Monday, October 30, 2017

3rd Annual SoCal VegFest Cooking Demo: The Monte Cristina

The Monte Cristina from Vegans Go Nuts! by Joni Marie Newman and Celine Steen
Last weekend was the 3rd Annual SoCal VegFest held at the OC Fairgrounds. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of vegans, vegetarians, and veg-curious folks filled the humongous venue and enjoyed a weekend of learning, shopping, music, community, and of course, eating!

As one of the Event Coordinators, my job is to organize and execute all of the Featured Chef cooking demos. It is a lot of work, but it is sooooo much fun. All day Saturday and Sunday the demos were packed and everyone had a great time.
All nine of us vegan chefs! Left to right, and top to bottom: Chef Tanya Petrovna of Chef Tanya's Kitchen, Chef Lemel Durrah of Compton Vegan, Chef Jackie Sobon of Vegan Yack Attack, Chef Gwenna Hunter of Vegans of LA and Vegan Outreach, Chef Brian Manowitz aka the Vegan Black Metal Chef, Chef AJ of Eat Unprocessed, Chef Rod Rotondi of Leaf Cuisine, lil' ol me, and Chef Jenee Claiborne of Sweet Potato Soul

We had such an amazing and talented group of powerhouse vegan players in the group this year, and every single dish was not only delicious, but totally and completely different than the next. From sauteed greens to raw kelp noodle mac and cheese to a whole cauliflower feast to chili verde to seitan buffalo bites to maple mustard tempeh buddha bowls...My oh my did we teach some folks how to cook some awesome food this weekend!

When it was my turn to get things started on Sunday, I did a brand new Monte Cristina from Vegans Go Nuts! The crowd loved it, and I promised to share it here today, so without further ado...

The Monte Cristina
A Monte Cristo sandwich is two slices of French toast filled with fried ham and cheese. It is then sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with fruit preserves. This is Cristo’s Latinx cousin, Cristina. She’s spicy and sweet, with a touch of sass.

For the blackened tofu:
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon black salt (kala namak)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
Salt and pepper
1 block (1 pound, or 454 g) extra or super firm tofu (I love to use smoked tofu for this recipe), drained and pressed, then cut into 8 thin squares

For the Spicy French Toast :
8 slices of bread (this is a great way to use up stale bread)
½ cup (120 ml) prepared Peanut Chipotle Ranch (see below)

For the Sandwich:
1/2 cup (128 g) peanut butter
1 cup (30 g) mixed baby greens,
tightly packed
16 slices of cucumber
1/2 cup (120 ml) maple syrup
1/4 cup (28 g) chopped peanuts
¼ cup (30 g) nutritional yeast

To make the tofu: Add the spices to a re-sealable plastic bag or a shallow dish with a lid. Shake to mix. Add the tofu and shake to coat.
To cook the tofu, you can panfry in a bit of oil, or bake at 375°F (190°C, or gas mark 5) for about 15 minutes per side, or until blackened . . . but we love to use a waffle maker to cook the tofu so that it’s crisp and blackened on the outside, but soft, moist, and chewy on the inside. To do this, spray nonstick spray on the waffle iron, then place one layer of tofu inside and lock closed. It cooks perfectly, and you won’t have to heat up the entire oven to make it.

To make the spicy French toast: Spread 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the Chipotle Peanut Ranch on each side of the 8 pieces of bread. Cook on a flat pan or griddle over medium-high heat until browned. Flip and repeat on the other side. Repeat with all 8 slices.

To assemble the sandwich: Spread 1 tablespoon (16 g) of peanut butter on 1 side of each of the pieces of French toast.
Layer 1/4 cup (7 g) mixed baby greens, 2 squares of blackened tofu, and 4 slices of cucumber to 4 slices of French toast. Then top with remaining 4 slices.

Cut in half, if desired, and plate. Drizzle each sandwich with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of maple syrup, then sprinkle with 1 tablespoon (7 g) each of chopped peanuts and nutritional yeast. We suggest eating this bad girl with a fork, as she tends to get a little messy!

Yield: 4 Sandwiches

Peanut Chipotle Ranch
Making your own sauces and dressings can breathe new life into the typical green salad, and this dressing is no exception. Spicy from the chipotle, yet cool and creamy, because…ranch!

1 block (16 ounces, or 454 g) silken tofu
2 tablespoons (32 g) peanut butter
1 chipotle in adobo sauce
2 teaspoons (10 ml) of adobo sauce
2 teaspoons (1 g) dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried dill (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Salt (optional)

Add all the ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups (455 ml)

2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, and remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni