Posts Tagged ‘diet’

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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. ย 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! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ Pretty and yummy! (And damn healthy).

Above are photos of the olive-less variety. Not everyone likes olives. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ 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! ๐Ÿ˜€ 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! ๐Ÿ™‚ ยกSalud!

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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! ๐Ÿ™‚ Beneath the Veggie frank is some all natural ketchup, all natural mustard and on top is my favourite all naturalย 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

I had a smashingly good Green Monster that morning! Made with:
Coconut water from 2 fresh coconuts
18ย purple grapes,
2 tbsp. Chia Seeds
12ย 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. ๐Ÿ˜€

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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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ย 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. ๐Ÿ˜€

As for me, personally, I’m doing a few things differently and already feel tons better for it. ๐Ÿ™‚

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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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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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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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Vegan Breakfast — Who Knew?!

June 12, 2010

Here’s a lovely Vegan breakfast I enjoy preparing! I’ve fooled a few folks with this picture and this preparation, in general. They can’t tell it’s Vegan till I tell them or they try it! :p I think that’s cool~

Scrambled tofu w/ tomatoes, onions & scallions, side of two veggie sausage patties, vegan tortilla & avocado. ๐Ÿ™‚ I keep it simple. I start with a saute of tomatoes, onions & scallions, some sea salt to help them sweat. Lil bit of pepper. Some Cumin! Next, I add my tofu (i use chopped up firm) and gently cook it down, about 8 minutes. Add chopped parsley at the end and that’s a scramble that rivals any egg dish, as far as I’m concerned.

As for the vegan “sausage” patties, I made them myself. :p I never throw all the pulp away from my juicing exertions. So, there was celery, fennel, carrot, parsnip, apple in this as well as some cilantro, flat leaf parsley, mashed garbanzo beans and golden flax seeds. For binder, I added a little olive oil and garbanzo flour. Seasoning = cumin, sea salt, Grains of Paradise, mustard powder, turmeric & garlic powder. You can spice it up anyway you like but I enjoy the mild earthiness here coupled with the sweetness of the apple/carrot/parsnip. It’s basic and pleasant and goes lovely with the tofu.

I made the tortillas myself with corn flour, water, sea salt and olive oil. And a tortilla press! Can’t beat the ease! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Seafood Stew & Midwest Couture Blog

June 9, 2010

A bit ago, the glorious Trasi Kromer of Midwest Couture Blog turned me onto a photo-contest that I ultimately missed the date on (oops!) but she was wonderful enough to blog about the event and post my recipe! She’s honey-sweet, gorgeous & insightful so I hope you pay her blog a visit!

Here are the goods:

Seafood Stew Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 lb. Littleneck Clams
1 lb. Chilean Mussels
2 3-4 oz. filets Orange Roughy
2 3-4 oz. filets Halibut
4-6 fresh, cleaned whole squid, bodies sliced in rounds, with tentacles (for garnish)
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup fennel, diced
1/2 cup diced tomato
2-3 tbsp. minced garlic
2-3 good pinches of cumin
1-2 bay leaves
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1/3 cup good extra virgin olive oil
1 cup seafood stock
Pinch good saffron (if unavailable, use Mexican Azafran)
4 oz cup organic tomato sauce
Sea Salt to taste
Grains of Paradise to taste (if unavailable, Freshly Ground Black Pepper will suffice)
Sprinkle of Herbes de Provence (Optional)

Preparation:

Heat olive oil in pot or large sauce pan over low heat. (On the side, have a skillet heating slowly. Keep on low till 5 minutes before the Halibut step).
Add diced onion, celery, fennel, tomatoes (and any stray tomato juice from dicing), garlic and cover immediately.
Uncover after 3-4 minutes. When you see condensation droplets, thatโ€™s the sweat you want. Add salt to allow vegetables to release moisture, as well as Grains of Paradise (or pepper if unavailable), cumin, saffron (or azafran if unavailable), thyme and bay leaves. This delicate process weโ€™re orchestrating is like a seasoning infusion.
Cover to allow steam and precipitation to create a broth. Keep heat low and allow this process to work for an additional 5-6 minutes.
Uncover and stir to assure there is no to minimal browning. Then, recover for an additional 2 minutes to ensure a good sweat has been had.
Uncover and Incorporate seafood stock & tomato sauce. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Uncover and strain liquid. Discard or reserve solids for whatever you want to use them for. Up to you. For this particular recipe, we are creating a broth sans solids other than the seafood.
Return liquid to sauce pan or pot. Add Orange Roughy and poach 6-8 minutes covered.
Uncover and add squid. Poach an additional 2-4 minutes for a total of 2-4 minutes for the squid, 10-12 minutes for the fish.
When done, remove fish and squid and cover with aluminum foil to stay warm. Add mussels and clams and cover. Do not disturb for about 8-10 minutes.

*WHILE THIS IS WORKING, TIME TO SEAR OUR HALIBUT*

Bring additional (hopefully) cast iron skillet up to med-high heat. You know itโ€™s hot enough when you sprinkle water at it and the water beads off very fast and vanishes. This is essential because, if your skillet is not hot enough, your fish will stick. Must allow the protein to hit a hot surface and sear. No fat is necessary in the skillet when you sear. (No oil, butter, lard, etc). (Optionally, you can saute the Halibut in a fat for 3-5 minutes on each side if you are more comfortable with said cooking method).

When skillet is hot enough, season Halibut with sea salt, Grains of Paradise (or pepper) and Herbes de Provence, (optional. Thereโ€™s lavender in HdP which some people may find assertive). Sear each side 3-5 minutes. When done, set aside under aluminum foil to keep warm.

*BACK TO OUR SHELLFISH*

When you uncover, all mussels and clams should be open. Discard any unopened ones as those have gone bad and may get you plague-sick.

Time to plate! Ladel broth and shellfish in bowl. Wedge Orange Roughy in as best you can. Sprinkle squid. Wedge tentacles around, attractively. Top w/ seared Halibut and serve with crusty bread, (warm or toasty tortillas work, too!) & lemon wedges. Garnish with parsley.

Serves 1-2. Increase ingredients according to how many youโ€™ll be serving. Feel free to swap in various fishes and shellfishes to suit your tastes. This is a homely recipe where components are at your discretion. Technique and timing should be the focus in practicing this recipe.

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