Sunday, February 24, 2019


Best Blog Tips

I devised this recipe quite a few years ago, but never got around to sharing it until now.  I grew up in San Francisco, in a district with plenty of Italian grocery stores and delicatessens, as well as a father who was half Italian. Salami and pepperoni on crusty San Francisco sourdough bread or rolls were favorites during those pre-vegetarian days. Unfortunately, even to this day, commercial vegan versions leave me unsatisfied.

Over a number of years, I worked on this recipe until I finally came up with one that satisfied my memory of real Italian salami.  It's not hard to make and the ingredients are not hard to obtain. I hope you like it as much as we do!

Printable Copy

© 2019 Bryanna Clark Grogan. All Rights Reserved.

This is a recipe that I devised many years ago. I grew up in San Francisco and used to love the real Italian salami there. So far, commercial vegetarian/vegan versions don't do much for me 

This recipe is baked (sort of like my seitan roasts, but it does not require all the kneading and resting.) The flavor is great, especially if you have the patience wait until the next day, and it slices very thinly, yet is moist. It freezes very well! 

2 cups/10.4 oz./292g pure gluten powder (vital wheat gluten) 
6 Tbs oat bran 
2 Tbs instant (minute) tapioca (also known as "small pearl tapioca")
(See photos just below-- this is NOT the same thing as tapioca starch or flour!)
4 tsp paprika 
2 tsp dry mustard powder 
2 tsp onion powder 
2 tsp WHOLE black peppercorns 
1 tsp salt 

1 1/2 cup dry red wine (can be non-alcoholic) 
6 Tbs soy sauce (Please do not use Bragg’s liquid aminos instead-- they are not fermented, which means that they don’t have all the umami flavor of fermented soy sauce,)
1/4 cup water 
1/4 cup ketchup 
2 Tbs dark (roasted) sesame oil 
6 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
1 tsp Liquid Smoke 

1 3/4 cups water 
6 Tbs soy sauce 
1 Tbs olive oil 
6 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled

Preheat the oven to 325°F. 

Mix the Dry Mix ingredients in a medium bowl, or in the bowl of your food processor, blending well. 

Mix the Wet Mix ingredients together in a blender. Add to the Dry Mix. Stir and then knead, or process until a soft dough forms. (If you have a food processor, use it-- it makes the mixing very fast and easy.) This just takes a few minutes-- it will seem too liquid-y at first, but will firm up. 

Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and roll them on a clean countertop into 2 rolls.

Roll and tie the dough tightly in doubled-up cheesecloth, 16" long, as in the photo just  below. (See about cheesecloth and twine, and wrapping the rolls, and photos of how to wrap, in MY NOTES at the end of the post.) 

Place the rolls side-by-side in a small roasting pan (I use a 10 x 6" oval roasting pan with lid). 

Pour the Cooking Broth over them. Cover the pan (use foil if necessary) and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, turning after 45 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.  Bake longer, if necessary. (See ALTERNATIVE COOKING METHOD below.)

Cool the rolls for at least 8 hours before using (you can freeze them after that, if you like). The flavor improves upon standing. Slice very thinly. 

Use only 2 tsp. of whole black peppercorns 
and add 1 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper. 
Add to the Dry Mix: 
1 tsp dried red chile pepper flakes 
1 tsp ground anise seed, 
2 pinches ground allspice 

To make "Pepperoni", proceed as above, but you may want to make 4 smaller rolls.

When I was first developing sausage recipes, Dori, one of my original subscribers, used the following slow-cooker method on this salami recipe in a trial run, and she really liked the results. 

She wrote: "I put the cooking  broth in my slow-cooker (the 5 qt. West Bend with removeable oblong pan and 5 heat settings) and set the temperature between 3 and 4."
(NOTE from Bryanna: I happen to have one of these-- it's old, but great for smaller jobs.  Look for them it thrift stores. See photos below for the old one first, and then a newer version.)

Below is the newer version, and other brands make a similar product:

Dori continues: "I placed the wrapped logs into the slow-cooker (the broth was hot already). I let it cook covered for 2 hours, removed the lid and turned the logs over - they were already firm when I did this. Let it cook for 1 more hour uncovered - until the liquid was absorbed form the bottom of the pan."© Bryanna Clark Grogan 2019


Cheesecloth is loosely woven cotton gauze, originally used to wrap cheeses, but also used for crafts, cooking, straining and more. Cheesecloth is available in at least seven different grades, from open to extra-fine weave. Grades are distinguished by the number of threads per inch in each direction. Here's an article explaining all! 

For wrapping the sausages, I use a double layer of ordinary, all-purpose, household cheesecloth (#10 grade), available in most grocery stores, or dollar stores. (See photos above.)
However, you can use a finer grade of cheesecloth if you prefer (#40 to 90 grade), in which case you will only need one layer. Kitchen Supply Co. is a popular brand and is available from kitchen and gourmet stores and many online kitchen supply stores. Unbleached varieties are now available. Beyond Gourmet is a popular brand and is available from many online sources.

White Cooking or Kitchen Twine is food-grade, biodegradable cotton twine. (There is also an unbleached variety.) It is indispensable for tying off small sausages and wrapping large sausages, seitan roasts, etc. before simmering. There are several common brands and spool sizes, and there are also convenient dispensers, such as spools and twine holders, available. Most kitchen supply and gourmet cookware stores will carry this product, and it is available widely online. Search and or .ca, etc. for a variety of brands, sizes, prices, and twine dispensers.


Thursday, February 14, 2019


Best Blog Tips

Truffles in the snow

I always make some chocolate truffles for Brian on Valentine's Day, but I was a bit worried because we are, for all intents and purposes, snowed in, and I had no semisweet chocolate chipsleft in the house, which is what I usually use to make them. Our long, uphill, windey driveway is knee-deep in snow.  Our landlord's son tried to clear it with his machine and managed to clear the bottom area up to the first big curve, but his blade was too wide for the next part. So, no driving to the general store. Brian managed to trudge up the slippery hill to the mailboxes on foot and get our mail and precious bags of Books by Mail from the wonderful Vancouver Island Regional Library (which I worked for for 37 years), but we'll just have to make do with our (well-stocked) pantry, fridge and freezer for a few days.

Fortunately, I did have 6 ounces of UN-sweetened baking chocolate in my pantry, and I thought this might actually be a good thing, since I eat a low-glycemic diet and use very little sugar.  So, I forged ahead and made a version of my usual truffle recipe with what I had available and what would suit my diet.  (To find an organic and fair trade unsweetened baking chocolate in your area, see this list. You're sure to find at least one brand from this long list in a local natural food store or supermarket.)

I normally use some nut butter in my truffles, but I only had peanut butter in the house. But I didn't want the peanut taste in this particular batch, so I used the same amount of medium-firm tofu, well blended, instead. Instead of a liqueur, I used a little bit of Brian's Glenlivet Scotch, and, for more flavor, some of our friend Harold's delicious homemade orange marmalade. I used a small amount of maple syrup for the remaining sweetener, and decided to roll the truffle balls in ground walnuts (pecans would be excellent, as well).  They are delicious, and I hope you will try them and enjoy them as much as we did.

Printable Recipe


© 2019 Bryanna Clark Grogan. All Rights Reserved.
Makes 17 truffles

6 ounces/170 g unsweetened baking chocolate (see link to list of fair trade, organic brands in text above, highlighted in yellow)

1/4 cup good-quality orange marmalade
1/4 cup real maple syrup (or dark agave syrup)
1/4 cup drained medium firm tofu OR extra-firm silken tofu
2 Tbsp. creamy non-dairy milk
2 Tbsp. good quality Scotch whiskey
ground walnuts (or other nuts of choice) for coating

Cut up the chocolate with a sharp knife into small pieces.  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water, OR (my favorite method) in a Pyrex pitcher or deep bowl in the microwave on High for 2 minutes, then stir and cook 2 minutes more. When the chocolate is fully melted, stir in the marmalade.

In a blender or with a hand-held immersion blender, blend the maple syrup, tofu, non-dairy milk and Scotch until smooth. Stir into the chocolate mixture until full mixed. Refrigerate for several hours, or until the mixture is firm.

Have ready the ground walnuts in a shallow bowl. (I ground them in a food processor in short bursts-- you don't want it too finely-ground.) Scoop out  spoonfuls of the chocolate mix and roll into about 1" balls.  Roll in the ground nuts to lightly coat. Place the balls on a plate with a little space between them.  Refrigerate for at least another hour.

NOTE: I used to do my nutritional facts on Living Cookbook, but they just disappeared, with all my recipes on it (fortunately I keep copies in my  files online and off).  I have not found a satisfactory substitute yet, so I'm using for the time being.

Happy Valentine's Day! ❤️❤️❤️

Tuesday, February 5, 2019


Best Blog Tips

My husband requested French toast for Sunday breakfast last weekend (I was out of ideas and asked him what would be a nice change from our usual tofu scramble).  Thinking on it, I decided to go with French Toast and make a simple, very low-sugar blueberry sauce to top it off, since I have a big bag of the berries in the freezer.

Now, lately I've been making French toast with Follow Your Heart/Earth Island VeganEgg, and, before that was available, I used TheVegg, which is no longer available in Canada.  The VeganEgg is good, but expensive in my area, so I decided to go back to my old tried-and-true French toast batter made with simple, inexpensive products that I always have in my house, and I'm pretty sure that most vegans have available.

Well, we enjoyed this just as well as the recipes using the more expensive options, so I think I'll stick with this easy and inexpensive recipe.

Printable Version

Serves 2-3  
© 2019 Bryanna Clark Grogan. All Rights Reserved.

6 slices slightly stale bread of choice (I use sprouted wheat or multi-grain bread, such as Silver Hills brand.)
1 cup non-dairy milk, such as soy, nut or oat milk
6 T. more vegan milk plus 2 T. lemon juice (OR 1/2 cup orange juice)
1 T. whole golden flax seeds
2 tsp. powdered egg replacer (Ener-G Egg Replacer or Orgran No Egg™ Egg Replacer are easy to find.)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract or paste
1/4 tsp. salt OR kala namak (aka black salt) for a more eggy flavor and aroma
A few gratings of nutmeg
OPTIONAL: 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. grated orange or lemon zest
3 cups frozen blueberries, thawed
1 1/2 T. vegan sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 T. water
2-4 tsp. grated orange or lemon zest

Blend together the batter ingredients in a blender until smooth. Soak the bread slices in this mixture in a 9 x 13” shallow baking pan. Turn the slices over a few times to make sure they are evenly soaked.

Preheat the oven to 500°F. Place the soaked slices on a nonstick or lightly-oiled DARK cookie sheet (dark pans brown better). Spray the tops with a little bit of oil from a pump sprayer, too. Bake 10 minutes in the bottom third of the oven (use convection, if you have it), then turn and bake about 5 minutes more, or until golden brown and a bit crispy on the underside.

Using an Electric Skillet:
This is my new favorite method, as it is an energy saver.  I have a rectangular electric skillet that I found in a second-hand shop-- similar to this one:  

It works wonderfully for pancakes and French Toast, and many other dishes, though I bought it originally to simmer batches seitan cutlets, etc.. Set the temperature of your skillet to High or 400°F.  Spray the pan with oil and carefully add all 6 of the soaked pieces of bread to the skillet, if it's a large one-- otherwise you will have to cook them in two batches.  When the undersides are nicely browned, turn the bread slices over and cook until that side is also browned.  Serve immediately with the Blueberry sauce (below) or your favorite toppings, such as maple syrup.

Using a Skillet on the Stovetop: This is basically the same as the Electric Skillet Method above, except that you will need a couple of stovetop skillets (well-seasoned cast iron, if possible, or whatever is your favorite), and you will have to adjust the heat as you go, so that the toast doesn't get browned too fast, without cooking the interior properly.

WHILE THE FRENCH TOAST IS BAKING OR PAN-FRYING, make the simple Blueberry Sauce. Mix all of the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly; OR microwave in a medium, deep microwave-safe bowl (deep in order to avoid splashes) for about 2 minutes, or until thickened and bubbly. Serve hot over the French Toast.

NOTE: I used to do my nutritional facts on Living Cookbook, but they just disappeared, with all my recipes on it (fortunately I keep copies in my  files online and off).  I have not found a satisfactory substitute yet, so I'm using for the time being.

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3
Amount per serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6.8g9%
Saturated Fat 0.8g4%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 564mg25%
Total Carbohydrate 69.3g25%
Dietary Fiber 13.2g47%
Total Sugars 27g
Protein 14.4g
Vitamin D 0mcg0%
Calcium 56mg4%
Iron 3mg18%
Potassium 448mg10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet.2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Recipe analyzed by