Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cooking For Elliot: Mexican Vacation (in my house)

When I decided to change careers - and tell television production that it could talk to the hand while I moved on to the higher calling of social work - I didn't realize that things like money and traveling would also be talking to the hand. Just not my hand. You know what I mean. Anyway, these days vacations are limited but my desire to get the hell of town isn't. So I've started assembling full menus that make me feel like I'm actually going somewhere. Tragic maybe, honest yes. Here's lil' man Elliot feeling what I'm talkin' bout. Make it sunny wherever you go:

I'm in my mind.

So in the spirit of catching an imaginary wave, and since the NYC weather is finally shifting from completely depressing to mildly dysthymic (See how I threw that in? What I lack in cash I make up for in an expensive graduate degree.), I figured we'd start our magic carpet ride with a trip to Mexico. My apologies if you're actually from Mexico because no doubt this is a sad, sad interpretation of your culture's food stuff. And while we're on the subject of lack of cultural competence, I'm also going to throw in an "ole!" And believe it or not, this menu is totally kid friendly. No scary Sandals resort required.

April 3, 2011

"Huevos" Rancheros
(wheat/gluten-free, nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free, vegan)

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Lime Dressing
(gluten/wheat-free, nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free)

Mexican Bean and Corn Casserole
(wheat/gluten free, nut-free, dairy free, egg free, vegan)

Cinnamon Rice Pudding
(wheat/gluten free, nut-free, dairy free, egg free, vegan)

"Huevos" Rancheros (Adapted from
4 corn tortillas or other gluten-free tortillas
12 oz. of extra firm tofu
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oil
1/4 cup roasted green pepper, diced**
1/3 cup onion, sliced
1 tsp. of oil for caramelizing the onions
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 tomatoes, diced
1 tsp. lime juice
1/2- 1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 sprig of cilantro, chopped

Vegan cheese (Daiya brand is an excellent soy free alternative)
Sliced avocado

**An easy way to roast any pepper is by roasting it over the flame of your stove's burner. Using tongs with a heat resistant handle, grip pepper and hold over open flame. The skin should start to blacken and blister. Keep turning the pepper using the tongs until evenly blackened. This process takes about 10 minutes. When pepper is evenly cooked, place in a paper bag until the pepper is softened (about 30 minutes). Remove from paper bag and carefully remove blackened skin. Remove seeds. Slice or chop as needed.
Heat up a sauté pan to a medium heat without oil. Toast the tortillas in the pan until they are slightly crisp.
Heat the oven up to 350 degrees and toast the tortillas in the oven on the rack until they are crispy.

In a metal bowl, mash the tofu with a whisk until it is crumbly.
In the same sauté pan you toasted the tortillas, add in the oil and the tofu and cook it on a medium high heat. After about three minutes, add in the turmeric, salt, and roasted green pepper.
Reduce the heat to medium.

In a sauté pan, caramelize the onions on a medium high heat.
Once they start to brown, add in the diced tomatoes, garlic, cumin, and lime juice. Reduce the heat to medium and cook these for about five minutes.

Once these are cooked, mix the tomatoes, garlic, and onions into the scrambled tofu and cook together for about five minutes.
Remove this from the heat and immediately add in the cilantro and freshly ground pepper. Stir these together.
Serve on the tortillas and top with vegan cheese, salsa, and sliced avocado. 

Fish Tacos with Spicy Lime Dressing
4 corn tortillas or other gluten free tortillas
1 lb white fish
6 tblsps fine cornmeal
1/4 cup brown or white rice flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup canola or olive oil
3/4 - 1 cup vegan mayo
1 packet Simply Organic Taco Seasoning
Juice and zest of one lime

Shredded cabbage and carrots
Spring salad greens mix
Sliced avocado

Prepare dressing by combining all ingredients (adjust mayo and seasoning mix to your taste) and set aside.

Warm tortillas in ungreased pan and set aside. 

Heat oil in pan until almost smoking. Cut fish into approx. 2 inch wide chunks and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dredge in cornmeal/flour combo. When oil is hot, add fish and cook on each side until cooked through and cornmeal coating is golden brown. Remove from oil and place on plate with paper towel to drain excess oil.

Spread dressing on tortilla, add fish chunks, and toppings to taste.

Mexican Bean and Corn Casserole (Adapted from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair)
1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 red or green pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped zucchini
2 tsps ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup organic tomato sauce
1/4 cup water

3 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup polenta (finely ground cornmeal)
1/4 cup shredded vegan cheese or vegan parmesan
To make the beans: Heat oil in pan. Add garlic and saute until golden brown. Add beans and cook until heated through. Add cumin powder and sea salt to taste.

To make the veggies: Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, and salt and saute until soft. Add pepper, zucchini, cumin, and oregano; saute 5 more minutes. Add beans to veggies with tomato sauce and water. Adjust salt as necessary.

To make the polenta: In a separate pot, bring water to boil. Add salt and oil. Slowly add polenta, stirring contiuously. Lower heat and continue stirring for 10-15 minutes until mixture is quite thick.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a lightly oiled casserole dish, spread bean and veggie mix across bottom. Spread polenta on top. Sprinkle with vegan cheese. Bake covered for 25 minutes. Increase heat to 400 degrees. Remove cover and bake 5 more minutes.

Cinnamon Rice Pudding
2 cups water
1 cup brown or white rice, rinsed
1 1/4 cups soy milk, rice milk, or other non-dairy milk of choice
1/3 cup real maple syrup or agave nectar
1 t. vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon (more for dusting)
1/3 cup raisins (optional)

In a medium saucepan, boil water. Add rice, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for approx. 35 minutes until all water is absorbed. Add remaining ingredients and cook until all liquid is absorbed. Scoop into individual serving cups and sprinkle with cinnamon.

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