Sunday, January 28, 2018

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Elf

Y’all, it seems like EVERY WEEK, we go through the same routine. We promise ours-elfs we will write on our little blog DAILY and we NEVER do. This results in a ‘day of s/elf-ridicule and reckoning’ known as Sunday morning when your Elf realizes another week has gone by and NOT A WORD has been written. Then, it’s gather ye wits while you may and write, write, write. Well, today is TUESDAY and we have gotten off to a start. Yesterday, we unpacked our new Air Fryer; the Phillips Air Fryer XL Avance.
It’s a big sucker so we’ll be cookin’ en masse. We haven’t yet tried it out but, hey, it’s still early. Monday, we got busy in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen..we made a batch of seitan and some ‘Eggplant Bacon. For those of you who may not be familiar with seitan, it’s what Chef Skye Michael Conroy calls a meat analog or a plant-based meat. We actually looked up the word ‘analog/analogue’ to understand the usage. The meaning as a noun is ‘a person or thing that is comparable to another’. So, rather than the term ‘fake meat’, it would seem to be a food stuff that is comparable to another food stuff…not the same but comparable. We don’t hear the nut or plant-based milks such as Almond, Soy, Cashew, Hemp (to name a few) referred to as ‘fake’ milk, so why not plant-based meats/meat analogs. In any event, seitan in a dough that is cooked by various means to evolve as sausages, cutlets, shreds, to name a few. We start with dry ingredients, primarily Vital Wheat Gluten and seasonings

to which is added a liquid mix of water and additional seasonings (we are particularly fond of Liquid Smoke).

The liquid is added to the dry, kneaded to form a dough, allowed to rest for a bit and then cut into smaller sections.

These are simmered in a seasoned broth for 90 minutes, being careful to simmer rather than boil.
The finished product really does resemble meat and, if cooked right, has the texture and smoky flavor of beef.
The ‘Eggplant Bacon’ was a bit of a surprise. We’ve made it before and were not particularly excited about it, primarily because it never did ‘crisp’ up in the oven. BUT, we tried it again with the same results, even though we baked it a bit longer. The real culprit was the lack of consistency in the thickness of the slices…some were really thin and some were thicker, so they did not cook evenly. Here they are ready to go into the oven. We had two pans,  but why show two when they look the same!
Each slice is brushed on both sides by a marinade/sauce of maple syrup, liquid smoke, EVOO, smoked paprika, and soy sauce. Here’s the link to the recipe we used, though there are several available.
Though we were tempted to throw the finished product out, we decided to keep the slices and see what we could do with them. Sure enough, we thought we’d make a “EB’LT and see how it tasted. First we toasted a couple of slices of Flax Ezekiel Bread, spread some Just Mayo and topped with a slice of tomato. Then we added the EB (Eggplant Bacon)
covered with some lettuce,
and topped with another slice of toast. Well, y’all, this was absolutely delicious, as you can see!
Now, y’all, we KNOW full well that there is nothing in the world that tastes EXACTLY like bacon but this had just enough of the smokiness and crunch of bacon that we just broke out in a great big old smile! In fact, we have (we hope) solved the slicing issue when we ran across the long dormant and seldom thought of, slicing blades for our Mandoline. Now, we are ready with some really thin slicing blades to try it again. 
Tonight (Saturday), we are having a veganized version of Italian Sausages with Balsamic Glazed Onions and Red Grapes.
We made two batches of plant-based sausages yesterday (Friday) while Big Solid was out playin’ golf. Andouille and Italian, so tonight we are diving into the Italian sausages. We did not prepare the full recipe because we didn’t need that much food. But, here's the 'mise en place' with the red grapes, sliced onions, the WONDERFUL NEW SIGN compliments of of the Elf's Brother Jud and his Sweetie Suzanne, the sausages, and finally the broth/balsamic combo.
First, we browned the sausages in an iron skillet in a wee bit of EVOO
and then transferred them to a plate to rest up.
We then added a little more EVOO, about a cup of thinly sliced onion, and stirred them to a nice light brown.
Next up, we poured in one/fourth cup of The Gentle Chef’s Chikun Bouillon and the Balsamic Vinegar, scraping up any sausage bits and brown bits.
Our flame was reduced to a gentle simmer and we returned the sausages plus the grapes to the skillet,
it with the lid slightly open. This cooked gently until the sausages were thoroughly done. Since there is no animal in the sausages, the cooking time was a lot less, about fifteen minutes. We served it up and dove in. We also chose tonight to make some French Fries in our new Air Fryer.
We used our Mandoline with the quarter inch blades to get an even cut; soaked them in ice water for 30 minutes, then dried them well. We sprayed them with Olive Oil spray (just oil and nothing else) and threw them in the pre-heated machine! They were WAY crispy like Big Solid likes but next time, we’ll cut the ‘fryin’ time a bit. Life is good! Tomorrow will be a very busy day in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen as we are preparing some food to share…which we love to do!
As we leave you with our usual sign-off, we'd like to invite you to the 'new' Elf FB page titled The Movie Elf. We are having fun reviewing movies, especially the Oscar nominees!
We also have Big Solid to thank for today's blog title! Big Solid and the Elf celebrated their 33rd anniversary Friday! Here's a picture of that glorious day 33 years ago. We both squalled like babies and the high temperature was 8 degrees.
So, remember always to LOOK for the GOOD, be an EXAMPLE of the GOOD, and ACT for the GOOD as HARD as you can, in as MANY WAYS as you can, EVERY DAY that you can. Your Elf

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