Thursday, June 15


some friends of mine were over for dinner last night,
and we had ourselves a full-tilt full-bore full-steam-ahead feast.
that's the truth.
dennis and carlos came through to the Folk Life & Liberty Fortress,
where i had a plan, and the know-how, and the wherewithal, 
and the elbow grease, AND the motivation to make some elite wizardry
for all of us to stuff ourselves to bursting with. 
here's the thing:
after the usual hectic mad-dash to get it all done at the same time,
using only four burners and some bowls,
we sat down at the grown-up table,
and ate and talked, and talked and ate,.
and talked while we ate,
and ate with our mouths open to talk more,
and then........we ate some more.
hell yeah, guys!
we cleared the decks and our plates and the bowls,
and took all that the thai-fusion ferocity had to offer,
an left nothing behind, not even scraps.
damn, that's just such an awesome feeling-
sharing good times and great food with terrific people.
the professional appreciation,
the gratitude and the generosity,
all of it.
that's what being expert is made of.
but what about dinner?
what was that made of?
let's take a quick look, and get to the bottom of it, via teleport:
all the spices, all the sweets, all the sours,
and secret and brazen heatsources adding boomfire
and big flavor and activation to every bowl and every bite.
no joke.
i knew what i was doing,
and better than that, i had witnesses that'll testify to it, too.
it's not every night that i can indulge like this.
i would literally exxxplode.
full stop.
no hyperbole.
i love food so much.
way too much, really.
like to the extent that i actually have to sometimes take a step back,
and just let it go,
so i don't balloon into some sort of bloated goblin and die of rapid-onset super-fatness.
other times, like this time, i need to turn it up to eleven,
and bring the noise for my boys.
ok, so, i hope you're ready,
because we've got a lot of recipes to cover-
let's begin with that cauliflower:
this time was twice as nice as last time, and that's the objective every time;
and here's how it's done:
2 1/2 cups HOT oil in a high-walled fry pan.
in a medium bowl,
combine 3 cups bite-sized chopped cauli florets;
3 T cornstarch; 
2 tsp paprika;
1 tsp cayenne;
black pepper;
ground coriander seed;
red pepper flakes;
and pour in:
1 tsp soy sauce;
1/3 cup warm water + 1 T chia-flax meal + 2 tsp egg replacer,
bloomed and thickened.
flip the florets around in there until they're well-coated,
and carefully put them in that oil, for about ten minutes, \
or until they're soft enough for a fork to side through easily.
quickly drain them, 
and toss them with a few teaspoons each of: 
sriracha, agave, ginger, paprika, 
and one teaspoon of sesame oil.
that's the ticket.
you know i had to put the sprankles to it, too,
rules is rules.
slivered celery and cilantro kept it fresh as F*,
and we all tore 'em up fast.
.... the secret was not to leave 'em alone, as perfect as they were.
that's real.
there was also SAUCE, and that always turns up the flavor profile A LOT.
in a small saucepan, on medium heat,
mix together:
1/2 cup peanut natural creamy butter;
3 T soy sauce;
3 T seasoned rice vinegar;
fresh ginger;
3 T agave;
3 T sriracha;
1/4 cup warm water.
garnish with toasted peanuts and green onions, and you're good to go....
a good sauce can elevate a great dish into the firmament.
the good news is that THIS sauce goes great with everything.
just ask the boys, they'll for sure let you know what's good in these streets.
and the word is out on these streets, kid-
how is that actually spelled? dunno.
could i look it up?
am i going to?
nope. not even one tiny little bit.
it's noods, bro.
and i love 'em spicy.
traditionally, i do believe they're s'posed to be the FAT flatties,
but this is the rural northeast, friends.
we do not have a local asian market,
so flat ricey-rice jauns had to stand in for the big'uns.
boil up the noodles according to their instructions, rinse 'em,
and fry 'em up with the secret sauce, and a little veg oil 
(i used a spoonful or two from the cauli-fry-up).
the sauce is boss here:
3 T mae ploye sweet chili goodness;
2 tsp soy sauce;
2 tsp sesame oil;
2 tsp rice vinegar;
4 tsp sriracha;
1 clove crushed garlic;
1 T agave.
red pepper flakes;
hint of fresh ginger;
^ make sure the noodles are all coated,
give 'em another 'nother minute,
and bowl 'em up.
now here's the thing, the way i've had it in the past,
it also gets lettuce, mint, cilantro and mung bean sprouts.
here's the other thing- it liked it like that,
so i made it like that,
but also with tomatoes, for color and luck,
and scallions, too, 
plus a little purple cabbage to sexxx it up.
that's expert and that's TILTY and that's real talk.
but, there's MORE.
too much is the right amount,
and a great noodoo doo-do needs a protein source to complete the profile.
that's where those molto fresh tempeh medallions come into play-
in a small sauce pan,
simmer all your tempeh 
(i cut circles to make it all nice, but whatever shape you've got will work, 
so long as you're using 1 1/2 -2" chunks, about 1/4 " thick.
i had 1 1/2 cups broth activated with a shake or two of GPOP;
plus a tsp soy;
a tsp sesame oil;
a tsp vegetable oil;
and a small scoople of sugar, to make it right.
when the liquid is absorbed, and only the sweet oil remains, 
they'll sizzle and caramelize-
flip 'em, so they don;t burn and suck, and kaBOOM, 
you've got your very own sweet-and-savory flavorbombs to munch up on!
last, but not least,
in my family-style serving boat, 
filled with the straight-up new-new hottness
over lime-kissed jasmine rice?!
that's fire!!
a few pea shoots and  mung threads accent the main thing,
but it's the tofu that steals the show-
coconut oil-fried tofu gets SO crispy,
and that subtle tropical note really ties the whole thing together/.
of course,
the veg portion would still carry the day, if it HAD to, 
i'd never place that kind of demand on my meal.
so, coconut-oil-fried tofu is made like it's named.
i add mine in at the end, so it doesn't get sloppy when the sauce get's poppin in the pan.
do the thing, like this-
in a hot-as-heckfire large skillet, or wok, sauté:
1 1/2 cups rough-chopped cabbage, and 2/3 cup onion chunks
until they're just starting to color-
1/2 cup ea. red and orange bell pepper strips;
1/2 fresno chili rings;
1 tsp finely chopped jalapeno;
2 cloves sliced garlic chunks;
1 1/2 stalks bias-cut celery;
sizzle that up in 1 T coconut oil/1 T sesame oil,
and after two minutes,
add the SAUCE!
1 tsp bouillon;
2 tsp soy;
1 T sriracha;
3 T rice vinegar;
1 tsp red pepper flakes;
1/2 tsp cayenne;
1/4 tsp cumin;
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed;
1/4 tsp fresh ginger;
3 T lime juice
2 tsp chili-garlic paste;
2 tsp agave;
black pepper, GPOP, ground mustard;
3 T warm water.
slurry all that right up, splash it into the pan, cover it and give it two minutes.
it's about to get so expert in your kitchen!
uncover your pan, and add:
1 1/2 cups of fresh pineapple;
1/3 cup torn basil leaves, thai if you've got it;
give it a serious toss, to wilt the basil, and get the juices from the pineapple in play, 
add the tofu, toss in some peanuts and scallion, 
and then cover it in shredded purple cabbage sprankles!
let the majestic rainbow wizard magic carry you to a better place,
through lingual ascension into flavor valhalla.
i think that happened to all three of us,
but i was too busy eating to all the way say for sure.
good food tastes better with good people to share it with.
that's real.
i know i'm lucky to have dinner guests who can appreciate the intricacies 
and delicacies,
and luxuries that my plant-based hermit hyperfocus has honed over these last few years.
i am grateful.
i am full.
we had a heck of a time,
and we really did eat every last bit.
shoutouts to dennis for doing the dishes, too.
the night was long, but the portion dedicated to dinner with the dudes was right on point.
these moments are the ones that make it to the highlight reel.
the rest is still important, in it's own way,
but a little family dinner interactive participation was looooooooong overdue.
beautiful food, 
good conversation,
and genuine presence of mind.
that's what i needed, and that's what i got;
never quiet, never soft.....

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