Sunday, August 24, 2008

Seitan Asada, and Wheat Flour Tortillas

My computer has apparently died. Last week, I installed the new microsoft update and firefox 3.0, one of which, I guess caused my firewall to disengage, which let in a virus, which killed my comp. Thankfully, JD's computer is across the room, and I can use it, although I can't access many of my recipes, pictures, movies, and music.

I promised to post about the seitan asada tacos and homemade flour tortillas, so here they are.

Carne asada was traditionally made with the cheap, tough cuts of meat, which were marinated in a citrus or vinegar based sauce or rubbed with spices, and then grilled or roasted to produced an easier to chew and more flavorful, dish. When I was growing up, my dad would buy carna asada tacos from roadside taco stands and taquierias, which consisted of carne asada served in a small tortilla with a wedge of lime, a sprinkle of fresh cilantro, occassionally grilled onions or scallions, and your choice of salsa.

I don't really measure ingredients for my seitan asada, so this is a broad recipe.

Seitan Asada Tacos
by Christina Terriquez

1 batch of Quick and Easy Seitan, homemade seitan, storebought seitan, or beef-style strips like Morningstar Farms Veggie Steak Meal Starters
cold-pressed unrefined safflower oil
garlic powder
onion powder, optional
chipotle powder
Mexican oregano, optional
sea salt
6-10 tortillas
1 medium onion, sliced into thin half moons
lime wedges

If using seitan, cut seitan into thin strips, approximately 1/4"x 1/4" and 2" in length.

In a cast iron skillet, heat a small amount of oil. Add seitan strips, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, a shake of chipotle powder, and a shake of oregano. Sauté for a few minutes, and taste. Season with spices and salt to your tastes and sauté for a few more minutes. Remove seitan from pan, but do not wash pan.

Heat the same skillet over medium high, with fond and bits of seitan intact. Add onion and two pinches of salt. Allow onion to brown before turning, and cook about 2-3 minutes on each side. Alternately, sauté onions until translucent or grill.

Heat tortillas in a clean, dry skillet.

To serve, place about 2-3 tablespoons of seitan in each tortilla, garnish with a few pieces of onion, and a sprig or two of cilantro. Plate with a lime wedge and salsa.

-Steam tortillas.

-Add lettuce, and tomatoes.

-Add avocados.

-Add Quick-Pickled Pepper Onions instead of cooked onions.

And since almost everything is better when it's homemade, why not try your hand at making tortillas from scratch? They're much easier than they seem, and don't require special equipment, although the resting time is mandatory.

Flour Tortillas

2 cups wheat flour (white, whole or a combination)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup cold pressed unrefined safflower oil
1/2-3/4 cup water

In a medium bowl, sift dry ingredients. Add oil and mix well. Add 1/2 cup water slowly and knead until dough is soft and consistent in texture, adding more water if needed.

Cover dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 8 equal balls. Flatten balls intos discs and let rest 30 more minutes.

Roll each disc into a 7--8 inch tortilla, but do NOT stack. Heat griddle or large cast iron skillet. Heat tortillas, separately, about 45 seconds on each side. They should puff up with air, turn opaque, and become speckled with brown.

Wrap in a dry towel to keep warm.
Both recipes are pretty simple. They are tasty together, but that's an awful lot of flour, so I would serve corn tortillas with the seitan asada, and use the flour tortillas for something else. Sorry about the lack of pictures, I can't access the stuff on my computer, so back logged photos might be lost, but I CAN upload directly to JD's computer, so I'll still be able to post new photos.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Vegetarian 100

I wouldn't normally do another very similar meme so recently after doing the Vegan 100, but I just found the Vegetarian 100 from Feeding Maybelle. I really liked this meme because its emphasis is more on produce and unusual or unrefined natural wonders. It's closest to the list I would write. My one problem with the Vegan 100 was that many of the items were just vegan versions of things that are made from meat or cheese, instead of amazing things that everyone should try. My second biggest problem with the Omnivores 100 (the first being all the animal products, of course), is that it seems to promote elitism through conspicuous consumption and to be monetarily beyond the reach of most folks--can every omnivore afford to spend upwards of $120 on something as luxurious as a bottle of whisky, especially in a recession? I think Maybelle's Mom's Vegetarian 100 is particularly great because it kind of subversively shows how much wider the diet is of most people once they become vegetarians.

When I ate meat, my diet was very simple, consisting mostly of potatoes, white rice, carrot, onion, tomatoes, peas, green beans, corn, pinto beans, wheat, apples, oranges, bananas, and iceberg lettuce in addition to the usual animal products. Now I probably have twenty different kinds of grains alone in my pantry. I can't find it now, but about a year ago, I read a study that said most Americans eat only twenty kinds of plants in their lifetime. Since crop diversity is such a huge issue, which most people are completely unaware of, this seems like a great way to raise awareness about the enormous variety of food available.

bold = have eaten
unhighlighted = haven't eaten
struck out = won't ever eat

Vegetarian 100
Click on the (?) if you need an example. Thanks to Maybelle's Mom for the original list and links!

  1. Edamame (?)
  2. Cha Soba (?) - It's so pretty.
  3. Arame (?)
  4. Earth Balance Buttercream - I'm not a huge fan, it's so sweet it gives me a terrible headache, but it can be beautiful.
  5. "Homemade" sprouts
  6. Green Bamboo Rice (?) - It has a lovely subtle flavor, great smell, and it's so pretty!
  7. Absinthe
  8. Eat at a raw restaurant - Well, only had a la carte items from Whole Foods' raw bar and The Daily Juice, aside from the things I've made.
  9. Fresh (real) wasabi - I've had real wasabi, but not fresh. I've heard it's more complex.
  10. Deep fried pickle - I tried them at the Alamo Drafthouse. I don't really like dill pickles to begin with, so I wasn't expecting to like them, and I didn't. I guess I was really just trying it to say I did.
  11. Fiddleheads (?) - They look sort of neat, but they also kind of remind me of rolly-polys, which is a bit unsettling.
  12. Garlic stuffed olives
  13. Smen (?)
  14. Goji Berries (?)
  15. Shiso or Perilla (?) - Pickled and fresh. I like the fresh kind in sushi, and the pickled leaves in pressed salad, or wrapped around tofu, dipped in tempura and fried.
  16. Amaranth (?) - I eat the grain much more often than the greens, which are super high in oxalic acid and should be avoided.
  17. Pomegranate molasses (?)
  18. Water convulvulus (Water Spinach) (?)
  19. Pea eggplant, Thai eggplant, green eggplant, Japanese eggplant, Indian eggplant, Sicilian eggplant... - I don't really like eggplant much, although I think it looks gorgeous.
  20. A Zen Buddhist Vegan Meal (?) - Only the ones I've made, though.
  21. Kohya Dofu (?) - The texture is interesting, and it soaks up a ton of flavor, but it squeaks against your teeth when you chew, and it's kind of like eating a sponge. I prefer freezing tofu myself.
  22. Wild Asparagus (?) - It has such a lovely delicate flavor and presentation.
  23. Elderberry (?)
  24. Candlenuts (kemiri) (?)
  25. Salsify (?) - I eat this often, usually in kinpira, but I call it burdock.
  26. Nutritional Yeast (?) - I know many vegans love it, but I use it very rarely and sparingly.
  27. Pandan (?) - It sounds great, and I'd love to try it, especially after seeing these photos.
  28. Roman cauliflower (?)
  29. Anything with acorn flour (?)
  30. Poi (?)
  31. Chaya (tree spinach) (?)
  32. Pitahaya (dragon fruit) (?) - Looks neat, but I've heard that it isn't very flavorful.
  33. Asafoetida (?) - I've known many yogis and other people who abstained from eating onions and garlic because they said onions and garlic brought about the "Seven Bad Buddhas" (sort of like the Seven Deadly Sins for Buddhists, I think?) and were too physically stimulating, when they wanted to be mentally aware. Often, they used asafoetida to approximate the taste.
  34. Fried plantains - I tried to make these once, long ago, but I didn't know that the plantains should be very, very brown to indicate ripeness, and they were terrible.
  35. Basil seeds (?)
  36. Cardoon (?) - I really want to try these, I bought a cardoon seedling, but the bugs ate it almost immediately.
  37. Durian (?)
  38. Ground Cherry or cape gooseberry (?)
  39. Fresh water chestnut (?) - I see these all the time at the grocery store, but I don't know how to prepare them.
  40. Cashewnut cheese - Yummy, especially in desserts, but I think I actually prefer macadamia or almond cheese.
  41. Nettles (?) - Christina Pirello has a recipe for Stinging Nettle Gnocchi, which I'd like to try, but it sounds dangerous.
  42. Fake duck from a can, tofurky, or any prepared vegetarian product to resemble meat - The faux Peking Duck is interesting occasionally.
  43. Kimchi (?)
  44. Masala Dosa (?)
  45. Lotus Seed (?)- I love them cooked with brown rice.
  46. Matcha (?) - I don't like it.
  47. Loubie Bzeit (?)
  48. Quince (?)
  49. Blue Potatoes (?)
  50. Injera (?) - I LOVE injera!
  51. Nasturtium (?) - They have a nice spicy flavor and look pretty growing in your garden.
  52. Turkish Delight or Lokum (?) - I have a feeling I've tried this, but I can't recall when I would have.
  53. Spruce tips (?)
  54. Breadfruit (?)
  55. Mangosteen (?)
  56. Swede or Rutabaga (?)
  57. Garlic Scapes (?)
  58. Lavash (?)
  59. Candied Angelica (?)
  60. Rambutan (?)
  61. Sambal (?)
  62. Bhutanes Red Rice (?) - Pretty, more nutritious than white rice, and a bit more toothsome than brown rice.
  63. Candy-cane or Chioggia beets (?) - Gorgeous.
  64. Mango -Rich, sweet, and creamy....what's not to love?
  65. Ras el Hanout (?)
  66. Vegan marshmallow (?)
  67. Umeboshi (?)
  68. Red Currants (?) - I love substituting dried currants for raisins in recipes. Fresh currants come in black, red and white. They are so pretty and luminous, and they're in season right now.
  69. Puy or French lentils (?)
  70. Millet (?)
  71. Fresh Bamboo shoot (?) - I can't believe I've never tried these. I don't really like the canned kind, but I'm intrigued by fresh bamboo.
  72. Jerusalem artichoke (?) - These are great.
  73. Wild strawberry (?)
  74. Jambool (?)
  75. Po cha or Yak butter Tea (?)
  76. Adzuki beans (?) - I love them.
  77. Shirataki (?)
  78. Manioc, yuca, cassava (?)
  79. Quinoa (?)
  80. Ramps (?)
  81. Chufa (?) - I'm really curious about the horchata made from this.
  82. Purslane (?) - We're growing some in our garden for salads and garnishes, but it grows all over. I've seen it in creaks in the sidewalk along busy streets.
  83. Curry Leaves (Kadipatta) (?) - I use dried curri leaves often.
  84. Sorrel (?)
  85. Sumac (?) - I love it in zatar seasoning. Apparently, it was the original coloring for pink least according to JD.
  86. Vegan cupcake
  87. Montreal bagel (?)
  88. Peri-peri (?)
  89. Syllabub (?)
  90. Chartreuse (?) - I am so intrigued by this.
  91. Kamut berries (?) - I like using puffed kamut to make vegan "rice" crispy treats.
  92. Kalamansi Lime (?)
  93. Aloe (?) - When I lived in Tennessee, my boss used aloe juice often for her clients with inflammation. It's very cooling, but not so tasty (it's often sold with fruit flavoring or juice added to temper it). Since then, however, I've heard some negative things, but haven't done much research.
  94. Morels (?)
  95. Raw “bread” - I'm assuming this includes manna and Essene bread.
  96. Dandelion Wine - It sounds interesting.
  97. Rosti (?)
  98. Loomi (?) - I'm so intrigued by these, I was into Persian food in a big way last year, and almost mail ordered some, but I've found at least two markets that sell these in town since. Perhaps I buy some for a stew when it gets cooler.
  99. Stinky tofu (?) - I'm equal parts intrigued and complete put off. On the one hand it's deep fried and served with a sauce, on the's stinky.
  100. Something grown by you

Friday, August 22, 2008

Summer Pico de Gallo, Salsa, and Tacos

Seitan Asada Tacos with "grilled" onions, cilnatro, limes, salsa and a side of papas

Salsa is one of those great foods that can do triple duty as a garnish, an appetizer or a condiment. It's also widely available, inexpensive, easy to make and, pretty much always vegan. In fact, the only other food I can think of that fits that bill is hummus. And while both are simple to prepare from scratch, they are generally store bought. Well, since it's the height of tomato and pepper season, and some many beautiful varieties of both are available right now, I thought I'd post a few recipes.

Pico de Gallo
by Christina Terriquez

1/4 cup white or yellow onion
1 clove garlic
sea salt
1 lime, optional
2--4 red ripe tomatoes, skin off, if desired
1--2 jalapenos

Chop the onion and place in glass bowl. Mince garlic and add to onion. Add two pinches of salt and the juice from half of the lime, if using lime. By salting and adding citrus juice to the onion and garlic, you are starting the pickling process, which will take some of the edge off of them.

Chop the tomatoes and drain the seeds and juice. Add tomato pieces to the onions.

Wearing gloves, mince the jalapeno, then add it to the onion. If you like really mild food, remove the seeds and all the white pith from the pepper before mincing it. Mix well and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Season to taste with lime juice and salt.

-Add some chopped cilantro.

-Add some cubed avocado.

Pico de Gallo has many things going for it, it's pretty quick, assuming you have a good knife, it's easy, only requires one bowl, doesn't call for any cooking, keeps for a few days, a little goes a long way, and it can add a lot of texture and flavor. I like pico as a condiment, or for adding it to other things like soup or guacamole. However, when I want salsa to eat with chips, I make the following version.

Simple Summer Salsa
by Christina Terriquez

1--2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1/2 medium onion, minced
sea salt
2 serrano or jalapeno peppers, washed and dried
4 ripe tomatoes
chopped cilantro, to taste
fresh lime juice, optional

Place minced garlic and onion in a medium size bowl, sprinkle with two pinches of sea salt and toss. Set aside.

In a 3 quart saucepan, place approximately 4 cups of water on to boil. While waiting for that, proceed to the next step.

Roast peppers over flame until skin is black and blistered, being careful not to puncture skin as juices will leak. Set blackened peppers aside or in brown paper bag to cool. Repeat until all peppers are roasted.

Using plastic gloves, under cool running water, peel the skin away from the peppers, de-stem and de-seed. Mince pepper flesh, and place in the bowl with the onions.

Make an x-shaped score in the bottom of each tomato. Blanch each tomato for about 30 seconds, then let cool. When cool enough to handle, peel the skin from each tomato, starting at the scored x. Cut each tomato into quarters and discard the juice and seeds. Mince tomatoes and add to bowl.

Mix all ingredients and season with salt, cilantro and lime juice.

-Use a food processor instead of mincing ingredients. This will make a slushier, juicier salsa. If you have a molcajete, you could also crush the chopped ingredients in that.

-Add some fresh diced peaches, mango, pineapple or other seasonal fruit to the salsa.

-For a spicier sals increase thae amount or type of chilies you use.

-To cut the acidity of the onion and garlic, instead of mincing and salting the garlic and onions, cut the onion into 1/2 inch thick wedges, and peel the garlic but leave it whole. Sauté the onion wedges and whole garlic cloves until the onion becomes tender and slightly translucent. Mince or process until finely minced in food processor.
This is my favorite style of salsa because it's fresh, has great texture and flavor, and is still really simple, but the elements that cause most people trouble have been neutralized a bit. The skins from nightshades that are hard to digest have been removed, and the peppers have been cooked just enough to add a wonderful flavor and smell while reducing the risk of heartburn. The onions and garlic which can have an unpleasant edge, have been either salted or sautéed to cut that edge, while maintaining some pungency.

For people who are avoiding nightshades all together, but still want a little heat, quick-pickled pepper onions are perfect.

Quick-Pickled Pepper Onions
by Christina Terriquez

1 whole white, yellow, or red onion
umeboshi vinegar
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Slice onion into thin half moons and place in a glass bowl. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of ume vinegar over the onions, then gently massage the vinegar into onions. Set aside.

Using a rolling pin or coarse pepper mill, crush the peppercorns, and sprinkle half over the onions. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.

Taste onions. Season with more pepper if desired.

-Use a mixture of lime juice and umeboshi vinegar for a more tangy flavor.

-Omit the black pepper.
These onions are not only tasty and easy to make, they're also a beautiful bright pink.

Quick Ume Pickled Onion (black pepper omitted)

Recently, we've been eating a lot of salsa and tacos. The breakfast taco is ubiquitous in Austin, and it usually contains two ingredients, one of those often being beans. Common pairings include bean and cheese, bean and egg, and chorizo and egg. As a vegan, bean and potato tacos are often the only safe bet (if the beans are free of lard and meat), although many establishments carry some kind of vegetarian friendly item, like tofu scramble, sautéed vegetables, or soy chorizo. They're always served on a flour or corn tortilla(not in a taco shell) and are usually under 2 bucks each. Salsa is available, but vegetables are never served unless specifically requested.

Bean and potato tacos with avocado, green leaf lettuce and salsa
I love bean and potato tacos, but I really like them with salsa, lettuce, and avocado, so when we happened to have all of those ingredients, I knew we had to make some. I also decided that some carna asada-style tacos would be really good with the salsa, so I made some seitan, and homemade tortillas, which I'll post about next.

The Vegan 100

Last week, food blogs were abuzz over The Omnivore’s Hundred, a list of 100 foods that one blogger thought every omnivore should try in their lifetime. Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet, and My Sweet Vegan, responded by making a list of 100 foods she thinks every vegan should try. Here it is as a meme, with my answers filled in. Both authors provided some links in case you're unfamiliar with some of the ingredients, and I've added links to the things I've blogged about in the past, plus any comments I had.

I have 34/100 on the Omnivore's 100, and 70/100 on Hannah's vegan version.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1) Copy this list into your own blog, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Post a comment here once you’ve finished and link your post back to this one.
5) Pass it on!

1. Natto
2. Green Smoothie
3. Tofu Scramble - These were a staple when I was in high school.
4. Haggis
5. Mangosteen
6. Creme brulee
7. Fondue - I've had chocolate fondue, but I don't think that counts in this case.
8. Marmite/Vegemite
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush - I'm not really a fan, it taste like bland, silky hummus to me.
11. Nachos
12. Authentic soba noodles
13. PB&J sandwich - I never like PB&J as a kid, and hated when adults tried to feed it to me. I prefer almond butter and raspberry jam. I really only like grapes in their whole form, or as juice.
14. Aloo gobi
15. Taco from a street cart
16. Boba Tea - It's not that exciting, but it oddly makes me miss Orbit soft drink.
17. Black truffle - I would LOVE to try a fresh truffle.
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Gyoza
20. Vanilla ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Ceviche
24. Rice and beans
25. Knish
26. Raw scotch bonnet pepper - I don't see the point. It would face-meltingly hot, and I don't really enjoy that.
27. Dulce de leche - This is one thing I keep meaning to attempt.
28. Caviar
29. Baklava
30. Paté
31. Wasabi peas
32. Chowder in a sourdough bowl - I would try it, but I don't really like the bread-as-a-soup concept or chowder very much.
33. Mango lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Mulled cider
37. Scones with buttery spread and jam
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Fast food french fries
41. Raw Brownies
42. Fresh Garbanzo Beans
43. Dahl
44. Homemade Soymilk
45. Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more - I cannot imagine spending this much on a drink.
46. Stroopwafle
47. Samosas
48. Vegetable Sushi - One of life's perfect foods.
49. Glazed doughnut
50. Seaweed - We should all eat more.
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi - We always have some whole plums in our pantry, they're kind of a miracle cure. I also use the vinegar frequently when I want to give a dish a cheesy bite, or add a bright zest.
53. Tofurkey - The dogs, brats and deli slices are nice, but I hate the Tofurky roasts, and I think it kinda makes vegetarians look bad.
54. Sheese
55. Cotton candy
56. Gnocchi
57. Piña colada
58. Birch beer
59. Scrapple - I'd try it since it would be all plant matter, but the name/idea wigs me out a bit.
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Soy curls - I avoid TVP.
63. Chickpea cutlets
64. Curry
65. Durian
66. Homemade Sausages
67. Churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake
68. Smoked tofu
69. Fried plantain
70. Mochi
71. Gazpacho
72. Warm chocolate chip cookies
73. Absinthe
74. Corn on the cob
75. Whipped cream, straight from the can - It smells like playdoh.
76. Pomegranate
77. Fauxstess Cupcake
78. Mashed potatoes with gravy
79. Jerky - I like the Thai Peanut Primal Strips.
80. Croissants - I'd love to find a commerically available vegan version.
81. French onion soup
82. Savory crepes
83. Tings - These do not appeal to me.
84. A meal at Candle 79
85. Moussaka
86. Sprouted grains or seeds
87. Macaroni and “cheese”
88. Flowers
89. Matzoh ball soup
90. White chocolate
91. Seitan
92. Kimchi
93. Butterscotch chips
94. Yellow watermelon
95. Chili with chocolate - I've have many versions of chocolate with chilis and molé which can contain both, but I've never had this kind.
96. Bagel and Tofutti
97. Potato milk - This sounds disgusting to me.
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee - I usually leave the coffee drinking to my housemates.
100. Raw cookie dough - The fact that raw vegan cookie dough is (salmonella)worry-free should be advertised more.