Friday, November 06, 2015

Fried Tofu Tacos, Homemade Chili Powder and More

Fried Tofu Tacos with Tomatoes and Pickled Onions; Steamed Veggies and Pumpkin Seed Mole

To make the Fried Tofu, drain and pat dry 1 block of extra-firm tofu before cutting in to 1" cubes. Gently toss the cubed tofu with about 2 T. tamari and then, in a clean, dry bowl, toss the tofu with a mixture of cornmeal (no more than 4 T.), garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika and ground cumin. Fry in a lightly-oiled iron (or non-stick) skillet for about 8 minutes. Keep the heat at medium and turn the cubes to brown on all sides. A pair of tongs seems to work best. The fried and breaded tofu is delicious as a taco filling, obvs, but also useful for stuffing in wraps or adding cold to salads.

Fast and Furious Pumpkin Seed Mole: Toast 1 cup of raw pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet, shaking often to avoid burning. When the seeds are browned and puffed they're ready to be transferred immediately to a nearby plate. After the seeds have cooled for a few minutes, place them in a blender of processor and pulverize until roughly chopped. Now add 2 tomatillos (previously broiled for 2 or 3 minutes), 1 plum tomato (chopped), 1/2 small onion (chopped), a huge handful of cilantro, 1/2 t. dried epazote leaves, 2 t. ground cumin and 2 serrano or jalapeno peppers (chopped). Puree until relatively smooth; the salsa will have a thick, slightly coarse texture. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Use as a condiment, dip for chips and or as a sauce for cheese enchiladas.

Iron skillet cornbread is a bowl of chili's best friend at Cafe Drake HRV. So you can probably guess what's next.

Now, let's make our own Chili Powder. Far superior in flavor to anything you'll find in the supermarket spice aisle, homemade chili powder will keep for up to 6 months, stored in a tightly sealed container at room temperature. We use ALOT of it around Cafe Drake HRV and usually triple the recipe. For longer storage, we simply toss it a zip-lock bag, label and keep handy in the freezer. To begin, we're going to need 6 ancho chilies. You can find them in almost all supermarkets, any natural foods stores and of course at Mexican grocers and bodegas. Stem the chilies and shake out all the seeds. You'll want to do this either over the sink or the garbage pail. Place the whole chilies in a large, dry skillet over a medium-low heat. Add 3 T. cumin seeds. Roast carefully, flipping the chilies often and moving around the seeds, for 3 or 4 minutes. The chilies should be crispier and toasted. Remove quickly to a dry surface and allow the chilies and seeds to cool. Transfer then to a blender or spice grinder and add 2 T. whole coriander seeds, 1 t. garlic powder and 1-2 T. smoked paprika. Grind away until you get a coarse powder.

Store your homemade chili powder at room temperature in an air-tight container for up to 3 months.

Try your new and spiffy and HOMEMADE!! chili powder in a variety of dishes. Sprinkle generously on roasted vegetables or scrambled eggs. Litter atop a bowl of piping hot popcorn. Recreate a Mexican street food classic by dousing fresh fruit (pineapple, mango, papaya, melons, pears) with the chili powder and a few pinches of salt.

Chili, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Pan-Fried Cabbage with Apples and Cornbread

Chili at Cafe Drake HRV is topped with sour cream, either the dairy kind bought at the store or a vegan batch whipped up at home.

CAFE DRAKE HRV's CHILI OF THE MONTH 

Heat a large pot over a medium flame and add 2 T. olive or coconut oil. Toss in 1 onion (diced) and 2 cloves of garlic (sliced). Cook for a couple of minutes and then stir in 1 green bell pepper (chopped into small pieces) and 2 jalapeno peppers (sliced thinly). Continue cooking, stirring often, until the peppers begin to soften. 

Add 1 28-oz. can of whole plum tomatoes, crushing them with your hand as you drop in the pot. Fill the empty can with water and slosh that in as well. Now season with 2 T. chili powder, 2 T. sugar, 2 T. cocoa powder, 2 T. tamari, 1 t. cumin powder, 1 t. dried oregano and 1 t. cayenne pepper. Stir well and then add 1 14-oz. can of pinto beans and 1 bottle of dark beer. We use Guinness but any stout or dark porter will do.

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Throw in 1/4 - 1/3 cup bulgur wheat. The bulgur lends the chili a decidedly "meaty" texture. Stir again and cook gently for 30 minutes.

Remove the pot from heat and add 2 t. liquid smoke. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and add more water or vegetable stock if your prefer a thinner chili.

VEGAN SOUR CREAM

Soak 1 cup raw cashew pieces  - don't waste your money buying the whole nuts for this recipe - in water to cover by 2 inches for about 2 hours. Drain the cashews, rinse well and place in a blender.

Add to the cashews 1/4 cup water, 2 t. apple cider vinegar, 1 t. lemon juice and about 1/4 t. fine sea salt. Blend until very smooth, adding a few more drops of water if needed. It may take up to 4 minutes to obtain a truly silky texture depending on the strength of your blender. Add more salt if desired.

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