Monday, December 26, 2011

Vegan Corn Filled Empanadas for Christmas!

I should have known better than to start a blog right in the midst of the holiday season.  Of course I would flake out and not post for a month.  What else would I do?  It's not that I haven't been cooking.  I have.  A whole heck of a lot.  I've made so many falafels, chickpea patties, soups and stews, cookies,  and loaves of bread.  So.  Much.  Food.  But after I would make said food, I would veg out and watch Christmas movies with the best woman in the world, J.

Today though, I started a new Christmas tradition and felt that it was certainly blog worthy.  J and I have begun our Latin food Christmas tradition...the tradition I have been asking for upwards of seven years.

I made the dough for the empanadas on Christmas Eve so there would be less work for me on Christmas Day.  The morning of Christmas, J and I woke up early to open presents, eat the overnight apple french toast I fixed and then watch It's a Wonderful Life which we both fell asleep to while cuddled on the couch.  After we woke up I slowly went about preparing our dinner.  I rolled out and cut the dough (with J's help since she is much more patient than I am), I prepared the creamy corn filling (which is more like a corn porridge), I fixed up the spicy chimichurri, and I made some simple rice and beans to accompany it.  Both the empanadas and chimichurri are recipes from Terry Hope Romero's amazing Latin food cookbook Viva Vegan!.

If you love Latin food (which, of course, you do if you are a friend of mine) you will love these empanadas.  Yes, the dough takes time.  But it's totally worth it.  This recipe made us eight of them and we could only eat one a piece which leaves us with more than enough leftovers.  I encourage you to try these.  Seriously.  They are so good and so, so worth it...especially if you have a little chimichurri on the side to add some zing.

Empanada Dough:
3 cups all purpose unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
6 Tbsp. chilled vegan shortening
2 Tbsp. chilled vegan margarine
3/4 ice cold water (add a little more if necessary)

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add 1/2 inch chunks of the shortening and margarine to this mix and pulse until everything resembles fine, sandlike crumbs.  Think beach sand here.  Very fine.

Pour the flour mixture in to a large bowl and stream in the ice cold water while mixing with your hands.  Add enough water that you can press the mixture together to form a soft and stretchy dough.  Briefly knead a few times, divide into two balls and flatten each ball out to a circle about an inch thick.  Chill the dough for at least four hours and up to overnight.  (I highly recommend overnight so you don't literally spend a whole day making empanadas but it's totally up to you!).

After dough is chilled, tear about 10 pieces of 7 inch waxed paper and have these ready by your work station.  Lightly dust a large, stable rolling surface and a rolling pin.  Roll one of the dough rounds out to about 3/8 inch thick.  Then take a 6 inch in diameter bowl and use it to cut out 6 inch dough rounds.  Place the rounds on wax paper as you cut them out.  Once you have gotten as many 6 inch rounds from the dough as you can, wrap them up tightly and put them back in the fridge until your filling is ready.

Creamy Corn Empanada Filling:
3 Tbsp. vegan margarine
3 Tbsp. finely chopped chives or green onions
1 tsp. dried basil
5 cups frozen corn, thawed and drained
3 cloves diced garlic
1/4 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup soy creamer
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
Large pinch of cayenne
Black pepper to taste
1/3 cup soy creamer for brushing the emapanada dough

Melt the margarine over medium heat and saute the chives/green onions and basil in the butter for about two minutes.  In a blender, pulse the corn kernels, garlic, corn starch, soy creamer, lemon juice, salt, cayenne, and black pepper into a thick batter.  Pour this mixture into the pot containing the chives and basil and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until the mixture resembles a thick porridge.  Remove from the heat and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Take the dough out of the fridge.  Gently stretch out one round by it's edges.  Brush one side of it with soy creamer and then place about 1/3 cup of the corn filling on the center of the same side.  Spread the filling over half of the side, leaving about a 1/2 inch of space along the edge of the dough.  Fold the unfilled half over the filled half and pinch shut with your fingers.  Seal the empanada by taking a fork and pressing along the edges.  Place the empanada on the prepared baking sheet and brush with a bit of soy creamer.  Repeat this with the remaining dough rounds.

Bake the empanadas for about 24 to 26 minutes.  Let them cool for about 5 minutes out of the oven.  Then serve them up with your favorite sides and sauce and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tempeh "Crab" Cakes (minus even a hint of crab) with Remoulade

At this point it might seem like I am regurgitating all of the amazing recipes from the PPK.  Seeing as how three of the four recipes posted are PPK recipes, I totally get why you would feel that way.  The thing is, I have been forgetting to take pictures of the food I've been making and I just so happened to remember to photograph these little gems.

Now I generally don't look at recipes that imitate something meaty.  This particular recipe piqued my interest a couple of years ago when I got the amazing book Vegan Brunch.  I had told J a million times that I would make these.  Then I helped host a baby shower with a nautical theme for one of my best gals earlier this month.  I finally decided to make these bad boys.  I loved them!  The little bits of tempeh in every bite, the crispy outside and pleasant inside, the spice of it...I was frakkin in love.  J fell in love too.  So I decided to make them again so J and I could enjoy them on the last day of our vacation.

Everyone should make these.  There is a bit of work that goes in to them but they are worth every ounce of effort.  Seriously.

For the cakes:
8 ounces tempeh
1 cup water
1 tablespoon shoyu
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons Vegenaisse
1 tablespoon stone ground Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup very finely chopped red bell pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspooon salt
fresh black pepper
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs, plus extra for dredging
Oil for pan frying

For the remoulade:
2 tablespoons Vegenaise
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard  (stone ground dijon works, too)
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons capers (try not to get too much brine)

Crumble the tempeh into a small sauce pan in little bits. Add the water, soy sauce, oil and bay leaves. Don’t worry about the tempeh being totally submerged because it doesn’t need to be. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, let boil for 12 to 15 minutes, until most of the water has evaporated. Stir once during boiling.
Transfer contents to a mixing bowl, remove bay leaf, and mash with a fork.  You’ll want to mash it up really well to where it becomes a bit pasty but still has some small tempeh bits left in it.  It’s VERY important that you then let the tempeh mix cool for about 15 minutes.  Make sure the tempeh is barely warm before you proceed, or the cakes may fall apart when you cook them and that might make you upset if you’re anything like me. Add the Vegenaisse, mustard, hot sauce, vinegar, chopped bell pepper, spices, salt and pepper, and mix well. Add the bread crumbs and then use your hands to mix it up really well.
Once you are ready to form the cakes, preheat a thin layer of oil in a heavy bottomed non-stick skillet (cast iron is great) over medium heat. Pour some panko into a bowl. Scoop a little less than 1/4 cup batter into your hands and form into a ball. Flatten between your palms and then roll the sides gently with your hands cupped to smooth them. Press them in to the panko.  They don’t need to be thoroughly covered, just a little bit for some texture.
Fry a batch of five cakes for 4 minutes on one side and flip when dark golden brown. Fry for 2 minutes on the other side and transfer to a wire rack over a plate to drain. Do your second batch and in the meantime make your remoulade by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fried Udon with Sesame Ginger Tempeh? Why yes, I think I will.

If we are anything in my household, we are a fried rice loving people.  Recently though, we have taken to substituting udon noodles in place of rice.  Nothing hits the spot like a bowl of udon noodles chock full of kale, broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, onions, ginger, garlic, zucchini, and Sesame Ginger Glazed tempeh.

I don’t just love eating this meal, I love the preparation.  It's easy and gives me a chance to unwind.  I love coming home from work, pouring myself a glass of wine (though there was no wine today as I am abstaining from alcohol this month), turning on some music, and then getting lost in the chopping of so many vegetables.   

Keep in mind when preparing this that you can add any of your favorite veggies to this or remove any of the ones I have listed.  If I wasn't cooking this for both J and myself I would put mushrooms in it.  J hates herself some mushrooms though (she can't get down with fungus) so I will always leave them out.

Sesame Ginger Tempeh Recipe:
3 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
One 8 oz. package tempeh, cut in to small cubes
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. shoyu (or tamari/soy sauce/Braggs)
6 cloves garlic
1 tsp. ume plum vinegar

Combine all of the ingredients in a shallow bowl/dish.  Marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour and up to overnight.

Fried Udon Recipe:
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 small yellow onion, diced  
3 medium carrots, diced 
6 cloves of garlic, minced 
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 bell peppers (whatever color you desire), diced
2 cups of broccoli florets, cut into bite size pieces
1 bunch of kale (I used purple kale because it is my favorite), stem removed and torn in to bite size pieces
2 medium zucchini, diced
Sesame Ginger Tempeh
1 package udon noodles, cooked according to instructions on package
3 Tbsp. shoyu (or tamari/soy sauce/Braggs) 

Heat olive oil over medium high heat either in large skillet or wok.  Add onion and carrots to the pan.  Stir frequently for about three minutes.  Next add garlic, ginger, and bell peppers to the mix.  Continue to stir for about two more minutes (or until onion starts to appear translucent).   Add the broccoli and kale and stir for about three minutes.  Finally, add the zucchini and the Sesame Ginger Tempeh and stir until the zucchini starts to soften and the tempeh is hot.

Stir in the udon noodles and shoyu sauce.  Saute another three minutes until the noodles are heated through.  Serve it up.  You'll probably want to add more shoyu to your own plate and don't forget the Sriracha Hot Chili sauce!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dear Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles, Please Marry Me.

Tonnya, a lady I find especially fun and one of J's longtime employees is moving away to St. Louis. Tonight is her going away party and J asked me to bake something up for the event. Tonnya is kind of a spicy gal so I decided whatever I baked had to be equally spicy. Enter Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles from Vegan Cupcakes Invade Your Cookie Jar. When I started baking these this morning, I had no friggin idea they would be so amazing. For the love of all that is good, these cookies are the IT cookies. Not even Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, my go-to perfect cookie, can compare.

I will mention here, if you are afraid of a little spice, then these aren't the cookies for you. That would be a shame though because you'd be missing out on the most delicious thing. It's up to it safe or live a little.


For the Topping:
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

For the Awesome Cookies:
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 Tbsp. almond milk (or whatever non dairy milk you love most)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. chocolate extract (or more vanilla if you have no chocolate)
1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cayenne

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Mix the topping ingredients together in a shallow bowl or on a plate and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, use a fork to vigorously mix together oil, sugar, syrup, and milk. Then mix in the extracts.
Sift in remaining ingredients, stirring as you add them. Once all ingredients are added mix until you’ve got a pliable dough.

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). 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 rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom halfway through. The cookies should be a bit spread and crackly on top. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Love Isa and I Love Tempeh Chili

Since this is my first post on this brand new, super awesome blog, I thought I should use an Isa recipe. Anybody who knows me in the "kitchen sense" knows that I am in love with Isa Chandra Moskowitz and her amazing recipes. That lady is all sorts of awesome and every single recipe of hers is nothing short of perfect.

I knew that I wanted to rock a soup for this first post and I wanted that soup to have my favorite sources of protein...beans and tempeh. I remembered that the Post Punk Kitchen (Isa's website) had a Tempeh Chili Con Frijoles recipe. I gave it a read this morning and decided it would be the perfect kickoff to this site. It's something that is tried and true and somehow totally revamped and new. I whipped up some kind of wonderful cornbread to accompany it and a dinner was born. Not just any dinner, mind you. The kind of dinner that makes this especially chilly and grey fall night seem not so bad.

1 8 ounce package tempeh, diced medium
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
2 green bell peppers, diced small
3 large carrots, diced small
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon black pepper
2 15 ounce cans kidney beans
1 cup good dark beer
2 15 ounce cans diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Peppers)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups veggie broth or water
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Fresh cilantro (however much your heart desires)

In a large heavy pot, saute carrots, onion, and green bell pepper over med-high heat, until tender and a little brown, stirring occasionally. This can take between ten and twenty minutes.

At the same time, put tempeh in a large frying pan and fill with water until it is almost covered. Add the soy sauce and let simmer over high heat for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed, stirring occasionally. When water is mostly absorbed, mash tempeh with a fork, so it’s crumbly but still chunky. Lower heat to medium and add 2 teaspoons olive oil , saute for 15 more minutes.

At this point, the twenty minutes for your veggies should be up. Add garlic and saute one minute, then add salt and spices (except cilantro, you add that last) and saute a minute more. Add beer and deglaze the pot. Cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, beans and water. Your tempeh should be done cooking so add that as well. Lower heat to medium, stir it up and cover for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook 30 more minutes stirring occasionally. Add maple syrup, lemon juice and stir it up. Add cilantro. Serve!

I promise you, kind reader, you will be nothing short of satisfied once you've given this a try. Seriously, go for it. Now.