Isa Chandra Moskowitz Dishes on Her Favorite Vegan Recipes and Staples
Perhaps no dessert is as rich and decadent as cheesecake, no breakfast as satisfying as a burrito bowl, and no cake as simultaneously rich, moist, and light as a Bundt. And I'm here to say you can have them and eat them, too—without using butter, cheese, or eggs.
When I started to phase eggs and dairy out of my diet 25 years ago, I wasn't about to give up my favorite breakfasts and desserts, especially not around the holidays. So the recipes I concocted and am sharing here have been tested on generations of butter-on-everything, cream-cheese-schmear-loving friends and family.
No one will think (unless you tell them) that these recipes are vegan. They'll just know they're delicious. So stop clutching that cream cheese package like your life depended on it. And don't worry: This is going to be good—and rich!
Silken Tofu + Coconut Oil + Cashews + Banana = Vegan Cheesecake Base
Try this recipe: Chai Spice Cheesecake
Silken tofu is the magical eggy ingredient in many good vegan cheesecakes, and it also provides a smooth, custardy texture. But tofu is very low in fat, so if there's going to be decadence, we have to create a fat profile similar to that of cream cheese. Enter coconut oil and cashews. The coconut oil melts in your mouth when you take a bite and also helps the cake to set when chilled. The cashews give a dairy-like richness and help the cake to brown and thicken.
And the top-secret mystery ingredient? Ripe (but not overripe) banana! You can't taste it exactly, but it provides a flavor boost as well as a little more body.
Applesauce + Coconut Oil + Flax Seeds = Vegan Butter & Egg Whites
Try this recipe: Orange-Cranberry Bundt Cake
Bundt cake never fails to impress. And the best part? The pan does most of the fancy work. This cake is rich and buttery for a few reasons: A mixture of applesauce and coconut oil creates a light, moist crumb. Ground flax seeds, moistened in the batter, work like egg whites to bind without being too heavy. A touch of cornstarch gives the edges a golden brown crispness. The additional coconut oil in the glaze poured over the top is, well, the icing on the cake!
Tip: Drizzle like a Pro
This works best if both the icing and the cake are cool. To catch drips and minimize cleanup, set your cake on a cooling rack over a piece of wax paper, newspaper, or the sink.
Extra-Firm Tofu + Turmeric = Vegan Scrambled Eggs
Try this recipe: Ultimate Tofu Breakfast Burrito Bowls
If eggs are your morning go-to, and you're wondering what to make besides toast for the vegan friends and relatives who show up at your holiday brunch, extra-firm tofu has your back. It scrambles up like eggs and is nearly as versatile. The version here is very simple, using only dried spices and a little fresh lemon juice for color and flavor. Once you have the scrambled part down, you can easily jazz it up with mix-ins and more.
I'm serving it here as a burrito bowl, but you can even set out toppings and let your guests assemble their own. PS: This recipe doubles (or quadruples) beautifully if you're feeding a crowd.
Tip: Start with Big Pieces
The trick when scrambling tofu is keeping it somewhat intact—breaking it into big, irregular chunks, rather than crumbling it completely.
That way, it browns on the outside but remains fluffy and egg-like inside.
Vegan Pantry Staples
1. Flax Seeds
When ground in a blender or spice grinder and mixed into liquid, flax seeds create a gel that's similar to egg whites. Types include brown (best when baking with chocolate or something dark, because they leave little flecks behind), golden (less visible in the final product), and ground (already pulverized, so you just add to your liquid and go). Ground golden flax seeds are my go-to for vegan baking. Look for them in the baking aisle or health food section, and store them in the fridge or freezer to keep them fresh longer.
2. Tofu & Silken Tofu
Regular tofu, available in firm and extra-firm textures, is rougher around the edges and drier. It has a heartier, chewier texture than silken tofu. Look for it in refrigerated, water-packed packages near the produce.
Silken tofu has a smooth, custard-like quality and much higher moisture content than regular tofu. Though available in a range of soft to extra-firm textures, silken tofus all have that inner silkiness, one reason they work so well in vegan cheesecake. Look for silken varieties (such as Mori-Nu) in vacuum-sealed, shelf-stable packages, sometimes near unrefrigerated nondairy milks or in the Asian aisle.
We asked our friends on Facebook: About 1 in 5 said they eat vegan and/or cook for vegans, at least some of the time.
In vegan cooking circles, Isa Chandra Moskowitz is kind of a big deal. She founded the radically delicious vegan cooking site The Post Punk Kitchen (theppk.com). She operates Modern Love vegan restaurants in Omaha, Nebraska, and Brooklyn, New York. And she has penned 10 vegan cookbooks, including her latest, The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook. On Allrecipes, she's IsaChandra.
- Check out our collection of Vegan Recipes.
- 12 Decadent Vegan Desserts Even Non-Vegans Will Love
This article originally appeared in the December/January 2017 issue of Allrecipes Magazine.