Wild Mushroom and Jerusalem Artichoke Pie

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This weekend I visited Castlemaine Farmers Market and made out like a bandit! Castlemaine is small town an hour and half north-west Melbourne and was recently named the most vegan-friendly small town in Victoria. I had a great time filling my newly acquired boomerang bag (we were halfway there when I realised we forgot our reusable bags) with fresh local produce. There was also plenty of food vendors ready to sate our appetites then and there with crepes, Ethiopian food, laksa bowls, sandwiches and probably stuff I didn’t even see. All vegan, all delicious. I ended up starting my morning off with a banana and salted caramel crepe because I am literally incapable of walking past a crepe. Rob started his morning off with an Ethiopian breakfast made up of tomatoe-y bean wot, rice and bread. We then did some shopping and browsing. After making many trips to the car we decided to hit up the Ethiopian food truck (Konjo Mama) again to get some takeaway for lunch.

When I saw these mushrooms I had to get them, and truth be told, I’m not even a huge mushroom fan. But come on, just look at them. I then picked up some Jerusalem artichokes and just knew I had to put the two together.

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In a previous blog post I mentioned that most store-bought pastries were actually vegan. Look, I realise, that having a food/recipe blog means I should probably make my own pastry but lets me honest, ain’t nobody got time for that. Plus, using pre-made pastry means I can focus on the filling and not stress about pastry. I do think making one’s own pastry is a worthwhile endeavour occasionally, but if you are short on time or motivation or both, then get on the frozen pastry train.

One thing that didn’t quite occur to me until far too late was that I am not gifted in the way of decorating pies. I honestly just don’t do it often enough. But whatever, it’s rustic, and you know what, the filling is delicious even if the pie itself wouldn’t exactly be deemed “insta-worthy“.

Ingredients

3 tbsp olive oil
1 large leek thinly sliced
1 carrot finely diced
1 rib of celery finely diced
2 cups of mushrooms sliced
1 1/2 cups of Jerusalem artichokes peeled + diced in 1/2 inch cubes
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 small bunch of fresh thyme
1 small bunch of sage leaves
1 small handful of chives
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Brown Brothers Crouchen Savignon Blanc, FYI all Brown Brothers wines are vegan!)
4 tbsp vegan buttery spread (I use Nuttelex)
4 tbsp flour
2 cups almond milk
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Salt + pepper
1 sheet short crust pastry thawed
1 sheet puff pastry thawed
Spray oil or melted vegan butter to grease the pie dish
Almond milk to brush the top

Method

Preheat your oven to 200⁰C

Place your diced Jerusalem artichokes in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil for 15 minutes until tender, drain, then set aside.

While that is happening add your oil to a heavy bottom frying pan on a medium heat then add your leeks and a small pinch of salt. I like to season throughout the entire cooking process so don’t go overboard with it, just add a pinch to slightly leech the water out of the leeks as they cook.

After they have wilted down slightly (about 3 minutes), add in your celery and carrot, sauté on a medium low heat for another 3 minutes.

Then add in your sage, thyme and garlic.  Continue to sauté until the vegetables are cooked thoroughly and slightly caramelised. Low and slow is the game. Don’t stress too much about any brown bits at the bottom of the pan, those will add extra flavour.

Once your vegetables are cooked and slightly caramelised turn the heat up to about medium high, let the pan get a bit hotter (about 20 seconds, pay attention so you don’t burn your vegetables) and add in your mushrooms and stir to combine. At this point you can start picking out the herbs as they have done their job. Don’t make yourself crazy trying to get all the bits of herbs, they are fine to eat (not like crunching down on an errant bay leaf or star anise), but they aren’t that necessary beyond this point.

Stir fry your mushroom and vegetable mixture for a couple of minutes then pour in your wine to deglaze the pan. Work quickly to scrap all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

Once the pan is clean and the last of the wine is boiling off add in your Jerusalem artichokes and stir to combine.

Turn off the heat, then tip your vegetable mixture into a bowl and set aside while you make the roux.

Put the now empty frying pan back on a medium low heat and add in your buttery spread and allow it to melt.

Turn the heat down low and add in your flour one tablespoon at a time whisking constantly to get that flour coated in the melted butter. Continue whisking until you have a smooth mixture. Then add in the almond milk in small amounts, again, continually whisking.

Slowly incorporate the milk in until you have added the full amount. Now you can change back to a wooden spoon and continue stirring on a low heat allowing it to thicken and cook out the flour.

Now add your seasonings; plenty of black pepper, salt, dried thyme, and nutritional yeast.

Once your roux has thickened (approx 10 minutes of gentle heat and stirring) add your vegetable mixture back to the pan, turn off the heat and stir to combine. At this point taste and adjust your seasonings to your liking. Use scissors to cut your chives into small bits over the mixture then stir through.

Set this mixture aside while you prepare your pie dish.

Grease your pie dish with either spray oil or buttery spread.

Then lay your sheet of shortcrust pastry in and push it into fill the dish, remove any excess overhanging with a knife.

Grab a fork and prick some holes in the base of the pastry.

Now you can spoon in your vegetable filing.

Now lay the puff pastry piece over the top and crimp the sides down with a fork, removing any excess with a knife.

Prick the top with a fork so the steam can vent.

With a pastry brush, glaze the top of the pie with almond milk.

Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

© Kat’s Savage Kitchen 2017

The Only Vegan Cookie Recipe You’ll Ever Need

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One could conclude I am quite into cookies. I have spent many batches fine-tuning my vegan cookie recipes so that they are the perfect balance of crispy edges and chewy centers. Here I present the fruits of my labour; The only vegan cookie recipe you’ll ever need.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups bread flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
230 grams vegan buttery spread at room temperature
1 1/4 packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 batch of my chia egg (if possible use white chia seeds)
1 1/4 cups vegan choc chips
1/2 cup of dried cranberries

In my black sesame cookie recipe I explained my reasoning for chilling cookie dough for least 24 hours. If you are going to do that you can skip preheating your oven. If not, preheat your oven to 180°C (but seriously, chill your dough).

Method
In a large bowl mix together your flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt with a fork, set aside.

In your stand mixer (or by hand) use your spatula/bowl scraper attachment and add your room temperature buttery spread and both sugars. Mix on low until combined, then increase the speed to medium until it becomes slightly lighter in colour and fluffy.

Stop the mixer to add your vanilla essence and your chia egg, mix until thoroughly combined.

Next, add the flour in small increments. You may need to stop and scrape down the bowl. Don’t be impatient and add too much flour as when you turn on the mixer it will puff up in your face (ask me how I know).

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After you have carefully added your flour, slowly pour in your choc chips while mixing on low, once they are combined add your cranberries, mixing until well dispersed.

Now you can either wrap in plastic wrap to chill in the fridge, or shape into balls to bake in the oven. You may need to briefly chill the dough anyway depending on the temperature of your ingredients/house/many other random factors in order to be able to roll nice cookie balls. Whether you bake immediately or the next day I like to form all my cookie balls at once and store the remainder that don’t fit in my oven in the fridge on a plate lined with some baking paper.

To shape the balls I use a tablespoon and scoop approximately 2-3 tablespoon sized amounts by eye. I roll the lump of dough briefly between my palms to form a cookie ball. Bake on a tray lined with baking paper or silpat.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until slightly brown (bake longer for a crispier cookie, shorter for a softer cookie). Let cool on the tray for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

This recipe makes approximately 30 cookies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why use the two types of flours?
Using a combination of all purpose flour and bread flour gives the cookies their signature ‘chewiness’. Bread flour contains more gluten than regular AP flour which when mixed and especially when left to rest overnight yields a much more toothsome cookie which I personally prefer. You could use only AP flour it just won’t be as chewy, but it will still be delicious.

Why use both brown and granulated sugar?
The addition of the brown sugar gives the cookies a subtle molasses/caramel type flavour. These cookies would still be delicious if you only used white sugar, but for a real depth of flavour and, dare I say it, je ne sais quoi, use both sugars.

© Kat’s Savage Kitchen 2017

How to make a chia egg for baking

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In my post (black sesame cookies) I gave some tips and tricks on how I make my perfect chia egg for baking. I thought this topic deserved it’s own post as it is something I will refer back to a lot for any baking.

The reason I prefer a chia egg over a flax egg is really simple – I always have chia seeds on hand. I eat them almost everyday for breakfast so when it comes to baking they are my go-to. I also prefer a chia egg over powdered egg replacer as it yields a more consistent outcome. If you leave a box of egg replacer sitting in your cupboard for a long period of time it can change how it behaves when reconstituted. Furthermore, the egg replacer I have available at my local supermarket may differ from what you have available, and that difference may not yield consistent results when making my recipes.

So, how do you make the perfect chia egg for baking?

You will need 3 things: chia seeds, water, and a coffee grinder.

  1. Grind up the chia seeds just before you are about to use them. Do not grind them in advance or buy them already ground.
  2. Tip the ground chia seeds into a small bowl.
  3. Add double the amount of hot tap water to the ground chia seeds (ie. if you used 3 tablespoons of chia seeds you will need 6 tablespoons of water).
  4. Stir until the chia gloop (yes, gloop) is pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
  5. Store in the fridge until you need to add it to your recipe.

A few tips…

  • Use hot water, not cold or tepid. The hot activates the gelling qualities of the chia immediately. You don’t need boiling water, just as hot as your tap will go is fine
  • 3 tablespoons of chia seeds (so 6 tablespoons of water) makes the equivalent to 2 eggs
  • Black or white chia seeds will do exactly the same job, but you may prefer to use white chia seeds for light coloured baked goods to avoid seeing flecks of black chia seeds
  • A coffee grinder really is the best tool for the job. They are small and fairly cheap. A mini food processor may work also, but probably won’t get the grind as fine as you would want. You could use a mortar and pestle, it would just take a bit of elbow grease
  • Don’t over grind and turn your chia seeds into chia butter. To avoid this, just grind in short bursts so you can keep an eye on the consistency. It should look like a coarse flour
  • Don’t buy chia meal or preground chia seeds. These seeds are probably already stale AF and won’t form that nice ‘chia gel’ you are after when you add the water.

 

© Kat’s Savage Kitchen 2017

 

Korean Army Base Stew

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Korean Army Base stew has a super interesting history (and is also super delicious). It all started during the Korean war when US soldiers brought over familiar food stuffs like hotdogs, baked beans, spam, American cheese; basically things that had never before been available in Korea. Instead of eating these products separately (how the American’s consumed them) they put their own twist on them and served them  up ‘Korean style’ by adding them to a big hotpot adding fresh vegetables plus some of their own  traditional ingredients such as kimchi and tteok (korean rice cakes). Add in some gochujang paste and a flavourful broth and you got yourself a stew!

It is an easy clean out your fridge type dish, especially if you make up a large batch of the paste in advanced. You can substitute water for the broth if you don’t have time or the inclination, however I would strongly urge you to try this dish with the broth at least once as it does add a depth of flavour you just can’t achieve with water alone.

Cheese may seem like an unusual ingredient for a stew but it adds richness to the sauce, not cheesy flavour. The starch from tteok and the cheese combine to make a thick, rich, spicy gravy. If you are a bit nervous about adding cheese try adding a small amount to a bowl as you serve it to compare the difference.

Paste Ingredients

Makes enough paste for 1 pans worth of stew which serves 3 to 4 people

3 cloves of garlic minced
3/4 tbsp gochujang paste*
1 1/2 tbsp gochugaru*
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
enough water to combine everything into a soft paste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Broth Ingredients

This makes enough broth for 2 pans worth of stew. You can either save the excess for another time in the fridge or freezer, or keep topping up your stew with more ingredients and cooking as you go for extra hungry people.

6 dry shiitake mushrooms
1 large strip of kelp (kombu) about the size of the palm of your hand
6 cups of water
optional the dried roots of scallions. I collect the the roots I cut off scallions, dry them on the window sill for a day and store in an airtight container to add to stocks and broths. Adds a lovely flavour with something I would otherwise discard.

Add all ingredients in a large pot and bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for at least 30 minutes. When you are happy with the broth, strain it into a bowl or container discarding the solid ingredients.

For the stew

There are a few staples that I consider mandatory for this stew, but you know what, you do you. Use this as a guide and add your own family favourites to it just like the Koreans did.

2-3 finely chopped spring onions (don’t forget to save those roots for making broth next time)
1 head of broccolini florets cut off and stems chopped into small 1cm pieces
1 tube of silken tofu (approx 150g) sliced
1 large handful of fresh or frozen tteok*
1 large handful baby corn spears
2-3 vegan hotdogs sliced
4 vegan gyoza/dumplings (frozen is fine)
1/3 tin of baked beans in tomato sauce (vegan)
1/4 to 1/3 cup vegan kimchi **
1 packet of instant ramen (keep the flavour sachets for another time)
optional vegan cheese shreds (I prefer Daiya mozzarella shreds for this as they melt to make a rich broth)

Neatly pile your ingredients (except the ramen and cheese) in a heavy based frying pan off the heat. Dollop your paste in the center then gently pour in your broth or water until the ingredients are almost covered (ie they should all be under or floating on the water, but not completely covered as this will dilute the flavour too much). Bring pan to a boil then add your instant ramen and gently press down to cover it with broth. Simmer for 2-3 minutes more separating your ramen and stirring around the paste to make sure it is evenly distributed in the stew. If using, add in your cheese to taste. Turn off the heat and ladle out into bowls making sure to get a nice mix of everything. Serve with extra kimchi and plain rice.

In restaurants they serve (and cook) the army base stew at your table on a portable gas burner, turning it down low/off when it is done and topping it up with veggies and extra ramen as you get through it. Given most people probably don’t have this set up I have provided steps for making it on the stove top then spooning it out like a soup.

*Gochujang and gochugaru are red pepper paste and red pepper flakes respectively, you can buy these products are most Asian groceries and online, same goes for tteok.
**Traditional kimchi is not vegan as it usually contains some kind of fermented prawns or anchovies. Vegan kimchi can sometimes be found in health stores however it is usually very expensive as it is marketed at people as a probiotic food to “heal” their gut and whatever else. Yes, because it is fermented, kimchi contains a plethora of healthy microbes, but come on, it’s cabbage in a jar – it shouldn’t be $12. Therefore I make it myself. I use Cheap, Lazy Vegan’s recipe and can wholeheartedly endorse it.

© Kat’s Savage Kitchen 2017

 

Black Sesame Cookies

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At any given time I am bound to have this unbaked cookie dough ready to go in my freezer. Which is a good thing since these are by far my most requested cookies. If you haven’t tried black sesame before you need to sort this out. The only way I can describe it is a more aromatic version of a peanut butter cookie. I know that seems vague and confusing, but trust me these are good. You’ll be stocking them in your freezer in no time.

A few notes on this recipe…
I take cookie baking very seriously, as such, I have a few tips to share.

  1. Rest your dough. For at least 24 hours in the fridge. I do this for 2 reasons: it allows the gluten to develop which I believes results in a chewier cookie, also, by resting the dough in the fridge it allows to cool to a consistent temperature which ensures even baking.
  2. Vegan egg replacements. For most of my cookie and baking recipes I prefer a ‘chia egg’ mostly because I am likely to always have chia seeds on hand. My method for the perfect chia egg is simple: grind up 2 tablespoons of whole chia seeds immediately before you plan on using your chia egg, I use an old coffee grinder (pro tip: use white chia seeds in pale/white baked goods, and black chia seeds in dark coloured/chocolate baked goods that way you won’t see little specks). Then transfer these to a small bowl and add 6 tablespoons of hot water (just as hot as your tap will go is fine). Stir together until it is starting to gel and pull away from the sides. Store bowl in the fridge until you get to the egg adding portion of your recipe. This makes the equivalent of 2 eggs.
  3. If you have to bake in batches, store your excess cookie balls on a sheet of baking paper in the fridge until they are ready to go in the oven.
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Awaiting their turn in the oven.

Ingredients

  • 230g vegan butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 chia egg (refer above for my preferred method), or, 2 eggs worth of your favourite egg replacer
  • 1 cup black sesame powder*
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Method

  • In a large bowl combine your flour, baking powder and soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In an electric mixer (use a paddle attachment, preferably with a bowl scraper if you have it) or by hand, cream together the butter and sugar.
  • When thoroughly combined add in your vanilla essence and chia eggs, mix until combined.
  • Slowly add your flour in batches so it doesn’t puff up in your face. I speak from experience.
  • When you have mixed in all your flour, slowly add in your black sesame powder, scraping down the sides of your bowl as you go.
  • To rest your dough overnight you can either plastic wrap the bowl you made your dough in (however if you do this make sure to press some plastic wrap down directly on to the dough so that it won’t dry out). Or you can tip your dough out onto some plastic wrap and then wrap tightly to store in the fridge or longer term in the freezer.
  • When you are ready to bake preheat your oven to 190°C
  • Remove your dough from the fridge or freezer. Because this dough is made using vegan butter it won’t freeze solid and therefore you will be able to work with it straight from the freezer (vegan bonus!)
  • Prepare baking trays with either baking paper or silpat
  • Scoop generous tablespoon sized balls of dough, roll between your palms to form a ball.
  • Place on your baking trays, but do not flatten, they will flatten naturally as they bake.
  • Once you have rolled all your balls of dough you can now begin baking.
  • Bake for 15mins until they are slightly golden around the edges.
  • Allow to cool on the trays for a few minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

*Black sesame powder can usually be found in the tea/coffee section of your local Asian supermarket.

© Kat’s Savage Kitchen 2017

Hong Shao (roasted gluten with black fungus)

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This dish makes a great addition to any vegan bento box as it’s easy to prepare and is traditionally served cold or at room temperature. Serve it up with a side of rice and some baked tofu and you have yourself a delicious and unique vegan lunch.

Serves 6 (side servings)

Ingredients
1 pack roasted gluten (appoximately 200g)
1 handful black fungus
2 spring onion stalks chopped into 1 inch pieces
4 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
10 tbsp sugar
vegetable oil
salt to taste

Method
The night before…

Soak both the gluten and fungus overnight in plenty of water.

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Roasted gluten and black fungus in it’s pre-soaked state

The next day…

  • Rinse both the gluten and fungus thoroughly. Remove any hard stalks from the fungus.
  • Chop the spring onion and slice up the fungus into smaller pieces more suited to eating.
  • Combine both soy sauces and sugar in a bowl so it is ready to go.
  • Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a heavy based frying pan or saucepan on high.
  • Toss spring onions in hot oil for 10 seconds, stirring constantly.
  • Add in the gluten and the fungus, keep stirring continuously to get everything covered in that oil.
  • Pour over the soy mixture stirring to coat everything.
  • Now add enough water to barely cover the gluten and fungus.
  • Turn down the heat to a simmer and cover.
  • Occasionally give the mixture a stir to ensure even cooking.
  • When the mushrooms are tender (approximately 40 minutes) remove the lid and reduce the liquid until it is a thick sauce.

Serve as a cold side dish with rice.

 

© Kat’s Savage Kitchen 2017

 

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I love spending time hunting for new and interesting vegan ingredients. In fact, I loved doing that even before I was vegan (which usually meant new and interesting animal products). While being vegan now means I need check everything more carefully, it also means that when I do find something that’s both vegan and unique it becomes all the more rewarding. Everyone knows about the typical vegan products (beans, tofu, fresh produce) offered at their local supermarket, they probably feature on your plate on the regular. Some people even know about the not so typical, or ‘secret vegan’, products like Golden crumpets,  Arnott’s BBQ shapes, and various brands of shortcrust and puff pastry for example (PETA has an awesome list of the hidden vegan gems to be found in your typical Australian supermarket). But sometimes you want to be able to shake things up and try new things. You can find a whole range of vegan products that you may have never even realised existed by venturing out to different regional and specialty grocery stores. For these products I mostly shopped at various Asian or Latin grocers. However, for each product I bought there were multiple brands to choose from so don’t feel obliged to source the exact products I’ve listed here. This list simply aims to showcase the not so typical vegan fare that is out there just waiting for you to try.

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Sauces
If you love cooking you’ve probably got a small arsenal of sauces for seasoning different dishes already. Most of them are probably vegan, but some definitely aren’t. One of my favourite seasoning sauces in my pre-vegan days was oyster sauce. I loved it’s ability to add an umami savoriness to any dish. But, I mean, it’s oyster sauce. It’s right there in the name. Luckily my local Asian grocery store helped me out with a vegetarian oyster alternative made with mushrooms. All the umami, zero animals harmed, two thumbs up! I’ve also since acquired some vegan fish sauce and Worcestershire sauce. I also included this little carton of vegan soy sauce just because it was so stinkin’ cute.

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Mock Meats
Did you know vegan prawns even existed? I did not. In fact these prawns are the inspiration behind the title because I definitely hadn’t heard of them before and I’m no rookie, and yet here we are. These weren’t even the only brand they sold. I chose these as they looked the most prawn-like in my opinion.

Look, some people aren’t into the whole mock meat thing. That’s totally fine. But I think delicious mock meats are what help people transition successfully to either a full vegan diet or at the very least consuming less animal products, and in my opinion that’s a good thing. Are they the healthiest things in earth. Probably not. But you’ve gotta live your life, and if that includes a bit of ‘duck’ and lychee red curry, or vegan prawn and chorizo jambalaya you’ll probably be no worse off for it.

This mock duck was a bit of a surprise though as instead of coming chopped into chunks like I thought, it was actually portioned into breast size slabs. The only other mock duck I’d previously had was of the tinned variety. And it was OK – not great, not awful – just OK. This was definitely much better, both in terms of taste and texture, but also allowing you to portion it how you please.

The vegan cha siew is made by the same company as the prawns and it looks very authentic. Like, almost scarily authentic. You could honestly have told me this was meat and I wouldn’t call you a liar. This will make for a convenient mid week meal served with some plain rice and extra cha siew sauce.

Another easy mid week meal or snack is the vegan satay sticks. Yes, that’s right, I said sticks. These guys come pre-skewered and sauced. What could be easier?

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Pastes
Think you can’t have Thai food without making your own paste? Think again. Yes, lots of brands will have belachan (shrimp paste) in them, but vegetarian versions are out there. Always check the label. Here are a few examples of different vegan pastes I’ve found. Of course you can always make your own and freeze some, but if you aren’t that way inclined these are a great option.

Ready meals
Just because it tells you to add meat doesn’t mean you have to. Both these ready meals are 100% vegan. Yes, the mapo tofu says to add ground meat, but you don’t have to. You could just add tofu and totally omit the meat all together, or sub in TVP (textured vegetable protein) for the “meat” ingredient. Totally up to you and what you have on hand.

This Japanese curry is vegan, and served with rice makes a quick and easy meal. But if you want to kick it up a notch, add a vegan chicken schnitzel patty for your own vegan chicken katsu curry.

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Arepas
Tortillas are pretty much a staple in my kitchen. However, arepas are slowly edging them out of favor. Arepas are thicker corn cakes that are pan fried then stuffed with fillings of your choice. They are light, yet crispy and are a delicious blank slate for any toppings you please. They are usually sliced in half and stuffed similar to pita pockets. However I find this particular brand a bit to thin to slice in half so I usually just pile on the toppings tostada style. Just be sure to double check the ingredients as they can sometimes be made with lard.