Friday, December 30, 2011

Slow Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes

Tis the season for heirloom tomatoes! They were a plenty at my farmer's market a few weeks ago so I picked up a couple and decided to try my hand at slow roasting them. Slow roasting is super easy, but is time intensive.

  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Herbs of your choice like rosemary or thyme
  • Olive oil
How to make this dish
Preheat the oven to 250-degrees. Cut the heirloom tomatoes in half and place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil onto them and top with sea salt (I used spicy sea salt that I picked up in Hawaii), freshly ground black pepper and any herbs. I like rosemary.

Place them in the oven and cook for 5 hours!  The longer, the more flavorful, I promise! Once cooked, they will taste amazing. You can use them for pasta sauces, salsa or just eat them by themselves like I did! Yum!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sunfire Girls - Raw Kale Chips and Crackers

Sassy. Spunky. Destined for greatness. That is what comes to mind after speaking with the Sunfire Girls, Tania and Christine. After winning my latest kale chip taste-test or "showdown" as I like to call it, I wanted to find out what these local kale chip-making girls were all about.  When I looked on the back of the package and saw that the kale chips were produced in Washington, DC, I immediately wondered how I didn't know them. Who the heck were the Sunfire Girls?

Well, come to find out I actually did know one of them -- Tania. Tania Hayek Mercer has been teaching cooking classes at Whole Foods in the DC area for many, many years and I used to take her classes. She was teaching raw foods classes before raw foods really became mainstream. I took her classes at the Whole Foods on P Street every month until she had her first baby and ever since then hoped that she would return to my Whole Foods to teach more classes She never did, but now I know why. Tania became a full-time mother and eventually went back to teaching cooking classes at other area Whole Foods (just not on P Street) while also enrolling in the health coach training program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. At the same time, Christine Fabrizio, was seeking to expand her nutritional knowledge and enrolled in the same course.

The funny thing is that Tania and Christine lived minutes away from each other, commuted to New York for the health coach training for a year, and and even took the same gym classes in Maryland, yet they didn't know each other. Then, one day in the spring of 2010, Christine went to a Whole Foods cooking class that Tania was teaching and it was then that Christine realized that this was someone whose path had crossed hers several times. She stayed after class to talk to her and they became instant friends.

Fast forward to today and these girls are making a name for themselves in the raw food products industry. Together, they developed raw crackers and kale chips that are incredibly unique. In my opinion, there are four things that make their kale chips, in particular, stand out from the rest: texture, flavor, ingredients, and packaging. The texture is light yet crunchy -- I mean almost perfectly so. The flavors are intoxicating: original, ancho chili, and coconut lime.  The ingredients are unique -- the dressing they developed uses zucchini, nutritional yeast, and flax seeds along with other good-for-you ingredients. And the packaging has to be one of the most professional I've ever seen with some of the most vibrant colors on the market. Oh, and did I mention, I love that they used plastic containers with rounded corners?  Very modern.

So, on to the kale chips. The first thing you should know is that they are currently only sold in one Whole Foods in the U.S. But, don't stop reading because you think you'll never see these -- they are expanding and hope to increase their distribution area soon.

As I mentioned, the flavors are intoxicating. The original kale chips have an unexpected Indian taste to them as they are made with tumeric. They are very addicting.

Aren't they beautiful?!

The ancho chili kale chips are my favorite as they are flavored with ancho chili and cayenne pepper. There is a slight kick to them with just the right amount of spice.

The most unusual ones though are the coconut lime, which, you guessed it, are made with coconut and lime juice. These make me think of delicious coconut-based Thai curries and would probably pair well with them.

They make a couple flavors of raw crackers as well. These crackers are crunchy with just the right balance of spices. In fact, the cinnamon mulberry whole food cracker is delicious!  It is made with flax seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, mulberries, Hunza raisins, coconut crystals, cinnamon, vanilla, and celtic sea salt.  They are perfect for breakfast. These crackers are currently only sold in the Broad Branch Market in DC.

They also make a cumin cilantro chip, which is also delicious!  These chips are served with guacamole at Cafe Green in DC.

I have to say that I really think these girls are on to something -- something big. At the Whole Foods in Friendship Heights, Maryland, their kale chips are currently on sale. This promotion should run through the next two weeks or so as part of the Whole Foods Health Starts Here campaign. So, if you are in the area, this is your chance to grab some sunkissed kale chips and fire up your inner sunshine! Watch for these chips coming to a Whole Foods near you.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Blackbyrd, DC

UPDATE: This restaurant has permanently closed.

The U Street Corridor has undergone an incredible transformation over the last four years. There was a time when Busboys and Poets was the best food you could find in the area. Now, however, this area is bustling with tons of great restaurants offering vegan options. I watched for many months as they built a restaurant next to the ever-popular Marvin and as soon as they constructed the outside facade, I knew it was owned by brothers Eric and Ian Hilton -- the same guys that brought us Marvin, Patty Boom Boom, and American Ice Co., to name a few.

Blackbyrd, named after Donald "Black" Byrd, a musician who taught at Howard University in the 1970s, opened on July 14, 2011 with no formal announcement and no website. In fact, at the time I wrote this review, there was still no website. It is as if they are trying to be mysterious, which, of course, attracts inquisitive foodies.  I had heard that it was an oyster bar with a limited seafood menu so I figured I'd never go there for dinner, but then I discovered that the chef, James Claudio, created a vegan gyro and that seemed like a good enough reason to give this place a try. With the assumption that all the hottest places on 14th Street had happy hours, I invited friends for happy hour and dinner at Blackbyrd.

At 6 p.m. on any Friday, Masa 14, another restaurant on 14th Street, is wall-to-wall packed so I figured it would be similar at Blackbyrd -- boy, was I wrong. When I walked in, there were only two people sitting at the bar and all of the booths and high-top tables were available. I quickly realized, they do not have happy hour drink specials. Oh, well.

The restaurant has a warehouse feel to it with exposed brick walls, bare lightbulbs, and mismatched furniture. The downstairs is for dining and drinking as it features a large bar along with booths and other tables; and the upstairs is more of a loungy-feel with couches and another bar. From what I understand, the second floor gets pretty crowded later in the night when they feature local bands.

Once my friends arrived, we took a look at the menu. There were many special drinks along with a wine list. I decided to start with their signature drink, the Blackbyrd, which had Absolut vodka, Manzanilla sherry, Dolin dry vermouth, and orange bitters. Unfortunately, I found it to be heavy on the alcohol and light on the taste. I didn't think it was very good -- certainly nothing to write home about. Zach wasn't that happy with his cocktail either.

For the next round, we ordered glasses of wine. The list of wines available by the glass was short and unimpressive, but we decided to give it a go. I ordered a Malbec, which was eh. No one else was impressed with their wines either. One of my friends had a Tempranillo a few weeks ago, but when she went to order it, they told her they were out of it at the moment. For my third drink, I ordered another glass of wine that was so bad, I actually sent it back and requested another Malbec.

After  a while, we ordered some food. I ordered the only item on the menu that was vegetarian -- the veggie gyro. The waitress said that to veganize it, they'd just substitute the feta for vegan soy cheese. That sounded good to me.  Upon first bite, I really enjoyed the soft pita bread and the housemade seitan, which was fried perfectly, but soon realized that it was very dry. What the waitress didn't tell me was that they would just take the non-vegan tzatziki sauce off of it without replacing it with a vegan version of the same. The lettuce and pickled onions helped a bit, but they didn't disguise the fact that the sauce was missing. I ate it, reluctantly, but was definitely disappointed. It was paired with baby spinach with a light olive oil sauce, which was nice, but not very creative.

Overall, the wine selection left much to be desired and the food was just okay.  I think the drinks and sandwich were quite pricey for what they were. The service was pretty good -- the waitress was very attentive, but, then again, the place was pretty empty. I really appreciate that the chef is trying to accommodate his vegan patrons and am hoping that as the menu develops, there will be more options in the future. For now, they need to improve the wine selection and add some sauce to that gyro -- and that will be a good start. I look forward to seeing how this place and its menu develops over time.

2005 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 747-2377

Blackbyrd on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 26, 2011

Earth Balance - Coconut Spread

Earth Balance is one of those products that changed the [vegan] world back in 1998. Today, I couldn't imagine life without it. Chefs all over the world use it as their go-to product when making anything that might have typically contained butter. Their spreads are creamy, delicious, and buttery.  I think it is the best vegan spread out there.

GFA Brands recently came out with a new spread that uses coconut oil as its base. They call it "Coconut Spread." Products containing coconut oil seem to be the latest craze as they are showing up on every shelf.  Because coconut oil is a saturated fat, it was first thought that it was not good for you. Now, we know that just the opposite is true. Nearly 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is of a type rarely found in nature called lauric acid, a remarkable compound that has unique health-promoting properties. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties. Some studies show that coconut oil can help optimize body weight, which reduces your risk of developing diabetes.

I haven't jumped on the coconut oil bandwagon just yet though. I use coconut oil for cooking only when I want the dish to have a coconut taste. Earth Balance says that you can control the coconut taste in the Coconut Spread using heat -- to keep the coconut taste, use it on low heat; to make it disappear, use it on high heat. They sent me a sample along with a cookbook called "Cooking with Coconut" and I decided to make the Toasty Coconutty Chickpeas and Curried Kale.

Toasty Coconutty Chickpeas and Curried Kale
Serves 4

  • 4 T Earth Balance Coconut Spread, divided
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, patted dry
  • 3 T finely shredded coconut
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 T finely minced ginger
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 large bunch kale, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup coconut milk (unsweetened)
  • 1 T curry powder
  • 1 T raw cane sugar or light agave nectar
  • Salt to taste
Start by preheating the oven to 350-degrees. The instructions state to line a baking sheet with parchment paper. I think this is an important step, but, unfortunately, I didn't have any so I just used a non-stick baking pan. It didn't work as well so I would recommend using parchment paper if you have some. Next, melt 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance Coconut Spread in a saucepan.

Pour the melted Coconut Spread in a bowl with the chickpeas and coconut. Toss to coat evenly.

Spread the chickpeas evenly on the baking sheet and toast 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once.

Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat the remaining Coconut Spread in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onion, ginger, and garlic, and cook 2-3 minutes. Add kale and cook 6-8 minutes, until soft.

Add coconut milk, curry powder, sugar, and salt to taste. Cover and simmer 4-5 minutes.

Serve curried kale over brown rice and top with coconutty chickpeas.

I thought the dish was pretty good. The spread worked well because I was looking for a coconut taste and I used it with coconut milk and coconut covered chickpeas. My favorite part of this dish was the toasted chickpeas. They turned out great and I could see myself using these for a number of other dishes.

Overall, I think this spread is great for dishes where you want a coconut taste, but I wouldn't use it as a spread on a hot dinner roll. I have tried this and really don't prefer the coconut taste. I do, however, think this spread would be great for baked goods like coconut macaroons and coconut cream pie. Try it for yourself and see what you think. It is a great alternative to some of the other unnatural products on the market.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kale Chip Showdown #2

Interestingly enough, since I posted the first kale chip showdown back in June, it has been the review that continues to get the most hits on a regular basis. Raw kale chips are incredibly popular right now. They are showing up in natural foods stores across the country and everyone seems to want to try their hand at making them. As I've been traveling, I've been trying kale chips everywhere I go so I figured it was time for the Kale Chip Showdown #2.

From top left clockwise: Kaia, Super Hero, Sunfire Girls, Love Force
The contenders are:
From top left clockwise: Love Force, Sunfire Girls, Super Hero, Kaia

I'll start with the one I liked least and work my way up -- so we'll start with Kaia Foods. Kaia Foods is a company based in Oakland, CA that has distribution across the country. I have seen their products in every Whole Foods I have ever been in so I thought these would be the best ones. Not so. You will notice that these kale chips don't actually look like kale at all. It appears that they have pressed the kale into these little disks and although it states they are dehydrated at low temperatures, it also states that they are 85% raw so something was cooked at a higher temperature. Regardless, these chips were not very good at all. They were soft as if they were stale and had this sour, flavorless taste to them. I think I will have to dredge them in hummus to be able to bear the rest of the bag. They were made with sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast and tamari.

Kaia Foods

In the #3 spot are the Super Hero Snacks Cosmic Kale crunchies. I found these in Santa Cruz, which is also where they are made. At this time, their website is down so I can't learn much more about them.  And, I accidentally threw the tag away that was on the top of the bag so I can't describe the ingredients. Their kale chips were mostly broken into little pieces even though I picked them up in the city in which they were made. They were heavily coated with sesame seeds, but didn't have much other flavor. They were thin and brittle. I found them to be bitter and not very good.

Super Hero Snacks

In the #2 spot are the Love Force kale chips. These chips recently showed up in my Whole Foods in DC. They are imported from Cincinnati, OH. I looked long and hard to find a container that wasn't completely filled with crumbs -- eventually I found one. These chips had a nice texture and crunch to them and great flavor. I loved how cheesy they were. They are made with cashews, lemon juice, sea salt, agave nectar, cajun spice, and garlic -- most of the ingredients are organic.

Love Force

They would have won had it not been for the new player in town. I happened to find some new kale chips in the Whole Foods in Friendship Heights, MD. They are made by the Sunfire Girls who are local to the area. The first thing I noticed about them was their packaging as their container was rounded and very different from any other kale chip container I'd ever seen. Their label was also very professional and I could tell they spent a lot of time on their brand. These kale chips are amazing! They were mostly intact with very few crumbs. The flavor was different than any other chip I'd ever had because the recipe is very different from any other kale chips. They use cashews, zucchini, bell pepper, sunflower seeds, lemon juice, ancho chili, nutritional yeast, flax seeds, paprika, agave nectar, garlic powder, celtic sea salt, and cayenne pepper. Wow!  They had a great crunch with just the right amount of flavor. The chili is spicy, but not too spicy and all of the other ingredients contribute to a unique taste.

Sunfire Girls

So, the winner is the Sunfire Girls from Washington, DC. I think this warrants a separate story just about them. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Meatballs, DC

UPDATE: This restaurant has permanently closed.

I know what you are thinking -- did I really go to a place called, "Meatballs?" Why, yes I did. Do they really sell just meatballs? Mostly, but there is a vegan lentil ball as well. This new restaurant has been overhyped to the max. There has actually been a lot of controversy over whether famed chef, Michel Richard, whose name backs the restaurant is really involved and, in fact, he came out and said that he wasn't, so one might wonder what this place is really all about.

Well, you can't miss the pink neon sign in Penn Quarter. They have a great location just around the corner from Oyamel and Jaleo, but that is about the only thing that is great about this place.

When I walked in, I felt like I was in a burger joint. The tables and chairs were reminiscent of a typical fast food joint and the decor left much to be desired. We walked to the back and took a look at the menu.

The first step is to pick your balls -- that was easy - lentil. The second step is to choose "how you like 'em."  I immediately asked the guy behind the counter if the polenta was vegan. He told me it was polenta. Wow - that was helpful. Thanks, Einstein. So, I asked the manager if it was vegan and got an unreassuring answer that it was. I asked some clarifying questions and he continued to tell me that it was vegan, but didn't really know what was in it. Oh, boy. I decided to trust him (big mistake!) and ordered the platter, which is balls served over polenta with a side. Third, you sauce 'em.  I chose the red pepper sauce because the morel mushroom sauce was not marked vegetarian. Come to find out it is at least vegetarian, if not vegan, but just isn't marked appropriately. The fourth step is to enhance 'em. The only vegan toppings were peppers so I chose to top it with some hot peppers.

Lastly, you choose your side. I asked if the spinach was vegan and the manager told me it had just a little bit of butter. He said it as if I could eat it because there was only a little bit. That annoyed me. I asked if any of the sides were vegan and he said the salad was, but the dressing wasn't. Great, so I'll take some plain lettuce on the side.

We tried to find a seat away from the doors, but no such luck. There really isn't any way to escape the cold air from the two doors on either side of the dining room. Why they don't lock one when it is below 50-degrees, I don't know. Anyway, as soon as I took a bite of the polenta, I was pretty sure it wasn't vegan.

I walked up and spoke to the manager again and he told me it was. I demanded to know what was in it and again he said he couldn't tell me. I went back to my table and tried the lentil balls. They were seasoned with curry powder so they had an Indian taste that I was not expecting. I had really expected an Italian taste. Neither one of us liked them. They didn't taste fresh, but considering that this place has no chef, that isn't surprising. Everything arrives pre-made. I think I started to look sick when one of the employees came over to ask how my meal was. I told him I was frustrated that I couldn't find out what was in the polenta and he told me there was dairy in it. Finally, Zach and I went up to talk to the manager again who said that it arrives in a bag pre-made, but it is vegan. He said that employee shouldn't have told me that because it wasn't true.

I left there feeling a bit sick and exhausted from all the back and forth.  Now fast forward to a couple days later when I was going to have the leftovers for lunch. As soon as I opened the container, I smelled butter. I immediately called the restaurant and said I have a dairy allergy and asked if there was any dairy in the polenta. The same guy got on the phone and said that the customers wanted something creamier so as of Monday, the polenta has dairy in it. But, as of Friday, when I ate there, it did not. I do not believe him at all. Not only does the polenta have dairy in it, but I wouldn't trust those lentil balls either. They almost certainly have some dairy or eggs in them. But, who would know? Certainly not the manager as he doesn't even know what is being shipped to his restaurant. And there is no chef. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen as soon as someone with a severe allergy steps foot in there and trusts what they are saying. For now, I'd recommend vegans boycott this place. They are not vegan-friendly and not worth the hassle. If only I knew how to force myself to throw up, I would have done so. Major thumbs down.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Oyster Mushroom Tacos

I recently had the pleasure of growing oyster mushrooms in my urban condo in DC thanks to Back to the Roots. You can read my review of this process here. They came with a recipe for tacos that Zach and I modified and made together.

I think the hardest part of this entire night was harvesting the mushrooms. I mean, I watched them grow for 10 days, and now I had to chop them off their soil. It was not easy. Zach didn't help the situation either as he kept making noises of distress each time I went to chop them as if they were screaming for help. Argh. I finally mustered up the courage and did it. I just don't want to talk about it anymore.

Oyster Mushroom Tacos
Serves 4

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
  • 5 ounces of homegrown oyster mushrooms, shredded
  • 8 6-inch flour tortillas, warmed
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Fresh cilantro

These are pretty easy to make.  First, you saute the onion in olive oil. Zach decided to carmelize onions using Earth Balance and while they were good, I preferred them with olive oil in this dish, which is how we made the second batch.

 Next, mix in the yellow bell pepper, mushrooms, and garlic cloves and continue to saute.

Next, add the spices and season with salt and pepper. As you can see there was a bit too much spice. I modified the recipe above to lessen the amount of chili powder so just use the amount in the ingredients.

And that's it! To assemble, place the black beans in a fresh, warmed tortilla and fill with the mushroom mixture, salsa, guacamole, and fresh cilantro.

These mushrooms were incredibly tasty! And considering that you can't buy oyster mushrooms in many places in DC, they were a real treat. I can't wait to grow my next crop!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Back to the Roots - Mushroom Garden

As I was walking through Whole Foods in the San Francisco area, I noticed a grow-your-own Mushroom Garden by Back to the Roots.  I didn't buy it, but when I got back to DC, I met their Business Development Lead in our Whole Foods who told me all about the product. I was immediately sold!
The story of how this came about is pretty cool. Back to the Roots was founded by Alejandro Velez & Nikhil Arora during their last semester at UC Berkeley in 2009. Two months away from graduation, and heading into the corporate world of investment banking & consulting, they came across the idea of being able to potentially grow gourmet mushrooms entirely on recycled coffee grounds during a class lecture. Inspired by the idea of turning waste into wages, they experimented in Alex's fraternity kitchen, ultimately growing one test bucket of tasty oyster mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds. With that one bucket, some initial interest from Whole Foods & Chez Panisse, and a $5,000 grant from the UC Berkeley Chancellor for social innovation, they decided to forego the corporate route, and instead, become full-time urban mushroom farmers!

But would I really be able to grow mushrooms in my condo?  I guess we'll see!  I opened up one side of the box as per the instructions and slit the bag into an X. Then I took the bag out of the box and immersed it in a bowl full of water. I let it soak in the bowl for 24 hours. Then, I took it out of the water, put it back in the box and placed it on my floor near indirect light. All I had to do was mist it twice a day, 2-4 sprays each time. So I did this and patiently waited.

Day 2 - nothing yet.

Then after 5 days, I could see the tops growing (on the right)!

After 6 days, I had mushrooms!

Here it is on day 7 -- spectacular growth!

Day 8 -- lovely mushrooms!

Here it is on day 10 -- time to harvest!

Wow! The coolest thing about this is that I just grew mushrooms in the living room of my urban condo!  They say you can get 2-4 crops out of each box, but my second batch didn't go so well.  It is very important to keep the soil moist, which is very difficult if you are running A/C or heat, both of which will dry the soil out. I first tried a batch over the summer and they dried out before I could harvest them. This time I tried them while I was running heat and made an extra effort to keep the soil very moist so they didn't dry out.  Just be careful - these little guys can be very finicky.

Now, what to do with all these mushrooms! Stay tuned for a recipe using these delicious oyster mushrooms.  If you are interested in trying this on your own, you can order a box here for $19.95. They make for a unique gift too. You can expect get at least 3 pounds of fresh oyster mushrooms out of two crops!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Yuba Roulade with Mushroom Sage Stuffing

One of the things I look forward to the most when I visit northern California is the opportunity to enjoy products made by the Hodo Soy Beanery. (And, no, I was not paid by them to write this post.) I discovered Hodo Soy when I went to the Ferry Building Farmer's Market in San Francisco with Eric Tucker, the Executive Chef at the Millennium, on a farmer's market tour before our cooking class. Eric said they make some of the best soy products and I have to agree. Hodo Soy does not ship outside of northern California so I seek them out when I am in the area.

We headed over to a natural foods store in Berkeley and were delighted to find fresh Hodo Soy yuba in the refrigerated section. Yuba, or tofu skin, is the Japanese word for the tender “skin” that forms on the top of heated soy milk. It is made by boiling soy milk in a shallow pan and collecting the film that forms on top of the soy milk, composed primarily of a soy protein-lipid complex.  It is not easy to find fresh, refrigerated yuba -- usually you can find it frozen or in its dried form in an Asian market.  When made fresh, yuba is unlike any other type of food and is prized for its texture and creaminess. These thin sheets of soy can be cut in the form of noodles, used as a wrap, or pressed into blocks.

Zach and I decided to modify a Yuba Roulade with Mushroom Sage Stuffing recipe we found on the Veggie Belly blog. It turned out perfectly delicious like something you'd find in a restaurant! Savory and filling! But, beware, this is a time-intensive process.

Yuba Roulade with Mushroom Sage Stuffing
Ingredients for Yuba Roulade
Serves 2-3
  • 2 sheets of fresh yuba (you can also use frozen or dried)
  • 1 T Earth Balance or other vegan margarine
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup diced carrots
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 8 large button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 T chopped fresh sage
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup dried vegan stuffing (I used fresh bread dried in the oven)
Ingredients for Red Wine Sauce
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 T flour
  • 1 sprig of thyme, optional
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance
  • Salt and pepper

If using frozen yuba, let it defrost before using. If using dried yuba, boil a large pot of water, turn off the heat, and put the tofu skins in the water. Let them soak for 15 minutes. Then, gently pull them out of the water, letting all the excess water drip away.  If using fresh yuba, just pull the sheets out of the package.

Lightly oil a baking sheet and lay 2 sheets of tofu skin, one on top of the other, so that their longest side is closest to you. It is okay if the tofu skins tear a little -- you can still use them. Cut the tofu skins down the middle to make two sets of sheets. (You will not see this in the pictures - this is something I learned along the way.)

Heat a skillet on medium heat, then add the Earth Balance, onion, carrot, and celery.

Cook until the onions become translucent. Then, add the mushrooms and saute until they are cooked through -- about 3 minutes. Add the sage and thyme and stir. Add the stock and bring to a boil.

Turn off the heat, and stir in dried bread or stuffing. Tip: we couldn't find vegan stuffing anywhere! So, we just diced fresh bread up and cooked it in the oven until it became hard. If you do this, you may want to add some additional sage to make up for the herbs that are normally in dried stuffing.

Toss everything till the stuffing is mixed well and absorbs all the stock.

Now, divide the stuffing in half and put half of it in the middle of each tofu skin layer, leaving a 1 inch border. (I did not have mine cut in half until I realized it didn't fit into my pot!)

Gently fold the right and left sides of the tofu skins over. Then, pick up the longer side closest to you, and roll it away from you. Keep the right and left sides tucked in as you roll it up. Roll it gently, but firmly. You should have two roulades.  (I only had one in this picture.)

Place each roulade on a sheet of aluminum foil. Wrap the foil around the roulade to make a log. Twist the ends closed. Repeat this with a second layer of foil. Now the roulade is ready to steam.

Heat a thin layer of water in a large pot or skillet. Bring it to a boil. Place the roulade in the skillet. Cover it. Reduce heat to medium-high, and let the roulade steam, adding more water as it evaporates. It will evaporate quickly so keep an eye on it. Steam them for about 1 hour.

While they are steaming, you can make the sauce. Whisk the wine, stock and flour together. Make sure there are no lumps. Add the thyme sprig. Pour the mixture into a sauce pan and simmer till the sauce has reduced to half its original volume. Whisk in the Earth Balance and salt and pepper to taste.

Now, remove the roulades from the pot and let them cool for a minute. Then remove the foil.

Heat 1 teaspoon of Earth Balance in a non-stick skillet. Carefully place the roulades on the skillet and sear all sides of the roulades until they are lightly golden.

Serve with the red wine gravy.  This meal is fit to be served at a holiday gathering with the non-vegan family!  Yes, it is that good!  Pair it with some mashed potatoes and a green salad and you have a complete meal.