Beyond Meat Beefy Crumble Tacos

At age 15, Kid Two has transitioned to becoming an almost-vegetarian eater. But he’s a growing boy, and his body often craves protein. I’ve been doing my best with tofu and experimenting with seitan – both with quite a bit of success, but variety is the spice of life, right? So I jumped at this opportunity to sample and create a recipe for these new BeyondMeat Beef Crumbles. BeyondMeat is a pretty interesting company; backed by Bill Gates and Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, they’ve created a plant protein substitute for our high-quality animal products. It’s soy-free, gluten-free, Kosher, made from non-GMO pea protein, with no cholesterol, saturated, or trans fat and has 10 grams of protein per serving – the same as ground beef. They’ve also got an environmentally-sensitive POV, wanting a better way to feed the planet than water and land-intensive meat. I love their tag line “Meat is no mystery,” they say. It’s not, really. Protein is just a combination of amino acids, fats, trace carbohydrates and minerals, and a lot of water combined to give us that familiar chew, resistance, and variation.

It’s the chew, resistance, and variation that’s often the problem with animal-meat substitutes, though, right? The BeyondMeat folks wondered:

What if we are able to take these inputs from plants and apply heating, cooling, and pressure so they combine just like animal meat? And what if you define meat by what it is—amino acids, fats, carbs, minerals, and water—versus where it is from (i.e cows, chickens, pigs)? What you’d have is meat for the future. Meat from plants.

How cool is that? And the best part? It’s actually really delicious! We made Beefy Crumbles Tacos with the Fiesta flavor, and I’ve got to say this product is really impressive. I always thought of myself as a diehard meat girl, but I will happily use this for one or more meals per week. Don’t expect to taste ground beef – the flavor is similar but unique. The beauty is in the texture – it’s very appealing – truly similar to animal meat. I liked it so much I tried this recipe with the chicken flavor and had equally excellent results. Try this recipe for Beefy Crumble Tacos. It’s got mellow heat, crunch, color, flavor, all rolled into one tasty healthy package:

5.0 from 1 reviews
Beyond Meat Tacos
 
Prep time
Cook time
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These vegan tacos are made with the high-protein meat substitute BeyondMeat. You can use the Beef Crumbles or the Chicken with equally good results.
Author:
Recipe type: entree
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 ear of corn
  • 1 cup prepared pico de gallo
  • 1 avocado
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 8 small corn tortillas
  • 12 oz BeyondMeat Beef crumbles (Chicken flavor gives equally good results)
  • sour cream
  • 1 can refried beans
Instructions
  1. Roast, peel, seed, and chop poblano pepper.
  2. Grill the ear of corn and cut off kernels.
  3. In a large skillet, heat oil on medium high heat.
  4. Add onion and garlic, simmer for a few minutes.
  5. Add poblano pepper, corn, pico de gallo, cherry tomatoes, and BeyondMeat.
  6. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
  7. Reduce heat to low and add BeyondMeat.
  8. Cover and set aside.
  9. While mixture is heating, warm refried beans.
  10. Steam corn tortillas.
  11. Serve BeyondMeat mixture in warm tortillas with refried beans, sour cream, and avocado.
  12. Enjoy!

Find out more information on BeyondMeat:

— BeyondMeat on The Today Show

— BeyondMeat in NY Times

Where can you find Beyond Meat in your area? Click here to find out.
BeyondMeat Beefy Crumble comes  in two flavors:

Beefy – A hint of garlic and citrus makes this perfect for pasta sauces, pizzas and more!

Feisty – A zesty blend of beef crumbles perfect for tacos or chili!

You can find in in the freezer section for only $5.49.

 

Everything Eats: Humpback Whales in the Monterey Bay

Truly one of the most amazing, magical, unusual sights in the world:

HumpbackNewBrightonYes – that’s a whale. A humpback whale, lunge feeding less than 20 yards from shore near New Brighton State Beach in Santa Cruz County. The humpbacks showed up a month or so ago, following massive schools of anchovies into the Monterey Bay. I used to get a thrill seeing far-distant spouts from the beach. NEVER did I think whales would show up a stone’s throw away.

Humpbacks need all the food they can get – they feed only during the summertime on schools of sardines, anchovies, and krill. No teeth – they’ve got baleen plates only let in krill and little bait fish. During this feeding season they can eat up to 1.5 tons of food per day, and they travel up to 16,000 miles chasing it during their annual migration from winter breeding grounds in Mexico north toward Alaska and back.

Here’s a couple more photos, this from another whale (I think) at Platforms last week:

PlatformsHumpback3 PlatformsHumpback2

Because an “amuse bouche” should actually be amusing

Because an “amuse bouche” should actually be amusing

There are some things – images, tastes, sounds – that separate the forest and the trees, the dancer and the dance, the beautiful and the sublime. You stumble across them in the most unlikely moments, making every encounter with magnificence that much more magnificent.

Here is one of those things – the most “amusing” amuse bouche ever:

amuse bouche sierramar

 

This, straight from the imagination of Post Ranch’s Sierra Mar restaurant chef John Cox. It’s a test tube filled with a layer of plum gazpacho topped off with lemon verbena crème fraîche, microgreens, and finished off with . . . wait for it – pop rocks!

“You’re supposed to shake it and shoot it,” directed Heidi, our fantabulous server. We’d been sitting at the infinity pool at the Post Ranch for most of the afternoon and had decided to stay put in robes and bathing suits for dinner. She was smiling – just like all the servers I saw delivering the test tubes of interesting. How could you not look so obviously delighted to pass these around as an introductory course?

So we shook it and shot it and then laughed at it. It was honestly hilarious, the fizzy sound of the pop rocks, the sweetness and fuzz in your mouth, the unexpected difficulty at getting all the microgreens out of the tube.

Sometimes life really is sweet.

 

Follow Chef John Cox ‘s blog here.

Balsamic zucchini “chips” with garlic and almonds

Balsamic zucchini “chips” with garlic and almonds

The zucchini harvest has begun! I’m not yet regretting the 5 plants I popped in the ground planning for a summer of squash blossom quesadillas and my dream of edible flower pizza, but the season is young. No doubt in a couple of months I’ll find a monstrous zucchini or two hidden under the scarlet runner beans as in years past and have to do something drastic again.

But in the meantime I was excited to gather my first summer garden crop: green onions, snow peas, and zucchini, and set out to make hot and sour soup for supper. But there’s something about freshly gathered produce that says – slow down, you move too fast. You’ve got to make the garden last . . .

LL and I admired our first zucchini, and he suggested we try thinly slicing and pan frying them in a little hot oil. One thing led to another – I added minced garlic and sliced green onions to the sizzling zucchini, and then, inspired by my new Almonds book, added a small handful of those nuts, roughly chopped. What the heck – I picked a squash blossom to toss in on the heat and finished with a sprinkling of coarse kosher salt. We heaped it on a plate and tasted – it was good, really freshly fantastically good, but needed something else, something . . .

Balsamic vinegar! Just 3 or 4 drops of thick richly favored tangy aged burnt sienna gold tossed throughout the dish gave it – dare I say? – depth. Truly. Took it beyond a nice fresh zucchini and almond dish and gave it an actual life of its own. Flavors melding and all that. This would be fantastic on top of fish or as a side dish. We didn’t get a chance; we sat here and ate the whole plate. With our fingers. And called it supper. Because, really, isn’t this kind of experience what summer food should really be about???

zucchini

 

 

Watermelon salad for a summer BBQ

Watermelon salad for a summer BBQ

We are not a particularly Handy Family, so I was surprised when LL suggested we spend Memorial Day weekend sanding and revarnishing the kitchen cabinets. They definitely needed to be slathered with love after all these years of heavy use (18 years, really, since we built the kitchen? Wow!) And we had the time – when you live next to the beach, you tend to stay away from it on days the crowds appear. Like Memorial Day. So we enlisted the help of a Handy Friend, dug around in the shed to find the palm and detail sanders left over from a different round of remodeling, stocked up on sandpaper, and away we went.

But sanding is a long and dusty process. Especially when old friends stop by with bottles of wine and Kid One shows up for a visit and the new Marianne’s Ice Cream shop opens on the corner that very day and the dog wanted to take a long walk. I didn’t end up helping with the work at all . . . there was lunch to make and dinner to pick up early from Aptos St BBQ because they often sell out early, and then we needed more sandpaper, and suddenly it was supper time and we realized that this project was going to take waaaaaaaaay longer than we anticipated.

Just when we were on the edge of feeling disheartened at the enormity of this thing we were not going to finish, our lovely friend Barbara showed up with this gorgeous, festive watermelon salad: chopped up fruit tossed with minced red onion, feta cheese, and mint leaves, the hollowed-out rind serving as a bowl.

watermelonsalad

 

It was the perfect summer kick-off celebratory dish . . . and pretty, too!

Verve Coffee Roasters is Just the Best

Verve Coffee Roasters is Just the Best

I’ve long thought that there was very little scientific and technological progress in the Middle Ages because – seeing as water quality was dicey at best – people sat around drinking beer and hard cider all day. Nothing like a steady diet of strong mead to fuel superstition and conflict, right? It’s not by chance the Age of Enlightenment coincided with the mainstream availability of coffee. An entire continent shook off a centuries-long muddled haze and embraced the caffeine-fueled investigation of rational thought.

And there’s no better place in town to pursue rational thought than Verve Coffee Roasters. Verve’s coffee has personality, style, rich chewy flavor and a satisfying balance of flavors you find in expensive red wine. My favorite storefront is the Santa Cruz Pacific Avenue location: slabs of rustic wooden furniture, hip concrete floor, slate blue walls, gleaming chrome, fresh flowers and colorful artwork . . . it’s gorgeous. Even the cookies are lovely:

vervecookie

You can get to know the teroir of your beans:
vervecoffeeshots

No problem if you’re not in the mood for coffee – this coffee cherry tea is light and zingy:

vervecascara

And it’s not just me – Verve consistently wins awards’ recently it made Thrillist’s 11 Best Coffee Roasters in America, the Epicurious 25 Best Coffee Shops in America and Eater’s 38 Essential Coffee Shops Across America.

Best looking cappuccino around:

vervecappieWatch this video to learn how the award-wining baristas at Verve create their art:

 

Hot weather celery salad

Hot weather celery salad

Our fog is M.I.A. I’ve lived next to the Monterey Bay for 24 years as of this past April Fool’s Day, and I can’t remember a year in which there have been so many days with temperatures over 80 degrees here at the beach. I just checked on the Weather Underground Almanac: 15 days this calendar year so far, including 4 in January. Generally, once the air here heats to a toasty 75 or so it rises, as air is wont to do, and the void is filled by a cooler marine layer coming in from the sea. Read: fog. Climate change is the new black. My peppers and tomatoes are happy; the dog is miserable; the boy has the swimming unit in P.E. this month and is fine. It’s a dry heat, you know. I’m a native Midwesterner; there’s no room here to complain.

hotday

Hot days deserve hot day meals. Here’s a Gayle’s-bakery inspired salad I made on this particular evening. Hers had shaved parmesan cheese and walnuts. I have a spouse who shudders at the very mention of walnuts and improvised with what I had on hand. Since I’ve been kind of addicted to pepitas since my San Diego trip a few years ago I swapped them for the walnuts. Since I felt the inspiration was going south of the border, I added jicama and cotija. Toss with a lemon vinaigrette, and you have a perfect hot-weather meal.*

Hot weather celery salad
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Crunchy celery and jicama in a zesty vinaigrette are an excellent hot-weather meal
Author:
Recipe type: salads
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 cup julienned jicama
  • ¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 tbsp crumbled cotija cheese
  • 1 tbsp citrus juice
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • dash paprika
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
Instructions
  1. Mix citrus juice vinegar, paprika, and olive oil together. Set aside
  2. Combine celery and jicama in a bowl.
  3. Add vinaigrette and toss to coat.
  4. Add pepitas and cotija. Toss again.
  5. Serve immediately.
Notes
If you make this in advance, save the pepitas and cotija and add just before serving to preserve the crunch.

 

celerysalad

*This is strangely good mixed with tuna salad!

It’s a hard salad to photograph. I suppose I’ll have to make it again and keep trying . . .

The Amazing Texas-Toast-Bacon-and-Egg-Sandwich

The Amazing Texas-Toast-Bacon-and-Egg-Sandwich

Kid Two still loves Texas toast but along the way has acquired a taste for paninis with egg and baby greens with a bit of cheese. It was only a matter of time before he decided to try and combine the buttery crunchiness of Texas toast with savory eggy-ness of his panini. Like all good things, it’s a bit of work, but totally worth it. You have to start by making Texas toast. When that’s finished, layer thin slices of cheese and a handful of baby greens on one side.

paniniinprocess

Top with crumbled, cooked bacon and a cooked scrambled egg. Top with the second piece of toast and there you go – a tasty handful of the ultimate bacon and egg meal:

texastoastpanini

It’s pretty good on a paper plate with strawberries, too:

panini3