Gentle Chef Ballparks – Vegan Franks

I’m pleased to present my signature recipe and technique for creating plant-based jumbo franks which remarkably resemble a classic hot dog texture, color and flavor. Ballparks are high in plant-based protein, low in fat, and with no starch fillers, gels or gums. A food processor is required for this recipe in order to produce the desired texture. Yields 8 jumbo franks.

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Ingredients

  • 4 oz/115 grams well-pressed and blotted extra-firm tofu
  • 3 tablespoons tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos
  • 2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or 1 teaspoon sweet paprika and 1 teaspoon liquid smoke)
  • ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon commercial poultry seasoning
  • ⅛ teaspoon FD&C red food color*
  • 270 ml/grams water (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 150 grams (1 cup, scoop and level) vital wheat gluten

*FD&C red food color is an artificial food color. It is not animal sourced. It is used in a scant amount to create the nitrate-pink hot dog coloration since natural red food color pigments degrade during the cooking preparation process (I have experimented a great deal with natural red pigments over the years, and they won’t work for this purpose). Additional paprika (up to 1 teaspoon) can be used to enhance color, if preferred, but will create an orange pigment rather than pink. Red food color can be ordered online or found in the baking section of any supermarket.

Preparation

Crumble the pressed tofu into the food processor. Add the tamari, oil, onion and garlic powder, paprika, spices and food color.

Add a small quantity of the measured water and process until smooth (if all the water is added at this point it will create excessive splashing). Add the gluten and the remaining measured water and process the mixture for 3 full minutes. Use a timer for accuracy. The dough should be soft, sticky, glossy, stretchy and slightly warm.

Divide into 8 portions, about 80 grams each using a digital scale, and double wrap in pop-up foil (10-inch by 12-inch) or single wrap in cut pieces of heavy-duty foil (10-inch by 12-inch).

To do this, place a portion of dough on the foil and press and stretch the dough into a rough sausage shape about 6-inches long. Don’t worry about shaping perfectly – the foil when do this when rolled and twisted. Roll into a cylinder shape and twist the ends tightly to seal.

Pressure Cooker (e.g., Instant Pot)
1. Add a few cups of water to the bottom of the pressure cooker and place the wrapped dough on a trivet. Pressure-cook on high for 30 minutes.

2. Unplug or turn unit off and set timer for another 30 minutes. During this time the pressure will naturally release. Even if the safety valve pin drops, allow the 30 minutes to complete – do not force the pin down. Open unit and remove the wrapped packages.

3. Allow to cool and then refrigerate in their wrappers until completely chilled until firm before unwrapping and heating and serving. Since the franks are hand-wrapped they will be somewhat rustic in appearance with surface imperfections – but nonetheless delicious.

4. Brown the Ballparks in an oiled, non-stick skillet or oiled grill grate; reheat in a steamer; or gently simmer in enough water to cover. Serve with your favorite condiments.

Conventional Steamer (steamer basket inside cooking pot)
1. Steam over rapidly boiling water for 1 hour. Hot water may need to be added during cooking time to compensate for evaporation. Do not let the pot boil dry!

2. Open pot and remove the wrapped packages. Allow to cool and then refrigerate in their wrappers until completely chilled until firm before unwrapping and heating and serving. Since the franks are hand-wrapped they will be somewhat rustic in appearance with surface imperfections – but nonetheless delicious.

3. Brown the Ballparks in an oiled, non-stick skillet or oiled grill grate; reheat in a steamer; or gently simmer in enough water to cover. Serve with your favorite condiments.


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Crumbly Mexican Soy Chorizo


Crumbly Mexican Soy Chorizo with Vegan Eggz Scramble

Seasoning Blend

  • 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder (mild)
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder (spicy hot), or more to taste

Base Ingredients

  • 5 oz pressed extra-firm tofu, finely crumbled
  • ½ cup Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)

Liquid Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Preparation

Combine the seasoning blend ingredients in a bowl with the dry TVP granules. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mash and finely crumble the tofu with a fork. Set aside.

Whisk together the liquid ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a brief boil. Add the seasoned TVP granules, cover and set aside to rehydrate for 10 minutes.

Fold in the crumbled tofu until blended through evenly. Refrigerate in an airtight container to allow the tofu to absorb color and seasonings and to blend the flavors. Store up to 1 week in the refrigerator or in the freezer for longer storage. Crumble and brown the mixture in a well-oiled skillet and use in recipes as desired.

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Sweet and Smoky Tofu Bacun

DSC00988-003Tofu bacun is so easy to prepare and yields excellent results. It just requires a little time for pressing the tofu (8 to 12 hours), marinating the tofu with the seasoning liquid (a minimum of 12 hours), and low-oven baking or drying in a food dehydrator (about 2 hours). For this recipe I recommend using a tofu press, such as the TofuXpress®, that will hold the shape of the tofu while compressing the texture and removing the water prior to marinating. This recipe yields about 8 oz./½ lb. of bacun.

Ingredients
• 1 block (about 14 oz before pressing) extra-firm tofu
• high-temp cooking oil for frying

Marinade Ingredients
• ⅔ cup water
• ⅓ cup tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
• ¼ cup dark brown sugar or real maple syrup
• 1 T vegan Worcestershire Sauce
• 1 T liquid hickory smoke

Preparation
Press the tofu to remove as much water as possible. Blot the surface dry and then cut ⅛-inch thick slices lengthwise.

Combine the marinade ingredients and stir until the sugar dissolves. If you prefer a less salty bacun, opt for low-sodium tamari or soy sauce. Pour a small amount of the marinade into a small food storage container and begin layering the tofu strips into the container, overlapping the slices as you layer. Handle the slices carefully as they will be rather delicate.

DSC00974-001

Pour the remaining marinade over the slices and seal the container. There should be sufficient marinade to just about cover the slices completely. Seal the container and refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours and up to 48 hours, with 24 hours being ideal.

Preheat the oven to 225°F/110°C. Place a non-stick baker’s cooling rack on a baking sheet. If you don’t have a cooling rack, line the baking sheet with parchment paper.

DSC00976

Place the slices in a single layer on the rack. Again, handle the slices carefully as they will be rather delicate. Place the sheet on the middle oven rack and low-bake for 2 hours.

Alternately, a food dehydrator can be used at the highest setting. Dry for 2 hours or until the slices are dry to the touch but not completely dehydrated.

Place the slices in a food storage container and refrigerate until ready to finish and serve.

Finishing the Bacun
Tofu bacun benefits from frying in oil to create the crispy texture. Pour enough high-temp cooking into a skillet to cover the bottom completely and place over medium-high heat. Add the strips to the skillet without overcrowding and fry until nicely browned, turning occasionally. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Try laying the bacun on the towel with an undulation to mimic a cooked bacon appearance. If desired, season with some coarse ground black pepper while still hot. The bacun will crisp further as it cools and will hold the undulated shape.

Serve immediately or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use in recipes. Pre-fried bacun can be reheated in a low oven.

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Bacun Bits

DSC06158-001
This recipe yields 1 cup of deliciously sweet, salty and smoky vegan bacon bits, which are ideal for topping salads or eggless egg recipes, such as omelettes, scrambles or vegan deviled “eggs”. However, these crispy bits are not recommended for prolonged cooking in moist dishes such as casseroles or quiches, as the coconut will rehydrate and produce an undesirable texture.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes (I recommend Bob’s Red Mill™ brand)
Bobs-Red-Mill-Coconut-Flakes-Unsweetened

Seasoning ingredients:
• 2 T tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
• 1 T dark brown sugar or real maple syrup
• 2 tsp liquid smoke
• 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (preferably from my recipe which can be found in The Gentle Chef Cookbook)

Technique:
In a bowl, whisk together the seasoning ingredients until the sugar is dissolved. Add the coconut flakes and toss well to evenly distribute the seasoning. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of several hours, and better overnight, to rehydrate the coconut flakes and absorb the flavors.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and distribute the seasoned coconut flakes on the parchment paper in a single layer. For a peppery bacun flavor, season with fine ground black pepper. Place the baking sheet in the oven on a middle rack and set a timer for 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and stir the flakes, again redistributing them in a single layer. This process will need to be repeated every 5 minutes for a total of about 15 minutes for slightly chewy bacun bits, or 20 minutes for crispy bacun bits.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Store in a zip-lock bag or a suitable covered container in the refrigerator until ready to use

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