Disclosure: Gratitude and thanks to Book Publishing Co. for graciously sending me a copy of Crafting Seitan for review. All opinions expressed are mine and not influenced in any way by the receipt of goods or services. I will always notify you when a product has been given to me for review, use, or to talk about.
Let’s dig into Chef Skye’s cookbook, Crafting Seitan. There’s a lot to talk about.
First things first, the aesthetics of the book.
The book has a muted color palette using browns and greens with maroon and dark blue accents that work well. It sets the perfect neutral backdrop for the full-color photos, allowing them to stand out.
Recipe pages are in a clean, easy-to-follow format with an introduction and detailed preparing instructions. Most of the recipes have photos of the finished dish included. Chef’s notes and additional instructions on shaping or finishing the meats stand out inside colored boxes on recipes as needed.
As someone with vision impairments, I appreciate the soft off-white of the pages and adequately-sized, easy-to-read text with good spacing.
As for more practical matters, the book is broke out into the following sections:
- Essential Tips and Techniques
- House Specials
- Individual Hand-Rolled Sausages
- Hard Sausages
- Seasoning Blends and Rubs
- Gravies, Sauces, and Glazes
- Incidentals and Extras
Vegan pepperoni from Crafting Seitan / Source
One of the things that I like about Crafting Seitan is the wide variety of recipes.
If you’re new to seitan, you’ll be surprised how versatile this protein-packed ingredient can be. Yes, there are burgers and sausages, but there are also drumsticks, lunchmeats, steaks, holiday roasts, and everything in-between.
Even if you’re unfamiliar with the cooking techniques, the instructions are clear enough for those with little to no cooking experience.
In regards to cooking times, these recipes need a lot of it. Not in the preparation of the ingredients but more in the cooking and curing portions of the recipes. These are not your 30-minute or less weekday meal recipes; they’re the plan-ahead and have on-hand meats to create meals around.
Finally, let’s talk ingredients.
You’ll need vital wheat gluten for every recipe in this book. While there are a few special ingredients like beet and mushroom powder, most are common ones you can find in well-stocked grocery stores.
You may even already have them in your pantry.
Cooking with Crafting Seitan
After reading through Crafting Seitan, I decided to make the Vegan Pepperoni from the Hard Sausages chapter. I had pizza on my mind.
Putting the ingredients together and forming them into the two packages was easy enough. So was cooking them in a pressure cooker for an hour. Once done, I cooled them before storing them in the fridge for eight hours to optimize their texture and make them easier to slice. Easy.
The next day I made some pizza dough in the Vitamix. Yes, you can do that. Once I had my dough, I topped it with onions and slices of the finished pepperoni and tossed it in the oven to bake.
Vegan pepperoni pizza / Source
This opinion might be personal, but one of the best things about pepperoni is how it crisps up when cooked, each round delicately cupping a tiny pool of grease. And to be honest, I’ve always found store-bought vegan versions a bit lacking in this way.
That’s why I wanted to test out this recipe. Can homemade vegan pepperoni beat the store-bought versions?
It just might.
This pepperoni was firm and toothy, just like I expected it to be. Rich with flavor, I could really taste the smoky paprika mixed with the fennel seeds. I like a lot of heat and spices in my food, so I’d bump up both the fennel and the crushed red pepper the next time I make it.
But does it crisp when cooked? Happily, yes. They even curl a little as their non-vegan counterparts do. The key is to slice them as thin as possible.
- 1 cup (150 g) vital wheat gluten
- 1/2 cup (120g) water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons tamari, soy sauce, or Bragg Liquid Aminos
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons organic sugar
- 2 teaspoons whole fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to as desired)
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Put the vital wheat gluten in a large bowl.
- Put the water, oil. tamari, tomato paste, vinegar, smoked paprika, sugar, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and ground mustard in a blender and process until the fennel seeds are coarsely ground. Pour into the vital wheat gluten, add the garlic, and combine thoroughly with a sturdy spatula to form a dough. Knead the dough in the bowl until it exhibits some elasticity, about 1 minute. Divide the dough in half.
- Lay a 12-inch-long sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil on a work surface. Shape one portion of the dough into a slender log about 6 inches long and place it near the edge of the foil. Lift the edge of the foil over the dough and begin rolling into a tight cylinder. Twist the ends tightly to seal. Bend the ends in half to lock them tight. Wrap in a second sheet of foil in the same manner. Repeat the shaping and double-wrapping technique with the second portion of dough. If you will be oven baking the dough (rather than pressure cooking it), wrap each package in a third sheet of foil for reinforcement.
- To pressure cook, put 3 cups of water in the cooker and put the trivet in place. Add the packages, seal the lid, close the steam valve, and cook on high for 1 hour. Turn the unit off and let the pressure release naturally for 30 minutes.
- To oven bake (instead of pressure cook), preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C). Put the packages directly on the middle oven rack and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Remove the packages and let cool. Then refrigerate the packages for 8 hours to optimize the texture and make thin-slicing easier. The pepperoni is ready to eat or use in recipes; it does not require any additional finishing. Slice thick or thin and use as needed.
VARIATION: For individual snack-sized pepperoni sausages, or pepperettes, divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Wrap and steam the dough for 45 minutes.
I’m pretty happy to add Chef Skye’s latest offering to my cookbook collection for a few reasons.
First, I like that I can choose the type of oil I use and the amount of salt, something I’m unable to do with store-bought vegan meats. Second, the cookbook is incredibly versatile; whatever meaty thing you like, it’s in there.
Finally, the recipes feel familiar, comforting even. I grew up eating the schnitzel my oma made, and I’ve missed it. Even more so now that my oma has passed away. Now I have a vegan schnitzel recipe to make whenever I want to feel closer to my family.
I like that.