October 24, 2013

Nirvana Enchilada Casserole – VIDEO

Serves 8
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Active time: 30 minutes

Enchilada Casserole
Photo by Vanessa Rees, food styling by Kate Lewis

Enchiladas can be a lot of work. This version, in casserole form is a little less so. Don’t get me wrong, it still makes more dishes than you want to do, but it’s a lot easier than stuffing each tortilla. Watch me make it and see for yourself! (Oh and check out my sweet HODOR shirt.)

This recipe from Isa Does It is the first I’ve posted from the Sunday Night Suppers section. You know, recipes that you could pull together on a weeknight, but really, why not spend a leisurely Sunday with your friends or your kids or your mom or some stranger off the street, hanging in the kitchen and cooking dinner together?

Layers of corn tortilla sopping up spicy, fragrant, red sauce then overstuffed with mushroom, pinto beans and roasted potatoes. On top is a voluptuous cashew creme that will have you rolling your eyes to the back of your head like a zombie. An enchilada zombie.

PS I just wanna’ give a shout out to my girl Kate Lewis for the amazing styling on this one! It was tough to make a dug-into casserole look so ridiculously appetizing, but Kate found a way. Thanks, girl!

Recipe Notes

~If you want to add extra heat, there are a few ways I can recommend doing it. Saute a sliced, seeded jalapeno with the onion for the filling, or try an extra jalapeno in the sauce.

~The white sauce is not entirely necessary, but it’s easy enough to do and it looks (and tastes) great. If, however, it’s too much to finagle at the moment or you forgot to soak cashews, then you can just serve topped with some guac. If you wanted to serve with your favorite meltable vegan cheese instead, then I can try to look the other way.

~I love the tenderness of pintos here, but feel free to use black beans! I bet lentils would be yummy, too. But that’s no surprise because I always think lentils would be yummy.

~This is definitely more of a Sunday night supper, but if you want to enjoy it on a weeknight, it can happen. Make the enchilada sauce the night before and be sure to soak your cashews. Everything will come together in a snap!

For the potatoes:
1 1/2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
Fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Enchilada sauce:
4 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced medium
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (use 2 if you like more heat)
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano (Mexican, preferably)
2 28 oz cans whole tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon agave nectar

White sauce:
1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
3/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups cooked pinto beans (2 15 oz cans, rinsed and drained)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

For assembly:
18 8 inch corn tortillas

Optional toppings:
Pepitas
Fresh chopped cilantro

Make the potatoes and enchilada sauce:
Preheat oven to 425 F.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the potatoes with the oil right on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with fresh black pepper and salt, and toss to coat. Bake for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 F, flip potatoes and bake for 10 more minutes. Leave oven at 350 F because that is the temp that the enchiladas need to bake at.

Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium heat. Dry toast the cumin and coriander seeds in the pan for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until they’re fragrant and a few shades darker, just be careful not to burn. Add the oil and saute the onion, jalapeno and garlic with oregano and a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes, salt and agave, cover pot turn the heat up to bring to a slow boil. Let cook for about 20 minutes.

Once cooked, puree until smooth with with either a submersion blender or by transferring to a blender of food processor. If using a blender, intermittently lift the lid to let steam escape so that it doesn’t build up and explode and kill you. Also, note that if you use a submersion blender you really have to blend a lot to get the seeds to smooth out. Taste for salt and set aside to cool.

Make the filling:
Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Saute the onion in oil with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and saute just until fragrant, 15 seconds or so. Add the mushrooms and salt, and cook until they’ve released a lot of their moisture, about 5 minutes. Add the pinto beans and lime juice and cook just until heated through, 2 minutes or so.

When the roasted potatoes are ready, toss them into the filling mix. Taste for salt and set aside.

Make the white sauce:
Drain the cashews. Add everything to the blender and puree until completely smooth. It’s rather thick, so definitely scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula often or so to make sure you get everything. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assemble this bad boy:
So we’re just going to be adding layers of sauce, tortillas and filling, then topping it all off. Let’s begin.

Lightly grease a 9×13 casserole pan. Ladle in a thin layer of enchilada sauce, then layer 6 tortillas into the pan. Now things are going to get a bit messy! Ladle in another layer of enchilada sauce (about a cup’s worth), and flip each tortilla to smother in the sauce. Each one should be coated, but you should still be able to see the tortilla, that is to say, it shouldn’t be drowning in the sauce. Next, layer the tortillas so that they’re slightly overlapping and covering the bottom of the pan.

Now add half of the filling, and pour on 1/2 cup of sauce or so. Layer in 6 more tortillas and repeat the process of smother each of them in a cup of sauce. Cover with the remaining filling. Once again pour 1/2 cup of sauce over the filling, and add the final layer of tortillas. Smother those in a cup of sauce. Reserve the rest of the sauce (if any) for serving.

Finally, top with the cashew sauce. I pour it directly out of the blender and try to ribbon it in thick globs over the top. It doesn’t have to be neat, it will look cute pretty much no matter what. Place in the 350 degree oven, and bake uncovered for about 30 minutes. The topping should be lightly golden.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with a handful of pepitas and chopped fresh cilantro if you like. Now it’s ready to serve!

October 22, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream – VIDEO

Makes 1 quart

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

Well, today is finally the release of Isa Does It. But who cares? Here’s an amazing ice cream recipe! Yeah, maybe the days are getting colder, but I’ve always loved ice cream on a chilly day and who doesn’t want to eat everything pumpkin during autumn? Watch how easy it is in a new episode of Make It Vegan!

I spent forever coming up with a really really creamy ice cream that just shouts, you know, ICE CREAM. Tofu is just fine, but it can be, um, tofu. And coconut milk is sometimes just too icy for me. This ice cream is where it’s at. So I want to talk a bit about the ingredients I’m using and why I’m using them. (You don’t have to read it if the “why” of things bores you. Just skip ahead and make the best ice cream you’ve ever had.)

We will get to the cashew base in a sec, but first things first: we want to prevent ice crystals. When you take a taste of the ice cream, you want undisturbed lickability without any disruptions, like scraping your tongue along a gravelly piece of ice. (Yes, I said lickability.) So a few of the ingredients are there to prevent that dastardly iciness.

For one: a big dose of pure vanilla extract. The alcohol in it helps to prevent ice from forming. Plus, it tastes pretty darn good.

And maybe you raised your eyebrows at the olive oil. Well the fat does a few things. 1) Prevents ice crystals. 2) Makes the texture creamy and rich. You need fat in ice cream. We’re not making sorbet here! 3) Flavor. Olive oil and pumpkin? That is music to your tastebuds.

Next up: corn syrup! A bit of liquid sugar prevents iciness as well. And organic, non-gmo, beautiful amber corn syrup seems to do the trick best. If you need to replace it with agave or maple syrup, though, so be it!

Now, about those cashews. Well, I use cashews in a lot of things, and it’s because they are as close to a heavy cream as a vegan can get. In this ice cream, I also boil the cashews instead of merely soaking them to soften. I tried it both ways (soaked vs boiled) and noticed that the boiled ones just created a better texture as well as neutralized any cashew flavor. Win win! I mean, cashews are delicious and all, but really, it’s all about the pumpkin here.

And finally, rice milk. Why rice milk? Because it is one of the only commercially available plant-based milks without any thickeners or preservatives. I don’t want any tapioca starch or carageenan in my ice cream. Those ingredients also will affect the outcome of the ice cream. To keep things consistent, rice milk is best. Look for ones that only have a sweetener and a little salt. Those are ingredients we’re adding anyway. On the other hand, if you’re like “to hell with consistency”, you can use any plant based milk you like.

OK OK, there’s a wonderful video here, so why am I even writing all this? It’s time for ice cream.

Recipe Notes

~To make your own pumpkin pie spice, it’s just 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon allspice.

~I used regular old canned pumpkin puree, but you can really use any sweet winter squash. Try red kuri or butternut or kabocha, they are all delicious and easy to work with. Simply preheat oven to 425 F, hack the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and place cut-side-down on a lightly greased cookie sheet, and roast until easily pierced with a fork, usually around 45 minutes. Let cool, scoop the meat into a blender and puree!

~All ice cream makers are not created equal. I love my Breville Smart Scoop, and think it’s as close to a professional ice cream maker as a home cook can get. But read your ice cream maker instructions before using, because you may have to pre-freeze the containers, or some such thing.

1 cup unroasted cashews
1 cup plain rice milk
3/4 cup pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon organic corn syrup
1 tablespoon light molasses
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice [see note]

First, boil the cashews in water for about 30 minutes. Drain them and add to the blender.

Add all remaining ingredients and blend until completely smooth. Blend for about a minute, then test for creaminess. It should take about 3 minutes total to get it as smooth as possible.

Preset your ice cream maker to a hard gelato setting, and pour in ice cream mixture. Once churned, you can eat immediately as a soft serve, but for scoopable results, seal tightly and freeze for about 24 hours.

October 18, 2013

Meat Beany Chili & Corn Muffins – VIDEO

Makes 12 muffins
Chili Serves 6 to 8

Meaty Beany Chili

I’m no Texas chili expert, but I am a culinary reality TV expert, and one thing that’s for sure is that if chefs on a cooking competition talk about Texas, they talk about chili. And if they talk about chili they have to state no less than 10 times that Texas chili has no beans in it. They’ll say it in slow-mo and with echo and dubbed over techno music. Texas chili has no beans. Did you hear that? NO BEANS! So this is my reverse homage to Texas chili. A mean pot of stew filled with all my favorite beans! It’s thick and stick-to-your ribs, and super duper meaty thanks to the cooked down lentils. Serve with Cornbread Muffins and guacamole.

Watch me make it and then I’ll watch you make it! Wait, no I won’t.

Recipe Notes

~You can make this on the stovetop instead of the slowcooker. Directions for both are below. Use 2 extra cups of water for the stovetop.

~If you don’t want to futz with two different kinds of whole beans, either kidney or black beans could go solo, too.

For the Chili:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced medium
1 green pepper, seeded, diced medium
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, thinly sliced (seeded, if you want it less spicy)
3 to 4 tablespoons mild chili powder
1 tablespoon dried mexican oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Several dashes fresh black pepper
1/8th teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups water (plus extra as needed)
1 cup dried brown lentils
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans, rinsed and drained (15 oz can)
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained (15 oz can)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons lime juice

For the Corn Muffins:
1 cup almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal, medium ground
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 cup corn kernels (thawed if using frozen)

For the Chili:
Slowcooker directions…
Set your slow cooker to “sear.”

Saute the onion, green pepper and jalapeno in the oil with a big pinch of salt for 5 to 7 minutes, until onion is translucent.

Add the garlic, and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add remaining ingredients, cover and set to slow cook for at least 8 hours. Lentils should be very tender.

Taste for salt and seasoning, and thin with a little water if necessary.

Stovetop directions…
Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium high heat.

Saute the onion, green pepper and jalapeno in the oil with a big pinch of salt for 5 to 7 minutes, until onion is translucent.

Add the garlic, and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chili powder (start with 3 tablespoons and go from there), oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, and cloves and toss to coat the onions, letting the spices toast a bit (about a minute or so).

Add the 4 cups water and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Add the lentils, cover the pot and turn the heat up to bring to a boil. Let boil for about 20 minutes, stirring every now and again. The lentils should still be firm, but almost tender enough to eat.

Add the crushed tomatoes, kidney beans and black beans. Cover the pot, and turn heat down to simmer. Let cook for about 30 more minutes, stirring occasionally. The lentils should be quite mushy, almost melting into the chili. You may also need to add more liquid depending on how much the chili has cooked down. Adding up to two cups more would not be unheard of.

Add lime and maple syrup, then taste for salt and seasoning. It tastes best if you let it sit for 10 minutes or so, but if you can’t wait then just dig in!

For the Corn Muffins:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.

Measure out the milk and add the apple cider vinegar to it, then set aside to curdle.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center and add in the milk, oil and applesauce. Stir together the wet ingredients in the well. Then mix the wet and dry together just until the dry ingredients are moistened, being careful not to overmix. Fold in the corn kernels.

Fill each muffin tin most of the way with batter. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes. Tops should feel firm to the touch and a knife inserted through the center should come out clean.

Remove from oven and when cool enough to handle (usually 10 minutes or so), transfer muffins to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.

October 17, 2013

Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies – VIDEO

Makes 24 cookies

Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies
Photo by Vanessa Rees

This was actually the first video we filmed for Make It Vegan! I had no idea that the ice cream man musical interruption would make it into the final edit, but I’m glad it did because you can clearly see how it traumatized me. But these cookies…they are, like, not traumatizing at all. Watch me make them and then make them yourself!

There is something otherwordly about the rosemary chocolate combination and it makes these my favorite cookies in the world. Did I already say that about another cookie? It was a lie. These are buttery, golden, sublime and just slightly exotic. If you haven’t tried the rosemary chocolate combo, be prepared to fall in love.

Recipe Notes

~I simply use a fork to mix most of the cookie recipes in Isa Does It. True, it takes a little more elbow grease and time to beat the oils and sugars adequately, but for me it’s somehow worth it not to have to break out the hand mixer. If you don’t see the logic in this (because there really isn’t any) then feel free to use your handmixer!

~I also use a cookie disher most of the time, which is a small ice cream scooper. For years I relied on nothing but a tablespoon and my eyeballs to make sure my cookies were the same size, so you can do that, too. (In fact, that’s how I did it in the video)

~Make sure that your coconut oil is at room temperature. It shouldn’t be clear and melted, just somewhat creamy without any large lumps.

1/2 cup refined coconut oil, softened
2 tablespoons lightly packed, chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (golden preferred)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate semisweet chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease two large baking sheets.

In a large mixing bowl, use a fork to beat together the coconut oil and rosemary, until relatively smooth. Add the sugar, and beat for about a minute.

Add the non-dairy milk and flax seeds, and beat once again, for 30 seconds or so. Mix in the vanilla.

Add about half the flour, as well as the salt and baking soda, and mix well. Add the remainder of the flour, along with the chocolate chips, and mix well until it looks like, well, cookie dough.

Scoop about 2 tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets in rounded spoonfuls. Flatten gently with your hands. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown.

Let cool on sheets for 3 minutes or so, then transfer to cooling racks to cool the rest of the way.

October 16, 2013

My New Video Series: Make It Vegan!

Make It Vegan

I am so so so excited to share my new video series with you. We filmed 10 episodes of Make It Vegan in Brooklyn over the summer and it was so very fun and, you know, NOT STRESSFUL AT ALL. The videos were created by James Beard Award-Winning production company, Zero Point Zero. They produce a few little shows like Mind Of A Chef and Parts Unknown, so, uh, no big deal! It was such an honor to work with them.

Our sponsor for the series is Breville, who make some of my favorite kitchen appliances ever (their ice cream maker and juicer are life-changing!) I tried really hard not to sound like an infomercial in the videos, but it was honestly tough at times because I do use and love their stuff. So I really want to extend my gratitude to Breville for sponsoring a vegan series. Hooray! Check out their site FoodThinkers for some fun stuff, and even more vegan goodness next week.

OK, I will be thanking more people on the video page shortly, but I want to give one last huge THANK YOU HUGS I LOVE YOU to R. Ring (Kelley Deal and Mike Montgomery) for the theme song for the series, Salt. Kelley has been a hero of mine for like ever, and so to have her incredible voice at the beginning of each episode is just such a thrill. You can download Salt on iTunes or on Amazon and listen to it loudly as you cook along with me.

Right. On to the videos! We have three available now, and 7 more coming next week. I’ll put all the recipes up here on The PPK in the next few days so that you can totally follow along. I hope you love them! Even though they are short and sweet, we tried to pack each ep with info, laughter, and delicious delicious food. Let me know what you think!

Meaty Beany Chili And Cornbread Muffins
If your vegetarian chili has ever been too vegetarian, then this is the recipe for you!

Get the chili recipe!

Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies
This was actually the first one we shot! These cookies are so buttery and delicious. If you haven’t tried coconut oil in your cookies, now is the time.

Get the cookie recipe!

New England Glam Chowder
The creamiest, dreamiest New Englandiest clam chowder in the world, and it uses mushrooms, not clams (duh.)

Get the chowder recipe!

Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies
This was actually the first one we shot! These cookies are so buttery and delicious. If you haven’t tried coconut oil in your cookies, now is the time.

Get the cookie recipe!

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
So creamy, frosty, delicious and autumny! Procure an ice cream maker and make this now.

Get the ice cream recipe!

Nirvana Enchilada Casserole
You don’t have to wear a Hodor shirt to make this luscious casserole, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Get the enchilada recipe!

Roasted Red Pepper Mac & Cheese
I call it Pizza Mac & Cheese! It’s the mac that always crashes Instagram.

Get the mac & cheese recipe!