Sunday 11 December 2011

CC Chesapeake tempeh cakes for carols

Last weekend we went to an outdoor Christmas Carols service.  I started making Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes for the picnic while Sylvia slept.  It is so lovely cooking with life is peaceful.  Then she woke and my parents appeared and it was a mad rush to get our things together.  It felt like a miracle we got there but we did.

When Sylvia woke I had been rolling the burgers into balls and had dirty hands.  She took one look and advised, "if you wash your hands under water they will be clean," having experimented with just such washing at the sink quite a lot.  She watched in horror as I started to grill the tempeh cakes and a huge flame erupted on one of them.  I like to spray grill burgers with oil and grill them (ie broil them if you live in America).  The sprays seem to emit a gas that is very flammable when it comes to the grill.  Usually I am more careful.

Then my mum and dad arrived.  My dad helped to dismantle Sylvia's rejected cot to take away.  My mum was feeling under the weather but hates to stand idle so she did the dishes.  (I tried to dissuade her, honestly.)

Mum and dad then came to the carols with us.  We got there just as Santa Claus arrived.  Sylvia enjoyed seeing him.  Luckily for us, she was not so interested in joining the long queue to sit on his lap.  Dad queued for sausages instead but found there were none to be had.  He made do with a Chesapeake tempeh cake.  I can't claim he was overly excited.  Yet they were very acceptable for vegan fishcakes with tempeh and nori. 

We also had the smoky red pepper hummus, vegies, rice crackers, popcorn, tim tams, cherries and marzipan tart.  Unfortunately, when it was time for a cuppa tea, my mum discovered that the thermos was no longer working.  It was a disappointment because it was such a cool evening.  The carols were great, however, with a few different community choirs.

The Chesapeake tempeh cakes were great picnic food.  In fact I preferred them at room temperature rather than straight off the grill.  I enjoyed the crispy breadcrumb interior when hot but they were a bit soft inside.  Cooled, they were firmer and the flavours were more prominent. 

After carols (as the rain poured down and we were thankful the washing was in) E and I discussed how best to eat the tempeh cakes.  E suggested tomato sauce and chips.  I had thought they would be good with a yoghurt sauce and salad.  Isa suggests a tartare-style sauce.  On the PPK comments, there are helpful suggestions of adding cauliflower to the mix or serving with avocado.  I liked them topped with smoky red pepper hummus both at the carols and at Chesterfield farm the next day.

I made these burgers for the Cookbook Challenge theme of Seafood.  A challenge for a vegetarian blog.  But Isa noted that they were inspired by Chesapeake crabcakes, so they seemed to fit the theme.  As I have never eaten crabcakes, I couldn't say how the compare but I enjoyed them.  I am also sending them to Couscous and Consciousness for the Cookbook Sunday event, which, like the Cookbook Challenge, encourages bloggers to use their cookbooks.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Buns, soup and crunchie in yaz's kitchen
This time two years ago: Edinburgh Castle: Queen Anne Cafe
This time three years ago: Festive Shortbread
This time four years ago: How green was my mole?

Chesapeake tempeh cakes
Adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan Brunch - posted on PPK
makes about 12

300g packet of tempeh
1 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
1 sheet nori, finely chopped
1 spring onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
1 tbsp seeded mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 heaped tsp chilli paste
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp dried oregano
good pinch salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper
stir in
1 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs (I processed week old wholemeal bread)
1/2 cup white rice crumbs (optional)
extra breadcrumbs for coating tempeh cakes
oil spray for grilling

Crumble tempeh and mix with water, olive oil, soy sauce and bay leave in a medium saucepan.  Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes or until most of the water had evaporated - I let mine simmer another 10 or so minutes because it was still a bit watery after 15.  Let cool slightly in a large mixing bowl.  (The recipe says to make sure it is room temperature or the tempeh cakes might fall apart but I found that the tempeh cooled a lot as I got the other ingredients together.

Add red pepper, nori, spring onion, mayonnaise, mustard, red vinegar, chilli paste, ginger, oregano, salt and pepper.  Stir into tempeh mixture.  Check seasoning.  Mine were very soft - possibly because I had used the crumbs of old bread rather than completely dried breadcrumbs that I usually use - so I added the half cup of rice crumbs in lieu of extra breadcrumbs but I recommend only adding them (or additional breadcrumbs) if the mixture needs firming up.

Roll into 10-12 balls and flatten each into patties.  You may need to dampen your hands to stop the mixture sticking to them.  Toss patties in extra breadcrumbs (or rice crumbs - I used a mixture of wheat and rice).    Spray one side with oil and cook under the grill for 5-10 minutes or until crisp and brown.   Turn over and spray the other side.  Cook for a few minutes, or until crisp and brown.

On the Stereo:
The Original Christmas Album: 20 Party Christmas Crackers: Various Artists


  1. We always wanted to try these from Isa's book, they look great, glad to hear you enjoyed them. We'll try them one day, thanks for sharing!

  2. Johanna, I would say that these are a great vegetarian alternative for a seafood alternative. Love the idea of serving with the red pepper hummus. Think maybe a nice gutsy aioli of a lovely tarragon mayonnaise could also be good accompaniments.

    Thanks you so much for sharing this with Cookbook Sundays - I do hope you'll join in again.

    Sue :-)

  3. I love the look of these cakes Johanna. I think they would suit almost any event, picnic or at home, which the various ideas for serving / sauces seem to confirm. I've never had crab cakes either but I think I'll stick with your variety.

    I also enjoyed the insights into your family life and the carols evening - including the flame excitement in the kitchen before leaving!

  4. This definitely sounds like another way I could enjoy tempeh! I'll have to give this a try one day.

  5. I vote chilli sauce, but then again I put chilli on everything! Glad you enjoyed the carols. My choir had our end-of-year concert on Saturday, and our three Christmas songs are/were INSANE. They make me giggle. No jingle bells or santa for us!

  6. They look really good. I don't think I've ever tried tempeh-hubby doesn't like the stuff but these cakes look good!

  7. I have had this recipe bookmarked for a loooong time. I think I could almost have predicted what your and E's different preferences for side dishes would be. :-D

    I reckon I'd be going for tartare sauce, an old favourite.

  8. Just lovely Johanna! I will make some for my friends who are coming over.

  9. We're off to Carols this Saturday night. I've been wondering what to pack in my picnic and these would be great. What a timely post!

  10. I've definitely had that spray stuff catch on fire before. It's scary stuff!

    These tempeh cakes sound delicious! The flavors of crab cakes but way better.

  11. Every time i flick through Vegan Brunch I think to myself I shall make these, now you've reminded me. Need to pick up some tempheh though.

    I would serve these with a good tartare sauce. I love capers.

  12. I love the Vegan Brunch cookbooks! I've passed by this recipe many times because I rarely cook with tempeh but I should give it a chance. They look delicious!

  13. Thanks Adam and Theresa - hope you enjoy them

    Thanks Sue - never tried tarragon - sounds interesting in a mayo

    Thanks Kari - the flame was a surprise - more expected at carols than in our kitchen :-)

    Thanks Mel - the tempeh taste is not really strong so this might be a good one to try

    Thanks Hannah - am sure your concert would be fun - we had jingle bells but it was an Aussie version that I enjoyed

    Thanks Lorraine - these are great for those who don't like tempeh but less great for you if you want a good sense of how it tastes - worth a try anyway

    Thanks Cindy - one for the barbie this summer :-) I was paranoid that tartare sauce had seafood in it so I avoided it for ages and am still not that familiar with it - but think it would be good here

    Thanks Anh - hope it works for you

    Thanks Hotly Spiced - hope the weather is kinder to your carols than it was to ours last weekend - and that your picnic is delish

    Thanks Joanne - I am usually more careful with the spray but must have been multi tasking - it is a bit volatile with a gas flame

    Thanks Shaheen - I've thought the same thought many times - good luck with finding tempeh - it is hit and miss here

    Thanks Ashley - yes give it a go - the flavours are worth the effort

  14. Glad you made these because I've been eyeing that recipe for ages and haven't tried them yet. I like tempeh on its own, so anything with tempeh is good in my books, butI just wasn't too sure about the rest of it.


Thanks for dropping by. I love hearing from you. Please share your thoughts and questions. Annoyingly the spammers are bombarding me so I have turned on the pesky captcha code (refresh to find an easy one if you don't like the first one)