New Cookbook: ‘Isa Does It’

You guys. It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here. Without boring you with too many details, work has been kicking my butt (in a good way) and my yoga teaching has been going well, too. Oh, and we got a new cat. By accident. We found this little guy hiding under the hood of our car while it was pouring rain, hence his name, “Honda.” Having a kitten has been quite an adjustment, especially with two older cats. Three cats are my limit. No, really.

Honda

But as far as food, we’ve been cooking up lots of great vegan meals lately. Isa Chandra Moskowitz of “Veganomicon” fame, and several other awesome cookbooks, has just come out with a new cookbook, “Isa Does It,” as well as a series of videos that showcase a few of the recipes from the book. So far, we’ve made the Nirvana Enchilada Casserole, Meat Beany Chili and Corn Muffins, and the New England Glam Chowder. All have been amazing and super, super easy to make, which seems to be the theme of the new cookbook.

IsaDoesIt

As much as I love “Veganomicon,” some of the recipes require lots of ingredients and lots of time. In “Isa Does It,” Isa focuses on simple recipes that pack a lot of flavor, which is exactly what we’ve been looking for lately. Since starting my job over the summer, I’ll admit to ordering takeout way more than we should. For that reason, it’s been nice to get back into the kitchen to make some new dishes. This week, in fact, we plan on making a curry peanut kale bowl and a thai chili recipe from the book. I’ll keep you posted on how they turn out.

I hope you all are well!!

New Cookbooks: The Inspired Vegan, Chloe’s Kitchen, Quick-Fix Vegan

As an early birthday present to myself, I went ahead and picked up three new cookbooks that I’ve been wanting to add to my collection:

The Inspired Vegan: Seasonal Ingredients, Creative Recipes, Mouthwatering Menus
By: Bryant Terry

I had the chance to see Bryant Terry speak earlier this year and to sample a few recipes from his cookbooks. I have his first cookbook, “Vegan Soul Kitchen,” which I’ve only cooked from a few times, but everything has been wonderful. He’s a wonderful speaker and truly is inspiring, as his cookbook title says.

Chloe’s Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way
By: Chloe Coscarelli

I’ll be honest, the professionally posed photos of her scattered throughout the cookbook are a bit much, but what can I say? The actual food shots look incredible and I’ve heard good things about the recipes, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Quick-Fix Vegan: Healthy, Homestyle Meals in 30 Minutes or Less
By: Robin Robertson

My husband picked out this book. It’s gotten really good reviews and I’m always looking for a way to take shortcuts when I cook during the week.

I also picked up another copy of “Vegan Yum Yum” because I gave my copy to a friend who is interested in incorporating vegan meals into her family’s diet. It’s still one of my favorites.

I haven’t received the cookbooks yet, but I hope to have some reviews and recipes from each book posted soon.

New Cookbook: Vegan Soul Kitchen

I had read great reviews of “Vegan Soul Kitchen” and even tried a recipe from the book — Cumin-Cayenne Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions — last Thanksgiving after reading about it in Vegetarian Times. After hearing that the book’s author, Bryant Terry, was paying a visit to my alma mater, the University of Louisville, we decided to pick up a copy to bring to the event.

While I wish that he could have spoken longer, his hour-long talk was very informative and eye-opening. You could tell that he is a genuinely nice person and obviously very passionate about food justice and about using urban farming to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to what he calls “food deserts.” These are typically poorer neighborhoods that lack any kind of access to fresh produce and therefore rely on packaged and highly processed foods. I highly recommend you check out his web series, “Urban Organic,” in which he discusses these issues in more detail.

Anyway, back to the food. We had a chance to sample a couple of his dishes at the event, including his Citrus Collards with Raisins and Blackened Tofu with Coconut Rice. Both were incredible. I made the Citrus Collards recipe at home and it turned out really well. I also tried to make the Black-Eyed Pea Fritters and, well, I definitely need some practice with those (as well as a proper deep-fryer). The flavor was excellent, but they kept falling apart on me. I’m determined to get them right, though.

I love that he includes a lot of drink recipes in the cookbook. My husband whipped up a batch of the Sweet, Sour, and Spicy Blackberry Limeade and it was incredible! So refreshing and the cayenne added a nice kick.

Finally, I also love that he adds a soundtrack for each recipe. Music and cooking go hand-in-hand for me, so it’s nice to explore new music and new recipes together.

He does have a new cookbook out, “The Inspired Vegan,” that I hope to add to my collection soon.

Have you made any recipes from “Vegan Soul Kitchen”? Any you’d like to recommend?

New Cookbook: Asian Tofu Book

Ok, so I don’t own this cookbook … yet. And I’m not even sure if any of the recipes are vegan, or vegetarian for that matter. Still, the pictures from the book on Bon Appétit’s website look amazing, especially the Crisp Grilled Tofu Pockets. Plus, I’m excited at the idea of learning new tofu techniques.

We eat tofu all the time, but it wasn’t always that way. As a vegetarian, I would eat it in Asian dishes, but I never prepared it at home. When I first became vegan, I have to admit, I was quite intimidated by the thought of preparing it and the texture of raw tofu weirded me out. Now, I can’t get enough of the stuff.

I mostly cook with extra firm tofu unless a recipe calls for something else. And my main “technique,” if you will, is to cut it into cubes to fry in a wok. I’ve also made recipes before that call for tossing it in cornstarch before frying to add a nice crunch. I’ve also made blackened tofu by rolling it in spices and baking. My friend, Lisa, has a great post on dry frying tofu, which adds a great texture.

Have any of you out there tried this cookbook? If so, what are your thoughts? Also, what are your tried-and-true techniques for preparing tofu?

Weekend Tofu and Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole

If you’re looking for a good, stick-to-your-ribs kind of breakfast, this dish is for you. It’s the first recipe I’ve made from the newest cookbook in my collection, “The Vegan Slow Cooker,” and it was delicious. Hash browns are layered in the bottom of the crockpot, vegan cheddar (I used Daiya) was layered on top of that, and then a mixture of silken tofu and spices is added to the top. Paprika and freshly ground pepper top it off before it cooks for two hours in your slow cooker. The tofu mixture firms up nicely to the consistency of scrambled eggs.

I wasn’t sure how flavorful it would be, but the final result packs a ton of it. Still, while the recipe is great on its own, the next time I make it, I’m going to add onions and green peppers to bulk it up and add extra texture and flavor. We added a few drops of hot sauce to give it a kick.

Next up? Hungarian Mushroom Soup. Can’t wait.

New Cookbook: The Vegan Slow Cooker

Some men buy their wives/girlfriends/boyfriends flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s Day. My husband bought me this cookbook. That may seem weird to some, but it was the perfect gift for me. He knows me so well.

Like so many other newlyweds, I added a crockpot to my wedding registry and the only use it’s gotten in the last six years has been for keeping mulled cider warm during the holidays. But my awesome co-workers and I were just chatting the other day about how we need to use our crockpots more. That’s why I was so excited to get this cookbook.

And I’m even putting it to the test as I type this. I’m making the Weekend Tofu and Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole. Hashbrowns and vegan cheddar are layered on the bottom of the crockpot and an “egg-like” mixture that consists of tofu and spices is poured over the top to cook for two hours. It looks incredible. Expect pictures and a review soon.

Best-Ever Tofu ‘Egg’ Salad with Sunny Seeds

If you haven’t had it already, I’m not sure if the above picture will look all that appetizing to you. After all, even traditional egg salad isn’t all that attractive. But the Best-Ever Tofu “Egg” Salad with Sunny Seeds recipe from “Big Vegan” is, by far, the best mock egg salad I’ve ever had. I’ve not made that many recipes from the cookbook, but this recipe alone makes the book worth the price. (Oddly, I found the recipe on Google Books.) It’s a delicious and addictive mix of different flavors and textures, from the creamy parsley-laced base, to the chewy bits of tofu and crunchy carrots, celery and sunflower seeds. The only change I made was to add a pinch of turmeric to give it a golden color; without, the chopped parsley gives it a green hue. I also added a pinch of curry powder because I happen to like it in my “egg” salad.

Though there are three different parts to the recipe, it comes together relatively fast. I serve mine on slices of whole wheat bread with a little spring mix, or sometimes I just eat it with a spoon. It’s that good.

Now if I could just find a veganized pimento cheese recipe …

Enjoy!

Cosmos Apple Pie from ‘Vegan Pie In The Sky’

It was a cold, rainy day yesterday (which explains the poorly lit picture above) and the perfect day to make the Cosmos Apple Pie from “Vegan Pie In The Sky.” This was my very first experience with making a pie. I’ve always been intimated by the idea of rolling out the crust (especially since I have zero counter space), but this was a lot easier than I had expected.

I opted to use the Olive Oil Double Crust recipe. And while I think I could use a little more practice, it still came out really buttery and flaky, almost like a strudel crust. It wasn’t a super-dense crust, which I actually liked. (I’m more of a “team cake” person than a “team pie” person.)

Anyway, if you’re new to pie making or looking for a quick and delicious recipe for a good, old-fashioned apple pie, I highly recommend it!

Vegan Doughnuts and Thanksgiving Plans

So, who travels across the country to San Francisco and comes home with a doughnut pan as a souvenir? Why, I do, of course.

I had to go to San Francisco for work last week and stayed an extra couple of days for fun. My friends and I ventured over to the Ferry Building, which has tons of gourmet food and wine shops, including a  Sur la Table.

My husband and I have been wanting a doughnut pan so that we could try out the vegan doughnuts featured in “Vegan Yum Yum.” For some reason, our Bed Bath & Beyond doesn’t carry doughnut pans, so I couldn’t resist when I came across one in Sur la Table. The pan I purchased is for full-size doughnuts and her recipe is for mini doughnuts, but it wasn’t an issue.

I didn’t have any chocolate chips to melt, so we stuck with basic powdered-sugar doughnuts. They were so easy to make; I had fresh doughnuts in about 20 minutes. And it only took about 5 minutes to devour them all.

On another note, I cannot believe that Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Last year, my husband and I put together our very first 100-percent vegan Thanksgiving meal. We stuck with the basics and I was so pleased with the results.

This year, we’ve decided to step it up a few notches and try a spread that was featured in the November/December 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times. The recipes come from the book, “Vegan Soul Kitchen” by Bryant Terry, which I don’t have in my collection, but I’m planning on purchasing soon.

I’ve been wanting to make this meal for a long time, so I’m really excited to give it a shot. The menu includes:

Butternut Squash-Bartlett Pear Soup
Citrus Collards with Raisins
Smothered Seitan Medallions in Mixed Mushroom Gravy
Carrot-Cranberry-Walnut Salad
Cumin-Cayenne Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions

The only thing I’m changing is the dessert. The spread in the magazine features a delicious-looking Chocolate-Pecan Pudding Pie, but I’m going to switch it out for the Pumpkin Cheesecake With Pecan Crunch Topping in the new “Vegan Pie In The Sky” from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

If all turns out well, I hope to have lots of pictures (hopefully better than the blurry shot I took last year) and lots of comments about the food.

I hope everyone is well!

Vegan Food Happenings

When you’re on a tight budget, it’s hard to break out of your food comfort zone. That’s definitely been the case for us lately. Our weekly meals have been a rotation of stir-fry, pasta dishes, soups and basic sandwiches. And not that that’s a bad thing; it just doesn’t make for an interesting blog. But every now and then we make something kind of new (I’ve made them one other time), as is the case with these banana biscuits (with veggie sausage and blackberry jam — not the prettiest picture, but delicious) from “Vegan Diner.” And I say “we” because my husband has become quite the baker lately. He’s been knocking out cookies, muffins, cupcakes and quick breads like it’s nobody’s business. I came home on Friday to find a fresh batch of pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes from “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.” They were so delicious that we ate them (with a little help from my parents) before I had the chance to take pictures.

We did manage to pick up Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s and Terry Hope Romero’s latest dessert cookbook, “Vegan Pie in the Sky.”

According to Amazon, the book isn’t due out until October 25th, but we found it at our local bookstore. We’re planning on making an apple pie today, so hopefully I’ll have something a little more exciting to post here very soon.

I hope everyone is well!!