Vegan “Ribs”

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Remember a couple weeks back, when I shared my recipe for coconut cornbread and said that I would be making that for my brother’s birthday along with something else? Well, this was that something else, and this something else stole the whole damn show.

My brother loves all things meaty so I knew that a mock meat would be the perfect thing to pair with my coconut cornbread. I decided to do “ribs” even though I hadn’t eaten a rib a day in my life -nor had I ever cooked ribs (or “ribs”). As I stood in my hot kitchen, working my butt off to give my brother an amazing birthday meal, I started to worry that my mock meat selection may have been a bit of a stretch for me. However, all of my worry turned out to be totally misplaced. #AsUsual

My brother loved these so much that he was literally speechless because he wouldn’t stop shoveling them into his mouth. When he finally took a breather, he told me that this may just be his new favorite dish of mine. That means a lot coming from a man who would probably sell a kidney if he thought it would get him some more of my tofu scramble. My brother wasn’t the only one who loved these though. My mom, who isn’t the biggest fan of vegan “meats,” proclaimed that this was the best vegan “meat” that I had ever made.

So now you’re probably curious what my secret is, right? Because surely there must be some great big secret to these “ribs” that makes them so rant worthy. Well, folks, there is no great big secret. There isn’t even a great little secret. This is really just a basic seitan recipe combined with store-bought barbecue sauce. I kid you not. It all begins with the making of the seitan and, real quickly for those of you who aren’t familiar with what seitan is, seitan is just a fancy name for any mock meat made of vital wheat gluten.

In a large bowl, the vital wheat gluten gets combined with some seasonings. Once that has all been whisked together, water and low-sodium tamari get added and the whole thing gets worked by hand to create a spongy, dough-like mixture. (I like using food-safe gloves for the “worked by hand” part of this operation.)

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The mixture is then plopped down onto a well greased sheet pan and pressed out to create a large, rectangular-ish shape. Next, the pan goes into a preheated oven for 30 minutes.

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When the seitan comes out of the oven it will likely be puffed a little -this is totes normal so don’t panic. Grab another pan and carefully (because we’re dealing with hot stuff here) press the seitan so that the puffed parts go flat. Now let the seitan cool for about 5 minutes so that you can handle it with ease.

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After 5 minutes, cut the whole thing into 6 pieces and get a lightly oiled grill pan preheated to low-medium heat. (If you didn’t want to grill these up inside you could take them outside and use an actual grill but, with an average temperature of over 100 degrees here in Phoenix during this time of year, I opted to stay inside.)

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Using a silicone basting brush, brush some of your favorite store-bought (or homemade) barbecue sauce onto one side of a seitan piece. Place the piece into the preheated grill pan, sauce side down, then repeat this step until your pan is full but not overly crowded -my pan comfortably fit 2 pieces at a time. Cook this first side for 3 minutes then brush barbecue sauce onto the bare tops of the pieces and flip them over with a spatula to cook for another 3 minutes.

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When done, remove the seitan pieces from the pan, cut each piece into strips or “ribs,” and then brush on a final, generous slather of barbecue sauce. Repeat these final steps until all 6 of your seitan pieces are done then enjoy your cruelty-free “ribs.”

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Vegan 'Ribs'

  • Servings: 4-6
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk the vital wheat gluten together with the salt, smoked paprika, chili powder, black pepper, and ground cloves. Add in the water and tamari then work by hand to create a spongy, dough-like mixture. (I like using food-safe gloves for this part.)
  2. Plop the mixture down onto a well-greased sheet pan and press it out to create a large, rectangular-ish shape. Place the pan into your preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove pan from oven -seitan may be puffed a little and, if it is, just grab another pan and carefully press the seitan so that the puffed parts go flat. Let the seitan rest for 5-10 minutes.
  3. When cool enough to handle, cut seitan into 6 pieces. Preheat a lightly oiled grill pan to low-medium heat then, using a silicone basting brush, brush some of your favorite barbecue sauce onto one side of a seitan piece. Place the piece into grill pan with the sauce side down then repeat this step until your pan is full but not crowded. Cook on first side for 3 minutes then brush barbecue sauce onto the bare tops of the pieces and flip them over with a spatula to cook for another 3 minutes.
  4. When done, remove seitan pieces from pan, cut each piece into about 1 inch wide strips or “ribs,” then brush on a final, generous slather of barbecue sauce. Repeat these final steps until all 6 of your seitan pieces are done. “Ribs” will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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Vegan Coconut Cornbread

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For those of you who don’t know this already, I have a brother named Thomas. He’s a couple years younger than me and we are two very different people. He’s a tech-savvy gamer-geek and I’m a crystal-loving, cow-hugging, artsy-fartsy free spirit. With that said however, there is one major thing that we have in common and that’s our love for food. We both enjoy cooking and baking (and eating) so our conversations are often very food centric. (Thank goodness you don’t gain weight just by talking about food!)

Our food centric conversation last week was about his upcoming birthday. I, as usual, offered to make him anything (vegan) that he wanted for dinner and he, as usual, said tofu scramble because he really loves my tofu scramble. Here’s the thing though, we both eat tofu scramble like all the damn time, so I told him that he should pick something that he doesn’t eat on a regular basis, something special, and that’s when he said he’d like some cornbread. (Of course I’ll be adding some main course to go with the cornbread, since cornbread alone isn’t dinner in my book, but I digress…)

Now, cornbread isn’t the most interesting thing ever, and y’all know I love to add my own special little twist to things, so I started to think of ways that I could jazz it up for my brother’s birthday dinner. He loves all things coconut, and I’m on a low-carb diet, so I thought that perhaps I should add in a little coconut flour. Then I thought that I should also add in coconut shreds, as well as coconut milk, to really amplify the coconut flavor. Then I remembered that I had some leftover amber ale in my fridge and figured, Why the hell not? It sounded crazy. It looked crazy on paper as I was writing it all down. But then I tried it, and had some other people try it, and there was no doubt that this crazy-ass recipe was crazy good.

My brother may not get to eat it until his birthday next week but y’all can try it right now! The first thing we’re going to do is prepare the egg replacer. For this, and most of my recipes, I use Ener-G egg replacer. In this case I took some of the egg replacer and mixed it with a little amber ale and a little water to create my “eggs.” Don’t worry if it’s a little clumpy, we’ll work those clumps out later when we add this to our cornbread batter. For now, just mix it as best you can then set it aside.

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Next, in a large bowl, you’re going to combine the cornmeal with the coconut flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Whisk these dry ingredients together.

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Now we are going to add in the wet ingredients which are coconut milk, vegan “butter” (melted), the egg replacer we made a moment ago, and a little bit of sugar. Whisk everything together once more and then we’re going to trade out our whisk for a silicone spatula.

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Toss in the frozen corn kernels and coconut shreds then fold them into the batter using a silicone spatula. Be gentle and don’t overwork the batter but do make sure that there aren’t any clumps of frozen corn.

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Generously grease an 8-inch square pan then pour the batter in and flatten the top, if needed, with the spatula. Pop this baby into a preheated oven and in just 30 minutes you’ll have coconut cornbread! You’ll know it’s done when the top is a lovely medium shade of golden brown and a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean. Honey butter fan gone vegan? Try mixing a little agave with some vegan “butter” and smear that on a big ol’ piece of this cornbread for something so good your tongue will be crying tears of joy. #YoureWelcomeTongue

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Vegan Coconut Cornbread

  • Servings: 6-9
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Ener-G egg replacer + 3 tablespoons amber ale + 3 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (13.66-ounce) can of coconut milk
  • 6 tablespoons vegan “butter,” melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2/3 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Coconut oil for pan

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and prepare an 8-inch square pan by generously greasing it with coconut oil. Prepare egg replacer, if you haven’t already done so, by combining it with the amber ale and warm water. Stir with a fork or mini whisk to break up as many lumps as you can then set mixture aside for a moment.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, coconut flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Add in the coconut milk, melted vegan “butter,” egg replacer mixture, and sugar. Whisk just until batter is smooth and all of the dry ingredients have been fully incorporated.
  3. Toss in frozen corn kernels and shredded coconut then fold everything together making sure to break up any clumps of frozen corn.
  4. Pour batter into greased pan and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. You’ll know cornbread is done when top is medium golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean. Will keep in airtight container in fridge for up to a week but is best hot out of the pan.

Vegan BBQ “Pulled Pork” Sandwiches

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Last week I shared with y’all my recipe for broccoli coleslaw and, upon seeing that post, I’m sure some of your minds instantly thought of barbecue. I mean sure, coleslaw is great with fried chicken (or my vegan version of fried chicken), but let’s face it, it’s most oftentimes paired up with barbecue -namely, pulled pork. So, with coleslaw and pulled pork totally being BFF’s, it was pretty much mandatory that I share my “pulled pork” sandwich recipe this week and that’s just what I’m gonna to do -but first let’s talk about carrots and sauce.

For my “pulled pork” I use shredded carrots. Yes, you read that correctly, shredded carrots. The carrots have a nice tender meaty texture when cooked and they’re the perfect delivery system for my sauce because they soak up some of it making them not just flavorful on the outside but on the inside as well. Speaking of my sauce, it’s a tomato-based sauce that’s thick, sweet, and tangy. From what I know about barbecue sauces, mine is closely related to what they call a Kansas City-style sauce so, if you’re into that style, you’ve come to the right place.

It all gets started with you peeling and washing up some large carrots. Once you’ve got those all prepped and ready to go, it’s time to shred those bad mama jama’s. You can do this in your food processor or by hand on a box grater like I did this time -it was my arm workout for the day! Either way, you’re just going to want to make sure that you do thicker shreds so that they hold up in the cooking process and provide a more meaty bite.

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Place the shredded carrots into a pot of boiling water and boil them for 10 minutes. While the carrots are boiling (and turning the boiling water a lovely shade of orange), we are going to get the sauce started.

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In a dutch oven or other large (and lidded) pot, tomato puree is going to get combined with amber ale, apple cider vinegar, molasses, and a few other things. Whisk everything together to break up any clumps and then bring the mixture to a full boil. Once boiling, reduce to simmer and then check on your carrots.

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When the carrots are done boiling, use a strainer scoop or fine colander to retrieve them and then toss them into the simmering sauce. Stir to combine it all together.

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Cover the pot and cook the mixture for 20-30 more minutes to thicken the sauce and get the carrots to their final level of tenderness. Be sure to stir the mixture occasionally and, when not stirring it, keep the pot covered to keep the moisture in. When it’s all done, serve the “pulled pork” on a hamburger bun and top it off with some of that delicious coleslaw I linked to at the beginning of this post.

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Vegan BBQ 'Pulled Pork' Sandwiches

  • Servings: 4-6
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 7-9 large carrots, peeled, washed, then shredded into large shreds (upon shredding, you should have about 2 generous cups worth of carrot shreds -don’t use less or more than this amount for this recipe or there will likely be too much or too little sauce for the shredded carrots)
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup amber ale
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon spicy mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • Hamburger buns
  • Broccoli coleslaw (optional)

Directions

  1. Peel, wash, and thickly shred the carrots if you haven’t done so already. Bring a pot of water to boil then put the shredded carrots into the pot and boil for 10 minutes. While the carrot shreds are boiling, follow the next step to get the sauce started.
  2. In a dutch oven or other large (and lidded) pot, whisk the tomato puree with the amber ale, apple cider vinegar, molasses, brown sugar, lemon juice, paprika, spicy mustard, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, black pepper, and chili powder. Bring the sauce to full boil, then reduce to simmer.
  3. When the carrots are done boiling, use a strainer scoop or fine colander to retrieve them and then toss them into the simmering sauce. Stir to combine then cover the pot and cook the mixture for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done, carrots will be tender and sauce will have thickened. Serve topped with coleslaw (optional) on a hamburger bun. Leftover “pulled pork” mixture will keep in an airtight container in fridge for 3-4 days.