Guru Rabbit

Turn a new leaf (and EAT it)

My Brain vs. Reality March 27, 2013

Filed under: Random,Recipes — rabbit @ 7:14 am
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I wish you could see the recipe ideas I have in my noggin, the list of inspirations sitting in my laptop that have yet to be attempted.

I wish you could be there when the light bulb over my head brightens, and I start getting all food-geek on whoever’s next to me.

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It’s frustrating when you have all these sparks going off in your head…

But you lack the ingredients, time, money, energy, or motivation.

To.  Just.  Focus.

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Fortunately, other things still happen.  Everything just kinda falls into place…

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Much like other things in life.

Millet & Black Bean Stuffed Poblanos

This recipe is an impromptu result of seeing poblano peppers on sale at the farmer’s market.  The Mexican in me cannot resist.  Everything else I had on hand, but at the end of the recipe I shall offer variation depending on what you have.

Ingredients:

4 medium poblano peppers

1/2 cup finely chopped carrots

1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms

1/2 cup diced onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup millet

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 cup cooked black beans

a handful of chopped fresh cilantro

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Brush the peppers with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and roast until the skins become wrinkly and tender.

2) While the peppers are roasting, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan.  Add the carrots, mushrooms, onion and garlic.  Cook over medium-low heat until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Add the millet and spices (cumin through thyme).  Stir the mixture around to toast the millet and distribute the spices.  Add 3/4 cup water, lower the heat to a simmer, and cover.  After 20-30 minutes, all the water should be absorbed and the millet fluffy.  It’s like cooking rice, don’t freak out.  Once the millet is done, remove from heat, and add the black beans, cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

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3) The annoying part:  once the poblano peppers are cool enough to handle, cut out the stems, and slice the peppers almost in half lengthwise,  leaving some connection so that they resemble wings.  Use your fingers to scrape out the seeds.

4) Generously fill one half of each pepper with the millet mixture, fold over the other half, and place in a baking dish.  Repeat until all the peppers are stuffed.

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At this point, you can refrigerate the peppers until you are ready to heat and serve.  Otherwise, pop them in the oven until hot.  Any temperature between 350°F and 450°F  should be fine.

Variations: Millet is a wonderful, relatively inexpensive grain I finally tried, but rice, quinoa, barley, etc. can be substituted.  Just check the water and time requirement for cooking.  Any type of cooked bean, peas or lentils can also replace the black beans.  And if poblanos are too hot for you (though they’re fairly mild), you can use bell peppers which have no heat at all; the only issue is that bell peppers tend to be larger, so you may need to make more filling

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Ideas on how to serve…

Melted cheese.  Avocado or guacamole.  Hot sauce.  Salsa.  Sour cream…

Y’know. Whatever you got.

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It Calls from Within… May 4, 2012

Filed under: Random — rabbit @ 9:00 pm
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Hey, guys.

Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo.

First of all, you need tortilla chips.  Buckets of them.  Because you’ll need something dry and bland to soak up the tequila.

You will also need them to accompany the salsa and guacamole.  This ain’t just common sense.  It’s just sense.

Then, you need to get this stuff:

It’s a blend of dehydrated chili, lime, and salt.

Wait, what…?  Right.

Where do you get it?  The Mexican/Latin grocery store.

What do you put it on?

EVERYTHING.

roasted corn

pineapple

mango

watermelon

tomatoes

grilled zucchini

potatoes

sandwiches

mac and cheese

pizza

rice

tacos

enchiladas

beans and bean dips

guacamole (for something extra)

banana and peanut butter (couldn’t help it)

your grumpy cat

your food-hopeful dog

your creepy boyfriend/girlfriend

your creepy best friend

and babies, of course.

Then, you could make a nice, earthy, spicy vegetarian chili.  Maybe some mango bars for dessert.  Y’know, my dad (who is Mexican) might’ve become a priest, except he got kicked out of seminary school for stealing mangoes from the yard next door.  True story.

Good thing he didn’t become a priest.  Because then I wouldn’t be here.  And you like me, right?  Eerrr…

You could also learn how to make tamales.  It’s not that hard, really.  This guy pretty much knows what it’s all about.

Then you could stew some coarsely chopped tomatoes…  (not hard: just chop up several big, fat tomatoes, and put them over medium-high heat)

Along with some spices like cumin, coriander, cloves, allspice, maybe same cocoa… worcteshestire sauce (vegan or not),  sugar, salt, and pepper to taste.  *Edit: And a couple chipotle chiles in adobo sauce.  I can’t believe I forgot that part… Duh.

Puree, and you have a bold and spicy sauce for tamales.  Or whatever.  Kittens and such.

I’ll let you know what happens for my Cinco de Mayo.  In the meantime, don’t drink Corona.  I mean… c’mon.  Negra Modelo’s nice…  And I’ll only give you Dos Equis because of the commercials…

P.S. I bought a sombrero!

 

Chili of the Gods February 5, 2012

Filed under: Interestin' Food Info,Recipes — rabbit @ 2:59 pm
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Hey.

Hey, guys…

I have to tell you about this chili.

 

I mean, it just looks like a bunch of funky stuff.  Which it is.  But it’s an awesome bunch of funky stuff… tomatoes, onion, and garlic, naturally.  Cumin, cayenne powder, AND chili paste.  Yesss.  Black lentils and red quinoa, for heartiness and protein, but also because they are the perfect color for chili (thanks again, Tiiinnnaaa).  Cinnamon, cocoa powder, and peanut butter… wait!  Don’t make faces at me!  I know those last three are more like dessert ingredients, but trust me…

This chili is largely inspired by ancient Mesoamerican culture (damn you, inner Mexican).  If you are familiar with mole sauce in Mexican cuisine and how it’s made, the array of spices in this chili should not surprise you.  There are many versions of mole sauces, but the most accessible types are general mash-ups of chili peppers, sweet and savory spices, herbs, nuts, seeds, and unsweetened chocolate or cocoa.  The chocolate/cocoa adds a unique depth to mole, as well as this chili.  In fact, you may find that many chili afficionados support the addition of chocolate or cocoa.  Then there’s the quinoa, the “mother of all grains”, according to the Incas.  Although most associated with Peru in origin, various types of quinoa have been grown throughout South and North America, and is therefore, totally appropriate combined with Mexican flavors.  And I’m not gonna lie, black lentils just sounded cool to use in combination with red quinoa.

 

Amiright??

Vegan Aztec Chili

Ingredients:

(Long list, yes, but easy to make.  You can use other veggies if you’d like– bell peppers, sweet potato, greens, summer squash, etc.  But definitely keep the onion, garlic and tomatoes.  Quinoa and lentils of any color will do, also.)

2 medium carrots, chopped into small pieces
1 1/2 cups finely chopped mushrooms
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 cup black lentils
1 cup red quinoa
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp cocoa
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
2-3 Tbsp peanut butter (almond or cashew butter would probably work nicely as well)
2-3 Tbsp chili paste
2-4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2-4 Tbsp soy sauce
2-3 tsp vegan worcesteshire sauce

Seriously, this is the most laborious part.  If you have a food processor though…

1) In a large soup pot, combine the carrots, mushrooms, onion, garlic and tomatoes.  Bring to medium-high heat, and cook until reduced.

2) Add the quinoa, lentils, and EVERYTHING ELSE.  Oh, and six cups of water.  Simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  This should be enough time for the lentils and quinoa to cook thoroughly.

3) Add salt and pepper to taste, and adjust seasonings if need be.  If it’s not rich enough for you, add some olive oil or extra peanut butter (but be careful, you don’t want too much peanut flavor).  If you like it more saucy, add some plain tomato juice (or dark beer… that would be good… but let the alcohol cook out).  For ultimate awesomeness, let it sit for at least 15 minutes so the flavors can party together.  You can serve this with some avocado, corn chips, tortillas, pico de gallo, or if you’re not doing the vegan thing, some sour cream or farmer’s cheese.

Why, yes, you CAN eat chili from a mug!

But don’t eat the dried chili pepper…  You’ll die.

 

Grits ‘n’ Greens, Mediterranean-Style January 29, 2012

Maybe it’s because I’m part Mexican.  Maybe it’s because I’m part Paraguayan (the lost land of South America).  Or maybe it’s because I’m American-born.  But I’m quite a fan of any food that is based on corn as a grain.  Corn tortillas, tortilla chips, corn nuts, Fritos, grits, tamales, cornbread, pop-corn, Corn Pops…  I once lost, and swallowed, a baby tooth while eating Corn Pops.  Corn Flakes are kinda boring, but I’d eat them, I guess.  And let’s not forget Cheetos.  The crunchy kind, not puffy.

And then there’s polenta, the Italian answer to American grits.  Both are a simple combination of cornmeal and water to produce a porridge, but polenta is cooked longer than grits, to bring out more flavor from the grain.   Additionally, there is soft polenta, and firm.  Soft polenta is a more velvety version of grits.  Firm polenta has a creamy interior, yet is able to hold its shape.  Either style can be fashioned in a variety of ways: as breakfast, lunch, or dinner; main dish or side; sweet or savory; boldly flavored or mild.  Cornmeal is awesome…

Firm Polenta (to impress your friends and family)

2 cups cornmeal (I used half coarse and fine ground)

6 cups water

salt to taste

any other desired herbs or spices (optional)

butter or olive oil (optional)

1) In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal and 2 cups of the water to make a mush.

2) Heat the remaining water to a boil.  Add the salt, and whisk in the cornmeal mush.  I also threw in some black pepper, nutmeg, and paprika.  Reduce the heat to low, and cook for 30 to 45 minutes.  Stir almost constantly.  As time passes, the polenta will thicken.  (I went for 30 minutes, arms got tired.)

3) Once the time is up, spread the polenta onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  You can spread it as thick as one inch, or thinner.  Let it cool for at least 15 minutes, depending on the thickness.  I neglected mine for a couple of hours, actually…

4) Once the polenta is cooled, you can cut it into any shape you desire.  I happened to have received some AWESOMELY AMAZING animal-shape cutters from Henry’s sister, Justine.  I couldn’t help but use the rabbit…  Thaaank yoooouuu Justiiiiiiinnne :)

5)  Bake your bunnies polenta at 400°F for 20-30 minutes, or til desired crispiness.

After that, you can do what ever you like with your polenta.  But I have a suggestion…

Saute a few cloves of garlic and a cup of sliced mushrooms in a bit of olive oil.  Add half a cup each of chopped black olives and raisins, and half a pound of fresh spinach (trust me on the olive-raisin combination, especially if you like sweet-and-salty stuff).  Once the spinach is cooked, season with salt, pepper, and some vinegar if that’s your thing.  Then throw in a quarter cup of chopped nuts or seeds.  I used pistachios, but anything will  do.

Some paprika for color, and CUTEST DINNER EVER.

 

“It’s Chowdah!” January 27, 2012

Filed under: Recipes — rabbit @ 7:50 am
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I’m not sure where this idea came from.  Probably from the vegetable drawer where I had a bunch of celery that I wanted to use up… and the pantry where I stored the plethora of grains we received from le sister-in-law for Christmas.  Thaaaank yooouuuu, Tiiiiinaaaaa :)

Also from the gigantic library of Simpsons dialogue that is stored in my brain…

Though atypical, I believe this soup may qualify as a chowdah.  It’s creamy and chunky.  Yet it contains no actual cream (unless you decide so), and while it fills you up, does not leave you feeling heavy.  This soup/chowder is green.  Win.  It’s got satisfying texture, and herbal tanginess.  More win.

One prerequisite to this recipe is that you like celery.  Of course, you could use something besides celery, such as carrots, potatoes, beets, tomatoes, etc…  But then you wouldn’t have the lovely shade of chartreuse…

Celery & Amaranth Chowder

Ingredients:

1 lb celery stalks, including the leaves

1 small/medium onion (preferably yellow or white)

some light vinegar (such as apple cider, white wine, or champagne), or better yet, a dry white wine

3/4 cup amaranth grain

1 bay leaf

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp white or black pepper

5-6 cups water or vegetable broth

1-2 avocados (depending on how creamy you want it.  One was enough for me.)

2-3 Tbsp tahini

1) Coarsely chop the onion and place in a food processor.  Add the celery leaves, and puree into a slurry.  Heat the slurry over medium-high heat in a soup pot.  Oil or butter is optional here, as the slurry will steam-cook itself.  Keep it covered for 10-15 minutes.  Meanwhile, chop the celery stalks into bite-size chunks.  Mash up the avocado pulp, and set aside.

2) Uncover the soup pot and let the onion-celery leaf  slurry evaporate some of its liquid.  It should turn a slightly darker green and reduce in volume.

3) Add the chopped celery stalks and cook until they just start to tenderize. Pour in enough vinegar or wine to loosen any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan (a few tablespoons should do it).  Add the amaranth, water or broth, and spices.  It will look like a Florida canal, unfortunately…

4) Cook, partially covered, over medium heat for 20-30 minutes.  This should be enough time for the amaranth to cook, and the celery to soften a little more, but still retain some bite.  Turn the heat to low, or completely off, and stir in the mashed avocado and tahini.  Add salt to taste, and more vinegar if it’s lacking “pop“.  Adjust the seasoning if needed.

You can make this chowder more indulgent by stirring in some heavy cream, sour cream, creme fraiche, or cream cheese.  (Anything involving the word cream, I guess…)  Plain yogurt would also be good, as well as cashew butter.  Serve with some rustic whole grain bread, or a baked potato.  For garnish, I found Kalamata olives to be fantastical, but some grated cheese would be wondiferous.

It’s CHOWDAH!

 

Cheez-an-Rice, Que Crazee! January 18, 2012

Filed under: Recipes — rabbit @ 2:01 pm
Tags: , ,

I’d say I censor myself pretty well on here.  I could write the way I actually talk, but that would mean I’d have to come up with textual ways to express the quirky sounds and phrases that come out of my mouth (which would require a glossary page), as well as put up a sensitivity warning on my home page.  But I know who and what I’m going for on here, I know what I should, and shouldn’t write, and since it is my blog, I’ll call the shots.

 

I don’t think it’s a big deal…

But godfuckingdamnit, Congress, do NOT censor my LOLCATS.

And that is all I will say on the manner of this whole internet censorship insanity.

One thing I do often say as a substitute for swearing is “cheese-and-rice”.  I say it quickly, with a Hispanic accent.  For example, “Cheese-and-rice, what a dumbass”, or “Cheese-and-rice, this chocolate torte is orgasmically wonderful”.  I have no reservations about using the phrase “Jesus Christ”.  Actually, I probably use each phrase equally.  But there are a few reasons I say “cheese-and-rice”.  One, I just like the way it rhymes with “Jesus Christ”.  Two, people who swear often have to use a variety, otherwise nobody likes you anymore.  Three… it sounds cute, and would, in reality, be delicious.

And while I’m not too keen on most vegan cheese substitutes, I made one of my own, just to feel good about myself.

Cheez-an-Rice!

Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice

2 cups warm water or vegetable broth

1 cup vegetable of your choice (I used broccoli; you can try tomato, sweet peas, carrots, cooked mushrooms, etc.)

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in filtered water for 2 hours

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast*

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp dijon mustard

a few sprinkles of dried turmeric

a dash of nutmeg

salt to taste

*About nutritional yeast, a.k.a. “nooch” in the cult-vegan world: this is a high-protein, vitamin B-loaded supplement, grown on molasses.  It has a savory, sorta-cheesy flavor, although you really can’t compare it to real cheese.  Nonetheless, it appeals to a lot of people’s taste buds, and makes for a good cheese alternative.

By the way, thanks to Allie for the surplus supply ;)

1) Begin by toasting the rice in a large, dry pan, on medium heat.  Stir the rice around frequently, to keep it from burning.  It will start to snap, crackle, pop (haha…), and that’s when you know you’re getting there.  Make sure to really keep stirring at this point.  Once the noise subsides a bit, add your water or broth, and a little salt if you’d like.  (Be careful when pouring the liquid in.  I had actually boiled my water, and pouring that into an already hot pan of rice was quite bubbly and scary.)  Bring the heat down to low, cover, and cook 20-30 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed, and the rice is almost done.  Then add your veggies, and a little more liquid if necessary.  Cover again and cook until the rice is done, about 10 minutes.

2) While the rice is in its first stage of cooking, you can start the sauce.  Drain the cashews and place them in a food processor.  Start chopping them finely.

(Notice the renegade bit of broccoli on the lower left…)

3) Scrape down the cashew pieces with a rubber or silicone spatula, and add the remaining ingredients for the sauce.  Puree until smooth, adding a little water along the way to help it out.  This is the basic sauce.  You can adjust it to your own taste.  I added a bit of vegan worcesteshire sauce, and a little slice of avocado.  You can try other herbs and spices, miso paste, barbecue sauce, tahini, etc.

4) Mix the sauce in with the rice. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.  Done.

It’s actually like a vegan Rice-a-Roni…  Of course, you could use the sauce on pasta, barley, quinoa, amaranth, etc.  From a health perspective, I like that this dish is made with practically no processed ingredients, it has all natural, good fats, and has plenty of protein and fiber.  Win.  And yes, it tastes goooood…  By the way, toasting the rice brings out its nutty flavor and a more satisfying texture.  Plus, it cooks faster because it’s more ready to absorb liquid when toasted.  You should toast all your grains, damnit.

A little hot sauce doesn’t hurt either…

 

On the Twelfth Day of Yum: DONE! December 23, 2011

Filed under: Interestin' Food Info,Recipes — rabbit @ 2:39 pm
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Just in time for the holiday weekend.  I can’t wait to finish sending off all the desserts I’ve made.  I can’t wait to make something without sugar…

So let’s talk about eggnog and its relatives.  All around the world, you will find various versions of the stuff.  In general, they are made with egg yolks, creating a custard base, and then flavored with a variety of ingredients, depending on where you are– a twist of orange or lemon, vanilla, cocoa, coffee, coconut, rum, brandy, whiskey, sherry, marsala wine, etc.  Mexico’s version is called rompope, and is often flavored with different kinds of nuts.  I thought about making some this year.  But we don’t typically have eggs on hand, and I don’t have the financial wiggle room to buy some (especially since my conscience will force me to buy the expensive free-range ones).  I could certainly try a vegan version, but when it comes to recreating the velvety egg yolk custard… more solid desserts are one thing, but I’m a little wary about a beverage.  (Lolz, I fooled you, no eggnog here!)  That’s a project for another day.  I figured I would just wing something anyway…

I combined a cup of sugar, half a cup of almond meal, half a cup of brown rice flour, and whisked into it a quart of rice milk.  I put it over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it began to simmer and thicken.  Then I strained it (twice), and after it cooled, added a cup of rum.  Chilled overnight…

And then I realized, due to the use of a rice base, I essentially made spiked horchata.  Hey, that’s kinda cool, I’ll take it!  Granted it’s not how horchata is traditionally made, but it’s a hell of a lot easier (yes, I’ll probably make an authentic one some day).  But it’s a lower-fat, no-cholesterol, and slightly stronger alternative to eggnog.  I imagine one could skip the almond meal, and use some amaretto (almond flavored liqueur) in combination with the rum (or brandy).  And that is that.  Enjoy with a plethora of holiday desserts and pass out under the tree.

Cheese-and-rice, I’m pooped.  And in serious need of some garlic-dill pickles and spicy mustard…