Chipotle-lime chick'n quesadillas.

My pal Amy (@theveganrunnergirl) is hosting another online cooking night on Instagram. With tonight's theme being Mexican cuisine, I finally decided on quesadillas. I remember quesadillas sucking badly enough as a 9 year old girl. I would get plain cheese with a big dollop of sour cream and dried out green onions spewed on top. The late 90's were brutal for a plethora of reasons and restaurant style quesadillas were one of them. Years later, meat alternatives improved, and years after that, Winnipeg hauled in Daiya. Good show, Winnipeg. These are filled with marinated chick'n, red onion, mango, corn and dairy free cheese, and served with a side of chipotle sour cream.

For the quesadillas

4 8" tortillas

1 cup meat alternative -- I used Yves meatless chick'n strips
1 small red onion, slivered
1/2 cup mango (about half of one fresh mango)
1/4 cup organic corn
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp adobo sauce
1 tbsp chopped chipotle pepper
1 tbsp taco seasoning 

6 green chilli peppers

For the dip
1 tbsp chopped chipotle peppers + adobo sauce

First thing's first, chop your chick'n and sliver you red onion. Add in your corn and mango, and your marinade. Let marinade while you prep your press or frying pan (I lightly oiled my press), your dip, and chop those peppers with gloves on - don't be a hero.

In a pan, lightly sauté your filling until a bit crisp and the onions are cooked to your liking. Add in a teaspoon of oil if you like beforehand. 

Lay your tortilla down on a flat surface, throw on some cheese, your filling, green chilli peppers, and a bit more cheese.

Stick in the press (or in a frying pan!) for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted to your liking.

Top with additional chilli peppers, seeds in, if you have something to prove.

Serve alongside chipotle sour cream.

Check out everyone's entries on Instagram by searching #thevegancookingclub, and look forward to more cooking club nights every few weeks.

Cheesy polenta fries.

Bulk Barn, the Holy Grail for vegan Canucks. Provider of maple flakes for certain Yankees, Lara bars, every flour and alternative known to mankind, and everything in between. I wish they had these as an alternative at restaurants, but I also wish I understood how baby corn worked. These fries set you back about $2 and make a whole heap. I got 72 fries out of the batch, I'd say this serves 5-6.

For the fries;

4 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/3 cup non dairy butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
optional herbs and spices - chili powder, sage, thyme, oregano, basil, cinnamon, red chili flakes, etc.

2 tbsp coconut oil

Bring the 4 1/2 cups water to a boil along with the salt. Whisk in all the cornmeal and quickly stir to take care of any lumps and cover to simmer for 5-7 minutes. Stir in non dairy butter, pepper and nutritional yeast.

Transfer to a 12x16 inch non stick baking sheet. It'll look a bit lumpy.

Grab a sheet of parchment paper to lay on top of the mixture. Using a rolling pin, or another baking sheet, and apply pressure to flatten the mixture. 

Let cool in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 400F.

While the oven is preheating, melt the coconut oil in a small dish. Dunk a bunched-up ball of cling wrap to spread the oil across a baking sheet.

Using a pizza cutter or a long thin knife, divide the now-firm mixture into ~72 strips (divide into 4, then each quadrant into 18, or 9x2) so that each fry about resembles the size of a French fry. Click here for a sad, quick illustration.

Transfer HALF of these into the oiled baking sheet - I arrange mine 9 across by 4 down.

Bake for 20 minutes, flip the fries, then bake for another 20 - totalling 40 minutes. Try one fry, and if the insides are a bit soft for you, bake for another 5.

For the dipping sauce;
1 part Sriracha
3 parts vegan mayo
-- I used 2 tbsp vegan mayo, 2 tsp sriracha and mixed well.


Vegan borscht.

For those of you that have $10, an hour, and a major interest in cable knit cardigans. I've been peeling beets since I was a little girl, and even before the ventral floor of my nail bed developed, I was eating borscht. For decades, my grandmother has always put a big ole pig ankle in her borscht for a multitude of reasons. Though, now that I've got a soup pot the size of a 6 year old, I can now forego some of the more traditional Mennonite methods. For some of you, soup making is a walk in the park. For those of you that work best with a recipe, try this out and adapt it as you like along the way.

Yields 6 quarts / 24 cups / 12 servings

~6 medium-sized beets, enough to yield 8 cups
5 carrots
4 large red potatoes
4 medium-sized onions
~3 quarts vegetable brother or water for the stock pot
fresh dill, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

optional - tofutti sour cream and/or vinegar

Firstly, you need to boil your beets. Chop the beet tops and bottoms off so you're left with just the actual beet. Reserve the beet leaves for a salad, stew, or turn them into chips (much like you would whilst making kale chips). Boil the beets, skin-on, until tender. Once tender, you can peel off the skin wearing gloves, and dice.

Peel your onions, potatoes and carrots and chop into quarter-sized chunks. 

Bring a big pot of water (6 quart stock pot) to a boil with your water/vegetable brother. Add in all vegetables BUT the beets, and when the vegetables are almost cooked, add the beets in. Stir in more water as needed. Because you're boiling potatoes, you may sometimes get a bit of foam gathering up top - just remove with a serving spoon or paper towel. Let simmer for about half an hour, and add in the dill before serving.

Optional - Top with sour cream, dill, and stir in vinegar