Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Chile Verde Enchiladas and Cold Weather Comfort Soup

I've got a confession to make.

I cheated.

I gave in to weakness and tried VeganRella. The worst part? It was delicious! It's not something I'll use often. I may, in fact, not buy it ever again... but it does indeed melt, and it melts better than Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet (my personal NotCheese of choice). The taste and texture right out the package leave much to be desired, as it is waxy and bland, and it contains canola oil (which I missed when I bought it) but for gooey meltiness it's probably the best commercially made vegan cheese alternative. The normally off-putting waxiness also comes in handy in this case, since it makes grating very easy. Of course, my minimally-refined, go-to ingredient for gooey deliciousness is usually mochi, and probably always will be, but sometimes it just doesn't work in a given dish.

One such dish is enchiladas. I had tried making a nightshade-free version with mochi and it just wasn't any good. The mochi filling was so rich and filling you could really only eat one, and you felt full and bloated for hours afterward. I may attempt another nightshade-free version with mochi, but if I do, the enchiladas would be filled with either beans or vegetables, and only the topping would contain mochi.

Yesterday I posted a recipe for green chile that I had been meaning to post for months; but it just so happened that we recently made a big batch, which we have been using in various dishes, and tonight we made green enchiladas, so it seemed like a very timely dish to post. I took a few really pretty pictures of the enchiladas and the soup and vegetables that I made, but apparently my camera ate the pictures (the food was that yummy!), so I'm left with one lone enchilada picture.

VeganRella and Mama C's Chile Verde Enchiladas
For this batch of green chile, we used about 6 Anaheim peppers, 4 poblanos, and 5 or 6 jalapeños. Using a mix like this really lets the most desirable aspects of each pepper shine through, in this case, the poblano don't have much flavor, but give a nice dark color contrast, and help temper the heat of the jalapeños. The tomatoes give a good tang and add bright red bursts of color. The Anaheim are slightly sweet and mild, give body to the chile, and provide a base. The jalapeños, of course, provide heat.

Enchiladas are another dish that is more about technique than ingredients. It's very important to have your filling and sauce ready. The fillings I associate most with enchiladas are cheese & onions, spiced ground beef, or beans, but the possibilities are endless. I used a simple filling of grated VeganRella (mozzarella flavor) and green chile. Making enchiladas is a great way to use leftovers, for example if you have tacos on Monday, you can use the leftovers as filling for enchiladas later in the week. Enchiladas are commonly made with a red chile sauce, often being tomato-based, but green chile sauces are not uncommon.

The basic process begins with lightly frying a corn tortilla in a touch of oil to soften. I think you could probably get away with heating the tortillas on a comal, skillet or griddle if they were fresh and flexible, though. Next, you fill the tortilla with your desired filling--I used approximately 2 tablespoons finely grated VeganRella and 2 teaspoons green chile per tortilla--and roll up. Place rolled tortilla in a baking dish, and repeat. This process is much easier if you have someone helping you, then you can fry while your helper fills, or vice versa. When you've either 1) used up all your ingredients, 2) run out of space in your baking dish, or 3) made 2 more enchiladas than you think will be enough to satisfy all members of your household, spread a generous amount of your desired chile sauce over and around each enchilada. You can even put a little sauce in the bottom of the baking dish prior to putting enchiladas in dish, but I haven't found that to be necessary. If desired, top with a sprinkle of your favorite notcheese. Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes or until filling is heated through. If you're using a melty vegan notcheese, obviously, you're looking for it to melt. I like to smother the enchiladas with more chile halfway through cooking, but I don't think that's necessary unless they look a little dried out.

I also made a yummy stick-to-your-ribs soup, that just happened to be super easy and made almost entirely from leftovers. JD loves Campbell's-style vegetable beef soup, and I wanted to make a soup similar to that, but heartier and healthier. Recently, we've had a cold spell in Austin. Our temperature seems to be about 10 degrees cooler than usual, which means that I've had to wear long sleeves, pants, and real shoes as opposed to my normal casual November attire of knee-length skirts and flip flops. It also means that I've been craving more long-cooked, baked, or stewed foods and soups that are thicker, richer or more filling.

I've been playing with homemade vegetable stocks, and I saved some of the vegetables (I used carrots and celery), so I also had both of those items on hand. I also had cooked short grain brown rice, but you could use any leftover grain. I chose red lentils to thicken the soup and add heartiness, because red lentils, unlike most other varieties, turn to mush as they cook and change to a light yellow color, so you can't really see then in this soup. Certainly, other lentils could be used, but they wouldn't thicken the soup in the same way. If you have cooked whole beans like white or kidney on hand, they'd make a delicious addition.

Stick-To-Your-Ribs Comfort Soup
by Christina Terriquez

2 1/2 cups of your favorite broth
1-1 1/2 cups diced mixed vegetables (frozen, leftover or fresh)
2 tablespoons red lentils
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup of red sauce (Mama Mia sauce, nightshade-free red sauce, tomato sauce, or marinara)
1 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
your choice of dried herbs like oregano, basil, thyme, or Italian herb mix, etc.
sea salt or shoyu

In a medium saucepan or dutch oven, heat broth and add vegetables. If using fresh vegetables, simmer vegetables for 2 minutes. If using frozen vegetables, simmer for 10 minutes. If using leftover vegetables, proceed to next step.

Add red lentils and simmer for 10 minutes. Add garlic, red sauce, brown rice, and herbs and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste and simmer for 5 more minutes. Garnish with fresh scallions of parsley.

Add 1/2-1 cup whole cooked beans.

Try adding other leftover grains in place of brown rice.

Can be served as a meal with a piece of crusty bread, or in smaller portions as a starter.

When I put away the leftover soup, I took it as an opportunity to try taking another picture, so here you are:

Stick-To-Your-Ribs Comfort Soup
I especially like the way the hands sort of take on the form of a heart in this picture.

It seems like VeganMoFo is really helping spread the vegan food love among bloggers. I know I've personally found many new blogs which will become a part of my weekly reads, and it seems like I've possibly gained a few more readers. If you're a new reader, welcome! It's always nice to make a new acquaintance.


bazu said...

I've never tried veganrella, but there's nothing wrong with enjoying a nice faux cheese every now and then! Your soup sounds so excellent- and I love that cute little bowl of it in the photo.

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adam brown said...
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Craig? said...

thanks for the heads up on the canola oil! I had no idea.