Thursday, June 23, 2011

Burrito contest!

Hey all! So remember that vegan blogger conference I was wanting to go to? No? Well, there's this awesome vegan blogging convention in Portland this August and it's sold out.

But, turns out there's one ticket left and one lucky dog will get it by way of winning this vegan burrito contest being held over at Epicurious Vegan blog. How fun eh? Lucky for me, not only do I LOVE burritos, but I live in a magical burrito land where they practically grow on trees (okay, it's really San Diego) and I eat burritos every week in many variable forms. I know what makes for a good one, so it wasn't hard to bust one out this afternoon to my liking.

Right away I thought of doing something scrumptious and out of the ordinary, protein wise. All I ever get in my burritos when going out is beans, beans, and more beans. Plus they are hard to find vegan, as you all may know. Pesky chicken broth or lard often lurks. I love beans, don't get me wrong, but if given the opportunity I'm gonna explore some other options. Seitan came to mind immediately. I carmelized some red bell peppers with onions, garlic, jalapeno and simmered it all good-like with some smoked paprika and oregano. Also, instead of the obvious shredded iceberg lettuce, I thought some garlicky kale with fresh corn would be sweet, nutritious and delicious. Nice for color as well. I thought the reliable red tomato rice would still be good in there, so I cooked up a pot of jasmine rice with tomato sauce. I usually don't get the rice in my burritos when going out, as 99.9% of the time it's cooked with chicken broth. Beware fellow vegan and vegetarians! Anyway it's so nice and flavorful and sorta binds everything together nicely in the tortilla. Lastly, I LOVE LOVE LOVE any excuse to make tofu sour cream, it's so creamy and wonderful, so I made a batch of that to dollop in with all the other goodies as well. Lil squeeze of lime here, handful of fresh cilantro there, shred some red beautiful cabbage and dog-gonit i think I have me a fabulous vegan burrito entry! Not to mention incredibly delicious, my god, I'm so full right now from grazing during the whole process. I'll have lunch for the week too, yay!

[mise en place]

Seitan, Peppers and Onions
1 Package Seitan, cut into thin slices
1 red bell pepper, cut into 2 inch slices
1/2 yellow onion, cut into crescents
1/2 (or a whole) jalapeno, mine was really spicy!, cut small
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. fresh oregano
2 T. shoyu or soy sauce
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 lime, juice of
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste

In a cast iron skillet or saute pan, saute onion the onion in a touch of olive oil. Cook on low heat for about 10-15 minutes until nice and soft and caramelizing starts happening. Add in the garlic, bell pepper, and jalapeno and continue to slow cook it until everything is nice and caramelized together. Add in the seitan, smoked paprika, shoyu, oregano, cumin, and tomato sauce. Cook for another 10 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in the fresh cilantro and lime juice. Taste for deliciousness and season to taste if needed.

Kale & Corn
1/2 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch kale, shredded thin
1 ear of fresh corn, cut off the cob
1/2 lime, juice of
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

In a large pot or large saute pan, saute the onion and garlic in a dab of olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add in the kale and corn with a little splash of water and cover to steam for 2-3 minutes. Remove lid and add in the lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

Simple Red Rice
1 Cup Jasmine Rice
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup tomato sauce (plain)
1 tsp. salt

In a saucepan, combine rice, water, tomato sauce and salt. Bring to a simmer and keep on a low heat, covered. Be careful to keep it on a low low heat, as the tomato sauce likes to scorch the bottom if the heat is too high. You may want to stir it occasionally, which is what I did. Check the rice after about 15-20 minutes, it should be done with no more liquid remaining and fluffy rices abounding.

[fermented tofu- like vegan bleu cheese]

Tofu Sour Creme
1 12 oz. package silken style tofu
1 lemon, juice of
1/4 cup olive oil
1 T. fermented tofu (optional, but recommended- see above photo)
1/4 tsp. white pepper
2 T. Nutritional Yeast
1 T. Rice Wine Vinegar
1 T. Umeboshi Vinegar (optional- but gives a great flavor)
Sea Salt to taste

Combine all but the olive oil in the blender. While the blender is running, slowly drizzle in the oil, this will help it emulsify and get a nice consistency. Season with a splash more vinegar or salt if you need. Refrigerate until ready to use. Should keep for a week in the frig.

Tortillas and Shredded Red Cabbage also needed to complete your delicious burritos.

yum, yum and yum!

[the finished mise en place]

You know the deal, stuff that tortilla with all the fixins however you like, roll it up and devour it!

[piling it on....]

[top with tofu sour cream....]


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mercy me!

This last weekend on Saturday night, I drove up to West Hollywood after work and attended a lovely soirée at the jaw dropping mansion of James Costa, nestled way up in the Hollywood hills with a stunning 180 degree view. Downtown L.A., fireworks shooting off in the distance, twinkling lights of other stunning homes tucked away, and a sliver of a crescent moon hung low in the sky between the clouds, all setting the mood. Why was I in attendance of such a lavish setting you wonder? It was a benefit for the animals of course! More directly, honoring Mercy for Animals.

Mercy for Animals is a non-profit organization which was started by Nathan Runkle in the late 90's, who was at the time a mere 15 years old. I could regurgitate and recap all of the wonderfulness that this man is and how he started this amazing organization and how much it has grown, but instead I will link you here, to an article from 2007 Satya magazine which will introduce you nicely. I urge to you learn more about this organization and if you can, please donate to their cause! To be brief, this sweet guy is an immeasurable inspiration and hero, I love him. What an amazing soul! Mercy for Animals has grown considerably in the last couple of years, as they've accomplished several huge feats going up against HUGE farms and companies, all in the name of justice for animals. As he said that night "we're going up against people who have more money than god and we're winning!!" These heroes really are the true voice for these defenseless animals. They do the work that I know in my heart I simply could NOT do. Not in a million years, and to them I bow down in gratitude. Going under cover in the most miserable, loathsome conditions to capture footage and document the most malicious mistreatment and vile abuse of these poor factory farmed animals. If you've ever seen Earthlings or other undercover footage, you know what I'm talking about. The second you start watching your eyes flood with tears and someone reaches into your chest, pulls out your heart and serves it on a platter to some wealthy corporate asshole. Yes, it's that bad! The Ohio case last year was, I believe, one of the first real shockers they exposed to hit the mainstream, getting big press coverage on all the networks. Please, see this link for details- warning- the video is disturbing and graphic.

Alas, the evening on the contrary was quite lovely. People were meant to bring their coin purses and let em flow into those donation envelopes! The featured star of the night was Bob Barker. He was honored with a much deserved award for all of his contribution$ to MFA. That night he came with a check for $250,000. Shortly after, with some gentle prodding, people started yelling out more donations of their own "$25,000!!!", shouted Cindy Landon, widow of actor Michael Landon. "Do I hear another? $500, $1,000? $5,000?", asked James Costa, trying to rile up the obviously wealthy crowd into giving as much as they could to this wonderful cause. "$1,000!!!" yelled another woman, "$1,000!!" another yelled.... It was pretty amazing to witness, as I merely paid for my $100 ticket to attend and barely had enough gas money to drive up there and back from San Diego. I know, of course every bit helps, and you'd think I would've felt out of place in this house oozing with money and status. On the contrary, however, I didn't. I felt at home and at one, knowing everyone was there for the same reason- love and compassion for animals and making a difference in whatever way each individual could in their lives. What a dynamic guest list, it was like vegan superstar central! Filmmakers of several documentaries including Earthlings and Forks Over Knives were in house, along with Steve-O, and so many other glamourous animal activists and representatives of various animal rights groups, farm sanctuaries, vegan publications and every other kind of angle in the vegan industry you can imagine. Among the many beautiful people I met that night were a couple from Orange County running a group called Friends for Seals, who are contributing however they can to fight the endless slaughter of seals, another guy Ryan who is Vegan Filmmaker and a lovely writer named Katarina who wrote this great article capturing the evenings details. I even ran into a gal I met in Paris years ago in a vegan restaurant who was in Paris at the time working for PETA to crash the fashion week by jumping on the runway stating that fur is MURDER! I couldn't have felt more comfortable at this party actually, everyone was very lovely, approachable, and kind. One of my favorite Bob quotes of the night was, “I care about all living things. All animals, all people, all trees, all plants. I care about the world.” We would all do well to learn from this compassionate philanthropist who is approaching 90 years old.

And so, I return to my blog and making delicious vegan food and treats, doing what I can, trying to be the change I wish to see in the world. I was blessed in this life to make vegan food taste good, that is my (non-harming) weapon of choice, or should I say bait. ;-)