End of 2013~And it’s a wrap! (or maybe a bowl)

Lots to say because I kept putting off making a blog post–for too long I’d say!

Veg Cookbook Club-It’s been a great year to participate, again. I cooked at least one recipe from these 2013 books (remember, you don’t have to buy them all–that would be a fortune and take up a whole lot of space!)…I cooked from Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr and Chad Sarno, How it All Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer , Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Meatless from the kitchens of Martha Stewart, and Isa Does It, also by Isa Chandra. Some I was able to get from the library, and a few I ordered after using the library copy. Britt and the other members usually help you find the recipes that are online in the authors’ blogs and social media, which is nice if you can’t get the book or aren’t sure about buying it without seeing it. Here are my favorites that I have gone back to…

  • Sautéed Chard from Crazy Sexy Kitchen. Everyone I have cooked it for is a fan. Now I think that’s pretty good for non-vegetarians and non-vegans. Ha! They’re eating nutritional yeast in this recipe and loving it.

sauteed chard from Crazy Sexy Kitchen

  • Chickpea Nibbles from How it all Vegan, an easy but so tasty roasted chickpea recipe (although my oven required much less cooking time than hers)…and I know I will get back to the applesauce muffins and some of the other desserts because they’re easy and very good.

chickpea nibbles from How it all Vegan

  • Basic Scrambled Tofu in Vegan Brunch. I’ve yet to try the variations because the basic version is flavorful and filling. Vegan Brunch is very “steady” in its successful recipes. I also liked the pumpkin French toast, pancakes, roasted potatoes, home fries etc. I know I’ll get back to the scone recipe too, which I just tried for the first time this month as VegCookBook Club is cooking from all the 2013 books.
  • My recipe of the year goes to: Pad Thai from Isa Does It. Pad Thai has been a favorite food of mine since I was in my early 20’s. But I hadn’t had any in the 4 years I had been vegetarian. The traditional recipe has fish sauce. Love, love this, and the bonus is that Isa taught me how to make amazing tofu in a cast iron skillet, after all my tofu tribulations…I’ve now made 12 items from this book and feel like I’m just getting started. Love it!

pad thai from Isa Does It

As a follow-up, I wanted to show you my Tofurky Roast from Thanksgiving. We really liked it. I ended up fixing it just for my immediate family. I would certainly have to have gravy, and my usual tons of cranberry sauce. My first attempt at the silky chickpea gravy from Appetite for Reduction (another Isa Chandra Moskowitz book) was delicious. I’ll use that recipe again and again in the future. I cooked the roast exactly as they suggested, with veggies and basting with a simple baste. The “line” on the roast in the picture is from cutting the casing around the roast open. The second picture was later in the day when it was dark, so it’s not the best.

Tofurky roast with veggies

tofurky roast with silky chickpea gravy from Vegan with a Vengeance

Finally, here are my time saving techniques/props/devices I really put into play this year for more veg cooking:

my counter

I agonized over spending on a Vitamix. I had several useless blenders over the years that could not handle anything. No regrets on buying this. I got the basic 5200 at Costco at a better price than anywhere else.  It has been awesome for making creamy sauces. I’ve made many already from Isa Does It, subbing in sunflower seeds for cashews, and they all comes out beautifully. Of course it makes great smoothies (you can’t even detect a piece of kale or spinach in there), hummus, and salad dressing. Really it makes all my sauces so good!

The Zojirushi rice cooker next to the Vitamix is great for cooking oats (including steel-cut), each morning with the timer, lentils to use in recipes,  and various types of rice. It can cook any grain, but I haven’t tried much variety. Apparently it has smart technology that helps it find the perfect cooking time/moisture levels and adjusts to water temperature, etc. For me, the timer is the best part. Setting the rice on a timer eliminates a step at dinner time and the bowl is super easy to clean out. I’ve used the quick cook rice setting for white rice many times–works in about 30 minutes with no “work” as you focus on the other cooking. I love how it cooks brown rice too–short grain seems to come out better– without any effort. It is helpful to know that this is a true Japanese product and the instructions aren’t the best. I learned a lot by reading comments on Amazon and other internet sources.

The third time-saver is my jar of measuring spoons, 2 complete sets. I finally figured out that when you detach them from the ring,  you end up making less mess as you try to use the same set for wet and dry ingredients. And having two sets means less cleaning along the way. Pretty basic, right?

What were your top recipes or cookbooks of the year?

I wish you the best holiday season, and see you next year!

 

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Cooking Up a Vegan Storm

I’m really enjoying my new cookbook “Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I’ve only had it for two weeks with available time to cook and have made seven things. (OK, it’s eight now, didn’t get this post done before I had to go out of town). For me, that’s a ton. It has helped that my boys’ sports seasons ended. And my exercise routine has become a bit more neglected. I have not had any failures or food that I didn’t want the leftovers from…just filling and tasty dishes.

For me, Isa Does It is working well because it utilizes much of what I have stocked and have been using increasingly over the last few years. Examples are: veggie broth, garlic, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, lentils, rice, and familiar dried spices, but nothing too outlandish. Isa acknowledges (where did I read that?) that moving from NYC to Omaha has helped her realize some of her past recipes had ingredients that were hard to find for many folks.

Here are a few pictures (mine, not hers-just an aside, the book has gorgeous photography):

Pad Thai

Pad Thai from Isa Does It. Oh, how I’ve missed Pad Thai (typically made with fish sauce). Excellent.

olive lentil burgers

Olive-Lentil Burger from Isa Does It

lentil and quinoa stew

Lentil-Quinoa Stew from Isa Does It

curried peanut sauce

Curried Peanut Sauce-in Isa Does It. In the book, the sauce is paired with tofu and kale over rice, but I’d bet it’s good on anything! I used it as a sauce on leftover olive-lentil burgers and with bread dipped into it.

Pizza Bowl

Pizza Bowl from Isa Does It. I had to literally toss it in the bowl to eat it before I had to run out the door, so the photo suffered. Sunflower seeds substituted in for the cashews. This recipe taught me how quickly curly kale can be sautéed in a pan-one full bunch in about 5 minutes. I loved this, especially with the kalamata olives and a little crushed red pepper on top. The pizza taste does come through with the complex flavor of the creamy, kind of cheesy, and tomato and roasted red pepper flavored sauce. It’s hard to describe, really.

I’m not sure what else I can say. I’m a groveling fan of hers, if you couldn’t tell already. This book is beautiful, accessible to humbly-skilled cooks, and will be a classic. I’m learning little tricks along the way that will help on nights when I don’t have time for a full blown recipe. Gold for me.

Have you purchased this book or do you plan to? I’d love to hear what others think. You can follow along and see an outrageous amount of cooking from this book at VegCookBook Club too.

Have a terrific weekend!

**Non-paid review, obviously. She doesn’t know little old me.