February 27, 2014

Brussel Sprout Fried Rice

Serves 4
Total time: 30 minutes || Active time: 30 minutes

Brussel Sprout Fried Rice

I know, I know, I put Brussel Sprouts in everything. Well, until someone invents an even more awesome vegetable*, I will continue to overuse them. Even fried rice is not safe from that little cruciferous flavor bomb! Not that anyone is complaining.

This version is fresh and aromatic with the addition of a million herbs and scallions. And pinenuts are a surprisingly tantalizing addition to fried rice! A small handful goes a long way to adding another decadent layer of flavor. You can top with some gingery tofu or something, if you’d like it to be an entree. Or you can toss in some browned tofu. Or simply serve in addition to a bigger Thai-inspired spread. Or just be like “It’s fried rice for dinner/breakfast/elevensies!” and eat the whole darn thing.

*Maybe a more awesome vegetable has been invented? Google “lollipop kale.” OMG.

Recipe Notes

~The rice has to be cold for this recipe to work correctly, otherwise it will get mushy and sticky. Many supermarkets carry frozen bags of rice for reasonable prices. I’ve made this recipe with a standard 20 oz bag of rice in mind (Whole Foods has frozen Jasmine rice, even.) But you can certainly freeze your own! Just steam it up, fluff it and place in a mesh strainer. Just sticks the strainer in the fridge to cool comletely, that way it will cook quickly and evenly. Then place rice in a freezer bag and freeze until ready to use. I always keep a bag at the ready for quick weeknight meals, veggie burgers, what have you. For this recipe, you can just toss the rice into the pan frozen.

~I love the richness of coconut oil here, but if you wanna use another veggie oil, I won’t be mad at you.

~If you’re not feeling the pinenuts, try some roasted cashews!

~The agave is only for the very very slightest hint of sweetness to elevate the flavors. If you don’t have any, dissolve some sugar in the soy sauce and that’ll work just fine!

2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, divided
12 oz Brussel sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into thin half-moons
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
1 cup finely chopped scallions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
4 cups cooked and cooled jasmine rice [see note]
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon agave

Sriracha to serve

Preheat a large heavy bottomed pan (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Saute the Brussel sprouts and carrots in 1 tablespoon of oil for about 5 minutes, until Brussel sprouts are lightly charred. Toss in the pine nuts and cook for two minutes, tossing often, until toasted. Transfer everything to a large plate and set aside.

Lower heat a bit to medium. In 1 teaspoon oil, saute the basil, cilantro, scallions, garlic and ginger for about a minute. The herbs will wilt and everything will smell aromatic and wonderful. Now add the rice, red pepper flakes and the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and cook for about 5 minutes, tossing often.

Add the Brussels mixture back to the pan, and drizzle in the soy sauce, lime juice and agave. Cook for 3 more minutes or so, until rice is lightly browned. Taste for salt. Serve with plenty of Sriracha!

February 12, 2014

Seitan & Waffles With Pomegranate Syrup

Makes 6 servings
Time (not including making homemade seitan): 1 hour

Seitan And Waffles

Up until yesterday, I didn’t really get chicken waffles. But for Valentine’s Day, I decided to cave to societal pressure, and enjoy a juicy, savory, fried hunk of something over a carby, crispy something, covered in sticky sweetness. Even if it makes no sense! I mean, where is the kale? Where are the lentils? Sigh. OK.

Those thoughts plagued me as I stirred the batter and simmered the seitan, although each component was nice on its own. The waffles were perfectly crisp, and I knew they’d be able to handle the syrup without sogging up. The chicken-style seitan came out really flavorful, with a firm but tender texture. The breading on the seitan was totally delish and I couldn’t help but eat a piece straight out of the cast iron skillet. OK, maybe two pieces.

For the syrup, I wanted a bit of V-tine love, and so pomegranate saves the day! Pomegranate molasses is an easy way to infuse flavor into the maple syrup. Plus, the seeds from whole pomegranates are just as romantic as you can get and they look like they’re from another planet (a very romantic planet, to be sure.) So yeah, everything looked great, but all together? I don’t know. My inner chicken and waffle skeptic still had her arms folded.

I took a triangle of waffle (surely, that’s all I would need to know for sure), tucked a little slice of breaded seitan in there, and dredged it in some of the syrup. Well, needless to say, the angels sang. A marching band appeared out of nowhere. Glitter confetti flew from the ceiling. I think I caught a glimpse of Ryan Seacrest. OMG this was good.

So now I totally get it. A sweet and savory combo that maybe isn’t for everyday, but for a special brunch or a Valentine’s dinner, this is where it’s at.

Recipe Notes

~If you don’t feel like dealing with all the pomegranate stuff, just use straight-up maple syrup. Maybe add a few raspberries for garnishing prettiness.

~To make the recipe less cumbersome, simmer the seitan a day ahead, and remember you have loads of downtime as it simmers.

~You can also totally make the waffles up to a week ahead. Freeze them in a plastic storage bag and simply toast when ready to eat.

~If you’re especially lazy, you can use storebought seitan. But I really really love this seitan recipe so I hope you’ll try it. Especially because then you really have control of the shape of the seitan, plus, it will just taste better!

~The homemade seitan makes double what you’ll need for this recipe, but I figure if you’re making it, why not make some extra for the week? It’s really great grilled for salads or sandwiches.

For the pomegranate syrup:
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses

For garnish:
Fresh pomegranate seeds

For the waffles:
2 cups almond milk (vanilla or plain), or your fave non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon organic cornstarch
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the chicken:
1/2 batch (1 pound) Chicken Stylee Seitan, or equivalent storebought

3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup water

1 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
Several dashes fresh black pepper

Vegetable oil for frying

Make the syrup:
Just mix the syrup and pomegranate molasses together in a measuring cup, yay!

Make the waffles:
In a 2 cup measuring cup, use a fork to vigorously mix about half the milk with the cornstarch, until fully dissolved. Add the remaining milk and the vinegar and set aside.

In the meantime, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center.

Add the milk mixture to the flour along with water, oil, and vanilla. Mix until the batter is relatively smooth. A few lumps are a-OK.

Preheat waffle iron and let the batter rest. Cook according to waffle iron directions, spraying the waffle iron liberally with oil or cooking spray between each waffle is made.

Make the chicken:
Have ready a few layers of paper towels (or brown paper shopping bags) for absorbing the oil after frying.

We will bread the seitan before starting the oil. This way you don’t have to worry about overheating the oil while you bread. You’ll need to fry in two batches.

Slice each piece of seitan into 4 slices, on a bias, so that you have long wing looking pieces.

You’ll need a big plate for breading and a wide bowl for batter. In the bowl, mix together the flour, cornstarch and water. Mix vigorously until thick and smooth. Set aside.

On the plate, mix together the bread crumbs, thyme, salt and pepper.

Now let’s assemble!
Dip each seitan slice into the the wet batter, letting the excess drip off. Transfer to the breadcrumbs bowl and use the other hand to sprinkle a handful of breadcrumbs over the seitan, to coat completely. Make sure you use one hand for the wet batter and the other for the dry batter, or you’ll end up with club hand. Set each piece aside on a big plate, then start your frying oil.

Now let’s fry!
Preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, pour in about 1/2 an inch of oil. Wait about a minute. Now test the oil by throwing in a pinch of breadcrumbs. It should sizzle and bubble without smoking, then you know it’s ready. If it burns or smokes quickly, lower the heat. If it just sits there doing not much of anything, raise the heat.

Without overcrowding the pan, fry each piece of seitan for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain the oil, and then do the next batch.

To serve:
Place a few pieces of seitan over the waffle. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and serve with plenty of syrup. ::SWOON::

February 12, 2014

Chicken Stylee Seitan

Makes 2 pounds
Total time: 1 hour || Active time: 10 minutes

That isn’t a typo! This is Chicken Styl-ee Seitan. Perfect for where ever someone might use a chicken. I know, people sometimes eat chickens, weird right?

PS This recipe was designed for the Seitan & Waffles. But you can use it in anything, of course!

Recipe Notes

~ For the most chicken-y seitan, use an unchicken broth, like Better Than Bullion brand.

For the broth:
8 cups vegetable broth
6 cloves garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves

For the seitan:
2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons olive oil

Fill a stock pot with the broth, smashed garlic and bay leaves, cover and bring to a boil.

In the meantime, together the vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast and chickpea flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add broth, soy sauce, and olive oil. Mix with a fork and then use your hands to knead for about 3 minutes, until it’s a firm dough and everything looks well incorporated. Divide into 8 even pieces. An easy way to do this is to divide the dough in half, then divide those halves and then divide those halves. Ta-da! 8 pieces. Stretch each piece into a cutlet, pressing the cutlet into the counter to smooth the surface. Let rest until the broth has come to a full boil.

Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer. This is important, the broth should not be at a rolling boil or you risk the seitan getting water logged (AKA turning into brains) Add the gluten pieces and partially cover pot so that steam can escape. Let simmer for 45 minutes, turning occasionally. Make sure to keep an eye on the heat, because it may start to boil again, in which case, just turn it down a notch to keep at a slow, steady simmer.

When seitan is done, you can let it cool right in the broth, or remove a portion to use right away. Once cooled, keep stored in a tightly covered tupperware container, submerged in broth.

January 30, 2014

#IsaLovesIt Valentine Instagram Contest

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! But this isn’t just another empty Valentine, wherein you get NOTHING but a few words, some chalky chocolate and a wilted rose. I’ve been soooo loving all of your Instagrams from Isa Does It, that I want to give you the love right back.

Introducing The #IsaLovesIt Instagram Valentine contest!

Get out your cutest cloths and most vintagey forks, and get cooking. Tag your Instagram photos #IsaLovesIt to be sure that I see! You can use recipes from the book, but if you don’t have the book, you can try these sample recipes from the blog. The winner will get a Breville Sous Chef Food Processor and a copy of Isa Does It. 10 second prize winners will receive a copy of Isa Does It. And I’ll feature the winning posts on my Instagram, Facebook and blog. Feel free to enter as many photos as you like.

And sorry, but because my publisher is sponsoring the contest, it is US only. Thank you for understanding! OK rules below, start snapping and good luck!

PS follow me over at Instagram @IsaChandra.

Be sure to read all the rules and requirements below, and happy cooking everyone! This is the Breville Food Processor for the winner, isn’t it a looker?

To enter the contest, cook one (or more!) of the recipes in Isa Does It, snap a picture, upload the picture to Instagram, and tag with #IsaLovesIt. I’ll be judging the photos based on quality, creativity, and the appearance and presentation of the dish. The contest is open from 1/30/14 – 2/15/14.

One grand prize winner will receive 1 Breville Sous Chef Food Processor and a copy of Isa Does It (to share with your loved ones!). Ten second prize winners will receive a copy of Isa Does It.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND WILL NOT IMPROVE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING. Void where prohibited. Must be at least 18 years of age and a US resident to enter. Contest begins 12:01am ET January 30, 2014 and ends 11:59 ET February 15, 2014.

Visit http://bit.ly/1aKlXvU to read the Official Rules. Sponsor: Hachette Book Group, Inc. 237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017. This Contest is no way sponsored or endorsed by Instagram.

January 28, 2014

Buffalo Chickpea Pitas With Ranch

Makes 16
Total time: 20 minutes || Active time: 20 minutes

Buffalo Chickpea

Why is the Super Bowl my favorite time of the year? I totally don’t follow football the rest of the season. I’m more of a baseball girl (86 Mets!) but honestly, haven’t really paid attention since the Subway Series. Yet when this time of year rolls around I’ve suddenly got team spirit, even if I don’t even know which teams are even in it. I have taken existential inventory of my actions and I think I have the answer. It’s…well, it’s the wings.

It’s all the food, really (here’s a few of my Superbowl recipes.) But wings in particular give you carte blanche to eat all of the Frank’s that your heart desires. And my heart desires a lot.

This is such an easy way to capture the essence of buffalo wings. A spicy, tangy chickpea salad, a cooling dollop of ranch and fresh crunchy celery. All in one little bite that won’t leave your fingers greasy! Oh, and everything takes like 20 minutes to put together.

So go on, whip this up and invite over some other friends who have no idea what’s going on. But make sure that you switch back and forth from the Puppy Bowl. This year there is the Kitten Bowl, too!

Buffalo Chickpea
(Oops, forgot to add the celery to the above shot. But you get the idea.)

Recipe Notes

~Vegannaise in the purple jar is a good choice! Just try not to use too thin a mayo or the dressing will be runny.

~Chop the herbs as finely as possible for best results. Really, you want them closer to minced.

~If you don’t have tahini, that’s fine. I love the nuttiness it brings to the table but you can also just add some extra mayo.

~If you are a total spice wimp, start with 3 tablespoons of hot sauce. But really, I’d almost be inclined to say, if you’re a spice wimp, skip this recipe entirely since it’s pretty much about the spice.

For the chickpeas:
1.5 cups cooked chickpeas (15 oz can, rinsed and drained)
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons vegan mayo, storebought or homemade
1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot, plus more to taste

For the ranch:
3/4 cup vegan mayo, storebought or homemade
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper

For garnish and assembly:
Additional Frank’s
16 mini-pitas
1 rib thinly sliced celery
Fresh chives (optional)

Make the chickpeas:
In a mixing bowl, use an avocado masher or a strong fork to mash the chickpeas well. They should retain some of their texture and not appear pureed. A few whole ones left are ok.

Mix in the mayo and tahini and give a few more mashes. Salt to taste, if needed. It should be salty enough with the Franks and mayo.

Make the ranch:
Just mix all of the ingredients together in a little bowl!

Place a tablespoon or so of chickpea salad on a pita. Add a dash more Frank’s if desired. Top with a dollop of ranch. Garnish with a few slices of celery and a piece of chive.