Cook: Sex, Ice Picks and Puff Pastry Pizza

Cook: Sex, Ice Picks and Puff Pastry Pizza

DSC_0453About halfway through my Basic Instinct marathon last weekend I got a strong desire to do something “psychologically empty” with an ice pick (you know what I’m talking about Ms. Stone). I stripped down to my sexiest undergarments and decided to pound away at the iceberg that had been forming for three years in my freezer. I was pretty convinced that what I would find beneath that ice mound was something mind blowing. Perhaps it wouldn’t top the find documented in Atari: Game Over, but I thought it would come close. After countless hours of grueling ice picking and many false positives I finally hit the jackpot. There, buried in the middle of that desolate landfill of ice, was a half empty box of puff pastry. Score one for the ice spelunkers in sexy undergarments.

I decided a puff pastry pizza was in order. I put together some veggies, oil and balsamic vinegar and baked the mixture nicely on top of the thawed puff pastry. I ate it while finishing up the Basic Instinct marathon. Sex, ice picks and pizza. Not sure life gets anymore real than that.

Puff Pastry Pizza
(printable version)

For the pizza:
-one vegan puff pastry shell
-1 red onion, small dice
-2 handfuls of mixed greens, small shreds
-1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
-4 ounces of button mushrooms
-2 cloves of garlic, pressed

For the sauce:
-1 can cannellini beans
-a few sprinkles of water
-1/2 tsp. olive oil
-1/4 tsp dried sage
-1 garlic clove
-salt and pepper to tast

1. Allow the puff pastry to thaw. 45 minutes for typical puff pastry. Longer if it has been in the freezer for more than two years.

2. Once the puff pastry is thawed, carefully open the sheet of it and slice it in half. Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil. Stretch out the puff pastry by pressing each half with your fingers and pulling with your hands. When the halves have been stretched as far as they can, place each half on the prepared baking sheet.

3. Preheat oven to 415 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the garlic and red onion in olive oil until the onions are beginning to caramelize. Add the greens and balsamic vinegar and cook until the greens have wilted. Set the greens, onions and garlic aside.

5. Using the same pan heat the mushrooms. You can also mix the mushrooms in with the greens and onions but we live in a mushroom love/hate household so I made them separately. Heat the mushrooms until they have begun to brown. Set them aside.

6. Mix the ingredients for the sauce, except the water, in a blender. Puree until smooth. Add water to thin the sauce out if necessary.

7. Spread the sauce down the middle of each side of the puff pastry. Sprinkle the vegetables and mushrooms on top of the sauce. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Don’t worry if it puffs up a lot (its called puff pastry for a reason). Allow it to cool for ten minutes. Slice it and serve.

Served best with a side of cold, hard…

Cook: Cauliflower Breakfast Scramble

Cook: Cauliflower Breakfast Scramble

DSC_0441Last weekend, when I came upon the local garden grown section of my farmer’s market of choice, I discovered something crazy. Sitting in a tray of half melted ice cubes was an orange cauliflower. I had never seen such a thing. I scooped one up and took it home intending to learn more. Now some websites such as thekitchn will tell you that orange cauliflower (dubbed Cheddar Cauliflower) was first discovered in Canada in the 1970’s. They’ll also have you believe that it took many years of crossbreeding (hey what happens when I breed this duck with a head of cauliflower…whoa, it turns orange!) for the plant to became farmer’s market worthy. I’m not one of those people. I know, or at least I think I know, the real story behind orange cauliflower. Its the story the FDA doesn’t want you to know.

The story starts in Detroit, in 2002, during the filming of hip hop biopic 8 Mile. Actor Evan Jones, who plays Cheddar Bob in the film, was popping vitamins like they were candy (keeping up with Omar Benson Miller isn’t easy). As a result of this vitamin popping, Evan developed Hypervitaminosis A, an excess of Vitamin A (which is what Beta Carotene becomes when it is broken down by the body) in the bloodstream. During Evan Jones’ most famous scene, the one where his character shoots himself in the leg with his mom’s gun during an altercation in a parking lot, a man peddling cauliflower from his truck bed pulled up to watch. When Jones falls to the ground a bit of his Beta Carotene saturated blood splattered onto the man’s cauliflower. A day or two later the man noticed that those heads that were bloodied had turned orange. He quickly shipped the contaminated cauliflower to his cousin at Cornell University. Shortly thereafter an orange colored cauliflower that was high in Beta Carotene and Vitamin A (25 percent higher than its white brethren according to Saveur) hit the farmer’s market circuit. Its name? Cheddar Cauliflower. Is this a coincidence? I think not.

Whether it be from Detroit or Canada, one thing I do know for sure is that a head of Cheddar Cauliflower can be turned into a breakfast scramble like this:

Cauliflower Breakfast Scramble
(printable version)

-1 small head of Cheddar Cauliflower, cut into tiny pieces
-1/2 large onion, diced
-1 small bell pepper, diced
-olive oil
-3 Tbs. liquid aminos
-1 tsp. garlic powder
-1/2 tsp. cumin
-1/2 tsp. tumeric
-1/2 tsp. chili powder
-sprinkle of nutritional yeast

1. Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan. Saute the onion for five minutes. Add the bell pepper and continue to heat for an additional three minutes.

2. Pour the cauliflower into the pan and saute it on one side until the cauliflower begins to brown (five minutes or so). Flip and continue cooking for another two minutes.

3. Place the spices in a bowl (not the nutritional yeast) and combine with the liquid aminos. Scrape the spice paste into the veggie mixture. Stir until the spices have been distributed throughout. Turn off the heat. Spoon the cauliflower into bowls and sprinkle with nutritional yeast. Enjoy it while carelessly playing with your mom’s lighter that is shaped like a gun (I wouldn’t advise messing around with the real thing).

What’s a lot of Beta Carotene in your ears sound like? This.

Click: Murder Free Chianti, Vegan Sex, Meatless Monday at a Steakhouse, Making Mustard, Lunchmoney Lewis and Other Things That Titillated My Fingers This Week

Click: Murder Free Chianti, Vegan Sex, Meatless Monday at a Steakhouse, Making Mustard, Lunchmoney Lewis and Other Things That Titillated My Fingers This Week

Not wanting to be outdone by their Thin Mint brethren, Tag-A-Longs went all raw, vegan this week. The ball is in your court now terrible, terrible Samoas. Here’s some other things that outdid themselves this week:

Happenings:

Recipes:

Singles:

“Circles” by Machineheart (featuring Vanic)

“More” by the Eiffels

“Shake” by Soviet X-Ray Record Club

Damien Ike “Kingdom Come”

Laces “Love Me Sober”

“Rainy Day” by Lady Low

Videos:

“Thank You” by All Tvvins

“Coming For You” by The Offspring

“Texas” by Magic Man

“When I Was Done Dying” by Dan Deacon

“Colors” by Genevieve

“Kingdom Come” by Damien Ike

“Daffodil Days” by Oscar

“Love Me Sober” (Piano Version) by Laces

“Bills” by Lunchmoney Lewis

 

 

First Quarter Click Tracks (When Available) via Spotify:

Artist’s Cookbook: Organised Dahl Courtesy of Organised Scum

Artist’s Cookbook: Organised Dahl Courtesy of Organised Scum

Every morning at 8, I strolled into this crazy Russian professor’s lectures about math, nuclear physics and whatever else he wanted to talk about. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out what this guy was doing in the middle of nowhere North Carolina. But he was there and so was I. I approached him after class one day and asked if he had ever had any desire to start a punk band. He waved his hand towards me and said that he was more of a math rock guy. I told him that math rock is boring as hell and that someone of his capacity should take more pride in themselves. He didn’t seem to thrilled with my response. I spent the rest of the semester in that class lying low and wondering what could have been. I fancied the Russian Professor and I would’ve joined forces and torn that college down one brick at a time. Instead, I limped back to the dorms each night like a wounded parasite and passed my time playing ping pong against a Spaniard.

That’s why I consider Organised Scum to be one of the lucky ones. They went to the University and didn’t have to settle for ping pong with Spaniard’s. That’s because they found each other. According to local lore Organised Scum first met in a Lecture Theatre known as ‘The McCrum’. To honor that sacred meeting they originally dubbed themselves The McCrum Lecture Theatre Experience. Eventually they began asking themselves, what rhymes with McCrum? Scum came to mind and they decided to morph into their current designation.

One of the three core objectives of Organised Scum is to “maintain optimal nutritional vibes”. This means two things. First, they will have no problems singing about food. Take, for instance, their latest slacker folk single “Smack Me Up, Gun Bitch!” The song subject starts out with a few clear as day lines about stalkers. Cool, I think I know where this is going. But all of a sudden the lyrics do a complete u-blow and mention a crazy little place that serves Lebanese food. I call that keeping the nutritional vibes coming, even when you least expect it. The second way the band performs the whole nutritional vibe thing is by uploading recipes and food posts amongst their other band nonsense to their website. I recommend checking out the fabulous Kebabalicious piece about a falafel king who actually cuts the stems off the pickled chilies, individually, before bedding them. It’ll bring a tear or two to your eye (and if it doesn’t, you better check your pulse).

So what’s Organised Scum getting nutrionally vibey with at this moment in time? That would be something they have dubbed Organised Dahl (or Workingman’s Dahl). You can get your hands on the recipe here. One thing to note, the recipe calls for six chilies (or non spicy people can go with ginger). These chilies absolutely have to have the stems cut off individually before stick blending them into a chunky paste. Any other treatment of these peppers is anything but Organised. It’s Scum.

The new track:

Cook: Lentil, Barley and Split Pea Stew

Cook: Lentil, Barley and Split Pea Stew

“I’ve heard it all before, I could hear it all a thousand times more”
-“What If I” by Pennywise (the band, not the clown)

DSC_0428I get it, Señor Meatman, I’m a vegan and you are super concerned about the amount of protein I take in. I assure you there is nothing to worry about. I get more than enough protein from all the protein bars I eat. It used to be protein bars for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But that became a bit problematic when my lovely wife and I would go out to eat at a fancy restaurant and I’d be at an absolute loss about what to order. I’d try to order a protein bar hoping that the fancy restaurant had some sort of secret menu that I might luck into finding out about, but I was never successful. In fact, it was downright embarrassing for J-Fur. I mean do you know what kind of looks you get at fancy restaurants if you inquire about what type of protein bars they are hiding in the back? Weird ones. Very, very weird ones. So I solved that problem by smuggling my own in. That wasn’t much better. Most of those fancy restaurants frowned when I ordered nothing but a glass of water and, upon their return, caught me downing protein bars by the fistful. One even fired my ass right back on the street and left J-Fur eating dinner by herself.

It dawned on me, when I saw an old Slim Fast commercial, you can’t do these weird diet things all day long. You can hack it for breakfast and lunch but then you need to eat a “sensible dinner” and protein bars are not sensible. By the time I had come to realize this I had my picture up in all the fancy restaurants in town (do not serve this guy, he smuggles in protein bars). I guess you could say I had been banned from returning. I was left with cooking dinner for myself. This Lentil, Barley and Split Pea Stew was born out of my desire for a “sensible dinner” and Señor Meatman’s fear that I wasn’t getting enough protein. The lentils (18 grams per cup), barley (3.5 grams per cup) and split peas (48 grams per cup) are great sources of protein. That way, even if I skip a protein bar at dinner, I am still thousands of milligrams over my daily allotment.

Lentil, Barley and Split Pea Stew (adapted slightly from A Full Measure of Happiness)
(printable version)

-1/2 large onion diced
-2 medium zucchini diced
-1 cup baby carrots, thinly sliced
-1 cup green beans, diced
-1/2 cup red lentils
-1/2 cup yellow split peas
-1/2 cup barley
-28 ounces of diced tomatoes (I used garlic flavored)
-3 cups vegetable broth
-2 cups water
-1/2 t salt
-1/4 t black pepper
-smoked paprika

1. Dice and layer all the veggies in the bowl of a crock pot.

2. Pour the red lentils and barley overtop of the vegetables. Add the diced tomatoes, broth, water, salt, and pepper. Set the crock pot on low and cook for six hours (or three on high).

3. Cook the yellow split peas in a pressure cooker until they have softened and split open and resemble a mush (about six minutes with natural release). Drain any leftover water and pour the split peas into the crock pot. Stir until they are incorporated. You should now have a thick stew. Heat for an additional two hours (or 1 on high), adding any additional water or broth you need to get your stew to the desired consistency.

4. Spoon the stew into bowls. Sprinkle smoked paprika overtop. Enjoy it with a nice crusty protein bar…I mean baguette.

Cook: Squash Pancakes

Cook: Squash Pancakes

DSC_0364Time for a note from one of our readers:

Dear Tender,
What do I do with the large amount of chickpea flour that has been hanging in my pantry for nearly a year?
Love,
Blender Tanson

Yo Blender,
You turn it into squash dumplings.
Enjoy,
Tender Branson

Dear Tender,
What do I do if my lazy ass decided to dice the one pound of yellow squash necessary for the dumplings in my blender instead of doing it by hand and I accidentally let the blender run too long and now my squash is less of a dice and more of a puree?
Love,
Blender Tanson

Dear Blender,
Do I have to do everything for you? Get some balls to experiment in the kitchen. Chicks dig that. Now, you committed cardinal sin number seven in Tender Branson’s cooking bible, thou shall not blend what you can dice by hand because it never works out. What I would do is take some of that chickpea flour, well, a lot of that chickpea flour and just load it into the puree. Keep adding and mixing until you have what appears to be a pancake batter. At this point just fry up the batter like you would pancakes. Problem solved.
Hope This Helps,
TB

Dear Tender,
Thanks asshole. It worked.
Blender Tanson

Squash Pancakes
(printable version)

-1 pound yellow squash (about 3 of them) pureed
-1 1/2 to 2 cups chickpea flour (besan), or more if needed
-1 hot chili, seeded
-1/2 tsp grated ginger
-salt
-pinch of nutmeg

1. Place the squash in a food processor, along with 1 1/2 cups of chickpea flour, the chili and ginger.

2. Process until everything is blended and smooth. At this point you should have a batter that is reminiscent of pancake batter. If it is still very runny, add more chickpea flour.

3. Add salt and nutmeg. Taste. Add more if necessary.

4. Pour pancake batter on a griddle. Fry until bubbles appear on top and the bottom is browned. Flip and repeat.

5. Serve with your favorite homemade tomato sauce.

Note: Despite our name similarities, Blender Tanson is not me. I would never do something as stupid as that. I always chop my vegetables by hand.

Here’s the recipe in song form.

Food Flavored Album Review: The Go! Team’s The Scene Between

Food Flavored Album Review: The Go! Team’s The Scene Between

For three albums The Go! Team has made a name for itself by crossbreeding tricked out noise rock melodies, old school hip-hop, schizzed up blaxploitation and Bollywood soundtrack collages and dance music that feels like it came straight out of the blast furnace. Overtop, they’ve pumped in jump rope chant choruses and verses delivered with choo choo train like elocution by rapper Ninja (or Kaori Tsuchida or Chi Fukami Taylor or any number of special guests including Chuck D. and Solex). But things began to feel a bit too traditional for bandleader Ian Parton. So he decided that for the band’s fourth album, The Scene Between, things would be different. Gone would be the voices of Ninja, Kaori and Chi. In their place? Vocals provided by singers Ian had never heard of before. The songs themselves would be guided by melody. Samples would not provide the backbone, instead they would be treated as any other instrument. The resulting album feels like a rebellion against the past. A warm, bright, cheery rebellion. ItDSC_0408 reeks of someone itching for a new adventure. In a lot of ways, The Scene Between is the musical equivalent to Divas Can Cook’s Vegan Southern Style Collard Greens.

Both The Scene Between and the collard greens are built from a bubbling hot beginning. While The Scene Between is almost completely different from its predecessors, it does have one significant thing in common with them. It is still frenetic and feverish. No track symbolizes this as much as opener “What D’You Say?” The track begins refreshingly. A can of soda is opened and the fizz that accompanies a bad pour can be heard. Next, a springtime horn blows. Its not smooth and exotic like a snake charmer, more like Dwight Schrute on a recorder, but it succeeds in lulling the listener into a momentary daydream. That daydream is shattered as soon as the clicking drum sticks kick in. What follows is four plus minutes of turbulent, unadulterated, pulsing, fun. Its a fun that grows from the up and down lyrical deliver of Brazilian (currently living in LA) singer-songwriter Samira Winter and the distortion gripped guitars in the background. The collard greens bubbling hot beginning occurs courtesy of the oil being heated in the saute pan.

First to enter that oil? Onions and garlic. These strong, yet pliable little pieces of white matter are quickly reduced to tender blithering babies by the oil’s searing heat. Their only sense of empowerment and brass is the aromatic smell leaving their pores and the sounds of sizzle that scream out from their flesh. While the title track of The Scene Between doesn’t blither like a baby, it does capture the same empowerment and brass. Its brought by the intensely gained lyrics performed by the London Africa Gospel Choir. Amazing how some twists of a nob can take the beauty of a gospel choir and give it a more honest and raw but still completely otherworldly feel. For a few short bursts, “The Scene Between” sizzles with some of the clearest sounds on the album. In between, it mirrors a tribal scene from deep in the jungle.

Because collard greens quickly soak up whatever they are slow simmered in, they can be won or lost based on their broth. A rich, flavorful broth creates greens that exude power while simultaneously forging a connection between your palette and mind. A weak broth and your greens get their asses kicked daily on the playground. The Scene Between also toes the broth line by offering some slow simmered tracks of its own. A weak output from the brothy “Waking the Jetstream” and the album loses its quick start. Thankfully the track falls into the rich and flavorful category. Like “The Scene Between”, “Waking the Jetstream” has vocals that have been gained to feel larger than life. The difference is that Casey Sowa (of Strange Relations) remains firmly grounded with her terrestrial, singer-songwriterish delivery. This feels appropriate considering that the synths, loops and acoustic instruments in the track are arranged around a slightly slower base of music. Strip away all the production and “Waking the Jetstream” fits nicely on CMT (during the overnight shift) but loses its robustness. Its all those production elements that make this track what it is: an excellent indie rock song.

But, I’m a traditionalist, man. What about the bacon taste? I need to have that smokey, bacon flavor when I eat my collards. I hear ya. You can’t completely buck tradition or your new creation will no longer resemble what you started with. In Diva’s Greens, the bacon taste is achieved by using smoked salt. Its expensive as hell…but totally worth it. “The Art Of Getting By (Song for Heaven’s Gate)” is the bacon flavor of The Scene Between. It is the track that most closely links what Ian Parton and crew are trying to accomplish with what they have done previously. Musically, the song is driven by heavily emphasizing percussion and horns. It is the same two instruments which are at the heart of the band’s most famous track (at least if you are an American football fan) “The Power is On.” The similarities between what’s been and what is stop there as “The Art of Getting By (Song for Heaven’s Gate)” is much slower and more controlled than “The Power is On”. For the second time on The Scene Between, the vocals are provided by the London Africa Gospel Choir. Just like they did with “The Scene Between”, the choir elevates the song into a realm that is much more spiritual than typical indie rock tracks. Its the perfect delivery considering that the song was inspired by the mass suicide of the Heaven’s Gate religious cult.

I don’t care if your collard greens have meat or not, no bundle of greens is complete without a generous helping of hot sauce. It makes the greens flare, it makes them pop. “Blowtorch” is The Scene Between’s hot sauce. Its surfy, but not in a simplistic Weezer sort of way. The surf/noise rock combo creates a depth that a lot of strict surf rock never reaches. This depth is the flare. It is the pop.

While The Go! Team’s The Scene Between is a fun album, it isn’t without its faults. Each time I listen to it, I start off enjoying everything the early tracks have to offer. After the instrumental awesomeness of  “Gaffa Tape Bikini” I lose separation between the tracks. With the exception of  “The Art of Getting By (Song for Heaven’s Gate)” the tracks seem to run together. While flavors meshing together is a good thing in the world of collard greens, it isn’t ideal for albums. Still, with over half the tracks being at the good to exceptional level, you won’t see me begging for the old tried and true any time soon.

“Blowtorch” and “The Scene Between”:

Click: Vegan St. Patty’s Day Recipes, Fugazi Covers, Beastly Pretzel Sliders, A Non-Dairy Milk Guide and Other Things That Grabbed My Attention This Week

Click: Vegan St. Patty’s Day Recipes, Fugazi Covers, Beastly Pretzel Sliders, A Non-Dairy Milk Guide and Other Things That Grabbed My Attention This Week

The Germans certainly know how to make meat. But can they make vegan meat? That was a topic that I researched extensively this week. Turns out they can. Here’s more of what I “extensively” researched:

Happenings:

Recipes:

Singles:

“Together or Alone” by Eternal Summers

New Arcades “Let’s Get Away”

“Better off Alone” by Everywhere

“Enchanted” by Young Wonder

Rubblebucket “Waiting Room” (Fugazi Cover)

Remixes:

Zella Day “Compass” (Young Bombs Remix)

Videos:

“Violence” by Eternal Death

The Chainsmokers “Let You Go” (featuring Great Good Fine Ok)

“Coyote Choir” by Pepa Knight

“Noah” by Amber Run

“Give Me A Try” by The Wombats

 

First Quarter Click Tracks (When Available) via Spotify:

Cook: Farro, Artichokes and Greens

Cook: Farro, Artichokes and Greens

DSC_0404Years ago one of the cereal mother grains, Ms. Barley, got knocked up by a traveling salesman. He had come to her door hoping to pawn off some of his large supply of malt. When he removed his hat and smoothed down his hair Ms. Barley, who was like an unmarried version of a desperate housewife, led him to a grass field. It was here that the two of them made love from mid-afternoon until well into the night. A few months later Ms. Barley began having extremely debilitating nausea every morning. She quickly came to realize that that salesman had planted his seed in her. When the time came to deliver Ms. Barley, always one to appreciate symbolic gestures, returned to the same spot in the grass field where her baby was conceived. She delivered a tiny little grain, one whom she named barley. Ms. Barley arose from her position and led her new offspring into the house. After an hour of intensive cleaning, Ms. Barley felt weird. She tried to push through it but to no avail. Eventually she laid down on her kitchen floor to take a rest. During her rest, Ms. Barley squeezed another baby from her loins. This one was much larger and the delivery was ten times more painful. Angrily she vowed to call him Fat Ass Round Robber Of life. Eventually it was shortened to Farrol and, by the time this plump grain was being sacrificed on the tombs of Egyptian kings, it had been shortened to just farro.

Farro is one of my grain obsessions. I love that it is chewy, even more so than its tiny little brother, and that it has a distinctive nutty taste to it. My most recent farro adventure found me pairing the fat ass grain with some greens and artichokes. These pieces fit together so well that J-Fur raved like a lunatic. Here is how it happened:

Farro, Artichokes and Greens 
(printable version)

-1/2 cup farro
-1 can artichokes, drained and diced
-1 cup mixed greens (I used kale and spinach)
-3 Tbs. olive oil
-red onion, diced
-salt and pepper (to taste)

1. Grab a saucepan. Dump the farro in it. Drown the farro in two inches of water. Bring the water to a boil, put a lid on it and cook over low heat for twenty five minutes. Drain the farro, remove it from the saucepan and set it aside.

2. Grab an even bigger saucepan, pour in a larger amount of water and bring it to a boil. Drop in the greens and boil them until they are tender (like 2-3 minutes). Drain. Squeeze out any excess liquid using a paper towel. Rip or cut the grains into tiny pieces. Set aside.

3. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Add the red onion and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. This takes about 15 minutes. Set aside.

4. Heat another tablespoon of oil in the same skillet. Add the artichokes and cook, over high heat, until they begin to brown. Turn them over and continue cooking until they start to brown on that side too.

5. Combine the onions, greens and artichokes. Pour the veggie mixture into the farro and stir until everything is nicely combined. Season with salt and pepper. Domasticate that grain.

Sounds like