Thursday, April 25, 2013

Our Southern Vegetarian Cookbook has arrived!

CONTEST CLOSED: Bre H., you are the commenter who won a book! Please message us through FB with your address. We chose the winner via random number generator tonight. Thanks, everyone, for the comments!    -TCV

Our cookbook is being released in May, and we're ready to celebrate! This really is exciting stuff. So many folks helped us get to this point, and we're so grateful for that. We can't wait to hear your responses once you have the book in your hands.

Keep an eye here and on FB for news about upcoming events and book signings. And take a minute to comment below and tell us what ingredient, recipe, or meal is a favorite in your kitchen in order to be eligible to win one of the first cookbooks! We moderate comments, so we will post yours once we read it -- don't worry if it doesn't show up right away.

(One winner will be chosen by random number drawing on Monday night, 4/29/13; cookbook, signed if you wish, will be mailed to your U.S. address.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Chana Masala Burrito With Cucumber-Mint Raita

Whether it's made with leftover Indian food from our favorite spot or the last serving of a homemade curry or masala, I find myself eating some version of a curried burrito quite often. It sounds like it would be a strange cultural mash-up, but it actually works really well -- this version made with masala-spiced chickpeas is really good in particular. Think of the whole-wheat tortilla as really flexible naan bread, and think of this dish as a portable Indian buffet.

Some of our favorite Indian foods are fried or laced with full-fat yogurt, lots of ghee, or coconut milk, but chana masala is relatively healthy. It's a simple tomato sauce with chickpeas that only contains a little butter. Slate called chana masala "nutritionally unimpeachable." I think I'd have to agree. This version happens to be portable, too!

Chana Masala Burrito With Cucumber-Mint Raita

1 1/2 rough chopped  white onion
7 cloves garlic
2-inch piece ginger (peeled)
1 1/2 cups tomato (either chopped fresh or whole canned)
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon hot curry powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cane sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 anaheim pepper (diced, about 1/2 cup)

1 can chickpeas (drained)
Kosher salt (to taste)
Whole wheat tortillas
2 cups prepared jasmine rice
Cucumber-Mint Raita (recipe follows)

Into the work bowl of your food processor, place the onion, garlic, ginger, tomato, masala, curry, coriander, vinegar, fenugreek, and sugar. Blend until well incorporated. Place a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat and add the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the paste from the food processor. Cook uncovered and stir occasionally until the mixture has reduced and is thick; this should take about 15 minutes.

Add the pepper, chickpeas, and salt to taste. Reduce heat to low and cover for about 10 minutes. Add broth or water to achieve a spaghetti-sauce like consistency. Serve rolled into tortillas with jasmine rice and Cucumber-Mint Raita. (Makes 6 burritos.)

Cucumber-Mint Raita

1 cup 2% Greek yogurt
1 cup grated cucumber (about 1/2 an English cucumber)
about 1/4 cup chopped mint
Kosher salt to taste

In a medium bowl, mix the yogurt, cucumber, mint, and salt until well incorporated. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use. (Makes about 1 1/2 cups.)  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Un-Fried Potato Skins with Smoked Coconut Bacon

Once we went here with a good friend to hang out with his friend that we hadn't met until then. Isn't that always a funny situation? Meeting your old friend's new friend always promises sort of an awkward time. You don't really know the person at all, you attempt to pretend to get to know this person that you may never speak to again, and you and the new friend both are busy asserting your friendship with the connecting friend in a pretty much territorial way. What usually happens after such an occasion could go one of two directions:

A) Later, your friend gives you some weird reason why you all had to join in on this in the first place.


B) You must hear at length why the friend is awesome; isn't he great? Don't you think so?

Hopefully, during such occasions, at least there's some food to distract. One thing that could be ordered to be vegetarian at this particular establishment where our fateful meeting took place was the potato skins. Total bar food, but good, so we wanted to make these our own. We tamed them with coconut bacon -- and no frying allowed, of course! -- and they are going to be hard to resist making again every week now.

Un-Fried Potato Skins with Smoked Coconut Bacon

1 cup Smoked Coconut Bacon
6 small organic russet potatoes (halved lengthwise)
2 tablespoons canola oil
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
1 1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped chives (to garnish)

Make the Smoked Coconut Bacon according to the recipe. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the potatoes cut-side-down on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush the skins with half of the canola oil. Bake for 30 minutes. Place the warm potato halves one at a time into a clean kitchen towel and scoop out the meat of the potatoes using a spoon. Reserve the insides for another use.

Place the potato skins cut-side-up back on the baking sheet, brush them with the remaining oil, and return them to the oven for another 30 minutes. Remove the potato skins from the oven and set the oven to broil.

Season each potato skin with salt and pepper and divide the cheese among the skins. Place under the broiler until the cheese is melted and the edges of the potato skins are deeply colored. Garnish the skins with equal amounts of the smoked coconut bacon, sour cream, and chives. (Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as an appetizer.)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Vegan Chipotle Sweet Potato Burger

This is another entry in our vague, occasional series of really easy and delicious veggie burgers. The truth is, if you add equal parts of quick-cooking oats to mashed beans or sweet potatoes or squash (or whatever), it will yield a workable mixture that is well-suited to be formed into a burger patty. All you need to do from that point is add a little seasoning. Genius! 

Just to be clear, these are not the kind of burgers that are meant to taste like ground beef. We are not huge fans of those types of things. These particular burgers taste like roasted sweet potato, smoked chilies, and cumin. It's a great combination of smoky, spicy, and sweet -- especially paired with rich slices of avocado and some tangy salsa.  

Vegan Chipotle Sweet Potato Burger

1 1/2 cups baked, peeled, mashed sweet potato (1 large or 2 medium)
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 or 2 minced chipotle chilies (from a can)

Canola oil (for panfrying)

In a large bowl, mix the mashed sweet potato, oats, cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, and chipotles until well incorporated. Cover and set aside in the fridge for 15 minutes to allow the moisture to distribute. Form mixture into 4 patties and pan-fry over medium heat in a little canola oil  for about 4 minutes per side. Serve on a Kaiser roll with slices of avocado, tomato, arugula, and salsa. (Serves 4.)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Crispy Baked Avocado Tacos with Purple Cabbage Slaw

**Join us May 14th from 4-6pm at Central BBQ (downtown) for our book release party**

After diving into this dish for lunch today, we immediately decided that we could eat it just about every day. It was obvious to us from the first bite that baked avocado tacos are something great to behold. The avocado becomes very savory when it's baked, and its typically cool, creamy texture becomes meaty and rich. We loved them with the slaw and black beans, but you can dress them up any way you like.

When selecting avocados for this, look for ones that are just ripe and still a little firm. You'll have a hard time working with an avocado that's too soft. Also look for the Haas variety with the dark pebbly skin. The smooth, lighter green avocados contain too much water to be used in this recipe. 

These would be just as good (read: maybe even better!) pan-fried -- or dare I say it,  deep-fried -- but as always, we try to look for a balance of flavor and fat. The panko bread crumbs give the avocado a satisfying crunch without the deep fryer. 

Crispy Baked Avocado Tacos with Purple Cabbage Slaw

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 large egg (beaten)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

2 large Haas avocados (peeled and quartered)
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
8 small corn or flour tortillas
A Big Pot of Black Beans
Purple Cabbage Slaw (recipe follows)
Pickled Red Onion, cotija cheese, hot sauce (to garnish)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Set up a 3-bowl system for coating the avocado quarters. In the first bowl, mix the all-purpose flour, salt, granulated garlic, sage, and black pepper. The second bowl should have the beaten egg and the water mixed until smooth. The last bowl should have the panko bread crumbs.

Dip each avocado quarter into the flour, and then the egg, and then the panko to coat. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once all quarters are coated, drizzle them with the canola oil and place them in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, turning them halfway through, or until they are nicely browned. 

Serve on tortillas with a spoonful of black beans, a scoop of Purple Cabbage Slaw, Pickled Red Onion, crumbled cotija cheese, and your favorite Mexican hot sauce. Makes 8 tacos. (Serves 4.)

Purple Cabbage Slaw

2 cups grated purple cabbage (about 1/2 medium head)
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon cane sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

In a large bowl mix the cabbage, lime juice, sugar, sour cream, salt, and pepper together until well incorporated. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Truffle and Goat Cheese Tortilla Espanola

This is our typical weekend breakfast. It's not always this particular flavor combination -- we do the same thing with mushrooms, sage, and manchego;  sun-dried tomato, spinach, and ricotta; or sweet potatoes, chipotle peppers, and cotija. The variations are endless, but the method is always the same. When you have a little extra time to cook in the morning, give this tortilla a try. 

Truffle and Goat Cheese Tortilla Espanola 

1 teaspoon Kosher salt 

2 1/2 cups thinly sliced russet potato ( about 1 medium)
2 cups greens (like arugula)

2 to 3 ounces soft goat cheese
1 shallot (diced; about 1/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon truffle salt

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 cup 2% milk
4 large eggs (beaten)

1 tablespoon olive oil
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (to garnish)
White truffle oil (to garnish)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill a 10-inch frying pan half full of water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add a teaspoon of Kosher salt to the water. Blanch the greens in the water for 15 seconds and remove using tongs. Allow greens to cool, squeeze them dry, and finely chop them. Set aside.

In the same water, blanch the potatoes for 3 minutes. Strain and set potatoes aside on a plate to cool slightly. 

In a medium bowl, combine the greens, cheese, shallot, truffle salt, black pepper, vinegar, milk and eggs. Set aside. 

In the same 10-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until it shimmers. Carefully lay the potato slices in the oil and cook for 3 minutes. Pour the egg mixture over the top and place the pan into the oven for 15 minutes or until the eggs have set. 

Using an oven mitt, remove the pan. Please remember that the handle will be really hot! Loosen the edges with a butter knife and tap the pan on the countertop to help loosen it. Invert pan onto a plate and garnish with parsley and truffle oil.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mango-Lime Sticky Rice + Habanero Hot Sauce

This is always a good call for dessert. It's light compared to, say, a slice of cheesecake, it's simple, and it's warm and satisfying. Mango-lime sticky rice always rests upon that fine line between sweet and savory, and with the addition of a little spicy and vinegary habanero sauce, it blurs that sweet/savory line even more. Mango-lime sticky rice is a classic Thai dish, so it seemed only natural to add some heat and make things interesting!

*However, please be warned: habaneros range from very mild like a jalapeño to off-the-scale Scobal units five-alarm -- so don't hurt yourself! We were given some very tame and fruity ones that a friend grew this summer, so they worked well for this sauce but still packed a punch.

Mango-Lime Sticky Rice + Habanero Hot Sauce

2 cups water
2 tablespoons cane sugar

pinch of sea salt
zest of 1 lime

1 cup jasmine rice
juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup honey

2 mangoes (diced)
Habanero Hot Sauce (recipe follows)

Bring the water, sugar, salt, and zest to a boil. Add the jasmine rice, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Allow rice to cook undisturbed for 20 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and add the lime and honey. Stir to incorporate all ingredients. Serve about a 1/2 cup of rice with about 1/3 cup mangos. Garnish with a lime wedge and a drizzle of habanero hot sauce.

Habanero Hot Sauce

6 habenero peppers (stems removed)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 water

Blend ingredients in a blender until smooth. This will make much more than you need, but it's a great addition to soups, rice dishes, sandwiches, and, um...desserts.