vegan cookbook

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Isa Does It: Vegan Cookbook Review

Published January 22, 2014 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

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My copy of Isa Does it came right in the middle of our last move in mid-October, so it got flipped through and filed away for a good long time before I actually took it for a test drive in my kitchen last week.

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I had originally pre-ordered a kindle edition, but then I was on the PPK one day, and saw they were having a promotion for these cute little reusable bags with proof of pre-order. So I went on amazon, to screen shot my purchase, but it sort of looked like the kindle edition wasn’t happening. Not only that, after hearing Isa talk about how nice the hardcover was going to be, I was having second thoughts. (Coming from the girl who owned Appetite for Reduction in BOTH editions, this shouldn’t be a surprise though.) So I cancelled my kindle order and put in for the hardcover. Looks like that’s the only thing currently available on amazon anyway, but I’m so glad I did! It is a really nice big book with great pictures, that does a great job of staying open to the recipe you’re cooking from. (The ultimate cookbook feat!)

And I’ll just tell you right upfront. This book is GREAT. Easy, fast, cheap. She’s totally got the amazing taste on a weekday timeline thing down. No crazy hard to find ingredients. It’s really made me want to cook at home all the time again. Something that’s been really lost for me for the last 2 years, ie. ever since I moved out of my giant kitchen.

Here’s what I’ve tried so far…

Dragon Noodle Salad and Sesame Tofu

Dragon Noodle Salad and Sesame Tofu

This was awesome. I traded grated carrots for sliced cucumbers (Thomas doesn’t like cucumbers, but loves pickles!) and skipped the sesame seed garnish. I chopped some cilantro right into the kale I used for the greens. The Sesame Tofu is broiled with some tamari & sesame oil. Easy peasy, and super delicious.

Did my prep in the food processor to make this super fast.

Did my prep in the food processor to make this super fast.

Instead of dredging, I let it marinate for an hour

Instead of dredging, I let it marinate for an hour

and broiled it in the same pan.

and broiled it in the same pan.

Sunflower Mac

Sunflower Mac

Next up was the Sunflower Mac. A lot of the recipes in this book call for soaked cashews (which Thomas may or may not be sensitive too, the jury’s still out), but Isa gives you the option to use soaked sunflower seeds instead. This particular recipe is made with just that, in honor of Ms. Jess Scone of Get Sconed(/the PPK/VidaVeganCon), who is allergic to tree nuts. Now I already knew from the past that Isa tends to give you extra sauce (and she mentions it in this recipe) so I used 12 ounces of pasta instead of 8, and threw half a bunch of kale in with the pasta for the last 2 minutes. Still PLENTY of sauce to go around. I also added an extra 1/2 cup of nooch (nutritional yeast) and used smoky sweet paprika all over it instead of just sweet, because YUM.

Kale Salad with Butternut Squash & Lentils pg. 77

Kale Salad with Butternut Squash & Lentils pg. 77

I have no idea what size my butternut squash was, but it was of a small to medium size and I chopped it up and roasted all of it for this recipe. I also used one bunch of kale (called for 8 ounces/cups), and extra garlic and ginger in the sauce. This came out GREAT.

Got the lentils and greens nicely tossed in there

Got the lentils and greens nicely tossed in there

and then added the lovely roasted squash after it cooled slightly.

and then added the lovely roasted squash after it cooled slightly.

Jerk Sloppy Joes with Coconut Creamed Spinach pg. 94

Jerk Sloppy Joes with Coconut Creamed Spinach pg. 94

Next up was the Jerk Sloppy Joes. The other alleged culprit in Thomas’ mystery allergy is now gluten, so we weren’t able to find any gluten free AND vegan buns, so we made this two ways. With tiny gluten free bread, and also as a bowl with brown rice. The recipe calls for gluten filled seitan, but offers up 2 gluten free suggestions: 2 c. of lentils or 1 package of crumbled tofu. We took the road less traveled by… I used the soy curls I had picked up two weeks ago at Food Fight! in Portland.

I put 2 cups of soy curls in warm water for 10 minutes to rehydrate.

I put 2 cups of soy curls in warm water for 10 minutes to rehydrate.

Then chopped it up as called for in the recipe.

Then chopped it up as called for in the recipe.

It worked beautifully!

It worked beautifully!

And here it was as a bowl!

And here it was as a bowl!

Pureed Split Pea & Rutabaga Soup pg. 31

Pureed Split Pea & Rutabaga Soup pg. 31

And for last, here’s the split pea and rutabaga soup. I had never had rutabaga before, so I was curious about this one. It also called for star anise, but I totally forgot to put them in 15 minutes after the boil, and threw them in at the end, so the taste wasn’t as pronounced. I had to blend the soup in two batches in the Vitamix, and I left just a teensy bit unblended which gave it a nice surprise pea here and there, which I didn’t mind. This was really good, comforting, and creamy. The leftovers were yum, and had more of an anise flavor too.

Final Impression:

YAY! A new Isa book that is everything I needed it to be! I can’t believe that I can get food that tastes this good, this easily on a weeknight. Thanks for breathing life back into my kitchen, Isa. Oh, and for those of you who care, all of the above dishes were made GLUTEN FREE.

Because once wasn't enough for you to look at this adorable picture of Isa and I at Vida Vegan Con II.

Because once wasn’t enough for you to look at this adorable picture of Isa and I at Vida Vegan Con II.

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Angelica Home Kitchen’s Three Bean Chili w/ Seitan

Published September 18, 2011 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

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Next on my list of things to try from the Angelica Kitchen cookbook was the Three Bean Chili w/Seitan, pg. 98. Black beans, kidney beans, green lentils and seitan give the chili its variety of flavors and protein punch. Dried ancho pepper, chipotle peppers (I put in 3 instead of just two, and left the seeds in for extra heat) and sun-dried tomatoes make up the base of the sauce without any chili powder at all. At the restaurant, they serve it with a huge piece of the Southern-Style Cornbread, pg. 158, so I made sure to cook a batch in a skillet while it simmered away. I ended up using all of the cooking water from the beans for the chili and it was still pretty thick, so I simmered it covered for almost all of the time. I thought it could use a little sweetness, and added about a teaspoon of tomato paste, but I could have used more. Once served, the sweetness of the cornbread provided a nice contrast.

3 kinds of legumes, ready to boil & soak

sun-dried tomatoes & chiles getting hydrated

I used about 1/4 - 1/3 of this double batch of seitan i made a couple of days ahead

ground to the perfect consistency

simmer begin

cornbread makes everything better!

all. together. now!

Vegan Fire & Spice’s Easter Pie

Published September 15, 2011 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

Here’s another cookbook that I’ve had for a long time, and hadn’t really tried yet, Vegan Fire & Spice by Robin Robertson. I made the falafel last week and it was pretty tasty (though I ended up baking them instead of pan frying, they held better that way). So I picked out two more recipes to test, and this was the first of those. So far I really like the book. The recipes have a lot of flavor without being really fussy. This may sound like it was complicated, with rolling out scratch dough and everything but really, it wasn’t. You put all the dough ingredients in the food processor, knead slightly and roll out. The filling is just everything else combined in a bowl. You don’t need even need to chop or cut anything! Though I did cut the sausages into thirds before throwing them in the food processor to “crumble” them the easy way.

My adjustments: I used 1 package of Tofurky for the pound of vegan sausage, and 2 packages of firm tofu (lightly squeezed with my hands) for the 2 pounds of tofu. I was a little worried since the recipe called for a 10″ pie plate (though my standard one said 9.5″) but had no problem getting everything to fit. I used white whole wheat flour for the crust, and ended up using almost 2/3 c. of cold water to get it to a dough consistency. (The recipe calls for unbleached all-purpose, and has you start with a 1/4 c. of water.) Also, I could have sworn that I had fennel seeds, but it turned out to be anise seeds, so I used them instead. oh! I also added a little more salt and 1/4 c. of nutritional yeast after mixing and tasting. A little gloss of almond milk/agave over the top would have been a nice touch, but I just thought of it! ; ) To round it out, I served it with a side of lightly steamed kale.

Results: Yum! Thomas ate 3 servings (pieces). 3!! Hah! ; ) Definitely a keeper.

The Angelica Home Kitchen Cookbook

Published September 13, 2011 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

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One thing I really miss about living in New York is all of the wonderful vegan dining. I really got hooked on a few places, and Angelica Kitchen was definitely one of my favorites. When I realized they had a cookbook a while back, I was thrilled, and ordered it. This cookbook has all the goods, the cornbreads, the how to for making dragon bowls and their signature dishes, all of it! My favorite sandwich is hands down, the Sam or I sandwich. It’s made up of several recipes in the book, including the marinated tofu recipe used here to make this hybrid of the  Tofu Sandwich with Roasted Vegetables & the Sam or I, pg. 165.

I used sprouted grain bread and:

1 recipe for Baked Tofu with Lemon-Rosemary Marinade pg. 105
I subbed fresh lime juice for lemon and used extra-firm pre-pressed sprouted tofu instead of firm. You couldn’t tell, it was just awesome tasting tofu.

1 recipe for Oven-Roasted Onions and carrots pg. 168
I used 3 medium onions and a bunch of small carrots. I didn’t make as much as the recipe called for, but it was still way more than enough for the sandwiches!

1 recipe for Soba Sensation Sauce pg. 209
This recipe yielded 3 cups, so I halved it and made it in the small bowl of my food processor. SO GOOD! We only used half of this for the sandwiches, but it’s so good, we’ll definitely use it up. (Especially on steamed greens!) It lasts a week in the fridge and pretty much made the sandwich. I subbed Bragg’s for tamari and extra virgin olive for sesame oil.

I thought the sandwich needed some greens, so I steamed a couple of large kale leaves, torn into pieces and added it in the mix. It was the perfect addition!

Glorious! 😀

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