Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Festivus!

The video is finally finished after multiple setbacks!  Sorry about the quality.  We are away from our usual equipment.

Onto the recipes...  This salsa is really good and perfect for winter when the tomatoes are pink and disgusting.  Letting it sit overnight is non-negotiable.  The flavors have to mesh, but it's worth it.  I like adding lime right before serving to make it taste extra fresh.

muy caliente!
30 Second Salsa
28 oz can diced tomatoes, rinsed and thoroughly drained
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded or not, roughly chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup tightly packed cilantro
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 tsp salt
lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, pulse the tomatoes, garlic, jalapenos, onion, cilantro, vinegar, and salt until the consistency of chunky gazpacho.  Pour into a bowl and refrigerate overnight, the longer the better.  Right before serving, add the lime juice and taste for salt and pepper.

Ginger Balls are a variation of Oreo Truffles.  Super easy to make, which works great for a party.  Save money by using store brand cookies and buying chocolate chips in bulk.

Ginger Balls
1 pkg creme-filled ginger cookies (like Ginger-Os)
8 oz vegan cream cheese
12 oz (generous 2 cups) semi sweet chocolate chips
crystallized ginger, chopped

In a food processer, chop the cookies into fine crumbs.  Add the cream cheese and blend until combined.  Scrape into a bowl and refrigerate for 45 minutes, until easy to roll into balls.  Roll into balls and place in the freezer until firm.  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave (stir every 30 seconds).  Dip the balls into the chocolate and top with ginger.  Freeze until solid.  Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Spiced Caucasians are just a holiday tradition at our house.  There really is no measuring.  Just add as much alcohol as you like.  Here's what I do...

Spiced Caucasian
lowball glass
1 oz coffee liqueur like Kahlua
1 oz espresso vodka like Seagram's
vegan nog
freshly grated nutmeg, optional

Fill the glass with ice.  Top with liqueur and vodka.  Fill will nog.  Stir.  Top with nutmeg, if so desired.  For a truly caffeinated version, try Mocha Kahlua!

I hope everybody has a great holiday season!  Happy Festivus and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

First Full Day in SA and The Monterrey

Era and I made great time during our drive to Texas.  We left California on Thursday night at 8 PM (two hours behind schedule).  The dogs were whining like crazy for the first couple of hours.  I drove us all the way to Deming, NM and we were only an hour behind schedule.

By the time we left for Texas on Friday morning, we were right on schedule.  Friday night I spent inside watching Psych with my sister.  Correction: I fell asleep about 15 minutes in because I was exhausted.

Saturday was our first full day in San Antonio, and it was packed with things to do.  We woke up and went to the Farmers Market at the Pearl Brewery.  So much fun!  After we bought some things, we walked around the extended Riverwalk.  It's awesome on that side (no tourists).  It was a crisp morning so we stuck around to eat some food from a local cart.

Era resting on a bench, a gorgeous view of the Riverwalk, the entrance to The Grotto, and fish suspended over the Riverwalk
After our trip to the market, we visited my in-laws.  It was great to see them!  I love them so very much.  Mrs. C. was making us food and tortillas before we even sat down.  We talked for a bit and saw Era's sister, niece, and nephew.

Then, we headed to The Monterrey.  Our friend, Albert, is head chef over there.  When everything was still in the planning stages he was telling me how varied the menu is and that there was a good mix of vegan food.  The Monterrey is basically San Antonio's answer to a gastropub.  It's a truly gorgeous setup.  There's a back patio with tons of tables and a real comfortable vibe.  Just ignore the online menu because it changes all the time.  There is guaranteed to be something substantial and vegan/veganizable on the menu, though.

This was our first trip, and Albert treated us right.  First, he sent out the Housemade Pickles and French Fries.  When ordering the pickles, be sure to mention you are vegan and do not want the kimchi.  The fries come with anchovy mayo.  Simply ask for ketchup, but you totally won't need it!  They are coated in this DELICIOUS seasoning.  Some of the best fries I've ever had.

pickled radish, daikon, carrots, and shiitake and maitake mushrooms
seasoned to perfection and perfectly crispy outside with a tender inside
Next, he sent out the Smoked Root Vegetables and Celery Jam.  Seriously.  This was insanely good.  I was scared because I am always finicky around smoked veggies.  However, this was amazing!  It was smoked striped beets, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, and turnips.  So damn delicious!  I must make smoked striped beets sometime soon!  Gah.  The celery jam paired beautifully with this.  The pictures from this point on do not do the food justice. Trust me.  It was magic!

smoked root vegetables with celery jam
The final dish that he sent out, as we grabbed our bellies in full and happy delight, was Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Chili Sauce and Peanuts.  Whoa.  Best sprouts of all times!!!!  So tasty!  The peanuts were finely chopped and created this peanut sauce taste.  The Brussels sprouts were flash fried so they had a crispy outside and were the perfect vehicle for the sauce.  I wanted to live in this magical sprout land!  We started digging in before I realized we needed pics.

delightful!  splendid!  magical!  awesome!
We enjoyed our meal with a limited edition Dogfish Head Squall.  Tasty as hell!  This place is perfect.  Great atmosphere, fantastic food, and a wide range of beer and wine.  Plus, there's a wide range of pricing.  We're planning on heading back there with family and friends before we go back to California.

After the Monterrey, we went to Limelight because Era had a gig there.  My sister, brother-in-law, and brother showed up.  We danced the night away and got to burn off some food calories.  Haha.  It was a truly exciting and exhausting first full day home!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Appetite for Reduction Lurve

I'm still reeling from MoFo.  I've spent the last 10 days chilling out, baking, and getting ready for our Texas trip.  I felt compelled to post today because I opened up Appetite for Reduction, and had the Caesar Salad with Eggplant Bacon.  Basically, I'd like to have Isa's babies.  That ish is AMAZING!  It's so good.  Plus, 1 serving is only 100 calories.  I had 2 because the salad was that good!

don't trust the simplicity, this thing is loaded with flavor
And some other stuff from when I tested.  I didn't take nearly enough pictures, though.  I think this curry was my first tester.  It was so damn good.  And I love love love the jerk asparagus!

Caribbean curried black-eyed peas w/ plantains and jerk asparagus
The Goddess Niçoise was probably my favorite tester.  It was so colorful and seriously delicious.  This is what I love about Appetite for Reduction...the salads are so frickin' delicious and filling.

just a gorgeous plate of awesome
This is the Pineapple Collards with what I'm pretty sure is the Red Lentil and Root Veggie Dal.  It was delish.

pineapple collards and dal
I've already mapped out our New Year's meal and it will be this plate of awesome.  Prolly even some cornbread.  Mmm.

hottie black-eyed peas & greens and ginger mashed sweet potatoes & apples
I also loved the Surefire Seitan so very much.  Ooh!  And the Tempeh Helper...and the Basic Baked Tofu!  I can't wait to make more from this book because I only tested around 15 recipes or so.  Bad tester!

This blog is probably going to be pretty quiet until January, but I just bought some books (Vegan Soul Kitchen and Yellow Rose Recipes) and received a copy of Caribbean Vegan.  I'll be cooking up a storm and giving reviews and all that.

Ooh, and I'm hoping to film and put up an ultra nerdy Festivus episode while in San Antonio.  I hope everybody is enjoying December!  I'm still catching up on blogs, and it feels like I'll never be done.

Happy Friday!