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Cooking class with Michael Natkin from Herbivoracious: Mexican cuisine

Posted Jan 31 2013 8:16pm
Red posole with beans (Pozelo rojo de frijo)

Last night we bid adieu to January with a cooking class by cookbook author and blogger, Michael Natkin, from the blog Herbivoracious, and cookbook of the same name. Although Michael is vegetarian and not vegan, the class was billed as vegan and gluten-free. Michael has been receiving much praise for his beautifully photographed book, and the food we enjoyed last night was both artful and delicious. In his cookbook introduction he says, " I propose to bring you a collection of vegetarian recipes that are so full of flavor, so pleasurable to make and eat, and so satisfying that, if you are an omnivore, you won't give a second thought to the fact that they contain no meat. If you are a vegetarian, you'll be able to greatly expand your repertoire of everyday and special-occasion dishes."

The food Michael cooked in class was very fresh and appealing, and I found links to all of the recipes we sampled, so if you are intrigued by the photos and descriptions, you can give the recipes a try. All were relatively easy to make.

Jicama, radish and orange salad

We started our evening with jicama, radish and orange salad. It was a very simple and refreshing beginning to the meal. Michael cut the oranges into "supremes" then squeezed all the remaining juice from the leftover orange halves into a bowl. He kept the segments and juice together, and used all of it in the recipe, unlike the directions on his blog which only call for some of the juice. If cutting the oranges into supremes is too fancy for you, you could just divide them into segments and add a little orange juice if needed. (Cutting the oranges into supremes separates the flesh from all the membranes, making for a more tender orange segment.) This would be a perfect accompaniment to a spicy dinner. You can add a bit of olive oil if you like.

Next we had red pozole with beans, which is pictured at the top of the post. It was quite wonderful, with a rich, satisfying broth, beans and hominy, and an interesting variety of toppings including corn chips, avocado, shredded cabbage, and sliced radishes. In spite of the complex flavors and impressive appearance, the soup was really easy to make (using canned beans and hominy), and would be suitable for a weekday meal or as part of an easy company dinner. The one difference I noted between the blog recipe and the class recipe was in class we used 3/4 cup of tomatoes.

The main course consisted of grilled tofu and pepper tacos and arroz verde. The taco was so delicious and the rice was very beautiful with a gentle flavor. The rice was very easy to make, and the taco was a little more work but still not too hard. Michael cooked the tofu and zucchini for the taco on a cast iron grill pan — something that's been on my wish list for a while — and it had a great, almost smoky flavor and nice grill marks.

Differences I found between the blog recipe and class recipe: makes eight tacos, 2 teaspoons of tamarind concentrate instead of achiote, 2 teaspoons of cumin, lime juice added at the end if needed. (A note about tamarind paste — different brands have different consistencies and you may need to microwave it for a few seconds with a tablespoon of water to get it stir-able. We have a jar of Aunt Patty's organic tamarind paste and it's very easy to work with.)

The tortilla on my plate is a Rudy's gluten-free tortilla, which I thought was perfect in taste and texture. Other people had more authentic corn tortillas (no ingredient list) but frankly, I thought mine looked better! I encourage you to give the recipes a try, especially the pozole.


In other news

Miss E has a brand new baby brother, and we're all thrilled!

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