Hi! I'm hibernating under my electric blanket whilst perpetually sipping hot tea. Wing It Vegan is on hiatus until I'm willing to come back out. Happy holidays!

Monday, January 25, 2010

E.A.T World: Cuban Arroz con Pollo and Flan de Coco!


One of my favorite TV shows of all time is I Love Lucy, and I do love Lucy! Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken) was Desi Arnaz and his character Ricki Ricardo's favorite dish. Lucy often mocked Ricky's Cuban accent, but when it came to speaking Spanish she was no expert. Here she is trying to tell Ricky's mother (who just arrived from Cuba and doesn't speak English) that they are having Arroz con Pollo for dinner...



Ricky and Fred also engaged in some extreme Arroz con Pollo buffoonery in the episode when they switch jobs with Lucy and Ethel (that famous candy factory episode). The boys are in charge of making dinner and it doesn't go very well. Fred makes a seven-layer cake that is as flat as a pancake, and Ricky's Arroz con Pollo is an *epic fail*. There is even a situation with a rice-volcano! You can catch a clip on YouTube, but I must warn you that there are two very realistic looking plucked-chicken props (I assume they are props) involved.

I did lots of research and found that there are many different versions of Arroz con Pollo. It looks like as long as you start off with a good sofrito, which is the base of this dish, you are probably going to end up with a great Arroz con Pollo. Some recipes call for sage, some call for cumin, and some call for beer, and of course all recipes call for chicken. None of those ingredients appealed to me, so I had to wing it using a few different recipes. This one, this one, and this one were the three main recipes that guided me through my Cuban adventure.

To make my sofrito, I sautéed chopped onion, green and red bell peppers, and fresh tomato in a little olive oil, then added my herbs and spices which were saffron, paprika, oregano, salt, and black pepper. I also sprinkled some nutritional yeast over the sofrito to help the saffron make the rice yellow. Garlic gives me heartburn so I had to leave that out. I loved this dish so much that I made four meatless versions of it. First up, Arroz con Pollo... sin Pollo. Arroz con Mushrooms... er... Arroz con Hongos!

E.A.T World: Cuba - Arroz Con Mushrooms

The mushrooms were marinated in some not-chicken broth with some oregano, paprika, garlic powder, and tamari, and then pan fried in a little olive oil. Next comes my tofu splurge of the week - Quinoa con Tofu:

E.A.T World: Cuba - Quinoa Con Tofu

Delicious, and it was probably my favorite adaptation. Version #3 is Millet con Gardein Chick'n Scallopini:

E.A.T World: Cuba - Millet con Gardein Chick'n

And last but not least comes the Couscous con Gardein Chick'n:

E.A.T World: Cuba - Couscous con Gardein Chick'n

The smell of the sofrito while it's cooking is indescribable! I wish you could smell this picture of the Quinoa con Tofu cooking in the sofrito and not-chicken broth...

E.A.T World: Cuba - Sofrito and Quinoa

That's plenty of savory goods-let's bring on the sweets! For dessert I made a Flan de Coco, or coconut flan. Here is the cheater version:

E.A.T World: Cuba - Goya Flan

E.A.T World: Cuba - Goya Flan

Almost flawless, isn't it? Yea, but that's because I didn't really make it. I bought a box of Goya Flan, added coconut milk to the mix and stuck it in the fridge until it was done. Voila! Flan.

E.A.T World: Cuba - Goya Flan

Ingredients from the box: Sugar, dextrose, calcium carragheen, salt, vanillin (an artificial flavor) and artificial color including FD & C yellow #5. Contains no eggs.

This flan wasn't bad, but Mr. Wing-It wasn't crazy about its odd texture. He didn't quite call it "goo", like Joey Tribbiani did on FRIENDS though.

After the non-challenge that was the Goya flan, I wanted to make my own from scratch. Off to the interwebs I went. There are lots of flan recipes out there, most of them for traditional egg based flan, and a few for silken tofu based flan. This is the recipe that I chose, but I really didn't want to use tofu because the silken variety isn't my favorite and I wanted it to be soy-free anyway. So, I was in the shower (this is where most of my lucid thoughts emerge from the brain jumble) trying to think of something to use instead of silken tofu, and some time between lather, rinse and repeat it hit me: Ricki! No, I did not want to put Ricki in my flan! I remembered that there is an outstanding custard recipe on her cookbook (Sweet Freedom) that calls for cooked millet. Eureka! That should work!

E.A.T World: Cuba - Millet Coconut Flan

It worked indeed! Definitely not flawless like Mr. Goya's flan was, but it was my very first, made-from-scratch, egg-free, dairy-free, and soy-free flan! The flan recipe from VegCooking worked perfectly swapping blended soft-cooked millet for tofu. I used coconut milk instead of soy milk and also added a pinch of turmeric for color.

E.A.T World: Cuba - Millet Coconut Flan

The millet based Flan De Coco had more texture than the Goya mix. It was a cross between flan and pudding, which caused Mr. Wing-It to very wittily name it "fludding". While Mr. Wing-It isn't exactly a fan of flan (there's a tongue-twister!), he preferred the millet version over the flawless Goya. Me? I loved the millet flan! With a little bit of cornstarch instead of agar flakes, I bet it would make a delicious warm millet pudding as well.

Today's delicious E.A.T World entry is brought to you by Krys! Check out this awesome Indian meal that she made for her vegan dinner co-op. Krys also visited Tunisia on the same blog post! She is so well traveled! :)

Krys' curry tofu, with tamarind lentils and samosa stuffed potatoes.
Need a napkin to wipe off the drool?

Visit Krys' blog Two Vegan Boys to find out more about her rockin' dinner co-op and to *awww* over her two little cutie patooties.

Next week I am taking a break from E.A.T World to share some puppy craftiness with you. I think. It all depends on the state of my fickleness. Adios!

22 comments :

  1. Your millet flan looks amazing! I never liked flan due to it's flany smooth texture, so I bet I'd love the millet-based one. And mmm the sofrito. I'm hungry looking at it!

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  2. If I had to choose, I couldn't decide. All your arroz con pollo versions look delicious! And a millet based flan sounds super-good!

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  3. Your Arroz con Pollo variations look awesome. Vegan chicken and rice reminds me of this scene from an episode of The Big Bang Theory I saw last night! LOL! :)

    Way to go making flan with millet too! I would have probably cheated and made it with Birds custard powder and rice/coconut milk. I bet flan is much nicer with texture too - less like goo!

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  4. Gracias for a fun trip to Cuba! I can't decide which version of arroz con pollo I want to try first - the sauteed mushrooms look excellent, and I'm also curious to try gardein. The sofrito looks deliciously authentic, and you get extra points for using saffron!

    All of the flan looks good, even the packaged goya version. Using millet is an inspired idea! I have a long, kind of gross story about the time my dog Otter ate an entire pan of flan that my neighbors had made, back when she was a puppy. It involved lots of apologizing and laughing, and a tummy ache for Otter. Thanks for the memories :)

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  5. Thanks for the shout out River. This week I am travelling to Jamaica via my mouth. In my dreams I would actually be on the beach. But a Jamaican dish will have to do for now. I will post about it on Thursday.

    The food you made looks amazing. Wow.

    xoxo

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  6. i do need a napkin because all of your food looks AMAZING! i've never had flan..the name doesn't exactly sound appealing haha but yours looks great! :)

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  7. Jes - Thanks! The millet flan definitely doesn't have that slippery smooth texture than the other ones do. It's almost like your tongue has something to hold on to! :-D

    Mihl - It was hard for me to decide which one is my favorite too. The gardein stuff is really good, but tofu is kind of forbidden for me now so it makes it that much yummier and naughtier! :-P

    Becks - That was a funny clip! I've never watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory but it looks funny (I need a new adjective). What a coinkidink that you just saw that episode last night! :-)

    Mike - Thank you for the extra saffron points! Definitely try Gardein if you can find it, it's pretty tasty. The only two choices that our local grocery store offers are Chick'n Scallopini and the Marinara stuffed chick'n thingies. Poor Otter! Puppies always seem to find their way to thing's they're not supposed to eat. That little flan thief! Thanks for sparing me the gross details! :-D

    Krys - Thank YOU for participating and making such awesome international goodies! Jamaica, man! We be jammin'! Sorry, that was pretty lame. I'm looking forward to drooling over your Jamaican yummies! :-)

    Lauren - Thank you! I know! The name sounds kind of like "blah"! Blah flan! LOL! I think flan is one of those things that you either love or hate, or barely tolerate. It's the yummy caramel that makes it good! :-)

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  8. The Millet flan looks yummy.makes me feel homesick, my mother used to make coconut flans all the time.

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  9. hooray, River! all of your arroz con "pollo" dishes look wonderful! sofrito sounds gloriously good, i need to give it a try some day. yum! so awesome on using millet for the flan - it looks absolutely amazing! i like the sound of its texture. i never cared for the texture of traditional flan - yours sounds perfect. that's no fun that garlic gives you heartburn - cloves give me hearburn. sadface. that's too funny that you get lots of great ideas in the shower! that totally happens to me! yay!

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  10. what a great tour of Cuba! I've tried Gardein in the Whole Foods deli chickn salad and the bbq skewers, but not the Scallopini. Your version looks delish!

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  11. All of the chicken and rice dishes are inspired - they all look delicious. But the millet flan has really hooked me. I've never made a flan but I'd love to have this recipe.

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  12. What a fun post and a great tour of Cuba! Everything looks delicious, especially the flan!

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  13. Ohhhhhhhh!!! Flan!! I heart the Flan de Coco! That looks amazing. I haven't had flan in years..never thought of veganizing it. Nice work Kook! I'm working on my first E.A.T. post but I'm starting with "A" and it's a big surprise (even to me) what I'll be cooking..taking some research..hum..do I sound mysterious? Hope so! Aerolatte is making my days so foamy..I know that sounds weird but YOU know that I mean ;) I love it!

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  14. Wow, look at all your Arroz con Pollo variations! awesome. The flan looks good too!

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  15. Sorry it has taken me a couple of days to reply, guys. I've had a couple of blah days. Anyway, here we go...

    Anna - I'm sorry the flan made you homesick! Hopefully you will be able to make yourself some yummy millet coconut flan to alleviate your homesickness. I wish I could send you some! :-)

    Jessy - Thank you! Do try sofrito, it's absolutely delicious! Shower-thinkers of the world unite! Garlic powder is OK, but fresh garlic is the work of the devil for me. Do you think I could be a vampire? :-P

    Lisa - The chicken scallopini is now becoming an addiction! We have now tried it on top of pasta and marinara sauce, sliced and stir fried with veggies and quinoa, and just plain breaded with sweet potato fries. It's awesome!

    Andrea - Thank you! You should definitely try that recipe from VegCooking! If you eat soy you could even try the tofu version, which I am sure is smoother than the millet flan. But then again the texture of the millet flan is great! :-)

    Tara - I'm glad you enjoyed the trip to Cuba! Fasten your seatbelt because from here we're going all the way to Europe! :-D

    Amanda - You do sound mysterious and I am very excited to see where you are going first! Are you taking squirrelly on your fabulous trip? Or is she going to stay and house-sit? You bought the Aerolatte! Isn't it the greatest thing ever?! Foam! Foam!! Foam!!! Mwahahahahaha! *cough cough*

    Melisser - Thank you! I found out that you can never have too many arroz con pollo variations, and I feel sorry for all the poor people who have never had sofrito! :-)

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  16. So much food! I want to try the Arroz con Mushrooms, it looks so so good!

    And for the flan, did you just cooks some millet and thow it in the blender with everything else? I've never had flan, pregan or vegan!

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  17. Mandee - So much food, so little time! Yep, I just threw the cooked millet in the blender with everything else until it was very smooth. I didn't know how the ratios would work by using cooked millet instead of tofu but it worked just fine! :-)

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  18. River! I have never drooled so hard before. NEVER! I can't believe Goya was making vegan flan this whole time and I didn't know.

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  19. ooh the arroz con mushrooms looks sooooo good, i'm going to have to try that!! and the quinoa & tofu, yum.

    I can't believe that flan is egg free! i always think of friends too when I hear the word flan!

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  20. Sorry I'm so late coming to this Cuban party! And thanks so much for the shout-out re: the flan. Yours looks FANTASTIC. I think I'm going to have to make that recipe. ;) I loved the look of all the "arroz con" recipes, but I think the tofu would be my favorite--a splurge, maybe, but a deserving one. :)

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  21. Mo - I know! What is it, some sort of top secret vegan flan fiasco?! What other goodies are we not eating because of a top secret conspiracy? :-P

    Sal - Definitely try it! Anything made with sofrito is delicious! Mwahaha! We both watch too much FRIENDS! :-D

    Ricki - You're not late for the party! Would you like some flan? There's plenty left! You are a freakin' genius by the way, I never would have come up with the millet idea by myself! :-)

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  22. I LOVE those flan thingies - I'll have to keep my eyes open for a packet mix like that round these parts. I just presumed they would contain eggs. WHO KNEW!

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