Chipotle Restaurant at home

One of many reasons I adore Mr. Batch is that he pushes himself to learn new things, and shares with me some of the things he learns. He has recently started watching  The School of Life videos which are “… devoted to developing emotional intelligence through the help of culture.” One of my favorites is called The Weakness of Strength and it’s a 4-minute video that I think you’ll enjoy watching.

The theory of The Weakness of Strength “dictates that we should strive to see people’s weaknesses as the inevitable downside to certain merits that first drew us to them. What we’re seeing are not people’s faults, but the ‘shadow-side’ of things that are genuinely good about them.”

You’ve probably guessed that this is the topic of today’s blog because I have been experiencing MY weakness of strength this week. My years of being a chef developed my skills in planning, which were further honed in my years as a tradeshow coordinator, conference planner, and then as an Executive Assistant. I thrive in a proactive role, forecasting what is needed, and anticipating things that might go wrong and planning accordingly. My weakness is in reacting — especially to anything I didn’t anticipate.

Incidentally, Mr. Batch accidentally (and innocently!) disrupts my plans so frequently, that he now suggests, “Just call me Monkey Wrech!”

As I mentioned a few weeks back, I am redesigning myself into a freelance grant writer, to leverage my love of writing and story-telling into helping non-profit organizations tell their stories to funding agencies.  I have been reading library books and skads of materials  online — all in preparation for a 3-week grant-writing class that was supposed to start on Monday. The instructor asked that we have proposals to work on, with her looking over our shoulders, so that at the conclusion we would have fairly good drafts ready to submit.  So I dutifully lined-up 5 organizations I am doing pro bono work for.

And THE CLASS GOT CANCELED. 🙁  🙁  🙁   Too few people registered! I found out when I showed up for the first session!  Somehow I fell through the cracks with their notification!

As I stood at the registration desk, eyes wide and mouth agape, I felt my lungs constrict with anxiety. My plans were unraveling.  I had really looked forward to having a *guide* … and to being spoon-fed the “how to.”  Not so much the how to write.  But the “how to” find funders!  And approach them.

On the drive home to Mr. Batch, to have a pity-party and boo hoo hoo on his shoulder of my plans gone amuck, I was reminded of an inspirational quote I’ve seen — that when your plans get wrecked, it might be because your plans were going to wreck you!  I’ve been around the sun enough times to know that sometimes when you’re lucky, there’s a silver lining.

I haven’t found that silver lining yet, but in the era of Google and You Tube, I AM making progress. Lots of comfort food eating … and lamas breathing … and sleeves pushed up … and sleuthing cap on, to try to figure all of this out on my own. Join me, won’t you, in sending a wish out to the grant-writing gods to watch over me?  🙂

Speaking of comfort food, we REALLY miss the amazing tacquerias of San Francisco. What we would give for some of those fish tacos, burritos, chips & salsa! In the absence of finding “our” place here in ROC City, we stop periodically at Chipotle®. To save a few pesos and be able to eat this comforting goodness in quantity, I made our favorites at home — Sofritas (below) and Carnitas (scroll to bottom):

Sofritas — heavily inspired by Yup It’s Vegan‘s Copycat Chipotle Sofritas

Yield: 8 servings

  • Two 16 oz. packages of firm tofu (the original recipe called for extra-firm, which is what I used, but it doesn’t shred easily. So I recommend just firm tofu — but not silken.)

Cut tofu into thick slabs and press between clean cloth towels, to squeeze-out excess moisture. Brush each side with olive or grape seed oil and bake on parchment-lined sheet pans at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes, flipping the slices half-way through.  Once cool, chop into small pieces.

  • 2 poblano peppers

Simultaneously, roast poblano peppers in a baking pan while tofu slices bake.

  • 2-1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

While tofu is baking and poblano peppers are roasting, in a dry heavy-bottomed pot, toast the cumin, coriander and peppercorns. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes and remove from pan once fragrant.  Add to spice grinder or mortar & pestle and grind.

  • 1 Tablespoon oregano

Add to cumin-coriander-peppercorn mixture and grind. Set aside ground spice-mixture.

  • 1 large onion, small-diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon olive or grape seed oil

Heat olive oil in same heavy-bottomed pot you toasted spices in, and sauté onion and garlic with salt on medium-low heat, stirring periodically.

  • 4 Tablespoons canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons additional sauce from can
  • 2 roasted poblano peppers from above, skinned and de-seeded
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut aminos (or soy sauce, if you are not avoiding gluten)
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 cup filtered water or vegetable stock
  • Ground cumin-coriander-peppercorn-oregano spice-mixture from above

Add to sauteed onion-garlic mixture and stir to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes. Puree with immersion blender or in food-processor or blender.  Taste and adjust salt and other seasonings as you like, including adding more water/veg stock and tomato paste to make it saucy like Chipotle’s®.

Add pureed sauce back to pot and add chopped tofu. Allow to gently simmer on low another 10-15 minutes.

I made a batch of white rice and added chopped cilantro & olive oil to it, to try to truly emulate the Chipotle® experience. I served the Sofritas with cilantro rice, Guacamole and steamed broccolini.

***I kept four servings of the Sofritas in the refrigerator, and froze the rest in individual servings. Because this is meant to be saucy and shredded, the thawed Sofritas is OK … not too spongey from being frozen.***

Carnitas  — this is taken entirely from David Lebovitz’s Carnitas

Yield: 8 servings

The only thing I changed was not to do Step 9. For my taste, I would not add an entire cinnamon stick in the future — perhaps just 1/4 of a cinnamon stick for me.

  • 4-5 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 5-inch chunks, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola or neutral vegetable oil
  • water
  • 1  cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 2  bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly-sliced
1. Rub the pieces of pork shoulder all over with salt. Refrigerate for 1 to 3 days. (You can skip this step if you want. Just be sure to salt the pork before searing the meat in the next step.)
2. Heat the oil in a roasting pan set on the stovetop. Cook the pieces of pork shoulder in a single layer until very well-browned, turning them as little as possible so they get nice and dark before flipping them around. If your cooking vessel is too small to cook them in a single-layer, cook them in two batches.
3. Once all the pork is browned, remove them from the pot and blot away any excess fat with a paper towel, then pour in about a cup of water, scraping the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged utensil to release all the tasty brown bits.
4. Heat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees.
5. Add the pork back to the pan and add enough water so the pork pieces are 2/3rd’s submerged in liquid. Add the cinnamon stick and stir in the chile powders, bay leaves, cumin and garlic.
7. Braise in the oven uncovered for 3½ hours, turning the pork a few times during cooking, until much of the liquid is evaporated and the pork is falling apart. Remove the pan from the oven and lift the pork pieces out of the liquid and set them on a platter.
8. Once the pork pieces are cool enough to handle, shred them into bite-sized pieces, about 2-inches (7 cm), discarding any obvious big chunks of fat if you wish.
9. Return the pork pieces back to the roasting pan and cook in the oven, turning occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the pork is crispy and caramelized. It will depend on how much liquid the pork gave off, and how crackly you want them.

I served this, like I do the Nom Nom Paleo Kalua Pig — with slices of avocado, Roasted Sweet Potatoes and steamed borccolini. I kept three servings in the refrigerator, and froze the rest of the carnitas in individual portions:

 

As the tagline says: Make a lot!  Freeze some! Now go play!  This week, I volunteered with an organization called Loop Ministries, to help provide a meal and a bag of groceries for 60 people in need of emergency food. Loop collaborates with people with disabilities and cerebral palsy to set-up the tables, make the centerpieces, and serve the food. Their motto is “Renew. Restore.Rebuild.”  Wonderfully empowering for all involved:

And Mr. Batch and I went out with our close friends Lynne and Allen to celebrate all of the Winter birthdays in our little group. We tried a new-to-us restaurant called Atlas Eats that was featuring a prix fixe Turkish menu. Oh, my!  ROC City peeps, if you haven’t tried it yet, GO!  Hover over the images to reveal the captions.

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