Peppered Seitan with Beans and Maduros

I mentioned in a previous recipe post that I had Jamaican heritage. I also have Puerto Rican heritage, and am a big fan of Latin cuisine as well. It occurred to me that I hadn’t made any dishes truly inspired by this cuisine, and all of a sudden I kind of went on a bit of a Latin Food kick because I was craving it. I bought a family size pack of sazon seasoning packets and started making dish after dish of delicious, flavorful Spanish food. The Caribbean is full of vegan cuisine — of course there are tons of fresh fruits and vegetables that grow in abundance in the tropical climates, but many dishes are rice based and often have other elements such as beans and plantains that accompany them, all of which are vegan and delicious. This particular dish has elements that you would find in all Caribbean islands, but as mentioned previously, is slightly inspired more so by the Spanish-speaking islands. The best part has to be the maduros, or fried sweet plantains. Plantains go through different stages. When they are green (not ripe) and fried, they are called tostones. Once they are yellow (ripe or over-ripe) they become sweet and when fried, they are called maduros. They are at their sweetest when they’re black and that’s a great time to use them for desserts. A fruit that can go from unsweet to sweet and be used in both savory and sweet dishes? Mother nature really put her foot into this one.

Seitan and Plantains

 

 

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 block of  one 12 oz. package of organic seitan (I used Pacific foods brand), sliced
  • 1 16 oz. can of pinto beans, water drained with about 1/4 can of liquid*
  • 1 yellow plantain
  • A couple of jarred roasted red peppers
  • About 1 1/2 teaspoons Himalayan Pink sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 packet of Goya sazon seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

 

What to Do:

  1. Slice the whole yellow plantain on the diagonal into about 1/2 inch pieces.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  3. Once oil is hot, place plantain slices in skillet (be careful of oil splatter!).
  4. Fry slices on each side for approximately 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Make sure to watch them and turn accordingly so that they do not burn. You want the pieces to be golden brown as in the picture, not very dark or burnt (unless that is what you’re trying to achieve).
  5. Once they are golden brown, remove the plantains from the oil and place on a dish covered with paper towels to drain the excess oil. Sprinkle them with about 1/2 teaspoon of the Himalayan pink sea salt.
  6. Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once oil is hot, add seitan slices to skillet and sprinkle with Himalayan sea salt and black pepper on either side. Pan-fry slices on either side until golden brown, approximately 3-5 minutes. Remove seitan slices from skillet and set aside.
  7. Wipe the skillet clean and return to stove-top burner, this time over low heat. Add water drained pinto beans to skillet along with sazon seasoning. Mix seasoning into beans well and allow beans to heat up. Once they are warmed, remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish.
  8. Place seitan slices over beans and surround beans with plantain slices.
  9. Garnish with roasted red peppers. Serve as is or with rice to make the dish heartier.

 

* I often use a “water draining” technique with canned beans that involves draining them of the thick, viscose liquid that is already in the can, but not entirely. I open the can and use my hand to cover the top (so the beans don’t fall out) while I run water in and out of the can. you can used another method to cover the top but I find that using your hand works best. As the liquid already in the can is drained and you replace it with water, you create a thinner liquid that still has some of the “bean juice” flavor. I rinse then this way about 2-3 times, filling the can with as much water as I can until the beans start to overflow. Finally, I empty the water that is in the can but leave about an inch or two of water still in the can so that when I add them to a pan, there is some liquid available that is now a mixture of the thicker liquid originally in the can along with regular water — to help with the cooking process.

 

Date Posted on Instagram: 9/10/18

 

Dinosaur Kale Fiesta Rice Wraps

This is the first time I’ve purchased a food solely based on the name. Once I discovered that the nickname for cremini mushrooms was “baby bellas”, I refused to call them anything else. But at that point, I had already used them in a ton of recipes. Curly kale is my right hand veggie. I’ve sauteed it from here to the moon. But never dinosaur kale*. I found dino kale at the farmer’s market. As soon as I saw it I understood the name — it has chunky leaves with bumps and ripples, reminiscent of some ancient, pre-historic plant. That made me even more excited to make something with it. I picked some up immediately. This recipe just came to me. I was originally going to make something else (which I will still make down the road), but then I thought, “why not make dino kale wraps??” I wasn’t sure where I was going with it, but it all came together so beautifully — in fact, personally speaking, this is one of my favorite dishes aesthetic-wise. Thanks to dino kale; nature kills it again.

Dino Kale wraps closeup

 

 

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups of cooked white rice
  • 3 full leaves of dinosaur kale
  • 1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 orange pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 yellow onion
  • 1/8 cup pickled jalapenos, some whole and some diced** (set aside diced jalapenos)
  • 1 medium avocado, cut into slices
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves (removed from stems)
  • 1 packet of Goya sazon seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

 

 

What to Do:

  1. Wash dino kale leaves and set aside to dry.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Prepare rice (boil water, add rice, stir and bring to a boil again, turn heat to a low simmer, cover and let simmer for approximately 20 minutes or so– use approximately 1 3/4 cup of water for every one cup of rice). Set aside.
  4. Heat a skillet on low to medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  5. Once hot, add carrots and saute for approximately 2 minutes, stirring once.
  6. Add peppers and onion and continue to saute until carrots and pepper are slightly tender and onions are translucent. Remove from heat.
  7. Once dry, place dino kale leaves flat out on a large cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper under them.
  8. Brush leaves evenly with 1 tablespoon of olive oil (I used a basting brush).
  9. Place dino kale leaves in oven and bake for approximately 5 minutes, until they are very lightly firm and look just a little crisped but not too much (they should still have some stretch to them and not be hardened).
  10. While leaves are in the oven, mix 1/2 of sazon packet into rice (use full packet for richer flavor).
  11. Add sauteed peppers, onions and carrots along with diced jalapeno slices to rice and mix well.
  12. Remove dino kale leaves and set aside to cool, approximately 2-3 minutes.
  13. You can serve the wraps open faced (not wrapped up), in which case transfer the leaves to a serving dish, spoon about 1/2 cup of rice into each leaf, and garnish with cilantro, whole jalapeno slices and avocado slices.

    dino kale wraps wrapped up
    Dino kale fiesta rice wraps
  14. If you want to serve them wrapped up, while the leaves are still on the parchment, carefully slice a portion of the stem running up the middle out of the leaf, but not too much or the rice will fall out (the leaves on dino kale are hearty and so are the stems. I left the stem in and just tortured myself eating the wraps.). After you do everything in step 12, removing the stem will make it easier to eat the wraps once they are rolled up. Bon appetit!

 

 

 

 

* Also known as Tuscan kale or Lacinto kale.

** Try pickling your own jalapenos! I made my own by slicing fresh jalapenos and placing them in a glass jar (it was a small jar, about 1/2 cup in size since this was just an experimental batch) with about 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of garlic powder. I covered them to the top in white vinegar and put the lid on. I left them in the fridge for approximately 3 months before using them for the first time in this recipe!

 

 

Date Posted on Instagram: 6/22/18

 

Red Curry Tofu and Sautéed Bok Choy

This was a really fun dish to make because it was my first time using bok choy. That may (or may not?) come as a surprise to some, but as I have mentioned many times before, eating super healthy is new to me — and I really only started eating a variety of veggies after going vegan. I knew that for my first time using bok choy, I wanted to keep the whole stem fully intact, simply because the bunch I got at the farmer’s market was so beautiful and I didn’t want to cut it up. This dish is what I came up with. It allowed me to still keep up my obsession with sauteed veggies, and also to display the bok choy with awesome plating, in all its glory.

Red Curry Tofu and Sauteed Bok Choy

 

ATTENTION: This recipe requires 2-9 hours of prep time! Please plan accordingly!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup of cooked white rice
  • 1/3 block of organic, firm tofu
  • 1 small to medium stalk organic bok choy
  • 2 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 2 teaspoons salt (additional salt to taste for bok choy)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • cast iron skillet (to cook tofu)
  • Glass dish with lid (to marinate tofu)

 

What to Do:

  1. Slice tofu into even-sized cubes and place them into glass dish.
  2. Add red curry paste, salt, and curry powder to dish; mix seasoning and paste into tofu pieces well but be careful not to break the tofu.
  3. Cover with lid and place in fridge to marinate.*
  4. Remove tofu from fridge and set aside to become room temperature.
  5. Prepare rice (boil water, add rice, stir and bring to a boil again, turn heat to a low simmer, cover and let simmer for approximately 20 minutes or so– use approximately 1 3/4 cup of water for every one cup of rice). Set aside.
  6. Slice stalk of bok choy directly down the center (see insert).**
  7. Heat cast iron skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  8. Once hot, add tofu pieces to skillet (be careful of oil splatter!) and fry for approximately 5 minutes, turning pieces intermittenly.
  9. Continue to fry for another 3-4 minutes while continuing to turn pieces to fry evenly until pieces have browned and seasoning is stuck to tofu.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  10. Heat a large skillet on low to medium heat with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  11. Once hot, place both pieces of bok choy in skillet, with the inside part down into oil (see insert).

    Sliced Bok Choy example
    Slice bok choy down the center as pictured. The piece on the left is the inside.
  12. Saute bok choy for approximately 3-5 minutes on each side, until each side acquires a light browning.
  13. Transfer rice to center of serving dish.
  14. Place red curry tofu around rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  15. Place bok choy around red curry tofu. Bon appetit!

 

PRO TIP: I plated this dish with the full stalks for aesthetic purposes because the bok choy was so beautiful! When you’re ready to dig in, it will be helpful to slice the bok choy width wise a couple of inches from the stalk to break up the pieces!

 

* I suggest marinating for at least 2 hours, however, I made this marinade before I left the house that day and then made the recipe when I got back. Total marinade time for my tofu was 9 hours. As you know, the longer the tofu marinates, the better!

** Rinse pieces thoroughly with water, especially in the crevices near the stalk; if you bought the bok choy organic, there is probably dirt there! Set aside to dry.

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 6/19/18

Seared Steak. Green Beans with Fried Onions and Thyme. Medley of Potatoes. Mushroom Thyme Gravy.

This is my third creation in the #veganclocktowerchallenge. I went vegan after I started working there, and practically everyone in the kitchen knows I’m vegan– so after starting this blog, I thought it would be fun to recreate some of the dishes they serve in a fine-dining restaurant. The steaks there are served with triple-cooked chips and a side salad. I made my own sides but I tried to plate the steak the way we plate it at the restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised at the final result — not to mention my folks loved it also (I made extra for them to try). Follow me on Instagram to see everything I make from the menu!

Clocktower Steak dish

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 vegan steak — I used a pre-marinated seitan steak (see pictured below!)*
  • 2 cups fresh green beans
  • 2/3 cup crimini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 bag of baby potatoes (I used the organic mini medley of potatoes from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 bunch of thyme
  • 1/4 cup fried onions
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon steak seasoning (I used Grill Mates Montreal steak seasoning)
  • 1 tablespoon essential seasoning mix**
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons steak sauce (make sure it’s vegan! I used a generic store brand of steak sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon browning sauce (I used Gravy Master seasoning and browning sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons prepared cornstarch***
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons olive oil or 4 tablespoons avocado oil and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • cast iron skillet for steak (optional)

** I wrote this recipe so that all items can be prepared and served together as opposed to writing out the directions for each component. If you follow the recipe as is, the entire dish should be finished around the same time so you don’t have to wait!**

What to Do:

  1. Sprinkle steak seasoning on either side of steak and set aside until ready to sear.*
  2. In a small saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add baby potatoes and continue to boil.
  3. While potatoes boil, heat one tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet on low heat.
  4. Once hot, add green beans and stir to mix with olive oil. Saute green beans for approximately 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add fried onions, about 3-4 sprigs of thyme (remove the herbs from the stems) and approximately 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir.
  6. Saute for another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally– fried onions should become slightly browned but be careful not to brown or burn the green beans. Remove green beans from heat and set aside, but leave in skillet.
  7. Check potatoes — boil for approximately 3-4 more minutes, or until fork-tender. Remove from heat and drain.
  8. Place prepared green beans on serving dish or in a separate container and set aside. Leave any remnants  of oil in the skillet.
  9. Return the skillet to low-medium heat and add mushrooms.
  10. Saute mushrooms for approximately 4 minutes, until slightly browned.
  11. Turn to high heat and add 1 cup of vegetable broth. Bring broth to a boil.
  12. Once broth is boiling, reduce heat to a simmer.
  13. Add steak sauce, browning sauce and essential seasoning blend. Stir vigorously until steak sauce has completely dissolved into broth.
  14. Let sauce continue to simmer for 6-7 minutes. Add 4-5 sprigs of thyme to sauce (remove herbs from stems) and stir.
  15. Continue to simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  16. Add prepared cornstarch to sauce one tablespoon at a time, stirring vigorously after tablespoon and waiting approximately 1-2 minutes between tablespoons.**
  17. Let sauce fully thicken, about 4-5 minutes.
  18. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil in a cast iron skillet on medium heat.****
  19. Once hot, add steak to skillet (be careful of oil splatter!)
  20. Sear steak for about 3 minutes on one side. Steak should move freely in skillet after 3 minutes.
  21. Turn steak and sear on the other side for 3 minutes. If necessary, add about 1 tablespoon of additional oil before searing on the other side if most of the oil has been absorbed by the steak from the first sear.
  22. Turn steak again and sear for another 3 minutes.
  23. Turn steak once more and sear for another 3 minutes. Steak should be browned on each side– be careful not to burn steak unless you prefer it to be darker or “crisper” (remember this is seitan, not beef!)
  24. Remove steak from heat.
  25. Repeat steps 18-23 if you have another steak to sear.
  26. Transfer steak to a serving dish.
  27. Transfer green beans to serving dish.
  28. Transfer potatoes to serving dish.
  29. Drizzle potatoes with remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  30. Serve mushroom and thyme gravy on the side or drizzle on top of steak. Bon appetit!

 

 

* Here is the steak I used, in the packaging. You can make your own steaks of course — I wanted to try these that were being sold at a vegan cheese shop I went to. As you can see, they were pre-marinated in the packaging. If your steaks are pre-marinated, you can ditch the dry steak seasoning all-together. I added it to the recipe for extra flavor. If your steak aren’t pre-marinated, up the amount to 1 teaspoon of seasoning for each side instead of 1 teaspoon for both sides.

vegan steak package

** Essential seasoning blend can be found on the recipes page.

*** To make the prepared cornstarch, add approximately 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water (so equal parts of each ingredient). You can not add cornstarch directly to hot sauces to thicken them– the cornstarch will become clumpy. When this recipe calls for adding prepared cornstarch, it’s this mixture of cornstarch mixed with water. Remember, the ratios are equal!

**** Avocado oil has a higher heat tolerance than olive oil. For searing in a cast iron skillet it is recommended to use an oil with a higher heat tolerance– however, those are the rules when searing a beef steak. I used olive oil, but it might still be helpful to sear a seitan steak using an oil with a higher heat tolerance. The next time, I’m going to use avocado oil — I’m an amateur cook, so you guys can learn from my mistakes with me! But these steaks turned out pretty well using the olive oil, however, they might be even better using avocado oil.

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 6/7/18

Chili-lime Tofu with a Roasted Corn and Fava Bean Salad

One thing I wanted to try my hand at as an amateur chef was cooking with seasonal ingredients — not only is it cheaper, but it’s also a great way to expand your palette and try new foods because you’re forced to try new things at least 4 times a year. With this recipe, I tried to think outside of the box — I started tracking the seasonality of more unique foods and then thought about what I could make with them. The result? This ridiculous and amazingly tasty tofu and chilled salad dish. I included a coconut herb cheese in the salad to add even more of a warm-weather flavor to it. No lie, the tofu legit tasted like fried mozzarella, so if that’s something anyone misses from their dairy-eating days, then try this recipe ASAP!

chili lime tofu with fava bean and corn salad

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/3 block of medium-firm organic tofu
  • 1 can of fava beans, drained
  • 1 pack of Field Roast Chao vegan slices – coconut herb with black pepper flavor
  • 1 full stalk of fresh corn
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons Trader Joe’s chili-lime seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • airtight container with lid (to marinate the tofu in)

What to Do:

Marinate the Tofu

  1. Cut the tofu block into 4 even slices.
  2. Place the slices in the container and put all 3 tablespoons of the chili-lime seasoning in the container a little at a time, covering the tofu pieces entirely on each side.
  3. Cover container with lid and place in fridge to marinate for at least an hour.

For the Salad

  1. Peel stalk of corn and clean.
  2. Turn a stove burner on medium heat and use a pair of metal tongs to hold corn stalk over heat to roast. Be careful not to leave the stalk in one position for too long; turn often, or when you hear a popping sound start– similar to fresh seeds that are turning into popcorn when cooked on a stove top.*
  3. Once entire stalk has darkened from roasting, on a cutting board hold stalk upright and slice all of the corn from the cob.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, place roasted corn and entire can of drained fava beans and cilantro.
  5. Slice lemon and lime in half and squeeze the juice from each into the bowl.
  6. Add rice vinegar.
  7. open entire pack of chao vegan slices**, and use a vegetable peeler to slice small slivers of the cheese block directly into the bowl. Add as much as you like but I added about 1/2 to 3/4 cup worth of cheese slivers.
  8. Mix the salad together, cover,  and place in the fridge to chill.

Chili-lime Tofu

  1. Remove marinated tofu from fridge and leave out to become room temperature.
  2. Heat a skillet on medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. Once oil is hot, add tofu pieces (careful of oil splatter!) and pan-fry for approximately 5-7 minutes on each side of each piece of tofu until a slightly hard and crispy crust forms on the outside (the tofu will still be soft inside).
  4. If desired, place tofu pieces on a dry cloth to release excess oil.
  5. Transfer tofu slices to serving dish.
  6. Transfer some of the salad to serving dish. Bon appetit!

* You can also roast the corn on the grill or on a grill plate that goes on the stove if you have one, but I found it quicker and easier to just do it directly over the stove top flame– just be careful!

** this method will likely ruin the pack from being used “by the slice” but you can use the rest of the cheese for something that doesn’t require slices!

Date posted on Instagram: 5/21/18

Pan-Fried Tofu and Charred Pineapple Salad

This was my first Spring seasonal salad. As the weather warms up, I want to start incorporating fresh, warm weather seasonal ingredients. I also love salads so this was a win/win. I used pineapple and tropical nuts to liven up this colorful and lively salad.

Pan-Seared Tofu with Charred Pineapple Salad

 

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/4 of a block of firm organic tofu, cubed
  • 5-6 full leaves of kale, chopped
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, slivered*
  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen pineapple pieces
  • 1/8 cup of macadamia nuts
  • 1/8 cup of almonds
  • 3 tablespoons red wine or balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil

 

What to Do:

  1. Heat a skillet on medium heat with 2 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Once oil is hot, add cubed tofu and pan-fry for 7-8 minutes, or until cubes are golden brown.
  3. Remove tofu from skillet, and lay on a dry cloth to remove excess oil (if desired). Place slivered carrots in oil and reduce heat to low.
  4. Saute carrots for approximately 2-3 minutes, leaving them crisp.
  5.  Set carrots and tofu aside.
  6. Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in skillet on low-medium heat.
  7. Once hot, add pineapple pieces and saute until a nice char forms on the pieces, being sure to stir consistently so that the pieces don’t burn.
  8. Place kale, carrot slivers, macadamia nuts, almonds and tofu in a large mixing bowl.
  9. Add vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss salad to mix dressing and add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Transfer salad to serving bowl and top with charred pineapple. Bon appetit!

 

* I used a vegetable peeler to sliver the carrot but use whatever kitchen tool works best for you or whatever you have at your disposal to achieve carrot slivers.

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 5/12/18

Veggie and Tofu Buddha Bowl

Buddha Bowls were one of my first obsessions after discovering vegan Instagram. I loved looking at the fancy and beautifully plated bowls, with yummy ingredients placed in circles over and over again. There were endless combos and variations. Some of my favorite vegan Instagrammers feature only buddha bowls and they are the epitome of vegan eye candy. I doubt I’ll ever be on their level, but this is my first attempt at creating a filling, healthy and beautiful buddha bowl!

Veggie and Tofu Buddha Bowl

 

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/3 of a block of medium-firm organic tofu, cubed
  • 1/2 of one small head of green cabbage, chopped*
  • 2 cups of fresh green beans (you can also use frozen but for certain recipes I prefer to use fresh– this is one of those recipes!)*
  • 2 cups of fresh or frozen broccoli florets
  • 4 full leaves of kale, chopped
  • 1/8 cup of red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/8 cup of yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 3-4 tablespoons of sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of Trader Joe’s EBTB seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • About 10 tablespoons of olive oil

 

What to Do:

  1. Heat a skillet on low-medium heat with 2 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Add cabbage and saute for about 5-7 minutes. Add about 1/4 cup of water and continue to saute until desired tenderness is reached. Set aside.
  3. Repeat this veggie saute method by adding 2 tablespoons of oil and sauteing each of the other veggies until all four veggies have been sauteed. For the green beans, add the peppers to the skillet first and saute those for about 2-3 minutes before adding the green beans.
  4. Use the last 2 tablespoons of oil to saute the cubes of tofu. Saute the tofu for approximately 7-10 minutes or until all pieces are golden brown, adding the EBTB seasoning to the tofu about 5 minutes into the saute. Remove from heat.
  5. Transfer tofu to the center of a serving bowl.
  6. Transfer each sauteed veggie to the serving bowl in a circular fashion around tofu (as in the picture).
  7. Sprinkle everything in the bowl with sesame seeds. Bon appetit!

 

 

* Although I make 100% of the majority of my recipes, I have to shout out my amazing mother; 2 of the veggies in this buddha bowl– the green beans with peppers and the cabbage, were actually made by her and I made the bowl with those leftover veggies! Upcoming bowls will likely be made by me, but I will undoubtedly use her veggies whenever she blesses me with more!

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 5/5/18