Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Fantastic Holiday Feasting

I must say, it was surprisingly refreshing to go a whole week without blogging at all, without being bored out of my mind so much that I find myself obsessively rifling through the same blogs over and over to see if they've updated, without neurotically checking my comments again and again and again due to the very same boredom. I must say, I look forward to the day that I no longer have the boredom and the internet connection driving me to update so regularly.

But despite all that, I must admit, it is good to be back.

The holidays were a fantastic lovefest of vegan foodery. I had Christmas celebrations at my place, and I am very pleased to say that the spread was one of the most fantastic, tasty, and vegan ones I've seen, thanks to the generosity of my mom, sisters, and brother. Food numblies ranged from vegan stuffed shells (stuffed with vegan cream "cheese," spinach, and walnuts) and vegan stuffed peppers (packed full of potatoes, tomato sauce, and vegan meat crumbles)--both pictured above--to veganized paprikash and veganized green bean casserole, and of course a very large and glorious salad and way too many desserts.

My belly had a damn good evening.

Of course this means what I'm sure you've all realized at this point anyways: you can expect some lovely holiday recipes this week.

And it wouldn't be a good first blog-entry of the year if I didn't mention New Year's Resolutions of some sort or another. So let it be said: this year, my resolutions are a) to figure out a way to gorge on twice as much home-cooked food without gaining 50 lbs. and b) to make me a man-sized robot love slave. Just you wait.

As for the first recipe of the year, I can think of no better one to start the year off with than this. I used to make a wicked vegetarian paprikash from one of my down-home vegetarian cookbooks I have lining my shelves. So this year, when the holidays rolled around, my Hungarian ass decided that it was about damn time I tried to tackle a veganized version of this recipe--I mean, I grew up on paprikash, and I adore the stuff. And given that more than half of my immediate family is now vegetarian, it seemed fitting to tackle this endeavor.

I was a bit nervous about the dumplings as I've always had problems with dumplings. But god bless ye, Vegan Chef, because your vegan dumpling recipe kicks ass. They came out infinitely fluffier than the original dumpling recipe I used to use for the non-vegan version of this paprikash, and (despite the trickiness of "cutting in" the "butter") they were actually a lot less of a pain in the butt to make.

The end result was truly kick-ass, I must say. I think my very Hungarian grandma would've been proud of this veganized version, it was that tasty. If I could remember something Hungarian to say here other than the Hail Mary (which I couldn't spell anyways), I'd insert it right now, but since I can't, I'll just move on to the recipe. Enjoy.

Mushroom Paprikash with Dumplings

  • 1/2 c. vegan sour cream

  • 2 t. all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 t. pepper

  • 1/8 t. salt, or to taste

  • 2 T. vegetable oil

  • 1.5 c. chopped onions

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1.5 T. paprika

  • 7 c. quartered white mushrooms (two 10-oz containers)

  • 1 c. vegetable broth

  • 1 Quart water

  • 2 cups unbleached flour

  • 2 t. baking powder

  • 1 t. salt

  • 3 T. non-hydrogenated margarine

  • 1/4 cup soy milk, rice milk, or other non-dairy milk of choice

  • 1/4 batch of homemade seitan from Vegan with a Vengeance (minus the lemon zest listed in the recipe--it was a bit overpowering and disjointed in comparison to the rich flavors of the rest of the paprikash)

  • -or

  • A couple packages of lightly-marinated pre-made seitan


In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, flour, pepper, and salt. Set aside.

In a large pot, heat 2 T. oil over med-high heat. Add onions and garlic—cook until softened (2 mins). Add paprika and cook ‘til absorbed. Add mushrooms and stir until coated with paprika mixture. Add broth and bring to a boil—reduce heat and simmer uncovered, 20 mins. While mushrooms cook, prepare dumplings.

Dumplings: In a large pot, place the water, and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, place the flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir well to combine. Using a pastry blender or a fork, cut in the vegan margarine until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir in the soy milk, mixing to form a manageable dough (I had a bit of trouble with this--my tip is to gradually add soy milk in excess of the 1/4 c. quantity until the dough begins to stick together well enough).

Knead a bit. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and begin to pinch off chunks of dough about 1/2" in diameter. Make sure to get a little additional flour on the dumplings to prevent them from sticking together when you boil them. Carefully drop the dumplings into the boiling water, cover, and cook for 10 minutes without lifting the lid.

Remove the dumplings from the water with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a large bowl.

The End: Add dumplings to the cooked mushrooms. Stir in the sour cream mixture. If you're going to add the optional seitan, add this as well. Cook until heated through.

The flavor tends to mature overnight--the end result is that you'll have a damn good paprikash meal but even better leftovers.

Serves about 6.

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