Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mexicali Sliders With Cajun Yam Fries

I recently read about a young vegan chef, named Chloe Coscarelli,  who won a contest on the Food Network show called “Cupcake Wars”.  She made beautiful cupcakes WITHOUT butter and eggs and won. I was intrigued thinking that anyone who can bake without these two ingredients and win a contest against other chefs has some secrets to share with the rest of us. I was right. There were the two winning cupcakes:

If you want to try your hand at making her winning raspberry tiramisu cupcakes you can follow this link:
Many years ago I tried being a vegetarian.  It was boring and the food I ate just wasn’t that exciting. More recently I have tried to incorporate vegetarian and vegan meals into my weekly diet.  I know several people who don’t eat meat but eat convenience foods that make them think they do.  I’m talking about those fake burgers and chicken patties, fake sausage and fakein-bacon.  I ate  these things as well, thinking how healthy I was being, until  I looked at the ingredient list on the backs of the boxes.  You may as well be eating pesticides for all the chemicals they put in to make it tastes like meat. But today things are changing.  There are wonderful cooks like chef Chloe who are taking healthy ingredients and transforming them into meals that we can all love.
This past weekend I made her Mexicali Sliders and Cajun Yam Fries.  The sliders are out of this world.  Since I didn’t have small buns I divided the slider mixture into four 5oz. patties.  These sliders are slippery and the best way to eat them is with a knife and fork.  We pitched the top bun - it just wasn’t necessary.
Photograph taken by Chef Chloe
Mexicali Sliders
Serves 6-8
12-15 mini buns/rolls for sliders or 6-8 regulars sized hamburger buns
1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, small dice
1 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small carrot, finely diced or shredded (about ½ cup)
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ bunch cilantro, chopped
¼ cup water
My Patties before pan frying

Spicy Mango Sauce
1 mango, peeled and cut
½ cup sun dried tomatoes, whole or sliced
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar, but any kind will do)
1/8 teaspoon salt

3 ripe Haas avocados, halved, pitted, and peeled
½ lime, juiced
¼ cup salsa fresca
sea salt and black pepper

1.    In a large skillet, sauté onions in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat until tender and slightly caramelized, about 20 minutes.
2.    In a large bowl, use a large spoon or your hands to mash together beans, carrots, cornmeal, breadcrumbs, chili powder, salt, cilantro, ¼ cup water, and caramelized onions. If mixture is too dry to hold together, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time.
3.    Using your hands, form mini burger patties that match the size of your buns or mini slider rolls.
4.    In a large non-stick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium/high heat and fry patties. Let each patty get browned and slightly crisp on each side before flipping (about 3 minutes on each side). Add more olive oil to skillet as you continue to fry more patties.
Spicy Mango Sauce
1.    Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
1.    In a large bowl, mash together the avocado and lime juice, then fold in the salsa fresca.
2.     Season with salt and pepper to taste.
1.    Slice each roll or bun in half and layer a couple teaspoons of mango sauce, 1 black bean slider, and about a tablespoon of guacamole. If you have extra mango sauce, you can use it as a dip for your fries!
Cajun Yam Fries
Photograph by Chef Chloe
Serves about 3 people
1 large yam, peeled and cut into ¼ thick fries
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning

1.    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2.    Toss yam sticks with oil, salt, and Cajun seasoning. Spread out evenly on a half sheet tray. If multiplying the recipe, use a separate sheet tray for each yam.
3.    Bake for 15 minutes then flip fries with a spatula. Rotate pan and bake for another 10-15 minutes until nicely browned and crisp looking.
This is soul satisfying food.  Although this meal took some time the leftover sliders kept well under refrigeration for several days. Thanks to chef Chloe and to the many other cooks and nutritionists who are helping us enjoy great vegan cooking.

Life is good - enjoy!

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