "comfort foods"!

I'm not a heavy coffee drinker, but my husband makes wonderful organic, fair trade, espresso, ground fresh just before steaming it. One treat I have allowed myself every few days lately is a homemade Mocha Soy Cappuccino. I use my homemade soy milk-- about 2/3 of a cup-- whisked with 1 teaspoon of organic, fair trade unsweetened cocoa and 2 teaspoons of brown sugar, heated and frothed in my inexpensive plunger milk frother, and a shot of DH's good espresso. To me, it's like dessert!

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A comfort food main dish from my childhood that I recently recreated was a vegan version of "Swiss Steak". It's kind of an old-fashioned dish, like pot roast. I enjoyed my mother's meat version in the 1950's and 60's (dating myself here!). I think it's actually making a comeback due to the popularity of the modern slow-cooker. There's actually nothing Swiss about it, though! It's a slow-braised meat dish (called "smothered" in some areas, as in "smothered in tasty gravy while it braises") that translates well to a vegan dish. (Slowly-cooked meat dishes are more successfully veganized because we don't expect them to taste like rare meat, which is well-nigh impossible to reproduce with a vegan meat substitute.)

Wikipedia says: "The name does not refer to Switzerland, but instead to the process of "swissing", which refers to fabric or other materials being pounded or run through rollers in order to soften it. Swiss steak is typically made from relatively tough cuts of meat, such as the round, which have been pounded with a tenderizing hammer, or run through a set of bladed rollers to produce so-called 'cube steak'. The meat is typically coated with flour and other seasonings and served with a thick gravy."

I have made a similar dish with my seitan "steaks" before, but it occurred to me that a firm vegan burger would make a fine stand-in for a "Swissed" piece of meat, or a "cube steak". AND, it would not have to cook as long because it is already fully cooked and tender. Sweet!

The sauce is a kind of bastardized vegan version of the classic Espagnole sauce, which is a reduction sauce starting with a brown roux, veal stock (yuck!)enriched with browned bones, beef cubes, vegetables, etc., and then further enriched with tomato puree. My version (for this dish) uses a combination of leftover vegan brown gravy and leftover good, homemade vegan spaghetti sauce (the kind with no meat sub in it). Couldn't be easier if you have those things around (I set aside some of each of these from other meals earlier in the week when I plan to make this dish-- the spaghetti sauce can be frozen, and the gravy will keep a week in the refrigerator.) This may sound weird, but, trust me, it's good!

My mother always made her Swiss Steak with lots of vegetables added, so I did, too. Oh, and I haven't tried this, but I'll bet this would do just fine in a slow-cooker for a few hours!



Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S VEGAN "SWISS STEAK" WITH VEGETABLES
Servings: 4


6 vegan burgers (the "meat-like" kind)-- use 8 if they are very thin

1 Tbs olive oil
VEGETABLES:
1 Tbs olive oil
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin slices
1 large onion, sliced thinly
4 medium carrots, scrubbed and cut into thin "fingers"
2 cloves garlic, chopped
SAUCE:
1 1/4 cups your favorite vegan Brown Gravy
1 1/4 cups good homemade tomato spaghetti sauce
(If you gave a very good commercial brand that you like, you can use that instead)
1/2 cup dry red wine (can be de-alcoholized)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Heat the 1st tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the burgers. Cut the burgers into 3 large slices each to make it easier to divide up the servings (you don't have to do this is you use 8 thin burgers.) Brown the burgers lightly on both sides and remove from the pan.

Add the 2nd tablespoon of oil to the same pan and add the vegetables. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Saute them over medium-high heat until they wilt.



Alternatively, wilt the vegetables in the oil in a Pyrex casserole in the microwave for about 5 minutes.

Add the burgers back to the pan, covering them with the wilted vegetables.

Mix the sauce ingredients together with a whisk and pour over the burgers and vegetables. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a low simmer, cover and cook 30 minutes.

Serve hot with mashed potatoes, steamed new potatoes, cooked flat noodles, or whole grain homemade spaetzle (drop noodles).

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
356.6 calories; 28% calories from fat; 10.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 1266.8mg sodium; 900.6mg potassium; 30.6g carbohydrates; 12.0g fiber; 14.7g sugar; 18.6g net carbs; 28.2g protein; 7.2 points.

Enjoy!

2 comments:

Marie said...

Wow! That looks good. But the weather is so nice here in Ottawa, I'm not really craving comfort food!
I hope you get well Bryanna. Thanks for sharing.

Brenda W. said...

Oh ... I remember the frequent meals of Swiss steak as well (tee hee .. same time frame for me too --- 50's and 60's !!)

Mom served it pretty often, but all of us (family of 7) really liked it as I remember.

Your version looks great .... the sauce especially!

Adding another recipe to my "Gotta try this one soon" pile!!