Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

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Best Friend’s 25th Birthday, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen – San Antonio, TX

April 28, 2012

My best friend turned 25 on April 20th. We celebrated at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen here in town and had an amazing time! For a chain restaurant, the food is simply sublime.

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He loved the custom card I made him. When we were younger, we played a lot of Star Wars: Jedi Knight 2, and ultimately JK3. We were always the portly Rodians. We called ourselves The Garbage Men. :p Those are the beasts you see on the front of the card. The red thing between them represents my little brother’s character back then — he was always a Red Reborn. Good times. 🙂

When we played that game, he couldn’t decide what to name his particular character. I said the little green head on a plump body like that looked like a hairy kiwi. So he called himself “MrHairyKiwis” and it stuck! To this day, that’s still his nickname. Rarely do we call him “Nathan” — always “Kiwis” or another term of endearment, “Rhino.” 😀

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First appetizer — Frog Legs, (two pictured, two were already consumed). These were delicious! The breading was light, crispy and well seasoned. The frog was tender and silky, as to be expected. I’ve always loved frog legs. Many say frog tastes like chicken but I think they taste more like testicles, if I had to compare them to anything.

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Second appetizer of Baked Oyster Duo, three Oysters Pappadeaux (crabmeat, spinach & hollandaise) and three Oysters Baton Rouge (romano & parmesan cheeses). I loved them both equally.

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My entrée! Pan broiled with dirty rice. They were excellent! They weren’t exactly tiny, either. I took one home.

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My brother’s entrée: Grilled Caribbean Lobster Tail. He said it was really good, if not a bit on the salty side.

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I had a side of spaghetti squash. Yum!

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Our best friend reacting to some vulgarity my brother shot his way. 😀

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We had some of these — Baton Bellinis! Flor de Cana 7 year aged rum, Hornitos Plata tequila, peach, fresh lemon & lime, finished with Saracco Moscato d’Asti. Best cocktail of the day.

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And some of these — The Patrón Perfect. Patrón Silver tequila & Patrón Citrónge Orange liqueur with fresh lemon & lime. Quite tasty.

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This is the Captain Morgan rum on the rocks my brother had beside this MONOLITH of a brownie that we annihilated. That thing wasn’t just fudgey and chocolatey and sweet and caramel-y and delicious, it was a TAUNT to a sucrose coma. Finished off with some vanilla ice cream, it was a flawless finish.

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My beloved Jameson Irish Whiskey on the rocks and I. I’m a complete sucker for Jameson!

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY! KANPAI! ~(\=^-^)=/ ~So happy you can see my Speak Now bracelets!

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HAPPY 18th BIRTHDAY, My Favourite Twins On the Planet!

April 6, 2012

I can’t believe it’s been an entire year since I did a birthday post for my premium twins, Rebecca & Beth Hackfath! Time flies waaaaaaaayyy too fast…

But here we are! My girls are 18!!!!!!!! NO ONE I care about turns 18 without me making a fuss!  So I made a few treats to show off to them since I wasn’t able to be there in person for the occasion.

I asked Becca what she considers something special and yummy. She told me about this pasta bake her mom fixes — it’s creamy and chickeny and done with tagliatelle! I was unable to source that pasta so I used fettuccini for this recipe, which is very similar to tagliatelle.

THE CHICKEN BRICK

Har!!! I followed the principles of that pasta bake but kinda went backwards. I fixed the pasta in a homemade cream sauce (built up form chicken stock and roux, and a base of sauteed onions and pancetta). Tossed everything together then stuffed it in a personal sized mold. Once it cooled, I inverted it and un-molded it to make the lovely brick shape you see here. Topped it with freshly grated mozzarella cheese and homemade Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, placed under the broiler for a couple minutes and here it is!

Now for Birthday Cake!

Becca and Beth have a sweet tooth! :p So I wanted to do something sweet but not gaggingly sweet. I wanted to combine a few flavours I know work together.

Upside Down Champagne Apple & Cherry Chocolate Cake w/ Champagne Strawberry & Mint Salad

For starters, my apple slices, maraschino cherries and (diced) strawberries all marinaded in champagne! >:))) Birthday + Special People = Champagne!!!

I  made these personal sized. Start with the basic fundamentals for any upside down cake — butter & brown sugar on the bottom (you may use Vegan butter to cut calories!). Then, I layered a central slice of apple, surrounded by maraschino cherries. In goes the chocolate cake batter! I mixed diced apples into that and use some apple juice to amp the apple taste. Bake, let cool, use a knife to follow along the edge of the cake so it slips out easily, use a plate over the top of the ramekin to help flip, invert, there’s the cake!

After the inversion, I made two glazes for drizzling — both out of powdered sugar and whole milk. For once, I didn’t use soy or coconut or almond because those flavours would have conflicted with my recipe but you may use them if you please. I made one plain white and one pink! You can see the results.

My approach to the side of the plate with the strawberry & mint salad was to go at it in a bit of an abstract art style. I think it looks quite lovely! :p What do YOU think?!

And here is an Apple Tart w/ Honey on Puff Pastry

So simple to fix and so yummy! Just cut some rectangles out of thawed puff pastry sheet. Roll it out some or use your fingers to work it out to your desired length. Brush with some butter of your choice, arrange apple slices as pictured, drizzle with  some more melted butter of your choice or a good oil, like a fruity olive oil would be perfect! Bake till golden and puffy. Drizzle with honey and dust with powdered sugar! Garnish with a mint leaf and enjoy! I made a bunch of these. :p Oh, and you can drizzle the honey BEFORE baking if you want to get that baked honey thing going. So good either way.

Beth and Becca! I know this isn’t much but I’m far away and food is one way I show people I love them. 🙂 And I love you both very much! I feel we’ve really connected over the past few years and I feel lucky to count you among my very best friends, online or otherwise. Whoever said people can’t forge meaningful relationships over the internet is full of shit. :p

I’m SO thrilled to see you both turn 18! It’s a major milestone. I remember when I turned 18… kind of. ;p ~I wish I could do it all over again. You’ll probably feel like that one day so please cherish every second of your special day, relish every moment and take every pleasure in basking in all the love that surrounds you. I hope you’ve had the best celebration possible today! As I said on Facebook, I’m blowing out some birthday candles of my own here, in your honour! My wish: That you both are eternally happy!

Your Forever-Friend,

~Charlie ♥

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Tomato & Olive Frittata

March 24, 2012

I love frittatas. They’re super easy to make and allow an endless amount of creativity to be had. If you’re just learning how to move a skillet around or practicing your egg skills, or simply want to fix something super fast and super yummy — turn to a frittata for a simple solution!

Basically, a frittata is beaten eggs you never fold or flip or anything. It cooks in the skillet and slides out of the skillet, no fuss no foul. You can even eat the thing out of the skillet or slice and serve from there. I made this one the other day. I felt like practically DRINKING some black olives but I figured I’d act like a civilized human being and prepare them in something proper. Here’s my recipe:

Tomato & Olive Frittata

6 large eggs
1 tbsp butter (I use Earth Balance Vegan Butter
2 oz. black olives, sliced (drained if from a can)
1 small tomato, diced (peeled or unpeeled is up to you. I like the peel).
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Olive Oil drizzle
Bunch cilantro for garnish

First, we mise en place!

This is how I dice my tomatoes. You can also follow these additional steps to peel before you dice. Reserve.

I used a small can of thinly sliced black olives but you are more than welcome to use whatever kind of black olive you enjoy, such as those that come whole in a jar. Just slice them as thin as you feel comfortable. If they need to be pitted, be sure to take out and discard those pits. Reserve.

Crack six large eggs into a large non-reactive bowl. We’re mixing this in a non-reactive bowl because we’re working with something acidic — tomatoes! If you use something like aluminum to mix about your acidic dish, you’ll impart an unpleasant taste to your food. We don’t want to do that, do we? Use glass or ceramic, or stainless steel. I love my Pyrex bowls!

Beat VIGOROUSLY till eggs are completely broken down and frothy. The more air you beat into them, the fluffier they will be. Here is how to properly beat eggs. Remember to kinda come up as you move those eggs, and do it with gusto. It’s almost a lifting motion, NOT STIRRING.

Add heavy cream and beat till completely combined.

Add tomatoes and olives, and beat gently till incorporated.

Heat a non-stick skillet over med-low heat. Add butter and move around as it melts to fully coat the skillet, even up the sides. (*Note: You can use plain olive oil or any fat of your choice. I just love Earth Balance so I use it in most things. You can even use coconut oil, which gives everything the coolest taste)! Heat until butter is completely melted.

Add egg mixture. Swirl mixture in skillet till evenly distributed.

Cover and allow to cook for 10-12 mins. This will set the bottom and allow some steam action to fluff the frittata. From this stage, you can actually garnish and serve in wedges. Feeds 2-4 people.

Alternatively, you can allow the frittata to cook more. Place under a broiler or in a 375-degree pre-heated oven and continue to cook till done, (2-4 mins, or until the top browns for a broiler, about 5 mins. for a traditional oven).

I’ll be posting more frittatas soon! Just remember you can add more eggs for a thicker dish or fewer for thinner. Just keep in mind, your cooking times will need adjusting. Have fun with this!

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HAPPY 15th BIRTHDAY, SARA MARGOLIS !!!!

January 31, 2012

Sometimes, I wonder what I did in another life to deserve the cool, amazing friends I have. One such friend is Model Sara Margolis! We were chit-chatting the other day and I asked her if she had her birthday party planned yet. She said she hadn’t had one in years and I nearly fell outta my chair!

SO I THREW ONE! 😀

True to form, I cooked up a storm and aimed for special! I wanted these dishes to reflect a theme, showcase some of the stuff Sara has done, the places she has been and the whimsy in her personality.

#StuffSaraLikes = All things tropical! She’s a Vegetarian (Ovo-Lacto) so fruits and veggies are big. Sweets and sour surprises, too!

Sara told me a story about a vacation of hers where she, her brother and a friend flung a coconut off a hotel balcony till it busted on the concrete below. What a way to go! I bet that coconut’s coconut-pals still talk about how he met such an untimely demise! I decided to pay homage to that coconut — Otis the Coconut! — with a signature dish I called:

Sara’s Sweet & Sour Coconut/Lime Mousse w/ Sweet & Sour Mint Phyllo Chips

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Ole Otis here is stuffed with rich and fluffy yet light and bright coconut lime mousse, topped with lime zest and toasted coconut, served with phyllo chips and garnished with mint.

The sand is pulverized wafer cookies and graham crackers. The eyes are edible, too! :p

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These phyllo chips were so fun to make. I dusted them with citric acid and colored sprinkles! That citric acid is the stuff on Sour Patch Kids candies and Sour Skittles. They were a perfect pop to the decadent mousse.

A trick to get some lime taste in the chip itself was to make lime sugar! I infused confectioner’s sugar with lime zest. I let the sugar and zest sit together for an hour. Then, as I folded the phyllo pastry, I dusted the sugar between the layers to act as a bit of an adhesive during the baking process.

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Sara’s Sandcastle Retreat Cake

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This was wild! I had never made a sandcastle cake before. BUT! Sara enjoys tropical holidays. She sports enough beach pictures to fill an impressive travelogue! Besides that, “Sara” means “PRINCESS” in Hebrew. Sooo, I went with the theme and made our Princess a beach castle she can hide away in for some R&R. I dunno about that starfish, though. How did he get on the beach resort guest list? :O Looks suspicious!

I really wanted this to look like something someone made on the beach so I forwent using things like fondant and stuck with a spatula and my hands, instead!

This is a three-tier cake for 75. The bottom tier was a traditional white vanilla cake infused with guava and lime. The middle tier was my favorite — Strawberry and Chocolate swirl! It tasted exactly like Neopolitan ice cream! The top tier was a strawberry cream bundt cake.

Frosting! The top tier was frosted in a coconut-pecan glaze that gave the “sand” an awesome wet-sand look after application. The middle and bottom tiers were frosted in lemon/lime/orange zest infused buttercream.

The sand is a mixture of pulverized vanilla wafer cookies, graham cracker cookies and these gingersnap type things I bought. Those made the darker sand where I wrote “HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARA”!

I also bought the candy pearls sprinkled everywhere. 🙂 ~And the candles!

The shells, starfish and misfits invading Sara’s castle are all handmade with white chocolate. Very yummy!

The towers are, of course, ice cream cones — decorated! :p

Sara’s Facebook name is “Tweetie Bird” so I had to invite Tweety to the party!

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This is how cake was served. Here is my favorite of the three: a slice of strawberry/chocolate swirl atop strawberry cream and guava/ancho chili infused chocolate drizzle, decorated with pink and lavender sugar sprinkles — and served with a quenelle of mango sorbet. On top is a red candle with a red flame, a white chocolate sea shell and one of the cookie “castle battlements.”

The sweets didn’t stop there! Considering Sara turned FIFTEEN and TAYLOR SWIFT wrote a song called FIFTEEN, it stood to reason to make some T-Swizzle inspired treats!

Taylorific Orange Infused Cheesecake w/ Raspberry Puree

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Taylor (I call her Tayters!) has said her favorite food is cheesecake. Nothing easier, more fun or yummier than that! This is an orange infused cheesecake with graham cracker crust, served on a bed of raspberry puree w/ an orange peel twirl, orange zest & mint leaf garnish. Decadent, silky, lovely!

Parmesan Dusted Sara Tots w/ Horseradish Vegenaise Dip

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TAYTER TOTS! Growing up, that was Taylor’s nickname and what I still call her. FOR THE OCCASION, though, I believe we can call these “SARA TOTS!” :p These are Yukon Gold potato “Sara Tots” dusted with Parmesan cheese and pepper, served with a luscious Vegenaise and horseradish dip. For any of you who want to cut down on the mayo, definitely go out and get some Vegenaise! It’s great and better for you!

Sarastrone Soup

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This is my traditional recipe for minestrone soup. I like fixing it vegan-style, and fully embrace the bean broth as the base of this hallmark dish. The incorporation of the shell pasta ties into Sara’s beach-themed gala, and that makes it SARASTRONE instead of minestrone!  ;p

Saravera Primavera Martini

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This was good! This is a medley of kale, watercress, baby asparagus tips, PAPAYA (omg yum), Korean garlic-chili sauce and quinoa spaghetti noodles quickly sauteed in sesame oil. Once in the martini glass, I drizzled a very clean celery/onion broth with a hint of low sodium soy sauce over it all, garnished with a scallion curl and fresh flat leaf parsley — AND PAPAYA PEPPER! NEVER throw away your papaya seeds! All you have to do is soak them, husk them, dry them and grind them! Then, you have the healthiest “pepper” you could ever hope to find!

FYI, I no longer use any other pasta but the quinoa stuff! Quinoa is a real super food. The health benefits are astounding!

The Princess Sara (Cocktail)

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Can’t have a party without a cocktail!

I made two versions of this; one for the under-21s (like our birthday girl! :p ) that was just as delicious as the one for us over-21s. This cocktail is inspired by the traditional red tea from South Africa, Rooibos Tea, and fuses some tropical influences into it with crushed mint (mojito style!) and fresh mango juice — and rum! I used coconut rum. :p

Sara said one of her favorite fruits is mango so this recipe felt natural. Rooibos is SO good for you! See here. I served this in a glass that could facilitate four Lite Cubes for the neon rave effect you see pictured. All garnished with fresh mint!

So, basically, smush a mint leaf at the bottom of the glass. Removal of the deceased leaf is optional. Lite Cubes go in. Then, start building! 3 parts mango juice, 2 parts Rooibos tea, rum to fill, mint garnish. Enjoy!

SARA! I pity people who don’t know you. You have an uncanny essence & energy that lights up any room and turns any frown upside down. I’m SO thankful we met because I firmly believe that, to make the most of life, we must surround ourselves with bright, ambitious, successful people who keep the goal of living life to its fullest at the top of their to-do list — people like you. There are LOTS of people who love you — including me! — so never forget that the more you smile and the brighter you glow, the more people you’ll inspire around you, with everything you do. Just look at all the yummy treats you inspired me to make! :p

Cheers to this next round of your life! At fifteen, the party is just getting started!

Happy Birthday, Princess! ~(=^-^)= ♡♥♡♥♡♥

OH! And here’s the DJ we had! ~(=O_O)=

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And here she is after the feast! 🐱

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Recipes for all these will be posted soon on my upcoming Tumblr dedicated to my yummies. 🙂 Stay tuned!

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Sardinas a la Mexicana

August 4, 2011

Here’s a quick, no-cook way to enjoy canned sardines an old Mexican way. Of course, this technique is not specific to Mexico. There are a variety of cultures that mash up sardines with veggies, especially in countries where means are thin and meals must be stretched to their greatest extents. Good thing about them sardines is they’re JAM PACKED with calcium! With these fresh vegetables, this is a very healthy dish.

My great grandparents (on both sides) were Mexican immigrants. On my mother’s side, her grandfather LOVED making this! He especially loved making it with her. As a little girl, no older than 8 or 9, she remembers peeking over the kitchen counter to watch her granddaddy, Tomas Zertuche, mash up a can of sardines and mix it up with fresh, vibrant vegetables. As I grew up, mom always made this for us as a snack. We just had this yesterday (hence, the pictures) and it brought back fond memories, as all “family recipes” do. :p No mater if it’s made from scratch or compiled like this, anything we share with people we love is special!

Mash up a can of sardines in tomato sauce. Dump a heap of diced cilantro, serano peppers, red onion over your mush. Additionally, you may add diced tomato, garlic, avocado and lemon or lime juice. But we like it just like this. And you may adjust the heat by adding or taking away serano peppers (or using different peppers. Your call). I used two — one green, one red because it was aged a bit.

Tomato sauce!

Dump that sauce alllllll over your mush! :p

Mix it all up w/ additional powdered comino (cumin) and freshly ground black pepper.

You can see the char marks on my tortillas. I love heating up a corn tortilla over the open stove flame. But you can heat them on an iron skillet, too. An outdoor grill rocks, too! Roll into fire roasted corn tortillas (or whatever tortilla you prefer) or use as chip dip and enjoy!

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Happy Birthday, Jesica Hurst!

May 4, 2011

I’m beyond excited to put the shine on an incredible, talented, fascinating friend of mine! To make a long story short, it was about two years ago that one of my best friends from Berlin turned me onto A Day To Remember‘s “If It Means A Lot To You.” Heard the song, loved it. I always enjoy hearing covers so I paid attention to the videos in the side bar on YouTube and noticed this black & white video of a girl covering it. FYI, 99.9% of the music I love is girl-sung so I clicked that first video and was absolutely blown away! It was Jes’ cover. 🙂 The rest is history!

Since then, she’s turned me onto some of my favourite music on the planet, including my favourite band of all time, Tegan & Sara. The first time I heard T&S was on Jes’ Facebook page. There was a video link to “The Con” that I could not get over. Also, “Call It Off” which remains my favourite T&S song of all time. Jes is also responsible for my infatuation with Alison Sudol and A Fine Frenzy. Her dancing to “Electric Twist” is probably one of the most fabulous things on Earth. Most recently? OH LAND, who is miraculous. Needless to say, Jes is the best damn jukebox I’ve ever come across.

What I love most about Jes’ music is she sings soul-to-mouth direct, no filter. If it’s a cover, she makes it her own. If it’s an original, we’re gripped with curiosity as to why she wrote what she did. I like to think that the best way to get to know an artist is to absorb what they create. With Jes’ music, we can hear and admire all we want but if we REALLY listen — just listen — we have the pleasure of learning so much. I consider myself among the fortunate who have gotten to know Jes before she’s all ultra famous with tons of records and tours and tear-sheets and editorials and whatever else she feels like conquering. :p

She was also a huge inspiration and muse over the past two years that I’ve worked on my novel. Ohhhh, how I wish I could elaborate for all of you but at this stage of the game, it’s best I say little else. Jes knows what I mean, though! So that’s well enough. 😀

A native Canadian, Jes is a model, a musician and writer for her university paper, The Gazette (at Western). She’s also ultra radiant, cupcake-sweet & blindingly bright. How fortunate are we to have a friend like this in our lives? Oh, she’s also Vegan! Sooooooooooo~

~I decided to shoot a spread of 100% Vegan yummies for this special occasion! (I’ll fill in the recipes later. If I typed those out, I’d never get this posted! So stay tuned!)

Asparagus soup with Crispy Fried Wontons & Caramelized Shallots, Celery Leaf & Sea Salt Garnish

Lentil & Sweet Potato Sauté with Caramelized Shallots

Garlic Hummus Tostadas with Lettuce & Radicchio Chiffonade, Black Olive Rounds, Diced Tomato & Lemon Zest. Served w/ Tomato Slices & Lemon Wedge

Spread shots!

Banana Cupcakes with Lemon-Banana Glaze, Sifted Powdered Sugar & Sweet Banana Chips Garnish (Made these with an awesome fruity organic Olive Oil!!!)

Peanut Butter & Banana Chia Pudding made with plain soy milk, garnished with Grapefruit Zest & Agave Nectar

Jes doesn’t drink so I made a yummy virgin refreshment! This is Hibiscus Tea sweetened with Agave Nectar & Freshly Squeezed Grapefruit Juice, Sprinkled with Grapefruit Zest. Perfect tartness!

Dessert spread!

Lookie! Lilies! ;p (Get it, Jes? hehe!)

Also, I took the liberty of commissioning my artist friend, Virginia Hilton, to put together some Jes-inspired portraits:

This world is full of amazing people; among them, those that leave an impact on others. Jes, you’ve had a profound impact on me — often, without you knowing it — and I appreciate the quality of you more than you know. Many thanks for the dazzling ride your life has been thus far and to many, many more decades to come! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SUGAR! CHEERS!

Keep up with everything Jes is doing at these links:

http://jesicahurst.blogspot.com
http://twitter.com/JesicaAtGazette
http://westerngazette.ca/author/jesica-hurst/
http://youtube.com/jeshurst

And DO check out her song “Save Me” — (a personal favourite) — at her MySpace here: http://www.myspace.com/jesshurstmusic

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Happy Birthday, Rebecca & Beth!

April 10, 2011

I feel awful for getting to this a bit late but here’s a spread I shot for my friends’ 17th Birthdays on April 6th, 2011! Happy Birthday, Rebecca & Beth Hackfath! Two of the coolest, sweetest English twins on the planet!

Stay sweet, forever! 🙂

These are White Orange & Lemon Citrus Cupcakes w/Strawberry Buttercream Icing & Filling, Wrapped in Strawberry Slices, garnished w/ Sliced Strawberries, Orange Zest, Chocolate Mint & Pink/Lavender/Light Green Sprinkles!

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St. Patrick’s Day Vegan Cobbler

March 19, 2011

Of course, had to make green things for St. Patrick’s Day 2011! 🙂

Here’s a super easy cobbler; recipe jacked off Paula Dean. It doesn’t get more simple than this and the results are exquisite! Comforting, sweet, fruity; rather reminiscent of what we call, in Spanish, Capirotada.

Also, building off the principles of Vegan baking, I subbed in some of these ingredients (via LIVESTRONG). (Sorry, Paula! :p)

Ingredients

1 Cup Self-Rising flour
1/2 cup + 1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 cup diced peaches
1 cup diced pears
1/2 stick vegan butter
1 cup water
Pinch Cardamom
3-4 Pinches Cinnamon
2 Pinches powdered ginger
All Natural Green Food Dye (I use Seelect or make my own.)
Mint leaf for garnish
Coloured Sanding Sugars for Garnish (I made yellow and green). I don’t think India Tree Sanding Sugars are Vegan so make your own this way. I do!

For Pudding:

1 cup plain (or vanilla, your call) Almond Milk. (You may use Coconut Milk or Soy, as well.)
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1 tsp extract of your choice. I used Pistachio Extract).
1 tsp Agave Nectar
Pinch of salt
Minced pears, peaches, sweetened dried cranberries
1-2 drops green food dye

Here we go!

Slice up Vegan Butter, place in 9×7 baking dish (I use one of my favourite pyrex vessels). Place in oven to melt completely. (Baking dish is not set in stone. You may bake this in something similar sized and feel free to adjust ingredients to bake larger batches in larger vessels).

Meanwhile, combine peaches, pears, water & half-cup cane sugar in sauce pan. Simmer, allow to reduce by half. The water, fruits and sugar will make a nice syrup.

While that’s working its magic, combine flour, cane sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and salt in bowl and stir to combine. LISTEN TO YOUR ELDERS & BETTERS! JUST LIKE MISS PAULA SAID, YOU WILL RUIN THIS RECIPE WITH THE WRONG FLOUR! If you don’t have self-rising flour, add a few teaspoons of baking powder and a pinch of salt to whatever you’re using. 2 or 3 tsps of baking powder should do the trick.

Slowly pour milk into dry ingredients and stir as you go. Stir with a spoon or whisk, your preference, till lumps are gone but don’t beat it to death.

Carefully remove baking dish from oven. Pour batter directly onto the butter. DO NOT STIR!

Next, ladle fruit directly onto batter in a bit of a scatter. ONCE AGAIN, DO NOT STIR! (It’s good to get a good amount of syrup in there, too, so your cobbler will be nice and juicy if you prefer it hot. Personally, I don’t use too much of the syrup but feel free to play with the ratio and find your comfort zone with baking this dish).

Sprinkle some coloured sanding sugar over the top for a bit of drama on the finished product.

Bake at 375-400 F (190-200 C) for 45 minutes. May be served piping hot, warm, room temperature or cold. In the pictures below, I chilled mine in the fridge and served it cold. I love the set state’s appearance. :p ~Also, serve with whatever you like; ice cream, whipped topping, fruit compote, jam, drizzles, plain. I served it with pudding!

For Pudding:

COMPLETELY dissolve cornstarch in bowl with 1 cup of milk.

Combine arrowroot, other cup of milk, agave nectar & salt in sauce pan. Stir to dissolve arrowroot powder. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.

Stir in cornstarch slurry and continue to simmer until thickened. It’s gonna happen fast so watch for it!

Remove from heat, add extract, cranberries, pears, peaches and a few drops of green food dye. Stir to combine. Pour into dish and cover lightly with plastic wrap so that the plastic touches the surface of the pudding. This prevents a film from forming on the top. Put in fridge to cool.

You can cool till the cobbler is done and top with semi-set pudding or wait till later and top fully set, cold pudding on a cooled cobbler. If, when you remove your pudding from the fridge and it seems it separated in any way, just stir it up again and it’ll be fine.

ADDITIONALLY, YOU MAY USE ANY STORE BOUGHT VEGAN PUDDING, such as Zen Soy. It will save you a lot of time. Vanilla is a good flavour to build on for this but Banana works awesome, too. Just dump your pudding in a bowl, add minced fruit, food dye, stir to combine, reserve till ready to serve.

Plate Cobbler. Top with pudding. Garnish with a mint leaf.

Post-Bake:

Plated & Ready for Face-Stuffing:


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Fashion Week Yummy Treats – Lunch on Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week

February 23, 2011

I’ve been taking a bunch of pictures of goodies I’ve been making since Fashion Season (Autumn/Winter 2011-2012) began but I haven’t blogged any of it! So! Here’s what I made today, the first day of Milan Fashion Week:

Blueberry, Wheatgrass, Tangerine, Apple, Mango, Almond Milk Smoothie

Super easy here!

Handful freshly clipped Wheatgrass
1/2 pint blueberriees
2 red apples
2 mangoes
2 tangerines
2 cups almond milk

Combine almond milk, blueberries and wheatgrass in a blender. Blend about 30 seconds. Strain. Reserve juice, dispose of pulp.
Next, juice apples, mangoes, tangerines and reserve pulp for use in anything, really! Cakes, breads, pies, fritters, empanadas, even a fruity vegan burger of some kind.
Pour blueberry/wheatgrass/almond milk into glass. Fill with mango/apple/tangerine juice. It will make that cool looking orange-ish effect at the frothy top. Garnish with a tangerine round and tangerine zest and enjoy!

Alternatively, you can make your wheatgrass juice and blend it with everything else in a Vitamix. But I wanted more of a juicy-juice w/ the only “smooth” component being the almond milk, (which itself is actually a juice. Just… milky!)

Now, I say to strain out the wheatgrass/blueberry because the wheatgrass itself is non-digestible by humans. I didn’t know that when I first started messing with it and chewed it up, no problem AND never had any stomach or digestive issues. I still like to nibble on the blades sometimes but I’ll take the advice of elders and betters and not gobble down the grass itself. :p Only juice!

Spring/Summer Sauté

This was a super fast and super delicious saute to toss together, especially if you’re cramped on time or just don’t feel like a multi-hour ritual in the kitchen.

1 yellow zucchini
1 cup fresh green beans, ends trimmed, cut in half (or not, your call. French them if you want!)
1/2 purple onion, sliced
handful cilantro
Juice of 1 tangerine
sprig of rosemary (run your fingers down the sprig to remove the rosemary. No need to chop it but you can if you want).
pinch of cardamom
2-3 pinches regular or Hungarian paprika
1-2 grinds of red pepper flake mill
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste (or grains of paradise instead of pepper)
Tangerine zest
Good olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced (dice, mince, even add whole and remove at the end if you prefer. Depends on how strong a garlic flavour you enjoy but I like it hearty so used fresh, sliced garlic).

We want to work quickly here.

First, heat olive oil in a skillet. Sauté onion 1 minute. Add pinch of sea salt. Add garlic and sauté an additional minute.
Add green beans, squash, rosemary, cilantro, all the spices and sauté aggressively for 5-6 minutes. Keep things moving so it all cooks evenly.
Add tangerine juice and sauté another 3 minutes, aggressively. Check for seasoning. If no further salting or peppering is necessary, move on.
Plate. Garnish with fresh tangerine zest, bushel of cilantro and rosemary sprig. Serves 2.

I was starving so I ate the whole thing. :p

This is a yummy seasonal dish! Feel free to add nuts when the spices go in, if you like. Macadamias would be really good. Or almonds! Anything you enjoy, really. 🙂

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World Travel On the Wings of Cuisine 001 – Peru

October 8, 2010

A few weeks ago, I had this great epiphany. I realized that, because of all my friends around the world, I use quite a few different languages over the course of the day. I may not be entirely fluent in a lot of them but I know enough to get by! I’m getting there! I feel it shows so much respect to be able to converse or even say just a few things to someone in their native tongue so I do my very best to embrace as many manners of communication as possible. So far, I speak English (being American), Spanish is my second language, I’m fairly fluent in French and know a decent amount of Japanese. Right now, I’m learning Portuguese but also dabble in German and Russian (which, I admit, IS TOUGH!). Oh, I know some Swedish! I grew up obsessed with Swedish movies and spent a lot of time pouring over comparisons between the original dialogue and English translations of Lukas Moodysson’s films “Lilja-4-Ever” and “Fucking Amal” (“Show Me Love” domestically), for example. So that type of dedication lends one some leverage with the language.

On that epiphany! I’ve been a few places but haven’t “seen the world” the way I’d like to — yet! Keyword “yet” because I WILL go everywhere I want one of these days! I feel a great way to experience a people and a place is through their food. So! What I’ll be doing here on this blog is picking a place in the world I admire, would like to go or have gone. Then, I’ll recreate some of their dishes and write a bit of history to coincide.

In choosing my first destination, I had the bright idea from some Twitter inspiration! One of my most favourite people to follow – Pamela Francesca Celiz (@pamelafrancesca) had a birthday Oct 4th! Sooooo, since her family is Peruvian, I thought it’d be fun to start there! She’s so fun and sweet. A real cheer to keep up with! Also, I do encourage everyone to check out her sisters Maryl & Silvie Celiz at HLife: Healthy Living Redefined. It’s an online holistic health lifestyle publication and I literally never close it. HLife has a browser-tab dedicated to it because there is just SO MUCH information! So many fantastic articles. I’m particularly taken by their write-ups on body/mind/spirit because that is subject matter near & dear to my heart as someone who cannot agree more with the power of positive energy and how important harmony with those three aspects of life are to optimal health. See here their piece on Positive Attitude! Priceless!

Oh, and the girls are Vegan! :p So all the stuff I prepared is, too.

Onto the cuisine of Peru! May I just say, Peruvians eat gooooooooood! I basically drooled all through my research. It has so much in common with the Mexican cuisine of my heritage, (not to mention Spanish is spoken there), so this was both homely and fun for me.

First, a short bit on Peruvian Cuisine from PeruGuide.com.
Here, is Wikipedia’s entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peruvian_cuisine
And Karla talks about the origins of causa rellena here. (From GlobalExpressTours.com)
Here, it’s stated that Karla’s entry may be one of several possibilities. Which is to say that this dish’s TRUE origins may very well be unknown or the dish itself has lost a bit of its origin over time.

Causa!

This is my first causa ever! So do forgive if it’s not as elaborate as it could be but it was sooo fun to make! I promise my next causa will be HAUTE CAUSA! This is basically a Peruvian potato salad. In another variation, it’s built kind of like Shepherd’s Pie where one places a layer of mashed potatoes in a dish, then a filling layer of one’s choice, (tuna salad, chicken salad, avocadoes, quinoa or anything, really), then mashed potatoes and chills it. Festively decorate it to the extent of one’s wild imagination and slice!

But I did a version of causa that is stacked. It’s a lil tater tower. :p

For this, I did a bit of a test batch that came out quite nice! I boiled 2 potatoes. 1 white, 1 yukon gold.  Then, I halved them. The layers went like this:

Yellow: 1 half yukon gold potato mashed w/ olive oil, sea salt, pepper, aji powder, turmeric, pinch of cumin.

Red: 1 half white potato, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, tomato sauce, diced tomato (instead of making a solid layer to the tower, I mixed it into the mash).

White: 1 half white potato, olive oil, sea salt, white pepper

Purple: I couldn’t source purple potatoes, which are a staple in Peru. The markets have been sketchy lately! 😦 So I went with a short cut! I mashed 1 half white potato with sauteed purple cabbage. Also had sea salt, olive oil, white pepper.

I molded them separately and stacked them by hand. Then, garnished with some julienned carrot, cilantro, bell pepper and diced tomato. Next time, I’ll do a sauce!

Paltas Rellenas w/ Tomato, Arugula & Baby Spinach Salad and Salsa Criolla (Onion Sauce)

1 large avocado. peeled, halved, pitted
1 cup quinoa
2 cups veggie broth
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp diced tomato
1 tbsp diced celery
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp diced onion
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp Aji powder
Sea Salt to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

Stuffed avocado is a staple food in Peruvian cuisine. I stuffed this one with quinoa, which is another staple but I put a spin on its preparation by going the pilaf route. We do that a lot in Mexican cooking so I thought it’d be a tasty addition.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add quinoa and stir regularly till it’s browned all around. Make a well in the center and add diced onion, tomato, celery, garlic and chopped cilantro. Let sizzle a bit. Then, mix in with the quinoa and stir it all around, 2-3 minutes. Add Veggie broth, turmeric, aji powder, salt & pepper and stir to combine. Cover and let cook 12-15 mins or until liquid is gone. Turn off heat and remove so the steam will finish the cooking process. It’s like making rice but it’s MUCH more forgiving. If you peak, it’s not like you’ll ruin the grain or the cooking time the way rice can go south if you’re constantly lifting the lid. Also, if you poke or stir the quinoa, it won’t turn to porridge the way rice does if you agitate it too much.

For the Salad:

Half a tomato, sliced in rounds
Handfull Arugula
Handfull Baby Spinach
Olive Oil

Arrange tomato and baby spinach leaves decoratively on your plate and wedge arugula leaves wherever you want to make a pretty presentation. Drizzle with olive oil after salsa criolla is plated. Recipe follows.

Salsa Criolla

This is another Peruvian staple. AND IT’S SO GOOD! And so simple! As I don’t have any Peruvian onions, I used the purple variety.

1 onion, halved & thinly sliced
1 aji pepper, julienned (you can halve the juliennes as I did)
1 tsp lime juice (I used key lime and feel free to go over the 1 tsp if you like it a bit more tart. BUT! Traditionally, the onions should be sliced “a la pluma” — like feathers — and I think I used a lil more lime juice than I’m saying ;p so my onion kinda wilted. Ah well! It was delicious~)
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients very well. Let marinade 20-30 mins. so the acid and onion marry. Serve and enjoy! Keep remainder in the fridge.

Tallarin Verde

1 lb noodles (traditionally, it’s made with spaghetti but I felt like using rotini because I love how sauce bunches up in the spirals of the noodle).
2 quarts water
5-6 oz. organic baby spinach (a whole package from the fresh produce section of your local green grocer. I used Earthbound Farms Organic Baby Spinach. But buy local if you can!). Reserve 6 leaves for presentation.
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp. diced onion
2 tbsp. diced garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
Black olives, sliced
Vegan Parmesan Cheese (I used Galaxy Nutritional Foods Vegan Grated Topping because it’s lighter in colour but you would do well to use ParmaRaw. It’s great! As an aside, has anyone tried Parmazano? If so, how is it?
Salt & Pepper
1/3 cup Veggie stock
2 tbsp. Earth Balance Vegan Butter
Rose petal for garnish.

For starters, Peruvians love a pesto-type verde (green) sauce but it’s not just basil. They pack it with spinach! This is a great way to take in all the essential calcium, folic acid, lutein and legions of other good stuff spinach provides!

Boil pasta to package instructions. While that’s working, compile the sauce as it’s super easy.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic & onion, saute till fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add spinach and basil and incorporate with the olive oil, garlic and onion in folding motions. Cover and let wilt a bit, about 2 mins. Remove cover and agitate, pressing down and folding. Add veggie stock and stir till spinach and basil are completely wilted.

Next, transfer to a blender and blend away till smooth. Stream some olive oil in if there isn’t enough liquid but it should be fine. Return to skillet, add Vegan butter and stir till entirely melted and incorporated and silky.

Drain pasta. You can combine sauce and pasta either in the skillet, in the pot where the pasta boiled or in a huge bowl to serve family style. Arrange spinach on individual serving bowls, plate, sprinkle with vegan parmesan cheese, decorate with sliced olives & garnish with a rose petal. 🙂 Pretty and yummy! (And damn healthy).

Above are photos of the olive-less variety. Not everyone likes olives. 😦 When I served this, one of my guests requested no olives so~ their loss!

Limonada de Rosas

I fixed this in honour of Pamela’s birthday. No beautiful girl can have a birthday without beautiful flowers! :p ~Let me just say right off the bat. I’M OBSESSED & ADDICTED TO THIS DRINK! Traditionally, it’s non-alcoholic but IT’S A BIRTHDAY, after all! So I spiked it with Pisco, (Peru’s flagship spirit). I even busted out the vintage crystal to drink from! 😀 Here’s how I made it, (going off this recipe from Peru-recipes.com:

Take the petals of a dozen (12) roses, put them in a bowl and pour 4 cups boiling water over them. Let steep for an hour (or more. I actually steeped them overnight for a tea as rosey as possible).

Strain. Add juice of a dozen (12) key limes and stir to combine. You may also use Persian limes, juice 4-6 of them. Depends how tart you like your limeade. (I like it quite tart). To serve 8 oz. drinks, it’s 2 oz. Pisco, 4 oz. rose tea. You may vary this depending on how strong you like your drinks.

Here’s where it gets ESSENTIAL! Float a whole rose on the top of the drink, like a lilly pad.(No stem, of course). OMG! Everytime you take a drink, the first thing you do is sniff the rose. It’s such a remarkable thing that happens to your olfactory system! As the fragrance of the flower waltzes through your head, the tartness of the drink peppers your mouth and the Pisco warms you inside. One of my guests said it best, “This is like drinking a beautiful woman!” Cannot agree more! And if anyone with allergies has an attack over this, I hope you find it was worth it! I have pretty bad allergies and I was fine. And I, literally, drank these all day. It’s THAT good!

So, that’s my stab at Peruvian yummies. I learned so much and will continue to study all the fantastic dishes Peru has to offer. I’d like to thank Pamela Francesca Celiz for the inspiration and I hope my readers will be inspired to further research and look to experience this unique, exceptional cuisine.

Once again, Happy Birthday, Pamela! 🙂 ¡Salud!

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Fashion Week Yummy Treats!

September 20, 2010

It’s no secret that I celebrate Fashion Weeks like full-on holidays. I love them! Love the energy, the clothes, ESPECIALLY the models and sense of community. I just adore how, during all this, fashion and beauty bring us all together all over the world. Of course, can’t have a good bash without food! So, I wanted to post here a few things I’ve put together for those of us enjoying the streams around here! :p

Tomato & Basil Organic Whole Grain Linguine. I love Racconto brand (pictured here) but my favourite is Nature’s Path w/ Flax. 🙂 Here, I tossed it w/ store-bought all-natural tomato/basil sauce, fresh diced organic tomatoes & fresh organic basil. Gee, that’s a lot of “organics” haha. From now on, I’ll just say what it is. You may assume it’s organic, unless I state otherwise.

Here’s the sauce I use frequently from my local Sun Harvest store. It’s quite good! Sometimes, I spice it up with some extra Italian seasoning, diced garlic, basil, flat least parsley. I have fun!

Limburger Cheese on multi-grain crackers w/ a blueberry on each. Those cherry tomatoes and raw okra are delish to snack on, too. Now, I know Limburger is heralded as one of the stinkiest cheeses in the world, and it’s true! But stinky cheese is my favourite kind. The pungency is lovely. The stench is nothing like the taste, I think. A lot of people can’t stand it but that’s okay. More for me! :p

Tomato Soup! I start by peeling a bunch of tomatoes like this. I saute onions in good olive oil, sweating them down like I always do. Then, I add the tomatoes whole, (no seeding! All the natural juices in the tomatoes help the soup!) Add some sea salt, white pepper, fresh thyme, 6 cloves of roughly chopped garlic and let it all cook down on low for about 20 minutes. Next, I add 2 cups vegetable stock and puree with a hand emulsifier. Voila! Tomato soup. Feel free to top with your favourite cheese, crumbled crackers or dip with warm crusty bread.

Blueberry & Almond Smoothie w/ a side fruit salad. This smoothie is Gwynnie’s recipe from GOOP.

Blackberries, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, baby spinach, good olive oil & gentle splashes of red wine vinegar. Yum!

Horseradish Hash-Mash Taters – This is a clever thing to do with mashed potatoes. I saw Giada de Laurentis do it to boiled red potatoes. She presses down on a boiled red potato to give it just a slight mash, flatten it, then fries it in olive oil with some salt and pepper. So I figured I’d try it with some left-over horseradish mash and it was glorious! Kind of like a french fry, kind of like a breakfast hash. Some crispiness mingled in with creaminess. Garnished with slivered scallion and pasley.

Heat olive oil in a skillet but don’t let it smoke. Add left over mashed potatoes and spread evenly with a spatula or spoon, whatever is easiest for you. (Just no metal spoon + non-stick cookware!) Allow to cook 7-8 minutes. You’ll see plumes of smoke start to pop out of select spots and around the sides. Turn up a corner or some small place to see how it’s looking on the bottom side. If it’s not turning golden yet, allow to cook a bit more. Then, test again. When you see the bottom getting golden, start messily flipping it over. This isn’t a goal of perfection. We just want to crisp up as many sides as possible. Feel free to mix it all up and flatten again if you like. You shouldn’t have to re-season but if you want to add anything, it’s up to you. Two or three rounds of that and remove before anything burns. It’s a fun indulgence. :p ~Oh, and do try to be frugal with your taters. Really don’t need A STICK OF BUTTER or cups and cups of heavy cream. I use Earth Balance and just enough veggie stock and olive oil to keep my mashed taters smart and lush. 🙂

🙂 Quinoa is one of my best friends. I cooked this quinoa in home-made tomato broth and tomato concasse with celery & edamame. Garnished with fresh basil leaves.

Kiwi Mash w/ Orange, Almonds & Chia Seeds – I love this. I halve a bunch of kiwis, scoop the flesh out with a spoon, (quicker than traditional peeling in my opinion), mash ’em up with any utensil (a potato masher works but so does a fork or back of a spoon) and top with fresh orange sections, raw almonds and sprinkle with chia seeds! Simple, refreshing and very filling!

I think that’s enough snacks for now! Back to the shows! It’s London Fashion Week right now and it has been great so far!

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Café y Chocolate Pastel de Tres Leches – Celebrity Birthday Series – Manuela Tessari

September 11, 2010

September 9th, 2010, my most favourite Brazilian Fashion Model, Manuela Tessari, turned 19! So, I baked a cake! 🙂

Now, I made this with full-on ingredients as I still need to experiment with a Vegan recipe, (or at least one that is low-cal), but I know how to make this like the back of my hand the old fashioned way and I wanted to make something pretty for Manu so~ :p Ford would KILL ME if I fed her this! Secrets! Shhhhhhh!

*BTW, if anyone has tips/recipes for a Vegan Tres Leches cake, please let me know!*

This is two-layer round cake spiked with espresso & rum, adorned with fluffy whipped topping, cocoa powder & decorative chocolate sticks & discs. Everyone here really enjoyed it! I’m a bit spent to post the recipe so I’ll post some history on this sinfully delightful goodie, from Chef Dorothy Sibole at TexasCooking.com:

“So what is this cake? Pastel de Tres Leches is a butter cake sometimes flavored with vanilla. What makes it unusual is that it is soaked in a mixture of three different milk products, hence the name Tres Leches. The three milks, when combined, create just the right sweetness, density and “mouth feel” for a rich cake, making it moist but not mushy.

The idea of soaking a cake in liquid is not new. There are some traditional cakes that require a good bath in some flavoring. You know them as a Baba or a Savarin, and the Christmas favorite, Rum cake. These cakes get their traditional flavoring from being doused with an alcohol mixture. Many layer cake recipes advise you to brush your cake layers with a simple syrup solution to moisten the cake. The Pastel de Tres Leches takes this one step further, adding richness to the soaking liquid.

So how did the Tres Leches come about? It is hard to pinpoint the origin of the confection. There is dispute over where it came from. There is dispute over when it was first created. There is even dispute over what variation is the correct version of Pastel de Tres Leches. After much mind-numbing investigation, I drew two definite conclusions. One is that this cake is very popular in Latin America, especially Mexico and Nicaragua. The second is that it is soaked in a mixture of three different types of milk: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk or heavy cream.

Going on the assumption that sweetened condensed milk has not been around for a long time, I was trying to narrow down the potential timeframe for the introduction of the recipe. Low and behold, my theory was blown out of the water. It appears that sweetened condensed milk has been around since the 1800’s. The product was originally created to preserve fresh milk. That being the case, I gave up on trying to determine when the cake was created. While the facts of its origin may be elusive, the fact of its popularity is not.”

I made some other things but I’m saving the savory recipes for a Culinary World Tour post series I have planned. Suppose this means my recipe tour, which I’ll blog here, will begin in Sao Paolo! (Peru will follow. Then, probably Mexico where my family comes from).

Happy Birthday, Manuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu~~~!!! <3 ( *^-^) ~To love! Happiness! Long life! Infinite success!

Saúde!

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Vegan Beet Bundt Cake – Celebrity Birthday Series – Olivia Wilde

September 2, 2010

So, I’m dorky enough to enjoy putting together birthday dishes for notorious folks I admire. 03-10-2010, my favourite Princess in all the galaxy turned 26; Olivia Wilde (real name Olivia Jane Cockburn). I’m so floored by the look of her and her politics and her humanitarian heart and her veganism. Sincerely, one of my most adored people on the planet!

I made this Vegan Beet Bundt Cake to celebrate her special day and it was really, really good! Now some words of caution – Vegan baking is tricky! We’re all so used to doing everything the old-fashioned, standard way but what I’ve learned through vegan baking experimentations is that one really DOES NOT need eggs or milk or any of that to pull off delicious, moist, succulent pastries. Just look at the successes of Sarma Melngailis at OneLuckyDuck, Erin McKenna at Babycakes, the award-winning delights of Chef Chloe Coscarelli and everything fabulous Angela Liddon at Oh She Glows does. These women — among so many others — prove how wonderful vegan baking really is.

Vegan Beet Bundt Cake

Wet Ingredients:
1 cup Beet Puree + 1/4 cup Prickly Pear Juice
1/4th cup melted coconut oil (canola or sunflower or any neutral oil will suffice)
1/2 cup Agave Nectar
1 cup Apple Sauce
1 cup Coconut Milk
1 tbsp. Vanilla Extract
2 tsp. Lemon Juice
1 tsp. White Vinegar

Dry Ingredients:
3 cups Unbleached Cake Flour
3 tsps. Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsps. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Cream pf Tarter
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cardamom

For Icing:
1 cup Vegan White Chocolate Chips
1/3rd cup Coconut Milk (eyeball it, might need to go 1/2 or more depending on your chip brand)
1/2 cup Organic Powdered Sugar
*Optionally*
After Icing, quickly sprinkle the top w/ roasted, crushed pistachios. Pistachios and beets go interestingly well together! (Not pictured, though).

Fresh Strawberries, blueberries & Orange ribbons for garnish.

——————————————————

Roast or boil beets (2-3 yield about a cup) for 30-45 mins. When done, set aside to cool. Then, peel and dice. Next, peel prickly pears and juice. ~Puree and set aside.
Sift together all dry ingredients into a large bowl.
Combine all wet ingredients in a large bowl. Then, slowly pour into the dry ingredients and fold/gently mix together. Careful not to over-mix. Once everything is married, pour into a 8-cup capacity non-stick bundt pan prepared with cooking spray.
Bake at 375-degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and slip out of pan onto a vessel of your choice. A toothpick inserted probably will not come out clean but don’t be alarmed. It’s a wildly moist cake. Allow to cool enough so that the icing won’t melt and run when applied.
While cooling, make the icing. Setup a double-boiler and add coconut milk. Allow to warm for a minute. Then, add powdered sugar. Stir till smooth and dissolved. Next, add chocolate chips and gently agitate with a wooden spoon or spatula till entirely melted and smooth. Feel free to add more or less of any icing ingredient based on your results. Some augmentation may be necessary.
Once smooth, drizzle over top of cake and allow to run decoratively. Use as much or as little as you like. I like to ooze it up, hence the photo above. :p
Garnish with fresh Strawberries, Blueberries & Orange Ribbons.
Allow to set a bit, then slice and enjoy!

If any of you lot give this a go, please feel free to let me know what worked and what didn’t and what you did differently to yield the most ideal results! I’m still in the process of “perfecting” my Vegan baking and it’s one of the most fun, most delicious endeavors I’ve ever undertaken!

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A Very Veggie Day Today!

August 25, 2010

So, today was sooo all up on the veggieness!

Morning started w/ my usual lemon water, followed by herbal tea, (Orange Blossom today) and a few raw almonds to snack on as a light breakfast till my brunch guest arrived. I was going to make something elaborate — like broiled shrimp tossed in lemon & tarragon and wilted escarole — but when choices came up, my guest shouted “Veggie dogs!” ~So Hot Dogs & Champagne it was! :p Marlene Dietrich proudly shone down on us from Heaven! (FYI: Hot dogs & champagne was her favourite meal).

We had these lovelies with some bubbly! 🙂 Beneath the Veggie frank is some all natural ketchup, all natural mustard and on top is my favourite all natural salsa from Sun Harvest and an organic dill pickle flank wedged into the side. Served ’em with some organic cherry tomatoes.

Lunch was mountains of fruit. Sad to say, I didn’t take pictures but I had enough kiwis and oranges to turn me various shades of orange and green! So refreshing and yummy.

Dinner rocked. I fixed vegan pasta w/ tomato & basil sauce full of baby spinach, flat leaf parsley and garlic w/ a side of Tofurky Vegan Italian Sausage. They’re my favourites! The texture is insanely good. Very firm, very satisfying for people (like me) who love to chew things. >:D

Here’s the pasta I used. It’s made from Quinoa which is REALLY awesome! Here’s the company site.

Pretty shameless product feature but they’re sooooo good!

Finished off with some Hazelnut coffee spiked with coconut milk. Was a great day! 🙂

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Shrimp & Lobster Risotto

August 13, 2010

Made this awhile back but it’s a favourite! Another good way to get your Pescetarian on! 😛

Trick to risotto is a good starchy rice. Arborio is ideal, as is any short grain because, if you use a long grain or some such business, the whole grain-melding thing won’t happen. Here’s an excellent write-up abuot risotto’s classic technique from About.com: http://italianfood.about.com/od/tipstricks1/a/aa091697.htm

Shrimp & Lobster Risotto

8 cups Seafood, Shrimp or Lobster Stock
4 Lobster Tails
1 lb. 21A Shell-on Shrimp (or your size preference)
1/2 cup fine diced onion, (I used vidalia)
1/3 cup fine diced shallot
1-2 tbsp. minced garlic, use amount based on your taste/tolerance for it
1/2 cup good white wine (use what you like to drink! Golden rule)
2 tbsp. Earth Balance Vegan Butter (I no longer use cow butter but you may if you’re privvy to it) + 2 tbsp. good olive oil
2 cups Arborio or other short grain rice
Diced scallion for garnish
Parsley for garnish (I used curly)
Sea Salt to taste
Fresh ground mixed pepper or Grains of Paradise to taste
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
Pinch of Cumin

First! The Shellfish!

In a large saucepan or short stock pot, bring stock to a simmer over medium heat. Once simmering, add shrimp and lobster and cover. Give it about 4-6 minutes. Then, uncover & check shrimp. if they’re pink all over, remove and set aside. If not, wait till they are, then proceed. Cover with foil to keep warm. Recover lobster tails and allow to simmer an additional 4-6 minutes. The size of your lobster tails will depend on how long they SHOULD be left to simmer. It’s when you leave your shellfish simmering/boiling forever that you reduce them to pencil eraser texture, which is criminal. Once red and looking pretty, remove and cover under foil to keep warm.

Reduce heat on broth to low and cover so it’s good and ready for our next step. The rice!

Start by heating butter & olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, shallot & garlic and sauté till translucent and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Don’t let anything burn! It’ll go bitter and sully your dish!

Add rice and stir to coat, about 3-4 minutes. Season with a bit of salt and pepper (or Grains of Paradise) and pinch of cumin and stir further to combine. Then, add wine and continue to stir till the wine has been nearly absorbed.

Broth time! Add broth by the substantial ladel-full and keep on stirring till it’s absorbed. At each stage, right before it’s all gone, add the next ladel and just keep at it. It’s a bit of a process that you will have to practice to get correct but it’s sooo fun and the results are stellar!

It should take about 30 minutes to use up the broth and get the rice to where we want it to be. Taste it, see how it is. Adjust seasoning if need be. Finally, add lemon zest, stir in and plate as pictured immediately, (or be creative yourself!). Garnish with diced scallions & parsley. Serve family style.

*Additionally, you can add grated parmesean cheese at the end along with the lemon zest but, for this recipe, I did not.

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Raw Vegan Adventures Day 2

July 24, 2010

So all these “Raw Vegan” days were a bit ago, (2 weeks maybe?) but I never got around to posting all the pictures. So, I’ll gradually toss them up and when anyone searches this blog or clicks a tag, they’ll come up in order! 🙂

My wheatgrass of choice.

My chia seeds! I put these in everything, as well. Sprinkle on salads, cereal, they’re always in my Green Monsters. This + Wheatgrass = awesome Super Foods!

Breakfast canteloupe. Super juicy, refreshing & super sweet! 🙂

I had a smashingly good Green Monster that morning! Made with:
Coconut water from 2 fresh coconuts
18 purple grapes,
2 tbsp. Chia Seeds
12 Arugula Leaves
Liberal handful of flat-leaf parsley

Top sprinkled with freshly grated coconut. Garnished w/ a chunk of coconut, some wheatgrass blades, parsley sprig & Arugula leaf (as seen in the middle picture).

 

Gigantic salad of Mango, Kiwi, Arugula, Baby Spinach, freshly ground mixed pepper, golden flax seeds & radishes, tossed in red wine vinegar & a some sea salt. This was a perfect lunch.

Dinner!

Squash Ribbon “Pasta” with Broccoli

Something I love to do. I take the vegetable peeler to some squash (used baby zucchini here) and make long ribbons. They’re an excellent substitute for pasta! I tossed them with some fresh broccoli crowns, apple cider vinegar, chia seeds, golden flax seeds, sea salt, freshly ground mixed pepper & crushed red pepper flakes. Garnished with some parsley. It was SO substantial. Took awhile to finish this bowl!

Over the course of the day, I snacked on nuts and berries between main dishes so by nightfall, I was stuffed and ready for a coma to kick in. 😀

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Day 12 of Living Pescetarian – Olive Oil Poached Blacktip Shark & Horseradish Mashed Taters

July 23, 2010

So, as you can tell, I’ve spent quite a bit of time experimenting with various lifestyles to find what fits me best. I’ve always been into health and fitness but, as a Chef, it’s WAY TOO EASY to give in to excess and carelessness and just indulge in anything and everything, (which I’ve done in the past). Honestly, when I had at whatever I wanted, I would get bored. It’s not that I’m a big fan of conformity or break-back rules but I felt like a spoiled brat having at whatever dead animal I could find and it’s been bothering me for a long time now.

So, I’ve been looking into ways to adapt to a program! I love programs! Exercise programs, scheduling daily goals, etc. I feel a gleaming sense of accomplishment when I hit achievement-high-marks, large or small. Yet, I’m not OCD about it. I’m not spastic or neurotic. I LOVE living care-free but I prefer to do it within some sort of reason. Does that make sense? lol ~I guess it’s all about finding a balance. Which perfectly describes my dietary quest!

Balance! Over the years, (some recently documented on this blog), I’ve done the raw vegan thing, the vegetarian thing, tried quite a few detoxes/cleanses and then I came to Pescetarianism, which builds heavily off a classic Mediterranean diet, (which I LOVE!) ~And, I think I’ve found a home. 🙂

Firstly, I grew up and still live in Texas. All the stuff you see and hear about reguarding our INFATUATION with meat and smoking everything TO DEATH, (gogo BBQ overdose. . .?) is true. My dad was always a BBQ maniac, had to slap EVERYTHING on that grill and smoke it into oblivion. I mean, the animal is already dead. No need to kill it again! ~I’ve had my fill. :p

~Anyway, did you know there’s only ONE Vegetarian restaurant in my city of San Antonio, Texas? Sad, huh? It’s called GREEN and it’s fantastic! As a tourist city (and one of the largest Metropolises in the United States), San Antonio has plenty of places that offer vegetarian and vegan selections but the general atmosphere is pretty carnivorous.

I’ve wanted to change that influence within myself for a long time. I’ve researched my choices and former lifestyles ENDLESSLY, (researching is quite the hobby of mine, as anyone who knows me can confirm), and I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t NEED all that meat! As far as proteins go, the insane amounts of vegetable proteins out there do a body well, (Quinoa, Chia, Tempeh -Oh-My!), and Pescetarianism allows dairy & eggs so it’s not like there is any deprivation going on here. Also, I’ve been interested in eliminating growth hormones from my body. As a Chef, I know from where to source hormone free, free range, pampered product but if I’m going out somewhere, there’s no way I can know if what I’m eating meets the personal standards I’ve set for myself. But does that beg the question if going Pescetarian has anything to do with waxing Philosophical?

Kinda yes, kinda no. It may sound selfish, but my first intention is to better my own body. And I just don’t feel like I need all that meat. Granted, I LOVE seafood. Just love it. When I was on my raw vegan stints and vegetarian stints, while I was fulfilled, I had an outstanding longing for the seafare I’ve always enjoyed. As it goes, some of the healthiest proteins and fats come from the sea – even non-fishy sorts like seaweed! – so I feel I’ve found a middle ground in my desire to better my body and lessen my carbon footprint.

But this brings us to point of endangered species of the sea. I’m quite concerned about the way commercial fisheries operate and the manner in which we’re depleting things like Blacktip Sharks. The photo of a shark steak in this post is probably the last you’ll see from me because I feel really bad we’re fishing them into extinction. 😦  As with most things, the human race is overdoing it and I’d like to help fix it or contribute to making it better anyway I can. ~By the way, that was a damn good dish I made, (Olive Oil Poached Blacktip Shark Steak). >.> C’est la vie. . .

Granted, I still have LOTS of researching to do. I know where to source lots and lots of farm raised seafood and I’m a pretty damn good fisherman myself so I’m a step up in that reguard. But my feeling is, if I’m going to do this Pescetarian thing, I’m going to do it the best, most responsible way possible. That’s through education, information & respect for the world I live in.

Will this be where my dietary adventures stop? I don’t know, honestly. I know it’s working for me NOW. Does that mean I’ll fall back on old habits? I’d like to say NO, but I’m not perfect. And! If I fuck up, I’ll be sure to let all of you know because that’s part of taking responsibility for one’s actions. Will I end up a full-blown Vegetarian, even Vegan, one day? Probably lol. And that’d be pretty cool. I never felt better than during Raw Vegan Adventures but I just LOVE cooking things. When I’m fixing things in the kitchen, it’s not just work or technique. It’s passion AND very therapeutic! It’s just what I do. Also, I don’t intend to stop preparing what others want. These decisions I’m making are for me, personally. I have NO intention of forcing my choices on anyone else by saying, “Oh, well I don’t eat steak anymore so I refuse to cook you one!” ~I feel decisions like these are arrived at after a bit of a journey and it’s out of my boundaries to place any restrictions on how another person lives their life. I’ll be a travel-pal to any person along any journey they want or desire company on. While we’re on whatever road we’re on, if they want some hot wings, I’ll fix ’em some hot wings. And they’ll be the best goddamn hot wings ever. 😀

As for me, personally, I’m doing a few things differently and already feel tons better for it. 🙂

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Olive Oil Poached Blacktip Shark w/ Horseradish Mashed Taters

*Recipe for an intimate dinner for 2*

2 Blacktip Shark Steaks
2 cups Extra Virign Olive Oil (maybe more or less, we’ll see)
Herbes de Provence
Grains of Paradise or Freshly Ground Mixed Pepper Corns
Sea Salt
Fresh Rosemary
Fresh Basil
Fresh Lemon (Zest + Juice)
Earth Balance (your choice!)
Prepared Horseradish
Chopped Scallion for garnish
Fresh Parsley for garnish
(like in the photo, Fresh Blackberries for garnish)

Marinade the shark steaks in about a cup of olive oil, 2 tsp’s fresh lemon zest, 4-6 large fresh basil leaves, torn to release fragrance and 4-6 sprigs of fresh rosemary. 30 mins to an hour before preparing works but overnight is best, if you can swing it.

Next, heat a large stew pot or saucepan over LOW heat. Remove shark from marinade and season well with sea salt, pepper or Grains of Paradise & Herbes de Provence. Add olive oil marinade to cooking vessel, followed by the steaks. If anymore olive oil is needed, add now so that the steaks are JUST submerged. Cover and pamper these babies for a good 10-12 mins. Again, we want our oil WARM. You should be just about able to stick your finger in it, so low to med-low. We want to poach, not deep fry. This is something you’ll have to play around with and get just right based on your stove and your sense of timing! If you need to let these things poach to 15 mins to be comfortable with their level of done-ness, go ahead but after awhile, you’ll get the hang of it!

*Good Vid on Poaching Fish like Halibut in Oil*

For the mashed taters! (Again, being from the South, I call ’em Taters!) Dice 1lb potatoes of your choice. Peeling is OPTIONAL. I like skin in my mash so I never peel them but it’s up to you. Start with a pot of cold water, add potatoes, about a tsp of fresh rosemary, 10-12 fresh basil leaves, 2 tsp sea salt, 2 tsp fresh ground mixed pepper or Grains of Paradise, half a lemon’s juice and – after being careful not to get seeds in your pot – go ahead and add the lemon chunk so it can boil, as well. Cover and bring to a boil. Remain covered and boil for 10-15 mins, or until pierced easily. Once done, drain and remove the lemon chunk.
Next, add to the pot 2-4 tablespoons of your choice of Earth Balance (I used their Vegan Butter sticks, which have a STELLAR flavour), about 1/2=3/4 cup of your desired milk, (I used unflavoured Soy), and as much Horseradish as you can take. Generally, you want to add by the tsp and taste-test. For this recipe, I used 4 tsp and the horseradish DID NOT overtake the flavour of the mash. It was back there, the fragrance of it, but not stinging the tongue. It was so fantastic! But based on what brand of horseradish you buy, this effect will vary and take some experimentation to get correct!

When butter and milk are hot, (not boiling, just hot), remove from heat, add horseradish and rice your taters into it. You may also remove the liquids to a huge bowl and do the combining there, such as rice the taters into the bowl or mash them by hand or with an electric hand mixer. Be sure to get the rosemary and basil in there. You can even add freshly minced garlic or garlic powder! Once that’s done, adjust seasoning to taste.

Uncover the shark. They should look like Mother of Pearl; this delicate, gentle white colour.

To plate, carefully lift steaks with WIDE spatula and allow to drain most of the excess olive oil off, but not all. That oil is part of the prize and part of the flavour. Pile up mashed taters, lay the shark beside, kinda overlapping, spray with lemon, sprinkle with chopped scallions, garnish with parsley & blackberries and Bon Appetit!

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Shrimp & Noodle Bowl w/ Edamame, Broccoli, Chaoyte & Cilantro

July 8, 2010

Here’s a quick and easy dish I love slapping together! This sort of thing really suits me because — even though I feel fantastic and content rocking a vegetarian diet — I REALLY miss and REALLY crave seafood. I don’t miss beef. Pork is an afterthought. I was always a runny yolk kinda guy but when I think of what they said in Culinary School — “100% of the fat in an egg is IN THE YOLK!”  — I kinda mope and put it out of my mind. Sometimes, I crave chicken but it’s not like I dream about it or anything, (and I certainly don’t crave insane levels of growth hormones. All the chicken I prepare for my work as a Chef is Free Range. And I know which farms they come from).

But seafood. :p I’m afraid we’re inseparable! So, my personal diet may be shifting to the Pescetarian angle.

Here’s a recipe for two!

Ingredients

24 Shrimp (pre-shelled & de-veined if you prefer but they’re easy to clean yourself)
1 cup edamame beans
1-2 Chayote Squash (I just half and large dice ’em)
1 cup broccoli florets
Handful rough chopped Cilantro
1 cup Shrimp or Seafood Stock
2 packages Instant Ramen Noodles (YES! Chefs have a torrential affair with Ramen noodles! That’s what I used for this picture/recipe but you can use WHATEVER noodle you want; udon, angel hair, penne, vermicelli~ Up to you!)
Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black (or mixed) Pepper (or Grains of Paradise) to taste.

First, bring half a cup of stock, chayote and edamame up to a simmer. It only takes about 10 minutes to get them good to go. I don’t prefer my squash soggy-slop, I like a bit of texture, so 10 minutes should be plenty. And the edamame doesn’t need anything, really. You can eat them raw (same with the chayote) but let’s go ahead and heat things through for this dish.
About 7-8 minutes in, add broccoli and cover so that our broccoli won’t overcook or get soggy. With such a short cooking time, it will stay bright green and maintain a bit of a crunch.
While that’s working, we can rock out with our shrimp! 🙂
Toss fabricated shrimp in extra virgin olive oil (or sesame oil), sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, ground mixed pepper or grains of paradise.
Saute shrimp over med-low heat until pink on both sides, about 2-3 mins per. When shrimp is pink, it’s done! Careful not to overcook or your shrimp becomes eraser-tough! ~What I like to do is cover them as soon as they hit the skillet. Let that gentle condensation action I always talk about around here happen. When you uncover, you’ll see lots of the shrimp’s natural juices forming a broth.
When done, remove shrimp and cover with foil to keep warm.
Add other 1/2 cup of stock to skillet and soften ramen noodles in the shrimp/stock broth till done, about 3 minutes. Personally, I prefer ramen noodles al dente, where they still have that funky curl.
When done, toss noodles, chayote, edamame, all broths and shrimp in huge vessel and divide between two bowls. Top with chopped cilantro and bon apetit!

Oh, and ignore that piece of shell in the picture above. >.> No idea how that got there! I think it walked over and snuck in. . . must have missed its shrimpie buddies!

Also, check out Lauren E. Clark on Chayote lol! So funny! 😀

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Raw Vegan Adventures (Part Deux) Day 1

July 6, 2010

Apologies for a lack of posts lately! Been a bit busy which forced me to neglect daily Raw Vegan Adventures posts but I’ll get ’em all up now that things have settled down! 🙂

I decided to do a week stint with Raw Veganism. I enjoy trying different diets, experiencing different regimens. They keep me entertained and allow me to explore my body’s wants and needs. As a chef, I have every kind of food known to the human race around me on a daily basis. In the past, it was easy to get into the habit of eating whatever I wanted. That kind of behavior can become quite senseless and I would notice my my body feeling sluggish, strange, even bored. So! I began experimenting with detoxes, cleanses & diets. Fast forward to today, these regimens have become a lifestyle for me. It’s like I’m fine tuning myself and I never felt better than when I was on a raw vegan diet. Of everything I’ve tried, the energy level raw veganism gave me was unprecedented. It was like I was HIGH on healthy! ~Do any of you ever feel that way with the dietary disciplines you follow?

So, I wanted to re-experience that awesome feeling. Here are the comings and goings of my latest foray into Raw Veganism and it was fantastic!

Day 1!

Breakfast! Big bowl of organic grapefruit. There’s much to be said for how juice SPRAYS across the room when having at one of these. :p I love it! I paired that with a tart Granny Smith.

Green Monster! Baby Spinach, Arugula, Flat Leaf Parsley, Cilantro, Lemon & Lime Juice and water. 🙂

Lunch! I made a kind of vegan taco thingie. The filling is a mix of diced extra firm tofu, strawberries, tomatoes, chia seeds tossed in red wine vinegar, sea salt and freshly ground mixed peppercorns. Topped w/ shaved carrot, side of red grapes. I had two of these and was entirely stuffed. ~_~

For dinner, I made a Tofu & Tomato Napoleon on a bed of mixed baby greens, topped with some frisse & littered with chia seeds and golden flax seeds. Sprinkled w/ rice wine vinegar, sea salt, freshly ground mixed peppercorns.

Throughout the day, I had some snacks; Almonds and grapes, mostly. Raw okra is another favorite snack of mine! 🙂 I’ve also gotten ADDICTED to red wine vinegar shots. >.> ~I dunno how kind that is on my esophagus and digestive system but I LOVE shooting 1-2 oz. of straight vinegar. The feeling is AMAZING. Seriously, it feels like an orgasm. Every nerve in my body tingles in unison and it’s just LOL ~well, it’s orgasmic! :p

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Mexican Bonanza! ~ Zoe’s Birthday!

June 19, 2010

Last year, my friend Artist Zoe Grice and I were talking about food and we were on about how much she enjoys Mexican cuisine and — as far as proteins go — chicken!  So, considering we’re so far apart at the moment (she lives in North-East Scotland with her adorable little girl, Annie WHO IS HAVING HER 6th BIRTHDAY TODAY!), I decided to throw a serious spread here and photograph it for her! Pictured below are the results!

I had to take a picture of the black beans I prepared BEFORE they were soaked or cooked. Organic black beans here and so gorgeous! Kinda looks like gold! :p

Full spread of what I prepared for Zoe! Arroz con Pollo (Chicken with Rice), Calabacita con Pollo (a recipe of squash, onions, corn & tomatoes stewed with chicken but one can use any protein one desires, or none at all), frijoles negros, lemon wedges, fresh flour tortillas, guacamole, salsa rojo (red salsa). All prettied up with some festive decor! :p

This salsa was smooshed up in a Molcajete. It’s a fantastic little tool I grew up using like my great grandmother (from Guadalajara, Mexico) and grandmother before me.

Salsa Rojo Recipe

2-6 Serrano or Jalapeno Peppers (I personally use Serrano but you can use any pepper you enjoy, depending on the flavor and heat desired. Serrano is hotter than Jalapeno. I also enjoy using Chile Pequin, which is fabulous to grow quite wildly at home. You just have to watch the birds. The birds LOVE eating up all my peppers so I have to be quick to harvest! :p ).
1/2 white or yellow or red onion (I prefer red because it’s a bit sweeter)
1 Tomato (pick a good sized, plump Heirloom or use 2-3 Roma or half a pint of cherry tomatoes)
6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup water (or vegetable stock, or any stock you wish if you’d like to experiment with various salsa flavors to accompany certain dishes)
2-3 tbsp. rough chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp cumin (or to taste)
Kosher or Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper (to taste)

Begin by preparing your tomato(es) for easy peeling in this fashion. Mind you, we’re not concerned with mushy tomatoes because they’re going to get pulverized in the Molcajete anyway.
In a sauce pan, bring water or stock, peppers, tomato(es), onion and garlic to a boil till quite soft, 15-20 minutes.

Remove from heat. Peel tomato by gingerly lifting up from the perforations you made in the beginning.
Transfer items to your Molcajete with a slotted spoon, bit by bit so that not TOO MUCH water comes with. There will be enough liquid souping around in the veggies/fruits as it is. You have to mash in batches because, as you mash, volume will increase and it all could overflow. Mash in small batches till desired texture. Personally, I enjoy a few good chunks but you can entirely devastate it all if you like. By the nature of this procedure, you will remain with some chunkage, regardless. Periodically add chopped cilantro and mash along with the rest till a good mix is made.

Deposit batches in a ceramic or plastic vessel till all done. Now, we can season! Amp it up with salt, pepper and cumin to taste. Return some to Molcajete for presentation’s sake and serve immediately. Reserve the rest in the refrigerator for up to seven days.

This is a general, base recipe. Now, it’s up to YOU to get creative and mash up any and all kinds of salsas your heart desires. I even make fruit vinaigrettes  in my Molcajete, like that Raspberry one I posted a bit back. 🙂

Calabacita Con Pollo

A traditional dish here usually prepared with pork but Zoe prefers chicken so that’s what I went with! You can also make this entirely vegan as the vegetables are more than substantial.

1lb Chicken Tenders (boneless/skinless duh)
1 Onion (your choice. Here, I used White), halved and sliced thinly.
1 Large Tomato, halved and sliced thinly
4-6 Mexican Baby Squash (can also use yellow and green zucchini for prettiness), cut into thin rounds, (quarter-inch or so).
2 cups Fresh corn, shaved off the cob (Frozen is fine as those products are flash frozen at the peak of their quality but if you use canned, it’s our secret! Promise! ^_~ )
1-2 Cups stock (Used Chicken stock for this particular round of cooking but you can use whatever you want. Vegetable stock would work in a vegan preparation. Also, no harm in using water).
2-4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 tbsp Azafran
1 tsp cumin, or to taste
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

First, combine stock and Azafran to constitute the herb and allow its color to permeate the liquid. If you want to get all haute cuisine, use saffron. :p

Add oil to stew pot. Heat on med-low. Season chicken tenders with your favorite spice. Nothing too full of sodium and careful not to over-season  or the stew will be too assertive. Personally, I make a House Seasoning of Sea Salt, Freshly Ground Black pepper, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder & dried Mexican oregano.
Gently brown chicken tenders in oil, minding not to cook fully and certainly not burn. We just want to get some color on each side and seal those seasonings on the outside.  About 3 minutes per side.
Remove and set aside under foil to keep warm.
Next, add onions and tomatoes, stir around a bit and cover. Allow to sweat out on med-low for about 4-6 minutes. Check it half way to assure no sticking. Give it a stir if need-be.
Add a splash of the stock and stir.
Uncover and add the squash rounds, pinwheeling them all around in a bit of a pattern. Cover. Allow to stew for 8 minutes or so.
Meanwhile chop chicken tenders in half-inch pieces.
Uncover pot. Add garlic and stir together with squash, onions and tomatoes. Careful not to destroy the squash! It’s getting delicate but it’s entirely fragile yet. Just be gentle.
Layer chicken over all that, then corn. Cover and allow to stew in own juices for 8-10 minutes over the same med-low heat. Check occasionally to assure no sticking but all that steam and condensation we’re creating is helping amp all those natural juices.
Uncover. Add Remaining stock if you like this dish more soupy. Add half if you prefer it more stewy. Cover and allow to simmer for an additional 20 minutes.
Uncover. Check for seasoning. Re-season if need-be. Add cilantro, stir. Allow cilantro to steep for a good 3-5 minutes or so and serve immediately. Use a slotted spoon for primary solids on a plate or a ladle or serving spoon for serving a more soupy dish in bowls. Goes excellent with warm tortillas! Or even tortilla chips. :p
Serves 4-6. Adjust ingredient quantities based on guests.

Guacamole!

6 Organic Haas Avocadoes (yes, I spell it in accordance with other words of the English language like “potatoes” and “tomatoes.” Apparently, both “avocados” and “avocadoes” are acceptable but considering this is where the “proper” spelling originates, I’d prefer to stick to English rules and go with the “~oes.” Additionally, I suppose I could just fall back on “Ahuacate”.)
1/2 Diced Red Onion (less if you really aren’t into raw onion.
1 Tomato, diced
1-2 tbsp. cilantro, roughly chopped
Salt, Pepper & cumin to taste
Juice of half a lemon, (less if you find the acid to assertive)

This needs to go quick! First, split, seed and scoop all your avocado into a huge bowl. Immediately add lemon juice and get to mashing it all up. The acid in the lemon juice will prevent oxidation! That means your guacamole won’t turn brown!
Add diced onion, tomato, cilantro, salt, pepper and cumin, stir to combine and serve or reserve for later use.

Chalupas!

I did these on the fly but here’s how I enjoy a crisp, refreshing chalupa. They’re even better with guacamole instead of beans but here I fried some corn tortillas in oil till crispy and smothered them with mashed pinto beans. Topped with ensalada (chopped romaine lettuce & diced tomatoes) and finished with grated Manchego cheese.

Dessert! Happy Birthday Zoe Lava Kake Kaplosion!

I wish these had come out more lava-y but ce la vie! They were yummy! :p I baked a of couple chocolate lava cakes from scratch, dressed them with drizzled powdered sugar, pipes of home made whipped cream, orange/lemon/lime zest & ribbons, blackberries and a huge carved mandarin orange with Zoe’s name carved into it!

Getting our drink on! Strawberry & Mexican Tuna Margarita (not the fish! The fruit of a cactus, the prickly pear)! :p

Margarita made w/ Gran Patron tequila & a splash of Moet White Star champagne. Strawberry & Lime garnish w/ lime zest. It was soooooo good! Just blend the strawberry, prickly pear, crushed ice and tequila together then add a splash of champagne on the top and stir GENTLY to incorporate. Garnish and have at it!

That last pic is the Prickly Pear, split. It really recalls a pomegranate. Here’s all about it. And how to peel them.

As you can see, there’s a price to pay for being my friend! I’m in the habit of spoiling people I care about so if we’re at all on good terms, chances are you will end up being stuffed to the point of forfeit! At least you’ll die happy. And full! :p

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