See below for the giveaway for Isa Does It!
If I had to pick a vegan rockstar, it would be Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Long ago, we was rocking it out on television, but now mostly vegan chef, author and blogger. She has penned 7 vegan cookbooks and her eighth book has been eagerly anticipated. As she explains in her newest cookbook, Isa Does It, her title makes more sense once you know her first name is pronounced Ee-sa. Thus, her title is a play on Easy Does It.
As such, Isa Does It highlights mostly simple, quicker recipes (under 30 minutes!) that are foremost tasty. This is a cookbook for the beginner chef as well as those who want to reinvigorate their kitchens with new scents and textures, without breaking the bank or spending hours on top of the stove. Isa explains how she stocks her pantry, her kitchen cabinets and then details specific beginner techniques (with step-by-step photos), such as how to butcher tofu and tempeh.
With 11 recipe chapters that span the gamut from quick soups, salads, handheld, bowls, curries and stir fries, there is a lot of variety. Furthermore, not much is left untouched as Isa also includes fancier “Sunday night suppers” and breakfast/brunch ideas, too. Rest assured, complete meals are encouraged as desserts are included, too.
I admire Isa for a fabulously tantalizing blog, sharing her delicious creations. I guess it should be no surprise that some of my favourite recipes from her blog appear in the cookbook (see below). In addition, of the 150 recipes in the cookbook, the majority are brand-spanking new.
Beefy asparagus stir-fry with fresh herbs. Okra gumbo with chickpeas and kidney beans. Quinoa Caesar salad. Cucumber Ranch bowl with breaded tofu. Edamame hummus and tofu wraps. Belgian beer and seitan stew. Baked garlic-curry fries. Chickpea-Rice soup with cabbage. Coconut chana saag. Chandra Malai kofta. Goddess noodles with tempeh and broccoli. My Thai overnight scramble, breakfast scrambled chickpeas, oh please.
If you have tried Isa’s recipe before, you know the name of each dish never gives you the full picture. They are very descriptive of the ingredients, but something so simple may be more than the sum of its parts. I am eagerly waiting to pounce through this cookbook, page-by-page. Chocolate gingerbread cookies, anyone? I can already vouch for the ancho lentil tacos, tempeh orzilla, Jerk Sloppy Joes, lemon-garlic fava beans and mushrooms, chana masala (not my favourite but Rob liked it well enough), cucumber avocado tea sandwiches, chai spiced snickerdoodles, and now her delicious Moroccan harira with eggplant and chickpeas.
Harira is a Moroccan soup/stew that I have been meaning to recreate since I travelled to Morocco. Let’s just say it has been on my to-make list for many years. It wasn’t until I saw Isa’s recipe that I jumped at the chance to try it out. Harira is a very forgiving recipe. As I travelled through Morocco, nearly every restaurant had a different version of harira. Some with chickpeas, some with lentils, sometimes both beans, some with tomatoes, others with ginger, some with herbs, others not. I cannot say that I saw any with eggplant, but that is Isa’s slant.
First, I made a few tweaks to Isa’s recipe… mainly because I had no vegetable broth, so I used my impromptu nooch plus random spice blend. This time, I threw in dried parsley, lemon pepper and the 21-spice seasoning from Trader Joe’s. I also substituted spiralized zucchini for the noodles. Ingenious, if I may say so myself. Anyways, less about me, more about Isa. This soup was great. Bulky and satisfying with chickpeas and lentils in a flavourful tomato broth spiced with ginger, cinnamon, smoked paprika and saffron. Fresh mint and cilantro add a lightness, along with the finishing lemon juice. I use saffron so sparingly I am glad I finally found a great use for it! The textural foil of the noodles with the beans was perfect.
For someone new to veganism, the ingredient lists in her recipes may still seem a tad overwhelming (vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, chickpea flour, cashews, wine and fresh herbs) but these are rather commonplace in a vegan’s kitchen. Except the saffron, because well, that’s not a regular ingredient. Once you have access to fresh herbs, it is hard to return to the dried ones, so I understand the recent push for quality ingredients.
I really want to share this cookbook with you. Thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the US or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite Isa recipe. If you haven’t made anything by Isa yet, have a look through the table of contents of Isa Does It on amazon (or my list below) and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on October 31, 2013. Good luck!
PPS. If you pre-ordered your cookbook already, don’t forget to get your free Isa Does It tote bag.
PPPS. Versions of Isa’s dishes made previously, not all from Isa Does It (more recommended dishes can be found listed here):
Ancho Lentil Salad Wraps
Black Bean and Kabocha Squash Rancheros
Roasted Beet Salad with Warm Maple Mustard Dressing and Tempeh Croutons
White Bean, Quinoa and Kale Stew with Fennel
Asparagus, Nectarine and Baby Lima Bean Lettuce Wrap
Naked Oats with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Crumbled Tempeh
Tomato-Basil Zucchini Noodle Salad
Brown Sugar Cardamom Snickerdoodles
PPPPS. Isa’s recipes in Isa Does It that she has already shared on her blog, Post Punk Kitchen:
Everyday Pad Thai
Seitan & Broccoli with Pantry BBQ Sauce
Cucumber Avocado Tea Sandwiches with Dill & Mint
Roasted Potato & Fennel Soup
Chickpea-Rice Soup with Cabbage
New England Glam Chowder
Quarter Pounder Beet Burger
Olive Lentil Burgers
Jerk Sloppy Joes with Coconut Creamed Spinach
Sunflower Mac (and Cheese)
Roasted Butternut Alfredo
Ancho Lentil Tacos
Pesto Risotto with Roasted Zucchini
Chili Pumpkin Cranberry Risotto with Spicy Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Red Lentil Thai Chili
Dilly Stew with Rosemary Dumplings
Meaty Beany Chili with Corn Muffins
Okra Gumbo with Chickpeas & Kidney Beans
Lemon Garlic Fava Beans & Mushrooms
Summer Seitan Saute with Cilantro and Lime
Tamale Shepherd’s Pie
Nirvana Enchilada Casserole
Garlicky Thyme Tempeh
Puffy Pillow Pancakes
Carrot Cake Pancakes
Marbled Banana Bread
Chai Spice Snickerdoodles
Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies
Note: I was given a complimentary copy of this book to review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own. You know I would have loved this book and would have bought my own copy.
Last year, I teased you. I told you about all these delicious meals I was making but not sharing the recipes.
Russian Sauerkraut Soup (Shchi) – This was a favourite recipe and Isa has already shared the recipe here (I loved the book’s smokey version with liquid smoke, coriander seitan, sliced cabbage along with I also added some white beans)
Sesame Wow Greens, a spin on oshitashi – so simple, yet a delicious way to eat spinach. I should try it with chard and kale, too.
Luscious White Bean and Celery Root Puree – this was how I got hooked onto celeriac!
Rice Paper Rolls with Kale and Asian Pear with a Peanut Coconut Sauce – delicious in a zucchini wrap
Fastlane Cabbage Kimchi – I preferred the ginger version instead of the spicy version (did you know that kimchi normally has fish sauce or shrimp in it?)
White Bean Farro Soup with Chickpea Parmigiano – the topping is what made this dish special
All of the recipes were from Terry Hope Romero’s new book, Vegan Eats World which is available today! And those were only a few of the recipes, since I tested over 30. This is a vegan cookbook geared at international cuisine, from Colombian Coconut Lentil Rice to Moroccan Vegetable Filo Pie (Bisteeya) and (Belgian) Beer Bathed Seitan Stew with Oven Frites (the latter were two of my recipe requests!). Terry tackled fun recipes from around the globe. She uses authentic ingredients while still putting her own spin to the dish.
One of the drawbacks of this cookbook is that she uses authentic ingredients. My cupboard explosion is partially due to Terry’s influence when I bought frozen pandan, Korean pepper flakes, canned jackfruit, freekeh and annatto seeds, among others. I can credit her with discovering many new favourite ingredients, too, including star anise, celeriac and freekeh.
As a recipe tester, I received my cookbook last week. It was captivating to read through the cookbook and discover even more recipes I want to try. There were so many recipes I couldn’t test them all.
Recipes in her book range from fancy to easy weeknight meals. Some are more involved (she has recipes for Afghan Pumpkin Ravioli with Spicy Tomato Sauce and Garlic Yogurt Sauce) or incredibly easy (like Coconut [Black Eyed] Bean Curry (Lobia). The marker of a good cookbook, though, is having repeater recipes. I even photographed this one before when we made it with red lentils instead of green. Lover of all things curry, Rob has adopted this into his Repeater Recipes as a quick and simple meal both of us enjoy. We may have moved across town, from one Little Ethiopia to another, so we have easy access to injera. Terry also has a recipe for (Almost) Instant Injera, along with other dishes to make your own Ethiopian feast.
While I encourage you to pick up your own copy of Vegan Eats World, thankfully, Terry agreed to me sharing her recipe for Ethiopian Lentils in Berbere Sauce (Yemiser W’et) and Berbere Spice Blend. Enjoy!
The heart of Ethiopian cooking comes from berbere, its spicy blend of herbs and chiles, as well as niter kibbeh, their spiced butter/oil. Once you have those ingredients, you are off to the races for quick, tasty Ethiopian food.
I made a huge batch of niter kibbeh with a tub of Earth Balance spiced with savoury spices like cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, garlic, and ginger. I used the recipe from Papa Tofu but there are many recipes online as well.
In fact, when I first found the recipe for Warm Cabbage and Green Beans from the New York Times courtesy of Marcus Samuelsson, I quickly realized that the first part of the recipe was making the niter kibbeh. True to its Ethiopian roots, it uses an entire 1/2 lb of butter in the recipe but trust me, you don’t need all that fat. Trim that 1/2 cup to 1 tbsp, thank you very much. Instead of mild fassoulia, the ginger makes this a spicy and very flavourful cabbage and green beans side dish. This works really well with the mild split pea puree, for a contrast in flavour, texture and spiciness.
Typically, Ethiopian food is a combination of a lot of little dishes served overtop a sour fermented teff pancake called injera. The sauces are absorbed by the pancake as you munch away. Then you scrape up the soggy, sour greatness. Sadly, if there is one thing I know I can’t duplicate at home, it would be making a super huge injera like I had in my last post. I don’t have any skillet that would fit such a huge pancake!
That doesn’t mean I didn’t try to make my own injera, though. Living in quasi-Ethiopian town means that teff flour is easily purchased (although still quite pricy) and I was up for making my own mini injera. However, my homemade version was no comparison to the real thing. I used the Mini Injera recipe from Celebrate Vegan but they didn’t turn out so well. Dare I suggest it was a complete flop? I am not sure what went wrong but the pancakes were too holey and took way too long to cook to make it a feasible option. They still tasted nice, though, and I even tried my hand at an Ethiopian wrap with the kik alicha and cabbage (verdict: tasty but hard to photograph with all the leaky holes!). We ended becoming frustrated and threw all of the injera batter into the skillet for an injera scramble. It was suboptimal but it cooked the batter more quickly.
With this trio of recipes from this week (Ethiopian Split Pea Puree (Kik Alicha) & Fasoulia (Ethiopian Carrots and Green Beans Simmered in a Tomato Sauce)) along with the Ethiopian Split Pea and Kabocha Squash Stew with Collards, you are able to put together a veritable Ethiopian feast. Enjoy!
In my kitchen, I know exactly what goes into my food. I can control the amount of oil and veggies. I know that I can make a luscious Ethiopian split pea puree without gobs of oil, but do people at restaurants know that? At M&B Yummy, the food doesn’t taste oily but when I first investigated Ethiopian cuisine, I was aghast at the amount of oil used.
Vegetables simmered in olive oil is a traditional side dish across the Mediterranean and Middle East. I had my share while travelling in Turkey (and recreated it with beans when I returned) and it is a vegan-friendly option at Greek restaurants. I guess it was no surprise that I really enjoyed the simple carrots and green beans at M&B Yummy as well, where they called it fasoulia.
I searched for something similar, and while some recipes drip in oil, I thought it would be better to keep things light and fresh. Skip all that excess oil. Skip the long simmer that turns the veggies to mush. Keep the fresh tomatoes and lemon juice. After these small fixes, the recipe from Olive Trees and Honey was a keeper. I know it looks so simple but it tastes much more than the sum of its components.
I call this Ethiopian because that’s where I first ate the combination of green beans and carrots. The original recipe is just for green beans (fasoulia is the Arabic word for green bean). It is a welcome addition to a large plate of Ethiopian dishes but equally suited to other Mediterranean meals.
Have I hooked you onto Ethiopian food yet? If you like Indian curries, you’ll also likely really enjoy Ethiopian cuisine with its spicy, saucy stews (known as wats). Making it at home means you can vary the level of spice to your own palate. However, not all Ethiopian foods are melting from hot spices. Not everything has berbere in it.
As I said, when I tried a platter of assorted Ethiopian dishes, I was immediately enamored with the creamy split pea puree, also known as kik alicha. It was calm and comforting; soothing with its use of savoury spices. It contrasted well against the fiery hot wats and faux meats. Ethiopian food is usually very affordable, but I knew I could make a bean dish like this easily at home. I just needed a recipe.
I originally made the kik alicha from Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food but found it too savoury with its use of cinnamon, etc. Not that it was bad, it just wasn’t the dish from the restaurant that I was pining. Next, I tried the version from Olive Trees and Honey which had simpler ingredients: split peas, onion, garlic, and oil. It also called for a chile and I obliged by using one green chile. With the bountiful onions and garlic, this was flavourful, and not spicy at all with only one green chile. Mild, but not distracting. Creamy yet not oily. This was how it was meant to be. To make it even more luscious, puree the dish or partially mash.
Just when it seemed like Rob and I had finally settled into our new place, unpacked all our stuff, got rid of the mattress in the dining room, we found out we would be moving again.
While we haven’t found a new place to live yet, I am hoping to stay in the same neighbourhood, which I have grown to love. It is a lovely working class residential neighbourhood with some positive gems – a summer Farmer’s Market, a simple unassuming health store filled with bulk and organic ingredients, and oodles of ethnic grocers along Danforth. Our specific area is kind of a hodge podge of cultures: Ethiopian stores can be found next to Bengali supermarkets, but that is what I love. Before one of our Ethiopian fests, Rob went out to try to find some injera and instead came home with roti. All the injera was sold out, explaining how he ended up in Little India instead.
I have only recently discovered a love for Ethiopian food as I know it can be deathly spicy. I was converted after a glorious visit to a vegan Ethiopian resto, M&B Yummy, again quite an unassuming hole-in-wall kind of place, where you can get a huge meal for two under $30 including $2 Mill St Organic beers and $3 tofu cheesecakes from Sweets from the Earth. The vegetarian platter, served overtop a lovely sour injera pancake, includes berbere-spiced faux meat, spicy red lentil stews (or wats), as well as not as the milder collard greens, split pea puree, carrot and green bean dish and a lettuce salad. Sadly, we haven’t been able to try the chickpea scramble, butucha, as they’ve always been out.
My two favourite dishes from this platter are the split pea puree (kik alicha) and green bean and carrot dish (fasoulia). Both were the least spicy of the dishes and work well adjacent to the spicy lentil purees and faux meats. I have duplicated both recipes, and will share them eventually.
In the meantime, I have brought together most of the traditional elements of Ethiopian cuisine into one dish. Split peas. Berbere. Collard greens. Kabocha squash, too. In a one-pot meal. Boo-yah! I originally spotted this on Ainslie’s blog and my curiosity was piqued with the sweet split peas contrasting with the spicy berbere. She suggests serving this overtop kale, which was just the invitation I needed to throw collards into the stew as well. The result is a hearty stew, creamy and sweet from the split peas and squash, with a touch of bitterness from the collards and enough heat you can tolerate from the berbere. Rob and I scored a hefty sample of berbere from a nearby store and I was pleasantly surprised that it was more flavourful than spicy. It definitely helps to experiment with the blends from different stores as well as different recipes.
This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, to this month’s No Croutons Required featuring hot spices, to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Heather. For Lisa’s complete birthday menu, (since I haven’t shared my other Ethiopian favourites yet), I’d serve it with fun Moroccan Vegetable Phyllo Rolls with Balsamic Maple Sauce and finish it off with a Moroccan Orange Cinnamon Salad and Raw Mango Paradise Bars for a decadent birthday treat.
I may have lamented about the explosion of condiments, but I am positive Rob was perplexed by my fascination of his hot sauce collection. Coming from me, the Queen of Non Spicy.
Before we moved in, I kept interrogating Rob.
Do you have sweet chili sauce? Yes. Followed by, I put it on anything! It is my favourite condiment!
The next day…
Do you have sriracha? Is that the rooster sauce? Then, yes! But I think that’s too spicy for you…
Do you have sambal oelek? No! That stuff is too spicy even for me!
The next week…
Do you have harissa? What’s that?
By this time, I had my heart set on making this lentil stew with roasted carrots, harissa and mint from Love Soup. My usual go-to substitution of all things chili is my beloved Aleppo chili flakes that I bought in Turkey, more flavourful than spicy.
Then I investigated harissa, a Tunisian pepper paste, and found that it seemed more savoury than spicy with roasted red pepper combined with coriander, cumin, cinnamon and caraway. While you can purchase harissa, the bonus, of course, of making it yourself, is that you can change the recipe to your own palate. While a mixture of hot and mild chilies, like Ancho and New Mexican chilies, are suggested for harissa, I based my version on Bon Appetit‘s recipe since it focused on chili flakes, not whole Ancho chilis. In fact, while modifying the recipe, I was quite bold as I doubled the Aleppo chili flakes, as they are known to not be too spicy. I also substituted cumin for the caraway, added a dash of cinnamon and omitted the sugar. All the spices were toasted and freshly ground. Since I was a bit hesitant how I would handle it, I only made a 1/4 of the recipe the first time.
But I did not need to worry: this zingy but savoury red pepper blend is delicious. It works really well with this soup and while you could make the soup without the harissa, I think you would be missing out on its complexity.
So about the soup…. caramelized, roasted carrots and onions are combined to create a silky sweet soup with lentils. That alone would be a nice soup, but the twist comes from the lemon and mint, and of course the harissa. With my mild-mannered harissa, the soup easily handled 2 tbsp but add with caution because harissa can vary from mild to incredibly spicy! Sweet, sour and spicy… we know this is a winning combination.
And that is how I contributed to the spicy condiments in the new house.
This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s Veggie/Fruit A Month with carrots, to this month’s No Croutons Required featuring hot peppers, to E.A.T. World for Tunisia, to Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice for this week’s Magazine Mondays, to this month’s Simple and in Season and to Ricki’s new Summer Wellness Weekends.
As a Canadian, I don’t like to get confused with being an American. So, I wonder whether it is offensive to call this an African dish? I mean Africa is a big place, with a lot of variation from country to country, and here I am lumping this dish with the whole continent. I am not worried about offending anyone because this dish was so delicious that every country should be fighting to claim it as their own.
Despite recently travelling to Morocco (more about that later!), I am no expert in African cuisine. I didn’t come across any peanut stew in Morocco. A bit of research tells me peanut (or groundnut) stews are typical of sub-Saharan cuisine. I recently made an African pineapple, kale and peanut stew, and was intrigued to try peanut butter in a savoury dish again. Adapted from Vegan Planet, this is a delicious vegetable stew. Again, we have a nice mixture of sweet from the sweet potatoes and tomato, with the salty and smooth from the peanut butter, with a touch of heat from chili flakes, ginger and garlic. Cumin and cinnamon make this a savoury dish indeed. Red kidney beans add substance and I enjoyed their mouth feel (I had forgotten how much I like kidney beans – it has been too long!).
In fact, with only 2 tbsp for the entire dish, the peanut butter is not a dominant flavour. I felt like it was more to add creaminess but occasionally I would get a hit of the peanut butter. I don’t think it mixed in as well as I had thought. My advice is to add to taste, mix it well, but you don’t need much. Another nut butter could easily be substituted.
I have written about the Nutrition Action Health Letter before, which I describe as the consumer reports of healthy food. I used to borrow my mom’s old copies, but since she has stopped her subscription, I have resorted to reading the free online archives. I am so glad I did because I stumbled upon their vegetable ratings from early 2009. They ranked vegetables according to how much a serving of each vegetable contributes to our dietary reference intake of calcium, iron, potassium, folate, vitamin C and vitamin K, plus the percentage contributing towards our daily value of iron and the daily targets for lutein and other carotenoids. Certainly there isn’t a bad vegetable (mushrooms? eggplant? I still love them!) but there are superstars, too.
Their winner of the veggies, by a landslide at that, was KALE! With just a cup of cooked kale, you exceed your daily requirements for vitamin K (1300%!) and vitamin A. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese.
I still had two pounds of kale left over from the Cranberry Bean Mole with Roasted Butternut Squash, so I searched for more ways to use kale. I had bookmarked Susan’s African Pineapple Peanut Stew a long time ago, and I stumbled upon it again while flipping through Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. Unlike the mole, this was a quick and easy dish to prepare.
This is an unusual dish, not a typical stew by far, but let me assure you that this tastes great. The flavours work wonderfully together. First and foremost, this is a kale stew. I enjoyed the coarse chopped kale, as there was a nice texture to bulk up the dish. Others may prefer it shredded, like in a curry, so I’ll let you investigate. Sweet, crushed pineapple is added, and it is cooked in a slightly spicy, creamy peanut butter sauce. Be careful when you add in the peanut butter – it can do a doozy to the bottom of your frypan. You might not think this is filling, but trust me the peanut butter does the trick here.
Continuing with an African theme, I served this alongside couscous, and found that this really made the dish stand out. The little pellets of couscous paired well with the creamy kale stew. This could be served with rice or any other grain you have on hand.
Creamy Kale Soup at Vegan Yum Yum
North African Chickpea and Kale Soup at Fat Free Vegan
Fall Minestrone with Kale and Butternut Squash from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
Quinoa, White Bean and Kale Stew at Post Punk Kitchen
Creamy Millet and Kale Salad by YumUniverse
Spicy Kale and Wheat Berry Salad at Phoo-D
Kale, Chickpeas and Israeli Couscous by Cate’s World Kitchen
Spicy Chickpeas with Ginger and Kale in a Lime Yogurt Sauce at Dana Treat
Caribbean Gingered Squash, Rice and Kale at Fat Free Vegan
Pennette with Kale Ragu at Eats Well With Others
I like to follow different food blogging events as a way to meet new bloggers, discover new foods and to push my own kitchen barriers. When I first saw that the current Monthly Mingle was featuring South African cuisine, I was intrigued. Um, what IS South African cuisine? So I googled… and stumbled across a very interesting African cookbook. I learned it is also known as “rainbow cuisine” due to its blend of dishes from many origins and cultures including dishes from the indigenous people of South Africa as well as the dishes brought from immigrants from India, Afrikaner and British descent. The Cape Dutch dishes which incorporate nutmeg, allspice and hot peppers can be fused with Cape Malay dishes that includes curries, sambals and fish stews.
The following recipe for South African Spiced Butternut Squash and Roasted Banana Soup with Coconut and Lime does just that. It comes from Grant Cullingworth, the executive chef at Table Bay Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa, and was adapted from those posted here and here. It is a delicious sweet soup that balances the sweetness of the butternut squash and a roasted banana, with the creaminess of coconut milk, the spicy kick of chilies (or curried if you want the original version) with the bitter tang of lime. It was a thick soup, so don’t be shy to add extra stock. I ate some as a soup, but later also used the thicker soup base as a filling for ravioli and found it absolutely incredible as a spread over a multigrain bread.
This is my submission to this month’s Monthly Mingle featuring dishes from South Africa.