Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Vegetarian Barbeque

2 new experiments in one!

I mentioned below that I ran the slow cooker out on the balcony recently; well this is what I made.

I slow-cooked some pulled pork for a potluck and I wanted to also do a vegetarian version since there were two people coming who were semi-veggies. All of the recipes I could find used either jackfruit or seitan. I ended up using both, starting with the jackfruit and then adding the seitan later.
This is what the canned jackfruit looks like:

The recipes all specifically call for unripe/immature canned jackfruit in brine; you wouldn’t want to start with the sweet mature canned fruit in syrup (hmmm… maybe next time, and then omit the brown sugar in the recipe… ANYWAY…). After checking my usual markets I finally found jackfruit in the little West Indian run convenience store near me.

The jackfruit gets shredded and well rinsed to get rid of most of the brine, and then you squeeze/drain out as much of the remaining water as you can. This gives you something that looks slightly like shredded meat (and, unprepared, tastes like artichokes!), although it cooks up a bit more tender, closer to cabbage.

Shredded and drained, with one whole piece remaining at top.

I used the same seasoning recipe that went on the pork and cooked it with some onions for 5 hours in the slow cooker [on the balcony].
The results weren’t bad but they were somewhat disappointing. Nothing caramelized like I had expected it to and it looked and tasted very much like the sauced onions you get on hotdogs, or cabbage… tasty in its own way but not particularly savory, and not a meal.

I then chopped and added a package of seitan (imitation chicken flavor) and some tempeh as well (imitation bacon flavor, oh yeah!). I also tweaked the sauce a lot and put it back to cook on high another 2 hours. If you try this and your favorite sauce mixture includes the addition of vinegar or beer (both in mine), reduce or omit them. Something in the jackfruit does not need it – likely due to the brine.

The vegetarians liked it and - more telling - the omnivores ate it as well (not to say that the pulled pork was ignored!).

Here is the recipe after all changes (although it still needs to be tested in this incarnation):
(For a 4-6 quart slow cooker)

3 cans young jackfruit in brine, rinsed, drained, and shredded
1 (6 oz.) package of Seitan (chicken style), cut in rough ½ in. slices
1 package (3 slices?) tempeh “fakin’ bacon”, chopped (or possibly ¼ cup of soy bacon bits instead, crushed)
1 medium onion, sliced thin

Sauce (or use your favorite mixture, without vinegar or beer)

1 cup commercial barbeque sauce (I know….tsk)
½ cup ketchup
½ cup molasses
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp minced garlic
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper

Combine everything in slow cooker, cook on high for 3-4 hours. Taste and adjust sauce and seasoning as needed. Keep on warm setting until ready to serve. Serve on sandwich rolls or hamburger buns or on rice.

Unfortunately I forgot to get a photo of the final product. It looked very much like pulled pork - dark sauced shreds - the shreds were only a little shorter and thicker than those in the meat batch.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Summer Cooking

Since I’ve put the label ”summer cooking” on here I was thinking that perhaps I should explain what I mean by that.

For me, as soon as the weather gets hot it effects my cooking pretty drastically. I’m sure that anyone without central A/C is in a similar boat. I do anything I can to avoid turning on the oven and heating up the apartment. Most of my cooking is done on the stovetop or in the toaster oven. If I had a grill I would be using that and recently I conducted a successful experiment that involved setting up the slow cooker on the balcony with an extension cord (to be done only if I will be home for the duration of cooking time and there is NO chance of rain). It’s possible that using the slow cooker inside wouldn’t actually add much heat to the kitchen but I’m not ready to try that experiment yet.

It also means preparing dishes that I’ve always associated with summer, for some reason - in addition to the cold-prep tuna and chicken salads and “icebox desserts” you might expect - this involved quite a bit of pasta in my family. Maybe it’s that stovetop thing again. My favorite simple summer dinner is “Noodles and Cheese” with a side salad and lots of cucumber. This will be appearing on the blog soon along with some of those salads.

Finally, for the last three years summer cooking means that I have a garden to work with! For others this might be obvious but I’m still enjoying the novelty of having fresh herbs and tomatoes outside my door.

Does anyone else have summer cooking preferences that I've missed here?

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Mrs. Hall's Pesto Sauce:

2 cups fresh basil leaves (not packed)
2 med cloves garlic
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup pine nuts
Pepper to taste

I used sweet basil from the garden for this but also added:

additional 1/2 cup of lime basil
2 tbsp ground almonds.

Mix all of the ingredients together in the blender until they reach a smooth, even consistency. Pesto should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It can also be frozen for later use.

Then put it on EVERYTHING!

The Basil was getting so big in my garden that it was throwing the other plants into shade – aw, how terrible – into the blender it goes!

I was not prepared for how addictive this pesto recipe was going to be (Thank you Lauren’s Mom!). I ate the stuff all day in the following:

Pesto Egg white scramble (In the microwave no less)
Pesto English Muffins
Pesto Pasta
Pesto on a Bruschetta-flavored Boca Burger (Mmmmm!)
Pesto Popcorn
More Pesto Popcorn

Pesto popcorn was pretty amazing - spread a couple tablespoons of pesto around the inside of your biggest mixing bowl, pop some microwave popcorn, pour it into the bowl and stir well.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Welcome Everyone

Welcome to my own little section of the blog where it will be my job to cover basic guitar playing and basic music theory. In the first few lessons I will be going over the parts of the guitar and basic finger excercises that you can do on your own. I look forward to writing and going over music with all of you. If you have any questions about what I cover please feel free to email me at guitarcookies@gmail.com or post a comment. With that I bid you farewell for now.

Until next time :)