Non-dairy Low-fat Vegan Cheeze
Line a small bowl or mould (the size of a 1lb bread tin) with silver foil or cling film.
Then put all the ingredients except the lemon juice, the oil and the agar agar into a food blender. Blend the ingredients well until very smooth, we use a Kenwood liquidizer goblet.
While the blender is blending the above, add...very slowly...the lemon juice, then add...very slowly...the sunflower oil.
Next, soak the agar agar granules in 1/2 cup cold water. Cook the agar and water until the agar becomes clear, then add to the mixture in the blender, and blend for only 5 more seconds.
Pour the mixture into the lined mould immediately as the setting process starts straight away. Put the cheeze in the fridge overnight, then when ready to eat, empty out onto a plate and remove the lining. Slice up and taste.
The Joys of Gluten
Recipes by Peter Harris
My wife became vegetarian some years ago, yet despite regular encouragement, I have chosen not to follow the same path. We have both agreed however, that no meat is to be brought into the house, and considering that I now eat a far more entertaining and varied diet, I have found this no hardship.
I do however miss something to chew, particularly when I am doing the cooking in the house. I regularly cook Chinese, and approximately 99% of the recipes I have use meat of some kind. I have tried tofu, TVP and one or two other ideas that people have suggested, all to no avail. A few years back, somebody recommended I try gluten, so I headed off to my nearest Chinese grocers to hunt out said item.
This is not as easy as it may sound, and I was forced to visit all the Chinese markets to search for this elusive ingredient (how I suffer for my art). My wife meanwhile was browsing bookshops, and managed to find one with a recipe for gluten. As I was still unable to find the stuff in the shops, I decided to give it a go.
This has revolutionized my cooking, as pretty much anything can be done to it, and the texture can be such that it really provides a chew. Although it can be a little time consuming (certainly when you start making it), with practice and a little bit of experimentation, it can be made relatively quickly.
Basic Recipe for Gluten
In a large bowl, mix the tepid water into the flour and knead strongly until you end up with a non-floury dough. I use a food processor with a plastic blade to do this step in about a minute. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave for about half an hour.
The next step is to wash the starch out of the dough mixture. Fill a sink or large bowl with warmish water, (it only has to be warm enough for comfort, I personally do not like plunging my hands into freezing cold water). Take a large handful of the dough, and begin to knead, rub and pull the dough in the water. The water will instantly turn a hideous white colour, and this is the starch coming out. I put a large plastic colander in the water, and wash the dough in that. Bits of the dough keep breaking off as it is being washed, and the colander makes it much easier to catch these bits.
As the dough is washed, it will turn a sort of yellowy-brown, and take on the consis-tency of wet plasticine. You will also see a lot of small white nodules, which are unwashed starch. Remove these and throw them away. You really should make sure you get rid of all of these bits. The gluten is ready once all of these bits are gone, and there is little or no starch left.
As you finish the gluten, it is worth washing the stuff under a running tap, as the fresh water will help clear out any starch residue. Once you have finished this, tear the gluten into smallish lumps and try and flatten them. This will mean that a large surface area of gluten will be presented to the stock.
The result at this stage unfortunately looks a little bit like a Dr. Who reject. All is not lost. Grab a glass of wine, if you haven't already, and drop the gluten lumps into the large pan of boiling water. I tend to use a stock of whatever I have handy, but soy sauce and chilli is a personal favourite. Leave this to boil for about 20 minutes. Make sure that it is a large pan with a lot of water or stock. The gluten will nearly double in size.
When the 20 minutes is up, remove the gluten. At this point it can be used immediately, but I prefer to leave it to drain on a metal rack overnight in the fridge. The resulting product is much firmer, and therefore easier to cut into interesting shapes. Gluten can be kept in the fridge for about 2-3 days, and it can be frozen as well, although this seems to lose some of its firmness.
Gluten can be grilled, shallow or deep-fried, barbecued and probably lots of other things which I haven't tried yet. I would generally make up a batch using 2 lbs of flour, and I find that this will last me a couple of days. Connect to my favourite recipe for using gluten, which not surprisingly is Chinese.
More about Gluten
A note by Dee Higgs:
I followed Peter Harris' instructions and have so far made several batches. I found it to be really versatile, and to have a texture unlike anything I've tried before. It's reasonably quick to make once you get the hang of it, and I'd like to pass on a few tips: