Tag Archives: vegan mofo

Taco Cleanse Day 25 – Corn VS Flour Tortillas: The Great Debate

Taco Cleanse enthusiast Abbey Bean asked an important question on a previous post and I would like to address it here because this is a crucial topic that I feel remiss for not addressing as of yet. She said “do you prefer flour or corn tortillas?” and I will try to answer this as best I can.

This is a perfect tortilla, it’s almost spongy like injera and delicate like a crepe but the flavor is pure corn

If you have ever wondered “how could eat tacos all day” my guess is that you have never had a deliciously fresh perfectly made tortilla. They are the most critical element of the taco both for enfolding the delicious components within and for creating a way to bring the taco from your plate to your mouth. They are also a vital element when it comes to the taste of the taco. You hear a lot that you can tell how good a taco stand is going to be by it’s salsa and I would have to disagree. Fresh homemade tortillas are the hallmark of any great taco stand. And they aren’t even hard to make.

I choose my taco’s tortilla based on what is going to be inside. Usually it works out that if it’s going to be more of a Tex-Mex taco like fajitas or a scramble-sausage-cheese breakfast taco I will use a flour tortilla. If my taco is more Mexican inspired like Al Pastor, Carnitas, or my standard breakfast taco of refried beans, nopales, and potatoes, then I will chose a corn tortilla. This is most of the time and I do really love a good corn tortilla. A bad one can ruin a taco however. I’ve never really been a fan of whole wheat tortillas because I’ve never had one that wasn’t tough but maybe I would enjoy a really fresh one. I do like Margarita’s spelt tortillas and get them occasionally for breakfast. On the taco cleanse it can be a little harder to figure out what tortilla goes with what filling. For the Pad Thai-co I was trying to think of some rice based or mung bean based tortilla, like a Vietnamese crepe, but in the end I just used flour because flour is kind of a neutral and it worked great. 

Choosing a flour vs a corn tortilla isn’t even the real issue. I used to be kind of a corn tortilla snob but I’ve gotten over it as I’ve gotten older and learned to try and embrace every kind of taco. Quality, I assure you, is what makes the real difference. I don’t think I can really explain it through pictures because you can’t always tell a good tortilla by looking at it. Just the other day, I was at the Mexican meat market looking for five inch flour tortillas and I tried the first brand I found that was vegan. I didn’t have very high hopes – I usually don’t go for flour tortillas unless they just came off the comal- but they ended up being fluffy and delicious. Generally you want to either make tortillas yourself or go somewhere where they are still warm when you purchase them. In Austin, Fiesta, HEB, Central Market, and many taquerias make their tortillas fresh all day so they are easy to find. Tortillas don’t last long, that’s why dishes like migas, chilaquiles, and nachos were invented, to use up the tortillas past their prime. If you aren’t making fresh tortillas you always want to heat them up, before you add the filling. I used to always wrap them in foil and stick them in the oven but ever since I got my tortilla warmer I have been using the microwave instead. Tortillas should always be small, six inches or less, you should be able to finish a taco in a few bites.

A festive woven tortilla warmer is a nice change from the beige standard ones.

If there aren’t Mexican grocery stores in your neighborhood and you do decide to make tortillas yourself, I recommend getting a tortilla press to make the job super easy. They aren’t expensive and you can use them to flatten gluten cutlets too if you make your own seitan.

I would also recommend watching a video, here is one from Hilah Cooking, to get the technique right and try corn first, I find them easier than flour. They are similar to making pancakes except there is no measuring, only a couple ingredients, and they are done in about a minute. If you can’t get masa in your area, there are even recipes for how to make them yourself, here is a great video.

Now there are, of course, a range of other vehicles for holding your taco but these are always secondary to the standard fresh tortilla. Crispy tacos, puffy tacos, pancake tacos, waffle tacos, romaine leaf tacos, and even raw corn tortilla tacos all have their place on the taco cleanse but they aren’t “standard” tacos, I would call them specialty tacos. I see a lot of folks calling their tacos “soft tacos” and I think that term is an invention from Taco Bell that is rather redundant. Any taco is a soft taco unless it’s otherwise stated.

A crispy taco is a “specialty” taco not typically served in Mexico or Texas.

I hope that clears things up. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Sunny Days in Texas: Nice Ass Greens

This is probably the most used recipe in my arsenal because it is simple, versatile, and dare I say, healthy. The Sunny Days zine isn’t just things like jalapeno popper dip and Oatmeal Cream Pies, you know. I like to have dark leafy greens whenever I can get my act together and this method is great because it works with any edible green you end up with. Since I first made it in 2008 I have probably used the basic method about a hundred times, changing the types of greens and vinegar and usually omitting raisins because I don’t always have them on hand. 

I love serving the greens with grits because the garlic and oil gets all saucy and mixes in and flavors the whole dish. It works especially well with southern style meals or Italian. And, when you cook down greens like this you can eat a lot more of them and maybe absorb all those vital nutrients. I love adding in vegan sausage to make the greens a full meal. Usually it ends up on the sweet end of the spectrum because we use Texas Sweet Onions and white balsamic vinegar but it can go the other direction too with yellow onions and red wine vinegar. You can even add olives instead of the raisins if you want a more savory salty dish, especially if you really like olives added to every single thing you make.

Since putting the recipe in the zine though I do want to clarify something. The recipe is “nice ass greens” as in “my word, these leafy green vegetables taste delightful” not that you will develop a nice ass just by eating them. That you can only get from your mamma or maybe doing lots of squats and lunges.
Every post this month for Veganmofo will be celebrating the recipes in the zine Sunny Days in Texas, a fundraiser cookzine to help Sunny Day Farms Animal Sanctuary.

Everybody’s Working for the Weekend

I have so much to do this weekend! Tonight is Vegan Drinks at Cheer Up Charlies. I am excited to eat at Iggi’s Texitarian while I am there because somehow I still haven’t tried it.

It is supposed to be a great vegan food trailer and they have fried zucchini and buffalo wings on special!

Then I have to figure out what to make for Thanksgiving which will be a lot of fun because I love going through recipes. I will definitely be making the Miso Glazed Brussels Sprouts, because that is now a Thanksgiving tradition, along with mashed potatoes, cranberries, apple strudel, and stuffing. I also want to try one of Tofu & Sprouz’s Gravies but I might just go with my standard roux based gravy depending on the main dish. And that is the part I am having a hard time with. Last year I made seitan dumpling that we all loved.

but the year before that we had this fabulous seitan roulade that was beautiful and amazing.

I asked Mr. Smurf what he would prefer and he said “ooo those dumpings….or the roulade that was so good…or you could make something else” so that wasn’t very much help at all! Do you guys have any favorites?

I bet after all the Thanksgiving planning I am going to have to go back to Counter Culture Saturday (and maybe Sunday) for the Thanksgiving sandwich, it only happens once a year!

I am so excited because this is one of the best weeks of the year, plus it is getting cold enough that the dogs are demanding to wear their sweaters and next week is a three day work week! Do you all have exciting weekend plans?

VeganMoFo Pumpkin Sage Pasta- the ultimate fall comfort food

I have never owned a real casserole dish, in the past I have always used a very old 8X8 glass baking dish for nearly all of my baking needs. Since I started preparing recipes from the VEGANOMICON I bake  things in the oven and make a lot more casseroles than any other time in my life so I really need a new dish. I saw this beauty and I had to have it and now I have been using it left and right, forcing items into is sleek oblong shape.

I have wanted to make this recipe for Pumpkin Sage Crusted pasta since I first read about it; pasta with cashew ricotta mixed with caramelized onions and pumpkin combing for the sauce and then a crusty top of bread crumbs, walnuts and sage. Somehow I managed to hold off until the dish was weather appropriate. In my case in Austin TX that means the time when we get to where pants and turn off the AC because *gasp* it is only 85 degrees outside. My partner’s parents are coming in a couple weeks and I thought I  would give this one a dry run to see if it would meet the not-in-laws approval.

This dish was fantastic! It is everything that I ever wanted but never find in Vegan Mac and Cheese. The problem with Mac and Cheese is that it is trying to be mac and cheese (which I used to love to make) and it will never be the same as its dairy counterpart. The Pumpkin Pasta, on the other hand, isn’t trying to be anything but a yummy, gooey, noodley casserole with a crispy top and so it succeeds by not having to compare to its non-vegan version. I usually find that the key to good vegan food is to

  • not try to be something else
  • utilize the wonder that is vegetables

and here the vegetables really shined. There are few things better in this world than caramelized onions and I realized I should really cook with pumpkin more. The cans are cheap and easy to work with and don’t seem to contain a lot of strange preservatives like some processed canned things and you don’t have to peel anything with is what is usually annoying about winter squashes. I served this dish with roasted asparagus and it made 6 meals. Six actual meals, not 6 “servings” which isn’t usually very correct for us. I think I will make it again for the family or at least the next time I am feeling sorry for myself. I think it would be a great recipe to southwesternize too, using cumin instead of sage for the topping and mixing jalapenos, sauteed peppers and maybe a can of tomatoes into the sauce. Me Gusta calabaza!