I love to cook. When I was a freshman in college, my roommates and I each had our assignments for keeping the room clean. After a few weeks, my roommates learned that cleaning is not a skill I possess, and I was banned permanently. So, I learned to cook, and discovered I had a talent for it. I believe the key is to look at recipes as jumping off points, rather than strict guidelines. Recipes were made to be modified, and sometimes you have to get a little creative when you misjudge how much of a certain ingredient to buy, or maybe have an allergy to something in the recipe. One of the chef's I admire is vegan chef Isa Chandra Moskowitz. The brilliant chef behind Post Punk Kitchen, and several incredible cookbooks, her recipes always inspire me. And the great thing is, she's a modifier too. Last night I made two recipes from her "Vegan With a Vengeance" recipe book, with my own special twist of course.
Isa's Chipotle, Corn and Black Bean Stew
Ingrediants: 2 T olive oil, 1 large onion (quartered and thinly sliced), 3 cloves of garlic, 2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp salt, dash black pepper, 2 chipotle peppers (canned, drained and rinsed), 1 28ounce can crushed tomatoes, 3 cups water, 4 russet potatoes (diced), 2 carrots (peeled and diced), 1 cup corn, 1 16ounce can black beans (drained and rinsed), 1 cup fresh cilantro, zest and juice of one lime
Directions: In a stockpot saute onions on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add rest of seasonings and saute another minute. Add chipotles, tomato, water and stir. Add potatoes and carrots, bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes covered. Uncover, and add corn and beans and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cilantro and lime and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Serve.
My modifications: I'm allergic to cumin, or at least I think I am, so I subbed cayenne pepper instead. I also traded the russet potatoes for Yukon gold, because they have a higher nutritional value. Note: This stew was very spicy, in the future I would cut out one of the cans of chipotle peppers and garnish with vegan sour cream or guacamole to cut down on the spice and add some creaminess to the stew.
The first night I served with biscuits, but the second time I made these delicious muffins, also from Isa's book.
Mocha Chip Muffins
Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 2 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp instant coffee powder, 1 cup soy milk, 1/2 cup canola oil, 3 T soy yogurt, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, coffee powder. In a small bowl whisk the wet ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing thoroughly, then fold in the chocolate chips. Place in a greased muffin pan and cook for 18-20 minutes.
My modifications: Well first, I only had brown sugar, so that's what I used. I didn't have any cocoa powder, so I used hot chocolate mix and added another 1/4 cup. I left out the coffee, used almond milk instead of soy, and olive oil instead of canola. I didn't have any vegan yogurt, so I used organic yogurt that I generally put on Triton's food, he didn't seem to mind. (ha!)
As I said, recipes were made to be modified. Be creative, don't be afraid to make changes that will improve your enjoyment. Want it gluten free? No problem! I highly recommend checking out Isa's delicious recipes and trying them out for yourself. Tempeh Reuben anyone? How about Peach Cobbler?