Saturday, May 30, 2009

Biggest. Avocado seed. Ever.

I mean look at this guy:

And, a cooking show Pet Peeve: why do all the cooking hosts insist on the "stab your knife into the seed and twist" method of removing the avocado seed? The only thing that's ever gotten me is a broken avocado seed. 

I just poke the tip of my knife near where the seed meets the flesh and use the leverage of the knife to pop the seed out. I guess it's because I haven't gored myself this way that I think it's superior. Oh well. 

Picture Change

You happy now, Lucas?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash, Plain and Pasta-fied

Is there anything prettier than a butternut squash? I think not. And they are so delicious and simple to prepare. 

I have a hard time deciding between savory and sweet when it comes to things like squash and sweet potatoes, so I usually mix everything together to cover all the flavor bases. 

Roasted Butternut Squash:
1 squash, sliced in half and cleaned
Herbes de Provence
Salt and Pepper
Brown Sugar
Extra-Virgin olive oil

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, with a rack in a middle position. Rub down your squash with the olive oil, place in an oven-safe baking dish, and sprinkle liberally with the herbes de provence, brown sugar, salt and pepper. 

Cook for 25-30 minutes until the squash is well-softened. Your house will smell amazing.

You can use the squash to make a simple pasta "sauce" by removing the meat of the squash, chopping it well, and combining it with equal parts mushroom and onion.

Cook well, spice liberally, deglaze with some white wine, add some basil, and you will have a light and lovely meal.

Vegan BLAT (Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, and Tomato)

Well, I told you I was going to try making some tofu bacon, and try I did. It didn't get the pleasantly tough bacon-y texture that the Platonic Form at Bouldin Creek Cafe had, but the flavor was super, and I have a feeling that it was my tofu-pressing impatience that held me back here. I also should have cut the slices thinner. Oh well, room for improvement.

Seeing as how the actual sandwich bit is just basic assembly (and obviously you can switch up any of the vegetables), I think I'll just put the recipes for some of the components along with some other tips as they come to me.

Chipotle Sauce:
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo (depending on size)
2 tbsp. Tofutti sour cream
Generous squeeze of lime
Dash of salt

First, let me share a tip when it comes to canned chipotle peppers. No matter how small a can you get, there is no way to use up all the contents in one sitting, and the cans are of such a size that they can be pushed to the back of the fridge with ease and, sadly, forgotten. In order to solve this problem, I have begun freezing each pepper (and a bit of the adobo sauce) individually by placing them in an ice cube tray. They reheat really quickly, and it really stretches the utility of each can, as no peppers are left to molder. 

Anyways, combine the ingredients in a food processor, and blend well. Because it is such a small amount, the food processor will not be able to get everything completely combined. This is okay, because you can simply put the resulting sauce through a fine sieve. Large chunks of chipotle skin will be removed, but the flavor will remain. 

Tofu Bacon:
Approx. 1 tbsp. each smoked paprika, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and brown sugar
1/3 package extra-firm tofu
2 tsp. peanut oil, or other neutral oil

After pressing your tofu for about 20 minutes, and pushing out as much moisture as possible, combine your spices, breaking up any clumps of brown sugar with your fingers. Slice your tofu, and coat each piece well, letting it sit for at least ten minutes. 

Heat a non-stick pan over medium to medium-high heat with about 2 tsp. of peanut oil, and add in the tofu slices once the pan is hot. Cook for about 4 minutes per side, and do not be scared of some charring, as the brown sugar will burn a bit. This adds to the bacon-y flavor.

Assemble your sandwich, coating your bread liberally with the chipotle spread. I used slices of herb and garlic Double Oven Bread and toasted them on one one side by cutting the bread thin and putting two slices in each toaster compartment. Genius. 

Coconut Milk Oatmeal with Mango

There's a little spot right under the Blue Line, Vella Cafe, that I've been frequenting for a little bit now. Not only is it the home of the Vegetarian Bahn Mi sandwich of my dreams [rhapsodized about here and here], but they have some might fine breakfast choices as well.

One thing I've noticed on their wall-mounted menu is Coconut Milk Oatmeal. I was intrigued certainly but unwilling to shell out the 5 bucks or so to try it there, and decided instead to make some myself. Oh boy, this stuff is good. I added some mango in an homage to a delicious dessert - Mango Sticky Rice - that I have been enjoying as of late.

Coconut Milk Oatmeal with Mango (serves 1):
2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup Lite coconut milk, plus additional water to get liquid up to 1 and 1/3 cups
1/2 tsp. salt
1 champagne or manila mango cut into bite-sized slices (if using a standard mango, use only half)
2 tbsp. brown sugar
Mango juice or water to cover
Additional brown sugar as desired

Begin by preparing your mango and combining it in a bowl with the 2 tbsp. brown sugar and enough liquid to dissolve the sugar and cover a majority of the fruit. Set aside so that the mango can absorb a bit of the additional sweetness, tossing every now and again so that every piece has a chance to macerate. 

Prepare your oatmeal as you would with any other liquid, by bringing the liquid to a low boil and adding in the oats, stirring occasionally (and adding additional liquid if necessary) until the mixture can coat the back of spoon and the oats have begun to break down a bit. [Additional instructions here, if you please]

Once the oatmeal is ready, strain the fruit and place it atop the oatmeal with a bit of extra brown sugar if you wish. 

Double Oven Bread Beauty Shots

Man, I can not talk enough about this bread. I've stumbled into a delicious add-in of garlic and a mix of rosemary, basil, and oregano, and wanted to show off how pretty these loaves are turning out.  Behold!