Monday, April 29, 2013

Vegan ... and vegan butter?! Awesome quinoa cabbage rolls.

I know things here in "wine country" are so hip, chick, niche, and cool with things like all the gourmet food and latest fads that everyone in Los Angeles hooks onto in an instant. Yes, I can finally hang my head a bit and say that as a Californian (no matter where you live now, and no matter how back country - this state is huge by the way) some health fad has pervaded every grocery market.

It's true. Let me tell you a quick funny story. I was camping on the 'Lost Coast' here in California, absolutely beautiful but we wound up cold, had wood, but it needed to be split. So what happened? We needed an ax. So we drove about a half hour to a local catch all store that was the grocery, hardware, clothing, etc as when you are in small towns or remote locales are. I found Kerry Gold butter in both salted and unsalted by the half pound. Out ... in the middle ... of No Where. So gourmands are everywhere here in the California.

So more and more, and more ... people in my life have specialized diets. Some eat only meat like Atkins; some eat no meat, like vegetarian; top on that with no dairy or egg, vegan; and some don't eat bread, gluten free goers. Okay, to top it all off, a lot of people are combos of everything. It's normal to ask someone "What are your allergies?" when entertaining a big dinner party. Now it's common place to ask "What are your dietary restrictions? What do you like? What don't you eat?"

Common answers range from gluten-free/vegan to meat and potatoes with some fish now and again. It's all mixed up and in between. As dynamic of a chef I consider myself I decided to do a challenge.

So we have some vegans coming to an all you can eat oyster and caviar feed? Oh, they like bubbly too? Well, I'd like to make them a vegan barbecued meal. That usually just means veggies in my head. I learned two steps further.

Egg replacement.

Butter replacement.

Well, for the dish I was making all I really needed was egg replacement as a binder for a filling of stuffed cabbage. And yes, I pulled out all the stops. I used homegrown and canned tomato sauce and a smörgåsbord of veggies. More on that in a minute.

We actually drove to the store as the stuffing/filling was cooling just as two gourmet science minded intrigued cooks would to get the ingredients for our egg replacement. We'd gone so far to make it vegan, why make it vegetarian in the last step? My love couldn't stop eating the filling even after we add the egg replacement. It is that good!

The butter replacement came up because we make jams and jellies infused with wine. These are definitely vegetarian, and made from sustainable, local, organic ingredients, but we add a pat of butter to difuse the scum formation. Now I realized for our future endeavor I have to check two things to make it vegan: the wine refinement (this is often done with egg whites) and use a vegan graded butter. I have more control over the butter and found this wonderful blog on it.

Vegan Butter

I digress, I want to share my recipe that my love and I developed specially for some vegans in our life.

The inspiration is from this original recipe for Quinoa Stuffed Cabbage Rolls.

To keep this totally vegan omit cheese and use egg substitute.

Quinoa Rolls prior to grilling, nummy!
1 head of cabbage, core removed gently
1 onion, medium dice
1 red pepper, chopped
1 leak, white part diced
1 carrot, diced
Add seasonings, as follows
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/4 c whole roasted garlic cloves
3 - 4 tablespoons tomato paste, about half a 6 ounce can
1 ½ cups vegetable stock, recipe follows
1 cup finely diced zucchini
1/2 cup parmasean finely grated
2 eggs, beaten or vegan egg substitute as follows
2 cups tomato sauce

  • Remove the core from the cabbage. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cover and cook cabbage for 8 to 10 minutes. Place in cold water. Peel 12 leaves for the rolls, cutting the thick vein from the leaves as necessary. Drain on towels. 
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  • Meanwhile, spray a medium saucepan with olive oil. Add onion and pepper and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until tender. Add quinoa, garlic and tomato paste and sauté for 2 minutes. Add vegetable broth, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. Stir in zucchini and Parmesan cheese and re-cover. Allow to sit off the heat for 5 minutes. Cool slightly and stir in egg if desired. (You want to make sure the mixture has cooled enough to not cook your egg.) 
  • Divide quinoa mixture among the prepared cabbage leaves. Roll up leaves to enclose the filling. Place seam side down in a casserole pan. Top with tomato sauce. 
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 minutes and serve. 
We grilled these by placing in a disposable pan.

If you'd you like to grill, skip baking step (or just bake 10 minutes, cool, then fridge for later) and place on grill on medium heat for a gas grill or on the cool side of a grill with the coals pushed to one side for about 15 to 20 minutes until heated through. Cool 5 - 10 minutes then serve!

Vegan Egg Substitute:
1 tablespoon flax seed (we use a blend of brown and golden)
1/4 cup water
blend until seeds are pulverized
This makes one egg.

For seasonings:
1/2 teaspoon tarragon, dried
1 teaspoon stinging nettle, dried
1 teaspoon parsley, dried
2 teaspoons garlic, powder or granulated
2 teaspoons zhug blend seasoning*, less or omit if you don't like spicy
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 teaspoons dried parsley (or 2 tablespoons fresh)
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

If you can't find zhug blend it can be totally omitted or the following mix can be made and blended into a paste:
10-14 fresh green chilies, or jalapenos, seeded if you like, and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
6-8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground caraway seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground green cardamom
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup packed parsley leaves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Use about 1 tablespoon of this paste.

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