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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No Mercy for the Cha-Cha February 19, 2013

Filed under: Interestin' Food Info,Recipes — rabbit @ 11:11 am
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            2013-02-17 19.04.39    Hey everyone.

This is Cha-Cha the Chayote.

Hello, Cha-Cha.

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Good-bye, Cha-Cha.

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I know.  You barely knew Cha-Cha.

You didn’t get to hear about Cha-Cha’s relatives, such as the squash, cucumber, and melon.  You didn’t get to hear about Cha-Cha’s Central American origins, and popularity around the world– Brazil, India, Thailand, The Philippines, Taiwan, Australia, Louisiana…  Damn, Cha-Cha, you got around.  Not surprised, I guess, you’re pretty tasty.  Mildly sweet and pleasant.  Crisp when raw, tender when cooked.  And you pair so well with so many flavors!

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Let’s do Cha-Cha some justice.

Add some garlic, onion, carrot.

And we got some coconut and cilantro waiting by…

Coconut, Cilantro, and Chayote Medley

Ingredients:

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 medium chayote, cut in into bite-size chunks

1 medium carrot, sliced into coins

1/2 cup cooked garbanzos

2-3 Tbsp pumpkin seeds

juice of 1 lime

a few dashes each of cumin and cinnamon

2-3 Tbsp shredded, unsweetened coconut

a couple handfuls of cilantro leaves

salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and onion.  Once the onion begins to soften, add the chayote and carrot.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chayote and carrot have started to char and become tender.

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2) Add the garbanzos and pumpkin seeds, and cook for a couple minutes more.  Add the lime juice, then the cumin and cinnamon, and stir.  Finally, add the coconut and cilantro, salt and pepper.

Serve alongside some rice, Asian flatbread such as naan or roti, or with some tortilla chips and salsa.  If you chop the chayote and carrots smaller, this would also be a great taco filling.

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I can see a lot of you thinking how weird this dish is.

Okay, maybe it is…  But it’s delicious.

It draws inspiration from Mexican and Southeast Asian cuisine.

It’s hearty, kinda sweet, kinda smokey, a little tangy.

Trust me.  Trust in Cha-Cha.

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Never Too Late November 4, 2012

Filed under: Interestin' Food Info,Recipes — rabbit @ 4:58 pm
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Ideally, I would’ve posted this two or three days ago, when the timing was more appropriate.  But y’know, stuff gets in the way.  I’m sure he won’t mind…

So I realized the cusp of October and November will from now on be particularly special.  Dad’s birthday is October 31st (Halloween!).  And the Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) takes place November 1st and 2nd.  (Um, duh, Dad was Mexican.)

Among a bazillion other things (including but not limited to: how to drive, how to get achieve a good credit score, how to give an obviously homeless person something to eat, how to break someone’s nose should they attempt to molest me, etc.), Dad taught me how to make tamales.

It starts with love.  Like the immediate love one feels for a rescue puppy…

Okay, sort of.  And no, that’s not my puppy…  But for reals, it starts with a very finely ground cornmeal known as masa.  And traditionally, it is mixed with some kind of soup broth and… LARD.  Ugh.  Well, I don’t really mean that.  When it comes to old-time standards, one would raise a happy pig, kill it (hopefully as quickly as possible), and use all parts of its body– meat, organs, fat,and bones.  Food chain ethics, y’ know?  That ain’t the case today :(

But I find non-hydrogenated palm shortening works.  Try Spectrum.  Or if you have an ethical source of lard…?  I dunno, I eat lettuce for lunch, I’m not really the person to ask about this…

Anywho.  Then the masa dough gets spread into soaked corn husks, and filled.

I filled the masa dough with roasted butternut squash and Mexican farmer’s cheese.

(In the last couple of years, Dad would frequently buy buy butternut squash for his rabbit girl.)

Then you wrap it up so the dough seals itself around the filling:

And tie it up, and steam it up.

Tequila shot, optional.

Basic Tamale Recipe

3 cups masa harina*

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening

3 cups vegetable broth

25-30 dried corn husks, soaked in water for a couple of hours*

heatproof, food-safe twine or string (or if you want to deal with tying corn husk strings, be my guest)

filling of your choice, but nothing too runny

*You’ll probably have to go to a Latin or Mexican grocery store to find the masa harina and corn husks.  If you want to try tying the tamales with the husk itself, once you’ve soaked them, take a few and just tear them into strips.  It takes a little practice to efficiently tie a corn husk string, which is why I suggest twine.  But whatever floats your boat.

1) In a small bowl, whisk together the masa and baking powder.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl, beat the shortening until fluffy.  With a rubber or silicone spatula, start mixing in the masa.  Once it’s getting too dry and difficult to mix, start mixing in the broth.  You want to end up with a soft, kinda pasty dough, so add the broth gradually, until you have a good consistency.

2) Place a steamer basket at the bottom of a large, deep pot.  The higher you can place the basket, the better, so if you want, put some kind of heavy objects that will survive being boiled underneath.  Fill with water to just below the bottom of the basket.

3) Assemble the tamales.  Spread a few tablespoons of dough onto the center of a corn husk.  Your husks might be large enough to put more dough.  Just make sure you stay in the center so the husk can fully wrap around.  Leave enough empty husk at the bottom to be able to fold it up and tie.  Place a bit your filling on the dough, just enough so that the dough will still be able to encase it.  Wrap up the corn husk so the dough covers the filling.  Fold the bottom tail up and tie it securely.  You can leave the top open.  Set aside and repeat until all your tamales are ready for steaming.

4) Place the tamales in the steamer basket, standing on their bottom.  Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and steam for about an hour, adding more water as necessary.  They’re ready when the dough is firm.

Serve with sauces and sides of your choice– salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, guacamole, etc.  For fillings, you can try spinach, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, different types of cheese, etc.  Whatever you use, make sure it’s cooked already.  You don’t want liquid seeping out the dough while the tamales steam.

This recipe makes enough to feed four people, maybe more, depending on appetites.  You can store leftovers in the fridge or freezer, and heat in the oven.  So it makes a good weekend project to be able to have tamales at your disposal.  Awesome?  Yes.

Oh, and Happy Belated Birthday, Dad.

P.S.  These are by far the hottest chipotles I’ve ever tasted:

La Morena indeed…

 

Cinco Recap May 7, 2012

Filed under: Random — rabbit @ 9:08 pm
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I will tell you this: I behaved.

I even helped!

I made guacamole at Jabel’s party.  Jabel is a fellow Mexican.  Well, I can’t quite say “fellow” Mexican because I’m only half by blood, and American by birth.  But sometimes my beaner spirit comes out.  Apparently, it shows in my guacamole.  Everyone ate that shit up.  And here’s a secret (which is no longer a secret…): that was the first time I ever made guacamole!  I know!  I’ve used avocado in soup, hummus, stuffed it, and probably done some other crazy stuff you shouldn’t even know about…. that’s not true, I’ve been pretty sane with avocados up to this point.  But I’ve never made guacamole until May 5, 2012.  Where’s my diploma?  Oh, right, sitting idly on the dining room wall.  Sorry, English degree.  At least I can spell.

Then there were my spinach and mushroom tamales.  Or, if you wanna be Mexican about it, “tamales de espinaca y hongos.  Con salsa chipotle”.  With chipotle sauce.  There.  That freakin’ sauce, meng.  So yum.  The tamales dried out since I had to make them the day before, but hey, that’s what the sauce was for.  I saw that coming…

Sombrero stacking…  I’ve got a chola/chonga expression on my face.

Now I’m on crack.

Whoa.

If I get/steal more pictures, I’ll post them.  But I would like to note that the highlight of my weekend was a six year old girl calling me and my friend Shawn “sexy”.  Very awkward, and very cute.  Maybe it’s because we randomly sang a Lion King song in front of her.  I vote Little Mermaid next time.

Update:  Yup, stole more pics…

Dude with the ‘stache, Juan, did an awesome Cheech impression.

I have no explanation…

And my favorite:

I feel like Tata and Drew are always trolling us…

 

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.

 

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…

 

 

Flowers, Watermelon and Cheese August 3, 2011

Filed under: Interestin' Food Info,Recipes — rabbit @ 12:26 pm
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I totally experimented today.  Which reminds me, last week I ate a peach with Dijon mustard and I liked it.

But this experiment is more complex.  It begins with the fact that I found freakin’ dried hibiscus flowers at the ghetto Latin grocery store.  Win!

Yes, hibiscus.  You know that Tazo Passion tea they sell at Starbucks (as well as the tea bags in grocery stores)?  The main ingredient that makes it so wonderfully fruity and tart and lip-smackery is hibiscus flower.  In Mexico it’s called flor de Jamaica, while in Jamaica, they call it sorrel.  Hibiscus tea is consumed all over the world, actually; India, Cambodia, West Africa, Egypt, Sudan, Brazil, etc.  Mostly places where climate is warm enough for the flowers to grow, I assume.  I’m a HUGE fan of the stuff.  Hibiscus tea is naturally caffeine-free, although very refreshing when iced, and when served hot, I find it energizing.  It’s a natural diuretic, and is definitely a good addition to your diet when you need a detox.  Lots of vitamin C too.  And for people like me who have a hard time making themselves drink enough water, iced hibiscus tea is a nice alternative.

Because of its fruity tang, I often ponder over what I can create with hibiscus.  Today, I decided to do a sweet and spicy reduction.  I combined a quarter cup each of the flowers and sugar in a saucepan.  Dashed in some cayenne pepper, ground cloves, coriander, cinnamon, basil, thyme, and black pepper.

Added a cup of water and set it to boil.  I let that bubble until most of the liquid was evaporated and it had a syrupy consistency.  I was tempted to use some wine in addition to the water, but decided to see what this would taste like as is.  It came out nice.  Sweet, spicy, not too much heat, and a floral hint.  I do think it needs more tang, so maybe I’ll replace some of the water with lime juice next time.  It smells kinda like barbecue sauce.  ^_^

So that’s the first part of the experiment.  The second part is inspired by all the watermelon and feta salads I’ve been seeing on other food blogs.  I even tried to order it last night at a wine bar but they were taking it off the menu because not enough people ask for it.  Sca-rumph.  I wanna try cheese and watermeloooon.

So I did it myself.  Jerks.

This is actually a watermelon and goat cheese salad, accompanied by tomatoes and drizzled with the hibiscus reduction.  All the watermelon and feta salads I’ve seen are often dressed with lime, mint, basil, or cilantro.  I had to be a little different.  The goat cheese part is just because it was the only cheese in the fridge.  And who doesn’t like goat cheese?  C’mon.

The verdict?  I was kinda whatever about the watermelon being in the mix, but otherwise totally loving the hibiscus with the goat cheese.  Really liked it with the tomato.  I think instead of watermelon, pineapple and/or strawberries would be awesome.  Or various tomatoes.  Or sweet potato!  Aaaahhh…  I’m so Mexican.