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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"the best quesadilla ever"

first i should mention that these pictures were taken using my iphone just like the pictures of the vegan reuben that are in my last post. i have a proper camera that i will use to take pictures once i get a china ball to light up my kitchen. for now these shoddy quality snaps will have to do.

tonight i went to my favorite little locally owned grocery store, figueroa produce, to try some bbq that they have in from some guy named nick. the bbq was okay. i've certainly had better but for "california bbq" it was alright. i might go back on sunday when nick is doing a sampling of his full offering of bbq delights and taste the other items to see if there is something i like better but otherwise i will stick with bludso's which has, by far, the best bbq in los angeles. anyhow, enough about bbq. some of you are probably about to cry thinking of all of the dead animals. nom nom nom.

while i was waiting for my sandwich to be prepared i walked around and grabbed some fresh produce and decided to make a quesadilla.

to most people i assume a quesadilla is just a tortilla with cheese melted inside of it. these people are really missing out. this format can really provide a delicious means to get all kinds of stuff into your mouth. not just cheese. this vegan quesadilla is healthy and really fucking delicious. zane said it was the best quesadilla he has ever had. hence the title of this blog.

you can use whatever is in season and available locally where you are. eating local ingredients is really important to me and should be important to you as well. i had a swell of guilt the other day when i realized that gardein products (a really great vegan faux-meat line) come all the way from canada. you can imagine the strain that this might put on the environment... an environment that is also important to animals.

my ingredients were as follows.

one yellow spanish onion roughly chopped.

four zucchinis. these guys were smaller than i am used to seeing them. if they were average sized then i would have purchased two.

cut them up like so

two fresh jalapenos. sliced. if you want less heat then you should remove the seeds. that's where the big heat is.

one ear of fresh corn.

removed from it's cob with a sharp knife. like so!

three portabello mushrooms. stems removed and sliced into strips.

a couple of tomatillos. if you don't have access to these then you could use a regular tomato but these are sooo delicious. i cut mine into little pieces. 'little' is the technical term. oh and remove their little outer leaf thing first. i don't think you're supposed to eat that!

these are purple potatoes. they are sooo pretty. one of my favorite ingredients to use. if you don't have purple potatoes available at your local grocer or farmer's market then you can use ANY potatoes.

slice your potatoes into thin slices. about twice as thick as a kettle potato chip. i think i used two potatoes. the above picture is misleading.

a little daiya cheese...

and last but not least..

tortillas! these were in size ginormous. also a technical term. ginormous.

heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat while you are chopping your onion. add your onion and jalapenos to the pan and begin to caramelize.

when the onions begin to look clear and magical add your sliced potato.

salt to taste and don't forget to stir occasionally.

in a second pan add a teaspoon or so of oil and over medium-high heat begin to cook your cook zucchini.

allow zucchini a minute or two to get started before reducing the heat to medium and adding your portabellos. season with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes until mushrooms and zucchini are soft.

in the last moments of cooking your potato mixture you should add the tomatillos.

i used a little bit of daiya cheese on zane's quesadilla and a little bit of non-vegan cheddar cheese in mine. i am convinced that daiya cheese gives me a little bit of a stomach ache but zane loves it. it's also possible that my stomach ache was caused by the fact that the last time i ate it was after consuming a great deal of alcohol and then eating it on about 8 slices of pizza... i will definitely eat it on occasion but i had some leftover cheddar to use so i went ahead and finished it off.

my stove has a griddle in between the burners so that is what i used to melt the cheese and form the quesadilla. if you don't have a griddle then any pan that fits your quesadilla will be fine.

a few sprinkles of cheese is the most that i recommend here. the vegetables should be the star of the show. cheese is just a little treat and helps hold your tortilla in place. do not PILE cheese on or it will get greasy. =(

i folded my quesadilla into a half moon and set my heavy pan that i cooked the potato mixture in on top of it while it was on the hot griddle to help hold it together/press it down.

cut into three or four slices and ta-da! magical vegetable quesadilla. we ate ours with a little bit of fresh pico that i bought at figueroa produce. their house-made salsas are awesome. i was wishing that i had an avocado to slice and put on top. next time..

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

scientists grow bacon from stemcells

so read this:

scientists grow bacon in a lab using stem cells from pigs

apparently some dutch scientists are using stem cells from pigs to grow meat in a lab. let's pretend that said meat is delicious. vegans-- would you eat this? the article says that it has the potential to greatly reduce the need for slaughterhouses if they could make it work. pretend that there are definitely no health risks (aside from the health risks associated with consuming any bacon) associated with this lab meat and that it tastes delicious. does it still violate your morals in regards to your food consumption?

vegan reuben sandwiches

i guess there is some kind of a 'war' happening in los angeles over which vegan restaurant has the best vegan reuben. i have tried two of them so far.

the first (and best) was when zane and i stopped by Locali to grab sandwiches on our way to a movie. their vegan reuben is on marbled rye bread and somehow magically the "meat" slices on it are the same color as actual corned beef. zane remarked that he had no idea what kind of meat they were using. i'm pretty positive that they are using some kind of a standard vegan deli slice and that they are dying it using beets. at least this is what i did.

the second vegan reuben sandwich that we tried was at Follow Your Heart which is a vegan grocery store in the valley with a little restaurant inside. their vegan reuben was pretty tasty but it didn't have pink sandwich meat. maybe this seems silly but i think that a big part of tricking your brain into believing that faux-meat that you are eating tastes like the real thing is whether or not it also LOOKS like the real deal. this is a big part of what made the locali reuben the winner for me.

sometime last week zane asked me if i wanted to go with him to get another delicious locali reuben and i suggested that we make them instead. i don't think that our recipe is exactly perfect yet but i wanted to go ahead and share it anyway. it's pretty fucking good even if it's not as good as i think it could be. i'm really looking forward to making them again and improving upon what we did. i think we have a really solid base recipe that anyone could easily pull off and add to in order to make it their own.

this is what you're going to need:

as much basic tofurkey deli slices as are needed for the number of sandwiches you are going to make. we made about 6 sandwiches and used about 2.5 packs of tofurkey slices. i think we could have packed more faux-meat into our sandwiches.

a few red beets

plain old white vinegar

a jar of sauerkraut. we used bubbie's sauerkraut (available at whole foods) and i thought it was a little too mild tasting. next time we will probably buy a cheap one and hopefully it will be more sour tasting. reubens are sour! some people don't love sauerkraut and if that is the case with you then the bubbie's brand might be your best friend.

thousand island dressing. vegan recipe to follow.

daiya cheese. daiya is the best of all vegan cheeses. it melts and behaves a lot like a real cheese. stretchy and all. you don't have to do anything special to it. pretty magical.

a loaf of delicious rye bread.

earth balance or other vegan margarine.

quarter the beets, drizzle with oil and salt them generously. place the beats into a baking dish and add about 2cm of water to the bottom of the baking dish. cover tightly with foil and place into a preheated 375 degree oven for approximately 40 minutes. this will create a dark pink liquid that you can use to dye your tofurkey slices. it will also provide you with some roasted beets that you can put into a salad. beets keep really well so use them the next day to make something healthy to help you get over the stomach ache you might have from eating too many delicious reubens.

while you're waiting for your beets to cook you should whip up your thousand island dressing. you will need----

3/4 cups of vegenaise

1/4 cup of silken tofu

3 teaspoons of finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons of minced yellow onion

2 tablespoons of minced dill pickle

1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon of horseraddish (optional)

1/2 teaspoon of chili oil (optional)

3 tablespoons of ketchup

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon of vegan worcesheshire sauce
(honestly can anyone spell that. i can't!)

put all of that stuff in a bowl together and stir. you can taste and add more or less of any of the ingredients until you get the flavor that you like the best. cover and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble your sandwiches.

when your beets are fork soft and sitting in a puddle of dark pink liquid then they are ready to be removed from the oven. remove the beets from the liquid and set them aside in another container.

allow the liquid to cool in the baking dish. add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the baking dish with the pink liquid and stir with a whisk. begin to add the tofurkey slices to the liquid a few at a time and allow them to soak a few seconds. you may need to flip them over to get them really coated. once they are evenly pink set them aside in the dish and add new slices for dying. a little bit of liquid goes a very long way here.

ta da! vegan "corned beef" all thanks to our friend the beet!

we used our deli slices right away to make our sandwiches. you could marinate them overnight if you like and you could even take it a step further and add some brining spices to the marinade. real corned beef is brined and cooks for a very long time. brining is where a lot of the flavor comes from and i think that next time i make these i will try to brine the deli slices. it might be a disaster. we shall see.

at this point you will be ready to assemble your sandwiches. a couple of final steps before you are ready:

generously "butter" one side of each slice of your rye bread using your vegan margarine.

using your hands squeeze excess liquid from sauerkraut and set into a bowl.

now you are ready to generously load your sandwiches with your vegan corned beef (this goes on first) and then your daiya cheese, then sauerkraut and then lots of delicious vegan thousand island dressing. really you can do it in any order but that's how we stacked ours.

heat a large skillet over medium heat and place the sandwiches into the pan. use another pan or heavy lid to press the sandwiches by placing it directly onto the sandwiches like so

leave them in the pan a couple of minutes on each side until toasty and golden brown. slice in halves and eat!

we served ours with a basic warm red potato salad made with herbs, olive oil, mustard and a little vegenaise.

and here are my happy loved ones with their meat-free vegan reuben sandwiches.

i want to try to use a similar concept to make vegan corned beef hash for breakfast this weekend. if we get around to that we will blog it! thanks for reading and feel free to ask questions if anything was confusing. =D

so here's the deal with this vegan blog nonsense.

hi! i'm annaliese and i will taste anything. there is pretty much no food that i have ever encountered that i was too afraid to take a bite of and i can't think of anything that i will not eat. except for veal and i'm not even dogmatic about that. i'm claustrophic so i relate to the plight of the veal. i've probably only had it once in the last ten years.

lately i find myself increasingly surrounded by people with diets that are a lot less inclusive than mine. in addition to being a very enthusiastic consumer of all of the world's culinary delights i also spend a fair amount of time in my kitchen cooking for people who i think are neat. lately, i am cooking a lot of vegan and vegetarian things.

my best friend is a neurotic jewish mall goth named jenna. she's a vegetarian. jenna likes cheese, pasta and garlic bread. i'm also dating a vegan guy. he'll eat anything as long as an animal isn't involved but he still eats honey (i told him this is bad, guys!) he wants to change his name to vegetables. i'm not making this up.

anyhow-- i am not big into measuring so the recipes that i post here will be kinda loose. maybe i will get better at that as time goes on. also, keep in mind that some of these things will be a little on the trial and error side. ALSO! i eat out a lot. a lot of this eating out involves delicious vegan things. i'm gonna post about that too. this should be fun for all of us. i'm going to stop rambling, publish this post and start my vegan reuben recipe post now. =P