Birthday Shenanigans, tofu squares and phyllo fuck ups

So for those unaware, last Wednesday was my birthday.

*pauses for applause*

Ever since breaking up with my girlfriend last year, I haven’t been particularly concerned with birthday’s – honestly, that was always her kick, not really a big thing for me. To be honest, my birthday should be about my mom, who did the work…I didn’t have much to do with the process.

After enough text messages and calls though, I had to acquiesce and throw myself a party. My poor non vegetarian friends would get another chance to sample some more of my awesomeness, and I’d get an excuse to clean the townhome and cook some more recent ideas.

I received the first idea from Lindsay over at The Kitchen Opera’s, and wanted to do some phyllo dough ‘nests’  filled with herbed Chevre and caramelized onions, topped with balsamic reduction and truffle salt.

Phyllo fuck ups

The Pieces

Prep Time: 5 minutes, unless you suck that hard at cutting onions, then its 10

Cook Time: nearly an hour, all told

Feeds: About 6 drunks and 2 stoners. If I had to guess.

  • 8 oz Chevre, or other herbed goat cheese
  • 4 large sweet onions
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 8 oz or so of Phyllo dough, properly defrosted and separated
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (not EVOO, or canola, just regular fucking Olive Oil)
  • PAM, or some other spray non stick stuff

The Puzzle

Theres a reason I call this ‘recipe’ Phyllo Fuck ups. I fucked up. The original idea had been to use a muffin tin, place a few sheets of Phyllo inside, and have cute little nests.

Turns out I don’t have a muffin tin.

How this happened, I’m not entirely sure, but in a fit of improvisation I just used a few cookie sheets, and layered the nests so they were closer to sandwiches. So it wasn’t a complete disaster…just didn’t turn out quite as pretty as I’d hoped for

Lets be quaint and call this 'not the best presentation ever'

0. Preheat your oven to 400

1. Dice your onions (all four)

2. Heat your 1/4 cup of oil in a large flat bottomed pan – once its hot, but not smoking, reduce the heat to medium-high

3. Add the diced onions.

4. Stirring every 5 minutes or so, cook for about 30 minutes. By this time the onions should be quite wilted and browned

5. Add 1 tbsp sugar and stir to coat. Cook for another 10 minutes or until nearly black and sweetly caramelized. Set aside

6. Tear a bunch of phyllo sheets to create a 3″ square bed

7. Form your assembly line, pictured below.8. For each pasty, fill with a decent amount (no more than 2 tbsp) onion, top with crumbled Chevre, then finally a phyllo ‘hat’

9. For your cooking sheet – even if its nonstick, spray it down. Then once the pastries are placed on top, spray again for that golden brown color

10. Bake until golden brown, or about 10 minutes – during this time, make your balsamic reduction by simmering the vinegar with the last tbsp of sugar until reduced by half

Laura taking point on the balsamic reduction...in a rather stabby way

11. Once the pastries are done, drizzle with reduction, top with your crazy ass expensive truffle salt I just convinced you to buy because it will change your life and enjoy!

I’m kind of glad to get that one out of the way. Don’t get me wrong, they were tasty – damn tasty – but just…a mess.

Breaded Tofu Squares with Spicy Peanut Slaw

So, even before I started those little piles of fail, I’d gotten my tofu ready for the finale by marinating the slices in a mixture of peanut sauce, soy sauce, and Sriracha (affectionately referred to as ‘Cock Sauce’ around the house). The sauce was simple, the prep time low, and presentation was quite nice. Definite success.

The Pieces – Sauce (use half for marinade)

12 ounces pre made thai peanut sauce.

8 ounces low sodium Soy Sauce

4 ounces Sriracha (or more depending on how spicy you like it)

The Rest of the Pieces

8 oz bag of Panko Bread Crumbs

2 12 oz packages Extra Firm Tofu

1 fresh cucumber (although I guess ‘fresh’ is a given. Unless it was a pickle…)

1 16 oz package Broccoli Slaw

2 tbsp Olive Oil

The Puzzle

0. Toss your broccoli slaw with your sauce (this is half the mixture I listed in the ‘sauce’ section) and set in the fridge for at least 30 mins

1. Drain your tofu. Slice it in half horizontally, then cut vertically to achieve squares. Line up in your casserole pan, pour the marinade on top, as pictured.

If you don't have enough marinade using half, add more soy sauce

2. Once the tofu has marinated for at least an hour, dredge it in panko breadcrumbs

Whats with the hammer, you say? Good question

3. Heat your oil in a large flat bottomed pan and pan fry the tofu in batches til golden brown on each side

4. While this is happening, slice your cucumber thinly and as your squares come out of the pan, top them with one cucumber slice

5. After all the Tofu’s been cooked, top with a cute little pile of the broccoli slaw, thusly:

Let cool in the fridge for about 5 minutes, and enjoy!

I’ll be linking some new pics  here so check ’em out!

Hot Pepper on Pepper action

mmm…yeah baby…

Can you feel it?

Yea, you feel it.

Now run your hands down your hips…and pull off those ribs. A little lower, tease those seeds out and toss ’em on the floor, lets slip into something a little more comfortable.

Like…another pepper. Kinky, right?

Just wait.

The Pieces

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook time: About an hour

That watermelon in the back was frozen and juiced for dessert - FUCK YES I RULE

Serves: A shitload of drunk people. 12 or so.

  • 2 habanero chile’s
  • 3 jalapeno’s
  • 6 large bell peppers (I used 2 red, 2 green, and 2 orange)
  • 1 large white onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 1/2 cup fresh peas
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1/3 cup toasted and crushed pistachios
  • 1 cup burrata
  • 12 oz veg stock
  • 2 cups brown rice, cooked
  • 3 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • salt to taste

The Puzzle

Now, there are two ways you can do this: Vegan and Vegetarian. I went for the vegetarian route, since I had some left over cheese (think gouda infused with black truffle, look me in the eye, and TRY TO SAY NO), but if you leave this out you’ve got a damn tasty vegan dish on your hands

0. Preheat your oven to 375

1. Start chopping. Brunoise your carrots, celery, jalapeno (nifty trick here – slice in half lengthwise, then use a spoon to scoop out seeds and ribs), dice your onion, hull your peas, then open up your bell peppers end to end as shown in the pic below. Remove the seeds and ribs here as well, but leave the stems for effect. Looks nifty, and Jaime Oliver did it, so its cool.

Watermelon's in the freezer now, chillin

2. Boil your rice until its nearly done, but not quite, and set aside

3. Toast your pistachios. Use a nonstick pan on high heat, and toss constantly or they will burn. And you don’t want to be THAT asshole at the party.

4. Let the pistachios cool – you’ll need to crush them up later. I’d suggest pulsing in a food processor a few times – I had to use a fucking lemon juicer, and I don’t want to talk about how that went.

5. In another wider pan, with a lip on the sides at least an inch high, heat your oil til its nice and shimmery. Now the dangerous step…if you have plastic gloves, use ’em. If you have a vent above your stove…turn it on NOW. Seriously. I want you to break the habaneros in half…and put them in the oil. Just for a few minutes, long enough to season the oil, then get that shit out, or you’ll light your face on capsacin fire.

6. Add all your chopped veggies (NOT the rice/bell peppers. Don’t be silly now.)

7. Once the onion’s translucent, add your spices. Let them coat the veggies, then ‘deglaze’ by adding your veggie stock, followed by the rice.

8. Cook this down til nicely combined, about 5-10 minutes on medium high heat, then (if vegetarian) add the burrata

9. Stuff into your pepper halves, and line them up on either a baking sheet or ideally in a casserole dish thats been lightly oiled

10. Grate whatever cheese you like on top (remember that truffle infused gouda? OH YEAH)

So purty

11. Bake for about an hour, or until crispy crunchy.

Taken in a great hurry, as they were disappearing fast...

LA Vegan

Shot stolen from Yelp of the front

I’ve been eating here for a considerable amount of time, and after today’s meal, I absolutely had to share my thoughts with teh interwebs.

To begin, its a small unassuming dime a dozen vegan thai restaurant. Next to a pet shop, its easy

The famous orange chicken, image also stolen from Yelp.

to miss – but once you’ve eaten here you’ll see why its become an obsession. There are a number of dishes I’d consider worth trying, but the most famous is the orange chicken.

Pictured on the right, the batter is just phenomenal. I shit you not – first time I tried this, I freaked out thinking I’d accidentally eaten regular chicken. Typical soy chicken texture is shite – and the same is true here, except in the orange chicken. It has to be the way they fry it, but its quite deceptive.

The lunch special comes with a salad, brown rice (FUCK YEA) and these awesome little dough pockets of potato and honey.

Other recommended items include the Green Curry, their corn pancake appetizer, dumplings, and, most recently, their PHO!

You heard (or…err…read. Since I’m not actually speaking to you…) me right – PHO!

I’d all but given up hope since going vegetarian that I’d ever taste the wonder of Pho, since it is, by nature, a dish consisting of meat broth and meat chunks. I didn’t truly believe it could be made vegetarian and still be considered Pho, but they fucking did it. And goddamn well.

Admittedly its a simple dish – a spicy broth with Soy Chicken, rice noodles and onion. You get your side dish of sprouts, chile’s, thai basil and lime, and some assorted sauces, usually Hoisin and Sriracha – all told, a mythical experience. Whether your hungover or just sick, this is the magic juice to burn out what ails you.

You can see just how good it is since I couldn’t wait to take the pic til I was nearly through the meal!

The staffs nice, the locations convenient, delivery is free, the food is good.

Pay attention to the daily specials – its quite evident they care about their food here.

Info:

Website

Yelp

Epic Veggie Sammie

Made this as a vehicle for some fresh home made mozzarella I picked up from Andrews Cheese Shop on Friday (Review incoming, fucking love that place) but ended up actually not putting any cheese in, and it turned out to be a spectacular (and nearly vegan) vegetarian sandwich.

The Pieces

Prep Time: 15-20 mins

Cook Time: well…if you count toasting the bread…5 minutes? Its a fucking sandwich

  • 1 8 oz  tub Roasted Garlic Hummus
  • 1 italian loaf of bread
  • A pile of sliced pepperoncinis – call it 6 oz
  • A handful fresh basil leaves, enough to coat your bread twice
  • 1 julienned red onion
  • A handful of pickles. For best results use 3 ‘stackers
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • Fresh cracked black pepper

The Puzzle

1. Slice out a portion of the italian loaf about 6×8 inches, cut clean in half (as pictured)

2. heat some olive oil in a pan and sear the bread lightly (as you would a grilled cheese sandwich). Set aside.

3. Julienne your red onion

4. Dice your giardiniera

5. Wash your basil

6. Spread your bread with hummus, and layer one side with half your basil, and one side with your giardiniera

7. Layer red onion (no more than 10-12 slices) and pepperoncini’s on top of the basil

8. Top this with another layer of basil

9. Layer your pickles on top of your giardiniera

10. Drizzle the olive oil over both sides, same with the vinegar. Crack some fresh black over both.

Just...pretty

11. Combine your sandwich halves

12. Grab a glass of white wine, sit outside in the afternoon sun, and fucking bask in sandwich valhalla.

Its blurry cuz its on its way into my MOUTH

WTFucked Vegan Scramble

I apologize for any kind of hiatus, I worked well over 200 hours in 2 weeks – not that I have some massive reader base to appease, but for what its worth, I’m back with a vegetarian vengeance.

This is something I threw together around 1:30 am after a crazed run to Ralphs with some fellow foodies. Its Vegan, so relatively healthy, but I can’t vouch specifically for caloric content, given my status as resident fatcat.

Damn skippy, bitches

The Pieces

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 20 mins

2 large russet potatoes

2 large zucchini’s (is that even the proper plural?)

2 jalapenos

1 red onion

2 limes

1 bunch fresh cilantro

1 red bell pepper

1 orange bell pepper

A few slices sprouted vegan bread for toast

The Puzzle

1. Break down your jalapenos. To do this easily:

  • Split the jalapeno from stem to tip
  • Drag a teaspoon down the center, removing the ribs and seeds
  • Slice lengthwise, evenly
  • Turn sideways and dice into a brunoise

2. Dice your onion. To do this:

  • Slice in half, from stem to stem
  • Take each half and slice it into half again.
  • Lay the half you are breaking down flat on the board and slice 90% of the way into it laterally
  • Spaced a quarter of an inch apart slice downwards, cutting towards the root, but again not all the way – we need that root to hold the onion together
  • Now slice about a quarter of an inch apart parallel to the root
  • Notice your awesome dice! (pictures to follow on the technique page)

3. Roughly chop up some cilantro

4. Combine this with the onion and jalapeno – squeeze both limes over the top of this mixture, and set in the fridge for at least 30 mins

5. While that shit marinates, peel your potatoes

6. Using the largest side of a cheese grater, grate both the potatoes and zucchini over some folded up paper towels. This will need to drain for a while.

7. Julienne your bell peppers

8. Heat a nonstick skillet on high, and throw your onion mixture (sans oil) in there. Use the lime juice to saute until lightly browned. Remove and set aside.

9. Now the interesting part – combine your  potato/zucchini mixture with the bell peppers. The natural moisture of the potatoes/zucchini, despite them being dried, should allow you to form very loose patties (think diner hashbrowns). Form at least 2 of these quasi burgers and get them into your still warm pan.

10. Once fully browned on both sides, remove and top with the now cooled onion mixture.

Healthy and filling. This shit’s the tits, even if my recipe sucks.

And now I present this funny baby.

Ha. Funny baby.