Monday, August 3, 2009

Coffee-Rubbed Vegan Steak Tacos with Grilled Lobster Mushroom, Heirloom Cherry Tomato and Corn Salsa

I'm in the midst of a personal acceptance crisis. I don't mean I'm having issues embracing myself. I fully admit that I'm eccentric, tomboyish, a hopeless romantic, lack fashion (and nunchuck) skills, a total dweeb, overly neurotic about cleanliness, gayer than Ellen, sarcastic, a horrible dancer when sober, and enjoy 80s sitcom re-runs. I claim it all with pride.

I am, however, facing head on the fact that I am entirely too picky. There are so many areas in life where being "picky" is acceptable...and it's entirely subjective to us as individuals as to when we should be selective. For example, my sister is a picky eater. She's alright with that, but it's completely incomprehensible to me. If you put something vegan in front of my face and tell me it's good, you bet your ass I'll not only taste it, but most likely make it disappear faster than Paris Hilton's music career. Put something foreign in front of her, and verbal reassurance means nothing. She'll poke at the food, smell it, hold it under a microscope and run diagnostic testing. There's about a 35% chance she may actually take a taste.

I'm not saying I'm an elitist...far from it. I can even justify some of my pickiness because it correlates to my overall quality of life and well-being. My crisis arose because I...

...goodness this is hard to admit...

I need to get a job.

On top of it all, I'm spoiled. I had the luck and opportunity of living the life of a freelance artist for a few years, but the commercial royalties are running low and Reno 911 reruns just don't generate enough to pay the bills. Not that I haven't worked in the past few years. I've worked on several film and TV projects. I busted my ass baking Vegan Twinkies for the masses for quite some time, but my true love of cooking led me away from the bakery to focus on finishing my cookbook. I had an amazing job at the now sadly closed Jax Vegan Cafe, which spoiled me even further because I actually loved going to work every day. To me, it was the paradigm of restaurant work, and it set my standards entirely too high.

I'm starting a vegan menu design business, but I need something solid while I seek out more clientele. I know I want to work in a restaurant kitchen. I want to be allowed a little creativity. I don't want to work with animal products, drive more than a few miles to work (aka stay east of the 405) and I don't want to work for assholes. According to Craigslist, I'm going to be looking for a job for the next 5 years. I'm being too picky, but I'm also trying to figure out a good reason why I should compromise aside from a need for $$ to support my obsessive grocery shopping habit. For now, my only answer is to take matters into my own hands. I'm just going to start knocking on doors of the restaurants I want to work for, and hope for the best.

On a related note, one of my fantasy jobs is having my own cooking show. The Food Network is also known for its issues with pickiness (AKA no shows that don't enlist T-Bone...and I don't mean the a regular guest star). While I was procrastinating my job hunt last week, I made a little show in my kitchen. Like I said earlier, I embrace the fact that I'm a total dweeb...and I curse like a trucker so keep your kids out of the room. I apologize in advance if I ramble like an idiot. I was a little nervous.

Coffee-Rubbed Vegan Steak Tacos with Grilled Lobster Mushroom, Heirloom Cherry Tomato and Corn Salsa

Coffee-Rubbed Steak
  • 1 batch Beef Style Seitan*
  • About 8 Tortillas, warmed before serving
  • 1 TBSP Organic Coffee, Ground
  • 2 tsp Organic Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp cracked Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground Coriander Seed
  • Pinch of Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • Organic Canola Oil Spray, for greasing grill pan or grill
*Chef's Note: When you prepare the Beef Style Seitan, make sure you cut the dough into "Steak" shaped pieces before dropping into the boiling broth.

Make sure your Beef Style Seitan "Steaks" are drained well.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients well. Rub each "Steak" liberally with the Coffee-Rub, then place in an air-tight container or plastic bag. Place the rubbed "Steaks" into the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Use a knife or electric blade to thinly slice the steak.

Grease a grill pan or large skillet well over medium-high heat, then grill the slices of "steak" for 3-4 minutes on each side until brown.

Lobster Mushroom, Heirloom Cherry Tomato and Corn Salsa
  • 2 TBSP Canola Oil, divided
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 oz Dried Lobster Mushrooms
  • 3 oz Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 ears fresh Corn Kernels (or about 1 cup thawed frozen Corn Kernels)
  • 1 small Sweet Onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • Lime Juice, for deglazing pan (about 1 TBSP)
  • 1 Jalepeno Pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 TBSP Green Onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/8 cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 TBSP Fresh Lime Juice, plus an extra 2 tsp for de-glazing skillet
  • Sea Salt, to taste

Soak the dried Lobster Mushrooms in water for about an hour. Drain the mushrooms well, then roughly dice on a cutting board.

Heat the first 1 TBSP of Canola Oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the garlic, Corn, and both the diced Lobster Mushrooms and sliced Shiitakes to the pan, and cook 3-5 minutes until brown. Add the sliced Sweet Onion to the pan, the 1 tsp of the Lime Juice to deglaze. Saute for about 1 minute, then add the another 1tsp of Lime Juice, Corn Kernels and diced Jalepeno to the pan. Saute until the Onions are translucent and beginning to brown.

Turn the heat down to medium low, and add the quartered Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes to the pan. Saute for 30 seconds, remove the pan from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, place the contents of the pan into a large bowl and toss with the 1 TBSP of Lime Juice, Green Onions, Fresh Cilantro and Chili Powder. Add salt to taste.

Serve over "steak" tacos.


Anonymous said...

Marry me?!

Um, and by that I mean... this was awesome! So much fun, and I'm pretty sure minus the gratuitous swearing it would be totally appropriate for the Food Network.

But really, are you single? :P

Anonymous said...

i enjoyed it. please do more!

Mihl said...

You are so funny. You definitely need your own cooking show to present your unique recipes!

Tami said...

Congratulations on the vegan menu idea-- wish someone would do that here in Ohio! I hope the money starts rolling in for you, too!

Now to watch your show, which I know I'll love if it's anything like your writing.

quarrygirl said...

i wanna see you on the foodnetwork. i mean it!

Rose said...

Loved the video, and your recipe is fabulous as usual. You're a natural-born chef.

Monika said...

You are fucking hilarious and I really hope you get a cooking show.. the Food Network needs a vegan option

janelle said...

I laughed so hard at the very blunt description of yourself. You are a fantastic writer, chef and you deserve to be as picky as you want! I hope you get your cooking show.

Jenn Shagrin said...

Thank you so much :) I'd definitely have to learn to harness my vulgarity, or at least have a pleasant sounding "beep" censor.
Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm happily taken.

Thanks! There will definitely be more in the future.

Let's start a campaign :)

Jes said...

Oh my gracious, those tacos look unblievable (in a good way of course)! But where's the ice cold drink to go with 'em? ;)

Fingers crossed for finding a job--everyone I know has found a job at the last minute right when everything looked like it wouldn't work out. So hopefully that won't happen to you, but I'm a big believe in karma and I'm sure you're doin' pretty good on the karma points!

Missy said...

Yay, that was so awesome. Ive been reading the blog for a while now, and it was cool to actually see you in action. You should get a cooking show in a late night spot, 'cause I loved the swearing. Thought it was totally appropriate!

Farty Girl said...

you should be on TV. great recipe. so creative. i'm scamming on what i can do with that coffee rub... since i can't have seitan... hmmmm...

your gf is a lucky lady!

miss v said...

i swear like a sailor in the kitchen.... you were so tame!

love the grill pan. love the recipe. love the video.

Farty Girl said...

ALSO I wanted to say thanks for mentioning the importance of eating organic and not using the microwave. I get lazy and cheap and slack on both quite often... it helps to hear these reminders... that it IS worth it to eat organic and non-nuked food.

Jenn Shagrin said...


Thank you!
Maybe I could pioneer the Food Network after hours. It would give them a chance to air two things they find shameful: foul language and vegan food :)

iRaw said...

You are adorable! And the tacos look so awesome!! Can't wait to see more of your cooking action.

Jenni (aka Vegyogini) said...

Best cooking show I've ever seen! I've always wanted to be a Food Network show host, too. :)

kt mo said...

yes yes yes a million times yes, the food network needs a show that doesn't kill animals and you are just the person to do it. is there like a petition to sign or a person to pitch it to?

Jenn Shagrin said...

kt mo:
I wish i could say yes :) maybe they'll just stumble upon my blog one day when they're google searching for bad press to censor haha.

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

You are too cute!

trina said...

The kid's in the room, so I haven't watched the video yet, but the tacos look amazing and I don't throw words like that around lightly, and also, I too, am hoping for the best for you on the perfect cooking job front. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I LOVED this video! You really made me laugh out loud. Please make tons more!