Friday, July 6, 2012

Seitan Puff Pastries, Hot Habanero Sauce, and Roasted Tomato Salsa

Ok, bear with me... this is a meal with a lot of parts! If I hadn't accumulated all of these parts over time, doing this meal in one day would have been a bit overwhelming... but, you can pick and choose from the following recipes, sub stuff you already have in your kitchen, or make it a several-day food project- either way, your taste buds will be rewarded!

Part 1: Habanero Hot Sauce

Uh, can we say HOT?? On, this sauce is labeled "liquid fire." This is not an understatement! There are several modifications I made to the recipe, to make it edible for a spicy-food weakling like me:

1. I halved the recipe, and on top of that halved the amount of habaneros; but I still used the entire 15 oz. can of peaches
2. Instead of peaches in heavy syrup, I used peaches in light syrup
3. As the comments suggested, I just added a smidgen of mustard (about 1 1/2 tsp)
4. Lastly, after the sauce had been processed in the food processor, I reduced it over the stove to bring out the flavors and exploit the thickening-properties of the sugar:

Here it is getting reduced!

Now for a word of caution: Handling habanero peppers without gloves was a mistake. A few hours after seeding and chopping them, my fingers were really burning! Even the next day I could feel the effects. Not pleasant. So, please, use protection! :)

Final comments: Even using half of the habaneros called for, this sauce is pretty darn hot. A little goes a long way! However, the flavor is good, and the thickness of the sauce after reducing it turned out perfect. 

Here it is next to the roasted tomato salsa (Part 5, below):

Part 2: The Seitan 

After going several years as a vegan without delving into seitan, a while ago I decided to try making it after getting tired of seeing so many recipes use it and knowing I'd have to somehow substitute tofu or tempeh if I made these recipes (still, not a bad option). Anyway, the seitan turned out delish, and is now another staple in our house. The recipe I usually follow is from the author of the Happy Healthy Life vegan blog. For half of the dried spices a superb addition is 1 tsp ground fennel seeds. I make 1 or 2 logs of seitan at a time, slice it, then stick it in the freezer to use whenever I need it next! 

If you haven't made your own seitan yet, give it a try! It's kinda fun. :) On the other hand, if you just want to get down to the recipe (Part 4, below), it's quite acceptable to buy some premade seitan at the store!

Part 3: The Puff Pastry

Mm, puff pastry... so flaky... so soft, so crispy... so buttery... Yes, it is an addictive and delicious product. I could eat and eat it, but that wouldn't turn out well in the end... But once in a while it is just something you need to indulge in! I haven't bought premade puff pastry (I'm frightened of all the stuff in it). But this is certainly an option if you want to make this recipe. Plus, homemade puff pastry is somewhat of a commitment. On the other hand, you could also make the recipe using empanada dough- a perfectly yummy choice in itself!

If you do, however, want to endeavor in making puff pastry yourself, follow the directions here. You'll have to sub vegan butter for the butter in the recipe. I used Earth Balance. Let me tell you: there are those who would disavow the homemade vegan puff pastry, since it doesn't use "regular" butter; but that would be mere prejudice! This puff pastry turned out spectacular. It freezes well, too, so you can extend its life for several months. 

A note: yes, when I made it, the butter was spilling out on just about all sides. But I did not fear. I baked it as normal, and it didn't matter a bit! Just make sure to keep the dough floured as you roll it out, both on the top and bottom, since the butter will make it stick to your rolling surface and rolling pin. You may want to brush away excess flour; but I didn't, and it didn't seem to matter. Puff pastry power! I love you, puff pastry...

Part 4: The Seitan Puff Pastry - makes 4 servings (8 pastries)

Check out these beauties! Here is the recipe for the filling. Be sure to have all of your components for this one ready, as once you start cooking, you'll be adding stuff in quick succession. Also, be sure to make the salsa (Part 5, below) ahead of time, as the tomatoes need to roast for 50 minutes.

1 c seitan, sliced
3 tbslp canola oil
2 tblsp lite soy sauce
2 tsp taco seasoning
1/4 tsp dried oregano
juice 1 lime
1/2 c diced tomatoes, undrained (fresh or canned)
1 tblsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp sugar
few pinches black pepper

Preheat a stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Add the canola oil, then put in the seitan. Saute for about a minute (seitan cooks quickly; cook it too much, and it gets too hard). Add the soy sauce, and stir a few times, coating the seitan. Add the taco seasoning, oregano, and lime juice, and stir to coat. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, and black pepper, and stir until the tomato paste has been fully incorporated. Cook, stirring a few times, for 5-8 minutes, until the thinner liquids have evaporated but the mixture is still moist and saucy. Remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

To assemble: Roll out your puff pastry into a square about 12" X 12", and about 1/2 cm thick. Then cut the pastry into 4 squares, and roll these squares out until there about 6" X 6". Imagine the square being divided into two triangles: place about 1/8-1/4 cup of filling onto the center of one of these triangles, then fold over the other triangle. Pinch the edges together, then place on a greased cookie sheet. 

Once all of your pastries have been made, place the sheet in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops of the pastries have turned a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. 

Part 5: The Roasted Tomato Salsa - makes about 1 cup

You don't need salsa to go with these seitan pastries; on the other hand, why the heck not have it! This salsa tastes even better after sitting in the fridge for a few hours, so, make it in the morning or the night before your ready to use it!

2 c tomatoes (about 2 lbs.), chopped in half if smallish, quartered if biggish
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 c onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp habanero hot sauce (recipe above), or other hot sauce (you made need to add more if your hot sauce isn't as hot as this one)
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
few pinches black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the tomatoes on a greased cookie sheet, skin up, then spray lightly with olive oil. Roast for 45-50 minutes, until dark spots appear on the skin of the tomatoes.

Remove from the oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, prepare all of your other ingredients. Place them in a food processor. When your tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peal off the skins and discard, adding the tomatoes to the food processor. Process until relatively smooth (I like chunky salsa, too, but a thinner salsa will be scooped up by your pastries better). 

Place the salsa in an airtight container and stick in the fridge for anywhere from 2 hours to overnight, to develop the flavors. Serve alongside seitan puff pastries, or, just use it for chip dipping!

Finally, we're finished! Now on to the best part... (that is, the eating!)...

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