What I made tonight

Everything made from scratch.

Mmm corn tortillas, refried beans, sauteed peppers, guacamole, sour cream and Cholula, how I love thee.

I also made some last-minute Mexican-inspired couscous as a filler. Red didn’t seem keen, but I think it was pretty tasty, personally.

Advertisements

Spaghetti and Beanballs with Charred Red Pepper Sauce

I have made the beanballs from Veganomicon a couple times now, and it wasn’t until dinner tonight that I was convinced that they’d go into my recipe arsenal.  I’ve stayed pretty close to the original recipe, but I’ve made some changes to ingredients and preparation methods and have decided that they turn out best cooked they way I made them tonight.  Also, the charred red pepper tomato sauce complemented the taste of the beanballs quite well.  Overall, tonight’s dinner got top marks.

beanballs and red pepper sauce

I’ve outsourced the photo-taking responsibilities to Red, since he just got a new digital SLR.  He was unaware that the focal point of the dinner was, in fact, the beanballs, so they’re sort of marginalised in the pic above.  Put your pitchforks away; he’s learning.

Ingredients

  • 1 tin kidney beans, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest (or a squeeze of lemon juice)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp HP sauce (or steak sauce)
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • porridge oats as needed to firm up the mixture whilst kneading (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp oil

Step One Preheat the oven to 190C.  Mash the kidney beans with a potato masher until all beans have been smashed.  The beans should not be completely smooth, though.  There should still be identifiable kidney bean parts (mostly the skins).

Step Two Add the rest of the ingredients except the oats.  Mix with a fork.  Add oats little by little with one hand while combining and kneading the mixture with the other.  Continue adding oats and kneading until the mixture is soft but firm and holds together.

Step Three Form walnut-sized balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and flip the beanballs over.  Put back in the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve with a marinara sauce over pasta or in some bread as a beanball sub sandwich.

And now for the Charred Red Pepper Sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 1 red pepper, charred and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dry basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • a zig of agave nectar (about 1/4-1/2 tsp)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped roughly

Step One Hold the red pepper over a gas hob with some tongs to char the outsides a bit.  You can also do this in the oven by placing the pepper on a baking sheet under the grill.  Don’t blacken it too much.  Also, you can just skip this step completely if you want.  Just make sure you fry the red pepper a bit longer than you would otherwise in step two.

Step Two Heat the oil in a small-to-medium-sized pot and cook the onions for 4-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.  Add the red pepper and cook for 1 more minute.

Step Three Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot except the fresh chopped basil.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  As soon as the sauce has come to heat, lower to a simmer and cover the pot.  Simmer over the lowest heat setting for 10-15 minutes.  Stir the fresh basil in through the mixture at the very end of the cooking time and remove from the heat.  Serve over pasta.

Mmm o’clock.

Caribbean Corn and Pea Curry

So, I paid a visit to the Afro-Caribbean store in Southside the other day and picked up a plantain (I love plantains, like whoa) and what I thought was a sweet potato.  It looked sort of like a sweet potato, but it wasn’t marked.  I figured the worst it could be was a yam, and I could roll with a yam.

But when I skinned it and cut it open, I was in for a traumatising result.  I thought, ‘Hm, this might be a yam.’  And in the time it took me to exit the kitchen, enter the living room, say to Red, ‘I’m not sure it’s a yam, either’, and make it back to the kitchen, the not-yam had sprouted what can only be described as root-vegetable blood which had promptly turned a mouldy colour.  Horrifying.

So, I was left with a plantain. Excellent.

Tonight’s dinner was a lesson in ingenuity and good-pantry keeping.  And, to my very pleasant surprise, it ended quite tastily.

Corn and Pea Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe plantain (yellow), sliced lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • Half a small tin of sweet corn
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2-inch ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • Half a bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 50mL water, plus more as needed

Step One Heat oil in a big pot.  Add onion and sweat over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.  Add garlic, ginger, and red chilli flakes and fry for an additional minute.

Step Two Add thyme, bay leaf and 50mL of water with a bit of salt.  Stir and cover the pot.  Turn the heat down to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.

Step Three Add the rest of the ingredients, stir to combine.  Add water as necessary to make the consistency just barely on the soupy side of not-sticky.  (I know this probably makes no sense.  Basically, make sure that the mixture isn’t sticky and burning onto the bottom of the pot, but don’t add so much water that your curry turns into a stew/soup.)  Turn up the heat to bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cover.  Simmer for another 5-7 minutes.

Serve with/over brown rice.

Yields 2 servings

Next time I might make it with scotch bonnets instead of chilli flakes and call it Jamaican.

Vegan Nachoooooosss!

All from scratch.

Nachos

Well, mostly from scratch.  It’s not like I rolled my own tortillas before making the chips or anything.  But I did make the chips. Impressed yet?  All recipes yield enough for two servings worth of nacho components.

Tortilla chips

  • Four whole wheat tortillas
  • Oil for brushing (I used olive)
  • a couple teaspoons liquid aminos (optional)
  • freshly cracked sea salt

Step one Cut your tortillas into chip-like shapes

Step two Brush both sides of all chip-like shapes with a bit of oil (with liquid aminos mixed in if you’re using)

Step three Place on baking sheet and crack sea salt over chip shapes

Step four Bake at 200C for 14 minutes. Flip over chips and bake for another 14 minutes.

Guacamole

  • 1 Ripe avocado
  • 1/4th of a small tomato (or more to taste), chopped
  • the juice of half a lime (or the entire lime, depending on how juicy it is and how zingy you like your guac)
  • 1 SMALL clove garlic, minced
  • freshly chopped coriander leaves to taste
  • freshly cracked sea salt

Step one Combine avocado innards, lime juice, garlic and salt in a bowl.  Mash with a fork until smooth

Step two Stir in chopped tomato. Refrigerate until serving

Tofu Sour Cream (Yields a big batch. Maybe have loaded baked potatoes for dinner tomorrow. And then mushroom stroganoff the next day. And then more nachos the day after that. And then maybe some mushroom stroganoff again.  You might have used up all the sour cream by this point.)

  • 385g Silken Tofu
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 5 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend everything until smooth. Refrigerate.

Refried beans with red pepper and onion

  • 1 small tin kidney beans (drained weight 180g)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon hot chilli powder (more or less to taste)
  • salt to taste

Step one Heat oil over medium-high heat in a pan and chuck in your onion, pepper and garlic.  Saute for 4 minutes.

Step two Add your seasonings to coat the onion/pepper mixture.  Add your drained beans and stir to combine.  Saute for a minute or so (until the beans are heated through).

Step three Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher until all of the beans have reached a sensible mashy consistency.

Compiling the nachos

1) Layer a plate with tortilla chips

2) Put the bean mixture on top.

3) Shred vegan cheese on top. (I forgot to mention, you have to buy some vegan cheese…)

4) Microwave for 30 seconds (to melt the cheese).

5) Dollop your guacamole and sour cream on the nachos.

6) Top with jalapenos.

Arriba.

Beans and Rice (part 1)

I had a ridonculous day today.  It started off well enough viewing flats in Wandsworth, but then when Red went to meet up with his brother who had come to London for the day, I resolved to get something done that I’d been putting off all week: taking back the fan we recently bought at Argos that stopped working.  Needless to say, it was no easy task, and I ended up carrying it for nearly a mile and then taking it on the Tube clear across London when the manager at the Argos near me was being an uber bitch.  For more detail about THAT situation, refer to my poetic rendition of the day already posted on Yelp.

So, after my day of intense aggravation and needless travel on London transportation, I thought to myself, ‘There is nothing I would like more now than an alcoholic beverage’.  So I picked up some cider on the way home and started drinking.  By myself.  After all the scornful walking and hauling ass up stairs on the Underground whilst carrying a cumbersome fan sticking out of its box and dodging tourists, I managed to burn off the paltry caloric intake I’d taken in earlier in the day, so the cider went right to my head.

But, being the kitchen warrior that I am, I perservered and managed to pull off a wonderful dinner in the slightly intoxicated state that I was (am) in.  I should add that I chop things a lot faster when I’m a bit drunk.  Although I do realise that I am lucky to have not lost a finger.

Down-South (American, that is) Beans and Rice of Delicious:

Yum-o-clock

Ingredients

  • 1 green pepper, chopped roughly
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • 200g chopped tomatoes (I use a small tin or half a large tin)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp hot sauce (or to taste… I would recommend Tabasco, but I’ll be honest and admit that I used Nando’s Hot Peri Peri Sauce)
  • salt to taste
  • 70g firm tofu
  • 3 tbsp liquid aminos
  • water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • additional oil for deep frying

Step One A Press about 70g of firm tofu, then cut into little bits/strips (to simulate bacon bits).  Marinate for 30 minutes in some liquid aminos and water in a mug.  Deep fry for 3-4 minutes, until crispy.  You don’t need a deep-fat fryer for this, as the quantity is so small that you can just pour about 3 or 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil into a small pot and fry the tofu up in that.  Drain and set aside.

Step One B Cook two servings’ worth of brown rice.  For the absolute best, foolproof way of cooking brown rice, click here.  (After you’ve read the instructions on that link, if you’re wondering the measurements I use for two perfect servings of brown rice, it’s 115g brown rice to 180mL water.)

Step Two Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pot.  Add your pepper, onion and garlic.  Saute for 4 minutes.  Add your tomatoes, cumin, thyme and bay leaf, cover the pot with a lid and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Remove lid and chuck in your hot sauce, salt and tofu bits.  Move everything around with your spatula to make it look like you’re doing something important.  Remove the bay leaf, while you’re at it.

Step Three Serve with rice.

Delicious time.

Red said that the tofu bits simulated bacon surprisingly well, which was the goal.  Score 15 for experimental vegetarian cooking.

Crock Pot Chilli

Crock Pot Chilli is a big hit in this household.  It’s made of some general components, and then more components can be added on a whim, usually to great effect.  Best served with brown rice or corn bread, it can also be served with some buttery bread if I’m feeling lazy, which is less nutritionally sound than brown rice but delicious.

Crock Pot Chilli

Basic Ingredients

  • 1 tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 green pepper, roughly chopped
  • 227g tinned chopped tomatoes (usually available in a small tin at the grocery store)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 T vegetable oil
  • 2 t bottled minced chilli (or 1 t chilli powder, or if you like things really hot more.  or if you have that wussy chilli powder that is actually only a little bit chilli powder and mostly cumin, add definitely more than just 1 t.)
  • 3 t cumin powder
  • 2 T water

And to zest things up this time, I added

  • 3 t tamarind paste
  • 10 cherry tomatoes (because I bought a carton of them the other day and saw them sitting there in my refrigerator when I went to get the tamarind paste)

Step one Warm up slow cooker.  Heat up the oil in a pan and cook the onion, green pepper and garlic for 2-3 minutes over medium heat on the hob.

Step two Transfer onion/pepper/garlic mixture to slow cooker.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir.  Cover.  Slow cook on low for 6 hours.

Yields 2 servings

 

See, I love this recipe, because it’s so easy, and I usually have all the ingredients on hand.  Have some sweet corn?  Chuck it in there.  Want to sweeten things up but don’t have tamarind?  Squirt in some honey or throw in some brown sugar.  Have some potato you want to use? Chop it up, chuck it in, and add a bit more water (also, you might have to increase the cooking time by an hour or two).  Want to get a little more south-of-the-border?  Add some coriander and paprika.  More mediterranean?  Try oregano and a bit of basil.  Love bay leaves?  Put one of those in there too.  How much do you really like tomatoes?  You could add some tomato paste in there as well.