View the full Taco recipe David reviewed here.
Some time around 2005 I was in the fan forum for obscure (but brilliant) American indie-pop band PAS/CAL and I got talking to a girl named Kate from Australia. We became Myspace friends, I guess really we were some sort of modern day pen pals. Over the years we would occasionally check in on each other's lives.
A couple of years ago, around the same time that I got into baking, I started to notice an array of incredible cakes populating Kate's Instagram feed. They looked good enough to have been on the Ace of Cakes TV show (see below) and for a while she considered pursuing cake decorating having even been offered an internship at an American bakery.
Before finishing her university studies I noticed her instagram feed started to change again... words like 'vegan' 'gluten free' and 'sugar free' were more common, suddenly her amazing food photos were getting hundreds of likes, and she started a blog called Kenko Kitchen. The sugar-laden cakes seemed a distant memory.
With healthy, simple but vibrant recipes, that focus on sugar-free, gluten-free and vegan diets alongside perfectly curated photos, the blog really took off. Earlier this year Kate announced that she was even releasing a book! The book has been out for a couple of months in Australia now and has already picked up some rave reviews, Marie Claire in the UK named it one of the 'Best new healthy cookbooks to watch out for in 2015'.
I was immediately drawn to a Taco recipe for two reasons; I have always wanted to make edamame guacamole and I have always wanted my own tortilla press. But as I excitedly called various stockists, I saw a photo of a traditional press and thought that making one myself would be a fun project. So on a Friday night after work I collected some scraps of wood, cut them up and put together a rough tortilla press for about $6! It works great too! Next time I visit the lumber yard I'll be picking up some nicer wood to make a better version of it.
I started with the cashew 'goat's cheese', soaking cashews overnight and then blending them with yeast flakes, salt and lemon juice before leaving the mixture, wrapped in muslin cloth, to set in the fridge.
Then I made the tortillas by adding water to masa harina and salt while mixing with my hands until the dough came together. Masa de maiz is surprisingly easy to find at supermarkets with a decent Mexican section, but if you can't find it you could simply buy pre-made corn tortillas.The dough was very different to a flour-based dough, it wasn't very sticky and quickly came together. After resting for 15 minutes I separated it into eight balls and started testing out the press.
Despite looking a little rough, it worked perfectly. The tortillas were a little small for my liking though and I ended up making the balls of dough a bit bigger than suggested. After a quick fry on each side they were done.
Then I made the bean mix: chipotle chillies, a red chilli, a red capsicum, tinned tomatoes and half a red onion went into the food processor. I was very dubious about how this would work, I didn't even de-seed the chilli and there wasn't any salt! I tasted it post-blending and honestly it was one of the best salsas I've ever tasted. Those chipotle chillies make all the difference.
I rinsed some black beans and cooked them in the salsa for about 10 minutes, then set the bean mix aside to stay warm.
Then I made the corn salsa by sauteing corn and diced green capsicum until they had caramelised. I then added them to chopped coriander, red onion, lime juice and set aside.
For the Edamame Guacamole, I was anxious about using the food processor. They don't usually play nice with avocado. Instead of just blending all the ingredients together I decided to blend the edamame beans first and then add the rest of the ingredients so I didn't over process the avocado! In hindsight I think the avocado would've been fine. I guess it's more of a binding agent and the edamame gives the texture. I tasted it and I think three garlic cloves might have been overkill for my liking. I'm just glad I had no one I intended to kiss coming over for dinner.
I pulled the 'cheese' out of the fridge and gave it a taste. This is why I am not vegan. It was a little bit cheesy, but I guess I wasn't sure what to expect from a nut cheese really. The good thing with not being vegan or having a dairy intolerance is that I could swap it out with regular cheese no problem! The same goes for most of the recipes - if you're not gluten intolerant you can substitute gluten free pasta for the real deal.
In this spirit I cheated a little on the coleslaw, I used regular mayonnaise instead of vegan mayonnaise, I just didn't need a whole jar of vegan mayo in the house! After I had combined the mayonnaise, lime juice and sliced cabbage I put together my first taco.
First the beans, then coleslaw to the side, topped with the corn salsa, guacamole, a little squeeze of lime and some coriander leaves. I was so happy to bite into the taco and discover it was certainly the best taco I have ever made. I was worried I would have to say “It was pretty good for a vegan taco” but it was great in its own right. Even after using three chillies they were still mild enough that I wanted to add some hot sauce, but they were spicy enough for the less intrepid.
The tortillas were so good: crispy and soft and just so fresh, I don't know why I had never made them fresh before, they really made a big difference! The tacos were surprisingly flavourful considering I barely used any salt. After two tacos one of my taste testers professed she couldn't eat any more because “they're so rich!”. A few minutes later she rescinded on her comment and indulged in a couple more!