Monday, October 29, 2012

Mexican Food, Two Ways

Call me a snob, but the best Mexican food is in Texas. I've traveled around the country, but nowhere do I enjoy eating Mexican food as much as the places in Texas. We call it Tex Mex - a blend of Mexican food with a dash of Texas cuisine.

So when I come across a recipe that uses the word *burrito* or *taco*, naturally I expect it will be something similar to what I find locally. It usually turns out to be anything but. However, that doesn't stop me from trying those recipes. That's what happened here.

Mexican Food, Two Ways

One can pinto beans, drained
One can black beans, drained
One can garbanzo beans, drained
Olive oil
One onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, diced
One jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 carrots, diced
One green bell pepper, chopped
One zucchini, chopped
2 t. oregano
1/2 c. salsa
1 t. cumin
1 t. chili powder
One can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
Flour tortillas
Phyllo dough sheets
Daiya shreds - I used both cheddar and pepperjack

In a skillet with the olive oil, saute the onion, garlic, jalapeno, carrots, and bell pepper until tender. Add the zucchini and oregano until heated through. Mix in the beans, salsa, cumin, chili powder, tomatoes, corn and cilantro.

Here comes the two ways. Add a spoonful of the bean mixture with a sprinkle of the cheese to:

- the middle of a flour tortilla. Fold it like an envelope, sides first, then top and bottom. Place seam side down in a casserole dish. Pour over some extra salsa.

- lay a sheet of phyllo on a flat surface and brush with olive oil. Add a second sheet and brush with olive oil. Add a third sheet on top of the first two sheets and once again brush with olive oil. Place the bean mixture and cheese in the corner of the three sheets and fold up in a triangle. Place triangles in a separate casserole dish.

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, until nicely browned. Serve the burritos with some vegan sour cream and the phyllo triangles as is.

No, I did not make these on the same day. When I made the bean mixture I had some left over after using the entire package of flour tortillas. The next day I pulled out the phyllo to make a version of an empanada.

Both are tasty, but my family said they preferred the phyllo empanadas to the burritos. Try it both ways and see which way you like it best.

No, this does not taste like the Mexican food I know, but it was good nonetheless.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

World Pasta Day

Today is World Pasta Day. It began with the World Pasta Congress held in Rome on October 25, 1995. That day, delegations from various countries discussed together the theme of the collective promotion in favor of pasta consumption, exchanging their ideas and experiences. Many things were decided, but the main objective of World Pasta Day is to draw the attention of the media and consumers to pasta, stressing the fact that pasta is *a global food, consumed in all five continents, has unquestionable merits, is appropriate for a dynamic and healthy life style capable of meeting both primary food requirements and those of high-level gastronomy*.

The World Pasta Congress is part of the International Pasta Organization. You should check out their website; they have plenty of recipes to back up their points!

Needless to say, this makes today a good day to try a different pasta dish. If pasta to you means spaghetti and meatballs or lasagna, or you grew up eating ravioli out of a can, here is your chance to expand your pasta repertoire. And I have just the recipe for you to try!

Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Black Olives and Garlic

One package thin spaghetti
Two cans diced tomatoes, drained
4 cloves garlic, chopped
One can small pitted black olives, chopped
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1 T. olive oil
One lime
1 T. chopped cilantro
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. In the meantime, mix the drained tomatoes with the garlic and olives. Sprinkle some red pepper flakes over the mixture, determined by the level of heat you enjoy. Mix in the olive oil and squeeze the juice from the lime. Add the cilantro and give a few twists of the pepper.

When spaghetti is done and drained, add to a large bowl and pour the tomato mixture on top. Mix well and enjoy!

This one was a big hit with my family. The uncooked tomato mixture heats up just slightly in the cooked pasta, making the flavors really wonderful.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Black Beans and Soyrizo

When my family took off for a day long outing, I prepared breakfast burritos the night before. Cooked up some potatoes and bell peppers and sauteed it with some soyrizo. I'd never had soyrizo before. I'd originally bought it with the idea to slice it and grill it, only to discover that just wasn't going to be possible. Soyrizo is already ground up and you squeeze it out of the casing to cook it. So, the idea of breakfast burritos came to mind. It was good!

So when I came across a recipe in an old magazine calling for soyrizo, I thought, cool! I can try it again in a different way!

Black Beans and Soyrizo

Olive oil
One green bell pepper, diced
One onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. salt
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1-1/2 c. vegetable stock
One can diced tomatoes
One package soyrizo
Limes, cut into wedges

Saute the bell pepper, onion, garlic, cumin and salt in the olive oil until softened. Add the beans, stock, tomatoes and soyrizo and simmer about 10 minutes over medium heat. Serve over rice and squeeze a lime wedge over it. Enjoy!

My family is a fan of beans and rice, but this was a new twist on it for us. We particularly like yellow rice, so it is the variety I most often make when serving up beans.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Spinach Stew

Today is the International Day of Non-Violence, so it seems appropriate that I should adapt a recipe from The Peaceful Cook. It was one of the first cookbooks I ever bought when I became vegan (even though the book is lacto-vegetarian and not vegan) and the first time I ever heard of Braggs Aminos.

Spinach Stew

One bunch of organic spinach
Olive oil
1/2 t. dry mustard
2 t. Dijon mustard
One can diced tomatoes
2 T. dill seeds
1 T. Braggs Aminos
2 c. pasta

Dice the spinach and saute in olive oil until wilted. Add remaining ingredients and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for one hour. Check periodically to see if you need to add more water to make it soupy. Enjoy!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Collard Greens in Phyllo, Avocado Shooters and Parsnip Fries

I grew up eating collards. I know people who turn up their nose at anything remotely spinachy looking. Not me. Must be a Southern thing.

However, I bet that even if you are one of those that shudder at the thought of dark green leafy things, you will like these.

Collard Greens in Phyllo

One bunch of fresh collards
One shallot
Olive oil
One elephant garlic clove
1-1/2 t. balsamic vinegar
Phyllo dough sheets, thawed
One pear, sliced thin

Tear the collards from the stem and compost the stems. Add the collards, shallot and garlic to a food processor and pulse until everything is chopped. Saute this mixture in olive oil until tender. Stir in the vinegar and a dash of salt and pepper. Set aside.
Coat a cookie sheet with a cooking spray. Lay out a sheet of the phyllo and brush with olive oil. Top with another sheet and brush with olive oil again. Do this a third time. Spoon a heaping spoonful of the collards mixture in one corner of the stacked and oiled phyllo sheets. Top with a slice of pear. Begin folding in a triangle until all of the phyllo has been used. Lay this triangle on the cookie sheet, and begin the process again until you have used up all of the collards mixture. I got about five. Brush these triangles with more olive oil.
Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Avocado Shooters

2 cloves of garlic
One jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
3 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
2 T. lime juice
1/2 t. hot sauce
2 c. plain rice or soy milk
1/2 c. fresh cilantro
1/4 t. cumin
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped

Add everything but the olive oil and onion to a blender and blend on high until everything is smooth.
In a skillet, saute the onion in the olive oil until softened. Add the avocado puree to the onions and gently simmer until it is heated through. Serve in shot glasses with a dollop of vegan sour cream on top.

For those of us who love guacamole, this is like hot guacamole, sipped instead of scooped.

Parsnip Fries

3-4 parsnips
Olive oil
1/2 T. ground coriander
1/4 t. ground cloves
1 T. ground turmeric
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground ginger
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Using a potato peeler, shave off strips of parsnip lengthwise. In a ziploc baggie, add the parsnip strips, olive oil and some salt and pepper. Massage the parsnip strips to coat well. Bake for 10 minutes at 400.
Combine the spices and sprinkle on the parsnips strips. Continue to bake another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and stir to make sure everything again is well coated.
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