Wednesday, April 13, 2011

¡Andale Tamale!

Hey folks! Just because you're so pretty and awesome, I made you a movie for today's blog post about TAMALES! I figured knowing how to fold is a pretty essential part of the process, and why not abuse my access to iMovie and add fancy scrolling fonts and a total voice over? You're welcome in advance for the next few minutes, it's truly a masterpiece.
Here are the recipes!


Get a bag of tamale corn husks, you can find these at a lot of convenience stores around Oakland or a Mexican specialty market. They're cheap and come with a whole bunch. Before starting your recipe, separate about half of them and put in a bowl of hot water. Immerse (might take persuading, I stacked mine with two heavy pots) until you're about to use 'em.

I bought a giant bag of masa harina flour at my local grocery store, it's huge, inexpensive and really fun to play around with. I then used a pretty standard tamale masa recipe, here's the one from Veganomicon that's just peachy:
4 c masa harina corn flour
4 c vegetable broth (I used Better Than Boullion - No Chicken Stock)
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 c oil (Olive Oil)
salt to taste (I also added: chili powder, several cloves of minced garlic, fresh ground pepper and dried cilantro)

Once you've mixed all ingredients with a hand beater (or a really strong will) cover with a damp towel or seran wrap and let sit while you prepare the rest of your ingredients. Prepared masa WILL go sour, so if it's going to be out for awhile, try and stick it in the fridge.

I made two fillings because tamales rule and I wanted a bunch of extra ones to freeze and enjoy later. Since you can pretty much go with any filling for the tamales and they'll still be bomb, I'm just going to post a rough outline for each of them. If you have any questions, let me know and I can be more specific. It's much more fun when making tamales to kinda go with the flow and invent something amazing. Especially if you're making vegan tamales since there are a million options that are all more fun than just shredded meat. (Blegh.)

Filling 1) "Chicken" chunk from Layonnas, 2 red bell peppers, 1 purple onion, 3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped), 1/2 cup corn (frozen or fresh) and mole (I used a modified recipe out of the Doña Tomás cookbook that calls for a lot of specialty ingredients, but you can buy prepared mole at mexican markets. Double check the ingredients for vegan verification, make sure to get the traditional mole with cocoa).

Filling 2) Nopales (cactus), 1/2 yellow onion, 1/2 purple onion, black beans (canned and rinsed) tomatillo salsa (another modified Doña steal, but canned tomatillo salsa would probably work just fine) and 2 T sugar

A word about nopales: They're really yummy but kinda a pain (literally). If you buy the fresh planks you have to first cut off all of the spikes, which can lead to a little bit of a blood sacrifice. If you buy them canned, they are already so processed and marinated that they lose a lot of their original flavor. My favorite is to buy them fresh AND chopped at mexican markets. Look in the produce section, they're usually in a ziplock sandwich bag and remarkably affordable.

After making your filling, assemble them (direction in the video) then layer them folded-tail-side down in a tamale pot, or a covered pot with a steamer basket. Put a thin layer of corn husks over the little holes in the steamer basket/tamale basket so that the bottom layer of tamales don't get too wet. Make sure to keep the water level at a rolling boil, which will probably mean you'll have to add water sometime in the middle of cooking. It takes about 40 minutes (yeah right) to an hour and a half. Try not to peak for the first half an hour and when you do check on them, keep it short so too much steam doesn't escape.

Alrightie friends, that was super long and detailed, I hope you make delicious tamales! (And give me some!)

PS: I'm helluv sick and my Star Wars intro song isn't always that annoying... Well, yeah it is, but it's especially annoying when I can't breathe out of my nose. :D

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lasagna and Mini-Bundt Goodness!

Hey friends!
So I guess I suck at having a blog. It's not you, it's me.

I've been cooking a little bit less lately and kinda realizing that trying to cook for the blog sucks the fun out of cooking. So I'll cook, have fun, eat good food and maybe sometimes remember to share recipes on here. Sound good? Well you have no choice, so it's no use crying over lazy bloggers.

This week I'm pretty sure I perfected my tofu lasagna filler. It could be compared to a ricotta, but it's a little bit closer to a mascarpone. Well maybe if mascarpone and ricotta had a baby, and that baby was made out of tofu and tasted really good on lasagna. Yeah, that sounds about right. I would also suggest making more of the tofu spread than necessary for your lasagna. When refrigerated in an air tight container, it makes a great vegan paté for crackers, bread, carrots or whatever you want to paté with.

Holy Mascarpone Batman!
*High Protein Extra Firm Tofu (Drained and pressed for at least an hour. Seriously.)
*Olive Oil - Added for correct riccota-esque consistency. Usually about 3-4 T.
*2 t dried basil
*1/2 t white pepper
*1/2 t fresh cracked black pepper
*1 t Spike or an extra 1/2 t of sea salt
*4 T Parma or
2 T nutritional yeast
1 T ground walnuts
1 T ground cashews
1/2 t sea salt
*1 t thyme
*2 cloves garlic

Instrucciones: In a food processor, mince garlic cloves before adding manageable chunks of the pressed tofu. Make sure that your tofu is as dense and dry as possible, try to get all of the excess liquid out. While the food processor is slashing the tofu like a hot blonde in a scary movie, add all the spices and then the olive oil (a T at a time until the tofu has good consistency). Et voila! You might want to add a little bit more salt or garlic to taste, but this is a pretty great mixture.

Use it in place of ricotta in a typical lasagna recipe. Lasagna is one of the easiest things to kitchen-sink-ify. I made one with the scraps of our CSA box. Broccoli, spinach and heirloom tomato sauce. I wish we had some zuchinni, because that's my all time favorite lasagna filling, but the broccoli gave it a nice crunch. I baked the lasagna for about 50 minutes at *350, taking it out once at about 30 minutes to add more sauce and tofu spread to the top. I like my lasagna crispy and creamy at the same time.

After completely messing up the kitchen, I figured this was a good a time as any for my famous mini-bundts. This recipe is stupid easy and always comes out great. These are also soy-free, which is pretty exciting, since I always feel like I'm eating too much soy. This recipe is also gluten free! Just make sure you're using GF all-purpose flour.

This makes about a dozen mini-bundts, or one actual bundt cake.

Baby Got (Mini) Bundts
*2 cups all-purpose flour
*1 cup oat flour
*3/4 cup vegan turbinado sugar
*1/4 cup brown sugar
*1 t baking soda
*3/4 cup vegetable oil
*3 fuyu persimmons and 2 sweet apples, pureed (about 2 cups). Watch out for seeds!
*1 1/2 t vanilla
*1 t cinnamon
*1/2 t nutmeg
*1/2 t ground cloves

Combine wet ingredients (oil, puree and vanilla) with the sugar in one small bowl. I like to combine the dry ingredients (flours, baking soda, spices) and then use a sifter to add them to the wet. Mix everything together by hand, being careful to not over-do it. That will make the bundts come out a little tough, at least in my experience. Pour into mini-bundt, or big bundt pan. You should fill it so there's room at the top (these rise a bunch) or just know that you're going to have a little bundt butt to chop off later. I actually like the little butts, they are like tiny biscuits. Adorable. Put into a preheated 350* oven. Or if you're me, remember that you didn't preheat the oven and then wait around for fifteen minutes until it's ready. Pinche. Cook for about half an hour, double checking at 20 minutes that they're rising and turning brown. When a toothpick comes out clean, they're ready to come out. If you do have the over rising bundt butt problem, chop them off and put the bundts back in the oven for about 5 more minutes to make sure the center is done.

You can leave this bundt recipe uncovered, it's great as a morning sweet treat. I like to do a citrus fondant on top, it's like yummy candy. I generally follow this fondant recipe on Vegan Yum Yum using clementines, oranges or meyer lemons.

Yay! I updated the blog!

Friday, February 11, 2011


New post coming later today! I followed my good pal Kate's advice and stole her nice camera to take better pictures for this blog. Sorry for subjecting you to 1.2 MP pictures that my camera phone takes.

I had a little delay in posting this week because I had a MASSIVE FOOD FAILURE. I think that this blog might be making me a little too outgoing and adventurous in my food preparation. I had a little slice of humble pie this week in the form of a FAIL beet experiment involving 2 hours of roasting and a last ditch casserole attempt. The "casserole" was the color of Jem's hair and as my very altruistic roommate pointed out, kinda looked like raw hamburger meat. It didn't taste that bad, but, um... it looked like RAW HAMBURGER MEAT.

+ =Gross

Sorry everyone that I made taste it while trying to reassure myself that I was good at things. Ah well, it happens.

Today I made some yummy beans and toast though and that recipe is too easy, delicious, cheap and filling (the holy quadfecta of veganism)to keep to myself.

Now to go on a hike with Blom, Blender and Marge. :D

Friday, February 4, 2011

Just When You'd Given Up On Vegan Pizza

And then there was Patxi's.

Good pizza is something I figured I'd just have to leave behind when I became vegan. We've all succumbed to the misled attempts at deliciousness created by Bay Area vegan pizzerias. Who hasn't had a moment of stoned desperation and a call into Pizza Plaza only to be delivered a dry, barely edible, yet officially vegan circle of cardboard? Or a pricey trip to Fellini to have the pretty awesome, but super soy heavy "Happy Cow" pizza? Or a job at Lanesplitter for two years that ended in you hating both sicilian style and notta-ricotta cheese so much that you have mild PTSD?

Was that last one only me? Okay, that's fair.

Well be hungry for gooey pizza no longer my friends! Make the long trek westward to Patxi's Pizza (3 locations in the city and one in Palo Alto) and be merry. Will and I spent a loverly Thursdate at the Hayes Valley location, drinking beer (Stella for my beau, Big Daddy IPA for me) and eating so much of this bomb ass pizza that I will probably never be the same. Get the Chicago deep dish vegan combo, it tastes like Zachary's Pizza smells and is so filling and amazing that it's officially the best thing to happen to veganism since Souley Vegan. Patxi's doesn't skimp on the Daiya and the tomato sauce is perfectly spiced. The whole thing is topped with roasted minced garlic and it's well worth the 35 minute wait.

I tried to take a picture of me with the pizza and not only did my shitty camera phone make me look like I was in the bottom of a hole, but at least 7 people in the restaurant turned to look at me hanging out, thumbs up over the giant pizza. Somehow the phrase "I'm not a dork, I just have a food blog," seemed like a contradiction in terms so I sat my happy ass down and scarfed some pizza.

All this typing is reminding me of the half a pizza we have downstairs in the fridge. Time for left overs!


Did I mention that I was gonna do restaurant/product reviews on this big bad blog? I wonder if I should figure out some sort of a star rating system. Like the little Chronicle guy hanging out of his chair, but more like the little Chronicle guy drinking a beer while pointing and laughing at the screen. Any suggestions?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

So. Tired. Must. Eat. Vegetables. And... Punctuate Like. William Shatner.

This is a super easy, wicked fast and mad nutritious lunch or dinner one-bowler (can it be eaten slopped together in a bowl? It is thusly dubbed a one-bowler). Jamie and I had just finished a beautiful 30 mile bike ride and I was freakin' starving! This recipe only takes about 15 minutes start to finish and is chock full of vitamins and protein. I put cubed tofu in the vegetables but you could also add a nutty rice (think brown, wild or red rice).

This is also a good backbone recipe to quickly imbibe any random leftover CSA stuff. Today we were down to a bit of the baby asparagus, one yellow zuchinni, a white onion and a red bell pepper.

Put some peanut or safflower oil (to taste and preference, I generally keep it to a tablespoon or less to keep the fat content low) to heat in a large skillet. Add chopped onions and a minced garlic clove and stir for about 3 minutes, or until the onions become translucent. Add chopped bell pepper, asparagus and zuchinni and stir well, making sure to evenly coat all the vegetables with oil. Add 3 T of tamari or soy sauce and continue to stir. While stirring like there's no tomorow, add 2 T of creamy, no stir peanut butter (organic is best) and move about while the peanut butter starts to melt.
Then add:
1 t of ginger powder
1 t of chili powder
1 t of lemon juice
1 t apple cider vinegar and
2 t of hot chili oil.

Now would be the time to add in your cubed hella firm tofu (drained and pressed), another T of tamari and continue to stir until the vegetables look as cooked as you like them (al dente to mushy, the range is wide and great). Right before you turn the heat off, add 2 T of nutritional yeast and a pinch of Spike or sea salt.

Give one final and mighty stir (damn, you're starting to look buff) and turn off the heat. Put it in a bowl, give yourself a pat on the back and share it with someone you think is cute.

Now I'm going to do some house stuff and talk to my dog in high pitched voices before going to the city on Thursdate. We're trying out a place with CHICAGO STYLE DEEP DISH PIZZZZZA WITH DAIYA. That's right. Daiya. On pizza. From Chicago. Get pumped, I'll tell you all about it later.


Monday, January 31, 2011

All I Need Are Those Stupid Mini Marshmallows

So evidently unsweetened chocolate almond milk is dis-gus-ting. Picture chalk, only something that's chalkier than chalk, then combine that with the crushing blow of expecting something delicious. Now you've experienced unsweetened chocolate almond milk. Thankfully I am a genius and can successfully heat up a pot while adding two ingredients and stirring with my faithful mini whisk.

This serves 2 and is so reminiscent of all the best parts of Swiss Miss cocoa that my hills are alive with the sound of music:

2 cups nasty unsweetened chocolate almond milk - I suppose any type of non-dairy milk would work, but add another teaspoon of chocolate chips if using vanilla or regular.
2 T vegan chocolate chips (baking quality)
1 T vegan (unrefined) sugar

Heat up the pre-awesome almond milk in a small sauce pot or double boiler, stir continuously. With your free hand add in the chocolate chips when the almond milk begins to cloud up on the top. Try not to let the delicious stew of chocolate and love boil because it can make the milk taste weird. Add the sugar after the chocolate chips begin to melt and stir for another minute on medium/low heat. Pour into two adorable mugs and split with someone you think is cute. Or someone that you want to butter up for a favor. Or both.


Feelin' A Little Ambitious

Hey friends! I've been wanting to start something like this up for awhile, just so my whole Facebook isn't completely overwhelmed by my recipes and pictures of the food I shove in my face.

Anywho, less preamble, more food shoving.

Tonight! The main plate real estate was given to Chickpea Cutlets a la Veganomicon (Holy shit, that link has nutrition facts. Don't look at those if you want to still respect yourself.) As a little secret between me and you, I suck at following recipes. Today's adulteration called for substituting crushed saltines for breadcrumbs, dalmation sage for rubbed sage, and smoked paprika for Hungarian paprika. I refuse to buy one item that I'll only use a cup of for a recipe and Will eats about 4 sleeves of Saltines a day, so that was an easy choice to make. I also fried these lil beauties in a mixture of olive oil and peanut oil because... well because it's my sexy cutlets and I do what I want.

I did however make the sauce for ze top! It's perfectly salty and sweet, a great pairing with these extremely savory and crispy cutlets:

Hella Hell Yeah sauce:
3 T tahini, 1 t rice wine vinegar, 1 t lemon juice, 1 t dijon mustard OR 1 t dry mustard and a lil more water, 1 t agave nectar, 2 T water.
Mix using a mini-whisk, your cutest kitchen friend, and serve on the side.

I attempted to add some unmolested green into the mix with blanched (flash boiled/steamed then cold water immersed) baby asparagus from my CSA box topped with my patented I Am Spiteful sauce. So Grateful Bowls are awesome. If you haven't swindled Cafe Gratitude out of at least $250 by only paying $1 every time you eat one of these, we shouldn't even be friends. However, I hate going in to Whole Foods three times a week just to rub that delicious green sauce on my gums. Spiteful Sauce to the rescue! This was the result of about 7 minutes of tinkering with the following ingredients and my food processor: a cup of fresh parsley, 3/4 cup tahini, 4 T lemon juice, 2 T miso, 1 T white wine vinegar, way too many (~4) garlic cloves, 1 t garlic powder,1 t onion powder, 1 t chili powder and fresh cracked pepper. Throw those in a blender of food processor in that order and then fool around for awhile. Get that sauce to third base and you're good to go. I've been eating this sauce on everything! Store in an airtight jar, and spread on sandwiches, slap on some beans and rice or pour over steamed greens.

Since I wasn't sure yet that I had successfully created the most rib-sticking, gut-busting, holy-shit-this-is-amazing dinner I made some Colcannon on a whim since it's a ridiculously easy recipe to, uh, whim.
Step 1) Steal some potatoes from your downstairs roommates
Step 2) Add some kale (another CSA score, I used dino kale but any will suffice), Earth Balance, salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. If you've got any Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese on hand, throw a couple tablespoons of that bad boy in too. You can also put some dairy free milk in, but I like my potatoes on the dry side.
Step 3) ?
Step 4) Profit. For your belly.

Here's a terrible, horrible, very camera phone picture of the meal:

Then Will and I ate the entire thing in one sitting and I'm typing this with the laptop on my engorged, very happy belly.