Monday, September 26, 2011

Border Roasted Potatoes and Pals

Please admire the coffee table... yes, thank you, we are just that cool.  I'll keep promoting it because I really love it.  Eventually it'll get old, but it'll still look good cuz it's laminated.

So this turned out to be an incredible edible dish.  I forget how much I love roasted corn until I have it.  It's really fantastic.  I'm a huge fan of raw corn so I always forget to roast it.  But then when I make something like my beloved Fete, I am back on a corn-roasting mission.  I titled this one Border Roasted Potatoes and Pals because it's not really 'south of the border' and I'm not about to give an unfounded shout-out to Texas (because I've never been there), and On the Border is taken.  So just Border it is.  There are borders everywhere in this political world of ours!  Boundaries and restrictions and we sit on the fence.  Well, I took a risk with this one--the theoretical make-up of the ingredients made sense, but I wasn't sure if it would pull together effectively.  Oh boy it did.  It so did.  I made myself weep with every bite.

4 servings

4 med potatoes
1 cup corn (fresh or frozen or canned)
3 cups broccoli
2 cups spinach
2 TBS olive oil, divided
2 tsp each:
-ground cumin
-chili powder
-powdered garlic
-dried parsley
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup roasted salted cashews to top.  I would have preferred pumpkin seeds but I was out.

1. Heat to oven to 425F. Cut corn from cob and rinse if you have to.  Or just rinse canned corn under water.  Or run some hot water over frozen corn to partially thaw.  The picture applies to all...
But it was fresh corn.
2. Thinly slice the potatoes...  I halved first and then sliced so the flat edge helped a lot.
3. Place the potatoes in the colander with the corn...
...and then place the colander in the high-rimmed baking pan you plan to use (mine is 9x13)
4. Drizzle 1 TBS olive oil and stir up the potatoes.  Let the oil drip down, that's fine.  Hence putting it there!
5. Dump the potatoes and corn into the baking sheet and stir some more.
6. Add the broccoli and spinach, stirring again.
7. Add each of the spices and herb(s?) and salt, stirring between each addition.  Add the other TBS of olive oil at some point when you feel it needs more lubrication. (TWSS)
Like my collage?  Quick composite history of spice addition...
8. Roast about 30 minutes, stirring after twenty.  Uncovered.  When done, remove and stir again.  Let it cool about 10 minutes before dishing it out.
9.  Dish it out, top with cashews or pumpkin seeds and enjoy!
I served ours with another soon-to-be-posted recipe, Cream of Broccoli--and Sesame Too!  Both are pictured on that fantastic coffee table.  YUM, so very very YUM.  I couldn't tell which one impressed me more!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

I vowed to make chocolate chip pancakes last time...  Ok, maybe there's no written vow there but I did make a silent promise to myself that it would happen.  And it did... and they were delicious.

Did you know that if you click on the pictures they appear in a nice viewer that you can scroll through?  Thank you blogger!

Chocolate chip pancakes... they're healthy aren't they?  Oh sure, dark chocolate has antioxidants!  Gotta love an article from webMD titled 'dark chocolate is healthy chocolate.'  Thanks Doc!  And though these pancakes may appear large, it's all about scale.  The plates are small, so I'm throwing off perception with no point of reference.  I got mad skillz yo.

Last note, I was channeling the ever-delicious blondie, which is a vanilla/white brownie.  Oxymoronic, I know, but it's freakin fantastic.  The secret to a blondie is it's enriched with brown sugar instead of cocoa.  There, now you know.

2 Servings, about 4 small pancakes each.

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 TBS brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp mild oil (canola, avocado)
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup chocolate chips
Margarine and agave nectar (or maple syrup!) to top

1. Mix dry ingredients (including brown sugar) in a medium bowl.  I was using a 1/2 TBS measuring spoon so that's why there are six brown sugar balls. Heh...
2. Start heating up a frying pan over med heat. Mix in the wet and stir well.  Then fold in the chocolate chips.
3. For the first batch, keep the temp around med, maybe a smidgen lower.  You know when they're ready to flip (2-3 minutes) when they bubble up and look a bit drier around the edges and surface.
Like so:
4. Remove a pancake and top with a dab of margarine.
It's pictured with the agave but I wait until the end to drizzle the syrup (which you can sub the agave with).  That way it's not drowning in liquid sweetener.
Though they look burned, that's just the chocolate chips.  They are dark chocolate after all!
5. Admire your stack... and then drizzle with the looming agave or syrup.  Since it's dark chocolate it's nice to have a bit of extra sweetener.  Plus, unless it's a savory crepe, most pancakes warrant syrup!  YUM!
Not a bad picture, if I do say so myself... Not bad at all.  Again, one-woman show here to you don't see the awkward pose that was required to get this shot!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chilean Independence Dinner--La Tercera

La Tercera is a newspaper in Chile... it means 'The Third,' literally.  It is not be confused with 'La Quarta,' which is a bit more lighthearted... Here is a great headline of theirs.  I had to put that on my FB wall, it's classic.  It says 'REM broke up... and it's not the end of the world'.  At the end it says 'and we feel fine.'  Classic, seriously!  Don't get me wrong, I like REM and in the 90s I was all about their music.  I just think it was a well written article, and I love me some good jokes... I guess this qualifies as a quasi-pun, eh?  And now this is old news... as I wrote this yesterday and am posting (rather late) today.

So back to the recipe.  In this final installment of 'let's veganize dieciocho dammit' I present you with a lovely dessert.  
MMMmmm.. alfajor... See, we've both learned two things today by reading this.  REM broke up and that alfajores are a traditional Arabic confection and what I was noshing on in my childhood was a Chilean variation.  I mean really, I had no clue!  Little bits of useless trivia... one day that might come in handy at a knowledge bowl (aren't I too old to participate? Maybe I'll submit it as a potential question, BAM!)

So, enough of that.  Below find my recipe for the oh-so-easy and delicious alfajor.  It's easy in that a lot of it is waiting time, so it's the perfect dessert to make while other stuff is happening... like empanadas and pastel de choclo... Not trying to tell you what to do or anything.  This is a two-part recipe: you need to make the cookie and also the manjar/caramel center.

3-4 servings, 2 cookies each and equally measured manjar per cookie sandwich.

For cookies:
2/3 cup flour
4 tsp confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup margarine or vegetable shortening

For manjar:
1 cup milk
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking soda

1. Heat oven to 350F.
2. Sift flour and conf. sugar together in a large bowl.  Rub the margarine into the flour until completely incorporated.
3. If you feel the consistency is safe to bring on a rolling pin, then roll out to about 1/4" thick and then cut into circles with a small round cookie cutter (or glass...).
Otherwise, just use your hands to grab a small amount, roll into a ball and flatten.  I went with option B this time.  The first time I was able to roll it out.  Go figure, must have been the humidity...
4. Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and poke twice with a fork.  A step I neglected above.
5. Bake in the heated oven for about 8-10 minutes.  Discs should be removed from the oven while still pale--THEY SHOULD NOT BROWN.  Cool completely on a wire rack.
This is them out of the oven, I flipped over three of them to show that even though they looked unbaked on top, the bottoms were already browning.  They're a lot like shortbread.

Meanwhile, make the manjar...

1. Bring the milk, sugar and vanilla to a boil.
2. Reduce heat to med-low and continue cooking, continuously stirring until milk as thickened.  Could take about 20 minutes.  And no, you don't have to stir the whole time.  Stir frequently though.  It should start turning a caramel color.
3. Stir in the baking soda and continue cooking until the milk has reached a pudding-like consistency.  Pour manjar into a small ramekin or bowl and let it cool completely in the fridge.


1.  Take a cookie and lay it pale side out/down.
2. Scoop out some manjar.  If it has hardened too much in the fridge then nuke it about 10 seconds to soften it back up (TWSS)
3. So, you're scooping the manjar into the center of the cookie.  Approximate center works too (see below for an illustration of taking your own photos whilst trying to drip caramel onto a cookie...)
4. Top with the other cookie, pale side out to match.
5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar!

or... if you're ambitious... coat in melted chocolate...
That was not me, but one day I will ;-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chilean Independence Dinner--Part Dos

Ah, the Andes... Majestuosa es la blanca montana... (Majestic is the white mountain).  A line from the Chilean national anthem.  And it goes for-eh-vah.  Only verse 5 and the chorus are sung in public!  Here, read all about it.

Continuing with the 'guess what we made for Dieciocho' series, I bring thee Pastel de Choclo!  Source unknown, except that I got it from my sweet and savvy mom ;-)

My guess is 6 servings...

2-3 TBS oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb of ground "beef" (we subbed Yves Meatless Grounds)
1 TBS paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 cup water or stock
1 TBS flour
1 lb fresh or frozen corn
1/4 cornmeal
1-2 TBS cornstarch (it IS a corn meal after all!)
Milk, as needed
1 TBS sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 TBS margarine
2-3 TBS sugar

1. Have your mother prepare it while you prepare the empanadas and alfajores... Below is what she did...
2. Heat oven to 375F.  Heal oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and satue til translucent.  Stir in the garlic and saute another 1-2 minutes.
3. Add the "beef", paprika, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper and saute, until it's cooked through, about 6-8 minutes.
4. Place the corn, cornmeal, cornstarch and sugar in a food processor and process until well pureed.  with the blade running, add the milk a little at a time until the corn forms a thick batter.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Sorry, forgot to take a picture of this step! I had my hands full of gooey empanada mush)
5. When the "beef" mix is ready, spread it into a greased casserole dish. 
Wipe out the pan and then melt the margarine over med-low heat.  Add the corn puree and cook, stirring constantly, until well thickened, about 5-8 minutes.
6. Top the "beef" mix with the corn mix and use the back of a spatula to spread it evenly.
7. Sprinkle the sugar over the corn topping.
8. Set the dish in the oven and bake about 30-40 minutes, or until bubbling and golden brown on top.  It's already cooked, you're just helping it out.

Serve alongside an empanada!  I'm reposting the pair so you can recall the feeling of wanting to make it yourself immediately.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chilean Independence Dinner

Chi-Chi-Chi! Le-Le-Le! Viva Chile!

Chilean Independence Day is the 18th of September.  You can read all about it here, here, and here.  I'm not a historian (an?), I'm just here for the love of food.  :-)  But I do love all things Chile and miss it dearly so we could not let the 18th go by and not celebrate in our own little way.  Veganized meals!  No need to spit on our shoes, we're just enjoying it with you all!

Above: Dinner!
Below: Dessert!

Pastel de Choclo, Empanadas de Queso y Alfajores.

The inevitable question arose last night... "What does that mean?"  As in, translation, not the origin of the meals.  I guess you can roughly translate it to Corn Cake or Pudding, but that's not really accurate.  Corn Pie?  Eh, maybe... That's a tough one.  Pastel pretty much means cake, so it would be on the savory end of the spectrum, like a veggie cake of some sort (I'd say crab cake, but I've never had one so I can't vouch for the similarity).  You do sprinkle sugar on top of the Pastel de Choclo so there is definitely some sweetness to it.  Sigh.  I give up.  Empanadas de Queso are Cheese Empanadas, and with empanadas being the national food of Chile... well, you get the picture.  Alfajores are cookie sandwiches with manjar (a type of caramel) in the center, and usually they are coated in chocolate that was just asking too much now.  I don't know if that link will work for you... it's just a picture of the someone else coating an alfajor in chocolate.  The manjar link's recipe is pretty much what I made except that I used vanilla extract and scaled the entire recipe way down for just three.  Most of the pictures I found though didn't have the chocolate coating so I wasn't too far off!

Today I'll just post one recipe, surprising you with the other two later this week ;-)  Circumstances, folks!

By the way, this is my Mom's butter tray (or margarine tray these days).  We call him Camote, after our beloved tubby beagle in Chile who used to lay like that.  Love you Toto!

EMPANADAS DE QUESO (the "easy" way)
Roughly 4 servings, but you could probably make a lot more if you play with the measurements.

I say "easy" because working with phyllo dough can be extremely challenging, but it's worth it for that crispy exterior.  You can make your own simple dough with flour/water/salt/oil which I'll do next time just to provide a recipe for it.  Apparently, with the right kitchen gadgets you can make phyllo dough. Hmmm....

1/2 box of phyllo dough, thawed according to package directions or 6 minutes in the microwave under the 'auto defrost' setting because you didn't remember it had to thaw overnight...
2 cups of cheese, a white cheese like mozarella is preferred.
Water for working with (1/4-1/3 cup)

1. Take out a few sheets of phyllo dough.  Anywhere from 4-7 per empanada is good.  Heat oven to 375F.
2. Measure a half a cup of white cheese in the center and fold up.  This is the difficult part to explain in words and I was unable to take pictures because my hands were wet and gooey.  So, here goes:
To fold (using the above picture as a reference):
- fold the left side over the cheese.
- fold the right side over the dough that's over the cheese.
- wet your fingers and paste that side down so they stick together.
- pick an open end, say the side closest to you and roll once, using water to moosh it together.
- roll again and use water again to stick it all together.  Twice was enough for me.  Don't be afraid to use enough water too, it'll only help.
- repeat with the last side, using water to keep it together.
- dip your fingers is the water and run them over all the folded sides so it all pastes together.
3. Repeat this process with the remaining dough and cheese until you are happy.
4. Pop those fellas in the oven at 375F.  Bake about 30 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and let them cool.
Totally awesome.
I include the above picture again to point out that yes, vegan cheese does indeed melt and stretch.  We're badass cholesterol free freaks!

In the middle of cooking, Sage made her presence known... 
She's quite the comfortable cat.  She spent most of the cooking session rolling onto different positions on her back.  I have yet to capture her when she is completely horizontal, her head back and her paws curled like above over her chest.  Ah, life is difficult...

When I returned home, I was working on stuff and Stitch decided it was time to go to bed...
Please note that she is using my touch pad as a pillow.  I tried to type around her head, which worked actually.  A few spelling errors but nothing I couldn't handle.  Plus, every time I would pause and then type again, I would feel her paw curl up like a pseudo-knead on my leg.  Cutie pie.  Cat 1, Human 0.  Ok, ok, Human 1 also!