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Eggplant Bánh Mì Tacos with Pickled Veggies & Spicy Aioli

Austin LOVES tacos…well and who doesn’t quite frankly? I think we love them because they can be filled with just about anything- which is part of the fun. Get creative to celebrate National Taco Day or just follow the this delicious and plant-based and paleo friendly recipe below for Eggplant Banh Mi Tacos and you cannot go wrong. This recipe was developed in collaboration with our incredibly talented chef Heather Valdes for a summer cooking class. The initial recipe was made with shiitake mushrooms, yum! This one was adjusted to use up some of the bountiful eggplant happening in Austin & Miami right now. Whatever your filling choice, this is a great template for all sorts of interesting options.


Eggplant Bánh Mì Tacos with Pickled Veggies & Spicy Aioli

Quick Pickled Veggies~
1 medium carrot, julienne or grated (or butternut squash to be uber seasonal)
1-1/2 cups cucumber, thinly sliced into thin half moons
1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup filtered water
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon Himalayan salt

bahn-mi-tacosEggplant Filling~
3 Tablespoons coconut oil
1-1/2 pounds eggplant, cut into ¼ inch x 3 inch strips
3 Tablespoon reduced ­sodium tamari
2 Tablespoons filtered water
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 Tablespoon Siracha (or to taste)
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1” piece of ginger, minced
Freshly ground black pepper

Tacos & Optional Garnish~
8 small corn tortillas, warmed through either in the oven or on a stove top
Lettuce Wraps instead of tortillas
Generous handful of fresh cilantro and/or mint- tough stems removed
Scallions, thinly sliced on bias
Thinly sliced radish
Chopped Peanuts

Quick Pickled Veggies: Add all ingredients to a large glass jar, secure the lid, and shake for 10 to 15 seconds to mix. You’ll want to allow the vegetables to soak for at least 30 minutes (at room temp) up to 24 hours- the longer the better. If you plan to do hours in advance, place the jar in the fridge until ready to assemble.

Eggplant Filling: Whisk together the maple syrup, tamari, chili garlic paste, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger and black pepper in a small mixing bowl and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan over high heat, add the coconut oil and the eggplant and reduce the heat to medium­ and cover. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring as needed to prevent burning.

Add the tamari mixture to the pan and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sauce is absorbed, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat.

To Assemble~

Fill each corn tortilla with a small spoonful of the eggplant and then the pickled vegetables. Drizzle with the aioli (recipe follows) and top with the fresh, cilantro, mint, scallions and peanuts if using. Serve immediately.

Tip & Notes~

This recipe would also be delicious with a variety of mushrooms or other veggies such as squash, peppers, cauliflower or broccoli.

Siracha Aioli

1/2 cup mayo of your choice (we like brands with very little ingredients- Just Mayo is a good one)
2 Tablespoon sriracha
Juice of one lime
1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
Salt to taste

Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Allow to sit overnight for flavor to develop if you have time.

Raw Chocolate Bark

Many of you know by now that I have quite the sweet tooth. I actually don’t do much baking for the particular reason (I would eat it ALL, sigh). This Raw Chocolate Bark has become my favorite go-to along with my Perfect Banana Ice Cream. I love it mostly because it’s easy, uber fast and I can take a few nibbles and be satisfied. It is also packed full of nutrients and minerals and won’t leave you feeling like you were naughty. It is also easy to customize to your liking so don’t be afraid to experiment!

Raw Chocolate Bark, quick, clean and naughty all at the same time ;)

Raw Dark Chocolate Bark

INGREDIENTS:
3/4 extra virgin coconut oil*
1/2 cup high quality raw cocao powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
4 drops liquid stevia**
A pinch of Himalayan Salt read more…

Fresh Chopped Garlic- HUGE Time Saver!

One of the tips that I teach in every cooking class is how to have fresh chopped garlic at your fingertips at all times. With 22+ years in this biz- this technique is by far my fave and most used…and easiest to boot. Gone are the days of bashing, peeling, chopping and smelly hands. Say adios to the dull, icky citric acid-laden jarred garlic of yesteryear. Press play and spend a few minutes to save you hours over your cooking endeavors!

How to Make Fermented Black Garlic

Fermented Black garlic is sweet meets savory, a perfect mix of molasses-like richness and tangy garlic awesomeness. It has a tender melt-in-your-mouth consistency similar to a soft dried fruit. Not only is it delicious but it has twice the antioxidants of regular garlic and in many Asian cultures is said to promote longevity. it has become quite “en vogue” lately in the chef world to add to sauces, dressings, pastas and much more. I myself have fallen in love with it an found a quick ‘n’dirty way to make my own in under 12 days. I have been making it in my rice cooker and it creates such a lovely aroma that permeates the house…yum! If this is too much for you, the garage is always an option.

For more info on the health benefits check out my go-to guru for all things health- Dr. Joseph Mercola and his article on this luscious treat!

Quick "n" Dirty homemade black garlic in a rice cooker.
Fermented “Black” Garlic

2 – 4 cups peeled garlic, rough ends removed
1/2 cup filtered water
Rice cooker or crockpot

Place the garlic in the cooker and turn it on “warm” setting- you want it to be at about 140 F. Leave the garlic in the machine for about 9-12 days on this constant temperature. Check every few days and stir gently. You are looking for the garlic to first turn a nutty brown color and then to a dark brown and then to a black- like it is burnt. The idea here is to keep the garlic at a higher ambient temperature- not to cook it.

The garlic will start to dry out a bit over the days- I found that adding a ½ cup or so of filtered water one day before it is ready will add the moisture back in evenly. Once you feel that it has reached a dark black color; unplug the machine and allow the garlic to cool. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to a month.

Use this garlic in salads, pastas, pizzas, salad dressings or just with bread and cheese, yum!

My Favorite Kitchen Tools

Kitchen Tools
Every chef and home cook alike has their favorite kitchen tools- their go-to items that they cannot live without. I am a pretty simple gal, I don’t need a lot of fancy gadgets, but there are some essentials that rock my culinary world. If you love to cook or you are a newbie looking to improve your kitchen experience, even just a few of these tools will rock your world too. The idea is that these tools will simplify your life and inspire you to cook more. If you need more help in that department we have public cooking classes and private cooking classes that will do the trick! read more…

Japanese Mandolin 101

There are a few kitchen tools that I find indispensable; A good chef’s knife (8-10 inches), a Vitamix, a food processor and a Japanese mandolin. While the first three are pretty awesome, nothing will turn your veggies into effortless, professional-looking works of art quite like the mandolin. The best part? It is CHEAP, easy to clean, stores super easily in a drawer, no muss no fuss.

MandolinThere are 4 different blades that you can use:

  1. Flat- for things like sliced onions, fennel, paper thin squash, root veggie slices, cheese etc
  2. Wide Strips (1/3inch wide)- for zucchini noodles, carrots, cucumber, root veggie etc
  3. Thinner Strips (3-4mm wide)- a medium julienne, great for many veggies for salad, sandwiches, pickling etc
  4. Super Duper Baby Strip (1-2mm wide)- works only with very dense veggies like carrots, and other root veg

Whatever you do- do not use the silly plastic guard that is included (not pictured here as I promptly throw it out!), invest the $10 in a pair of nylon mesh gloves that will SAVE YOUR FINGERS :).  See the video above for the full demo…I promise you will fall in love!

 

Check out some of our recipes use a mandolin:

 

The Naked Bite in Austin: Personal Chefs, Cooking Classes, Catering

Austin, TXThe Naked Bite has expanded to Austin, Texas! We are offering veggie-driven cooking classes for individuals and groups as well as personal chef services, boutique catering, and kids cooking classes for our new Austinite neighbors.

This is a unique and bustling city and we are very excited to make an impact on the way people eat and how they cook. With vibrant and pure flavor vegetable-driven recipes, mouthwatering special diet options* and everything clean in between, The Naked Bite is thrilled to become part of the food scene in Austin.

Austin is a wacky, eclectic and dynamic city filled with food, fun, music and plenty of places to get your drink on. Fitness is also a big focus here with plenty of outdoor activity and organized events to sweat and work up an appetite. Exercise may be popular, but food is King here in Austin. The city’s amazing eats still err on the side of heavy: BBQ with a side of pulled pork and bacon, anyone?

The options are diverse and there are strong roots in the farm-to-table and nose-to-tail philosophies; supporting local is almost mandatory. Despite these conscious practices, meat is still the main focus and the veggies are often the side piece. There is room for all, and The Naked Bite will be the perfect complement to all that Austin has to offer.

So if you are a local, we can’t wait to meet you. Check out the services we offer in Austin.

And of course, we are continuing our services in Miami/South Florida, as well as Phoenix, while we are also growing our video recipes, so that we impact even more parts of the world!

*The Naked Bite can accommodate almost all dietary needs. Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Paleo & Vegetarian/Vegan are our specialties.

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