Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Seductive Mini Bite . . .


I love miniatures. Minis, as I have called them from when I was in junior high.  So, following along my Mexican theme from my last post, I decided to try a vegan tostada—and to make it mini.

My mini pinto bean, mushroom and avocado tostadas will surprise the unsuspecting meat eaters. This is all plant based. It’s creamy, rich and full of wonderful satisfying textures.  And it’s both vegan and gluten free, so just about anyone can eat it. And enjoy a foodgasm!

You’ll need 1-2 cups small round corn chips

For the bean mixture
       •      1 can of pinto beans with liquid (about 1 ½ cups)
       •       ¼ cup chopped yellow onion
       •       ¼ cup chopped roasted Poblano pepper (roast the pepper in the oven or on a    
                grill till slightly charred)
       •       2 cloves of chopped garlic
       •       1 tablespoon olive oil
       •       ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
       •        ¼ teaspoon cumin
       •        ¼ teaspoon ground clove
       •        ¼ cup water
       •        1-2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
       •        salt/pepper to taste

In a small sauté pan put in the oil and heat over a medium flame. Sauté the onion, garlic, and roasted Poblano pepper till soft. Add in the paprika, cumin, ground clove and sauté for 1 more minute. Add in beans with liquid, water and lime juice. Sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat. Softly mash the mixture with a spoon. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside

For the mushrooms
       •        1 clove of chopped garlic
       •        1 tablespoon olive oil
       •        2 cups medium chopped portabello mushrooms
       •        dash of cayenne pepper
       •        2 teaspoons lime juice
       •        salt/pepper to taste
Chef Ashley Simone adding lime juice to avocado puree.
Over a medium high flame heat the oil olive in a small skillet. Add the garlic, mushrooms, cayenne, and lime juice. Sauté till soft and slightly caramelized on the edges. Slat and pepper to taste and set aside.

For the avocado puree
       •        2 ripe avocados
       •        2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
       •        2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
       •        salt to taste
Cut the avocados in half and scoop out the flesh into a food processor or blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix/blend till creamy. Set aside.

For the topping
      •        1 plum tomato, brunoised  (very finely diced)
      •        1/8 cup red onion, brunoised
      •        dash lime juice
      •        salt/pepper to taste

Put all of the ingredients into a small bowl and mix.

For the assembly
Take a corn chip; add a small dollop of the bean mixture and smooth to the edges. Add a little of the mushrooms on top of the bean mixture. Next add the avocado puree on top of the mushroom layer. The avocado puree can be added as a dollop from a spoon or piped on in a pastry bag. Then add a small sprinkling of the salsa topping right on top of the avocado puree. Repeat for the remaining chips and serve. These are great for little party appetizers.

When I did a cooking demonstration at the French Market in Chicago recently, we passed out samples of this tasty bites.  The response?  Thumbs up.

Hey—you could even do this for your Super Bowl party.  But make lots of them. They go down easy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Sexy Quesadilla


Need a great appetizer that will be satisfying to both meat eaters and vegetarians, and something that will make a lasting impression with friends and family?

This is a spin off of one of my favorite items to make.  Actually it’s a comfort food for me. It’s the quesadilla.

But of course I had to jazz it up and make it a little sexier, so here’s my Sweet potato and black bean quesadilla with a cilantro pesto, which I recently demonstrated and passed out samples at Chicago’s French Market.

Here are the ingredients for the quesadillas:
  • 4-6  large flour tortillas
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 can or 1 ½ cups cooked black beans, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground chipotle (or cayenne pepper)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Chef Ashley Simone making sweet potato black bean quesadillas.

Stab the sweet potatoes all the way around the sweet potato with a fork. Wrap in a paper towel and microwave for 10 minutes, until soft. Slice open sweet potato and spoon flesh into a bowl (wait until it is cool enough to handle or hold with a pot holder). Add beans, cumin, ground chipotle, ground cinnamon, ground pepper and salt. Mash to combine, leaving some of the beans whole.

Spoon half of the sweet potato mixture onto a tortilla and sprinkle with cheese. Place another tortilla on top. Repeat with remaining sweet potato mixture and tortillas.

Cook each quesadilla in a skillet or griddle over medium heat, flipping to the other side once tortilla is golden brown.

And here’s what you need for the Cilantro Pesto:
  • 1 bunch of cilantro (about two packed cups)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • salt/pepper to taste

To make the pesto, cut the stems off the cilantro. Place the cilantro, garlic, lime juice and olive oil in a food processor. Mix till creamy and smooth. Add more olive oil or a dash of water if the consistency isn’t right. Salt and pepper to taste.

Now To Assemble
Place quesadillas on a cutting board, slice into quarters and serve with the cilantro pesto.  I like to put my pesto in a squeeze bottle and drizzle over the quesadilla. Be creative. Make a pretty pattern!

There you have it!   Try it at your next little party or when you have friends over for drinks.  And let me know how you like it!