Mexican Street Food Dinner Party

Mexican Street Food Dinner Party at Chaostheorie in Berlin

Mexican Street Food Dinner Party

Saturday 25.06.2016 at Chaostheorie in Berlin

In a few weeks, I’ll be cooking up an amazing, all vegan Mexican Street Food Dinner Party with many of my most favorite recipes from The Lotus and the Artichoke MÉXICO for 40 lucky guests.

In only 3 days the tickets were SOLD OUT… and we’ve got 10 people on the waiting list. Possibly we’ll free up a few more places and let more people join us. This is a dinner party I’ve been wanting to put on for years. I’m excited it’s finally going to happen! I’ve done smaller Mexican dinners, but never for more than 20 people. If all goes well (I expect it will be a smashing success) I’ll be doing more big dinner parties like this, not just in Berlin, but in other cities and countries.

This is not the first dinner party I’ve done! Several times a year I put on vegan dinner parties, and so far I’ve had the pleasure of cooking for groups of 8 to 50 people in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Mainz, Solingen, and Vienna. Just to name a few. I’ve done Sri Lankan dinner parties, Mexican dinner parties, North and South Indian dinners, American Diner Classics, and one of my favorites: Around the World dinner parties… all with vegan recipes inspired by my travels to 50 countries all over the planet.

Here’s the menu plan for the night:

THE FOOD

  • Chiles Rellenos – fried stuffed peppers & Red Chipotle Sauce
  • Jackfruit Tacos & Mango Salsa
  • Tostada Supreme (Soy Chorizo) & Guacamole
  • Spinach Mushroom Sopes & Salsa Verde
  • Apple Pineapple Empanadas
  • Lemon Caramel Coconut Flan

THE DRINKS

  • Frozen Margaritas (with/without alcohol)
  • all of the awesome Chaostheorie cocktails & drinks

This event is sold out, but if you’d like to find out about future events or make arrangements with me to cook for you (or with you) wherever you might be in the world… Sign up for the newsletter, send me an email from the CONTACT page, and be sure to LIKE The Lotus and the Artichoke on Facebook.

You can also follow my cooking and travel adventures here: The Lotus and the Artichoke on Instagram and get some hilarious insight into my day to day silliness and fun on SNAPCHAT: lotusartichoke

Here’s a photo of me getting it on in the kitchen of our little apartment in Guanajuato, Mexico, where I stayed for about a week while traveling and living in Mexico for 3 months to research Mexican food, ride some waves, and escape the German winter.

Guanajuato Kitchen JPM - Vegan Cooking in Mexico

Apple Pineapple Empanadas

Empanadas de Manzana y Piña

When I was living in the small town of Lo de Marcos, on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, we’d often take day trips to Sayulita. Sayulita, like San Pancho and Lo de Marcos, used to be just a sleepy fishing village. All three towns are just up the coast from Puerto Vallerta – which has been in the tourist guidebooks for quite some time. In the 1960s and 1970s, PV was built up for tourism (kind of like planned tourism destinations Acapulco and Cancun). It was also around this time that surfers “discovered” Sayulita, which remained pretty much a secret for a while.

Over the next few decades, tourism and expat enclaves grew and migrated along the Nayarit coast, creating what it is now: cities, towns, and villages coming to terms with all of the holiday traffic and escape artists. In addition to surfing, Sayulita is popular for weddings and honeymoons, yoga retreats, artistic and culinary workshop getaways, souvenir and craft shopping, and of course: respite from the louder and brasher cities.

For me, Sayulita will always be about empanadas.

Going to Sayulita always meant going to my favorite little hole-in-the-wall empanada take-out bakery. We’d leave Lo de Marcos in the morning on the local bus, ride about half an hour south, down the coast along jungle and oceanview roads. The bus stand was a good, hot, 10 to 15 minute walk to the “downtown”. As we approached the main town square, my mouth would already be watering, anxious to see what kind of empanadas were there. You see, this is part of why we tried to leave early and arrive before lunch. By mid afternoon, the bakery would always sell out of at least one of my favorites: Empanadas de Manzana (with apple filling) and Empanadas Espinaca y Papas (spinach & potato filling).

This place only made and sold empanadas, and nothing else. You’d just walk up to the counter, see what was listed on the chalkboard, and then place your order. The baked pastries never got a chance to cool off. Usually they rarely spent a few minutes on the counter in their baskets before they’d be bought, carried away, and devoured.

I’d buy a bunch of whatever vegan empanadas they had, and then bring them back to the park for a family picnic. The rest of the day was usually spent sipping coconut water or fresh juice, watching surfers (and absolute beginner surfer lessons taking place on the beach), strolling around, and then, once we got hungry again, enjoying an excellent meal at La Esperanza, or our favorite taquería (whose name I’ve long since forgotten) just off the main street.

Sayulita Mexico

Justin P. Moore, Lo de Marcos, Mexico with Surfboard, Feb 2014

This photo of me with my surfboard in Lo de Marcos has nothing to do with Empanadas. Unless perhaps I ate empanadas that morning in Sayulita. Which is entirely possible.

Back in Germany, I got to work perfecting my Empanada recipe

Sure they’re great with just apple, but adding fresh pineapple is mind-blowing. I love the tropical touch, which is a really powerful, nostalgic reminder of the my months spent living next to the beach in Mexico.

I suggest using a good, buttery vegan margarine. Don’t use cheap stuff, and try to find something that is recommended for baking. Cheaper margarines have too much water in them, and you’ll miss out on the rich, creamy flavor for your dough. In Germany I use Alsan, and in the U.S.A. Earth Balance makes some good stuff that will work for baking. (If you’ve got other suggestions for readers, please leave a comment below!)

Also, keep an eye on your goodies in the oven! If you overbake them, you’ll be disappointed by the texture. Since I’m really not that great of a baker, I actually take the empanadas out of the oven a minute or two before I think they’re done. A bit soft and chewy is always better than hard and dry! Keep fresh, hot empanadas covered or wrapped with a damp dishtowel so they don’t dry out, too. Oh, and always be careful with the first bite – I don’t even know how many times I’ve burned my tongue on blazing hot empanada filling!

Enjoy!

Apple Pineapple Empanadas

Empanadas de Manzana y Piña

recipe from The Lotus and the Artichoke – MEXICO!

makes 8 to 10 / time 45 min +

dough:

  • 3 cups (375 g) flour (all-purpose / Type 550)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 8 Tbs (110 g) margarine
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) cold water
  • 2 Tbs soy milk or rice milk for glaze optional
  1. Combine flour, salt, sugar, baking powder in large mixing bowl.
  2. Cut margarine into thinly sliced pieces and add to bowl. Using hands, knead margarine into flour mix.
  3. Gradually add in cold water, continue kneading a few minutes until dough is rubbery and smooth. If needed use slightly more flour or water.
  4. Pull and form into 8–10 equal sized balls and return to bowl. Cover and let sit 20 min.

apple & pineapple filling:

  • 2 medium apples peeled, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (140 g) pineapple finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon ground
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  1. Combine chopped apples and pineapple with cinnamon and sugar in large bowl. Mix well.
  2. Pour 2 Tbs soy milk (or water) into cup or small bowl.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F / 200 C / level 6.
  4. On floured surface, roll out a dough ball with rolling pin (or bottle) to 1/4 in (1 cm) thickness. Using a medium bowl or saucer as a guide, cut circle with knife. Roll up and save trim.
  5. Put 2 Tbs filling onto a dough circle. Dip finger in soy milk (or water) and trace around outer edge to help seal. Fold over in half and press edges firmly with a fork to seal.
  6. Brush top with soy (or rice) milk, if desired, for glaze. Carefully transfer to baking tray. Repeat for all empanadas.
  7. Bake until golden brown and edges start to crisp and darken, about 20–25 min.
  8. Allow to cool 5 min before serving: Filling is very hot!

Variations:

Other fillings: Experiment with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, chopped pears, walnuts, hazelnuts, banana, chocolate… or whatever else you come up with!

The Lotus and the Artichoke - MEXICO vegan cookbook cover

recipe from The Lotus and the Artichoke – MEXICO!

Mexican Magic Rice

Mexican Magic Rice - vegan Dirty Rice / Messy Rice / Tomato Rice

When I was living in the small village of Lo de Marcos on the Pacific coast of Mexico, I went shopping at the vegetable shops in the neighborhood and cooked in the kitchen of our rented house every day. One of my favorite standard dishes, which I cooked at least twice a week, was Mexican Magic Rice. It’s sort of a spin-off of traditional Mexican Dirty Rice, also called Messy Rice. It’s basically a tomato rice dish – easy to make and always a treat. It’s great with smoked tofu or fancy mushrooms instead of seitan.

I’ve been focusing so much on the new Malaysia cookbook coming out later this year… and, sure, I’m still obsessed with the recipes from my new SRI LANKA cookbook. But now it’s time to give some more love to Mexico and all my favorite Mexican recipes from my previous cookbook with recipes inspired by my travels

I had always been fascinated by Mexico…

I wanted to spend more time there, since my first brief visit across the border with my family in the late 1980s. My second visit, in 2001, was a week-long visit with my father and brother Adam, and we went mountain climbing on Iztaccíhuatl. Fast forward to 2013: After the success of my first vegan cookbook inspired by my world travels, it was time to plan the next project. Mexico was my first pick for a winter escape from the cold Berlin winter. I talked with other travel bloggers I knew, and heard about the elusive town of San Pancho, an hour north of Puerto Vallarta, and just around the bend from surfer town Sayulita.

There’s a great story of how I found an amazing house to rent right on the sea, and where I spent two months living with the locals, learning to surf, improving my Spanish, and super-charging my Mexican cooking game.

The original plan was to find a house in San Pancho.

But the scene was much more touristy and less authentic than I had pictured. Maybe a few years earlier it was still real. And the rents were well over what we wanted to spend.After a few days of looking for a reasonable, charming and down-to-earth place, we pretty much gave up on San Pancho. Locals suggested I go north to Lo de Marcos and see what was up over there. The search continued: asking everyone, locals and foreigners, if anyone knew of a house to rent. After two days of walking around in the sun and asking, and exhausting all the online resources for holiday rentals, we were just about ready to give up again. We had only one more night at the small apartment for one week in San Pancho until we needed to find a new place.

On that fateful day, exhausted and sweaty, I sat down on the sidewalk on the small street a few minutes walk from the ocean. I saw two guys walking back from the beach, shirtless and tan. One had a fresh tattoo of Santa Muerte, the elaborately decorated Mexican Lady Death with a painted skeleton face, still healing on his chest. Should I ask them if they knew of any places to rent? Or would it be just like all the times before: no particularly helpful suggestions and just a smile and wish of good luck in our search?

If you don’t ask, the answer is always No.

I stood up and greeted the young men, “Buenos días, we’re looking for a place to rent for a few months. Do you know of anything.” The guy with the tattoo, laughed and said, “How about my house? We’re standing right in front of it. We leave to go to Montreal tomorrow afternoon. Want to come in and see the house?”

He unlocked the gate and we walked up the path. “I have to warn you, the house is kind of… unique. I love to cook and I built out the kitchen with a six-burner stove and giant double refrigerator from a restaurant that closed in Puerto Vallarta. It’s probably way more than you need, eh?” It was my turn to laugh. I told him that I cook every day and had come to Mexico to spend a few months learning more about the local cuisine and to work on recipes for a new cookbook.

The entry way opened up to an expansive garden with papaya trees, banana trees, towering coconut palms, and a large herb garden with massive bushes of basil, oregano, parsley, cilantro, and rosemary. The house itself was a cosy and quaint, two-level casita, painted bright yellow and had a classic terracotta tiled roof with a thatched veranda. “There are two bedrooms downstairs, and another room upstairs with its own bathroom and mini-kitchen. You can eat on the veranda upstairs, or downstairs on the patio. We’ve got fast internet, a working washing machine, and… oh, here’s the outdoor shower.”

Our Casita in Lo de Marcos Mexico

I imagined myself showering in the outdoor shower and rinsing the salt water from my surfboard after a day in the waves.

The house was perfect. Everything was falling into place in that awesome way. My friend Ben from Germany was coming to visit for a few weeks with his brother. My dad was planned to visit for a week, too. The upstairs room would be perfect for visitors, and could be my yoga room and work studio at other times. Instead of renting a small place (and we had seen many, but they just didn’t feel right, so we’d kept looking), we could rent this and the guests could stay here with us, instead of finding another place. We worked out a fair price for the rent the next day. I helped him finish packing the car and he gave me the keys to our beach house in Lo de Marcos, Mexico.

Mexican Magic Rice is fantastic with Cashew Sour Cream or Guacamole and served on a bed of greens, lettuce, or with a salad. It’s also awesome for packing killer bean burritos and much more fun than just plain rice. Similar to my Cambodian Fried Rice recipe from my first The Lotus and the Artichoke cookbook, this dish is a readers’ favorite, and can easily be doubled for a big family meal. I cook it all the time for dinner parties and cooking classes. And I still cook it regularly at home for my own family and friends.

Enjoy!

Mexican Magic Rice - Munich Surdham Göb Dinner Party 2016

Mexican Magic Rice

tomato rice with spicy seitan

serves 3 to 4 / time 35 min

recipe from The Lotus and the Artichoke – MÉXICO!
  • 5 oz (150 g) seitan sliced or chopped
  • 3/4 cup (75 g) green peas
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) black olives sliced or chopped
  • 3 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin ground
  • 1 tsp coriander ground
  • 1 cup (200 g) rice
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric ground
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) beer or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup (240 ml) water
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika ground
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper ground
  • 1/2 tsp ground chipotle or chili powder optional
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano chopped
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • fresh cilantro or parsley chopped, for garnish
  1. Heat 2 Tbs oil in large pot on medium high heat. Add chopped onions, garlic, ground cumin, and coriander. Fry, stirring constantly, 2–3 min.
  2. Add rice, tomato paste, turmeric, bay leaf, salt. Mix well.
  3. Stir in beer (or vegetable broth) and water. Bring to boil, stirring, Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 15–20 min until rice is cooked. Remove from heat. Mix with a fork. Cover and let sit 5–10 min.
  4. Heat 1 Tbs oil in large frying pan on medium high heat.
  5. Add ground paprika, pepper, chipotle (or chili powder), chopped seitan. Fry, stirring regularly, until lightly crispy and browned, 4–5 min.
  6. Stir in chopped oregano and lemon juice, followed by peas and chopped olives. Cook another 2–3 min, stirring regularly. Remove from heat. Cover until rice is ready.
  7. Add cooked seitan, peas, and olives to rice pot. Mix well. Cover until ready to serve.
  8. Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley and serve.

Variations:

No fake meats: Replace seitan with chopped mushrooms. Sliced oyster Mushrooms or portabellos are best! No olives: Replace with corn kernels, chopped bell pepper, broccoli or other vegetables. Extra Spicy: Add 1 chopped chipotle (or other) chili with spices when frying seitan. More Red: Sauté 8–10 cherry or small plum tomatoes with seitan, halved or whole.

The Lotus and the Artichoke - MEXICO vegan cookbook cover