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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Elfin Is As Elfin Does

We have such a jam packed blog today, we almost don’t know where to start!! So, best just “git ‘er done”, right? We can title this portion of our bloggeriness as follows: “OH…the Celeriac of it all!!” Look, we here at the Kinky Elfery Kitchen celebrate our propensity for the unusual. Well, Tuesday, we dang near outdid ours-elfs.  A few weeks  back, we happened on yet another recipe from VEGAN BOWLS that looked intriguing—Cajun Tofu and Artichoke Bowl. As we looked through the ingredients, we noticed Celeriac, also known as Celery Root. To give you some idea of our encounter with Celeriac, we shall henceforth refer to it as ‘The Root That Shall Not Be Named’ (Root from here on out). The recipe calls for 2 POUNDS of Root and at $5 a pound, we almost gave up on the recipe right there. In any event, once challenged, never defeated…so we forged ahead with our two pounds of Root without a CLUE how to use it. The instructions indicated that it should be peeled and cut into a 1/2” dice. What the instructions did NOT reveal is that we would need a hatchet and possibly a chain saw to peel and dice it. AND, when we finally DID get it peeled and diced, burning somewhere in the area of 1000 calories, we wound up with…oh, maybe 8 ounces of usable (or so we thought) Root. The ultimate goal was a puree as the base for the bowl. So, into a pot of boiling water went the diced Root where it simmered for 20+ minutes, hopefully by then being ‘fork tender’. NOT. Some of it was and some of it wasn't and actually never would be. Our hatchet wielding elf-forts did not result in ridding Root of all it’s tough skin and pith, so saying that Your Elf was pithed off is an understatement. We squished out as much ‘fork tender’ as we could and tossed the rest in the compost bowl. That left us with about 5 ounces of ‘fork tender’ Root…not NEARLY enough to turn into a substantial puree. So, we improvised by preparing some fork-tender cauliflower. With great resolve, we whipped up the puree as the recipe indicated fully recognizing that we may be tossing it all out. BUT!! WAIT!! What started out as a potential Epic Fail turned into a REALLY lovely puree!! We were then well on our way to completing this recipe. There were actually 3 mise en places and we’ll walk through each as the recipe unfolds. Our mise en place for the Puree: Unsweetened cashew/almond milk, black peppercorns for freshly ground pepper, extra fine sea salt, THE ROOTS, unfiltered EVOO and a healthy amount of water for cooking ‘The Root That Shall Not Be Named’.

It should be noted that the ROOTS pictured had not yet been peeled and diced; truth be told, after all that peeling and dicing, we did not have strength enough to lift the camera. Pictured next is the mise en place for the Grill (the major bowl component). Here we have Smoked Spanish Paprika, Unfiltered EVOO, Cayenne Pepper, Dried Thyme, Dried Turkish Oregano, Black Pepper Grinder, The Gentle Chef’s Chicken Bouillon, and Minced Garlic.
What you don’t see here is the 14 ounce block of Organic Extra Firm Tofu that had been pressed long enough to squish out a fair amount of water and sliced into 8 slices. These ingredients were blended into a marinade for the Tofu slices. We deviated a wee bit from this recipe in that we doubled it to make sure we had enough to coat our tofu thoroughly. Other than that, we stuck to the plan and the marinade turned out beautifully. Here you see the marinade waiting for the slices of tofu.
The tofu as it begins to marinate
and the final complete coverage of the tofu.
Yes, we deviated a wee bit again by leaving the tofu in the marinade for a few hours rather than the 5 minutes indicated in the recipe. We are two people who love strong and intense flavors, so a lengthy marinade was fine for us. For many others, maybe not. The final mise en place was small but comprised the remaining component for the bowl: EVOO, Artichoke Hearts (we used canned and not the oil marinated), and two garlic cloves which were later thinly sliced.
NOW, we were ready to finish it! The warm ROOT/cauliflower puree was layered into the bowls.
We don’t yet have a grill pan but made do with a large skillet which worked just fine to sear/cook our Tofu slices.
We sautéed the artichoke hearts and sliced garlic, which we left halved because these were baby artichoke hearts, in the EVOO to get a nice browning
and topped the Puree with a healthy dose of them.
And finally, we topped those two layers with the grilled Tofu slices.
Your Elf had NO idea how this was going to taste or fly with Big Solid. This picture ought to give you some indication!
This was so damn good we could hardly stand it. The Tofu that we let marinate SO LONG was delicious, the Sautéed Artichoke Hearts were superb and that Puree was absolutely marvelous. So, we are now two for two in this Vegan Bowl cookbook. Highly recommend! For you who may be interested, here is a link to Celeriac: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celeriac

We used some of our time this week to make two batches of The Gentle Chef’s Chickun Shreds and Pulled Porq. Shown wrapped in foil, the bottom two are the Chickun and the top is the Porq (coming up shortly in a recipe).
The other Gentle Chef meat analogue we prepared was Bacun so we could have Bacun and Tomato sandwiches. Summer ain’t summer without them.

Our next recipe was Cuban Black Beans with Cuban Flavored Pulled Porq served over Brown Rice and Sauteed Plantains. We found the recipe for the Cuban Black Beans (Vegan) online. We are not going to share the link because frankly, the beans had NO flavor at all until we started tinkering around after they had cooked. So, while they were cooked in a slow cooker, the recipe is NOT from our Slow Cooker cookbook. Here’s the mise en place for the beans: Black Beans that had been soaked for 3 days (you can see they are beginning to sprout), Cumin, Onion, Oregano, assorted Peppers (jalapeño, poblano and sweet), and minced garlic.
We placed all the ingredients in the slow cooker (lined to keep it clean) with 3 cups of Chickun Bouillon (The Gentle Chef).
This cooked pretty much all day and still did not have that creamy consistency we wanted BUT even ‘worser’, it had NO flavor. So, we added some salt. That helped but not much. There was a flavor we had in our head that we just could NOT figure out how to replicate. We’d pull out a spoonful of beans, try something new, and elfin-frown. FINALLY, we found it!! And you’ll NEVER believe what it was.
Yep! Turkish seasoning. We gotten some at the Penzey’s store in Memphis (along with some other exotic spices we’ll spring on you another time). OK, so we had the Cuban/Turkish Black Beans ready NOW for the Cuban Pulled Porq (The Gentle Chef’s Seitan and Beyond Cookbook). Our mise en place was simple. Minced Garlic, Avocado Oil (our choice, any good oil will be fine), fresh orange and lime juice with orange and lime zest, thinly sliced white onion, and freshly picked oregano.
We sautéed the onion until translucent
added the garlic and stirred in the Porq we had pulled and the fresh oregano that had been minced.
The citrus juices and zests were added and all cooked down until most of the liquid had been absorbed.
Then, we had a brainstorm of sorts and drizzled a bit of J. Olive's Baklouti Pepper Infused Olive Oil over the Porq for an added boost. HOLY TASTEBUD EXTRAVAGANZA!!
Well, we couldn’t stand not knowing how it tasted, so we sampled the Porq mixture and a mouthgasm occurred; it was incredibly good! Next up, the sautéed plantains. We used a bit of Miyoko’s Creamery Vegan Butter for our sauté base and when the plantains got nice and brown, drizzled a bit of dark agave nectar over them.
The final dish was served as seen.
Wonderful!!

Last was our meal from Thursday evening. We used our slow cooker cookbook to prepare what appeared to be a nice all in one meal—Black Pepper Portobello and Baked Potato Dinner. The mise en place was: Black Pepper from the Mill, Agave Nectar, Tomato Paste, Vegan Worcestershire, Water, Potatoes, Portobellos and a Broccoli/Cauliflower medley (we actually cooked this in the microwave, so we could assure ours-elfs of the consistency we like). Behind the Broccoli is a jar or Tamarind Paste.
We prepared the marinade for the mushrooms, poured it over them in the pot, added the potatoes, covered and cranked it up on low.
Big Solid wanted some Chickun Shreds to top the potatoes with (as well as the portobello steak), so we sautéed some of those. We had expected the sauce to thicken and become dark, as pictured in the book but it did not. We are not sure why as the mushrooms were thoroughly cooked. The taste was good but the consistency just didn’t fly…very thin. Nevertheless, we certainly did have a nice big meal out of it with the added chickun, Daiya shredded cheese and vegan sour cream.

Now, we prepare ours-elfs for this coming week in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen as we begin our food adventures with The Green Chef. Our first meals will arrive in time for us to prepare them for three days next week. AND that still gives us time to try at least one recipe (if not two) from our gaggle of cookbooks. We are also tracking our grocery/food spending this week and will go back a few weeks as well to get a weekly average (Holy Moly, what an eye-opener!). This should be a lot of fun!! And not to leave out our pack of rescue dogs, we prepared them some healthy sweet potato bites for treats. They love them.

We cannot let this blog end without acknowledging the recent tragedy experienced in the Mississippi Delta. Sixteen servicemen, fifteen Marines and one Navy sailor, were killed when their plane went down in a Delta field enroute from North Carolina to Arizona. There is an unspeakable grief here and we ache for these men and their families, both civilian and military.  It makes the following passage ever more meaningful. Always remember to Look for the GOOD, be an EXAMPLE of the GOOD, and ACT for the GOOD as HARD as you can, in as MANY WAYS as you can, EVERY DAY that you can. In other words, “DO EPIC”!

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