Growing up, braciole was a typical Sunday/holiday meal in our house. My mom used to make it by rolling an egg filling in pounded flank steaks, browning off the rolls in olive oil and then braising them in a tomato-based sauce. She made the filling with raw egg, parmigiano cheese, garlic, parsley, and black pepper, and I think possibly some bread crumbs-- the egg would cook up with the braciole and make a cheesy/slightly omelette-like filling. I haven't eaten my mom's version in well over 20 years, but this past weekend, I decided to give my own vegan version a try.
Here's my version; it looks much like what I remember from my childhood (in a vegan way):
For the filling, I used lemon pignoli "ricotta" ( the recipe for which can be found by scrolling down on this page). I added garlic and parsley to it, so the filling ended up being pine nuts, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. For the seitan, I used my old standby: easy baked seitan, and added some ketchup and vegan worcestershire in an attempt to make it somewhat beef-like.
I rolled several pieces of seitan out to about 1/4 - 1/2-inch thickness and spread the pine nut filling across them....not knowing what to expect, I went sparingly on the filling...next time I'll use more. Then, I rolled up the seitan much like you would roll up loaves of bread. I used kabob sticks to "weave" them closed, but in retrospect, I'm convinced that the rolls would have stayed together without them.
I used Vegan Epicurean's method of steam-baking the seitan...I find this method works great for cooking seitan. Thanks Alicia!
I baked the rolls for about an hour or so, pouring water on to the baking sheet as it evaporated and turning the rolls periodically so they browned evenly on all sides. They browned nicely and stayed much more moist than if they had been dry-baked in tin foil. About a half an hour before serving, I added the rolls to a pot of tomato sauce that had been cooking for many hours and let the rolls heat through and absorb some of the sauce:
The braciole went nicely on a plate of pasta with herb-roasted tomatoes. (Note the cute bunny in the background.):
Final verdict...the filling is "garlicky" and pine-nutty...very good, can't say it mimics mom's egg filling exactly...but it provided a similar rich dimension. My mom thought it was good, though did not go into detail by way of comparisons...
The seitan itself was tender and tasty...any seitan of choice would be good. I'm thinking of future versions with chicken-style seitan and a sun-dried tomato filling...so many possibilities, so little time.
Now for the cake part: there were a good few people slated for our Easter gathering, so I volunteered to make a coconut cake. I used a recipe for coconut-lime cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I've made many of the recipes from this book and have always been happy with the result.
I quadrupled the recipe to make two, 9-inch round cakes. It's been so long since I've baked any goodies, I had forgotten how much fun it is.
Here's the final cake:
I topped it with thick coconut flake (some toasted). We ate it with the Dark Chocolate flavor of Coconut Bliss. (Incidentally--and I'm not a sweet tooth by any stretch of the imagination--the Pineapple-Coconut flavor of this same brand is pure ambrosia.)
Apparently, I lied when I said no photos were taken of the cake served out...I just found this one on my camera that someone must have snapped unbeknownst to me...or maybe I did unbeknownst to myself:
When I eat cake, it often make me think of Alice and her looking-glass cake:
"I'm sure I don't know," the Lion growled out as he lay down again. "There was too much dust to see anything. What a time the Monster is cutting up that cake!"
Alice had seated herself on the bank of a little brook, with the great dish on her knees, and was sawing away diligently with the knife. "It's very provoking!" she said, in reply to the Lion (she was getting quite used to being called "the Monster"). "I've cut several slices already, but they always join on again!"
"You don't know how to manage Looking-glass cakes," the Unicorn remarked. "Hand it round first, and cut it afterward."
(From Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.)
Original illustration by John Tenniel