Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tipsy Soft Tacos

While the official start of summer is a few weeks away, I feel like it's already here after making our first batch of pico de gallo. We could eat this fresh salsa by the bucket. Its tangy flavor contrasts deliciously with the beer-soaked black beans in these tacos. Some toasted pepitas add an almost buttery flavor as well as a little crunch. Diced avocado lends a creamy note. These fillings would work well in burritos or atop tostadas too.

Tipsy Soft Tacos
Serves 4

1 large tomato, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 large jalapeno, seeded and minced
juice from 1/2 lime
small handful cilantro, chopped
kosher salt
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
freshly ground black pepper
12 ounce beer
2 15 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 avocado, diced
pepitas
8 corn tortillas

Make the pico de gallo by placing the tomato, 1/4 of the onion, 1/4 of the jalapeno, lime juice, cilantro, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Stir and set aside. Stir occasionally while you prepare the beans.

Prepare the beans by heating oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add remaining onion and jalapeno. Saute for about 3 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, cumin, chipotle, and salt and pepper to taste. Saute for about 30 seconds. Add beer and black beans. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium or medium low and simmer for about 20 minutes. Use a potato masher or the back of a spoon to partially mash the beans so they thicken but remain chunky.

Toast the pepitas in a skillet over medium low heat until they become fragrant. Set aside. Heat the tortillas. Prepare each serving by topping tortillas with beans, pico de gallo, avocado, and pepitas.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vegan Enchilada Casserole

I am a sucker for a creamy casserole. I just love the comforting nature of a hot and gooey one dish meal. Pre-vegan, this meant a dish smothered in cheese. Not so animal-friendly. Since going vegan I haven't made many casseroles, as I'm not a fan of the faux cheese I've tried. So over the holiday weekend I searched around the internet to find some new recipes for cheesy casseroles without the cheese.

This one is a keeper. It's a slightly modified and lazy version of Paul McCartney's Ob-La-Di Enchiladas. The tofu filling, seasoned with smoky salsa and spices, and a layer of tofu sour cream added the creamy touch I was looking for. This was so tasty! Below I note a few of the changes I made to this recipe.

And for local folks, here are a few St. Louis vegan news items. I just love getting tips about vegan options in St. Louis. Keep them coming!

Black Bear Bakery will serve vegan buckwheat pancakes upon request. The site also mentions a tempeh reuben and black bean burger, but I don't know whether these can be served vegan. Sounds like a little research outing is called for!

The Royale has several Match options on the menu. Inquire about whether the dishes are vegan. I ordered the Mediterranean pita, no feta, with Match chicken, and the chef very kindly whipped up a vegan sauce to accompany it. I just LOVE restaurants who graciously accommodate vegan requests.

stimulus! baking company offers vegan cupcakes delivered to your St. Louis door. Go St. Louis vegans!

Free Range Cookies offers some vegan sweets too.

I have a new Vital Voice column on Survival Tips for New Vegans, with a recipe for Colorful Peanut Noodles with Vegetables. You can find the print version at area businesses, and the online version should be up in about a month here.

Now back to lazy enchiladas. Here are my changes to the original recipe.

Prepare the sauce according to the original recipe. I used Mexican oregano rather than regular and added salt.

Prepare the tofu filling according to the same recipe. I added salt.

I omitted the spinach. Instead, I sauteed one thinly sliced large portobella mushroom with 1 bunch of shredded chard in olive oil with salt, pepper, and ground chipotle. Squeeze excess moisture from vegetables with a clean kitchen towel if necessary after they are cool enough to handle.

To assemble, I used a large rectangular casserole dish. Spread a little enchilada sauce on the bottom. Place 6 corn tortillas on top of the sauce. Spread half the tofu mixture on the tortillas. Spread the chard and mushroom mixture on top of that. Spread a little more sauce on top of that. Top with remaining tofu mixture. Layer on remaining 6 tortillas. Spread them with tofu sour cream. Top with remaining sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. Top each serving with salsa, pepitas, or shredded spinach if you like.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Smoky Black Bean Soup with Cilantro Sauce


What do you do when you feel like you were run over by a truck? Make soup, that hot, hearty, one dish meal that can soothe all. It all started when I got home from work Friday, and MD told me he just ordered a mondo amount of mulch to arrive Saturday morning. Things got even more alarming when he showed me the spread sheet of calculations to determine the necessary amount for our front and back yards. Despite my trepidation, I determined that no mulch would interfere with Friday cocktail time and proceeded to make margaritas. And all was well until...

Saturday morning greeted us with chilly, drizzly weather. We had weeding to do before the mulch could go down, so we got right to it, crouching, pulling weeds, squatting some more. Then, the mulch arrived, and I mean a mulch mountain. I fantasized about taking a photo of the mulch mountain for you guys, and caption it "I'd rather be blogging", but I was too overwhelmed to get the camera.

Flash forward to Sunday night. We had two days of squatting, pulling, shoveling, hauling, spreading, kneeling, ....you get the picture. I could barely move. What I needed was some serious comforting nourishment, and this soup fit the bill. After a little chopping of vegetables, everything was ready to simmer away while I had a glass of wine and called for more Ibuprofen. The result was a smoky black bean soup with chunky potatoes, red bell peppers, and corn, all flavored with chipotle in adobo. I stirred in a sauce at the end of minced cilantro, garlic, and olive oil to impart a nice flavorful finish.

I hope to get a few shots of our flowers and culinary herbs to share soon. If I can keep Scout from nibbling the Thai basil. And after I stop feeling like I was run over by a truck.

Smoky Black Bean Soup with Cilantro Sauce
Serves 6-8

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced and divided (set 1 clove aside)
1 Tablespoon chipotle in adobo, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
14.5 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 15 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup frozen corn
crumbled tortilla chips and hot sauce to garnish, optional

In a large pot (that has a lid), heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and bell pepper and saute for about 8 minutes. Add 3 cloves minced garlic, chipotle, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Saute for about 1 minute. Add potatoes, tomatoes, beans, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the cilantro sauce by combining the chopped cilantro, 1 clove minced garlic, 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste in a small bowl. Set aside.

After the soup cooks for 30 minutes, remove the lid and add the corn. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until it thickens to the consistency you desire. Turn off heat and stir in cilantro sauce. Serve each bowl garnished with crumbled tortilla chips. Check for seasoning and add salt or hot sauce if desired.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Swell Vegan's Lentil Bolognese

You might have visited the Swell Vegan blog, one of my favorites for gorgeous food photography. When the swell cookzine was published, I knew I had to purchase a copy! This recipe for Lentil Bolognese alone is worth the purchase. A chunky lentil and tomato sauce with a few ingredients that smell divine. We ate the sauce over whole wheat penne one night, and over toasted buns another. We also loved the Coconut Red Bean Quinoa, which is included in the cookzine as well as here. Everything in the zine sounds so delicious, the only dilemma is which recipe to try next.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cashew Mushroom Pâté


A house concert potluck Friday night gave me the chance to try a new appetizer recipe, this cashew mushroom pâté. If you haven't been to a house concert, keep an eye out for an opportunity in your town. We prefer to hear live music in small venues, and it doesn't get more intimate than someones home. House concerts involve someone hosting a band in their home, and opening the show to the public. All donations go to the band, and people usually bring food to share too. Friday night we saw The Greencards, who put on an energetic show with some amazing musicianship. They play some traditional bluegrass, and plenty of bluegrass-influenced songs with their own modern spin on them. There's a little swing, a little pop, and some world music influences thrown in for good measure.

While my go-to house concert dish is cold peanut noodles, this time I wanted to make a dip instead. This pâté combines sautéed mushrooms and onions with spices and cashews for an earthy taste with a predominant curry flavor. The Lovin' Spoonfuls restaurant recipe was featured in a Vegetarian Times column on best restaurant recipes. I substituted dry vermouth for sherry, since we always have martini fixin's on hand. A little diced peppadew is sprinkled on top to garnish. Check out the article for more fun recipes. I've put The Grit's Golden Bowl on my list to try too. Even though I have The Grit's cookbook, I've yet to make the Golden Bowl.

And thanks everyone for the good thoughts for Ricky! We have our finger crossed that he'll be adopted soon.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ricky!

Happy May everyone! Today I'm taking a break from vegan food to share a special doggie post. Y'all know by now that I'm a dog lover. There's Scout, of course, plus I get to have fun with all sorts of other dogs by volunteering at the Humane Society of Missouri. Remember Rosetta and Spanky? They both found families after spending some time at the shelter.

One of our volunteers wrote a special poster about Ricky, who is at the Macklind location of the Humane Society of Missouri. Here's some info about our boy:

My name is Ricky and I am a gorgeous black Labrador Retriever/Pit mix. I have been waiting patiently at the shelter for a long time and I would love to find my forever home. I am a little over 1 year old so I still have some puppy energy, but I am also a good listener and I like to please people. I love to go for walks, and I love to sit with someone and cuddle and give kisses. I’m very sweet and I love everyone, but because of my size and energy level, it would be better for me to go home with older children. I sit on command and could learn a lot more. I much prefer to potty outside rather than mess up my kennel. Ask the volunteers how great I am! Please give me a chance. I just want someone to love me! If you are looking for a new best friend or a great family dog, come and meet me at the HSMO-Macklind. I would love nothing more than to finally go home!!!

I'll add that Ricky is a really smart guy too, and full of personality. During our Shelter Dog Training class, Ricky figured out which one of us had the tastiest treats. He'd do what any one of us asked, but he'd then look to the person with the tastiest treats because he wanted his reward from her! So adorable; he had all of us cracking up. If you know of someone who is interested in adopting and think that Ricky might be a good fit, encourage them to come visit Ricky at the Humane Society of Missouri on Macklind. He is located in the Female Wing (I know, ignore the gender part, the dogs are assigned to both wings regardless) and his identification number is A453865. Check out the directions and business hours for the Macklind location here.

Thanks for spreading the word about Ricky, an athletic, smart, funny, great-looking boy.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Michelada


With Cinco de Mayo coming up fast, I thought I'd try a Michelada for the first time. This Mexican beverage might not have the immediate appeal of the more familiar margarita. Beer over ice, really? But I can imagine finding it festive and refreshing on a sweltering day. The flavors are citrusy, salty, and spicy. For some reason, it reminded me of iced tea, but perhaps this was mostly the color and citrus flavor. The typical Michelada is beer and lime juice over ice, with some savory and spicy seasonings, served in a glass with a salted rim. I added ground ancho chile to kosher salt for some smoky flavor for the glass rim. If you're looking to try something new for Cinco de Mayo, the Michelada is a good option. ¡Salud!

Michelada
1 Serving

kosher salt
ground ancho chile
juice from 1/2 lime
1 dash vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 dash Maggi seasoning sauce or soy sauce
2 dashes hot sauce
12 ounces beer

Place a little kosher salt and ancho chile powder on a saucer. Mix it up. Rub the half lime around the rim of a tall glass then dip the rim in salt and chile mixture.

Add lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, Maggi sauce, and hot sauce to glass. Stir. Put some large ice cubes in the glass and slowly fill with beer. The beer might foam quite a bit.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Green Curry Tofu Scramble

I need to be too busy to make breakfast more often, because this was the result on Saturday. MD took matters into his own hands to create this Green Curry Tofu Scramble, inspired by a dish he had at Mokabe's brunch. This scramble is seasoned with green curry paste and coconut milk, and mixed with carrots, red bell pepper, and baby spinach for a veggie-filled start to the day. It tastes amazing, and is a nice change of pace from our typical Mexican-spiced scramble. The recipe below is our best guess at MD's creation. Hmm...I wonder what would happen if I'm "too busy" to make dinner tonight?

Green Curry Tofu Scramble
Serves 2-3

14 ounces extra firm tofu, pressed
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 carrot, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 can (about 6 ounces) coconut milk
1 heaping Tablespoon vegan green curry paste
several dashes of tamari
salt to taste
5 ounces baby spinach
chopped cilantro and Sriracha chili sauce, to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the carrot and bell pepper until soft, about 10 minutes. Add half of the coconut milk and the green curry paste. Heat until the curry paste is dissolved. Add remaining coconut milk, tamari, and salt. Crumble the tofu into the skillet. Simmer for about 14 minutes. Add the baby spinach and stir until it wilts. Top each serving with cilantro and Sriracha sauce.

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