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MAY COTM Flexitarian Table FALL MEAT and VEG MAINS

oakjoan Apr 30, 2008 10:16 PM

Post meat and vegetarian recipe discussion here from the Fall Menu Section.

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  1. The Dairy Queen RE: oakjoan May 7, 2008 04:11 AM

    Pan-seared Seitan with Thyme, Lemon & Mustard (fall menu #9)--now that Cinco de Mayo is over and I'm done testing Mexican recipes, I can move on to F.T. Yay!

    So, I made this dish last night, along with a shaved winter vegetable salad with apples (but no raisins) from F.T. as well as the pumpkin pudding from the DCOTM Art of Low-Fat Desserts--I'll post about those in the appropriate threads.

    I'm afraid I had a mini-disaster (though a reasonably tasty one) with the seitan, though. As usual, my own stupid fault. The recipe calls for mirin, a cooking wine. I bought mirin last week specifically to test this recipe, but, I had all my ingredients for all three recipes out and, instead of adding mirin, I accidentally added the same quantity of brandy (which is needed for the pumpkin pudding recipe.) I didn't even realize I'd used the brandy until I went to make the pumpkin pudding and noticed that the seal was broken on the brandy and wondered why (I bought the brandy last week, too)... The funny thing was, after I added the brandy to the marinade (thinking it was mirin)--I tasted the spoon, curious about what mirin tastes like. Huh, tastes like brandy. But, it didn't register at that time.

    Anyway, the seitan turned out pretty well--meaning, we liked it, but I'll need to try it again the F.T. way. I also used only 2 tsp of olive oil (instead of 6 TBSP) and the dark soy sauce I had leftover from Dunlop (I have no idea if Berley would approve). Also, I had twice as much marinade as I needed as I didn't realize that I only had 1/2 lb seitan until too late. Nevertheless, because I used so little oil and I cooked this in a cast iron skillet, the marinade evaporated out very quickly. Next time, I'd use a regular skillet, not cast-iron. He has you heat the skillet on high-heat then turn it down to medium heat once you add the seitan--I don't think the cast iron pan can cool down quickly enough for this recipe. We served it over brown rice.

    Anyway, I've never cooked with seitan before. We liked it. The texture is nice and chewy (my husband said he likes it better than tofu.) I wish there were more seitan recipes in the book.

    EDIT: I also forgot to mention that this recipe was a little salty for my tastes...my husband disagreed and thought it was just right.

    22 Replies
    1. re: The Dairy Queen
      beetlebug RE: The Dairy Queen May 7, 2008 06:30 AM

      You've inspired me to try seitan. I've been mildly curious about it, but not enough to actually buy and cook with it. Since I'm such a tofu person, I'm hoping that I will like this as well. I feel like I am getting crochety in my old age. Every time I see a recipe with thyme I just inwardly curse. I hate getting those little leaves off the flimsy stem.

      BTW, the brandy/mirin "mini disaster" sounds like something I would do. Down to the "gee, mirin tastes like brandy."

      1. re: beetlebug
        The Dairy Queen RE: beetlebug May 7, 2008 07:13 AM

        Neat! Let us know how it goes. I can post a photo if it would help.

        When F.T. was voted COTM I bought several types of tofu, some seitan, and some tempeh so I would be inspired to try all three. The great thing about these ingredients is that they keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks and they don't take long to cook. So, they are perfect, I think, for those days when you're tired and you realize you want something quick that you already have on hand...

        I haven't been too inspired by the tempeh recipes in F.T., though. I was actually looking at one of Berley's other books (Modern Vegetarian Kitchen) last night to see if he has more tempeh recipes in there (he does) and I might try one of those first. If I like it, I might be inspired to try one of his other tempeh recipes.


        1. re: The Dairy Queen
          The Dairy Queen RE: The Dairy Queen May 8, 2008 05:00 AM

          Here's a really fuzzy (and sideways) photo of the seitan and shredded cabbage salad...at least you can see how dark the seitan was, which, I think was a function of the dark soy sauce I used.


          1. re: The Dairy Queen
            beetlebug RE: The Dairy Queen May 8, 2008 06:21 AM

            Next time I go to the store, it's seitan time. Hopefully next week, you'll see a post on it.

        2. re: beetlebug
          MMRuth RE: beetlebug May 8, 2008 05:46 AM

          I haven't been bothering to chop the thyme as he instructs - I just use the leaves as is - cursing as well! Goin sure loved thyme too.

          TDQ - in terms of the heat - I think I've mentioned this elsewhere, but so far it seems to me that his heat instructions are too high to cook the food w/o burning it, at least on my stove - so I've been adjusting accordingly.

          1. re: MMRuth
            beetlebug RE: MMRuth May 8, 2008 06:20 AM

            I rarely chop up thyme. Funny, my hatred of prepping thyme started with Goins. Every single recipe had a LOT of thyme in it. But, it was worth it.

            1. re: MMRuth
              The Dairy Queen RE: MMRuth May 8, 2008 06:53 AM

              Interesting observation about the heat! I kept assuming it's because I've reduced the oil in his recipes...


          2. re: The Dairy Queen
            LulusMom RE: The Dairy Queen May 8, 2008 05:43 AM

            How difficult was it to find the seitan? I'd like to try this one. And I really don't think the brandy/mirin mix-up was bad at all! They're both booze. Thanks for the report.

            1. re: LulusMom
              beetlebug RE: LulusMom May 8, 2008 06:21 AM

              I *think* it's at Whole Foods, near the tofu. I remember all these faux meats near the tofu boxes.

              1. re: LulusMom
                The Dairy Queen RE: LulusMom May 8, 2008 06:52 AM

                You're supposed to chop thyme? ;-) I just pull the leaves off and feel proud if I avoid a bowl-full of stems.

                As beetlebug says, seitan (and tempeh--if/when you get ready to take that on...) is going to be in the fridge case next to the tofu--usually encased in plastic in the shape of a square. Even mainstream grocery stores have tofu these days, but you might have to go to Whole Foods, a "health-food" store, or a co-op to find seitan or tempeh.


              2. re: The Dairy Queen
                LulusMom RE: The Dairy Queen May 12, 2008 04:47 PM

                I found seitan in my local WFs and made this dish (Seitan with thyme, lemon and mustard) for dinner tonight (husband is away, and I didn't have to worry about scaring him). I accidently screwed up and forgot (how?!?) to put the oil in the marinade. Urp. Didn't realize until I was eating. I had a few bites and was really enjoying it, then realized "hey, this is kind of ... strong." But you know what? It did still taste good, although I'm sure it will be much nicer with the oil. Also, my seitan was already in chunks in its packaging, so I wasn't able to cut it into the slices, but that didn't cause a problem at all.

                1. re: LulusMom
                  The Dairy Queen RE: LulusMom May 13, 2008 03:38 AM

                  Funny! Our seitan was in chunks, too--kind of like giant curds. We sliced them anyway.


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                    LulusMom RE: The Dairy Queen May 13, 2008 06:10 AM

                    I thought of you when I realized I had forgotten the oil - as if I was one-upping you on taking out the fat. It was actually still pretty good, shockingly enough! Sounds like we had the same sort of seitan (there was only one brand at my WFs). I did slice the bigger chunks, but most were so small it would have been pointless.

                2. re: The Dairy Queen
                  Karen_Schaffer RE: The Dairy Queen May 13, 2008 09:20 PM

                  My turn tonight for this dish, and we loved it! It was quick, easy, and tasty.

                  I cut the recipe in half for just the two of us and only used 1 tbsp of oil. I cooked it in a nonstick skillet so I didn't get all the browning he expected, but there was still some. I do think the thyme added a nice flavor, and I too just stripped them from the stems and didn't bother chopping any further.

                  We thought the lemon juice at the end was too much, so I'll use less next time. I really hate it when recipes call for 'juice from 1 lemon' -- how much is that, really? How big is the lemon, how juicy is it? The lemons from my tree are quite large, so I cut back, but still, it would be so much easier if they just said '2 tbsp' or whatever they're expecting.

                  I didn't realize until reading this book that seitan is the same as 'mock duck' which I've always adored in Vietnamese dishes. It's one of my treats when I go back to Minnesota. I seldom find mock duck offered on menus here in San Jose, at least not in a way that I recognize. As best I can figure, the first Vietnamese restaurant to open in Minneapolis offered an extensive vegetarian menu featuring mock duck, so every one that opened afterwards did too. They also do a particular onion and lemon-grass stir fry treatment that I haven't found here either. Mmm, now I'm getting hungry again.

                  Anyhow, now I'm totally jazzed to try making my own seitan. Here's a recipe I'm thinking of trying:


                  1. re: Karen_Schaffer
                    LulusMom RE: Karen_Schaffer May 14, 2008 02:08 AM

                    Very very interesting about the mock duck thing. I wonder if duck breast recipes could be used with seitan ... I love duck, but it is hard to find the breasts around here (particularly since WFs stopped selling them).

                    1. re: Karen_Schaffer
                      The Dairy Queen RE: Karen_Schaffer May 14, 2008 02:52 AM

                      Berley himself gives a seitan recipe in modern vegetarian kitchen and I was toying around with the idea of making my own. While I've had homemade tofu before (and find it vastly more wonderful than what I've found in stores) and definitely want to try that one of these days, I've never had homemade seitan that I know of and wonder if it's a enough better than the store-bought kind to justify the effort. His recipe is quite different than the one you link, Karen. I wonder if seitan is one of those things where recipes can vary widely.


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                        LulusMom RE: The Dairy Queen May 14, 2008 06:11 AM

                        So you have Modern Vegetarian Kitchen? I was wondering about that book ... have you used it much?

                        It does seem like a lot of effort to make seitan, but if either of you makes it and thinks it is supremely wonderful, please report!

                        1. re: LulusMom
                          The Dairy Queen RE: LulusMom May 14, 2008 06:35 AM

                          I do have it (I bought it about 2-3 weeks ago at a used book store) but I haven't had a chance to cook from it yet. It has lots of seitan recipes!


                    2. re: The Dairy Queen
                      beetlebug RE: The Dairy Queen May 22, 2008 07:56 AM

                      Pan Seared Seitan with Thyme, Lemon and Mustard (Fall menu 9, pg. 234)

                      I have very mixed feelings about this dish. I loved the sauce and the flavors, but am unsure about the seitan. I bought a box and it said chicken style. It was the only seitan at Whole Foods. When I looked at the box, I thought it would be a slab like tofu. I had no idea what chicken style meant. When I opened it, the seitan was sitting in liquid and it was all shredded, kind of like chicken salad chicken. I didn’t like how small the pieces were. I think I would really like this dish if I had a slab of seitan that I could cut up. OR, I want to try this dish with tofu instead. As I stated earlier, the sauce was delicious with the lemon zest mixing well with the soy and mirin. But, I had a lot of sauce and now wonder if I didn't have enough seitan. I served this with the bulger chickpea dish (pg. 36) which wasn’t the best match but it was still a satisfying dinner.

                      This dish or some variation of it will probably go into the dinner rotation because it was a fairly quick dish to put together.

                      1. re: beetlebug
                        The Dairy Queen RE: beetlebug May 22, 2008 08:08 AM

                        Huh, so that's what "chicken-style seitan" means. I agree that I don't think that style of seitan is what this dish calls for at all. The seitan I bought (and I'm so sorry I didn't save the wrapper or make a note of what it was--I didn't realize at the time that there were so many styles of seitan) was more like big curds (each curd was maybe twice the size of a large cherry tomato) of seitan.


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                          beetlebug RE: The Dairy Queen May 22, 2008 08:30 AM

                          I don't think so either. I now that I will now be on the prowl for seitan. I wonder if big blocks exist. I would like to cut the seitan into slabs, like the shape of the tofu in that tofu lemon butter dish.

                          I suspect that I will like seitan, once I find the appropriate shape I'm looking for. I don't recommend chicken style period. I didn't like all the different sizes and shapes. It made it more difficult to work with.

                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                            LulusMom RE: The Dairy Queen May 22, 2008 10:08 AM

                            My seitan was like yours TDQ. I think my overall feelings about seitan were pretty positive, although I do wish there were more options (like being able to get slabs instead of chunks or what Beetlebug got). I think this dish would work just fine with tofu.

                      2. LulusMom RE: oakjoan May 20, 2008 06:01 AM

                        Lemon-Thyme Tofu (p. 199)

                        I think I bought the hype a little too much on this one; I expected something out of this world and got ... lemon and tofu. I was mentally a little scattered (we got home from a weekend away yesterday) and so hadn't thoughtfully read through the directions. At one point he says "whisk remaining ingredients" and I went ahead and added the lemon slices (part of the remaining ingredients) even though I thought it was a little odd. And sure enough I was supposed to wait on those. That irritated me but it was my fault for not having read ahead with a clearer head. I kind of wish I'd gone with rosemary instead of thyme. This dish was fine, but definitely nothing to write home about. I will say that the more deeply browned pieces had more going on than the somewhat less browned ones.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: LulusMom
                          Gio RE: LulusMom May 20, 2008 06:12 AM

                          Oh well at least you tried it! I did something similar with that tomato gratin and we thought we'd never make it again, but I just had to re-do it and the 2nd time around it was delicious.
                          Hope your week-end was great!

                          1. re: Gio
                            LulusMom RE: Gio May 20, 2008 08:38 AM

                            Thanks Gio. It may very well have been that I was just a little overwhelmed and expected too much. I'm glad to hear that the gratin was worth a second go round. The reviews have been so mixed that I've sort of steered away from that one. Maybe when I have the leftover tofu I'll suddenly see the light!

                          2. re: LulusMom
                            LulusMom RE: LulusMom May 22, 2008 10:09 AM

                            I just had the leftovers for lunch and liked them a lot more than I did at dinner the other night. Not sure if this is because it benefits from sitting or if I was just in a less frazzled mood.

                          3. Rubee RE: oakjoan May 30, 2008 12:05 PM

                            Lemon-Thyme Roast Chicken (Fall, p. 197)

                            I really didn't need to try another roast chicken recipe since my go-to's are Hazan's lemon roast chicken and Rodger's Zuni, but that's precisely why I tried this recipe out. Berley says his recipe is a homage to Keller, Hazan, and Rodgers. Well, I'm glad I did. This was excellent - my favorite recipe from the book so far. So incredibly juicy and flavorful. Just a delicious classic roast chicken.

                            I dry-brined it a la Zuni for two days in the fridge, tied, with a punctured lemon a la Hazan inside the cavity, and leaving it uncovered really contributed to the "crackling-crisp skin". It's roasted at 450 degrees, and then sprinkled with chopped thyme, freshly ground pepper, and basted with the pan juices. I roasted it in an All-Clad pan so put the chicken on a platter, and removed the hot lemon and squeezed the juice into the pan to make the sauce. To serve, skim the fat from the sauce, cut up the chicken and rub with softened butter, and drizzle all over with the lemony pan juices. We loved this, and I'm adding it my list of great roast chicken recipes.

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