Spicy pineapple seitan, for the mystery pineapple in your cupboards

Last year for my birthday, I had a hot dog party.

It was awesome.

Basically, we grilled up a bunch of Field Roast Frankfurters for me and the other veg*ns, Hebrew Nationals for the omnis, and provided a mountain of buns.

Then all the guests brought a different topping, potluck style. Toppings ranged from fancy-pants mustard to grilled onions to baked macaroni and cheese to guacamole. There were so many delicious toppings that I cut my hot dogs into pieces so I could do different toppings on each bite, and even then still ate way too many hot dogs.

So like I said, a lot of creative toppings, and surprisingly few repeats. But the one thing that showed up over and over was pineapple. People just brought can upon can of the stuff, crushed and tidbits alike. I’m assuming it was to make Hawaiiany hot dogs. But for some reason, none of the cans were actually opened at the party. And they, of course, all got left behind.

I rarely use canned pineapple, so I kind of forgot about it until recently when I was reorganizing the cupboard. My birthday is in April, so uh, they’d been sitting there for a while. Something needed to be done.

I used my favorite tender seitan, Companion Cha’i-Pow-Yu, which you can usually find at Asian markets. It doesn’t look very appetizing right out of the can, but trust me when I say it cooks up nice — just make sure you drain and rinse it. If you can’t get your hands on it, just use your favorite seitan.

Anyway, if you find some cans of mystery pineapple in your cupboard, this is what you’ve gotta do with it. If you don’t have any, this is worth buying some. Trust me.

spicy pineapple seitan

Spicy Pineapple Seitan
Adapted from Pineapple Marinade by Derrick Riches at About.com

Serves 3 to 4

1/2 cup crushed pineapple with juice
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons honey *
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch ground cloves
1 can Companion Cha’i-Pow-Yu (or 10 ounces of your favorite seitan)
1 small green bell pepper, cut into bite size chunks
1 small onion, cut into wedges
heaping 1/2 cup pineapple pieces (canned is fine)
1 serrano pepper, thinly sliced into rounds (remove some seeds/ribs as desired to dial down the heat)
1 teaspoon unrefined coconut oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Mix crushed pineapple, soy sauce, honey, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and cloves in a freezer bag or storage container and stir until combined.

Drain and rinse Cha’i-Pow-Yu, then add to marinade and stir to coat. Refrigerate and marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix seitan and marinade with bell pepper, onion, pineapple, and serrano pepper. Set aside.

Grease a small baking pan with the coconut oil, then pour mixture into it. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and take a small amount of liquid from the pan. Stir it into a small bowl with the cornstarch until there are no lumps. Pour the slurry back into the pan, stir to combine, then bake for an additional 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Let cool for a few minutes.

Serve with rice that has been lightly coated with melted coconut oil.

* Vegan substitution: Use an equal amount of agave nectar for a vegan dish.

Fig and onion pizza with quail eggs; adorable but odiferous

As you may know, I love putting eggs on top of things. One of the things I’ve been wanting to try is egg on pizza.

This is totally a thing! The lava-hot pizza comes out of the oven, an egg is cracked in the middle, and it cooks from the residual heat. Then you slice it up and everyone has some delightful drippy egg on their piece. Yum.

Yum, but, you know — drippy.

There has to be a better way, right? And after some pondering, I realized… quail eggs! Their diminutive size ensures that you get it in one bite. You still get the yolk explosion, just in your mouth instead of all over your plate. Not to mention, with them evenly dotted over the top you can ensure that there’s enough egg for everyone to be satisfied.

fig and onion pizza with quail eggs fig and onion pizza with quail eggs

For even more fun, I swapped out a tomato base for another idea that’s been bouncing around in my head for a while: a pizza sauce made out of caramelized onions.

fig and onion pizza with quail eggs

Not a date night pizza, I guess.

But man, oh man, is it good.

The caramelized onion plays beautifully with the sweetness of fresh crushed thyme and fig jam, one of my favorite combinations. The bitterness of the arugula and the smoky, salty cheese balances it all out.

What I’m saying is, it’s good. Real good. And if you make the caramelized onions and pizza dough ahead of time, it’s quick.

You could even be horrible like me and use store-bought pizza dough. Nobody will complain, I promise.

Fig and Onion Pizza with Quail Eggs

Serves 2-4

1 ball pizza dough (use your favorite recipe or store bought)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 heaping cup caramelized onions *
1 tablespoon fig jam
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
pinch hot smoked paprika
1 cup arugula
3.5 ounces smoked provolone cheese, shredded
2 ounces low-moisture mozzarella cheese, shredded
9 quail eggs
fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

With a fork, stir caramelized onions and jam together until fully combined. Sprinkle thyme leaves in onions, crushing them between your fingers as you do. Add a pinch of smoked paprika, and stir again to combine. Set aside.

Cut a piece of parchment paper the size of your pizza pan.

Preheat oven and your pizza pan according to the recipe for your dough — usually around 450 degrees.

Stretch or roll your dough balls to fit the pieces of parchment paper. I’ve found this pizza dough how-to to be helpful.

Brush olive oil on crust with a pastry brush. Then spread the caramelized onion mixture on top of the oiled dough with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle dough evenly with arugula, then top with both types of cheese.

Pick up the parchment papered pie and slide onto the preheated pan in the oven. Bake according to the directions for your dough recipe, minus 4 minutes.

Remove pizza from oven. Crack eggs evenly over the surface. Pop back into the oven to cook the rest of the way, until crust is golden and the egg whites are solid.

Grind coarsely cracked black pepper over the whole thing, then cut into slices and enjoy immediately.

** If you have a recipe you love for caramelizing onions, go ahead and use it. Otherwise, go ahead and do this. This recipe will make enough for the pizza… but since caramelized onions takes so long, just double/triple/quadruple it, please! My last batch was 9 pounds… (6 pounds lacto-veg, 3 pounds vegan). Freeze them in 1/2 cup portions so you can savor them at a moment’s notice.

Caramelized Onions
1/2 lb yellow onions (about 1 small to medium onion)
1 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch sugar

Thinly slice the onions in half moons. In a medium pot, heat oil and butter over low heat. Add sliced onions and toss to fully coat. Cover and leave for 15 minutes to soften.
Remove lid and raise the heat slightly. Add in salt and sugar, then cook and stir onions frequently for about 30 more minutes — you want them to be paper lunch bag brown, and for the texture to be gelatinous, almost like preserves or marmalade. These can be refrigerated or frozen for later use. If using immediately, set aside to cool. You’ll be left with approximately 1/4 cup of caramelized onions.

Guinness-chocolate cupcakes with Baileys-whiskey buttercream, that we are not calling “Blankish blank blank cupcakes”

So y’all, I’m gonna be real. Those drinks with Guinness, Baileys and Irish whiskey? You know, the ones that taste like a chocolate milkshake when they go down as long as you chug it before it curdles? And all of the cutesy baked goods that are inspired by those flavors? You know what I’m talking about, right?

That name has got to go.

Naming a cocktail with a crass joke about terrorism? Not cute.

I’m not saying that nobody should ever be allowed to make crass jokes by way of cocktail names. You’re allowed to. But I think that if you’re going to order something like that, you should know you’re making a statement. The statement being, “I’m a bit of a dick.”

Maybe I’m being too generous, but I think a lot of people order this drink or make these cupcakes and don’t even think about what the name means. Someone who doesn’t know anything about the Troubles in Ireland might not realize that they are ordering what, in different circumstances, might be a “9/11 flaming Twin Towers”. Even if you like dark humor, it’s generally not something you inflict on (drunk) strangers.

I’m of the opinion that if someone tells you something is offensive to them, you should believe them and not think they’re just “being overly sensitive.” And plenty of people have said that the name of this cocktail is offensive.

I also think that you should make an effort to not say the offensive thing around them, and reconsider saying it at all, especially around people you don’t know. And the internet is full of people you don’t know.

Yeah, it’s a “bomb” style cocktail. Yeah, it’s made with ingredients from Ireland. But there really has to be something better to call it.

Now, I’m not so sure about the cocktail. But thanks to a commenter from this awesome thread about boozy desserts on The Hairpin, there’s definitely a better name for the cupcakes: Finnegans Cakes! Irish and filled with booze, just like the cupcakes.

Finnegans cakes

So make these for St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow. Both are ostensibly Irish, but actually an American construct entirely. Perfect!

Finnegans cakes

Finnegans Cakes
Adapted from Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes by Smitten Kitchen

Makes 24 cupcakes

1 cup Guinness
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

5-6 cups confections sugar
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup Baileys
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons Irish whiskey

Line 2 muffin pans with 24 paper liners and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium pot over medium heat, bring Guinness and butter to a simmer. Whisk in cocoa powder until lump-free. Set aside to cool briefly.

In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt until combined.

In the stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together eggs and sour cream until combined. Add Guinness mixture and beat again briefly until combined. Then pour in dry ingredients and beat again briefly — there should still be some white streaks left. Fold together the rest of the way with a spatula until fully combined.

Divide evenly into muffin tins — each cavity should be 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full. Pop in the oven and bake for about 17 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. (Swap positions and rotate halfway through if your oven heats unevenly.)

Let cool briefly in tins. Once they are cool enough to handle, remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

The plain cupcakes can be refrigerated overnight or frozen for a couple of weeks, as long as they are in airtight containers. Or, once they’ve completely cooled… frost them!

With your stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the butter until very light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar about 1/4 cup at a time, whipping well in between each addition. Once the frosting is very thick and no longer incorporating, add the Baileys and Irish whiskey and whip again until combined and fluffy. If needed, add a little more powdered sugar to bring to desired texture.

Put into a piping bag with a tip of your choice, or just spread the frosting on with a knife. (If you don’t pipe, you’ll probably have some frosting leftover.)