Yesterday was a big day. I planned on making a big pan of potato and kale enchiladas from scratch, thinking they'd make good leftovers for lunches during the week. And they will. But sweet merciful gods of garlic, enchiladas are not for the faint of heart.
First of all, I forgot my shopping list when I went to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, so I did the best I could trying to remember everything I needed to buy for the recipe and for the week. I had toyed briefly with the idea of making my own seitan, but gave up on it since I know you can buy it premade and I wasn't sure I'd like it, and there's nothing worse than spending a long time cooking only to hate what you end up with (I'm talking to you, turkey divan).
Our Trader Joe's does not sell seitan, but Whole Foods does. They sell crumbles, strips, cubes, and whole seitan that looks like some sort of glutinous mollusk swimming in broth. (Get it? Glutinous? Wheat gluten? Ahhh, never mind.) Actually, it reminded me of the time we had show-and-tell in French class, and this strange short high-achieving kid brought in an octopus in formaldehyde that was slowly disintegrating in a jar.
That happy association in mind, I went with the strips. We'll see how it tastes some other day, and if my suspicions about its texture prove correct.
After 45 minutes and only a few unplanned indulgences--like the $10 jar of cheese-free raw pesto--I somehow managed to buy everything I needed for dinner. Except I forgot to get any carrots for snacking, but you can get those at Market Basket. Upon my return home, I made a batch of quinoa muffins adapted from a recipe in Veganomicon (my variation to follow). They turned out all right, except they didn't rise much, perhaps because I didn't have any almond flour, perhaps because their recipe was missing baking soda (mentioned in the procedure but not the ingredients list), perhaps because my baking powder expired last year. Hey, working in a cupcake shop means I don't bake as much as I used to!
Then, around six o'clock, I started making potato kale enchiladas, also from Veganomicon. That was my first mistake. I should have started at two. Or two days ago.
Let me just say, I am a pretty experienced home cook. I make a damn good pot of chili. I usually only have to roll my pie crusts once... or twice. I know what deglazing is, and disappointingly, it does not involve frosting. But I have this dumb habit of missing some vital step in a recipe the first time I read it that totally bites me in the patootie when I start cooking. Case in point: I read this recipe three times and still managed to skip over the part where you have to roast the Anaheim peppers before you use them in the sauce. So I chopped my onion and grabbed the bag of peppers before I finally did a double-take. Roasted, peeled and coarsely chopped? Aww, crap. I've roasted and skinned poblanos to make hot pepper relish before, so it wasn't that it was difficult. It was that it added an extra half hour to the cooking process.
Also, when the Whole Foods pepper description board told me that Anaheim peppers are mildly spicy, it LIED TO ME. Just cutting into it provoked a spate of wild coughing. And here I had been patting myself on the back because I had managed to avoid getting all emo cutting the onion.
So I make the sauce, and then go to make the potato-kale filling. I boil the potatoes, chop the kale, saute the garlic, add the kale... And realize that I have not chopped the kale nearly finely enough, and there will be large leaves in my enchiladas. (In hindsight, it would have been fine.) So I turn off the burner and dump 1/2 pound of wilted kale with four gloves of garlic onto a plate. Since I had the Great Fridge Purge of '11 earlier in the day, I was not throwing away any more food. So I ate it all with leftover quinoa, body odor be damned. It was then approaching nine at night, and the enchiladas that were only supposed to take an hour were nowhere in sight.
I remade the kale, prepped the filling, got out my casserole dish, and was about to start filling my tortillas when Jason called for me to pick him up after work. At 10:30 I'm back in the kitchen, swearing, burning my fingers on hot tortillas and getting enchilada sauce all over the faucet knobs. Jason stuck a finger in the sauce to taste it, and I loved watching surprise take over his face. "We should keep that for when... ah..."
"When this is all over?" I laughed. "And we can have it with chiiiiicken and cheeeeeeese?"
But those enchiladas came out of the oven at 11:30 and they were pretty good. The pumpkin seeds were a bit strange, since I left them whole. And you really couldn't taste the kale (which might be a good thing, depending). And my corn tortillas don't hold up well, so it's almost more like a Latin vegan lasagna. But by god it's big, and it's filling, and it's nutritious and tasty, and I finally made some freakin' enchiladas. It only took five hours. (I think next time I'll make the sauce ahead of time.)
And with that, I give you chai-almond muffins with quinoa.
Yield: 12 muffins. Prep time: However damn long you please.
- 1 cup almond or soy milk
- 1 tbsp. ground flaxseed
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (a little more doesn't hurt)
- 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1-1/4 cups cooked quinoa
- chai spice blend (or mix together cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, clove, and some sugar) plus large-grain sugar (Turbinado is perfect)
- sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or paper a 12-cup muffin tin.
Whisk together milk and flaxseed. Let it sit for a minute, this will allow the flaxseed to thicken your liquid a bit. Whisk in oil, syrup, and vanilla.
In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and cardamom. Add the wet ingredients, mixing until just incorporated (lumps are a good thing in muffin batter!). Gently fold in the quinoa just until the big clumps are broken up.
Pour into your prepared muffin tin. Top with chai spice and sugar, then sprinkle on almonds. Bake around 25 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Jason said they'd be better with frosting, and I was going to make some glaze. But then he found a can of Pillsbury frosting in the cupboard and, reading the ingredients, cried, "Hey, this is vegan!" So I didn't make any out of spite. But if you want to be a nice girlfriend, all you need to do is add a teaspoon or two of almond milk to a small dish of confectioner's sugar, then spoon it over the muffins or put it into a frosting bag (or a plastic baggie with a hole cut in the corner).