FOOD fit for a Rockstar

Deena Kamm's recipe book and always evolving food philosophy

Vegan Souvlaki with Cilantro, and Cucumber Tomato Feta Salad

August1

Okay – I made this two nights ago and I really really liked it – I found to recipe for a chicken version in one of my many many many magazines, and thought I’d see what happened if I used tofu instead.  It worked.  It was super good.  Here it is:

1 package of Organic Extra Firm Tofu (cut into cubes wide and thick enough so they don’t fall off a skewer on the bbq)
8 warmed pita breads

Marinade:
small bunch of fresh mint chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon coriander Seeds
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 cup plain soy yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & pepper

Dressing
large bunch of fresh cilantro, plus extra for serving
1 cup plain soy yogurt
juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoons of olive oil

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add Tofu to the bowl and smother with marinade. Cover and chill overnight or longer – up to three days if possible.
Preheat your BBQ and set to medium heat. Thread tofu chunks onto skewers leaving space in between. Cook them until they look yummy and charred, about 7-10 minutes turning a few times so all sides get some direct heat. It’s not meat so you can’t undercook them, but the longer you can leave them without burning the juicer and crispier they will be. Push tofu off skewers into a bowl.
Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a food processor until it forms a smooth green sauce.
I cut thin slices of raw onion and had chopped cilantro on the table too. Then I put all the parts on the table (pita, tofu, dressing, cilantro, onion) and let everyone build their own sandwich! I also had a simple cucumber salad that we ended up adding to the sandwich because it was so so good. Here’s what I did for that:

1 cucumber chopped into quarter slices
1 heirloom tomato diced into big chunks
1/2 medium onion sliced thin
oregano (I never measure – sorry)
Feta Cheese crumbled (if you’re going for the Vegan version obviously leave this out. It really doesn’t need it.)
mix together and serve in a bowl.

That’s all there is to it – it was really easy and I have to say – I was shocked at how great it came out. Most meat recipes that I replace with tofu don’t come out like the original meat version of the recipe. This totally did and I would even go so far as to say it was better. That’s right – I said it.
Sorry I can’t credit the magazine or chef who made this recipe – I cut it out and only kept the parts I needed. But I can say – I didn’t change anything except replacing the dairy and meat. That’s rare for me. I WILL be making this again only next time I’m going to try to make my own pita bread. I can’t find a good organic pita bread and it will make or break the dish.

Husband Rating Souvlaki 3 star:gold-stargold-stargold-star “So close to 4 stars, but the Pita Bread taste like a USPS Priority box .”

Husband Rating Cucumber Salad 4 star:gold-stargold-stargold-stargold-star “Delicious Refreshing. Too Good to call salad.”
Kid Rating 4 smiley faces “ooooh this tofu is so yummy.”

Vegan Enchiladas

July28

I WISH I had a picture of all the steps I took to make these little lovelies, but I don’t have any.  I was too busy cooking and eating.  I hate when I get caught up in the moment and forget that I might want to post my creation.  Oh well – use your imagination… They didn’t LOOK particularly special anyway.

Timing: I have made these three times now and I can tell you they came out amazing both times and I did something different each time.  One time I made them for a big dinner party I threw and I made three trays – one for kids (with cheese) , one mild and one super spicy.  They went over huge with everyone in the room.  BUT let me just say – they are time consuming, so get a glass of wine going and don’t be afraid to do everything but assemble early in the day so you don’t put any stress into your food and onto the plate.  Assembly also takes time.  Don’t think you can do whip these up in under an hour.  Give yourself about two to three the first time you make them.

First the sauce: I have learned that sauce is sauce is sauce is gravy.  (Vegan Gray is so easy to make.  I’ll do a post on that soon.) Enchilada sauce is nothing more than regular gravy (however you make it) with the addition of tomato paste, Cumin, Oregano, Chilli Powder and fresh chiles if you want to add more heat.  (My Momma taught me that – I called her with no idea what I was doing and she gave me a quick rundown and I was off… as usual, Mom comes to my rescue in the kitchen.)  I don’t measure. I know that’s not much help, but use your nose.  You’ll figure it out.  And taste it!!  If it’s boring add more spice.  Make the sauce first so it has time to thicken and the flavors can blend a bit.  When you think you have it where you like it, set it on a flame-less burner and come back to it when you’re ready to put the dish together.

The Filling: I always like use whatever I have in the house but I will say don’t use mushrooms – yuk.  I tried that once and pulled them all out once we were eating them.  Here are some basic ingredients: saute diced onions and minced garlic (always – with everything) add chopped up zucchini or other summer squash, corn (frozen is fine, but add it last) carrots (must be cooked first – I usually chop and steam them) black olives, chopped chiles or jalapenos,  if you have and eat Kale put it in – small shredded Kale is great in stuff like this – you can’t taste it but your body loves you for it.  Saute away until everything is soft and cooked well through, add some of your sauce to start getting it juicy and looking like pot pie filling, add chopped cilantro when your mixture is done cooking and cools off just a bit.  Turn off burner and set aside.

Tortillas: Of course you want to use corn tortillas for Enchiladas, but I personally don’t make them. I’m assuming you don’t either, so – open your tortilla package up and get a wet dish towel.  Put 4-5 tortillas in the towel and wrap them up so they are completely covered.  Put them in the microwave for I think 30 seconds or so on high.  You just want them warm enough that they are soft and wont break or tear when you roll them up.  This is the only thing I have used a microwave for in about 10 years, so I really don’t know the full technique.  I also recommend that if you have time and want to steam them DO THAT!  Always avoid that creepy, mysterious “cooking” box if possible (how does it do that??).  Use the batch that you just steamed right away.  Spoon some filling into the tortilla, roll it up so the stuff isn’t falling out but also isn’t too tight to have any food inside, put the seam side down in a large baking pan so it won’t pop open, repeat until you have either no filling or no tortillas left.  Put sauce down on the bottom of the pan before you start filling the tortillas.  Not too much, just enough so that the tortillas are covered and juicy all around. Line them up as close as possible together and generously apply tons of sauce on top.

The Oven: Put your lovely pan of happiness in a preheated oven at about 350°. Bake about 20-30 minutes or until it looks bubbly and yummy.  If you must add cheese on top, use a combo of shredded Jack, Pepper Jack and Cheddar and you only need it on top.  Don’t worry about adding it inside each tortilla – there wont be room anyway.  Sprinkle the cheese on top before it goes in the oven and let it get bubbly and crispy.  But trust me – we didn’t miss it.  And why not give your body a break from the non stop barrage of dairy you load up on everyday??

Serve: If you like sour-cream with your enchiladas I encourage you to try either plain yogurt (SO much better for you) or plain soy yogurt (even better yet!) We used to be sour cream addicts and now we use these two things as replacements and don’t miss the sour cream at all… unless your referring to the pounds we no longer see on the scale.  I also like to make  black or pinto beans and mash them up with a little almond milk  (makes them feel and taste like re-fried beans without any added oil, or fat – so yummy and easy.)  I also serve this with brown rice that I have sauteed up with a little of my enchilada sauce so it’s wet and Mexican (that sounds a bit X-rated, but it’s not THAT good).  Sprinkle a little finely chopped cilantro on the whole plate and wait for the praise!!

Husband Rating 5 star:  gold-stargold-stargold-stargold-stargold-star “You could serve these in any gourmet Mexican Restaurant and they would stand up to anything else there.”

Cucumber Bruschetta Side Salad

September8

So easy – so gooooooooood and gourmet. Here it is:

  • 1- Hot House Cucumber, peeled and cut into fours and then sliced in whatever thickness you like. I did about 1/4 inch slices
  • 2- ripe and good medium sized Red Tomatoes (I used Heirloom, although they are not always easy to find) chopped up into approximately the same size pieces as the cucumbers
  • 1- medium sized Green Heirloom tomato. cut like the tomatoes above.
  • 1/2 red onion diced very small
  • about a 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • olive oil, salt to taste and a dash of Champagne White Wine Vinegar.

I served this as a dinner salad in a coffee cup on the plate with the rest of dinner. It looked super fancy because my coffee cups are small and petite looking. I wouldn’t use a big coffee mug – different vibe… wrong vibe. This salad is pristine and delicate even though it’s very hearty and basic. You can use a pretty glass, or desert bowl – whatever, just keep it off the plate – it’s juicy!

Always use organic ingredients whenever possible – it tastes better, better for you and good for the planet. Win-win-win! All the above ingredients are available organically.

Enjoy!

Husband Rating 5 star: gold-stargold-stargold-stargold-stargold-star “Move this side salad up to the front because it’s going to be better than anything else you serve!”

D-

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