Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Jackfruit "Carnitas" Tacos!

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After consuming Jackfruit Tacos in Los Angeles at Pure Luck, I knew I had to go home & try my hand at making them. I've been meaning to post this recipe for some time, as it's become a staple in my kitchen, especially for parties where people can serve themselves! Jackfruit is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine & can be found in most Asian markets in cans. You may also find it at Indian grocers or other specialty stores. It's important that you get young jackfruit in water or brine, as it is mild & almost flavorless, where ripe jackfruit is sweet. Not only in jackfruit delicious, it's very low in calories & takes well to any seasoning. On the PPK, people have been smothering it with BBQ sauce & using in on sandwiches.

I use a crockpot for this recipe, I love being able to throw it together in the morning, leave for the day, & only need to heat a tortilla up to have dinner after a long day! This can also be simmered on the stove top, but may not have the same depth of flavor from all day slow cooking. You'll notice there's not exact measurements for the ingredients, as this is very adaptable. You can make 1 can or 4! I find one can serves 2 people, but this is also a great re-heat the next day, so don't be afraid to make more!

Jackfruit "Carnitas" Tacos
Young Green Jackfruit, canned, in brine or water, not syrup.
Salsa Verde (Trader Joe's brand is ideal.)
Lime juice
Onion, cut in to large pieces.
Garlic, pressed or minced.
Chile Powder
Smoked Paprika
Cayenne Pepper

Drain & rinse the jackfruit throughly. With your hands, press the moisture out of each piece & add it to the crock pot or your stove top pot.

Take each of your spices & season each piece of jackfruit. Once covered, use your hands to coat each piece in the spices on all sides.

Add the chopped onion & garlic to the crock pot & cover the seasoned jackfruit with the Salsa Verde. It doesn't have to be completely covered, just make sure there's enough liquid in the bottom & spoon a bit on top of all the pieces. (I tend to use a little over half a jar per can of jackfruit.)

Squeeze lime juice over the top of everything (I use a 1/2 lime per can of jackfruit), turn on the crock pot & let it go!

I like to cook this in the crock pot for 7 to 8 hours, if possible, but it can be done in as little as 1 hour. If cooking this on the stove top, let it simmer for at least 1 hour, preferably 2, stirring occasionally.

After the jackfruit is cooked, it will have changed colors & be a nice browned color. I remove the onions & any large garlic pieces from the mixture before serving, but it's up to you!

Serve the jackfruit in corn tortillas with some additional salsa on top & a squeeze of lime juice or any other toppings you enjoy!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Twisted Valentine's Cake, Sorbet, Vegan Brunch, & a Chocolate Orange Cupcakes recipe!

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I present to you, the most un-vegan vegan ice cream cake ever! As I mentioned in my last post, I spent Valentine's Day with a group of friends. We ordered two ice cream cakes from local shop Maggie Mudd & stuffed our faces until we felt sick! The cake you see on the right was the larger of the cakes, filled with half Peanut Butter & Jelly ice cream & the other half "The Kitchen Sink", which consists of peanut butter, chocolate, & marshmallow swirls in chocolate ice cream, both on a chocolate cookie crust! We couldn't help but add the graphic on top, inspired by a walk to the ice cream shop where we saw the horrible image at a nearby butcher. Of course, we're not completely heartless! We also had a lovely heart shaped cake filled with Apple Pie ice cream on a cinnamon graham cracker crust! We also started the evening with creamy polenta & roasted vegetables, but who cares about that?! Bring on the dessert!

Is sorbet season back?! Despite the mainly cool weather, we've had a few nice days & a plethora of citrus fruit inspired me to make a Tangerine Sorbet! I used my basic sorbet recipe, but added extra Lemon juice, some zest, & the juice of one Tangelo. Very delicious! Ryan & I love this refreshing treat, even on cool nights, you can imagine you're in a tropical climate. I suspect you'll be seeing more sorbet from my kitchen as fruit starts rolling in to the Farmer's Market!

Another successful Vegan Brunch Cartel took place last weekend, with my house being the location. I decided to have a crepes theme & invite everyone to bring a favorite crepe filling for a "Make Your Own Crepe station". It turned out quite well & we were treated to delights like Chik'n & Pesto, Indian Dosa filling, Tofu & Veggie scramble, Almond filling with Coffee sauce, & of course, Banana & Vegan Nutella! We also had sides of Potato Salad, Seitan Sausages ala Julie @ Everyday Dish, & a beautiful "Heart Salad" with adorable heart shaped beets on top! Delicious, Adorable, Fun; I love crepes!

Finally, I leave you with a poocake. That's right, I said poocake! Our good friend Josh was in town to celebrate his birthday & I couldn't help but make cupcakes for him inspired by his favorite subject! At his request, these were chocolate orange cakes with fudgy chocolate-orange frosting! I used Isa's Rich Chocolate Cake recipe, but made a few adjustments to add the subtle orange taste.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup soy milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon orange zest


Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Sift together the flours, baking powder, & baking soda.

In a saucepan, heat the soy milk on low-medium heat. Once lightly bubbling, add the cocoa powder, whisk well until it is dissolved, & remove from the heat.

Combine the maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, vanilla & orange extracts, & orange zest in a bowl and whisk well. Add the cocoa mixture to the other wet ingredients & combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients & mix until just combined.

Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes & rotate the pan.
Continue to bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 4 to 6 minutes more, for a total of 14 to 16 minutes.

Let them cool for 5 minutes, remove them to a wire rack to cool completely & frost with your favorite frosting!

This yields 20 to 24 cupcakes.

My Notes:
This was my first time working with this recipe & I thought it produced a nice little cake! With the amount of maple syrup, I think I'll be sticking to my coveted favorite recipe which includes melted chocolate for depth, but this is still a tasty cake worth making & is much better than most recipes out there! The fudgy frosting was a delicious treat & I used fresh orange juice, instead of soy milk for my liquid, a fun & easy way to flavor frostings.

It's been far too long since I've posted a recipe, but I promise you my next entry will be a delicious & exciting item that's had a bit of buzz around the PPK! Can anyone guess what it is?!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Some Valentine's Day sugar!

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It's Valentine's Day & while it's not a holiday that means much to this household, I thought it would be fun to do an update some sweets from my kitchen!

My husband Ryan had a birthday recently & we decided to invite friends over for jackfruit tacos, Guitar Hero, & of course, birthday cake! Peanut Butter is the number one dessert of choice in Ryan's world, so peanut butter it had to be! This rich Chocolate Cake was filled with Peanut Butter Caramel & topped with fluffy Peanut Butter Mousse. I played around with melted chocolate & "wrote" his name on waxed paper, then transfered the letters to the cake & surrounded them by chocolate-hazelnut frosting designs. I used almond milk for the mousse, so the nutty flavor would really shine, but found it was not the most stable option & I feared the frosting would slip right off the cake! Luckily, the taste didn't suffer at all!

Natalie from Bake & Destroy rocks my world, so when she sent me these awesome St. Elvis Cupcake Toppers, I had to put them to use. While a peanut butter banana cupcake would have been a better match, these vanilla cupcakes with lemon buttercream, made to enjoy with a friend over for dinner, went over just as well! By the way, have you seen the new Bake & Destroy hoodies & t-shirts? I have one of each on the way!

It has been cookie mania in my house! Ryan has an obsession with post-dinner cookies, dipped in soy or almond milk, so I've been trying to satisfy his sweet tooth. The Chocolate Chip cookies from Vegan with a Vengeance are super delicious; both Ryan & his co-workers have been rapidly consuming them. They last about 2 days around here, so I've made them a few times. They're just one more reason Vegan with a Vengeance is a heavily used cookbook in my house!

Well, that's all for now! I leave you with the most anti-vegan Valentine ever, courtesy of Natalie at Bake & Destroy. Sad? Hilarious? Cute? You decide!
I'll be spending tonight with some awesome friends, chowing down on ice cream cakes from Maggie Mudd. I hope you spend today doing something you love! Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

My Sweet Vegan giveaway results!

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Phew, what a crazy week of comments it has been! With over 100 entries, I'm glad I decided to let choose the winner for the My Sweet Vegan giveaway, rather than deciding myself.

While many of you chose common combinations like peanut butter & chocolate or fruit & chocolate, others came through with unique flavor combinations such as banana & curry, chili & pickle juice, pineapple & turmeric, & multiple people even mentioned peanut butter & pickles! I'm finding myself inspired by the suggestions & may have to use some of them in future kitchen concoctions! I was a bit alarmed to see mentions of items like bacon & cheese on a vegan blog, but that's a story for another time!

So, without further ado, the winner of a copy of My Sweet Vegan by Hannah Kaminsky is..
#30- Bianca! "you can really do no wrong with chocolate but a sourdough acme baguette sliced up and covered in chocolate is totally magical." Here's a screenshot of the selection.

Congratulations Bianca; I'll definitely be trying your flavor combination! Lucky me, I live in the city of Acme Bread & it is a favorite of mine. In fact, I used their Sour Batard tonight to make the "Sweet & Simple French Toast" from My Sweet Vegan & it was delicious! How is that for irony?!

Thank you to everyone for joining in the fun & I hope those of you who weren't selected will buy a copy of My Sweet Vegan today! It's a fun & fabulous book for any dessert lover!