Saturday, March 26, 2011

World Cuisine: Gyro & Paella

I have a lot of catching up to do, now that Meatout 2011 is over. There's been some heavy duty lovin in the kitchen that I must talk about.

Faux Meats:

There are a couple of camps in the vegan community about faux meats. Some people think it is okay when in transition, but that it is 'too processed' for normal consumption. Others feel that meat analogues, especially the recent, really good ones, are too much like eating animal flesh, and they therefore, eschew it.

Then there's my opinion. I love them. Abso-freakin-lutely love them. Boca crumbles for putting in chilis, and anything that traditionally calls for crumbled hamburger, as well as their 'chich' nuggets and patties for wraps; Gardein Chili Lime 'chick' strips for everything and their cutlets for piccatas; their 'beef' tips taste a little greasy when browned in olive oil and are perfect for gyro-type wraps:

I used a horseradish "mayo" (thank you Vegenaise), and veggies. It was sublime. Really.

The other faux meat I bow at the alter to is anything by the Field Roast company. What is an advantage to their products is that they are not soy based for those of you who have allergies issues with soy. The three flavors of their sausages are apple & sage, chipolte, and Italian.

For the paella, use the Italian. The fennel is what really replicates the flavor and in my personal opinion, the texture is as satisfying as it gets. By the way, this recipe is from the Conscious Chef by Tal Ronnan, and for copyright purposes, I cannot reprint it, but I'll tell you what is in it.

I have all but forsaken my All-Clad cookware in favor of a couple of Lodge cast iron pans and Lodge dutch oven. I cannot tell you how much I am in love with these. Not only can they fit any budget, they actually work better, and I can for most purposes, forgo the non-stick pans.

First, saute diced red pepper and onions:
While that is cooking, you can brown the 'sausage':

Oyster mushrooms are used to replicate mussels. Their stems are edible and have a chewy texture to them. Adding a sheet of crumbled dried nori, gives them a 'fishy' flavor:
The broth is added to the first pan as well as the rice. Although the recipe calls for "paella" rice, I used arborio, which is a risotto rice. It works wonderfully and adds a fullness to the dish.
A step that I don't have pictures for is the sauteeing of artichoke hearts in wine, lemon, and a little bit of Earth Balance. This substitutes for the chicken.
A little more cooking, combining all the ingredients and:
A paella that has all the flavors and textures of the traditional dish, yet none of the cholesterol or cruelty~

Meatout 2011

The first Taos Meetout Event was small but reached many people. it was held Saturday, March 19th at Cid's Food Market:

Thank you to our sponsors: Turtle Island Foods (Tofurky products), Follow Your Heart (Vegenaise), and We served Tofurky deli slices (black pepper flavor), Tofurky sausages, and had a beautiful potato salad made with Vegenaise. To wash it all down, chocolate Almond Breeze almond milk. BTW, the potato salad recipe is from the Peta Vegetarian Starter kit and is the best one I've come across~

We served approximately 200 people and gave literature out to about 150.

Spreading the word:

The reception we received was wonderful; many people were thanking us for getting the word out and were pleasantly surprised at the tasteful meat alternatives.

Even though there was a glitch with our media support (we got our press release in to the local paper by deadline, but it did not run), thanks to the great foot traffic, it was still a party!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Clouds & Cupcakes

It snowed Monday morning - a last gasp of winter. It was pretty dry here this winter, so the moisture was much needed. The mountains were hidden. It was that typical wet, spring snow.

And, a last gasp of baking - as I am really avoiding sugar lately: the Orange Buttercream (Vegan) Cupcake. It tastes even better than it looks. 

I'm flying out to Florida Thursday for my Mom's 70th birthday. It took 2 weeks of intense negotiating to get me a vegetable paella at the restaurant on her birthday. Really folks, it's just not that difficult.