Showing posts with label chillies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chillies. Show all posts

Aug 18, 2016


That's correct. I ran out of sriracha. This is the Trader Joe's version, but I am also out of the Whole Foods (Squirrel something) version and the Rooster version (the most popular one), as well. One might expect that I would simply add it to my shopping list, but I am committing to using less and less plastic, and I thought, why not start here??

It's not like sriracha is an essential ingredients. Yeah, right. Of course, it is!

As it turns out, Sriracha is very similar to sambal oelek and garlic chili sauce. All three start with the same red jalapenos, salt and vinegar, but that is where the similarities end.

Sambal Oelek is just the chilis, salt and vinegar, ground, cooked and packaged.

Garlic Chili Sauce is sambal oelek with garlic added, ground, cooked and packaged.

Sriracha is garlic chili sauce that is fermented for about a week, strained and sweetened.

As you can see, sriracha is definitely the most difficult of the three, as far as "difficulty" goes - I mean, it is just a matter of setting the ground chilis aside to ferment and then cooking it. I can think of things far more difficult than that. Like making dinner.

The real question is the issue of the chilis.

I could not find red jalapeno chilis anywhere (maybe because Huy Fong Foods has monopolized them all!) which is what the green top brand uses exclusively, so I had to settle for Fresno peppers and green jalapenos. I cut off the stems but left the crown of the peppers because they add a fruity flavor (so I read).

Then I ground them all with salt, vinegar and garlic. The salt is crucial in fermentation such as this because it prevents unwanted bacteria from forming while allowing the good bacteria to flourish. This is true for all vegetable/(some fruit) fermentation.

Then I packed it in a jar, covered it tightly with a lid and let it do its work. I stirred it (more accurately shook the jar) every day and waited. Tough, I know. After all, I was out of sriracha by this point!

After 5 days the mixture actually smelled like sriracha! I was very excited!

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You can see that the fermentation was working because there were bubbles everywhere, and that was before I shook the jar. Once I shook it this final time the bubbles were just popping up all over, very much like making rejuvelac.

At this point I added the whole thing to my blender, added the sugar and buzzed it until it was as smooth as I could get it.

Then it was just a matter of passing it through a fine (not very fine!) mesh strainer to remove any seeds or pepper skins and then cooking it until the desired consistency was achieved.

Now, admittedly there are a few things I will change when making it the next time:

1. I over fermented it, I think. A day less would have done it. This version turned out a bit too ripe.
2. I will change up the peppers next time. Fresno cost me $7 a pound and I used 1 pound of it, plus the green jalapenos. The cost was way too much. I'm going to try using red bell peppers with green jalapenos. It might be even better because the bell peppers are a bit sweeter.
3. I clearly didn't make enough. But when you are experimenting, you don't want to risk a bunch of wasted product.

Overall, I'm very happy to keep a few more bottles of plastic out of my life and this is so easy and simple to make that I don't hesitate calling this a win-win. For more information, I blog at Plastic Free Vegan.

Makes 1 1/4 cups

1 pound fresno peppers
1/2 pound green jalapenos
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup sugar

1. Cut the stems (but not the crowns) off the peppers and add them to a food processor. Add the garlic, vinegar and salt. Process until finely ground. Transfer to a 1/2-gallon glass mason (to make it easy to stir) and cover tightly with a lid. Place the jar aside, out of sunlight, for 3 to 5 days. Stir the chili mixture once a day and taste after three days. If it tastes fermented it is ready for the next step.
2. Add the chili mixture to a blender along with the sugar. Blend until very smooth. Transfer to a fine mesh strainer (not a very fine mesh) and pass all the mixture through as you possibly can. Don’t forget to scrape the underside of the strainer where pulp accumulates. 
3. Add the strained mixture to a medium saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat until it is at the consistency that you like. I reduced mine to 1 1/4 cups. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and sugar. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. 

*Note: I will update this recipe as I continue to update the process.

© 2016 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

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Sep 14, 2013

food trucks! koi fusion

Koi Fusion Food Truck is based out of Portland, Oregon. They dish up Mexican-Korean fusion food, with tofu as an optional protein. They started back in 2009 when the prospective owner contacted Kogi Food Truck owner in LA for some advice since he didn't know exactly where to start, but he knew he wanted to operate a food truck. The guy from Kogi was nice enough to advise Bo Kwon and help him get going.

No, this truck wasn't on the Great Food Truck Race. On any season. They were featured on the show Food Truck Revolution back a few years ago, but there are so many popular food trucks that not all of them can be on The Race, for sure.

This truck dishes up burritos, tacos, quesadillas, rice bowls and sliders. Although you can pick chicken, beef, ribs or tofu, if you are looking for vegan, or even vegetarian, you should ask for your dish without the kimchi.  Kimchi is the Korean version of sauerkraut. As it happens, kimchi, unless vegan, is made with fish sauce, so check ingredients and ask questions.

I made a variation on their K-Fusion Burrito. This dish has rice, marinated in soy sauce and gochujang , cheese, meat, kimchi, pico de gallo, bean sprouts and a secret salsa. That secret salsa I interpreted as a Korean Salsa. This is where the imagination I mentioned the other day comes into play.

Gochujang is a Korean, spicy, pungent, fermented flavoring made from chilies, rice and soy sauce. If you can't find any, or don't want to spring for a package, you can use something that all vegans have in their kitchen - Sriracha. Use less of the Sriracha since it is spicier, but be aware that the taste will not be the same, as the fermentation lends its own set of unique flavor.

This burrito was good, we really liked it, but, I'll be honest, it was equally very different. Which is good, since you want food from a food truck that IS different - something that pushes you beyond your comfort zone for at least a single meal. No commitment needed. Don't like it? Don't get it again. What are you out, a few bucks? As for making it at home, it might be a bit riskier, but then again, we should all live on the edge once in a while, ey?

Apr 1, 2013

frito chili pie with authentic vegetarian texas chili

Have you become tired of hearing that "authentic" chili has no beans in it, only beef? I certainly have had it! It might be true that back in the "good ol' days," while our forefathers were rustling cattle, there were no beans to be found on the range, only the animals who were being herded to be in the stockpot in the first place. But does that really mean that we should stop the progression and evolution of the chili? I think not. As times, tastes and even the human species evolves, it is time to redefine what "authentic chili" means. After all, we don't have live birds flying out of pies in the civilized world anymore either. Authentic, maybe; desirable, not.

Not only are legumes a welcome culinary and nutritional addition to chili, they are darn tasty to boot. 

So what makes my chili "authentic?"  In a thought, it isn't the animal products that make an authentic chili "authentic," but the spices, the chilies and, heck, I'll even agree to excluding tomatoes that have come to muddy down the chili flavors. But beef? Doesn't make the chili.

This chili has 7 different dried chilies, black beans, coffee and Tex-Mex spices such as cinnamon, allspice and cumin. Not a single muted chili powder in sight. That is what makes a Texan Chili authentic - not the cruelty.

And all this to make Frito Chili Pie, as requested by hubby. Frito chips are vegan and interestingly only contain around three ingredients. Healthy, maybe not, but really good. You can melt vegan cheese over the casserole or use my Cheese Sauce, which is the option we went with. Toss some jalapenos, lettuce, tomatoes and other taco ingredients on top and have a Tex-Mex feast.

Mar 1, 2013

king ranch casserole + "nut butter universe" winner

The above is a King Ranch Casserole, a Tex-Mex favorite, typically made of well-seasoned chicken, layers of cheese, and tortillas all in a creamy sauce. 

I used black beans instead of a chicken substitute because I thought it would work well -- and it does. It has layers of cheese, beans, tortillas, onions, chilies and sauce. Then to finish it off, it is topped with tortilla chips and baked until it is hot and bubbly. 
Really good, partner.  Overall, this is a very flavorful, quick and easy casserole to assemble. 

Cost Breakdown

beans: $4

tortillas: $2
cheese, tomatoes, onions, milk: $4
seasonings: $.25

Total to make 6 servings:


As for other business...

As some of you know, today is the day chooses the winner of Robin Robertson's brand new cookbook, "Nut Butter Universe," published by Vegan Heritage Press. You have got to love a publishing company that is vegan run! 

Here are a few more pictures from "Nut Butter Universe," 
in addition to the pics on the last post:

Power Ball Energy Bites

Peanut Butter Biscotti

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Pasta with Cauliflower-Cashew Alfredo

West African Peanut Soup

Mouthwatering, right?!?

If you are not the winner, please check back in case the first winner doesn't respond. 
Also, FYI, this book is available on Kindle as well! Neat!

I have to say that vegans have got to be the most creative commentators around! It must be all the BS we have to put up with daily defending the animals. You guys rocked with your nutty comments; I was literally laughing my head off. Well done!

Without further delay, the winner out of 45 comments is...
Comment Number 33 - Sambycat!

"A peanut sat on a railroad track,
His heart was all a-flutter.
The five-fifteen came rushing by--
Toot toot! Peanut butter!"

Please email me by March 3rd at veganaide at yahoo dot com.

Robin Robertson is also hosting a Nut Butter Universe Blog Tour! Head over to this link and be sure to check out other ways to win a copy of the book or get more inside info!

Nov 11, 2012

loaded nachos

Back in Texas, before we were vegan, or even vegetarian for that matter, David was supremely fond of Chili con Queso, cheese sauce with chilies. Having grown up near the border, he tends to be particularly fussy regarding Mexican-style food - especially this cheese sauce. 

I have been working on making a cheese sauce that does not utilize commercial brands of cheese such as Follow Your Heart and Daiya and still tastes like cheese; this is just what I have come up with. David was extremely happy and satisfied with this recipe, and if you have fond memories of creamy, velvety, cheese sauce, I encourage you to give this a try. 

The sauce is great as is, but because he was a dedicated fan of the Chile con Queso, I made this version with diced tomatoes and diced chilies. 

 The recipe uses roasted red peppers, which have a tendency to mold before being used all up, so after giving this recipe a try and deciding that it will be a regular meal ingredient, measure out your three tablespoons portions into ice cube containers or just mounded on a cookie sheet. Freeze and move the frozen mounds of red pepper into a freezer bag. Thaw a portion a bit before making a batch of the sauce and you won't again be reaching into your fridge only to find ruined red peppers.

We wound up licking the bowl clean and making it a requirement that the kids learn how to make this in order to ensure them a more delicious future. The sauce is easy enough to make and truly worth the effort.

Cost Breakdown

beans: $2
chips: $3
olives, onions, jalapeno, lettuce, avocado: $2.50
sauce: $2
tomato and chili: $2
Total to make 5 servings:

Apr 7, 2011

sweet and sour soup

Asian Night

Kate requested Hot and Sour Soup, but I wanted a spin on the stand-by favorite. I guess we were playing with words, but during menu making, someone must have said 'sweet and sour' instead of 'hot and sour.' Thinking, why not?, I made a 'Sweet and Sour Soup.' All the elements that make a great Hot and Sour Soup are in this dish, and so is the sweetness that makes a Sweet and Sour dish unique.

Instead of using vinegar to sour it, I used lime juice and tamarind. If you've ever had one of those big jars of tamarind in your fridge, I'm sure you have wondered what else besides Indian it can be used for. And although a little extra sugar at the end is fine in case the sweetness is not enough, I used crushed pineapples for the bulk of the sugar.

As for the heat, I used one Thai chili, just sliced in half not all the way through the stem, but not much else. My family, especially the kids, aren't as into spicy as I am. You may add as many Thai peppers as you like, however.

I used a well-pressed tofu (Tofu Xpress) so it doesn't fall to mush during cooking, mushrooms, broccolette, diced green beans and scallions.

Cost Breakdown

onion, garlic, lemongrass: $.75
mushroom, broccolletes: $3
tofu: $2
tamarind, tamari, lime: $.50
green beans, chili: $1
crushed pineapple: $1
Total to make 5 servings:

Mar 22, 2011

south american curry

It was Asian Night.

While I wanted to make curry, a few of the other family members wanted something a little different. Which is why I decided to fuse South America and Asia. A while ago I made Aji Paste from Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero and froze what I didn't use for the recipe. It was time to utilize it. A good Thai curry is based on a chili paste so it wasn't too much of a stretch to use the aji paste instead and incorporate other Latin flavors. 

In addition to the paste, I used cumin, oregano, garlic, lime juice, cauliflower, mushroom, bell peppers, green beans, cilantro and pressed tofu. Pressing the tofu properly (such as with a Tofu Xpress) will keep the tofu from falling apart in the broth during cooking. Another bonus using this machine. 

Although I used coconut milk, I kept it down to 1 can of lite milk and used vegetable broth to make up the difference. Since this would make for a very thin broth with no body, I added an arrowroot (or cornstarch) slurry to thicken it up to the consistency of coconut milk. This did not distract from the flavor and made it possible to cut down on the coconut milk.

I love lots of vegetables in curries and using the Latin flavors made it a little different.  A very satisfying meal with a twist.

Cost Breakdown

aji paste: $.50
onion, garlic, spices, herbs: $1
cauliflower, green beans, red pepper: $5
mushrooms, tofu: $3
coconut milk: $2
lime, sugar, veg stock: $1
Total to make 6 servings:

Feb 8, 2011

seitan and cheese enchiladas

Continental Night

On Saturday nights I like to make something from the Western Hemesphere, North American or South American.

Enchiladas are a wonderful way to present some of these dishes in a most delicious way. Another Enchilada dish I blogged about before had vegan cheese and spinach in a blue corn tortilla. This one has seitan, pan seared, and a combination of Daiya and Follow Your Heart. Melting the cheeses on the stove top first and then rolling them in the tortillas is the best way to make sure that your vegan cheese melts.

I made Red Rice for the enchiladas, using brown rice and baking the whole thing until the rice was tender. This took a little trial-and-error, having to add more water and then baking it some more, but I think I have the water to rice proportion correct now.

The refried beans are just pinto beans, with some sauted onions, garlic, cumin and water to thin the beans.
The enchilada sauce is just as simple using, chili powder, flour, water, tomatoes and onions.

This does not dissapoint. If you want to add sauted vegetables or tofu instead of seitan, it is all very workable and will taste great. Just make sure not to overfill the tortillas.

Cost Breakdown:

beans: $2
tortillas: $1
rice: $.50
tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeno, pepper: $3
seitan: $2
vegan cheeses: $5
herbs, spices: $1
Total to make 5 complete servings:

Jan 19, 2011

indian potato skins with curry of greens

Indian Night

I have been enjoying the Indian Nights on the menu, but this is the last official "Indian Night." Next week the Indian gets back onto Asian Night. Not that I've become an expert at Indian food, but the last weeks have certainly given me a wonderful taste for the different flavors and techniques that Indian fare favors. Besides the cooking, I think I've read at least a dozen cookbooks on the subject and I think I need to digest the info.

Tonight's meal is a fusion of sorts - Potato Skins with Curry of Greens. The potatoes are first cooked then broiled to get them crispy. Then they are topped with the curried greens. I used a combination of cilantro, kale, chard and collards. This came out very well and even the kids enjoyed it - some more than others depending on the offending green.

I served the meal with brown rice and sauteed mushrooms with Indian spices.

The curry paste was the most difficult part of this meal, and even that wasn't difficult, so all in all this was a successful meal: tasty, quick and easy.

Cost Breakdown

herbs, spices: $1
chilies, raisins, tomato: $1
nondairy milk: $.50
greens, mushrooms: $4
rice: $1
potatoes: $4
Total to make 6 servings:

Dec 25, 2010

indian rasam and cauliflower with creamy sauce

Indian Night

Rasam is a light Indian soup made with dal, tamarind and diced tomatoes. The dal (split legumes) is cooked  in lots of water and is seasoned with the sour tamarind and spices. When the dal is cooked well, it is whipped so it falls apart and sinks to the bottom of the pot. Tradition holds that you serve the clear, spicy, flavorful broth to guests and the 'dregs' are eaten by the family.

In our family everyone had some of both by stirring up the soup before serving.

The Cauliflower in Creamy Sauce is adapted from a recipe in Flavors of India, a nice little vegetarian Indian cookbook. This was divine. And oh so quick! While the cauliflower is steaming the sauce is made and then poured over the tender cauliflower. That's it. We all loved this version of a sauced cauliflower and it goes on our 'Make Again' list.

I also made the Saffron Rice right out of the same cookbook. I should have followed by instincts to use the amount of water to make the rice as I usually do, but instead I followed my rule of making something from a recipe as the author wrote it. Hence, I got overcooked rice. What a shame. The taste was great and the kids liked it, but you know mushy rice when you eat it.

The simplest way to cook white rice is to combine it with the water (1 c rice to 1 1/2 c water), bring to a boil, cover, reduce to simmer for 5-10 (Max!) minutes, turn it off and let it hang out on the back of the stove for another 15 minutes, covered. Fluff it with a fork and serve.

Cost Breakdown:

dal: $.50
spices, tomato, tamarind: $1.50
rice, saffron: $1
plant milk, cashews: $2
cauliflower: $4
Total to make 5 servings:

Nov 27, 2010

candle cafe (MoFo 17)

Candle Cafe started as a health food and vitamin store. It has evolved into a much loved Manhattan vegan restaurant that also has a sister fine dining place, Candle 79. They serve local, fresh food, all the while being eco-conscious and green. And then there is the food.

They serve a Mezze Platter, with hummus and tabouli, Chimichurri Sietan and a daily assortment of soups. Their main meals range from Teriyaki Seitan to Tuscan Lasagna. In other words, they serve a variety of seasonal dishes.

I chose to make Candle Cafe's World Famous Split Pea Soup. I happen to adore split pea soup and couldn't resist the World Famous one. I added some toasted croutons.

And what every soup needs is a sidekick - a sandwich. The Southwestern Chile-Rubbed Seitan Sandwich sounded right. The seitan is rubbed with a homemade chile paste and grilled. Then it is topped with caramelized onions and chipotle-mayo. This was outstanding. If you happen to have some seitan and chilies lying around, you know what to make.

And don't forget to enter to win a copy of "American Vegan Kitchen" on the T.G.I.Friday's post!

Cost Breakdown:

peas: $1
carrot, celery: $1.50
bread: $1
Total to make 5 servings:

bread: $1
seitan: $1.50
chilies: $1
tomato: $1
veganaise, garlic, vinegar: $1.50 
onion: $1
Total to make 3 sandwiches:

Split Pea Soup

Southwestern Seitan Sandwich

Nov 6, 2010

cafe flora (MoFo 4)

Cafe Flora is a Seattle  based vegetarian restaurant that opened in 1991. They built their restaurant environmentally minded, to reduce the their impact on the world community as well as their neighbors. They claim that part of their job is to help shift the consumption of animals to a more plant-based diet. They do not want, or expect, everyone to switch to vegetarianism, they do want more people to make it a viable and a more frequent choice to include plant-based meals into their meals. This is logical and very doable. Think about it: if everyone ate meatless meals on, say, ...Monday, how many animals would not have to be in the great animal husbandry industry?  How many less animals would have to be killed weekly? How many people would be so much better off with just one day a week of meatless meals? How would the earth be impacted by this one simple action?

If you haven't included Meatless Mondays into your week, I encourage you to do so this very coming Monday. Breakfast is a no-brainer. Lunch is very easy - soup, salad, sandwich - and for dinner come back here and pick something to make. Recipes are posted, pictures can help you decide and the food is good. Walking to work, changing your light bulbs and recycling are not the only things you can do to help the environment. And a Meatless Monday helps you as well as the animals. A triple whammy!

To help you get started, I am giving away a new copy of a Vegan Cookbook - Joanne Stepaniak's Vegan Vittles. This was one of the first cookbook I picked up ten years ago and it is one of the simplest, easiest to follow, containing very tasty recipes and a great way to introduce yourself to vegetarianism. Leave a comment and let me know what your thoughts are on Meatless Mondays. Contest is open to North American and UK residence and no, you do not have to be an omnivore to enter. Please enter by the end of Monday, Nov. 8. Winner will be announced Tuesday, Nov. 9.

On to today's recipes.

A signature appetizer of Cafe Flora's is the Coconut Tofu with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce. This was nice and coconuty, but not quite as flavorful as I was hoping. The tofu was a little bland, but the crust was great. I think making this with seitan would add more to the flavor. The breading is flour, coconut milk and ground coconut flakes.

Another more successful one was the Lentil Pecan Pate Platter. I know that as a vegan it is not likely that a Liver Pate would be on your Top 100 list of foods to recreate, but I am Hungarian and my dad was a great one for mixing together a chicken liver pate or beef get the gist. We had pig feet in aspic as the New Year meal... yeah.

So forgive me that I have been looking to make liver pate vegan. If you are one of the other dozen or so people in the known universe who is vying for this very thing, look no further than this recipe. You will need red lentils, mirin (rice wine), umeboshi paste (sour plum paste) light miso (Japanese fermented bean paste) and pecans. This is the real thing without liver.

As their signature dish, Cafe Flora presents Oaxaca Tacos with Black Bean Stew. They only make this veg so I adapted it to vegan. It is incredible how some mashed potatoes and black beans can be transformed to this delectable dish. They use real cheese, but I used a recipe adapted from Stepaniak's Uncheese Cookbook to make this soy-free and processed-free. This meal has many components, but they can all be done separately: Black Bean Stew, Smoky Muenster Cheeze, Mashed Potatoes, Salsa, optional feta adapted from Bryanna Clark Grogan's Feta recipe.

Cost Breakdown:

Coconut Tofu
ginger, seaweed, tamari, rice vinegar, miso: $1.50
flour, coconut: $1
coconut milk: $.50
oil: $2
chili, sugar:$1
Total to make apps for 5:

lentil: $1
onion, garlic, spice: $1
mirin, umeboshi, miso: $2
pecan: $1.50
onion, garlic, balsamic, sugar: $2
crackers: $2
Total to make apps for 8:

tortillas: $2
potato: $2
cheeze (cashew, agar): $3
black beans, corn, garlic, spices: $3.50
tomato, pepper, lime: $2
Total to make 5 servings:

Coconut Tofu with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

Lentil Pecan Pate Platter with Onion Confit

Oaxaca Tacos with Black Bean Stew

Oct 2, 2010

west indian

Indian Night

Back when we lived in Austin, a most favorite place to eat at was a little hole in the wall, a 'fast food' Indian place, called Swad. If you live in Austin and you haven't been, you must go! The prices are reasonable (just review your receipt as some mistakes are made) and food is outstanding.

One dish we would always get was the Ragda Patties, which is a Gujarati Indian dish. The dish consists of potato patties with a mint-cilantro middles served with a thick legume gravy. So tonight's meal was based on the Gujarati cuisine.

Gujarati is a western Indian fare, predominantly vegetarian and mostly overlooked; North and South India tend to be in the spotlight, while the west goes on about its merry way. What a treat to miss!

The ragda patties I made were delicious - it literally took me back to Swad. David thought so, too, and Kate loved it (although she was one when we lived there, so she couldn't recall the flavors), but neither of the other two liked Indian food back then and were themselves too young to remember even if they had.

The other dish I made was a green bean dish with Muthias. Muthias are little dough patties made of chickpea and wheat flour that are simmered in the green bean sauce.

I am completing the how-to on this meal since my pictures didn't turn out blurry. Yay! Indian food is made so fast that there is little time to focus properly unless you have a plan. I had a plan this time and will be posting the recipes and the pictures.

Cost Breakdown:
green beans:$2
flours: $1
chillies, ginger, curry leaves, mint, cilantro; $4
spices, seeds, sugar, lemon, tamarind: $2
peas: $1
potatoes: $3