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Vegan Arroz Verde

My general approach to working with non vegan recipes is this:

Step 1: Substitute animal products with vegan alternatives or omit

Step 2: Add kale or another leafy green.

The way I see it, you can never have too many leafy green vegetables in your life. In fact, when people ask me any sort of nutritional question my go to answer is, “I think Kale has a lot of _____”. In my mind vegetables make anything healthy and although it isn’t entirely true or even close to whole story it works for me. I love them.  I think this is the first time I added Kale to rice, though, and it worked amazingly!

This recipe is based on one I saw on Chow that was adapted from Diana Kennedy’s arroz verde from her book The Essential Cuisines of Mexico. Diana Kennedy is definitely one of my heros, if you are interested in cooking Mexican food or just knowing more about it I recommend all of her books. They have so much information and description of all of these techniques that most non-Mexicans know little about.

Vegan Arroz Verde

3 roasted hatch peppers, stems, seeds, and membranes removed, coarsely chopped (any other pepper, like poblanos or serranos will work some will be spicy and some won’t so choose accordingly)
2 green onions, coarsely chopped
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves (about 1/2 bunch)
1 cup of coarsely chopped Kale (about 1/2 bunch)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons earth balance
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
2 cups vegetable broth
1 lime

INSTRUCTIONS

In a blender, pulse the peppers, scallions, kale, cilantro, and salt with the water

Heat oil and earth balance in your rice pot (ie one with a lid). When the earth balance starts to liquefy , add the rice. Sauté, stirring occasionally for ~ 3 minutes.

Add blended ingredients to the pan and mix well. Simmer for 1 minute, then stir in vegetable broth.

Return mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until liquid is completely absorbed and rice is tender, about 14 minutes.

Remove from heat and let rice sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover and squeeze lime juice over rice. Fluff up and Enjoy!

We had the rice with the fabulous refried beans, avocado, and verde salsa. They were the best rice and beans tacos I can remember having! They would be perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!

Gracias Madre inspired Frijoles Refritos (vegan refried beans)

Over the summer I went to San Fransisco and had the best refried beans of my life at an all vegan Mexican restaurant called Gracias Madre. It was confusing to my sense of Texas pride to be bettered by California (of all places). It was even more confusing to discover I had developed Texas pride but I guess if you live here long enough it seeps in.

The whole meal there was fantastic but the beans were magical, they were so creamy and nuanced. I couldn’t figure out how they made them. I tried several different recipes but they always ended up either a little pasty or not as nearly flavorful. I researched a little further and found these instructions from a Mexican restaurant that suggested roasting the garlic, not using olive oil, and a really long simmering time and those all seemed like great tips. For some reason, a lot of recipes, including this one, just have you simmer the beans and then mash them but my experience is that better flavor is created through frying them after the beans are done. I also decided to add some nut milk because I thought that might be the difference with the Gracias Madre beans. I don’t know if this is what they do at all, but we were swooning over these beans in the same way we were at Gracias Madre so I am naming them after that! I think you could easily do the first step in the crock pot, I’ll have to try it and let ya’ll know

Gracias Madre inspired Frijoles Refritos

2 cups of dried pinto (or black) beans
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil (not olive oil)
1 whole roasted garlic bulb
1 bay leaf
2 tsp salt
1 Tsp Epazote
1 can of RoTel
1 onion, chopped
almond or hemp milk

 

Sort the beans and pick out any rocks and give them a rinse with cold water. Put them in a pot with 8 cups of water, the bay leaf, and the epazote and bring to a simmer. Simmer for the next two hours stirring and adding more hot water as needed so that the water level stays above the beans. Make sure the beans don’t get stuck on the bottom by keeping the temp really low and stirring.
Meanwhile roast the garlic
Once the beans are soft add the oil, salt, rotel, and garlic. Simmer as before for another hour at least. The longer they cook the better they will taste and you can’t over cook them because they are just going to get mashed up anyway.
Here we left the beans in the fridge over night because something came up but you could proceed with cooking them now or wait until the next day to finish for a quick dinner.
Strain out any excess water from the beans. Some water is fine but if you still have a couple inches over the beans you might want to pour it out or else it will take longer to cook off. Brown an onion in a large cast iron skillet and then add the bean mixture. After some of the water has evaporated mash the beans with a potato masher. Add some almond milk and stir adding more until you reach your desired consistency. Cook over low heat, stirring, for at least 5 minutes adding more milk if necessary and then enjoy with every Mexican dish you make!

 

 

and the winner is…..

Lucky umber 24 Kayci, who loves spicy chili with cornbread. Send me your address and Tasty Bite will send you a vegan pack of goodies.

Since my MoFo theme is rice and beans I am going to repost my favorite recipe of all time, gallo pinto! 

I became obsessed with gallo pinto when I went to Costa Rica a few years ago. It is one of my favorite dishes to make at home on the weekend because no matter how broke you are or how many people you have coming over you can always whip up black beans and rice, especially if you have a bunch of Lizano in the fridge (in austin you can get it at Tears of Joy) and fried plantains on the side. Make the rice and beans the night before you plan to have the gallo pinto because it will only work with day old rice. You can keep the rice and beans in the fridge for a week so that you can easily have gallo pinto whenever you want.

Gallo Pinto

Ingredients:
1 cup rice, (any will work, I used 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.

Have a Happy Weekend, if I can get this guy out of bed we are supposed to go camping, but if you watch the video you will see that Dinger is sometime hard to rouse.

Mexican Lime Noodle Soup

This is the perfect soup if you are not feeling well just remember to never feed your mogwai after midnight. Speaking of the rules, I wonder if feeding a mogwai soup is the same as getting them wet? It is all  so complicated!

Gremlins was the first movie that I remember seeing in the theater and I bet I have been eating noodle soup just as long. It was one of the first things I learned to make but it wasn’t until I moved to Texas that I learned about adding cilantro and lime and making it “Mexican” noodle soup. What a difference two humble ingredients thrown it at the very end of the soup making process can bring. The lime adds a lovely full quality to the broth and the cilantro adds lots of flavor while adding to the healing properties on an already curative soup. If you never liked “unchicken” soup try this one because, I promise, you won’t miss the bird.

Mexican Lime Noodle Soup

2 onions

3 stalks celery
3 carrots
5 cloves garlic
8 cups water
teaspoon veggie broth
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 bay leaf
1 package of noodles
1 cup of crumbled soy curls (or TVP)
1/2 cup cilantro
1 TBSP lime
chives

 

 

 

Chop top 4 ingredients, saute until browned about 20 minutes. Add the next 4 ingredients, bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook a half hour. Add the noodles & soy curls, when they are just about done add the rest along with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Homemade Popcorn or how I hated popcorn and learned to love it

I never have been a fan of popcorn and when I ran a movie theater years ago I began to detest it. I hated the constant tending to the popcorn machine when we were super busy.  I hated people that wanted me to make a plain batch. I hated people that wanted a batch with extra extra extra extra butter– which was 1 out of 10 customers — because I would get butter all over myself. I hated the people that wanted “a fresh batch” even as the popcorn was still popping. But what I hated the most was the smell. It would cling to me no matter what and my whole place started to smell like popcorn. It was so disgusting. The truth is, I really hated that job and transferred it to the snack. I learned all about transference from my high school psych teacher Mr. McLaughlin and I think he would be pretty proud of how I have analyzed that situation today.

I finally quit that horrible job and moved to Texas. A few years ago a friend came to visit and bought some bulk popcorn and it languished in our pantry for years. When we moved to a new house I thought about throwing it out but thought someone someday might want it. Then one broke and hungry night we googled for instructions on how to make popcorn with no gear and found that it was quite easy.

All you do is add a bit of oil to a big pot (like a teaspoon) then add some kernels (probably less than a tablespoon) mix it up, coat the kernels with the oil and heat on high. Make sure you use a lid. Once the kernels start popping shake the pot ever 30 seconds or so so that it doesn’t burn. The who thing takes less than 5 minutes. The first time we made it with earth balance salt and nutritional yeast it was a revelation. Even better than getting to the popcorn level on Bubble Bobble. It is such a cheap and easy snack. I have no idea why people buy microwave popcorn and buy popcorn poppers when it is so simple to do on the stove and zero waste. I think it all must be an evil scheme by popcorn maker corporations. Damn you Orville Redenbacher!!! I am a total convert now which my best friend can not wrap her head around after hearing me complain about it for so many years. She eats popcorn by putting her face in the bowl because she doesn’t like her hands to get greasy. She is not embarrassed at all about doing this in front of other people and that is why I think she is great.

Vegetable Love – You sexy mother dumpling

Is food sexy? Should food be sexy? If cooking for someone is love and love is sex does that mean that cooking for someone is seduction? Here is what prince has to say about it:
(you should listen to the song while you read this post, but I didn’t want to force you to)

We need to talk about things
Tell me what cha do, tell me what cha eat
I might cook for you
See it really don’t matter ’cause it’s all about me and you
Ain’t no one else around
I’m even with the blindfold, gagged and bound
I don’t mind
See this ain’t about sex
It’s all about love being in charge of this life
And the next
Why all the cosmic talk?
I just want you smarter than I’ll ever be
When we take that walk

Come here baby, yeah
You sexy motherfucker

These are the questions that were circling my mind last night as I made the sexiest food I could think of.  Susan over at Fat Free Vegan is having a Vegetable Love contest. The idea was to make a sexy dish for Valentine’s day and just the idea of it sent my head spinning. My first thought was asparagus and then quickly followed by mangoes. I thought about Oysters, I remember Dan Fielding was always seducing his conquests with oysters on Night Court but obviously they fall into the not vegan category. I knew I wanted to make some sort of dumpling as well so that the meal would be squishy and bursting with flavor but it also had to be spicy so I decided to stuff my dumplings with some sort of mango Thai fry. I thought about making a seitan sausage but I quickly decided that would be too much work and it would overpower the filling. I didn’t want to use tofu because that is such an easy way out! Then, inspiration hit me in such a way that if I were a cartoon a light bulb would have burst over my head: Oyster Mushrooms! It occurred to me to wrap the dumpling like a giant tortellini around an asparagus and finish them off on a bed of coconut rice. I went to the store thinking about how I was going to create something that could truly be called food porn. 

Making the meal was certainly a labor of love but once I tasted it and Dan said, “I can’t believe you came up with this whole dish” I knew it was all worth it. This was one of the best meals I have ever made.

Asparagus Mango Dumplings with Coconut Basil Rice

For the Dumpling Wrappers:
2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup of boiling water

Add the water to a bowl with the flour and mix together with a wooden spoon. If it is too sticky you can add more flour a tablespoon at a time. If it is too dry you can add more water a tablespoon at a time. Knead for 10 minutes until a hole poked in the dough fills back in. Let it rest in a covered bowl for 30 minutes.

For the Filling:
*save your onion, garlic, scallion, and cilantro scraps for the steaming water
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon of curry powder
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon of ginger, chopped
2 red chili peppers, chopped
1/2 lbs of oyster mushrooms, separated into smaller pieces
1/2 cup of mango pineapple juice (or one or the other)
1 mango, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Heat a bit of oil or broth in a large skillet or wok on high heat. Once hot, add the onion and sauté for about three minutes. Add the spices wait a minute, stir, and then add garlic, chilies, and ginger. Stir for another minute then add the mushrooms and stir fry for another 3 minutes. Deglaze the bottom of the pan with the juice and add the mango. Sauté for another minute or two then add the scallions and cilantro and remove from the heat.

For the Rice
1 teaspoon of coconut butter
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 scallion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup of basil, reserve some for plating and chop the rest
1 cup of rice
2 cups of water
1 teaspoon of Vegeta or broth powder

Melt the coconut butter over medium heat making sure that it doesn’t burn. Add the garlic and scallion and sauté for about three minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, the rice, and the basil and cook another minute. Finally, add the water and the broth powder, mix well, reduce heat to low, cover and steam rice for about 30 minutes.

To Assemble
6 asparagus, end removed
red cabbage leaves to line the steamer
2 limes, quartered

Fill your steamer pot with water, the leftover trimmings, and the limes. Line your steamer tray with red cabbage leaves. I have a bamboo steamer that has two layers, you could use a steamer insert though and just do three at a time putting them upright and then keeping them warm in the oven. Roll out your dough into a rope and tear of fist sized portion. Roll the dough into a ball and then press it together between to parchment sheet. Roll it into a thin flat disc, about 7 inches in diameter. Scoop two tablespoons of filling into the middle of the disc and then seal into a half moon shape. Place the asparagus with the bottom in the middle of the dumpling and fold the two corners over it and seal the edges with water if necessary. Repeat until you have 6 for two people. I made extra dumplings with the leftover filling for later and just folded them into half moons without the asparagus. Bring the steamer water to a boil and place the dumpling in the tray. Alternate the trays after about 5 minutes of cooking. Remove the dumpling with tongs and if the rice isn’t ready put them in a warmed oven until you are ready. For plating I put the steamed red cabbage leaves and some basil leaves on the bottom of the bowl, I molded the rice into a smaller bowl and inverted it in the center of the dish. I topped arranged the dumplings on top, and sprinkled some sesame seeds and a mix of soy sauce, lime, and siracha. Enjoy!