Apr 5, 2015

chile relleno! vegan!

If you've been under a boulder the past few weeks, you would not be up to date on the epic chickpea brine discovery, so I'll give a quick run-down for you.

Some clever genius has discovered that the annoying foam that our beans produce during cooking can whip up into vegan egg whites. Let that sink in. What have you missed eating or making since you've become vegan? Chances are good, they contain some sort of egg product: macaroons, angel food cake, floating islands, among other sweets that conventionally are either made completely of eggs or contain a significant amount of eggs.

While I haven't tested this using freshly cooked bean liquid, this process has been proven to work with canned or boxed chickpeas or white beans. Although I've been cooking up batches of beans using my Instant Pot, for this special occasion, I purchased a box of chickpeas. A few, actually.

I'm not sure exactly who came up with this first - - you know the type, looks at the liquid drained from beans and thinks, "hmmm, that looks like egg whites!" but I am grateful. I will try to give credit where I think it might belong. If you know of someone who also came up with this at about the same time (it's possible - two different people invented calculus at the same time while occupying two different parts of the world), I'll add them to the list.

Plant Revolution (French)
Vegan Cookery

Since my facebook page has blow up with all kinds of vegan delicacies using bean liquid, I, of course, could not be left out of the fun.

Chocolate Chip Cookies. Photo courtesy of Somer McCowen

Vedged Out: Chocolate Chip Cookies
Floral Frosting: Macaroons
Seitan is My Motor: Marshmallows

Unlike my fellow bloggers and FB friends, my mind instantly flew to making Chile Rellenos, a chile stuffed with cheese and battered in an egg-flour mixture before being fried. That's right, not being one with much of a sweet tooth, I was itching to try my hand at making a fluffy, crispy stuffed pepper, Tex-Mex style.

The recipe below is my first attempt at making the rellenos; let me tell 'ya, they kick some royal Tex-Mex butt. Some tweaking with the ratio of whipped bean brine to flour would make this even better, but for the debut, this was an amazing Chile Relleno.

Chile Relleno
Serves 4

Sauce: (optional)
1 (15.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups vegetable broth

4 medium to large poblano peppers
1 cup shredded vegan cheese (combination of different varieties is best)
4 (4-inch) wooden skewers
¼ cup all-purpose flour
Oil, for frying

1 1/4 cups chickpea or white bean brine (liquid from 2 cans of beans)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

1. Sauce: (Optional) Combine the tomatoes and broth in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Cook the sauce until thickened, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Blend using an immersion blender and keep warm.
2. Chiles: Cook the peppers over a flame or directly over the stove top burners, until charred well. There is no need to completely char the peppers. Transfer the peppers to a large bowl and cover with a lid. Steam the peppers for 20 minutes.
3. Peel the peppers using your hands. Do not rinse under water.  Make a slit down the side of the pepper about 2-inches long. Remove the seeds as much as possible, but leave the stem intact. Add about ¼-cup cheese inside the pepper and close the pepper using a skewer. Clean and stuff all the peppers and roll each pepper in the flour. Set aside.
4. Heat about 2-inches of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add three popcorn kernels to the oil; when the kernels pop the oil is ready.
5. Batter: Add the batter to a large bowl and using an electric hand mixer beat the brine until thick and stiff, about 4 minutes. Add the paprika, salt and black pepper. Whisk until the flour is incorporated.
6. Place a pepper into the batter and using a spoon coat the pepper on all sides. Fry the pepper in the hot oil until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Drain the pepper on paper towels and season with salt. Serve with the sauce.

© 2015 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

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Apr 1, 2015

greek pita with fennel and spring onion

I simply adore fennel that is shaved and sauteed until it practically melts in your mouth. Really delicious! I have a few bulbs of the vegetable in my fridge and received some spring onions in my CSA box yesterday; it was time to make good use of them.

Since I wanted something relatively easy and not have to make anything too fussy, I decided on a Greek-inspired pita sandwich. It was ready relatively fast and it was a breath of fresh air - anything with lemon and fennel will usually bring that to mind.

If you are leery of using fennel, fear not. Cut off about 1/4-inch of the base (where it is browning) and simply use a mandoline to shave the bulb into almost paper thin slices. No need to remove the core since you are cooking it until the fennel is soft. Use the mandoline to shave the onions, too, and they will cook up tender and sweet in no time.

I used Beyond Meat Grilled Strips for ease, but homemade seitan would work well, too. Even portobello mushrooms would rock this recipe; be sure to remove the gills of the mushroom first by scrapping it out with a spoon.

I made the hummus using the recipe from Everyday Vegan Eats, which Vegan Heritage Press has published right here, but I added about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika to the mixture. I also didn't bother removing the skins of the chickpeas this time and just let the machine run a bit longer for a smoother puree. Sometimes, speed and ease is of the essence.

Greek Pita with Fennel and Spring Onion
Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon fresh or dried Rosemary
12 ounces Beyond Meat strips or chopped seitan

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 spring onions, shaved
1 medium fennel, shaved
Sea salt and black pepper

Pita bread
Hummus (stir in ½ teaspoon smoked paprika per 1 cup of hummus)

1. Protein: Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, and rosemary in a shallow dish. Add the protein and season with salt and black pepper  and set aside to marinate for 15 minutes. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the protein strips only. Cook until golden on both sides, about 3 minutes. Add the marinade, including the garlic, and cook until the garlic is golden. Remove from the heat and set aside.
2. Vegetables: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel, cover, and cook until completely tender, about 5 to 8 minutes, stirring as needed. Season with salt and black pepper.
3. Assembly: Toast the pita, cut in half and split into pockets. Spread about 2 tablespoons of hummus in the pockets, add protein strips and a generous portion of the sauteed vegetables. Serve.

Tip: Cook the vegetables while the protein marinates. Transfer the vegetables to a container and cook the protein in the same skillet.

© 2015 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.