I never used to like spicy food. My mother loves to tell the story of how I dumped tons of red pepper flakes on my pizza at a restaurant when I was like four, took a bite, and then proceeded to scream bloody murder after realizing that my pizza was, indeed, made of searing hot flame.
But dating changes a person, for the better, in this case. JP is a spice fiend: the hotter the better! Oh and that goes for the food, too (wah wah wah...I'm so crevah). Anyway, since we started dating I've been trying spicier foods (such as kim chee, green curry, etc) and I've really been enjoying the culinary delight that is your mouth being on fire. In a good way. I think it is in part due to becoming vegan; when one's palatte is not constantly inundated with fatty cream and cheese sauces, it becomes exposed to all of those flavors that were overwhelmed before. I now enjoy so many foods that I didn't even consider trying before.
So bring on the spicy recipes!:
Fantastic taste explosion dinner
At the recommendation from Lelly on the VFF, I made the Blackened Tofu from Eat Drink & Be Vegan!. I was not expecting to like this (after all, black = burnt, right?), but I was puh-leasantly surprised. Black does not = burnt, black = yummy crispy blackened layer of cajun-style spices on both sides of my tofu! Very very pleased, not TOO spicy, and the flavors were balanced nicely by the Cheater Baked Beans from Veganomicon,which = mmm, molassesy goodness. I really liked how easy yet delicious the beans were. I like sweeter baked beans, and these were perfect for me. Plus it calls for canned beans so if you're lazy (or busy) they are great when you're pinched for time. I added sides of quinoa, and the Simple Stir-Fried Greens, also from Veganomicon. This was my first time using mustard greens. They're very peppery and tender, and I used the optional chili oil which made them even more spicy. Highly recommended meal!
Leftovers taste even better at the beach
The tofu also makes awesome sammiches. This is the blackened tofu (cut in half lengthwise) on polenta bread, with field greens, avocado, and chipotle-cilantro crema. We took these delicious little darlings to Hobbit Beach up on the Oregon coast along with bananas, trail mix, Newman-O's, chips, and a couple of beers we hadn't tried from Sierra Nevada, Dogfish Head (one of our favorite breweries, sucks that they're not local), and Bayern Brewing (the doppelbock is reeeeally well-rounded and tasty). It was a lovely frolicky afternoon.
And one last trip down Spicy Lane: today is Cinco de Mayo! Which as every college student knows is about the conquering of France by alcohol. Er, Mexico. Er, something. Whatever, it's an excuse to drink. The temperature in Eugene finally rose above 'cold and rainy as all get out' so JP and I sipped homemade mojitos on the front lawn, and then made these for dinner to eat in the backyard (aka the paved back parking area where there's a plastic picnic table and chairs):
Baja-style tempeh tacos
They're the Baja-Style Tempeh Tacos from Veganomicon, but without any of the fancy fixins'. I didn't feel like buying anything or making the lime crema (I had leftover chipotle-cilantro crema from the picnic sandwiches), so I just used the chili-beer marinade for the tempeh (nice and easy, just needs to sit in there for at least an hour, then grilled on my grillpan) and then we made refried black beans and piled the tempeh, beans, the crema, and lots of veggies and cilantro on locally-made corn tortillas. I think this recipe is my favorite way I've EVER had tempeh. The tacos were spicy, warm, and refreshing all at the same time, and the perfect cruelty-free end to the first warm day of the year.