Seitan O Greatness

So I made seitan boiled, which was ok, but I hafta be honest – I haven’t repeated the recipe since I first made it and ended up chucking some of it. And I hate wasting food.

I found Seitan O Greatness online – it’s a baked seitan and just about everyone and their mother has done it, so it’s really easy to google and find it. Here’s my instance of it, just because I think this has even more promise to become something I re-make and I don’t want to forget the recipe. So are ya ready internets?!

Albany Jane’s Version of Seitan O’ Greatness
1.5 C vital wheat gluten
½ C bran (I grabbed a big fistful out of the bag)
1.5 T paprika (I love paprika)
1 t cumin
1/2 t cayenne pepper
dash cinnamon
.75 C water
4 T ketchup
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1.5 T soy sauce
2 T olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced

Mix and combine all the dry goods, then add the liquids. Knead it around for a few minutes, but you don’t need to go crazy or anything.
Form it into a little loaf and wrap it up in a piece of tinfoil like a piece of candy. Bake @ 325 F for 90 minutes, turning it every so often.
Unwrap to cool.

As you can see, once it’s finished, it looks kind of like a Hillshire farms sausage log. I also like to overload my vegan/veggie foods with seasonings otherwise they taste a little bland to me. Since Vital Wheat Gluten is the main ingredient here, if there isn’t enough seasoning it can have a bready-raw flavor.

I think next time I will use white pepper as well to give it a little kick. Oh, and my Worcestershire sauce? It wasn’t the special vegan/veggie kind. I just tend to use whatever’s in my fridge for most recipes. Like I subbed bran in for nutritional yeast since I think nutritional yeast is gross and I don’t buy it. And I didn’t have any tomato paste, so I used the ketchup in our fridge that is going to last until the NEXT millennium since I don’t touch the stuff and Albany John eats it pretty sparingly. So this log isn’t even vegetarian. Ok, I won’t feed it to my sister. Or Ellsbells. But I bet Ellsbells might eat it anyway. But I am quite pleased to know that this is a recipe with lots of wiggle room. Next I would like to make it taste faux-chicken-y, although I’m not sure how I’d tackle that one.

I’m going to test this puppy out tonight in some dumplings to see if they’d lend a nice meaty flavor/texture, and maybe in a picatta type dish. I’m doing my best to resist the call of the deep fryer, but it doesn’t help when EVERYTHING you put in it comes out 10x tastier. My peanut oil budget is going through the roof this year.

Kabul Night

Albany John and I got taken out to Kabul Night in Schenectady, NY by a pair of our friends. We like going out to eat with them because they are so fun to hang with, and given our schedules, it doesn’t happen often enough. Yay, friends!
Right. So. Kabul Night. We met up at their place in Troy and headed out to Schenectady. Kabul Night was really easy to find. You basically just keep going straight and it’s on your left (with their own parking lot).

We got in and were seated right away during prime-time hours (around 7 or so). We got menus, water, and looked over the menu. Everything looked really appetizing.
We ordered the pakawras and samosas to start. I’ve never had Afghani food (that I know of) so I was interested to see they shared terminology with Indian dishes I am familiar with. The pakawras were thin slices of potato coated in a crunchy batter and deep fried. Albany John and his buddy thought they were the world’s best seasoned fries. The samosas were wrapped in wonton wrappers and overall not that great or memorable. I would skip these. Just kind of blah. Both came with a really phenomenal dill (it looked like dill) dipping sauce that was super-addictive. We kept the dill sauce for our meals.

We also got yogurt with mint and cucumber, and a side of Afghan bread. We got the yogurt first, and the bread took a few more minutes to come out, so it just sat there since we also didn’t have small plates to eat off of. We were just eating the other appetizers from their large plates and trying not to spill on the table (myself, rather unsuccessfully. Graceful has never been a word used to describe me). The yogurt dip was a large bowl of yogurt with the aforementioned items in it. It was a lot of yogurt. It was a bit lumpy, and it just tasted like plain yogurt with cucumber and some mint mixed in. The Afghan bread was alright, but I wouldn’t get it again. It was kind of like a flatbread/focaccia type bread – thin, and it had lines on it, kind of like it was toasted in a panini press. Not press thin or anything, but just to give you an idea. (If you can’t tell, I forgot my camera. Well, technically the battery to my camera, which was really annoying)

I got a lamb curry – tasty. At the time I wasn’t flipping head over heels for it or anything, but looking back it was meltingly tender, with some nicely sized chunks of lamb in the dish. The rice was really good, too. Fluffy, individual kernels of brown tastiness. Not sure if it was herbed or what, but I could get down with eating rice like that more often. OMG – and their sauces. They have cilantro chutney, which tastes like the kind you get from the jars at the Indian markets. But there was also this hot sauce that was outstanding. I think Albany John and I cleared over half of that on our own. It was firey, but quickly dissipated, and had a nice tang of vinegar in it. If I can buy this somewhere, I am going to have to add it to the condiment collection.

Albany John got a chicken kabob. It was a red piece of chicken, in chunks on stick form. I usually don’t like kabobs, but this was very juicy. Didn’t have any seasonings jumping out at us, but very juicy.

Our meals also came with a side salad – the dressing was really tasty on these, and it wasn’t 90% iceberg lettuce. A good amalgam of tomato, cucumber, and red onion as well.

Our friends got the falafel platter (I had a bite – it was nice and falafel-y. The balls were huge[tee hee!], too and it came on a bed of lettuce/salad) and the vegetarian pasta (I think it was spinach and something else). The pasta was like half-moon raviolis. It came out slathered in sauce, and the pasta skins had a nice tenderness to them. The spinach wasn’t overcooked to mush either.

One of our friends could not get enough of the hot chai. He loved it, hands down. We also got baklava for dessert, and a rice pudding type dessert with black pepper on the top. Albany John tried a bite and said it was flowing with cardamom and black pepper and that I wouldn’t like it. I didn’t try it since too much cardamom really hurts my stomach. The baklavas were tasty, but bless, I have never run into a blah-baklava.

Overall I thought it was a nice dinner, but it’s pretty far from me right now, so I’m not sure I’d go back for dinner since nothing really called out to me. However, I hear there is a lunch buffet on the weekdays. I think I could get down with that – then I’d get to try more of their dishes, and when are more options bad?I think we’re going to try out Afghan Grill in Latham, NY next. That’s a little closer and it’ll be fun to compare notes.


Pupusas are insanely tasty food. They are basically stuffed corn tortillas, and you can fill them with a variety of stuffings.

An easy way to stuff them is to make a ball of masa, poke a hole in it, and push the center out to make the hole bigger. After you put in your filling (about a tablespoon or so), simply pinch the top back up. Masa is a really forgiving dough, and since there’s no gluten in it, you don’t need to worry about overworking it. Work it, girl! *snap, snap, snap*

I used mozzarella cheese in these. The little one in front I patted down by hand, and the one in the back I pressed in the tortilla press. I was a little hesitant about the filling leaking/breaking/coming out using the tortilla press, but nope – no problem at all. Made for much quicker pupusa making.

I just cooked them normally, on a hot pan (medium to med-high heat) on top of the stove. There was a little oil in the pan on the first round, but once that was gone I cooked them dry on the pan. They are slightly less fatty/crispy/greasy and delicious, but still nice and crunchy. Dare I say, healthy?

You can be creative with your fillings. I had some leftover meat from making pork dumplings. Chinese pork wonton dumplings. That filling was some awesome Chino-Latino fusion! Next thing I want to try is like an inside out taco – beans, cheese, onions, who knows what else!

Fried Chicken

Just when you’ve exhausted your monthly spending, sometimes your friends show up on your doorstep with a hundred dollars of groceries. I don’t question it; I just welcome them in and tell them how much I love them.

So our friend Slick is staying out our place (for how long? I have no idea, but seriously, show up with bags of groceries and you can stay for as long as you like. Here, let me warm up the Wii for you.) and one night he and Albany John were talking about how they’d fry the chicken. Sweet. Sounds good.
Except they never got around to it, so Hungry Hulk Jane (that’s my alter ego) flipped the bitch switch and was all “WTF? Where is this delicious chicken you promised me?! GRRRR HULK SMAAAASSHHH!!!”

I guess you can surmise that the Hungry Hulk here ended up making the chicken. I kept seeing delicious Korean fried chicken all over the blogs lately, so I pieced together some kind of recipe, and did a simple Flour batter on the remaining chicken drumsticks and fried those immediately. Hungry Hulk appeased. Temporarily.

After that, I marinated the chicken for half an hour in a soy sauce based marinade. And then I kept reading more, and none of the other Korean fried chicken recipes called for marinating in soy sauce. Crap. Oh well. (Korean fried chicken is popular for it’s very crisp skin, juicy meat, and tastiness)

So, I dug them out of the marinade and put them in this other batter type marinade that they could also marinate and sit in. This is so crazy – I’ve never come across a dual-purpose batter/marinade. But it worked. Oh it worked crazy well!So I let them sit in there for a bit and then fried them at 350 in the deep fryulator. I am really clocking some miles on that baby.

Because of the soy sauce, these browned more – but don’t worry about it. They weren’t the least bit burnt, even though they look a bit dark in some spots. The coating was a bit more bready, but it retained a huge amount of crunchiness after sitting out for another hour or two – no sogginess. This is one batter I can get down with – it was very crispy and crunchy, and the slight breadiness was a nice complement to it.

Now, the plain/American style fried chicken was really good. Here’s the coating for that:
Paprika (a lot)
Kosher salt
Black pepper
I liked the simplicity of this – it was a nice and simple juicy chicken. Something I could see myself eating for lunch in the South (mmm, along with all the fixins).

The Korean marinade was more lengthy, but I liked how the pre-marinating marinade injected that tasty soy/Asian flavor into the drumsticks.

Soy Sauce Marinade:
Soy Sauce
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 t sesame oil
1/3 – ¼ C dry vermouth
¼ C sugar
Marinate 30 minutes, then remove from bag and place in:

Batter Marinade:
AP Flour
Sweet Potato Starch/Flour (get like a 50-50 mixture, or slightly more sweet potato flour)
Black Pepper
6+ cloves garlic, minced
½ onion, finely minced or grated into mush
Milk to make it a thick batter (just enough to combine everything and get it wet)
Let sit at least 15-30 minutes.

Frying Method for Chicken with Crispy, Crunchy Skin:
Deep fry 6 min at 350 F
Drain/pull from oil and let rest 5-6 min
Deep fry again for 6-7 min at 350 F

The break really does keep the outside nice and crispy. Having a deep fryer makes this much easier and less of a mess. All I had to do was pull it up on the draining level (this is also the level that likes to slip, fall, and splatter oil everywhere when I try to take food out. Ouuuuch!)
The time really doesn’t matter – it will obviously vary for different sizes, but the rest really is the key. They were also much less oily than when I fry straight through.

These tasted great! Even though I messed up and added in an extra marinade, I think it really added extra flavor, and it didn’t do anything negative. Although next time, I will try it sans soy sauce marinade. So yummy. I used the leftover batter to fry up some zucchini (also = teh yum), and I really enjoy the bits of onion in the batter.

I also think this marinade-batter is the kind of batter that makes me go “Hmmm, I wonder what else I could batter and deep fry?” Any votes?

Capital Q

On Saturday, following the Flavor Tripping party, Albany John was found himself in need of something that wasn’t super-acidic or cloyingly sweet. Trust me, after these miracle fruit parties, sometimes you need a little something more in your stomach than citrus, and other tart condiments (no, you’re a tart condiment!)

Albany John wanted ribs, and so we were off to Capital Q. I was a bit hesitant since we’ve been on a fairly tight food budget lately, and one that hasn’t allowed much wiggle room for extras. But then he made this cute pouty I-need-ribs face, and soon I was chanting ‘RIBS!’ right along with him. We’re very enthusiastic people.

Above are the 2 Kansas City style ribs (slathered in Okie sauce), and a quarter smoked chicken. We got the dark meat because Albany John was looking at the menu and says: “The ribs are $2.25 each, and these are only $3!” And dark meat is our favorite cut of the bird, so it was pretty obvious we had to try it.

The ribs were succulent and juicy. The meat was just falling off of the bone as soon as I bit in, and oh, the wonderful, flavor that is smoked meat. I thought the sauce was a little too tomato-y, but Albany John was in LURVE. And this is why our marriage works. Oh, yea. Capital Q also did the meaty mains for our wedding and now I am wondering why in the heck I just stuck with the pulled pork? I totally should have gotten some ribs and chicken as well. (P.S. Dad, if you are reading this, I have got to get you some of these ribs. 10x better than when we were in TN for the bro’s wedding. Seriously)

The chicken? Dear goodness – the sauce that has been smoked into the chicken is phenomenal. There’s a nicely darkened spicy kick in the skin, and the meat is melt-in-your-mouth soft. This is chicken done right – tender, amazingly seasoned, and it makes you want to go back for more.

We also got one Memphis style rib. It’s just a dry rub, no sauce. I was so in love with this rib of smokey goodness. The smoke was wonderfully present, and the rub was amazing too. Not spicey-hot or anything, but it really brought out all the wonderful porky, smokey flavors of the rib. Out of the two, I really loved this rib, but I’ve generally been more of a dry-rub kind of a gal to begin with. There was also a wonderfully tart vinegar-mustard kind of sauce that I thought was phenomenal as well (Albany John wasn’t as into it for some reason. Weirdo), but these meats do not need any accoutrements.
Portion-wise, I was totally satisfied. The ribs were large, succulent and meaty, and the bird was also a nicely sized leg. We spent $9.75 total for this wonderfully filling snacky treat.
Afterwards we went to Lark Street and walked around a bit. I was magically pulled into Crisan by their gelato ray, and got 2 scoops of gelato. Yay, $1/scoop gelatos are back! I got a coconut and pistachio. Pistachio was a little floral/not-very-sweet for me, but that is the exact reason Albany John loved it. He doesn’t really like sugary sweet confections, so this little gem was right up his alley. I loved the coconut because it was just sweet enough, and had teensy bits of coconut in the gelato! These were also the exact reasons Albany John didn’t like it, so we were quite happy eating the gelatos we enjoyed.

Free Burrito Day at Bomber’s

Bomber’s is having their annual Free Burrito day – if you want to donate, there’s a bucket/table near the door to benefit the Boys & Girls Club. The wait was only around 40-45 mins when I got in, and only downstairs (so if you wanted something else, you could eat up at the bar and not face a long wait).
Next time, tequila wings, I will get you. I promise.

Miracle Fruit: Almost Foodies Edition

This weekend some of us folks met up in Prospect Park for an illicit Miracle Fruit Flavor Tripping Party. Woo woo!
Ok, not terribly illicit, but doling out tabs of miracle fruit sure makes me feel like a bad ass.
Sandor whipped out this handy make shift table for us since Prospect Park didn’t have both tables AND shelter in the same area. Ooookie dokie.
As always – lemon juice and key lime juice rocked. Grapefruits tasted incredibly sweet and warm. Don’t try the fish sauce – holy crap that stuff was potent! Mints don’t taste minty, just kind of numb, and also nearly get rid of the miracle fruit effect (it came back a few mins later, but a bit subtler). Greek yogurt makes me want to slather it all over my body (I didn’t think it could taste any better!). Salt & Vinegar chips taste like salt & sugar. Brave people will try the pickled/jellied/jarred ham hocks – and those who didn’t will be glad they refrained. Olives taste like olives.
I loved hanging with everyone – although if I organize another event in the future I will make sure it has tables and chairs. Or at least bring blankets.

Lionheart with Sandor

The Lionheart was fun goodness yesterday after Sandor announced he would buy everyone who chatted restaurants a beer. I love spur of the moment things like that, and so after a late afternoon appointment, I was off!

Life of My Mouth, her partner, and pup were there. Dear goodness, I love big angelic dogs like that. I call them table dogs since I think they could double up as a coffee table if they stood still. There were other folks I didn’t know, so yay! Conversation!

Unfortch my appointment totally left me zonked out, so I didn’t feel like drinking (take a note of THAT one, that hardly ever happens), but man it was great being out in the cool spring air just chatting with everyone. Hmm, maybe a weekly or semi-something meeting should happen!

AOA link
Table Hopping link

Cruzan Rums

Albany John and I got to hang out with Manhattan Maka and her family over Easter weekend. Chicago Velvet Smoove was also there to meet some of her relatives, and Manhattan Maka also brought along a gift she had gotten me while her and CVS were in the US Virgin Islands. A Cruzan Rum Sampler!!

I love rum. I mean, I love liquor and such in general, but oh baby do I ever have a soft spot in my liver for rum. I like it for a few reasons – even the dark rum is fairly light, there’s always that lovely note of sugarcane, for some reason I tend not to get really shitfaced off of two or three drinks (I’ve mentioned it before, but my tolerance for alcohol is generally low), and rum is almost always present in those delicious tiki drinks.

Now, I could tell that little box was feeling very out of place from its native home in the Caribbean while posing on my stairs.

So I took them out so they could breathe a bit. Coconut, Black Cherry, Vanilla and Banana are in this row. I drank all of the coconut – you can find the coconut rum easily here, as well as Vanilla. I still haven’t tried the other two (I’m not really a banana fan, so I think I might wait on this one a bit). The box also has a really tasty sounding recipe for a ‘Cheesecake’ drink with the Vanilla… mmmm. Liquid cheesecake.

And here is the other row – a light rum, mango, guava, and raspberry. The Guava was sitting there in place of the dark rum, but OMG – LOVE. On its own, it was a little harsh, but with a light mixer it tasted very much like guava. I am visualizing many summer evenings on the porch with some guava-rum-lemonade. This was such a row of winners – all were yummy.

Har Cheung

In this month’s continuing posts of “How I went Overbudget”, here are some har cheung I made (my pin yin is awful, this is totally just how it sounds, if I’m even getting the word right), aka shrimp rice rolls.

These are my favorite to order at dim sum, but I can’t find any place up here in Albany, NY that does them well. If they have them at any of the local restaurants up here, I’ve tried them, and they are just pitiful (shriveled, dry rice and overcooked shrimp).

I lucked out and walked into the Asian Food Market on Colvin Ave on a day when they had fresh shipments of foods from the city. Hello, fresh rice noodle rolls! (and some har gau to nibble on, too) I bought some shrimp as well, and went home and made these.

They weren’t too dificult – pull out some noodles, and microwave them until they are warm and pliable. Then carefully unroll them and put in 2 shrimp. Roll back up and eat! These were quite satisfying, and as always, I wanted another 10 after eating them.