Monday, May 30, 2011

Enchilada. Vegan Enchilada.

The other night, when presented with my usual 7 p.m. question "so, what do you want for dinner?" my partner responded with "I don't know...something Mexican-y?" I, not being in the mood for tacos, and just having had chili two nights before, had to think of something different. "Quesadillas?" he offered, but no, I did not want quesadillas. However, the thought of tortillas presented me with another idea. Enchiladas!! But not just any enchiladas. I found a crazy cream cheese jalapeno sauce and chicken recipe that sounded like it would be pretty delicious and creamy....without the cream cheese or the chicken. So, I set about to make vegan versions of these tasty-sounding enchiladas. For a non-creamy filling, I also decided to use the vegetables in my refrigerator along with some black beans to make some spicy bean and veggie enchiladas too. To top them off, I made some enchilada sauces. But did I stop there? No. There must be dessert! So I came up with some enchilada-like pineapple coconut layer cake creation. Here, at this post, you will find all of these things. Two types of enchiladas, enchilada sauces, and pineapple coconut enchilada "cake"! So, check it out and enjoy!

We'll start with sauces, because you will need these prepared by the time you bake your enchiladas.

Spicy Habanero and Mint Green Tomato Salsa
 (this salsa is really good as just a normal salsa for chips too)

3 green tomatoes, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 habanero, diced
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 leaves of mint, chopped
1/2 of a jalapeno, diced
1/2 of an onion, diced

Mix everything in your blender or food processor and blend until smooth (but still slightly chunky). Enjoy! (note: this salsa tastes best if you let it sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour, as this gives the flavor time to intensify)

Spicy Tomato Cocoa Enchilada Sauce

3 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
3 cups of water
2 red tomatoes diced up and pureed in a food processor (or 1 can of tomato sauce)
1 teaspoon each of red pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne

Combine all of the dry ingredients, add enough water to make this a thin paste (about 1 cup). Now, pour into sauce pan, add the rest of the water, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add the tomato puree. Bring to a boil over medium heat--still stirring constantly. (You can add more spices here if you like). Remove from heat and set aside for enchiladas!

Vegan Jalapeno Cream Cheese and Spicy Tofu Enchiladas

Jalapeno cream cheese and tofu with red sauce, same with green tomato sauce, and then black bean and veggie filled with red sauce

2 large jalapenos, diced
1 onion, diced
1 8 oz package of vegan cream cheese 
1 teaspoon each of: cayenne pepper powder, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, and cumin
1 teaspoon of hot sauce of your choice (I use Caribbean hot sauce)
2 tablespoons of vegan butter
7 wheat flour tortillas
1 block of tofu

1. Prepare the tofu. I freeze mine first and then let it thaw. After this, dice it into cubes and mix up a bowl of soy sauce (1/4 cup), vegetable oil (1/2 cup), garlic powder, red chili pepper flakes, cumin, cayenne, chili powder, and onion powder. Now, soak your tofu in this marinade for about 30 minutes. Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes.

Tofu marinating, pureed tomatoes, and onions and jalapenos diced  
2. Now, heat the butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Cook the onion and jalapenos in the butter for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the cream cheese in chunks and stir until it becomes creamy and not so solid. Now, add the spices (to your taste--I tend to always use lots of spices). Stir well, cook for another couple of minutes. Add the baked tofu, and mix well. Remove from heat.

3. Now, prepare two baking dishes: one with a little of the green tomato salsa in the bottom and another with the red sauce in the bottom (or you can just choose to use one of the sauces, use your store-bought sauce, or however you want to do it, really). I was able to fit 3-4 tortillas in each baking dish. So, what you will do now is pour a strip of filling down the middle of your unfolded tortilla, then roll up the bottom ends and then roll up from right to left, keeping the already folded ends rolled inside (like rolling a burrito). Place each enchilada in the baking dish with sauce, folded edge down. Now, pour sauce on the top of your enchiladas. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Black Bean and Vegetable Filled Enchiladas

1 can of black beans
1/2 of a zucchini, diced
3-4 mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
2 tablespoons butter
4 tortillas

1. In a sauce pan heat the butter on medium heat, then add the onion, jalapeno, zucchini, and mushrooms. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, until the zucchini are soft and the onions are translucent. Now, add the black beans, cook for about 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Prepare a baking dish by pouring a small amount of the red tomato sauce in the bottom. Now, place a strip of filling down the middle of your unfolded tortillas, and then fold like a burrito (as described previously). Place each tortilla folded edge down in the sauce. Pour sauce over the top, bake for for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, and enjoy!

Finally, DESSERT!

Vegan Pineapple Coconut Cream Cheese Enchiladas

5-6 small corn tortillas
1 cup of pineapple chunks, slightly pureed (still chunky), or 1 can of chunky pineapple puree
3/4 cup of coconut shreds
1/2 cup of sugar
4 oz of vegan cream cheese
1/2 cup of raisins

Mix the cream cheese with 1/2 of the pineapple mixture, add the raisins, and 1/2 cup of coconut.
In a sauce pan, heat up the remaining pineapple puree, add sugar and bring to a boil, stirring consistently, over medium heat.
In a baking dish, pour some of this pineapple puree mix.
Now, fill the middle of each small corn tortilla with the cream cheese and pineapple mixture, and roll it up. Place each filled and rolled tortilla, folded edge down, into the pineapple sauce. I layered my tortillas, 3 on the bottom and then 2 on the top, in a crisscross pattern. Now, pour the remaining pineapple sauce on top, sprinkle with the remaining coconut and bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes (until the tortillas on top become slightly browned and the coconut is slightly toasted).

Enjoy your enchilada feast!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Art of Samosa, featuring vegan burfi for dessert

My partner has been making samosas since he could walk. He has the master folding technique down and could probably make them with this eyes closed. I, however, was never even able to fold together an effective pyramid in fifth grade geometry. In fact, while in India a couple of summers ago, I took a cooking class to learn how to make momos (delicious Tibetan style dumplings). The making of the vegetables went well, the rolling out of the dough was slightly iffy (I'm of the opinion that perfect circles can be rolled out only by those with true magical powers), but the folding of the momos, which really shouldn't have been so hard, was an all-out catastrophe. My partner was folding away--the master of folding dough that he is; I, on the other hand, was crying, with my head on the table, making the poor cooking teacher feel entirely awkward. My, erm, lack of skill aside, however, I really wanted some samosas on a fine summer day about a week ago. Also, I've been toying around with the idea of making burfi for some time now (burfi is sort of like Indian-style fudge). Thus, with my cooking partner, Vegan Steven along, we decided to embark on the magical adventure of making samosas and almond burfi. I found it was not too terribly difficult and both turned out quite delicious. (Side note: my unattended dog consumed 11 out of 15 samosas in a matter of 30 seconds--so, if you have a dog, lock her away, or you will end up sad, angry, and out of samosas).

Mixed Vegetable Samosas (makes approximately 18 samosas)


For the Dough:
1 cup of all-purpose flour (I use wheat flour)
1/4 cup of chapati flour, or atta, (wheat and barley mix flour--you can find this pretty cheaply at any Indian store)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of vegetable oil (I ended up using slightly more, as my flour was still a little dry after I mixed it)
about 1/4 cup of water

For the Filling:
3-4 potatoes, peeled, cubed and boiled until soft
about 1 1/2 cups of mixed vegetables of your choice (I used corn, sliced okra, peas, lima beans, and diced carrots) boiled until soft
1 green chili pepper diced
1 teaspoon each of cumin seeds, coriander powder, garam masala, mango powder, turmeric, and salt
oil for cooking

1. Prepare the dough: Mix all of the dry ingredients together, then add the oil, mix well, now add the water and knead well (you may need to add more water or oil--more water to get your dough to hold together, more oil if your dough is dry). Knead for about 2 minutes, to make sure it is smooth and pliable, now, cover and set aside for at least 15 minutes.

2. While the dough is hanging out, prepare your vegetables. Boil your potatoes, boil your vegetables. Now, heat some oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, add the chili pepper, let cook for about a minute. Now, add the mixed vegetables and spices. Stir and let cook for about 3-4 minutes. Now add the potatoes (I also add more spices here). Cook for about 3-4 more minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool.

3. Now, we are at the tricky part. Take your dough ball, separate out 9 small spheres. Take each sphere and roll it out into a nice circle (haha, yeah right--as close as you can get is fine). Cut your circle in half. You should end up with 18 half circles. Now, watch this video from Manjula's Kitchen on how to fold samosas, or what I say next will make no sense.  What you will do now is get a little bowl of water out. Lay the half circle out across your hand, using your finger (from the other hand) coat the non-circular edge of the half circle with water. Now, roll this edge towards the circular edge, forming a cone. Pinch together the rolled edge to make sure it is well sealed (if you do not seal your samosas well it will ruin your oil!!!). You should have dough resembling the shape of an ice-cream cone. Now, put about 2 teaspoons of filling into the dough, add water to the unsealed edge, and seal it tightly by pinching the dough together. Place on a plate for frying. Repeat this step for all of your dough half-circles.

4. In a frying pan (or a cast iron wok if you happen to have one), heat about 1 cup of oil on medium heat. Make sure it is hot before you begin frying! Okay, now, take each samosa (individually) and fry it until it is golden brown--turning frequently. Fry all of the samosas, and voila! you have delicious vegetable samosas.

The only picture I have of the samosas before my dog ate them

Now! Onto dessert!
Vegan Almond and Pistachio Burfi

1 1/2 cup of sliced almonds
1/2 cup of pistachios
1 1/2 cup of sugar
cardamom powder
1/4 cup of almond milk
2 tablespoons of vegan butter (Earth Balance or somesuch)

First, grind the almonds and pistachios with the almond milk in your food processor. (You may need to add more milk to make sure that the nuts are well ground--you want to end up with a paste sort of consistency).
Now, add the sugar and mix well in the food processor.
Heat the butter in a frying pan on medium heat.
Add your almond-pistachio paste to the frying pan, and stir continuously for about 10-15 minutes, until your paste starts to become thicker and more like cake batter. Add a pinch of cardamom--about 1 teaspoon--at this point. Keep stirring. The paste will solidify slightly and start to leave the edges of the pan as you stir.
Now, remove from heat and stir for about 3-4 more minutes.

stirring, stirring, stirring

Grease a pan of your choice (I used my glass baking dish) and pour your cake-batter almond pistachio paste into the pan. Let cool for about 20-30 minutes, and then garnish with chopped almonds and pistachios, and then cut into squares.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The most amazing chili ever made.

You may think that your mom or your grandma makes the best chili in the world--or maybe your dad, who knows. However, the truth is that they do not. How do I know? Because THIS is the best chili ever made. I discovered this recipe one evening when I really needed some some chili and I didn't feel like going to the store. I ransacked my kitchen, pouring through the cabinets and the refrigerator, until I found what I needed. Below, you will find what I discovered and you too can make the best chili ever made.

Amazingly Delicious Veggie Chili

5-6 okra, washed and sliced
1/2 cup of diced onions
3/4 cup of freshly diced tomatoes
1 jalapeno, sliced
1 cup of corn (either from a can, or I used leftover boiled corn on the cob and shaved the corn kernels off of the cob)
1 can of black beans
1 can of kidney beans
1 package of veggie crumbles (I use Yves brand)
Spices: I used chili pepper powder, cayenne pepper powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, salt, and Caribbean hot sauce
1 cup of fresh salsa 
1 cup of crushed corn tortilla chips
1/2 cup of vegan sour cream (or real sour cream if you prefer)
1 cup of Mexican mix cheese (you can use Daiya or real cheese--it's up to you)
oil for cooking

In a frying pan, heat about 1/4 cup of oil on med heat. Place the onions in the frying pan, cook for about 2 minutes--until the onions are translucent. Now, add the okra and the Caribbean hot sauce (or whatever hot sauce you want). Fry this for a couple of minutes--you want the okra really well done, or it will be slimy. Now, add the tomatoes and the spices. I added about 2 teaspoons of each. Stir well and cook until the tomatoes break down and start to form a soupy mixture. Now, add the corn and jalapenos. Stir well. You can add more spices here, I like to because I like my food pretty spiced up. Turn the heat on low and stir occasionally while you prepare the veggie crumbles.

Thaw out your veggie crumbles. In a pot heat about 1/4 cup of oil on medium heat and add the crumbles, stirring them until they are broken apart and well...crumbled. Add the same spices as before (once again, I added about 2 teaspoons of each). Now, add the black beans and the kidney beans. Stir occasionally. Once the crumble mixture has heated through, add the veggie mix you made in the other pan. Mix well and cook for about 2 more minutes.

Now, in a separate dish, spread a layer of chili (about 1/2 the chili) on the bottom, add a layer of your cheese, spread another layer with the rest of the chili, add the rest of your cheese, now add the sour cream, add the crumbled tortilla chips, and then fresh salsa.