Tag Archives: breakfast

Carribean Breakfast: Gallo Pinto, Tostones, and Tofu Scramble

It has been so cold here that people have taken to wearing ski masks. The local news shows people frantically buying earmuffs and warning parents that this is the coldest their children have ever seen. If you live somewhere where it snows we Austinites look pretty ridiculous in the winter. The threat of snowfall consumes news coverage for a week ahead of time and the eventual hint of snow flurries sends children running outside to try to make snowmen.

I have a hard time dealing with the cold. My main problem is that my house was not built with winter in mind. Floor to ceiling, poorly constructed windows make all the walls let cold air in and you can feel a breeze in the living room. The beagles can’t stand it either. They get excited to put on their sweaters and they spend a great part of the day under covers cuddled with each other and us. If you sit down in my house you will have a beagle next to you within a minute, cuddled up. The only way I could get out of my warmer bedroom over the weekend was to remember this time last year when we were in Costa Rica. We would have Gallo Pinto for breakfast every morning, usually with a side of plantains. I usually either bake plantains or cut them into long pieces and pan fry them but this morning I decided to try to make tostones. First you cut the plantains into circles and fry them.Then you smash them flat. I used a tortilla press because I could do several at once.

unsmashed

smashed

Then you fry them a second time. They were really good but they didn’t turn out perfect. I am having a lot of trouble with my stove so I am going to blame technical difficulties since I couldn’t get the oil hot enough. They were really yummy.

I was out of coriander so I made the gallo pinto a  little different from my usual recipe. I used a little bit of allspice and some ginger and cayenne. It was delicious! I also tried a baked tofu recipe that my friend Wes came up with. I loved the shake & bake method for tofu scramble, it was ridiculously easy and tasty. I think I will make my spice mix next time because there was a little too much cumin for my taste. Finally I made a yogurt cream sauce to go on top of everything. I blended yogurt, cilantro, and lime together then added a little bit of asafetida. I loved it! If you are feeling beaten down by the weather I completely recommend this spread. Caribbean Breakfast makes everything better.Pura Vida!

Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Rice and Beans)

This is it folks! The definitive version of Gallo Pinto. It took a long time to get here and I have a lot of people to thank, Dan for eating Gallo Pinto all the time, the Ticos for endlessly varying their national dish so that I could try 1000 different recipes, Dinger and Willow for eating the leftovers when we couldn’t face another day of rice and beans…

Gallo Pinto is a terrific recipe to perfect, it works best with leftover rice and/or beans, you can increase the amount to feed 20 without really doing anything different, it is a very hearty breakfast, it is probably the cheapest thing you could ever make, you can make a version with stuff that you have right now in your pantry, and it tastes like Costa Rica! It does take a little planning if you don’t have beans on hand. What works great is to make a big batch of beans & rice for dinner (maybe bean burgers, black bean soup, or burritos) and then when you get out of bed the next day you are 15 minutes from having breakfast on the table. I will write out the recipe assuming that you are just making the rice and beans so that you have them so you can make Gallo Pinto for breakfast for four people.

Ingredients:
1 cup rice, (any will work, I use basmati)
1 tsp Vegeta or half of a vegetable broth cube
1 cup black beans
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 dried ancho chilie peppers, seeds removed (any other pepper can be subbed, some will be more spicy, anchos aren’t spicy, you can also use jalapeños or bell peppers just add them when you add the garlic instead)
1 Tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves or garlic, chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped and packed
1 lime

The Beans:
Soak the beans for at least 8 hours. If you live somewhere that is really hot (e.g. Texas in the summer) you should do this in the fridge.
When the beans are done soaking change the water (add about 7 cups), add a couple bay leaves, and bring to a simmer for around 90 minutes. You will need to check the doneness of the beans at around 1 hour because the timing will vary depending on how dry your beans are. You can also do this step in the crock pot. Whatever you do, make sure that you save some of the cooking water with the beans because you will need it later.

The Rice:
Dissolve the broth cube or 1 teaspoon of Vegeta in 2 cups of water. Add 1 cup of rice, bring to a simmer, and then reduce heat to almost off for 35-60 minutes depending on what kind of rice you are using. It works best to refrigerate the rice overnight because then it drys better.

Gallo Pinto:
Toast the cumin, coriander, and dried peppers until fragrant and then grind in either a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. (Conversely, if you are short on time or don’t have the seeds you could also toast the powders and when you put in the garlic). Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion. Sauté for 5 minutes, until the onions start to turn translucent. Add the garlic and the spice mixture and sauté another minute. Add a little more oil if you can’t see any and turn the heat up. Add the rice and stir fry for about a minute breaking up any chunks but don’t smoosh the rice. Once all the rice has changed color add the beans starting with just one cup until you have a pleasing ratio of rice to beans. Also add some of the bean cooking water with the beans. Gently mix and once everything is heated through adjust the spices, add the cilantro, and turn off the heat. To make the mold, press the Gallo Pinto into a small bowl, invert a plate on it, and then flip both over and lift up the bowl. Serve with the lime, salsa (preferably lizano), tofu scramble, and fried plantains.

VeganMoFo- McVegan Griddle

A couple weekends ago I made Dreena Burton’s Polenta Pancakes from Eat Drink and Be Vegan. The method is so simple and easy that I bought prepared polenta just to try it. The recipe calls to simply cut the polenta into rounds, rub with cinnamon and sugar, and then grill on each side. We really liked them but I instantly regretted upon tasting them that I didn’t also make vegan sausage patties because I thought they would go together just perfectly and the polenta pancakes were kind of simple on their own.

I had also seen a post on “good eats and faux meats” for an Egg McVegan and although it looks like a brilliant idea it also seemed more in the “project” category so I haven’t made it yet. But I was inspired by it and the polenta pancakes to make the McVegan Griddle and it turned out better than I could have hoped. The polenta pancakes are so smooth and creamy but hold up really well to create the perfect encapsulation for morningstar sausage patty and a little bit of syrup. The whole project took 10 minutes from walking to the kitchen to trying and I am sure that this will become the standard “to go” breakfast in my house.