Tag Archives: fried plantains

Ice Cream Social Bus

 

Seriously. This is an avocado sorbet topped with sea salt, lime, and fried plantains. It’s like the people from Ice Cream Social Bus were sitting around saying, hmm I wonder what Lazy Smurf would really like. This little bus is in the Jessie St Food Trailer Park, which has kind of become one of the most vegan friendly trailer parks in South Austin between Bahn Bahn, Mister Fruit Cup, The Gypsy Kit (tacos with french fries!), and Chocosutra. I had to try the ice cream social bus because they were having Scoutmob deal for 50% off so you should totally go soon. Watch out, they don’t open until 6pm and they were out of quite a few things when we went. No need to worry too much though because there are plenty of other things to enjoy in the vicinity. They have rotating vegan flavors and the avocado sorbet is always on the menu along with popsicles and Italian sodas.

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And speaking of ice cream, there are only a couple of days left to join the Sweet Ritual Kickstarter. If you haven’t yet been this Friday night they are having a special meet up with make your own sundaes that can include Red Rabbit Doughnuts and Capital City Brownies!

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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.

Eating Vegan in Costa Rica

I love Costa Rica! This was my second trip out there this year. Last January, my plane was overbooked so twice I ended up staying the night in a hotel paid for by the Airline and a bunch of travel vouchers. This January I went for 17 days with Dan and I checked out other places I didn’t get to go to last time. Sadly my camera was stolen so I am going to try and find other pics in the ‘net to illustrate this post.

I feel that Costa Rica is probably one of the easiest places to travel as a vegan, certainly a lot nicer than the sausage fest that is Eastern Europe. Even as a raw vegan it would be fairly easy since you can always get fruit plates, smoothies, and salads. The best part about Costa Rican food in my opinion is breakfast, specifically the food of my dreams: Gallo Pinto.I have been working of the recipe for awhile and I think I have almost perfected it, will try and post soon. Basically you cook & season the rice and the beans separately then you stir fry them together with more peppers, onions, and celery. In Costa Rica they come with a side on fried plantains (if you are lucky) or eggs or meat. I really want to make some tofu scramble to go with my gallo pinto this weekend because I think it would be really good.

I make Gallo Pinto regularly at home but I have learned during this recent trip to Costa that the missing link is Lizano Salsa which is the key to authentic Costa Rican Gallo Pinto.Tico’s love their gallo pinto as much as I do so you can get it at every single restaurant, even Burger King so it is nice to know that you are always going to find a vegan option. Fruit plates can usually be ordered at any time and are often breakfast if you are staying at a place that includes breakfast.

Another great fruit option is a batido en agua. These shakes are everywhere and can be with milk or water (sometimes even soy milk). Usually they list about 14 different kinds of fruit but then only have a couple available. Pineapple and cantaloupe are my favorite.Mixed drinks with tropical fruits are so yummy too. Horchata, which is a rice milk drink was often available as well. The best part is that they are really cheap and fresh. Usually they are around a dollar. The greatest drink in all of Costa Rica, however, is agua de pipa. If you are lucky while you are lounging on the beach a guy with a machete will wander by and open one up for you.

The common lunch in Costa Rica is called a Casado, which actually means husband. I think it stems from what the wife would pack up for her husband when he went off to work. It always involves rice and beans, often a plantain, and instead of meat you can say Casado Vegetariano and you never know what you will get, usually rice and beans and a salad and either a pasta or vegetable dish.

I had so many good meals. We stayed in Santa Elena first by Monteverde in a wonderful place called Cabinas Vista El Golfo which I highly recommend. They had a full kitchen to use and I was shocked to find tahini at the grocery store so I was able to make hummus! Note that lemons in Costa Rica look exactly like limes. We had to ask. Next time I travel I am going to try to remember to bring some tahini. It keeps well and hummus is so great to have along, especially with some olives on bus rides or hikes. In Monteverde we hiked on hanging suspension bridges in the cloud forest. and we took a boat ride on Lake Arenal. It was so beautiful. I rode a horse named Pinto to the top of a mountain where you could see the entire Pacific coast. He was the most adorable horse. We got to see sugar cane growing and learned how the made it into liquor. They also grew coffee, beans, avocado, bananas, and all sorts of other stuff, you would never need to shop if you lived in the tropics.

After Monteverde we took the bus and then the ferry to Montezuma on the Nicoya peninsula which is a very veg friendly town. The stores had soy milk powder and some other vegan offerings and the restaurants were just wonderful. I had a fantastic sweet potato and spinach curry at a place called “the bakery cafe” that had a full vegetarian menu.

The food at this place was so great! They had the menu divided into sections by country and I wanted to try it all. The cool part is that they put out food and tropical birds and monkeys come by while you are eating. One day we saw a whole family of monkeys including a mama with a baby on her back!

There was also a really cool juice place called Organico that was all organic and had mostly vegan food.they even had vegan literature on their menu! It was a really laid back place but do to the organicness it was rather expensive so I only went once. Maybe the greatest part was the fact that they have an air conditioned chill room where you can hang out on pillows and read magazines and books. It was really nice. I wish I would have noticed it my first day there when I was feeling sickly.

We stayed at a really nice and cheap place on the beach called Hotel Lucy that also had a kitchen. (This is one of my two pictures, you can see hotel lucy on the right)

We also went snorkeling at the Isle of Tortuga, it was so beautiful! I saw so many tropical fish and the water was gorgeous and a psychotic blue. Here we are on the boat!.

After over a week in Montezuma we went to Mal Pais for a couple days and stayed at the Mal Pais Surf School and Resort. It was fabulous because they had a pool and a restaurant with a ping pong table. I beat Dan 7 times in a row at ping pong.  We went to one little restaurant there that was on the beach and it just had the most gorgeous view. We sat eating gallo pinto and fried plantains and discussed the fact that Austin really needs a Costa Rican restaurant. If I perfect my gallo pinto recipe, who knows maybe I will open it 🙂