October 16, 2013

New England Glam Chowder – VIDEO

Serves 6 to 8
Total time: 35 minutes (not including soaking time for cashews)
Active time: 15 minutes

New England Glam Chowder
Photo by Vanessa Rees

This is for all you fishheads out there. A mix of mushrooms stand in for the clams to create a super satisfying chewiness, while some chopped up nori give this chowder a true taste of the sea. It’s thick and creamy and loaded with the finer things, like potatoes and carrots. Crumble some saltines over the top and you’ll be able to hear the Atlantic ocean lapping at your feet. For authenticity, make sure to serve this while talking like a character from a Stephen King movie.

Hope you love the video! Please read more about “Make It Vegan”, my new video series!

New England Glam Chowder

Recipe Notes

~How fishy do you like it? Nori is pretty mild as far as seaweeds go, but the potency varies depending on the brand, and how fresh the nori is. Start with one sheet, then taste after everything is added at the end. If you think it needs more sea, you can still add another chopped up sheet. Just mix it in and let the flavor meld, off the heat, for about 10 miuntes.

~If your nori is really fresh, you don’t even have to chop it (as evidenced in the video), simply crumble it right into the pot.

~To efficiently chop nori, it works to chiffonade it. That means roll up and slice! So tightly roll up your nori sheet like a cigar, and thinly slice. Then run your knife over the curled up bunches to get them into even smaller pieces.

~If you’d like it even more chewy and you have a million dollars to spend on fungi, then go ahead and replace all of the white mushrooms with shiitake.

1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
2 cups vegetable broth
4 teaspoons organic cornstarch

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced medium
2 medium carrots, peeled, sliced into 1/4 inch thick half moons
3 stalks celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick
4 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
8 oz white button mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
3/4 teaspoon salt, more to taste
Fresh black pepper
1 to 2 nori sheets, finely chopped (see note above)
3 cups vegetable broth

2 tablespoons tomato paste 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Optional: fresh chopped parsley or chives for garnish
Saltines for crushing over the top

Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium heat. Saute onion and carrots in the olive oil with a pinch of salt, for about 10 minutes, until carrots are softened.

In the meantime, we’ll make the cashew cream. Drain the cashews and add them to the blender along with the vegetable broth and cornstarch. Blend like crazy, until smooth. This can take anywhere from one to five minutes depending on your machine. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula every now and again to make sure you get everything.

Back to the soup. Add mushrooms and celery. Cook briefly, for about 3 minutes, just until mushrooms are softened. You want them to keep their texture.

Add the potatoes, salt, pepper, nori and vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Be careful to keep a close eye so as not to overcook them or they will turn into mush.

Stir in the cashew cream mixture, and gently heat, uncovered, for about 7 minutes, until nicely thickened. Add the tomato paste and lemon juice and taste for salt and seasoning. Add a little extra water if it seems too thick. Serve garnished with parsley or chives, if you like, and a few saltine crackers. A wedge of lemon looks pretty, too.

October 11, 2013

Zomberoni Pizza Faces

Makes 12 Zombies

Zomberoni Pizza Faces

Disclaimer: The PPK shall not be held responsible for any zombie transformations nor any injuries, losses, expenses, and damages that may occur as a result of zombie transformations while using this recipe. In rare instances, Zomberoni Pizza Faces have been known to bite back. Proceed at your own risk…

A horde approaches. All googly eyed, mouths agape, rotting teeth, and the stench! Oh, the stench! The stench is…it’s just so…wait. They actually smell pretty amazing! Like a pizza shop. But of course they do, they’re ZOMBERONI PIZZA FACES! Homemade pepperoni eyes, cashew cheeze sauce, pepper mouth and caper teeth. What’s not to love? Oh right, the fact that they will tear you from limb to limb leaving only a bloody oven mitt in the middle of the kitchen floor.

Watch this instructional video for some assembly help (keep the sound on, unless you’re at work, in which case you’ll be promptly be fired.)

Recipe Notes

~I make my own vegan pepperoni, but you can, of course, use store-bought. Sausages will work, too!

~I used baby bell peppers for the perfect sized mouths. If you can’t find any, just fashion together two rounded bell pepper slices to create the mouth.

~It’s really difficult to eff this up. I mean, how can you? It’s a zombie! But if you like, practice making pizza faces on a plate before going the whole way on the english muffin.

~Unfortunately, the most famous brand of English muffin is not vegan. SAD FACE! But there are plenty of wonderful vegan varieties out there. I actually used a nice healthy sprouted grain English muffin from Ezekiel bread and it tastes faboo.

~If you find yourself really wanting a kitchen project, you can even make your own English Muffins. There are a million recipes out there, and I have one in Vegan Brunch. (I’m sure if you google a bit you can find my recipe for free!)

~For time management purposes, make the pepperoni a day in advance and remember to soak your cashews overnight! These will come together in a flash.

For the pepperoni eye sockets:
1/2 cup cooked pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Lots of fresh black pepper

For the white sauce:
1 cup cashews, boiled
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Accoutrement and other ingredients:
6 English muffins
3 cups of your favorite marinara
12 fresh basil leaves
Sliced black olives
Baby bell peppers (see note above)

Make the Pepperoni:
Before mixing your ingredients, get the steaming apparatus ready, bringing water to a full boil.

Have ready 4 square sheets of tin foil. In a large bowl, mash the beans until no whole ones are left. Throw all the other ingredients together in the order listed and mix with a fork. Divide dough into 4 even parts (an easy way to do this: split the dough in half and then into quarters).

Place one part of dough into tin foil and mold into about a 6-inch log. Wrap dough in tin foil, like a tootsie roll. Don’t worry too much about shaping it, it will snap into shape while it’s steaming because this recipe is awesome.

Place wrapped sausages in steamer and steam for 40 minutes, until firm. Remove from steamer and let cool completely before slicing. You’ll only need two of the pepperoni for this recipe.

Make the white sauce:
Drain the cashews.

Add all of the white sauce ingredients to the blender and purée until completely smooth, anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes depending on the strength of your machine.

It’s rather thick, so definitely scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula often to make sure you get everything.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assemble the Zomberonis (before they diassemble you!):
Preheat oven to 350 F.

Split the english muffins in half and spread them out in front of you. Spread a few tablespoons marinara on each muffin. Tear a basil leaf into small pieces and scatter over the marinara for a rotting flesh effect. Spoon on cashew sauce in kind of a swirly way (see video above).

Place two thinly sliced pepperonis where eyes might be, and place two thinly sliced olives in a googly sort of way.

Place a thinly sliced pepper for the mouth, with a few rotting caper teeth inside.

Arrange on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Now your zombie is complete. Proceed with caution!!!!

October 4, 2013

Monster Mash Shepherd’s Pie

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

Monster Mash Shepherd's Pie

This is what nightmares are made of! If nightmares were totally delicious. A grizzly green ghoul with haunted olive eyes, gaping radish fangs and ferocious claws…of thyme? Vegan food hasn’t been this scary since the 80s!

But beneath all the horror, this is a Lentil Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie With Scallion Cilantro Mashed Potatoes. Unfortunately, there’s nothing scary about that. So to name this macabre creation, I turned to the Post Punk Kitchen Facebook and ran a contest to find the perfect title. There were so many good ones, but come on…Monster Mash? That took the cake. Or took the potato, as it were. The winner will be receiving a signed copy of Isa Does It plus $25 to her favorite charity!

A few runner-up titles: Creature From The Black Legume, Mr. Potato Dead, Ghoul Interrupted, and Frankenthyme! Haha, good work, guys. Check back on Facebook soon for another Halloween recipe and your chance to win.

But for now, here we are: the perfect Halloween feast! DIG IN AT YOUR OWN RISK. And check out this video for a little extra guidance. (Watch with the sound on for the full effect.)

Recipe Notes

~Hey, cilantro haters! You can totally replace that herb with some parsley or extra scallions, if you prefer.

~For extra decadence, replace the almond milk in the potatoes with cashew cream. Yum!

~I used white pepper in the potatoes so that you wouldn’t be able to see it. But if you don’t have any, black pepper is totally fine. Maybe your ghouls have freckles?

For the mashed potato ghouls:
3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 1/2 inch chunks or so
2 cups chopped scallions, green parts only
1 cup fresh cilantro, including stems
1 cup unsweetened, plain almond milk (or your fave unsweetened non-dairy milk)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper

For the lentil mushroom shepherd guts:
2 cups cold vegetable broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, medium dice
2 medium carrots, sliced into thin half moons
2 cloves garlic, minced

2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1 lb cremini mushroom, chopped (about pea sized pieces)
3 tablespoons fresh thyme
Fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon salt (plus more, to taste)

4 cups cooked lentils
1 cup frozen peas

Pimento stuffed green olives
Thyme sprigs

Make the mashed potatoes:
Place potatoes in a large pot and submerge by an inch in cold water. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of salt into the water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cook until very tender.

In the meantime, place scallions, cilantro and milk in a blender and puree until relatively smooth and bright ghoulish green!

Once potatoes are tender, drain them, then place immediately back in the pot. Do a preliminary mash with a potato masher, just to get them broken up. Add the oil and the blender mixture, salt and pepper and mash until very smooth. Taste for salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

Make the lentil layer:
In a measuring cup, mix together the broth and cornstarch until mostly dissolved. Mix in the tomato paste and set aside (we’ll use this to thicken later on.)

Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Sauté onion and carrots in oil with a pinch of salt for 5 to 7 minutes, until onions are lightly browned. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or so, just until fragrant. Add mushrooms, celery, and thyme along with a bunch of fresh black pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. Let cook for about 5 minutes, until mushroom have released a lot of moisture. Add the cooked lentils and use your spatula to much them up a bit right in the pan. This creates a “ground beef” effect. :)

Add the cornstarch/broth mixture, and mix well. Let cook until gravy-like and thickened. Fold in the peas. Taste for salt and seasoning.

To assemble:
Now comes the fun part! Slice olive into 1/8 inch thick “eyes.” The ends will need to be a separate snack, since you’ll just want to use the pieces with pimento in the center.

Slice radishes into 1/8th inch thick discs, and slice those discs into halfmoons. Then use a paring knife to carve out triangles for teeth. Have fun with it! Don’t worry about perfection here. (View video above for reference)

Strip thyme sprigs of their leaves until reaching their “claws.”

Have ready a large freezer bag with a 3/4 inch hole sliced out of the corner. Fill bag with some ghoulish mashed potatoes. This works best if they’re still warm!

Now fill individual bowls with shepherd guts. Take your mashed potato bag and squeeze ghouls into existence right onto each bowl of guts.

Place sliced olives into its eye sockets. Postition radishes for mouths. Position into mouth. Attach stems to the ghoul’s arm sockets. It’s alive! Ahh!

October 2, 2013

Coconut Cream Pie

Makes one 9 inch pie

Coconut Cream Pie

“Another pie recipe? To what do I owe the pleasure?!” – you

Well, I’m really occupied working on stuff for the release of Isa Does It, but I still want to give you a little somethin somethin! And since pie season is here, I figure why not put up some of Vegan Pie In The Sky’s greatest hits? This time, I won’t ask you to roll out a crust, so hopefully you will still like me.

This pie was a serious tester favorite. A creamy cloud of coconut heaven! It’s one of those pies that is even better the next day, and even better the day after that, once the flavors have had a chance to “marry.” So make it on a Wednesday and serve it on a Saturday, if you manage to keep yourself from sneaking into the fridge in the middle of the night and smush your entire face into the deliciousness. (Actually, use the tip below so that you can have a secret chef’s taste without destroying the pie!)

Happy piemaking, everyone!

Recipe Notes

~So this recipe calls for agar powder, which is basically vegan gelatin that comes from seaweed (instead of all that gross stuff.) You can’t replace it or leave it out because it’s what makes the filling set. You can order it, or find it at your local Asian market (Telephone brand is awesome.) And it’s really worth having, I promise!

~To answer your next question: I don’t suggest replacing the powder with flakes unless you have experience with it already. And, no, you can not crush the flakes up into a powder and get the same results. Why not? I dunno! But it didn’t work for either Terry or I, nor did it work for the testers. So if you want to do any replacing, it’s not impossible, but I can’t guarantee it will work for you.

~There may be a little leftover filling, so just pour it into a cup and let it set. Now you’ll have a creamy taste for yourself without having to destroy the pie.

~For a variation, try Coconut Lime Cream Pie. In place of 1/4 cup almond milk, use 1/4 cup fresh lime juice. Along with the shredded coconut, add 2 teaspoons lime zest and mix.

For the crust:
10 oz vegan vanilla cookies (should equal 1 3/4 cups once processed. Use gluten free varieties for a gluten free pie.)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil (refined or virgin)
1 tablespoon plain non-dairy milk (I prefer almond)

For the filling:
1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least two hours and up to overnight
1 13 oz can coconut milk at room temperature
3/4 cup plain unsweetened almond milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
1/2 teaspoon agar agar powder
2/3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons coconut oil (refined or virgin)
1 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional, another teaspoon vanilla will work, too)

For garnish: Blackberries and coconut flakes

Prepare the crust:
Preheat oven to 350 F and have ready a 9 inch pie dish.

In a blender, pulse the cookies into fine crumbs. They should measure out to be 1 3/4 cups. (You don’t have to clean the blender after this, you can just get out as many of the crumbs as you can, and then proceed with the filling recipe which follows.)

In a mixing bowl combine cookie crumbs and sugar, then drizzle in melted coconut oil. Mix to moisten the crumbs, then drizzle in the milk and mix again to form a crumbly dough. Use another tablespoon of milk if it seems very dry. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate and press crumbs on the sides then work your way down to the bottom.

Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and set aside.

Make the filling:
Drain the cashews and place them in a food processor or blender. Blend with the coconut milk until totally smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally. This can take up to 5 minutes depending on the strength of your machine, but give your blender a break every minute or so, and check frequently that the mixture feels smooth and not grainy.

In the meantime, stir together the the milk, agar agar, and sugar in a small (2 quart) sauce pot.

Bring mixture to a boil, stirring pretty consistently. Once boiling, lower the heat so that you’re just getting small bubbles. Let cook for about 5 minutes, then add the coconut oil and mix until melted.

With the blender running, stream the hot mixture in until thoroughly blended, then add the extracts and pulse a few times to combine. Stir in the shredded coconut, but don’t blend it again, just mix it with a spatula – you want the coconut to remain intact. (It’s important that the mixture goes in hot, and is poured into the crust immediately, to prevent it from setting up before it’s in the pie. )

Transfer mixture to the prepared pie crust (being careful not to overfill) and refrigerate until set, at least 5 hours. The filling is very thin at first, but that is how it’s supposed to be, so don’t worry, it will thicken as it sets. Once set, slice and serve! Top with coconut flakes and a berry, if you like. If not using immediately, wrap tightly in plastic wrap for up to 4 days.

September 25, 2013

Appleberry Pie With Olive Oil Crust

Serves 8

Appleberry Pie

The wee infant hours of autumn are always bittersweet. This pie is a way to savor your summer memories while welcoming the new season in a delicious way. Sweet, tart berries meet lush apples, laced through with some warm spices and all wrapped up in your new favorite pie crust!

Made with pantry-friendly olive oil, this is a fast and convenient all-purpose crust ideal for fruit pies. It became mine and Terry’s go-to as we were writing Vegan Pie In The Sky; olive oil produces a light flaky crust with a surprisingly neutral taste that has just a hint of fruitiness. The secret is to freeze the olive oil before hand, so that it become partially solid. This helps the fat to blend into the dough in little pockets, creating the flakiness you crave.

Pie season is here, everyone! You’ve got plenty of time to practice for the holiday table. But really, who can argue with pie ever?

Recipe Notes

~To prepare the olive oil: About an hour before beginning the recipe, place the olive oil in a plastic container; for best results use a thin light container, like the kind used for take out food. Freeze until it’s opaque and congealed but still somewhat soft, like the consistency of slightly melted sorbet. If it’s over-frozen, that’s ok, just let it thaw a bit so that you can work with it.

~Refrigerate the flour before using. That helps to keep the dough cold while you work with it, which will produce a lighter, flakier crust.

~Keep that crust from burning by using a pie shield half-way through baking. This adjustable one is heaven sent!

For the Olive Oil Crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup olive oil, partially frozen (see above note)
4 to 8 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

For the Pie:
2 cups fresh blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, or a mix, fresh or frozen (about 10 oz)
4 cups peeled Granny Smith apples, sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Big pinch of ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons cornstarch

For topping:
2 tablespoons almond milk (or preferred non-dairy milk)
1 tablespoon sugar

Prepare the pie crust:
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Working quickly so that it stays cold, add the olive oil by the tablespoonful, cutting it into the flour with your fingers or a pastry cutter, until the flour appears pebbly.

In a cup, mix together 4 tablespoons of the ice water with the apple cider vinegar. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the water and vinegar mixture into the flour, and using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir into the dough, adding more water a tablespoon at a time until it holds together to form a soft ball. Take care not to over-knead the dough.

Divide dough in two, roll each half into a ball and press eachh into disk about an inch thick. Place one disk between two 14 inch long pieces of waxed paper. Use a rolling pin to roll each piece into a circle about 1/4 inch thick. Refrigerate rolled dough wrapped in waxed paper for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to use.

Assemble the pie:
Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Combine the filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Fit the bottom crust into the pie plate, pile in the filling, and gently press down to get everything in. Cover with the top crust, pinch the edges together, trim excess dough to about an inch, and crimp. Make five slits in the middle of the pie to let steam escape (a steak knife works great for this).

Brush the top of the pie with almond milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 F and continue baking 35 to 40 more minutes, or until the filling bubbles up through the edges. Place the pie on a cooling rack and let cool for about 30 minutes before serving.