Archive: December, 2006

The UnTurkey Recipe!!

Posted December 20th, 2006 by s5

Well folks, if you’re reading this, it’s because you’ve heard the rumors that Now & Zen / Green Options is no more. We have no idea what happened, other than that they closed up shop, stopped answering the phone, took down their website, and disappeared off the face of the earth. Maybe if they had – crazy, I know – made some kind of announcement or something, vegans everywhere would have rushed to help them out. Instead they disappeared without a trace, and right in the middle of the holidays no less. (Hey, not that I’m BITTER or anything! I’m sure they had a really good reason, or something.)

So anyway, faced with the prospect of never having another UnTurkey again, we here at decided to take matters into our hands. Information wants to be free and all that, so we tracked down a used (and grease splattered) original Now & Zen cookbook and did what comes naturally: we started a blog.

After all, why not? The cookbook is out of print, and the company is out of business. No one is going to be making money off of this, so why not open source the recipe? Don’t get me wrong, I’d LOVE to call Green Options and ask them permission to distribute UnTurkeys, but “this voice mailbox is full, goodbye!”

And besides, for some of us, the UnTurkey has become a holiday tradition, and you just don’t fuck with people’s holiday traditions.

That said, if you love this recipe, please buy Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner’s new cookbook, The New Now and Zen Epicure: Gourmet Vegan Recipes for the Enlightened Palate.

(Disclaimer: We’re not associated with her or her book publisher in any way. We just love her recipes, and we’re peeved that we can’t get them in frozen form anymore!)

Okay, so on to the recipe.

First thing you should know is that the UnTurkey is actually five (5!) recipes. And we’ve lovingly transcribed them for you. The recipes posted here all link to each other, so just start with the first one and click through. Or, they’re all linked here for your convenience.

The Great Gluten Turkey: The fake bird.
Great Gluten Dressing: The delicious stuffing.
Gravy for Mock Turkey: The creamy gravy.
Light Yeast Flavoring Powder: A base ingredient.
Homemade Gluten: The other base ingredient.

Oh yeah, and we haven’t had a chance to actually cook the UnTurkey, since we wanted to get the recipe out there before Christmas, and cooking this looks like it will take at least a day or two. When we do, we’ll post pics and any pointers we pick up along the way, and we hope you will too.

Happy cooking!

The Great Gluten Turkey

Posted December 20th, 2006 by s5

Serves 8-12.

Amazing, fun, incredible, and tasty, this creation will delight and satisfy any vegetarian wondering what to make for the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving or Christmas table. Like any good turkey, this one looks quite imposing with its golden and juicy-looking “skin” which, when cut, reveals white “meat” enclosing whatever kind of dressing you like. Accompanied by a tasty gravy and homemade cranberry sauce, no vegetarian will ever feel left out when the holidays roll around.

The skin for the turkey is made from “yuba,” a product made from the skin that forms when soy milk is heated. It can be purchased as fragile, dry sheets at Japanese food stores, or at certain Chinese markets in the freezer section. “Yuba” is a Japanese term and will not be understood at a Chinese grocery. The Chinese form, often labelled “bean curd sheet” or “bean curd skin,” is usually less fragile than the Japanese variety, easier to use and less expensive. To be sure you purchase the right product, avoid flat square sheets which, when closely examined, look like thick canvas (you can actually see the “weave”). Instead buy sheets that look heavily wrinkled. Sometimes they are sold as large (over 20″) circles that are folded and sold in small packets. They will be yellow in color. Some tofu cookbooks contain a recipe for making homemade yuba. The process is not hard and can be adopted when commercial yuba is not available.


Using wheat flour:
10 lbs. high-protein whole wheat flour, preferable finely ground
Approximately 14 cups water
1/3 cup Light Nutritional Yeast Flavoring (or more)

Using vital wheat gluten flour:
8 cups vital wheat gluten flour
mixed with 6 cups water
and 1/3 cup Light Nutritional Yeast Flavoring

One yard of cheesecloth
2/3 cup Light Nutritional Yeast Flavoring (or more)

1 gallon of water
1/3 cup margarine [we recommend Earth Balance --s5]
1/3 cup white wine

2 round circles Chinese bean curd sheet (yuba), or enough smaller squares to cover “turkey” in two or three layers (3 or 4 packets)

6 – 8 cups Great Gluten Dressing or stuffing of choice (bread, wild rice, chestnut, etc.)


The “yuba” must be soaked and reconstituted to a soft, pliable texture before using. It is best to put individual sheets between wet towels until they turn soft and white in color. They are then ready to use.

Using either wheat flour or vital wheat gluten flour, make gluten according to the Homemade Gluten recipe. Roll it out into a rectangle approximately 15 inches long and 8 to 10 inches wide. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup yeast flavoring (unless you’ve added it in with your vital wheat gluten). Roll it up lengthwise. Spread out the cheesecloth and place the gluten roll in the middle. Wrap the sides of the cloth around the gluten roll first, then tie the ends together. It should be wrapped fairly loosely so that the gluten can expand a little while cooking but not so loose that it expands too much and becomes too soft and spongy in texture.

Place the roll in a large pot. Pour over it the gallon of water and the remaining 2/3 cup yeast flavoring. Cover, bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. This process can be done up to two days before serving.

Prepare the Great Gluten Dressing or stuffing of your choice. Remove the gluten roll from the stock, saving the stock for gravy. Untie and remove the cheesecloth. Unroll the “turkey” and fill it with the stuffing, or mound the stuffing on a large, greased baking sheet and place the gluten around it. Place the stuffed gluten on a large, greased baking sheet.

Reconstitute the yuba by soaking for five minutes in water in a flat, shallow dish, or between layers of wet towels. It will turn white and be pliable but will still be fragile. Cover the “turkey” with two to three layers of yuba. Melt the margarine and brush the entire “turkey” with some of it. Pour the wine into the remaining margarine: this will be used to baste the “turkey” while baking. If desired, two tablespoons of the yeast flavoring can be added to the margarine-wine mixture to give it an even more authentic flavor.

Place the “turkey” in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, basting every 15 minutes with the wine-margarine mixture and the juices in the pan. If it browns too much, cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Carve as you would a regular roast and accompany with stuffing.

Per serving: Calories: 514, Protein: 46 gm., Fat: 8 gm., Carbohydrates: 58 gm.

Great Gluten Dressing

Posted December 20th, 2006 by s5

Serves 8-12.


2 Tbsp. margarine
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 oz. mushrooms, sliced [optional? not in Unturkey ingredients list. I used a carrot instead! --s5]

1 1/2 lbs. bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp. sage
1 1/2 tsp. marjoram
1 1/2 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. salt
1 cup stock


Melt the margarine. Saute the onions, celery, and mushrooms. Combine with the remaining ingredients, moistening with stock as necessary.

Per serving: Calories: 174, Protein: 7 gm., Fat: 2 gm., Carbohydrates: 30 gm.

Gravy for Mock Turkey

Posted December 20th, 2006 by s5

Makes 1 cup.


2 Tbsp. margarine
2 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup reserved gluten stock
1 Tbsp. white wine
several dashes soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Light Nutritional Yeast Flavoring (optional)


Melt the margarine in a saucepan. Add the flour and cook for two minutes. Add the reserved gluten stock, white wine, and soy sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick. For more flavor, an additional tablespoon of the Light Yeast Flavoring may be added.

Per 1/4 cup serving: Calories: 69, Protein: 0 gm., Fat: 6 gm., Carbohydrates: 4 gm.

Light Yeast Flavoring Powder

Posted December 20th, 2006 by s5

This has a poultry-type flavor.


1 cup good tasting nutritional yeast flakes
1 Tbsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. tarragon
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. rosemary
2 tsp. sage
2 tsp. celery seed
2 tsp. thyme
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder


Pulverize all ingredients in a blender until powdered. Store in a jar in a cool place.

Homemade Gluten

Posted December 20th, 2006 by s5

Makes almost 4 cups raw gluten.

Let me introduce you to seitan and other highly metamorphic concoctions! Homemade gluten has so many uses and can transform into such a variety of textures and flavors that it is really worth spending two or three hours once or twice a month to make a big batch to have on hand in either the refrigerator or freezer. It is also a great deal of fun to make and always surprising the first time to see plain, whole wheat flour suddenly metamorphose into a stretchy, gum-like substance, which again transforms into myriad “meaty” textures. Basically gluten is wheat protein and is isolated by first mixing water and flour together to make a dough, then washing away the starch and bran. Raw gluten can be baked, fried, stewed, or boiled, and will come to resemble ground meat, turkey, roasts, etc. If flavored properly, it is delicious and will surprise your guests.

The Chinese have used gluten in vegetarian cooking for centuries. In the United States, gluten is most commonly found in the form of “seitan,” where gluten is stewed with soy sauce and stock until it becomes a dark, rich, chewy substance.


3 lbs. or more high-gluten whole wheat flour
3 cups or more water


2 1/2 cups instant gluten flour
2 cups water


Basic Raw Gluten: The recipe here is for about 3 pounds of flour, but if your bowl will hold more, make more since the work is all the same. The important point to remember is to use a high-gluten whole wheat flour. Whole wheat pastry flour will not give you the same results. If you’re in doubt, ask for the best flour for bread baking – it has the highest gluten content.

Place the flour in a large bowl and add the water while stirring constantly. Add enough water to make a very firm dough-it should be much firmer than bread dough. Allow this to sit for at least 1 hour. No kneading or setting overnight is necessary.

Place the bowl containing the dough in the sink. Fill it with tap water and begin to massage the dough. The water will grow very white and milky at first as the starch rinses out. This liquid can be saved and used in place of arrowroot or cornstarch to thicken sauces and such. It will keep for about two weeks in the refrigerator. It you don’t save it, discard the water as it gets cloudy and fill the bowl with fresh water. Keep filling with fresh water, massaging the dough and discarding the water for about ten to fifteen minutes until the water grows gradually clear. During this process as the starch and bran get washed away, the dough will shrink in size and at one point may appear to be falling apart completely. In the end it will all congeal into one stretchy mass. When it looks like you have a giant wad of well-chewed bubble gum, you have transformed flour into raw gluten. You can now prepare it into a number of delectable substances.

Although a bowl is all that is really necessary to produce raw gluten, a plastic or steel colander (not wire mesh) can be a great help, especially at the stage when the gluten feels as if it is disintegrating. The water can be poured off through the colander and the colander will catch any loose bits of gluten.

How To Use Vital Wheat (Instant) Gluten Flour: If you don’t mind skipping the magic show of transforming wheat flour into gluten, you can greatly expedite the process by simply using instant gluten flour (vital wheat gluten). All you need to do is mix with water, and voila! Instant raw gluten appears. Actually, there is even an advantage here, since seasonings and flavorings can be mixed right into the flour with the water, yielding a tastier product. (Instant gluten flour is available in natural food stores or by mail order.)

To make raw gluten from instant gluten flour, simply combine the flour with the water. Mix well. Part of the water may be replaced by stock, soy sauce, miso, tomato paste, liquid aminos or another liquid flavoring agent. Various herbs, spices and other seasonings can be added to the liquid before you add it to the flour.

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