Vegan recipes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Vegan blackbean burgers, from <i>Isa Does It</i>, Hachette Australia.
Vegan blackbean burgers, from Isa Does It, Hachette Australia. 

If you haven't heard of the Post Punk Kitchen, well, you're probably not a vegan. It began when a couple of friends from New York City's punk scene - Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, filmed six vegan cooking videos in 2003 and posted them online.

Perhaps reflecting the scarcity of information available for vegans at the time, the site attracted an eager audience and soon the Post Punk Kitchen's message board was brimming. These days, Post Punk Kitchen has evolved into a much more professional-looking site, with monthly recipe blogs and a shop. Between them Chandra Moskowitz and Romero have published eight books including Vegan Pie in the Sky, Vegan Vengeance and Appetite for Reduction. The latest, Isa Does It, focuses on dinners and desserts suitable for weeknight cooking.

PPK's Facebook page has nearly 90,000 likes and some of PPK's forum threads attract over 100,000 interactions. Australians follow behind residents of the United States and Canada as PPK's largest audience.

Isa Chandra Moskowitz now lives in the mid-West. She and Romero are currently in Australia as guests of Sydney's inaugural Vegan Festival. Earlier this week they put in appearances at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Melbourne and then cooked for the crew of the Sea Shepherd.

Chandra Moskowitz believes veganism will become an increasingly popular lifestyle choice - though she says necessity rather than moral conviction could be the spark with growing environmental issues making plant-based diets the more logical choice.

Speaking to earlier this month, she says she turned to vegetarianism in her mid-teens before converting to veganism about a decade later. “I just don't think that animals have to suffer so that I can eat,” she explained.

Isa Chandra Moskowitz's latest cookbook for vegans, published by Hachette Australia, $45.00.
Isa Chandra Moskowitz's latest cookbook for vegans, published by Hachette Australia, $45.00. 

Meanwhile Andrew Perumalla from the Sydney Vegan Festival is expecting a decent turnout for this weekend's event. He says veganism “not necessarily a niche lifestyle anymore” with the environmental and health benefits gaining wider recognition. “So many more places now offer vegan options, people have so many more vegan friends and family members.”

Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Post Punk Kitchen's Terry Hope Romero will be appearing at Revolution Foods in Newtown, Sydney, on March 28. They will perform a cooking demonstration at the Sydney Vegan Festival in Marrickville on Saturday March 29.

Here are three recipes from her latest cookbook:


Island blackbean burgers with nectarine salsa

Makes 8 burgers
Total cooking 45 mins

Who doesn't love a black bean burger? Here I've gone with a little Caribbean twist - not just frijoles negros (that's black beans to you), but black-eyed peas, too. And instead of the usual cumin and friends, I use a healthy dose of Jamaican curry powder. Topped with a sweet nectarine salsa, this tastes like a fabulous island vacation. The nectarine salsa is the perfect sweet note here, and you don't even have to peel the fruit since the skin isn't fuzzy like a peach. Or use peaches if you like fuzzy salsa.

For the burgers:

Carrot cake pancakes from <I>Isa Does It</I> (Hachette Australia).
Carrot cake pancakes from Isa Does It (Hachette Australia). 

1 1/2 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1 1/2 cups canned black–eyed peas, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup finely chopped red capsicum

1 cup finely chopped scallions (spring onion)

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Jamaican curry powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup vegetable broth (stock)

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1 cup panko bread crumbs

For the Nectarine Salsa

2 nectarines, diced into 1 cm pieces

1/4 cup finely diced red onion

2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 jalapeoo, seeded and finely chopped

1 teaspoon agave nectar

Olive oil, for spraying or brushing the pan

8 burger buns


Preheat the oven to 200C (400F) .

Prepare the burgers:
In a medium bowl, use a small potato masher (or a strong fork) to mash the black beans and black-eyed peas. They should be good and mushy but not totally pureed, with a few beans still identifiable in the mix.

Add thecapsicum, spring onions, coriander, curry powder, salt, stock, and lime juice and mix well. Mix in the panko until it all holds together. Refrigerate for 10 minutes or so, or until the salsa is ready.

Prepare the salsa:
Simply mix everything together in a bowl!

Cook the burgers:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray or brush with oil. Form the burger mixture into 8 patties that are about 2.5cm thick. Spray or brush with a little more oil and bake for 15 minutes. Flip the burgers and bake for 12 to 15 more minutes, until nicely browned.

Stuff each burger into a bun and top with salsa. Serve away!

Carrot cake pancakes

Makes 6 pancakes
Total cooking time: 30 mins

When you want carrot cake but it's way too early in the day to eat cake and retain your dignity—Carrot Cake Pancakes to the rescue! These are moist and homey with hints of spice, just like their cakey inspiration. You can also add pecans or walnuts (/1 2 cup or so), if that's your thing.

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (linseed)

1 cup almond milk (or your favorite non–dairy milk)

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup pure maple syrup, plus more for serving

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups all–purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup peeled and grated carrot

In a small bowl, using a fork, beat the ground linseed together with the milk for about a minute. Add the vinegar, water, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla. Mix well.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon just until combined. Fold in the grated carrot. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes or so.

Preheat a large nonstick pan or griddle over medium heat. Lightly coat the pan with oil. Add the batter in scant 1/3-cup scoops. Cook for about 4 minutes (or until the tops look mostly cooked), then flip and cook until lightly browned, 4 more minutes.

Stack on a plate covered with aluminum foil until ready to eat. Serve with maple syrup.


Smoky Incan stew

Serves 6 to 8
Total cooking time 45 mins

If you put quinoa in something it automatically becomes Incan. Did denizens of Mesoamerica sit around eating stew day and night? Probably not, but I really needed to shorten the name, because Quinoa, Black Bean & Chipotle Stew with Sweet Potatoes & Corn would spill off the page! This stew gets its smokiness from chipotles. Quinoa and black beans make it hearty and filling, and sweet potatoes add a naturally sweet touch. If you can, use fresh corn instead of frozen because it's really worth it here. Since it's added at the end, you get a fresh, snappy bite from each kernel.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1/3 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup chopped chipotles in adobo sauce, seeded

3/4 cup quinoa (red quinoa looks prettiest)

4 cups vegetable stock

Freshly ground black pepper

650-700g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5-2cm chunks

1 1/2 cups corn kernels, preferably fresh (frozen OK)

1 can whole tomatoes, drained and juice reserved, tomatoes crushed into pieces

1 1/2 cups black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh coriander, chopped

Preheat a large pot over medium heat and add the oil. Saute the onion in the oil with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chipotles, quinoa, broth, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Let boil for 7 minutes, until the quinoa is almost ready.

Lower the heat to a simmer and add the sweet potatoes. Cover the pot and simmer for about 12 minutes. The sweet potatoes should be tender and the quinoa fully cooked. Add the corn, tomatoes, black beans, and cilantro and simmer for about 7 minutes, just until everything is heated through. It tastes best if you let it sit for a few minutes before serving, allowing the flavors to marry. You may need to add some of the reserved tomato juice to thin it out to your liking.

Serve hot.

NOTES: The recipe calls for a can of whole tomatoes, but only the tomatoes are used at first. The juice in the can may be used to thicken the stew, or maybe you want to make a Bloody Mary or something?

One more thing: Touching hot peppers can really burn you, so handle them briefly and carefully, and wash your hands with soapy water immediately after. You can even wear rubber gloves if you want to be extra careful.

This is an edited extract from Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, published by Hachette Australia, RRP $45.00