Monday, February 11, 2013

OUR KIND OF COOK: COLLEEN PATRICK-GOUDREAU

COLLEEN PATRICK-GOUDREAU is a powerhouse who needs little introduction. She is an animal advocate, chef, writer and speaker. In short, a doer. The author of six books , she regularly lectures around the country, inspiring others to think and act more compassionately. She is the creator of the 30-Day Vegan Challenge, an innovative program that has motivated many people to rethink and change their lifestyles. Her approach to advocacy is pretty straightforward. “My intention really is to take “veganism” out of the box and inspire people to recognize that it’s not some crazy, unfamiliar philosophy of living. It’s just common sense,” she says. We couldn’t agree more. Here, she brings us a one-of-a-kind recipe for a cake with aphrodisiac qualities— to spoil yourself or the one you love with (…did you know that cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, which raises endorphin levels?) And being the gold mine of information that Colleen is, we also couldn’t resist picking her brain for some food for thought. Read our insightful Q&A with Colleen, immediately following the recipe.

MEXICAN CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE CINNAMON FROSTING
The “Mexican Chocolate” aspect of this cake has to do with the combination of
the spicy cayenne pepper and sweet cinnamon. Pair with a nondairy vanilla ice cream, and book a flight to heaven.

Ingredients
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1½ cups nondairy milk (soy, rice, almond, oat, hazelnut, coconut, or hemp)
2 tablespoons apple cider or white vinegar (not balsamic!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil two 8-­inch (round  or  square)  cake pans, or prepare cupcake/muffin tins with paper liners or silicon cups. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, salt, and sugar.

In a separate bowl, beat together the applesauce, oil, vanilla extract, milk, and vinegar. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix until everything is thoroughly combined. It will be a bit of a thick batter.

Pour the batter into the baking pans or cupcake/muffin tins, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes (less time for cupcakes–between 15 and 17 minutes), or until the cake comes away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Every oven is different!)

Chocolate Cinnamon Frosting

Ingredients
½ cup Earth Balance, somewhat  softened
2 cups powdered (confectioner’s) sugar, sifted
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 tablespoons nondairy milk

Although it can be done by hand, it’s easier to mix using an electric hand mixer. Cream together all the ingredients on low speed until smooth. Increase the speed once all the ingredients are combined, and you don’t risk powdered  sugar flying everywhere. Increase the speed even more until the frosting is  light and fluffy (about  3  minutes). Add an additional l or 2 tablespoons of milk, if necessary. Lick the  spoon, and frost your cake!
Yield: Enough for one layer cake or 18 cupcakes.
Soy-­free (if using soy-­free Earth Balance and  milk), tree-­nut-­free, peanut-­free.

Tell us a bit about the creative process involved in developing your recipes.
I’m always aware of my end goal, my intention of what I want that recipe to be by the time I’m ready to offer it to the world. Because everything I do is for advocacy, I’m always thinking of the recipient of the recipe rather than the pleasure I derive from concocting it. In other words, when I was writing The Joy of Vegan Baking, it was all about creating recipes that were as accessible and familiar and that would inspire someone to say, “Oh, this is a delicious cookie! It’s not a ‘vegan’ cookie; it’s a delicious cookie that happens to be vegan.” The end result was about helping people realize that there’s no deprivation in living vegan; it just requires undoing a few habits and learning new ones. With the recipes in Color Me Vegan, which are broken up in the book by their color, I didn’t want people to have recipes full of exotic ingredients just because they would yield a certain color. I wanted the recipes to be nutrient-dense and pop with color but still be familiar enough that people wouldn’t have to fly something in from Brazil to make one of the recipes. The cayenne and cocoa in the Mexican Chocolate Cake is simply the result of one of my favorite flavor combinations, and they both happen to be ingredients that can be considered aphrodisiacal – cocoa because of the chemicals in it that mimic the feelings we get when we’re in love and cayenne because of the heat they create in our bodies and how they open up our blood vessels, enabling our blood to flow more freely – to all of our organs.

So are aphrodisiac foods something that can integrated into the daily routine?
Eating and cooking are such sensual activities, and I encourage people to engage all of their senses in order to fully appreciate and enjoy food – whether they’re alone or with a partner, whether it’s a special occasion or not. Rather than be attached to one food or one ingredient possibly (or possibly not) having “aphrodisiac qualities,” I think it’s so much more interesting and pleasurable to take advantage of our aural, gustatory, tactile, visual, and olfactory senses – how things sound, taste, feel, look, and smell. We can have heightened experiences with food every day if we’re mindful of how they make us feel and what we want to get out of it. And of course I’m talking only about plant foods. I don’t consider animal flesh and fluids “food.”

Have to agree with you there. Any insider baking tips you could offer?
I always say that baking isn’t about animal-based butter, dairy, and eggs. It’s about binding, moisture, leavening, and fat. Again, it goes back to that end result I was talking about before. When people realize what the foundation is, then they become empowered to create that foundation with ingredients they never thought of before. So, your combination basically fulfills the need for moisture and fat, which is why it works so well.

You’re a very well-versed, compelling advocate for animals. When do you think you found your voice?
The only thing that’s going to change our treatment of animals is a shift in our perception of animals and our relationship to them. When the macro paradigm shifts from “animals are here for us to use, and my desire for convenience and pleasure supersedes their right to not be exploited and killed” to one that sees animals as fellow beings and cohabitants worthy of our compassion, then things will change on a fundamental level. The current treatment of animals as tools, machines, and objects is simply the physical manifestation of a paradigm that sees animals as ours to possess and use. We have to shift the paradigm, or nothing will ever change.

I’ve been clear about that for a long time, and it pretty much drives and dictates my message. When people are tuned into their compassion, they act from it, and their paradigm shifts. So, I see my job as shining the light on the compassion that already exists in them to enable them to have that paradigm shift. I’ve always seen my advocacy role as a guide – giving people what they want – rather than as someone that dictates what should be done. So, over the years as I was trying to find my place and my contribution, I just kept asking the questions: “What am I good at?” and “What do people need?” and I kept finding the answers. It’s not about me; it’s about giving people what they need to make it possible to make the changes I know they want to make. So, I taught cooking classes and wrote cookbooks to give them the recipes they need to make delicious food; I started producing a podcast to answer all the questions people have about the social aspects, ethical aspects, and nutritional aspects of living vegan; I launched The 30-Day Vegan Challenge to guide people to making these changes confidently, healthfully, and joyfully. My present and subsequent projects will continue to be driven by “what tools do people need to make the changes that will reflect their values of compassion and kindness?” As long as I can fill that gap, I’ll do it.

Why did you choose the duration of 30 days for your 30 Day Vegan Challenge? And what kind of response have you seen to the program?
The philosophy/strategy behind 30 days is that it takes 3 weeks to change a habit, though I like the extra week to make sure I’m addressing every question people have. Most people say “they don’t eat a lot of meat, dairy, and eggs,” and yet the truth is you don’t know how much you eat until you stop. So, I’m just saying, “look, do it for 30 days, and in that time, I’ll give you everything you need and address every challenge you have.” I don’t care WHY people come to the Challenge. It doesn’t matter. But throughout it, I give people everything they need so that by the end of the 30 days, they have a strong foundation on which to stand – and continue.

The response to the Challenge has been exactly what I’d hope it would be. By the end of the 30 days, many people have experienced measurable differences in their numbers (lowered cholesterol, blood pressure, etc), but many tell me about how its changed the lens through which they see the world. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Are you more encouraged about our society embracing “unconditional compassion” as you’ve called it, today than you were when you started Compassionate Cook? Any future plans you’d like to share with us, any big-picture dreams?
I knew 13 years ago when I first started my work that people would respond to the message of compassion, and I’m even more convinced today because I see the results through the thousands of emails I’ve received from people whose hearts have become awakened to their compassion. People aren’t more compassionate today than they were 13 years ago or 50 years ago, but there are more tools available with which we can get the message out to reach more people. My future plans and big-picture dreams are to do everything I can to reach as wide an audience as possible, using every tool and medium available to me. For me, the question isn’t “what’s the most effective message that people respond to?” I already know that answer; it’s compassion. The question is “how can I reach more people with this message?” Wherever that answer lies, that’s where you’ll find me.

Learn more about Colleen’s advocacy at Compassionate Cook and The 30-Day Vegan Challenge.

Chocoloate Cake photograph courtesy of Jennifer K. Warden

 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

IN GOOD TASTE: INNOVATION AT RESTAURARE

A RECENT VISIT TO TULUM, MEXICO uncovered the Mexican restaurant of our dreams. So discretely tucked away off the main road that even a local taxi driver had difficulty finding it, the beautifully-designed open air Restaurare felt like an oasis of creative vegan Mexican food. It’s no wonder that the restaurant’s name is inspired by the philosophy of restoring the spirit. Chef Karla Madrazo’s and her partner Roberto Mattocks’s vision for a restaurant was one with as little environmental impact as possible, and one that respected animals and humans. “The goal is to give vegetarians, vegan or anybody, the chance to know and taste delicious Mexican food, but consciously and happily,” explains Karla. The Chef’s talents are evidenced in thoughtful dishes that combine tradition and innovation—a result of inheriting her mother’s cooking secrets and a modern education at culinary school. “I grew up with a mother so good at cooking Mexican food that I just have it in my cells,” Karla tells us.

And here is where she shares a little history lesson… Prior to the 18th century, restaurants didn’t exist— only taverns where travelers could get soup, a drink, and sometimes a place to stay for the night. In 1765, a man named Dossier Boulanger hung a sign outside of his Paris tavern that read in Latin: “Come to me, men of tired stomachs, I will restore you.” At Restaurare, this sentiment is executed to perfection. We left our dinner full, energized and warmed by Karla’s and Roberto’s genuine affability. As we fantasize about them opening up a second location in New York City, please enjoy these recipes directly from the Chef:

TACOS PIBIL

Pibil soy ‘meat’
1 piece bitter orange
½ cup water
1 tbsp recado rojo
1 tbsp vegetable seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 cup texturized soy

Mix everything together in a pot and put on high heat. When it is boiling add the texturized soy, integrate really well with a spoon and turn off the heat.

Tip: If you can’t find ‘recado rojo,’ try finding achiote— a red paste that mayans used to put on their faces during rituals. You can mix it with dry oregano, onion, garlic, black pepper and salt and make your own recado rojo!

Xnipek
1 piece red onion
2 pieces lime
1 piece habanero chili
1 tsp salt
1 pinch black pepper

Cut the red onion into small cubes or ‘brunoise’, add the juice from limes salt and pepper. Cut the habanero chili really small and put it in. At the beginning it will be spicy but with time you’ll start to feel it is less spicy. Correct seasoning if needed.

Black bean spread
1 pound black beans
¼ piece white onion
1-2 cloves  garlic
salt to taste

Put everything in a pressure pot and cook as you usually do. I like to leave the water for beans a little bit salty so when cooked it’s flavorful (the water has to taste with a hint of saltiness). When they’re cooked, process the beans with some of the cooking liquid and the spread is ready!

Tip: if you want the spread even more flavorful try sautéing white onion and garlic (chopped), add the processed beans and correct seasoning.

Tacos
3 pieces handmade tortillas
3 tbsp black beans spread
6 tbsp pibil soy ‘meat’
¼ piece iceberg lettuce or any local (finely sliced)
3 tbsp alfalfa sprouts
3 tsp xnipek

Plate the tacos as you prefer, or you can follow Restaurare’s presentation:

To start, spread a tablespoon of the black beans on the tortilla, then 2 tablespoons of the pibil soy. Top it with lettuce, alfalfa sprouts and xnipek on top. Try keeping everything in the middle so as you’re plating it looks neater, and serve.

COCONUT CHIA SALAD

Vinaigrette
2 pieces lime
1 tsp dijon mustard
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
5 tbsp organic coconut oil
1 tsp chia seeds

Salad
1/3 piece romaine lettuce (or the local one you prefer the most!)
¼ piece cucumber
1 piece tomato (wedges)
½ piece carrot (sliced)
1/8 piece red onion (sliced)
Sunflower or pea sprouts, preferred amount (or any available sprout)

How to get there:
The vinaigrette is really easy: we’re making an emulsion from the acidity of the lime and the oil from coconut. Mix the lime juice with the Dijon mustard, chia seeds, salt and pepper (still you will have to correct seasoning at the end, depending on the ingredients). Whisk really well before adding the oil until you see it starts to make a few bubbles. Then, start adding the coconut oil slowly so it can integrate while you keep whisking. Ingredients change from one place to another so maybe you’ll need more lime or more coconut oil but the taste has to be a little bit salty so when mixed with the salad it is still flavorful.

Try to get a crispy cucumber, a sweet tomato, a powerful red onion and limes with a lot of juice.
Choose the ingredients you like the most for the salad, we chose these because they’re local, fresh and tasty, toss them with your homemade vinaigrette and enjoy!

Tip: you can try other vinaigrettes with the same principle of getting and acidic ingredient and any type of oil.

 

Learn more about the restaurant at:
Restaurare

Photographs courtesy of Restaurare

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

GET TO KNOW: ELI ESCOBAR

Eli Escobar

ELI ESCOBAR is not only one of the most talented and in-demand DJs around, but he is also one of the nicest people you could ever meet. He’s DJ’d around the world for over 10 years and is one of the founders of the Tiki Disco party at Roberta’s in Bushwick. In 2012, he released “Work It,” and remixed for people like Lana Del Rey, Holy Ghost! and Armand Van Helden. We were lucky enough to have him DJ at our Launch Party. Let’s get to know him a little better…

Has the NYC dynamic been a big influence on your sound over the years?
I’ve been here my whole life. My first couple of years in the Bronx and from then on in Manhattan. Surely, the cultural and artistic diversity of the city in the 80’s had a huge impact on me. Since things have tamed down a bit— maybe not so much. But, it’s still my city and seems to define me to the core. There’s always so much going on here, and no shortage of good DJs playing great music. So being a DJ and producer who always dabbled in a bit of everything, I’m not sure it would have been as easy in another city. When I go to other places to DJ, a lot of the people who come out tend to express frustration with the lack of resources or activity in their home towns. I think it’s safe to say that is never an issue here and it keeps you going and influences you along the way.

Your go-tos guaranteed to make people lose their minds on the dance floor?
Mousse T.’s “Horny” (Radio Slave and Thomas Gandey Just 17 Mix) never fails. If it’s an older crowd I always like to play Janet’s “The Pleasure Principle”. The mix from the 12 inch.

What are you currently listening to? What’s inspiring you these days in general whether in music, art, style?
I listen to Eric B and Rakim’s 4 albums non-stop. But that’s old. I like Bat For Lashes so much you’d think I was a 16 year old girl. As far as style, I’m still dressing the way I did in high school, so I might need to find some new inspiration on the fashion tip.

How long have you been vegan and what led to the change?
One year. I was vegetarian for a good 10 years, then went back to eating everything. Over the last few years, I started really loving to cook and in the process, becoming very aware of how the food industry works. I like to believe that what keeps most people from changing their diets is just ignorance and a total disconnect between what they’re eating and where it comes from. I would hope most people would make the decision to avoid meat and dairy once they were made aware of factory farming and how evil it is. For me, it was a very easy decision and never a struggle at all. Except in airports! I’ve learned to always have a huge ziplock bag in my back pack with nuts and fruit in it otherwise I would die.

Fave vegan spots in NYC and elsewhere on your travels?
I live across the street from the Dosa man who has a food cart at Washington Square South and I eat his food probably twice a week. It’s so good. I also love the restaurant Kajitsu in the East Village. Everyone (vegan or not) should go there and have the extended tasting menu, it’s lifechanging! Honestly though, I think it’s best to cook at home as much as possible if you are choosing to live on a plant based diet.

What’s next for you?
I have a new EP coming out next month that I did with my friend Nomi from Jessica 6 who is the best singer I’ve ever met and a full length album right after that. And more DJing of course!

Find Eli Escobar on:
SoundCloud
Facebook
Twitter

 

Eli Escobar photo courtesy of Kenny Rodriguez