Saturday, October 31, 2009

Red Enchilada Sauce

Friday night found me putting together red enchilada sauce - after reviewing a ton of recipes, I decided a course for my own version which turned out quite well.  It isn't as much a rockstar as the Green Enchilada Sauce, but quite good.  I've noticed this happens in my food experiments - the Fig-Early Girl Tomato chutney had a combination of spices & fruit that worked so amazingly well together that it nearly made me want to chuck all the other chutneys I have made.

Faithful readers - for your review - here is the recipe.  If you have suggestions for tweaks that might send this over the top - please chime in!

Red Enchilada Sauce
  • 8 c roasted/seeded/peeled red Anaheim chiles
  • 6-7 c veggie broth
  • 2 c water (add'l as needed)
  • 1/2 lb tomatillos, husked & halved
  • 1.5 lb white or yellow onions, peeled & quartered
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • 3 Tb dried epazote
Simmer all ingredients except peppers til soft.  Mix in peppers & puree in blender in batches.

Measure spices:
  • 1 Tb cumin seed
  • 1 Tb coriander
  • 1 t white pepper
  • 1-2 dried chipotle peppers, snipped into 1/4" bits
  • 1 6-8" stick Mexican cinnamon (soft cinnamon - aka "Ceylon cinnamon") - broken into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2 c white sesame seeds
Toast  all spices except sesame seeds together - place in spice grinder.  Toast sesame seeds & place in spice grinder.

Toast & grind:
  • 2 c whole raw almonds
Add toasted & ground spices & nuts to puree, mix and reblend everything.  Next -
  • 3-4 c yellow cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Tb salt
  • 1-1.5 c cocoa powder

Add remaining 3 ingredients to puree & reblend in batches to ensure thorough mixing.

Prepare your enchiladas with fillings of your choice or ladle into sterilized jars for canning.

  • 1 large pan of 12 enchiladas
  • 10 - 16 oz jars of red enchilada sauce

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Green Enchiladas

The first time I made green enchilada sauce, it was with a recipe from "The Vegetarian Table: Mexico" by Victoria Wise.  I always found that it didn't make quite enough sauce for my tastes and frequently used more tomatillos than she recommended.  After a recent review of recipes for green enchilada sauce across the internet, I have come to the conclusion that the recipe is fairly basic and should bear the personal touch of the person preparing it.

I defrosted the roasted green Anaheim chiles from a few weeks ago - that yielded about 5 c of roasted, peeled peppers.  After shelling out some bucks for tomatillos and onions at Rainbow Grocery, I was ready to go!  You can modify the amount of ingredients to taste, and remember - it's easier to add than to take away ingredients.

Green Enchilada Sauce
  • 5 cups roasted & peeled green Anaheim or Poblano chiles 
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 small-med white or yellow onions (mine were just smaller than tennis ball size), peeled and quartered
  • 1 - 2 lbs husked tomatillos, halved or quartered
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 c raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, stems trimmed off
  • fresh parsley, stems trimmed off
  • fresh leafy greens - Romaine, white mustard, arugula (careful with strong flavors like spinach)
  • sea salt
  • 1 Tb coriander seed
  • 1 Tb cumin seed


  1. Pour 2 cups vegetable broth into a sauce pot, add garlic, onions & tomatillos, add water to cover and bring to a boil.  Let simmer til onions are transluscent and tomatillos are soft.
  2. Heat up a dry cast iron skillet, spread the pumpkin seeds in a single layer and heat til they start to pop.  Turn down the heat if necessary to prevent burning.  Use a wooden spoon to keep the seeds moving as needed and pop/toast as many as you can.  Put into a separate dish.
  3. Put cumin and coriander seed into the hot pan - warm and slightly toast but don't burn - then put spices into coffee or spice grinder and pulverize, set aside.
  4. Check your veggies - add half of the cleaned cilantro to the water to soften, and turn down the heat if your veggies are soft.
  5. Mix in the roasted peppers with the veggies in the pot.  
  6. Reserve 1/8 c toasted pumpkin seeds and put rest of toasted pumpkin seeds into food processor or blender, add water from veggies to get it moving when necessary, until all seeds are ground.
  7. Continue adding veggies & cooking broth til all is processed and smooth. Add yellow cherry tomatoes and leafy greens -- I used white mustard because it was in my garden, you might try romaine (it's got Vitamin C!).  
  8. Add about half of the ground cumin & coriander.
  9. Taste - adjust cumin, coriander, salt and cilantro as needed.
  10. Return to pot and heat on medium, stirring.  Cook down if necessary, or add more water/broth if necessary.  Taste and adjust as needed. 
  11. Make a batch of enchiladas and freeze or can the rest of your sauce!
  • 1 medium size pan of enchiladas
  • 4 - 16 oz jars

Green Enchiladas
Enchiladas are one of my favorite things to make because they are so easy and you can put whatever you want into them.

  • 1 package corn tortillas
  • 1/2 yellow onion, minced
  • 1/2 package Westsoy seasoned seitan strips, julienned
  • 1 c yellow cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 c chopped cilantro leaves
  1. Sautee onions and garlic with oil or broth til translucent.
  2. Add cherry tomatoes and cook til they start to split.
  3. Add seitan and cilantro.
  4. Stir and add broth or water to deglaze when it starts to stick to the pan.
  5. Warm up the tortillas in the microwave for 20 seconds, or steam them - you want them to be soft but not cooked so that they don't crack when you roll them up.
  6. Lay tortillas in the sauce - get both sides wet with the sauce, then lay the tortilla over your casserole dish. Put down a line of fillings along edge and roll up the tortilla, put it in the casserole pan.  
  7. Once your pan is full of tortillas drenched in sauce and filled with seitan, cover with a little more enchilada sauce and bake for 15-20 minutes while you set the table or make your guacamole.
  8. Sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds and serve!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A New Home for the Dehydrator!

It turns out that the solar dehydrator wasn't really for me, after all!  Right after returning to the Bay Area following almost 2 weeks of dual sport motorcycle riding in Mendocino & Death Valley, I called my redwoods activist treesitter friend, Amy, to tell her about my two days in her neck of the woods (no pun intended).  She invited me her baby shower at her folks' house in the South Bay and after some thought - I realized I had the perfect baby shower gift for my treesitting friend!  She lives in an area that gets pretty hot in the summer and this seems the perfect eco-minded gift!

When I told her and her partner about my idea - and showed them the photos - they were very excited!  Her partner informed me that they had lots of friends with orchards and both assured me this was a most excellent gift. 

Now, transportation is the issue - her brother & I are conspiring to determine a good time to wrap it up and strap it to the roof of his SUV for the trip North.  Super yays!!!

Vegan Camping: Planning & Provisioning

I love camping and have to confess to being a major camp chef - if I'm car camping, I figure, there's no reason not to bring a cast iron skillet and to plan out delicious meals. I tend to err on the side of "why did we buy this much food" but have been improving my planning and provisioning.

Nearly all camping cookbooks I have read focus on incorporating highly processed foods (ramen, instant pudding, powdered milk, Minute rice, canned beans, instant powdered soups). There are no vegan/whole foods camping cookbooks, much less backpacking cookbooks. It's like they are going out of the way to find things like powdered eggs and individual packets of butter.

Packaged meals are ridiculously popular - and not all that tasty. I've even tried out some Mary Jane's Farm vegan meals and the meals that worked best were the premixed pancake and brownie mix. Just not worth the extra packaging.

The great thing about cooking vegan is that you're not really worried about your food going bad and poisoning you. And - why go out of your way to prepare things that you wouldn't normally eat?

Among my considerations are:
  • Ingredients which cook relatively quickly - though I have been known to make up Thai sticky rice with delicious nutty black rice, it uses a lot of camp fuel and rice doesn't go on most trips. Couscous and quinoa are both a "win."
  • Reducing packaging - why bring individual size packets of anything?
  • Reducing use of disposables - cooking in foil packets is easy but why use foil when car camping?
  • Meals that have no or small amounts of leftovers.
  • Menu plans that have flexibility in types of cooking.
  • Menu plans that use up fresh ingredients earlier in the trip.
Car camping usually ends up filling 2 boxes of food, pots, plates & utensils. You can check out my packing list for my week long trip to Death Valley. My favorite item - for any size camping trip - is my Spice Wheel. That thing has gone with me car camping, motorcycle camping and backpacking.

Typical meals are pasta with sauce (my own - if I'm packing in/packing out, my own mason jars are just fine), veggies with curry sauce in small glass jars, tofu scramble & homefried potatoes for breakfast, olives, dolmas (the kind in a tin or jar) and hummus with bread for a lunch.

On the Death Valley trip, I put beets in foil into the fire and used them for sandwiches and made a jar of beet salad with the rest of the fresh mushrooms, red onions, balsamic, olive oil & herbs de provence.

What are your favorite car camping or backpacking/motorcycle camping meals? Do you end up eating PB&J or meals from packets?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Roasted Beet Sandwich

Recently, I have discovered the delicious Tofu-Yu tea smoked tofu. It comes in a package of 2 1/2" thin squares that are divided into 4 square pieces - perfect for sandwiches! I also love beets, so for a recent camping trip, I brought along the ingredients to make sandwiches for our 150-mile dual sport ride through Death Valley, and made up 4 delicious sandwiches:

  • 1 avocado
  • 2-3 roasted beets (different colors are great), cut 1/4" thick or smaller
  • balsamic (spray bottle is perfect)
  • 1 package Tofu-Yu tea smoked tofu
  • 1 heirloom tomato, 1/4" slices
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • vegan garlic aoli
  • salt & pepper
  • ciabatta rolls (about 6-8" long)

  1. Cut open the ciabatta roll on one side, leaving connected if possible.
  2. Spread 1/4 of an avocado on top slice of bread.
  3. Press thinly sliced onions into avocado.
  4. Spritz balsamic vinegar across both sides of bread.
  5. Layer 1/4" slices of roasted beet on bottom - cut to fit.
  6. Spread garlic aoli over beets.
  7. Put 1/2 of sheet of tofu on top of beets.
  8. Layer thinly sliced tomato (cut to fit).
  9. Press sandwich closed and wrap firmly with wax paper, slice in half after it's wrapped, and put into wax paper bag or ziplock for transport.
Who says you have to eat out of envelopes and rely on peanut butter & jelly when you're camping?

Friday, October 02, 2009

Quince - the Final Chapter for 2009

While we were enjoying the fire in the backyard and preparing to render five pounds of red jalapenos into charcoal, the rest of the quince were simmering away on the stove. I did one pot of quince preserves in big chunks with very light syrup and spices, and one pot of compote with dried cherries and figs added - and that one certainly came out beautifully!


3 quart jars of quince preserves
2 quart jars of quince-cherry-fig compote
2 - 12 oz jars of quince-cherry-fig compote

Chipotle - FAIL!

This evening, before dark, I got a really good fire going. Scott helped me clean the quince, and we sat outside for a couple hours, had some awesome cucumber-cherry tomato-avocado salad with a pistachio butter-blood orange vinegar dressing, and chatted while grilling seitan sausages & corn, enjoying the Unti 2005 Dry Creek Zinfandel, nearly full moon and sounds of four different aircraft and the freeway from my North Oakland neighborhood.

Finally, the fire died down and it was time to put on the mesquite chips in the heavy aluminu foil pan I made for Sunday's test run. Scott thought the fire would die down too quickly so bade me add more small bits of wood - some oak bark the size of my wrist - around the sides of the pan. I put the 5# of red jalapeno peppers above the soaked mesquite and put the aluminum foil covered spar arrestor back on. It was smoky.

Soon enough - I saw weird lights - I knew what it was - a few weeks ago at my friend Freeze's house in West O, we were visited by firefighters looking for a housefire. I went back into the yard and stepped up on the fence to see my new neighbor Pete showing his cold grill to a firefighter. I told him "I'm smoking peppers back here on my BBQ, do you want to come see?" - he said no and left. Then, less than 10 minutes later, I saw more weird flashing light from the front of my house - I went out and saw another fire truck - they wanted to see my grill. One of the first things they did was hand me half an 8.5x11" sheet of paper with a phone number of the fire dispatch - next time I have a BBQ, they said, just call and give my address.

The three firefighters followed me to my back yard - I showed them my fire pit and they said, "That's fine - fires in that kind of contained setting are good." I lifted the lid to show them my red jalapenos that were supposed to be smoking - and the flames jumped up and the flashlights showed charred peppers.

"Oh," said one firefighter, "That's a do-over."

Gee. Thanks, dude. Scott took responsibility for it - he said to add more wood and the fire went way too high. I salvaged 1 cup of roasted pepper for 5# of peppers. *sigh* That's expensive. Time to check with Julia at Mariquita to find out if I can get more red jalapenos in a couple weeks when I get back from my big off road motorcycle adventure.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Quince Jelly

This year, my quince jelly came out a gorgeous shade of rose instead of a deep carnelian - perhaps because I used unrefined cane sugar (I may have used sucanat last year...). The half gallon jar of juice was so thick and syrupy without sugar - having soaked with a vanilla bean pod for a week - it was edible as it was and I nearly broke out my seltzer bottle to make it into quince soda!

However, preserving prevailed and I made a gorgous quince jelly instead:

6 - 12 oz jars quince jelly
3 - 4 oz jar quince jelly