Cherry Tomato Salad

Cherry Tomato Salad. Source: mollyjade

My husband hates raw tomatoes. Hates. I love them. Except, biting into a cherry tomato and having the tomato guts burst apart in my mouth is a bit too much for me. So I generally stick to sliced tomatoes. (No one tell my husband or I’ll lose my cred as the Person Who Eats Everything.)

My favorite thing to do with the glut of cherry tomatoes in the summer is this salad adapted from a Mark Bittman recipe. (Though honestly, adapted is a bit much for a recipe with only a handful of ingredients.) The recipe appears in his giant How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, but he summarizes it in this column on “101 Simple Salads for the Season” (the season presumably being summer). The full salad column is worth a read.

15. Cut cherry or grape tomatoes in half; toss with soy sauce, a bit of dark sesame oil and basil or cilantro. I love this — the tomato juice-soy thing is incredible.

Over time, I’ve changed it mostly due to laziness and my love of heat. I never seem to have fresh herbs at the same time I have tomatoes to use up. And everything is better with a bit of spice, in my book.

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Cherry Tomato Salad

Halved cherry tomatoes
Soy sauce
Chili oil
Black pepper

In a bowl, drizzle cherry tomatoes with soy sauce. Add a dash or two of chili oil. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Eat soon.

Because the tomatoes give off so much juice, this dish becomes overly watery over time. So eat quickly!

Mystic Java Cafe and a Smoothie

For some reason, Mystic Java Cafe doesn’t get much love in Austin. Formerly Jeanie’s Java and located in Great Outdoors Nursery in South Congress, the cafe has a good-sized vegan menu along with smoothies, coffee drinks, and beer. (Mimosas coming soon!)

Vegan items at Mystic Java Cafe. Source: mollyjade

The last time I was there, I noticed a smoothie called the Peanut Butta Cup o’ Joe and decided that it was something I needed to make at home. It’s become my daily breakfast.

Coffee peanut butter banana smoothie.

Coffee Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

1 frozen banana
4 ounces cold brew coffee concentrate (or equivalent to 1 cup coffee)
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk

The first few of these I had ended up being Coffee-peanut butter-banana-salmonella smoothies. Make sure your peanut butter isn’t on the recall list!

For anyone else watching carbs, this has 35g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, and 14g protein. If you like your smoothies on the sweeter side, you might want to add agave nectar or chocolate syrup to yours.

Vegan Breakfast Taco Tutorial

Photo by toffuti break

Along with most of Austin, I have a breakfast taco addiction. They’re the perfect thing to eat in the morning. Savory, filling, and cheap. I often stop at Vegan Nom, Wheatsville, or Thunderbird Coffee for a breakfast taco on my way to work. But some mornings, leaving the house any sooner than absolutely necessary isn’t going to happen. (Read: I’m a terrible person to be around first thing in the morning.) So I thought, why not make a big batch of breakfast tacos and freeze them?

I checked the Internet for some suggestions and guidelines, but didn’t really find anything. Lots of advice on freezing breakfast burritos, but nothing much on breakfast tacos.

Pedantic side note: for a taco, a fairly small tortilla is folded over once around a small amount of filling. For a burrito, a large tortilla completely encloses the fillings. Taco fillings are usually fairly simple, often just one or two ingredients. Burritos, on the other hand, often have many more ingredients, including rice, which you rarely find in a taco.

So freezing breakfast tacos? Possible? Probably. I decided to consult vegan taco expert Lazy Smurf. She suggested freezing just the ingredients, and then assembling when I’m ready to eat. I quickly ignored her advice because it sounded like too much work in the morning.

So I winged it. And it turns out, when it comes to freezing, tacos and burritos are pretty similar.

Step One. Assemble all your ingredients. You’ll want smallish tortillas, about six inches. Either corn or flour is fine. If your tortillas are a bit stiff, warm them in the microwave, in the oven, or on an electric stove. For fillings, I chose refried beans, soyrizo, and hash browned potatoes. I used vegetarian refried beans warmed with a bit of salsa. Warming makes the beans more spreadable, as does stirring in a bit of salsa.  The soyrizo and hashbrowns were prepared as usual. You’ll also want a few squares of aluminum foil.

Step Two. Add your ingredients. The more filling you add, the harder it will be to fold the taco, so restrain yourself.

Step Three. Fold the taco in half. If you haven’t added too many ingredients, you should be able to press the edges of the tortilla together and smoosh the ingredients towards the middle so everything fits snugly.

Step Four. Remember the edges of the tortilla that you pressed together in Step Three? Fold them back toward the center of the taco. This will help the ingredients stay in the tortilla as you wrap it in foil.

Step Five. Wrap the foil around the tortilla. It’s best to fold over the edge of the foil on the “open” side of the taco first to keep the taco from unfolding as you wrap it.

Step Six. Freeze the tacos. I put all of mine into a gallon ziploc bag to add a bit more protection against moisture.

Reheating. When you’re ready to eat, unwrap the taco. Make sure no pieces of aluminum foil are stuck to your taco. Microwave on a plate for one minute.

I haven’t reheated these in an oven yet, but I don’t see any reason why that wouldn’t work. Other than my grumpy self in the morning not having the patience for it.

 

Recipe: Texas Toast

Texas toast. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

When we started gathering recipes for Sunny Days in Texas, my first thought was Texas toast. It’s an important part of Texas cuisine, and not something you can find easily outside Texas. But that was the problem. I’m not sure you can make Texas toast outside of Texas and the surrounding states.

Texas toast is made with inch-thick slices of white bread (the uber-processed kind). The bread is buttered on one side and then broiled or griddled on both sides. It doesn’t have cheese (that’s cheesy bread). It doesn’t have garlic or herbs (that’s garlic bread). Just thick buttery bread, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Perfect for mopping up extra barbecue sauce or country gravy.

The problem is I don’t think you can find the right kind of bread in most of the country. And I really don’t think you can find the right kind of vegan bread. And there isn’t a good substitute.

So here’s the recipe that wasn’t included in the zine. I make it with Butterkrust bread, which, ironically, is vegan. Even the l. cysteine and glycerides. I said there’s no substitute, but if you can’t find store bought Texas toast bread, find a loaf of unsliced sandwich bread and cut it thick. It’s not quite right, but it’s close enough.

Texas Toast

inch-thick white bread
vegan butter, room temperature
kosher salt

Turn on the broiler and broil each slice of bread on one side until golden, maybe two to three minutes. Next, butter the other side of the bread thickly. Keep buttering until you’re embarrassed by how much butter you’ve used. Make sure the butter gets all the way to the edges of the bread, this isn’t the time for sloppiness. Sprinkle with salt. Broil the buttered side until golden. Watch closely so the bread doesn’t burn. Seriously, keep the oven door open and your eyes on the bread. Don’t answer the phone. Don’t pet the kitties. Just watch.

Eat Texas toast with barbecue or chicken-fried foods or use it to make fancy greasy sandwiches.

Chicken-Fried Chickpea Cutlets

Chicken-Fried Chickpea Cutlets based on the chickpea cutlets in Veganomicon. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

One of the best things about being vegan is not having to worry about doing things the traditional way. We’re not stuck with just chicken-fried steak or chicken-fried chicken. We can chicken-fry virtually anything.

I wrote a round-up of chicken-fried things recently, and I’ve had chicken-frying on the mind ever since. My husband is obsessed with the chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon. And somehow, the two just seemed right for each other.

To begin with, go read the recipe for chickpea cutlets. It should be part of every vegan’s repertoire (assuming they can eat wheat). For that matter, this cookbook should be in every vegan’s library.

So, to make chicken-fried chickpea cutlets, follow that recipe up until it’s time to form the cutlets. Make your cutlets thin since we’ll be breading them and you want them to cook all the way through.

Next, start heating your cast iron skillet to medium on the stove. Add a thin layer of neutral oil. We used canola.

Then get two flat-bottomed bowls. Cake pans actually work great for this. In one, combine a cup of flour, a large pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. In the other, combine a 1/2 cup unsweetened plant milk and 1 1/2 teaspoons of egg replacer or cornstarch. Do not use sweetened or flavored milk. You will be sad.

Take each cutlet and dip it in the milk mixture. Then dip it in the flour mixture, making sure it gets covered with flour on every side. Then dip it back in the milk and back in the flour. The best way to do this without ending up with a dough-mitten on your hand is to designate one hand as your “wet hand” and one hand as your “dry hand”. The wet hand only touches the cutlet when it’s wet. The dry hand only touches the cutlet when it’s dry/floury.

Finally, fry each cutlet in oil for four minutes on each side, or until they’re golden brown. Place the cutlets on a cooling rack over paper towels, or directly on paper towels to let any excess oil drip off.

CFCC are best served with cream gravy. If you want to be really traditional, you can serve them with fried okra and mashed potatoes, too.

Texas Gatorade; or, If You Give a Vegan a Yellow Watermelon

Texas Gatorade. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

Last week I wanted a root beer. But I’m still old-fashioned and too embarrassed to pay $1.39 with my credit card, so I needed to stop at the ATM for cash. The nearest ATM is by the Wednesday farmers’ market, where they were selling beautiful watermelons.

“Red or yellow?” the young girl at the stand asked me.

Sometimes I love unexpected choices. Yellow, please!

That’s how Wednesday afternoon I ended up with a yellow watermelon, no root beer, and no idea what to do with a yellow watermelon.

I cut about half of it into chunks, with the idea that I’d actually eat it if there were no preparation required (so far, this has worked pretty well). The girl who sold me the watermelon said that yellow melon is sweeter. It doesn’t seem any sweeter to me. And it tastes…less red? (Somewhere out there, a food scientist is laughing with glee. “Another person accepting red as a flavor!”) Somehow or another, the flavor is much milder than I expected. And the color is much closer to neon green than yellow.

So I had half of a mild-tasting neon green watermelon to use up. I cut the remaining half into large chunks, threw them in the blender, and watched the melon change into neon green mush. A trip through a strainer, and I had a quart of watermelon juice and a cup or so of pulp to throw into a smoothie.

I had originally planned to make some sort of margarita with the juice, but the brilliant color demanded something else. We combined the watermelon juice with vodka and midori, a neon green melon liqueur. Yes, please!

Texas Gatorade

2 parts vodka
1 part midori melon liqueur
4 parts yellow watermelon juice

Texas Waterade

1 part yellow watermelon juice
1 part citrus soda

Recipe Round-Up: Texas Chili

Photo by dasroofless. Licensed under creative commons

It’s a bit repetitive to include “Texas” in the title there. Of course any chili on a blog about Texas will be Texas chili. But Texas chili, real Texas chili, poses special problems for vegans. Traditionally, Texas chili contains no beans, and beans are the basis for most vegetarian chilis. But vegans are creative, and we don’t let a pesky problem like this bother us. Here are the best beanless vegan chilis from around the web, each purist in its own way.

But first the rules. Besides no beans, Texas chili can’t have any vegetables. So no recipes that include corn or zucchini. We’ll let onions and tomatoes slide, but the veg meat should be the star of the show.

First up is this chili from the crew at Radical Eats in Houston. This recipe is an ode to Texas chili. It’s about the ingredients and the journey, and not about following directions. The chili features ground crumbles like Boca or Gimme Lean, though Staci says that tvp will work in a pinch. But really, you can’t go wrong with a recipe that begins with “Well you have to start with a really good veggie stock and lots and tons of onions,” and includes the option of cooking the chili “forever” or “half of forever” depending on your tomato choice.

Texas chili made with bulgur. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

The next recipe is mine (you knew that was coming!) I feel strongly about my Texas chili. Don’t even think about adding beans. I use bulgur, though I’ve also subbed tvp or a combo of tvp and bulgur for a lower carb version. My recipe was born out of a longing for real Texas chili despite the fact that several of my family members make great with bean chilis (my sister-in-law’s has hominy, it’s fantastic). Those other chilis just weren’t what I think of as chili. This cooks up fast and makes a mean Frito pie.

Texas chili made with Gardein beefless tips. Photo posted with permission from Vegan Chronicle

And the final Texas chili comes to us from Starr at The Vegan Chronicle. This recipe uses Gardein beefless tips and a Dutch oven for a recipe that probably comes closest to the slow stewed chuck wagon chili made with tough cuts of meat on Texas cattle drives. For extra authenticity, use a cast-iron Dutch oven.

Three beanless vegan chilis made with three different kinds of veg meat. We still need a good seitan chili that stews in the pot to round things out.

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I can’t write a post about Texas chili without mentioning the Texas Vegetarian Chili Cook-off, now coming up on its 23rd year! This annual festival inspires all kinds of creative dishes, with every vegan ingredient known to man. Last year there was even a raw chili. They’re not all authentic, but they’re a great picture of the creativity and pride inherent to Texas vegan cooking.

21-Day Vegan Kickstart–Texas Style

Barbecue-Style Portobellos from PCRM

Have you heard of the PCRM 21 Day Vegan Kickstart? It’s a nutrition program run by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a vegan health organization. The program courages people to switch to a healthy vegan diet. PCRM provides recipes, tips, and support for three weeks to anyone willing to take the challenge.

In June, the program is going Texan. Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the organization will be taking a book tour in Texas to promote his new book based on the kickstart program, 21 Day Weightloss Kickstart. (Presumably, “weightloss” sells more books than “vegan.”) Tour cities and dates haven’t been announced yet.

To promote the tour, PCRM has created a Texas-style 21 Day Vegan Kickstart, with recipes and a meal plan. They hit the holy trinity: chili, barbecue, and Tex-Mex. Ideally, I would have liked to see peaches instead of mango in the recipes. And maybe a baked chicken-fried portobello? And jambalaya for the Houston folks. I also think they missed an opportunity for some great baked breaded okra. What do you think of the recipes? Do they represent Texas at its healthiest?

Recipe Round-Up: All Things Chicken-Fried

 

Chicken-fried steak is one of the most Texan foods out there. Despite the name, chicken-fried steak isn’t some turducken Frankenstein product. Traditionally it’s flattened cube steak battered, fried, and served covered with country gravy. In other words, it’s a steak fried in the manner of fried chicken.

Sometimes it’s made with chicken instead, and you end up with chicken-fried chicken. Which is nothing like fried chicken.

If you’re not from around these parts, you might call this dish country fried steak. And we’d probably let it pass.

Just because a Texan doesn’t eat meat anymore, it doesn’t mean they have to give up battering, frying, and gravy-ing their food. And when you’re vegan, the sky’s the limit for chicken-frying. If you can flatten it, we can chicken-fry it!

Here is a round-up of vegan chicken-fried recipes from Texans and honorary-Texans around the Web.

Shown at the top of the page, Morgan at Little House of Veggies chicken-fries seitan, though she suggests Gardein scallopini would work great instead. Don’t be fooled by the spinach in her photo, this is pure comfort food.

Chow Vegan shares a recipe for Chicken-Fried Portobello Mushrooms. Not into frying? She has a recipe for baked chicken-fried tofu with creamy gravy that’s lighter in calories and oil.

If you’re looking for something more traditional, Bok Choy Bohemia has a recipe that’s got her reaching for her seldom-used steak knives: Chicken-Fried Seitan.

And if you’re ambitious, Soundly Vegan has step-by-step instructions for homemade Chicken-Fried Tofu Steak starting by making your own tofu. There’s a recipe for mushroom gravy to go with it, and while that’s not a Texas tradition, it looks tasty.

If you’re a little less ambitious, Ellen Degeneres has a recipe for Chicken-Fried Steak Bites using Gardein. Enjoy them with a twist on the traditional white gravy: cashew gravy.
And finally, Austinites Cristen and Miguel out-Texan everyone with a post about chicken-fried seitan breakfast tacos at Tomorrow Austin.

Have a vegan Texas recipe you want to share or an idea for a recipe round-up? Email us at lonestarplate (at) gmail.com.

Zesty Lemon Asparagus

Vegan MoFo is almost upon us and I’m going to give it another go, so I thought I’d post to get back into the swing of things.

A lot of times, I make dishes but don’t post about them because they don’t really seem like recipes. This is pretty simple, and is almost more of a series of small techniques. Which I guess is what recipes are, hence, here’s a recipe!

I love asparagus, it tastes kind of like a delicate, more tender version of broccoli stalks to me. Recently, Newflower has been having it on sale, and I’ve been eating a ton of it. I love it sautéed, blanched, after it’s been dipped in tempura and wrapped in rice and nori, as sushi, and a hundred other ways, but my favorite way to prepare it is like this:

Looks pretty good, right? It tastes even better!


Zesty Lemon Asparagus
by Christina Terriquez

Ingredients
1 organic lemon
2 tablespoons whole almonds or hazelnuts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 cups asparagus
sea salt to taste

Directions
Prep your asparagus by breaking the ends. Take the tip in one hand and bottom end in the other, and gently bend, until asparagus stalk breaks. Discard the hard, white end. I like to cut my asparagus into 3 inch pieces for this dish, but you can leave it whole, or cut it into 2 inch pieces if you wish.

Zest the organic lemon, then juice it. Set both the juice and zest aside for now.

Carefully slice the almonds or hazelnuts into thin slivers.

Heat a medium sized cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil and slivered nuts to pan and lightly toast. Once nuts have browned just a bit, add the asparagus and a pinch of salt to the pan and sauté until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and add a big pinch of zest and taste. Add lemon juice, lemon zest and sea salt to your taste.

Notes
You can buy almonds already slivered in stead of slicing them yourself, but they usually cost more.

I think the hazelnuts taste a little bit better, but I don’t always have them on hand.

I usually use 1–1 1/2 cups of asparagus, and the juice and zest of 1/2 a medium sized lemon, but depending on the rest of your meal, and your tastes, you can adjust it accordingly.

I hope that got you in the mood for some stellar vegan posts from tons of new and old vegans. There are already over 430 people signed up for Vegan MoFo 2010, from at least 15 countries.

Cross posted from Vegan Vanguard