Creamy asparagus mushroom hotpot and seitan brains


So what’s with “seitan brains”, I can hear my reader asking. Well it was supposed to be seitan chicken cutlets, but that is so NOT how it turned out. At least the hotpot was an unequivocal success.

Creamy asparagus mushroom hotpot

Let’s start with the hotpot then. I’d bought some asparagus t’other day (yes, I know, all the way from Peru, NAUGHTY Felicity) at the greatly reduced price of 75p for a pound of the stuff. At first I thought of veganising a recipe for cream of asparagus soup, but then I came across this one for garden veg pie. Yummmm. I ended up changing it so much, it really doesn’t resemble the original recipe at all, but it did turn out scrumpdillyicious.

As for the seitan, well I made this recipe for seitan chicken cutlets, and I followed the recipe to a “T” (where does that expression come from, anyway, to a “T”?). The dough was VERY moist, wet even, but I persevered and formed the cutlets before gently simmering them for an hour. Result?


seitan brains

At least that’s the words that sprang to mind as I stared the the mass of “stuff” floating in my pot. At least you can’t get seitan spongiform encephalopathy from them. I squeezed all the water out of the “brains” and tasted a bit. Hmmm, not an unpleasant texture, but totally bland. Sprinkled a bit of soy sauce on another piece. Hmmm, I might even be able to make this edible. So it went into the fridge for the time being instead of the compost. We’ll see what I end up doing with it.

But here’s the recipe for the stuff that did work. Since the chicken cutlets were a bomb (not THE bomb, which would be a good thing), we served it with homemade Cajun sausages from the freezer.

Creamy asparagus mushroom hotpot

British       American
For the filling        
2 teaspoons   olive oil   2 teaspoons
2 teaspoons   vegan margarine   2 teaspoons
450g   asparagus   1 pound
300g   mushrooms, coarsely chopped   10 ounces
1   medium leek   1
1   clove garlic, minced   1
    herbal salt to taste (or salt plus herbs)    
    freshly ground pepper to taste    
For the cheesy sauce        
150ml   plain unsweetened soya milk   5 ounces
1 tablespoon   vegan cream cheese   1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon   vegan sour cream   1 tablespoon
30g   vegan Cheddar cheese, shredded   1 ounce
For the topping        
220g   potato (1 medium)   8 ounces
2 teaspoons   olive oil   2 teaspoons

1. Heat olive oil in a heavy frypan (I use cast iron) and saute mushrooms until their moisture is released and they are starting to brown (5-10 minutes). Season with pepper and herbal salt (I use Himalayan salt), or plain salt and herbs of your choice. Add garlic clove and saute for a minute more. Remove from pan into a medium-sized casserole dish. Clean pan.

2. Heat margarine in the same pan and cook leeks, covered, until soft, stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes). Add to mushrooms.

3. Meanwhile, prepare asparagus. Snap bottom of stalks off (the tough bit) and discard (or better yet, compost them). Pare the bottom couple of inches of the stalks to remove the tough skin (with homegrown asparagus, you won’t need to do this). Cut the tips off and slice the stalks into 2.5cm (1″) pieces.  Keep the tips and stalks separate. In boiling water, blanch the stalks for 2 minutes, then add the tips and blanch for another two minutes. Drain and add to the casserole dish.

4. Prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan, heat the soya milk over medium-low heat until warm. Add cream cheese and sour cream and whisk until melted into the soya milk. Now add the shredded cheese and continue to whisk until it is melted and the sauce is smooth. Season to taste. Mix into the veggies in the casserole dish.

5. Preheat oven to 200C (400F).

6. For the topping, peel potato and slice into 3mm (1/8″) slices. Blanch in salted simmering water until just soft, but not falling apart. This will probably take between three and five minutes. Drain and arrange slices on a plate to cool, being careful not to break them up.

7. Place potatoes in overlapping slices on top of vegetables. Brush olive oil on top. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until hot. If potatoes aren’t browned at this point, place under grill (broiler) for 10 minutes, or until browned.

Makes two servings.

One Comment

  1. HAH!
    the first time I made Seitan it looked like brains!!

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