I am crazy about all things hot and spicy. While many people only pull out fiery tongue tinglers for their weekly taco Tuesday, you’ll find me toting these blistering condiments to the table on a day-to-day basis, from breakfast through dinner. The tofu scramble is better with a dash of hot sauce. The Thai noodle stir-fry is sassier with sriracha. Gyoza are best dipped in hot Chinese mustard. Sandwiches have kick with sliced jalapeno peppers or served with a side of hot pickled asparagus, and of course, saag aloo is divine with the request, “I’d like it hot, please.” I think the only meal that isn’t improved upon when served with something scorching is dessert, but I’m willing to be convinced otherwise.
That’s why when I saw that this week’s Vegan MoFo-hosted Iron Chef Challenge involved making a recipe using the ingredient breadcrumbs, I knew I needed to bust out a vegan version of an old pregan classic – jalapeno poppers. Even before I went vegan, it had probably been years since I’d indulged in poppers, but the memory was clear. There’s the crisp breading with a creamy inside followed by a hit of heat and bite from the pepper. It’s no wonder that they’re loved throughout diners, sports bars, and anywhere icy cold Mexican beer with lime is served. Clearly the only thing left to do was to make them vegan-friendly.
A creamy and salty cashew cheese takes the place of the standard cream cheese, followed by a breading of flour and breadcrumbs, and then baked in the oven. It surprised me how much hotter these fresh poppers are than the frozen ones of yore. They have a crisp lightness about them and a real no-nonsense sensibility. They would be an excellent addition to a party appetizer platter or to serve alongside a mild and creamy potato soup.