October 18, 2012

Scramble Tofu Breakfast Bahn Mi

Makes 4 sandwiches

There are many reasons to love Terry Hope Romero. Her shiny black hair, her Ewok style, and her huge heart among them. But even if she were like, totally evil, I would still love her for this Scramble Tofu Bahn Mi! I mean, who else would think of that? And who else would execute it so perfectly?  This is another recipe from her new book Vegan Eats World. Do yourself a favor and preorder this book. No food lover should be without it! OK, now I’ll let Terry take it away…

“This hearty bahn mi filling of golden scrambled tofu packed in a toasted baguette is too good to eat only for breakfasts, eat them up for casual weeknight meals too. You could always just use carrot and cilantro for garnish, but for really amazing sandwiches make the Daikon and Carrot Star Anise pickles!”


Recipe Notes

~ Making your own pickles might sounds like a P.I.T.A. but it’s actually quite simple and rewarding. Make the pickles on Saturday and have them ready and waiting for you at Sunday brunch.

~ If star anise isn’t already a common ingredient for you, it’s best to purchase them from a bulkbin at a spice store (like Penzey’s), asian market or health food store. You can purchase only the four you need for the pickles! Once, when I only needed a few, they weren’t heavy enough to register on the scale and the cashier just gave them to me for free. Hee hee.

For the tofu:

2 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced

3/4 cup thinly sliced shallots

4 scallions, white and green parts divided and sliced very thin

4 cloves garlic, peeled and mince

1 pound firm or extra firm tofu, drained

1/2 cup vegetable broth

3 tablespoons soy sauce (preferably Thai thin soy sauce ) or tamari

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 teaspoon curry powder, any variety


For assembling:

4 six to eight inch crusty sandwich rolls or sliced from 2 baguettes

Vegan mayonnaise

Cilantro springs

Thin slices of ripe tomato

Paper thin slices of red radish or matchsticks of daikon or jicama

Asian garlic chili sauce (such as Sriracha or sambal oelek)


For the pickles:

1/2 pound daikon radish (about one slender 10 inch radish)

1/4 pound carrots (about 2 large carrots)

6 large green jalapeño or serrano chilies, stems removed

1 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup kosher salt

1 teaspoon whole peppercorns, black or mixed color

4 whole star anise


Make the pickles ahead of time:

Peel daikon and carrots and slice into thin long matchsticks no thicker than 1/4 inch: I use a mandolin for this but you can take your time and use a chef’s knife. Or even better, use a Y-shaped julienne peeler. Slice the chilies in half, remove the seeds (or keep them in for really hot pickles), and slice into very thin slivers. Toss everything together and pack into a clean, dry 1 pint glass mason jar.

In a small saucepan bring to a gentle boil the vinegar, sugar, salt, peppercorns and star anise and boil for 2 minutes. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt and then pour everything over the vegetables in the jar, including the star anise and peppercorns. Cover very tightly and chill for 30 minutes before using. Keep tightly covered and chilled when not using.

Make the sandwich:

Heat a wok or cast iron skillet until nearly smoking, then sauté mushrooms with 1 tablespoon of oil until tender and browned, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from wok, wipe down the surface and add remaining oil. Add the shallots and stir-fry until golden, about 4 minutes, then add white parts of scallion and garlic and stir fry for 1 minute. Crumble in tofu, add the mushrooms and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Whisk together vegetable broth, soy sauce, lime juice, coriander, white pepper, and curry powder and pour over tofu. Use a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula to stir fry tofu until all of the liquid has been absorbed and tofu is golden, about 8 to 10 minutes. Tofu should be moist, but not wet. Add the green tops of the scallions, fry for another minute and remove from the heat.

Slice rolls in half and toast if desired. Spread insides with mayo and distribute the tofu evenly on the sandwiches. Top each sandwich with cilantro, tomato, radish, chili sauce, and daikon pickles if using. Eat immediately but over a plate…these are messy goodness.

October 12, 2012

Sauerkraut Mushroom Soup (Shchi)

Serves 6 to 8
Total time: 1 hour || Active time: 20 minutes

Sauerkraut Soup

You guys, Terry has a new book coming out! It’s called “Vegan Eats World” and it’s 300 international-inspired recipes. It’s out on October 30th but ready for pre-order now. This book is hardcover and full-color and errything, and I’m going to share a few recipes with you over the next week or so.

Last month on the Post Punk Kitchen facebook, we were talking soups and stews, and someone was reminiscing about a Ukranian sauerkraut soup they grew up with. I remembered that Terry had a recipe for it, so I thought that this would be the perfect one to start with.

OK, now Imma let Terry take it away!

“Sauerkraut soup? Believe it! Sauerkraut proves a robust and tangy base for this hearty, Russian-inspired, winter-cold-cutting soup that’s bursting with vegetables.”

Recipe Notes

~For the sauerkraut, shun the lifeless canned stuff in favor of the high-quality ’kraut sold in jars or plastic bags in the refrigerated section; even better, buy it in bulk (usually stocked in big barrels) in some Kosher or Eastern European markets.

~You’ll be using the juice so be sure to set some aside!

2 cups cremini mushrooms, stems removed and caps wiped clean

1 large leek, root and dry leafy ends trimmed, cleaned and finely diced

1 cup finely diced carrot

2 stalks celery, finely diced

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 cup dry white wine (or vegetable broth)

2 cups diced parsnip or potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

6 cups vegetable broth

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional, but very good)

2 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano

2 1/2 cups sauerkraut, with juices

1/2 cup sauerkraut juice (or more vegetable broth)

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

A few twists cracked black pepper

For garnish:

Your favorite vegan sour cream (optional)

Chopped fresh dill or parsley

Slice mushroom caps in half, then slice the caps into quarters to create bite-size mushroom pieces. In a 4-quart soup pot over medium-high heat, sauté the leek, carrot, and celery in vegetable oil for 6 minutes. Stir in garlic and mushrooms and sauté for another 6 to 8 minutes, or until mushrooms have reduced in size and released most of their liquid.

Pour in the wine and simmer for 2 minutes, then stir in parsnip, vegetable broth, bay leaves, allspice, caraway seeds (if using), marjoram, sauerkraut, sauerkraut juice, and ground black pepper. Increase heat and bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat, stir occasionally and cover.

Simmer the soup for 35 to 40 minutes or until the parsnips are tender. Remove the bay leaves, turn off the heat and season with cracked black pepper and salt if necessary and garnish with parsley. Allow soup to cool 5 minutes before serving. Top each bowlful with a generous tablespoon of vegan sour cream.

September 27, 2012

Chai Spice Snickerdoodles

Makes 2 dozen cookies

Chai Spice Snickerdoodles
Photo by Vanessa Rees

Of course cookies are always fun to eat, but their crunchy, sugary tops make snickerdoodles even more so. Maybe I should work for the snickerdoodle industry? Since the Mexican Hot Chocolate ones were such a hit, I’ve been experimenting with different varieties for my next cookbook, and these are a favorite; an enticing spin on classic cinnamon snickerdoodles, livened up with chai spices: ginger, cardamom and a hint of cloves. It’s the perfect cookie to welcome in Autumn!

Over the summer I spent a few weeks in Brooklyn shooting dozens of photos for the book, with faboo photographer Vanessa Rees and my buddy Terry, plus an assortment of other helpers (so many dishes!) It was a great time, spilling fabrics all over the floor to get the exact right napkin, arranging sprigs of cilantro just so, and wrapping noodles around forks. So I wanna’ share a little bit of the process here. This video tracks the life of a food photo; from picking out the background, to the lighting, to props, there is so much that goes into each shot before it gets to the page. Here you can see that we tried several different arrangements (Should the cookies be on the baking sheet? Parchment? Maybe a plate? With tea?) before settling on the final composition.

I can’t wait to return to Brooklyn this winter for round 2. But for now…cookies!

Recipe Notes

~ Since we’re not weighing the flour, the consistency of dough can vary. If your dough seems excessively sticky (like, it’s difficult to roll into balls that hold their shape and it’s sticking to your hands), then an extra tablespoon of flour or two gently kneaded into the batter oughtta’ fix it.

~ If you are the type to make cookies on a weekly (daily?) basis, it might be worth it to invest in a cookie disher. It’s basically a smaller ice cream scoop, but it ensures that the cookies come out uniformly sized.

~ For a lower fat cookie, replace 1/4 cup of the oil with 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce. The cookie will come out a bit softer and puffier, but still amazingly delish!

~For people who said that they had problems with sticky dough, try washing your hands and make sure they’re very clean and a bit damp. That will help insure that the dough doesn’t stick.

For the topping:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch cloves

For the cookies:
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons non-dairy milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix the topping ingredients together on a dinner plate. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, use a fork to vigorously mix together oil, sugar, syrup, and milk. Mix for at least a minute, until it resembles applesauce. Then mix in vanilla.

Sift in remaining ingredients, stirring as you add them. Once all ingredients are added mix until you’ve got a pliable dough. Get in there with your hands to mix, it’s the easiest way to get the dough to come together.

With clean, moist hands, roll dough into walnut sized balls. Pat into the sugar topping to flatten into roughly 2 inch discs. Transfer to baking sheet, sugar side up, at least 2 inches apart (they do spread a little). This should be easy as the the bottom of the cookies should just stick to your fingers so you can just flip them over onto the baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, they should be a bit browned on the bottoms. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

August 16, 2012

Melon Salad With Mint & Lime

Serves 4
Time: 15 minutes

Melon Salad

This has pretty much been a summer of simplicity for me. In some ways it’s forced, like the fact that my kitchen has been a construction zone for 2 months. But it’s also a choice, because my garden tomatoes have been so juicy all season that it doesn’t take much effort to appreciate them in a sandwich with basil.

So when a friend (ok, actually my Instagram hero, @cramepete) brought this homegrown melon over the other day, I instantly knew what I wanted to do with it. As I sniffed its ripe aroma like a grandma in the produce aisle, I thought of bright, crisp Vietanamese flavors, like mint and lime, with some avocado thrown in for good measure.

Even though it’s perfectly legit to enjoy a melon with nothing but a spoon and some candlelight, it only takes a few extra steps for something even a little more special. You can serve this as an afternoon snack, or alongside a more elaborate Southeast Asian inspired meal. Maybe a red curry or pad thai? You get the picture. Oh and to get even more pictures, check out @cramepete’s Instagram feed today, where you can see his photo of this salad! You can also follow me on there @isachandra. Because you love pics of my cats and my feet.

Recipe Notes

~This is the kind of formula that’s incredibly versatile, so if you’ve got, say, watermelon and basil, then try that out. Switch out the acidity (in this case, lime) to balsamic vinegar. Make it work with what you’ve got. The whole point is that simple flavors can be heavenly for your tastebuds and your dish duties.

~Prepping the cantaloupe is easy for this salad. Slice it in half and scoop out the seeds. Then turn the melon flat-side down on a cutting board, and use your chef’s knife to peel away the skin. A little green is ok, but try to get it so that you mostly have orange. Then simply dice away and enjoy!

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons agave syrup
3 cups peeled cantaloupe chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
Pinch salt
1 avocado chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
1/4 cup lightly packed mint leaves (chopped if leaves are very large)
Sriracha hot sauce to serve, if you’re looking for some spice

In a large bowl, mix together lime juice and agave. Add the cantaloupe and a pinch of salt and toss to coat. Let sit for about 5 minutes so that cantaloupe releases some of its juice and the flavors melt.

Toss in avocado and mint leaves. Taste for salt. You may want to adjust the sweetness and limey-ness as well. Serve immediately!

June 19, 2012

Summer Seitan Saute With Cilantro & Lime

Serves 4
Time: 30 minutes

I’ve got a few non-recipe things to talk about, so if you’re all “Shut up and make with the recipe!” then by all means, skip the next few paragraphs. But if instead you’re like “Hey, Isa, nice to see you! What have you been up to lately, beautiful?” then read on.

Hi. Here’s the deal:

I’m working on the cookbook of my dreams! I have a brand new publisher and we are going all out for Fall 2013. My first hardcover, full-color, filled with photographs, so gorgeous you’re not going to want to cook with it (but OMG you have to) cookbook. The concept for this book is weeknight cooking from scratch… made easy. The title? “Isa Does It!” I am so excited to be working with Little Brown, who have been around for a measly 175 years and publish some of my all-time favorites books — ones you cook from and those novel things that you just read.

And today, by way of recipe, I want to introduce you to the photographer for my book. Maybe you already know her! She’s one of my favorite vegan food photographers and a girl right in my birthplace of Brooklyn, USA: Vanessa Rees. I’ve loved her stuff ever since the first time I laid eyes on one of her sauce-all-over-the-place shots: her photos tell a story, and I want them to tell mine. She’s shot a recipe of mine before, but today I’ll share a brand new one that I think is a great example of a weeknight saute of simple ingredients that come together to create a delicious dinner in a single pan. That’s what Isa Does It is all about.

Thanks for letting me share this happy moment with you and thank you to everyone whose come along on this delicious ride with me. The Post Punk Kitchen’s 10 year anniversary is coming up and I have lots of great celebratory plans to share. It’s pretty overwhelming to think that a decade has passed, and I’ve gone from a girl about to turn 30 and desperately wanting to do nothing in life but talk about vegan food, to a woman about to turn 40 and so grateful that I actually got there. In order to keep these good things, you gotta’ give them away! So on to the recipe.

Summer Seitan & Corn Saute
Photo ©Vanessa Rees

I got turned on to this combination as a burrito filling when I was cooking in a cafe in Brooklyn, and I’ve been hooked every since! I don’t go too crazy with the spices, instead letting the bright and fresh flavors shine through. Mushrooms, cilantro and lime have an affinity for each other, and the fresh corn adds a wonderful summery pop, while the seared seitan, of course, provides meatiness. But no need to serve in a burrito, I love it over rice with a nice big scoop of guacamole. Oh, and make my margarita salted! A green salsa works well here, too, either storebought or homemade. (There’s a salsa verde in…VWAV, I think? I dunno, one of my books.) Here it’s topped with a chunky pico de gallo.

Recipe Notes

To cut down on prep time, you can often find shucked corn on the cob at the supermarket. It’s a great shortcut that doesn’t compromise on flavor. If you absolutely must, then frozen corn will work. But really try for the fresh, it’s that time of year! The freshness adds a wonderful snap to the dish that just screams summer. Without the sunburn.

~If you do go for the fresh, it’s easy to get those kernels off quickly and neatly. Place the shucked corn stem-side down in a wide bowl. Hold it steady by the tip top, and use your knife to slice from top to bottom, letting the kernels fall into the bowl. Continue on all four sides and voila! Fresh, delicious corn.

~For time management purposes, prep the corn and mushrooms while the seitan is cooking. Everything should come together in a breezy 30 minutes.

~A wonderful gluten free option would be black beans. Use 1 1/2 cups (a 15 oz can, drained and rinsed) and in that case, you can cut back on the oil by a tablespoon or so because you don’t need the seitan to brown.

~If you want to cut back on the oil anyway, simply omit the second tablespoons and use a little olive oil cooking spray as needed when you add the seitan.

~If your farmer’s market is bursting at the seams with awesome mushrooms (like oyster or trumpet), this dish would be a great way to use them instead of the cremini. (Somewhere a button mushroom just shed one tear.)

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium red onion, in thinly sliced half moons
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced (seeds removed if you want less heat)
8 oz seitan, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh corn kernels, from 2 ears of corn
8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced into thin strips
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat (cast iron, as always, is ideal.) Saute onion and jalapeno in two teaspoons oil and a pinch of salt, until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the seitan and corn, and an additional tablespoon of oil and cook for about 5 minutes, until seitan is lightly browned, stirring often.

Add the mushrooms, cilantro, salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes.

Push everything to one side of the pan so that you have space to quickly saute the garlic. Put the remaining teaspoon of olive oil in the pan and toss in the garlic, stirring as it sizzles, for about 15 seconds. Then mix everything together and add the lime as well.

Taste for salt and seasonings, and serve over rice, with a nice scoop of guac. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if desired.