So I received my first Christmas present last night!  My dad and I met up for dinner at Across the Street (mmm tvp tacos! and sangria!) and a mini-shopping spree at Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe last nigh,t and I walked away with a bag full of goodies.  Hurrah for being vegan and having vegan-specific stores in town!  At the bake-off on Sunday, a bag from Queen Bee Creations in Portland caught my eye.  Originally $98 but marked down to $76, I knew that if the chance arose I was going to nab it.  My original bigger bag that I use for school grew a hole in it, so I figured I better replace it before my keys fell out.

I also grabbed a copies of Bryana’s Nonna’s Italian Kitchen and Authentic Chinese Cuisine for the Contemporary Kitchen.  I stir-fry a lot and I normally find my recipes online, but having sauces and mock-meat recipes in one place is going to be great.  I haven’t decided what to make first–sizzling rice soup, kung pao chicken, beef and broccoli–it all looks so fabulously good.  Chinese cuisine is definitely one of my favorites.  I’m also excited about the Italian one because I’ve wanted an excuse to buy a pasta maker.  Homemade tortellini or ravioli?  Yes yes yes please.  I miss Italian food so much–not the cheeses, but the pasta choices.  Occasionally I end up at Figo, an Italian chain, and while I’ve learned that I can substitute meat from the sauces, I’m still stuck with penne pasta and a rather bland tomato sauce.  Have I mentioned that I love stuffed pasta?  I can’t wait to try any of these recipes out.

Now on to the recipe I promised.  I have I whetted your appetite yet?  Have I teased your tongues?  Well here’s the first installment!  Like many of you, I ran across Leite’s Culinaria’s recipe for Caldo Verde, a traditional Portuguese soup.  Last week, a beautiful bunch of kale came in my vegetable husband basket, and with the weather being so dreadfully cold for the South (it’s all relative, I know), I decided that nothing sounded better than kale soup.

One problem though.  Arguably, the main component of the dish is a hard sausage.  But I was determined to make this dish.  I did a few Google searches to see if anyone else had perfected vegan chourico, and Bryanna actually had one online!  Unfortunately, her recipe was for a loose tvp crumbles and the soup required a hard sausage.  While I normally don’t go out on a limb and veganize savory dishes (I’m truly more creative as a baker), I figured I could take Bryanna’s seasoning mixture and create my own saussage a la Julie Hasson.

The end result?  The most delicious vegan sausage I’ve made to date.  The poet agrees.  Don’t be dissuaded by the incredibly long ingredient list–this is worth it.  Plus the steaming method takes only 30 minutes, so you’ll have your saussages in no time.

Stay tuned for the next two pieces of the recipe!

Vegan Chouriço

2 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup soy flour
2 tbsp Veg Base broth seasoning stuff
1  tbsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp liquid smoke
2-3 T. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
2  cups cool water

In a large bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients.  In a seperate bowl, whisk together the liquid smoke, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil, and water.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined.  Knead the dough for a minute to make sure everything is mixed, and then let the dough sit for 5 minutes.

Scoop 1/2 cup dough mixture at a time and shape into logs.  Place logs on piece of aluminum foil and roll up, twisting ends. Place sausages in steamer and steam on medium heat for 30 minutes.

Remove sausages from steamer to cool.  Once they are cool, remove the aluminum foil and refrigerate until ready to eat.