Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Vegan Posole

Hominy, hominy, hominy... Posole! The perfect dish to make on a rainy day. Tonight was rainy, blustery, cold and wet... one of those days where all you want to do is hang in your comfy clothes, including bunny slippers, bake things and/or make soup. So that's what I did. After work, that is.

I came home to meet a dear friend, Chef Alex who had some questions about my blog. Honey and I met Chef Alex a little over a year ago when we were on the mad hunt for a caterer for our wedding. Someone who could understand our 'vision'... picture vegan/carnivore. Chef Alex came up with a fantastic menu that fit our personalities and eating habits; and the food was indeed delicious!

Anyway, we had a lovely conversation and at the end, as I lamented on what I was going to make for dinner he mentioned posole... because he knows I have a deep deep love for mexican food? Perhaps. Actually I think he just makes amazing posole and thought it would be a fun thing for me to try to veganize. I smell a project! And what a perfect day for it... Rainy? check! Blustery? check! The perfect soup day.

As luck would have it, I happened to have a gi-normous can of hominy in my pantry waiting for its chance to be 'the star of the show'. 'Well hominy, today is your lucky day',. I said, as I gathered my ingredients. Bonus: I had everything I needed and I didn't have to go to the store... love it!

This posole, although not traditional because it doesn't involve chicken, pork or any bi-product of the sort, was super good, simple as all get out and offers maximum flavor with a spicy kick. Served with my homemade tortillas the were a winner overall... thanks for the inspiration Chef Alex, this will definitely be my new 'go to' meal for days I'm in a hurry, rainy days or a combination of the two.

1 sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped or smashed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 box crimini mushrooms (about 12-15 mushrooms), quartered
1 small/med eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch cubes
salt and pepper
1 large can hominy, slightly drained
1 can diced tomatoes, juice and all
about 1 to 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons corriander
1 teaspoon red chili peppers
3 small bay leaves

In a saute pan, heat a little olive oil on med/high heat. Toss in your onion and garlic and cook, stirring well, for about 5 minutes.

Add your peppers and mushrooms to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until everything is soft.

Turn off the stove and pull out your crock pot.

Put your vegetable mix in the crock pot and add the hominy (with the remaining water from when you slightly drained it), canned tomatoes, about 1 cup of the vegetable broth, cumin, corriander, red chili flakes and bay leaves.

ok, don't be jealous of my wicked-awesome camoflauge crock pot...
although, I would be if I were you :)

Combine well and take a look at the liquid to solid ratio... you don't want a ton of liquid because the veg is going to continue to cook down. If you feel like it needs more, add more vegetable broth.

Cover your crock pot lid and cook on high for about 2 hours. Alternately you can cook it on low for 4 to 6 hours.

When your posole is done, you will have a lovely stew looking mix... not too soupy, not too chunky... just right. Serve with homemade tortillas and a lovely green salad.

Best when eaten around a table with your family and/or close friends. Love, conversation and fellowship is key in this recipe... ok, in all recipes!

The flavor is fantastic, it's a really healthy soup and the spice is just the right kick.

Hominy on FoodistaHominy

Vegan Homemade Handmade Tortillas... no other way to go!

I will never buy tortillas at the grocery store again! I think I said that last time I made these too. They are ridiculously easy to make and have far better flavor and texture.

These little sweethearts were made last night along with my fantastical vegan posole. This version has a few tweaks compared to the last time I made them. Next time? I'm going full masa, no messing around here.

Tortillas (especially homemade) are the perfect compliment to any meal but especially the posole or that delicious tostada I made a while back. Challenge yourself... make the tortillas; you won't be sorry!

Yield: about 14 small-ish tortillas

2 cups masa
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup Earth Balance
3/4 cup hot water (hot like, let the tap run for a while, not boiling)
In a bowl, combine masa, flour, salt and baking powder. Cut in Earth Balance, creating a crumbly mixture. Add water and use a fork to incorporate. Once dough is formed, knead with your hands to combine and form a nice looking ball. Ha!

Let the dough rest for about one hour. I covered it and let it sit on the counter.

When ready, piece out your dough into smaller balls about 2 1/2 to 3 inches wide.

When using a tortilla press, which you should... they're cheap and make the process so easy, put one of your mini balls in between parchment paper and press using the tortilla press. Repeat for all mini balls.

Simultaneously while pressing your balls ( :) ), heat a pan to med/high heat then add your tortillas... as many as you can fit; I did about two or three at at time.

Let cook for about 1 to 2 minutes on the first side, or until toasty brown, then flip and repeat for the other side.

Use a tortilla warmer to keep them warm, then as they come off the stove, pop them in and they will stay warm and moist.

To serve with posole, I added them on the side and brought the tortilla warmer over for extras.

These also make great 'pizza' dough for the little ones. You could also use them as sandwich bread... they're just that good!

Masa on FoodistaMasa

Zucchini Corn Vegetable Fritters

It started out as a zucchini fritter, then developed to a zucchini corn fritter, then morphed into a vegetable fritter, incorporating onion, carrot, etc... classic Ellen cooking. My original inspiration, of course, was summer's favorite (or at least most abundant) child, the zucchini.

This zucchini; however, did not come from my garden because my zucchini? From my garden? Yeah, not so much... it's nonexistent, sans the squash blossoms that came in handy for my falafel dinner a while back. Apparently the roller coaster summer decided to wreak havoc on my squash plants rendering them utterly fruitless. Who can't grow zucchini? Apparently I can't! (at least this year) Bless you Mr. Jim, our neighbor, for ringing the doorbell and sharing your delicious bounty!

As I was prepping/cooking I was thinking about the ingredients that the fritters were comprised of. Nearly every ingredient came from someone's garden in Bellingham. Now, I buy from the Food Co-op, Farmer's Market and Youngstocks, but how cool is it that most of it came from family gardens? We visited my dad today and he stocked us up with the corn that went into the fritters (and some freshly picked blackberries... more to come on that later); I shucked it literally less than an hour after it was picked. The zucchini came from Mr. Jim next door and the carrots and parsley came from our very own garden; you don't get much more local than that, that's for sure.

Overall, the fritters got high marks from Honey and Noodle. I too thought they were delicious. The kick of the spicy sauce, paired with the natural flavors of the vegetables was a winner. It was a fantastic bonus that they were also simple to make.

Yield: about 10 fritters

2 small/med ears corn, roasted and shucked
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 medium carrot, grated
1/2 sweet onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
3-4 cloves roasted garlic (you can use raw garlic too, but cut it down to 1-2 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup plain soy milk
Oil for cooking
For the 'sauce':
1/2 cup Tofutti vegan sour cream
1/4 cup salsa (mine was canned by Autie Erin; you can also use jarred salsa)
1 Tablespoon sriracha sauce

Shuck your corn and roast on the BBQ. If you don't want to break out the Q, you can also boil or bake it on 400 in the oven. For the oven, put it in for about 5 minutes then flip and cook another 5 minutes. You don't get the roasty grill marks but that's ok.

While your corn is roasting, get a large bowl and put a couple paper towels (or kitchen towels) in the bottom of it. Grate your zucchini and put it in the bowl on top of the towels. Cover with an additional towel and press the moisture out of the zucchini. You don't have to drive yourself crazy doing this, just get most of it out then remove the towels, leaving the zucchini in the bowl.

Grate your carrot and chop your onion and parsley and add it to the bowl.

Scoop out the cloves of roasted garlic and smush it into smaller bits and add it to the bowl as well, along with the salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

To your vegetable mix, add the soy milk.

In a small bowl, combine the flour and baking powder then add it to the vegetable mix and combine. Note: don't stir too much because it will become pasty, resulting in a more 'gummy' fritter.

Prepare your pan by adding olive oil and heating on the stove on medium/high heat.

When your pan is nice and hot, scoop some of your fritter batter (about 3 Tablespoons worth, give or take) into your pan. It will sizzle against the hot oil. I was able to get two or three, depending on size, in my pan at once.

Let cook on the first side for about 3-5 minutes then flip and cook the other side. Note: the 'fatter' your fritter is, the longer it will take to cook the middle... let them spread a little so they cook through evenly.

Meanwhile, make your 'sauce' by combining the Tofutti sour cream, salsa and sriracha sauce in a bowl. Taste it... if it needs a little salt, add it.

When your fritters are done cooking, transfer to a paper towel or other 'excess oil sucker aparatus' to soak up any extra oil.

You can use a little kale or other leafy green for your 'base', then artfully (yes, I went there) place two or three fritters on top. Serve the sauce in a little ramekin on the side... I did this because the fritters were so beautiful I wanted to be able to see the bright colors of the veg and lovely 'tan' of the cooking.

Should you choose, you could also drizzle the 'sauce' on top.

Serve with a lovely green salad on the side and you've got yourself a healthy, simple and very tasty meal.


Zucchini on FoodistaZucchini

Monday, August 30, 2010

International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC), day two and three...

I have decided, instead of bombarding you with more info from the International Food Blogger Conference, I am going to give you more pictures! You can also go on Foodista's IFBC page and see more information.

There is so much to share and I was going to and then I thought to myself, 'wait, this is a food blog, not a conference highlights blog! I have to get back in the kitchen!!' So that is what I'm going to do.

I will tell you this though: I learned a lot about where I want this blog to go, the kind of blogger I want to be and most importantly, the kind of blogger I do not want to be. On day one, the panel discussed finding your 'voice' and sticking to it, finding your 'audience' and sticking to it and stressed that you shouldn't be something that you aren't or aren't comfortable with. That being said, finding my voice? Check! Finding my audience? You're out there, right? And I'm definitely comfortable with what I blog, even if it doesn't suit everyone's tastes.

All that out on the table, enjoy some more pictures and stay tuned! Also... if you have specific questions, email me or drop a comment, I'd love to share with you individually the vast knowledge I now have :)

Now you can be jealous... this was my goody bag. All this. Came in one bag. For each person. We had so much fun going through it! Sur La Table did a stellar job stuffing those babies to the gills (sorry the picture was so dark, it was late and I'd had some wine :))

Entrance to the conference. It was in the Theo Chocolate factory in Freemont

First panel, Dianne Jacob, author of Will Write For Food and blogger extrordinaire, Kristine Kidd, author and former food editor at Bon Appetit and Amy Sherman, author and blogger at Cooking with Amy

View from behind... we were listening to our amazing chefs talk about the lunch selection. And that was basically where we were sitting too. I had the pleasure of getting to sit next to Kelli from Joseph's Grainery! (you can see her in this picture, one row in, with the silver shirt :)) What fun it was to meet someone who's blog I read on a regular basis... thanks for the space Kelli, and thank you for the wheatberries! Keep your eyes peeled for them in an upcoming post!

Seattle Urban Farm Co.'s mobile garden... pretty neat

Lunch... let me talk about lunch... first of all, the gluten free/vegan selection made by Shauna and Danny from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef (more on them later) was so so so good! Unfortunately it was so good I forgot to take a photo of it. Shauna and Danny make gluten free amazing!

So here are some photos of everyone else getting ready to serve, etc...

Le Menu...

A Theo Chocolate factory tour... don't we look hot in our hairnets?

About this time we were so starving because 'lunch' was more like heavy appetizers, that we had to peel out and get some sustinance. There were a few more classes and the winemakers dinner but again, we were starving!!

Day three... Toppot doughnuts. Not trying to be on a diet or anything, yeesh!

Shauna James Ahern, blogger and author of Gluten Free Girl and the upcoming Gluten Free Girl and the Chef, and Alex Jamieson, author of Living Vegan for Dummies and The Great American Detox Diet. They spoke about blogging for alternative diets... such good info for an 'alternative' like me. Shauna also inspired me to go gluten free for a while.

Now, one speaker I didn't get a photo of was Penny De Los Santos who spoke on digital photography. Can I just say, please go to her site and look her up. She is so talented and such a great person to listen to, I was in awe throughout her talk. I also decided right away that I want to be her friend and have wine with her because not only is she incredibly talented, she is so down to earth and seems like a fun person to hang out with. She inspired me to take my photography to another level so I exchanged my new camera for another new camera... a SLR... and now I'm petrified because its like, a 'real' camera...

View of the Fremont Sunday Market

One of the several food trucks we had for lunch: Hallava Falafel...and y'all know how much I love falafel!

Hungry folks looking for food truck lunch!

Ok, so for now that's all I have. I'm off to shop for food to make some amazing meals that I can then share with you; that is if I can figure out my new camera!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) Highlights... day 1 and 1/2

Alright folks... I have all this amazing verbiage typed out into a saved blog post. My intention was to post it with pictures throughout the weekend. That was until I brought THE WRONG camera cord with me!!! Aahh! Are you serious? Yes!! So my amazing pictures could not be removed from my camera. Man, was I ever cursing myself this morning; hence no blog post... until now...

And then my amazing dad, took Noodle to every camera store/radio shack in search of a cord that would work for my camera, which, apparently doesn't exist... lame. But then, miracle... one of the radio shack guys tells my dad I can put my card into my mom's camera, which happened to fit the cord I brought; thank you Lord we have pictures!! And p.s. then when my dad said that I was like, duh... I knew that! I used to do that all the time with her camera. Sometimes it just happens that way I guess :)

So I spent this evening (after a lovely meal at Tavolata) downloading pictures. While doing that I simultaneously decided to omit the lengthy verbiage and give you some pictures with a little amazing commentary instead. Seriously... there has been so much going on this weekend at the International Food Blogger Conference I can't even begin (at least for right now) to explain what I have learned.

What I can tell you is this: 1. I will absolutely positively be going next year, 2. YOU should absolutely positively go next year... seriously, IFBC has a ton of great info and as much as I can 'relay', you have to be here to really 'get it'. 3. I will try my darndest (sp?) to share as much as I can with you in manageable doses.

In the mean time, here are some pictures, with commentary of course (because it's me and I can't not commentate... please excuse the double negative)

Numero uno... there is a bookstore here with all kinds of lovely books from food novels to cookbooks; and this one? May I just say? Story of our loves.... Honey loves this!

Me and Morgan Spurlock, Director of Supersize Me (one of my favorite movies). I was seriously star struck, which is so funny because he is such a 'normal' down to earth guy. AND he downed a lot of cocktails while he talked and I love that!

Mr. Spurlock... talking and downing cocktails made by the hot POM girl in the background :)

The other half of the room... so many food writers in one room!

More cookbooks ... inspiration city

Um.... yeah.
And we get to hear from Alex Jamieson, who wrote the book tomorrow!

 Cupcakes! I didn't personally eat one but their display was lovely

Now this I did consume... amazing olive oil from all over the place.. Fantastic

Nana was in lurve with this guy because he was opening Rodney Strong; and the Pinot Noir was delicious :)

More cupcakes :)

Watermelon gazpacho that my mom loved

Rodney Strong... my mom kept saying she wanted to take Rodney home. Funny though, we actually brought Rodney with us from home to the hotel!


Obviously :)

Modernist Cuisine's version of 'carrot' the carotene butter was to die for!
tomorrow we get to hear from Dr. Nathan Myhrvold, one of the authors

This is upon our arrival... chipper and ready for goodie bags and partying!

POM wonderful... yes it is!!

This is only the first day folks... please stay tuned; there is so much information it would be impossible to cover it in one blog post. Pictures to tease and way too much more info to follow!

Wish you were all here with me!!


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