I have another great cookbook to share with you.
Quick, healthy, vegan meals. What’s not to like?
She promises simple, delicious meals in under 30 minutes. Provided you have cooked brown rice (which takes 45 minutes to cook), she’s right! Delicious vegan cuisine need not be elaborate nor time consuming.
Take this exotic-sounding vegetable bowl: Manchurian chickpea bowl.
Manchurian cuisine is a subtype of Chinese cooking that heralds from the North-East region of China. While I am not sure how authentic it is, Gobi Manchurian may be a well-known dish. A spicy tomato sauce infused with ginger and garlic typically smother deep-fried cauliflower. In this inspired dish, cauliflower (roasted, not fried, in my case) is joined by potatoes, peas and chickpeas. I was worried the chickpeas would seem out-of-place, but they were actually very good. It seems more Indo-Chinese (or Hakka-inspired) rather than Manchurian. In any case, I can whole heartedly recommend it. Delicious. Even without choice leftovers (hello leftover roasted cauliflower), this could be pulled together within a half-hour.
I have been slowly cooking my way through the cookbook and again, had the same difficult: which recipe to share. My full reviews can be seen here, but I also highly recommend the uncanningly simple “Roasted brussels sprouts and chickpeas” which reminds me of my Easy Cheezy Chickpeas and Kale. The cookbook includes many one-dish meals including soups/stews. bowls, stir-fries, pasta, sandwiches, pantry-friendly, oven-cooked meals and even quickie desserts. I appreciate that most meals are based on whole foods and not vegan substitutes (mostly. dessert section exempted). Robin does supply recipes for some of the convenience foods including a cashew-based vegan cream cheese and tofu-based vegan mayonnaise. Having these staples pre-made expedite getting dinner to the table. Of note, Robin calls for ketchup a few times (like in this recipe), although I substituted my own convenience food: mild Turkish red pepper paste. Booyah!
Recipes from More Quick Fix Vegan shared elsewhere:
Chipotle-Sweet Potato Bisque
Kale and Black-Eyed Peas With Smoky Grits
Three-Bean Pantry Chili
Sweet Potato Barbecue Bowls
Banh Mi Inspired Noodles
Banh Mi Bowls
Avocado Mousse with Raspberries
Mango Fried Rice Pudding
Peanut Butter and Banana Ice Cream
Blueberry Chocolate Trail Mix Bark
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living anywhere in the world (YAYAYA!). To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your quickest and/or easiest vegan meal. The winner will be selected at random on May 16, 2014. Good luck!
Note: I was given a copy of the cookbook from the publisher. I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.
PPS. Do you like my purple slippers in the last photo? They were so colourful I had to keep them in. Can you tell I just blindly lift my camera to take shots from overhead? Sometimes I am way off-target. ;)
After nearly 10 months in Houston, you’d think we have settled in.
I (only slightly) notice when people say “y’all”. The humidity is slowly building up past my Toronto summer thresholds. All in a regular Texan day.
And then, a few months ago, we spotted a new-to-us animal. Half-turkey, half-duck, we had no way to ask locals about it other than “Have you seen the turkey duck?”.
I have a feeling I am getting the same look from you right now. Turkey duck??
Rob snapped this photo. Tell me you do not agree:
The crazy Canadian Canucks following the ducks.
My googling suggests these are Muscovy Ducks and are rather invasive, almost pest-like. Probably similar to Canadian geese. I don’t get excited about them, either, but I am sure tourists love feeding them.
Rob and I are also starting our purging of the pantry/fridge/freezer.
Rob is better at experimenting but he ran with my crazy idea. He wanted a veggie-centric stir-fry and I helped him with the sauce.
He wanted tamarind, obviously.
And for some reason, it hit me. What better pair for sour than a sweet chili sauce for a spicy-sweet kick? YES! Rob added lemon pepper seasoning, too.
Even though this was a crazy-fun kitchen experiment, I obviously wouldn’t be telling you unless it was a crazy-good experiment. The sauce ingredients are a guesstimate of what Rob added so feel free to adjust it along with your own tastes. We always go heavy on the tamarind compared to most people. :)
Have you seen a Muscovy duck before? Do you have any exotic pests where you live?
Adult rice krispies and now adult rice pudding.
The difference is that I liked rice krispies as a kid but hated rice pudding. My brother loved it, but me, not so much.
However, spice it up with chai-infused flavours, sweeten it with apple, dried currants and a touch of maple syrup, bathe it in coconut milk and sprinkle it with pistachios along with leftover short-grain brown rice, and I am a happy camper.
This is no quick-fix rice pudding but it sure is delicious. My friend who tried it said it was the best rice pudding she had ever eaten.
This is my take on Tess Masters‘ version found in her gorgeous new cookbook The Blender Girl. Do not let the title mislead you too much. Yes, this is a cookbook where nearly every recipe uses a blender, but this does not mean only smoothies. The recipes are all gluten-free and vegan with only natural sweeteners. The recipes revolve around whole foods. Raw and cooked recipes are included. Tess has recipes for juices, smoothies, dips/spreads, soups, dressings, sauces and even desserts. She has entrees that use homemade sauces, including her penang curry and creamy mushroom stroganoff. Desserts include sugar-free no-pumpkin pie and chocolate-chile banana splits. Breakfast favourites including pancakes and crepes, with delicious toppings like ginger-apple-pear butter and instant raw raspberry jam. She even finds a way to use a blender for rice pudding.
She knows her stuff. It may dirty another container but I liked how a portion of the rice was pureed to thicken the rice pudding. It was rather ingenious.
She is a girl smitten by her high-speed blender. I can tell. I have one, too, and I find it hard to remember what my kitchen was like without it. Do you need an expensive high speed blender for this cookbook? Certainly not. However, you definitely need something with a blending capacity, may that be a regular blender, an immersion blender or a food processor. If you don’t have a blender, you could still gain inspiration from her creations. Your textures may be different but it would be fun to see what else you could make.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me what you love to make with your blender (or blending instrument). The winner will be selected at random on April 20, 2014. Good luck!
Other recipes shared from The Blender Girl:
Creamy and Crunchy Spuds (with Raw Mayonnaise)
Watermelon Gazpacho is The Bomb
Fresh Spring Rolls with Orange-Almond Sauce
Creamy of Cauliflower Soup
Incredible Edible Edamame Dip
Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff
Pineapple Salsa Smoothie
Chock-Full Chocolate Surprise Smoothie
Raw Chocolate-Orange Torte
It is the most wonderful time of the year….
Not because the spring weather in Houston is positively happiness (it is!) or it is the beginning of a cycling season (it is!)…. but it is the beginning of mango season and now we live closer to the mangoes!
Nearly every year, Rob will hunt down Alphonso mangoes. The fancy mangoes flown in from India. I am not sure whether they will be coming to Houston, but it does not matter. There are cheap and plentiful Mexican Ataulfos to be found. Last week, we picked up a whole case for $5. (We split it with a friend to keep our eating crop fresh. I know we’ll be replenishing a few times, no worries)
We tend to keep the mangoes plain and unadorned (at least I do, Rob adds it to his breakfast granola) but used some frozen mangoes for this fun twist on chana masala. It kind of a combination of my Mango BBQ Beans combined with Indian flavours. While I have used amchoor powder (raw mango powder) to make a nice chana masala, this was a fun twist since it was hot and sweet, too. The heat came from our newest infatuation: roasted hatch chiles. The flavours complemented each other nicely, especially with the tang from the tomatoes and the earthy tones from the cumin, mustard seeds and garam masala, too. Not too overly spiced.
Rob actually made a double batch of this and we shared it with friends. We told them to give an honest opinion of the dish. It was the first time we tried it, so we could handle their feedback. Like us, they loved it! And I hope you do, too.
Here’s to a prosperous mango season!
I don’t celebrate my blog’s birthday, but it hit me that I have been doing this for a long time.
Over four and half years and still going strong. More than 780 posts, mostly recipes, mostly vegan. That is just a fraction of what I have created along the way. My draft folder is overflowing. Missing ingredients, missing photos or missing directions. OK, mostly missing photos.
I tried to find something non-traditionally green to share for upcoming St Patrick’s Day. I went looking for a spinach adai/pancake I made while in Toronto, but couldn’t find any trace of it. That’s ok, I made these anew and they were very good. Kale trumps spinach?
Crêpes may be stretching it a bit much as they are not nearly as thin as my regular or non-traditional crepes. Instead of chickpea flour as in our favourite chilla pancake, soaked split mung beans are the base. Pureed kale turned these a fun green.
Since the beans are in the batter, you could simply slather it with Indian chutneys but I encourage you to add more vegetables, like my Indian-Spiced Cauliflower.
I admit these are not the best photos, but I unearthed some real gems digging through my archives. I promise to share them in due time!
Are you eating anything green this weekend?
Recently, Rob and I have been flip-flopping. One weekend Rob is home alone. The next, I am home alone as Rob is out. Travelling separately. Although I probably received the brunt of the solo travels as I ventured to the cold Canadian winter alone. Rob, however, is travelling without me but visiting and meeting friends throughout the US.
This weekend, he also left me without a car. My bike gets me to and from work but on the weekends, the car brings me to groceries. Our loot is too big to bring home on a bike. Oftentimes, Rob will also pick up random missing ingredients throughout the week… so I lost that convenience, too. Although, we planned for this: a double grocery haul last weekend. This week, I get to eat through the fridge and pantry. And tackle my languishing winter squashes.
I am sure I am not the only one with winter squashes on my counter (right?). It happens every year to me. Houston-time, included.
Winter squash may not still be on your radar but with the last winter blast, a warming stew is hard to turn down. (I am not playing with you, Houston does get cold. I had pants on last week).
I finally decided to tackle Hannah’s Chickpea and Pumpkin Lemongrass Curry. Unlike most curries, this one has NO CUMIN. Blasted! A bit more sweet with the kabocha squash which worked well with the aromatics like cardamom and coriander, but still tempered by ginger, mustard and chile with a luscious coconut-infused broth spiked with lemongrass.
Do you still have winter squashes looming around? Heck, it is still winter, right? I shouldn’t feel too guilty, right? :)
I have resorted to this blog to help settle a question. Between these two words, which do you recognize? One? Both? None?
Full disclosure: Rob’s word was ablution. I had never heard of it before. Me, I use ambulate all the time. Rob swears it is medical jargon.
The best part? We both agreed on one word: ablation. Mainly because there is a medical/biological use as well as a nerdy space definition.
As your ponder your newest words, this will be a short post with a short recipe.
This is an Indian spin on creamed greens. Beefed up with some tofu, you pan-fry it first, then simmer it along with coconut milk and collard greens. Easy peasy. Serve with some brown rice if desired. Kind of a hybrid of my Spicy Coconut Braised Collards and Indian-Spiced Chickpeas and Kale. All delicious.
Looking for other reading to keep your brain working? I try not to disappoint and will steer you elsewhere.
Other recommended links:
Why the Olympics Are a Lot Like ‘The Hunger Games’
The Power of Protein Timing
Sweet nothing: The real science behind sugar
All About The Filter Bubble (make sure to watch the associated TED talk)
This is my submission to Speedy Suppers.
Thank you for all your kind words about my knees. Thankfully I had friends and co-workers (AND ROB!) to help with my (on-going) recovery. Unlike my sister-in-law who is still driving herself to work (her [now confirmed] broken toe is on her non-driving foot), Rob has been driving me to work. Not that I couldn’t drive myself, but he is just that awesome.
He has also been helping me around the kitchen. He made the cheezy chickpea dip again although I was to blame for the burnt coconut bacon, as Rob tended to a broken beer bottle. The beer bottle that exploded (from the bottom), after the rice vinegar fell on it which was knocked over when Rob was putting back the liquid smoke. Oh my.
He also revisited some old favourites like tamarind lentils and my lemon-ginger miso soup (Rob’s addition were carrots, parsnips with some noodles and I then added extra sauteed mushrooms and baby spinach to mine). Yum!
Rob also has been steaming up broccoli like a pro. For this dish, he went all out with a sauce, tofu and noodles. The pineapple was a fun twist on a Hawaiian noodle bowl with a peanut sauce. I love how the pineapple was used to sweeten the sauce directly. Ginger and sriracha made it a bit zippy but this was all tempered by the sweetness from the pineapple.
While Rob was busy in the kitchen, I caught up on my web reading. Which also meant that Rob’s to-read list got longer as I punted them to him as well! Like my last link share, I figured you may enjoy them, too. There are a few travel-related links here. You know that I like to travel but you may not know that Rob loves travelling, too, and spent over a year abroad backpacking in Southeast Asia and Australia/New Zealand before we met. He wrote about that on his blog.
Without further ado, please let me know what you think about these links:
1. 10 Things Most Americans Don’t Know About America. This actually rings true based on my experiences, too.
2. 20 Things I Learned from Travelling Around the World. Rob concurs.
3. Date a Boy Who Travels. YES! No offense to boys who still live with their parents. OK, maybe just a little.
4. Ben & Jerry & Me. What do you get for naming a Ben & Jerry flavour?
5. Murmuration. A quick, beautiful video. A magical canoe ride
6. Raw. Vegan. Not Gross. I don’t watch many videos on youtube but this one is great!
7. Is Pro Cheerleading a Scam? I honestly had no idea but then again I am not into football.
8. 11 Tips for Telling a Loved One About Your Mental Illness. From a new-to-me blog that I love. Great tips about communicating with others, nevermind about a mental illness
This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes. (more…)
I spoke too soon. It was cold but now it is warm.
Houston felt the “Polar Vortex“. The “Arctic Invasion” that froze Niagara Falls (!!) (on the American side) brought Houston to lows a bit below freezing. With the 90% humidity, -4ºC was quite chilly but nothing compared to what the rest of the country was feeling. But this weekend, the humidity and chills disappeared. It was a balmy 26ºC with (only!) 25% humidity and Rob and I celebrated by wearing shorts, visiting the beach and kayaking in the Galveston area bay. Yeah, it was summer once again.
People at work wonder why I am so happy, but even small victories like this make my heart sing. Every time I cycle to work, I am ecstatic. Instead of hurricanes, Houston was hit by a drought this year. I have cycled to work every day, safe 3 days so far in the past 6 months. Snow, ice and rain will keep me off my bike, not cold weather alone.
Soups like this also make my tummy sing. It is filled with all great things: red lentils as a solid base, kabocha squash and coconut milk for a creamy backdrop, spiced with ginger and chile flakes, tempered by tamarind and lime juice with a lemongrass twist. The flavours meld perfectly and this is a soup that will definitely warm you up during a cold front.
Were you hit by the cold? I heard the vortex may return again. I am thinking warm thoughts for you.
If you like this soup, you may also enjoy these:
While it may seem like I had a severe lack of down-time over the holidays, I was able to catch up on a few things on my to-do list. I caught up on the links Rob routinely shares with me, watched my share of movies, read a few books and cooked up a few bookmarked recipes. In the spirit of clearing out a bit of blogging backlog, I thought you may enjoy my favourite finds, too… so here were my linkable highlights:
1. 38 Life Lessons Leo has Learned in 38 Years.Great list. An old post, but timely in the spirit of the New Year.
3. 2013 World Press Photo Winners. I would scope out the travelling exhibit of jaw-dropping photography while in Toronto, but this year I savoured it online.
4. 2013 National Geographic Photo Competition Winners. Another fabulous collection of photographs can be savoured online. National Geographic rarely disappoints for awesome pictures, including this other favourite.
5. Time-Lapse Auroras Over Norway. Watch it. Love it. It brings me back to my vacation in Iceland.
6. The Happiest Facts of All Time. Very cute list.
7. Ten Words You’ve Probably Been Misusing. Not entirely accurate but I am guilty of a few misused words. ;)
I have been gravitating to easier meals and have not been cooking up as many dried beans from scratch lately. One solution to this problem is to use quick-cooking no-soaking needed beans, like lentils, anasazi and mung beans. Yes, mung beans. I am back on the mung bean bandwagon with great results. Simmer the mung beans directly with an assortment of veggies (kabocha squash, tomato, bell pepper and spinach here) with simple Indian spices: cumin, fenugreek and turmeric. The kabocha squash and mung beans melt into a deliciously creamy stew. A thick and hearty stew, perfect for the winter.
Where have you been on the web recently?
It took me awhile, but I finally succumbed.
Caffeine: sometimes, I need a little extra oomph in the morning.
I made it through university, medical school and a 5-year residency before I contemplated caffeine. A few months into my fellowship, with its longer hours, I started with a bit of green tea.
I am not drinking coffee or black tea (I actually don’t like the taste), but Rob and I both knew something was up after we scoped out green tea for me to drink while in Mexico. Three days with a morning green tea latte.
Just the trickle of caffeine was able to fuel me throughout the day, though. Rob and I powered through multiple markets (food and general markets), biked around midtown, visited cathedrals, admired public murals, walked around Frida Kahlo’s home, cheered for Mexican wrestlers (ok, maybe we just watched) and our most anticipated event: walking up ancient pyramid ruins outside Mexico City.
We left Houston, and its cold weather, and thankfully, by the time we returned, it was back to its glorious warm self. I am back to cycling in shorts. I know, this may not be the most seasonal recipe for those in a winter climate, but I have been enjoying a multitude of smoothies since I received Kathy’s cookbook, 365 Vegan Smoothies.
Each weekend, after our standard cycle adventure, I would return home for a frosty drink. I’d leaf through and pick a new smoothie each week. I quickly learned that I had to plan my smoothie in advance. Sometimes, I had a hard time deciding which smoothie to make! So many options, so little time. However, once I made this Matcha Ginger Smoothie (the ever-creative Kathy named it Matcha Ginger An-Tea-Oxidant Shake), (Rob and) I knew it was the winner. The one I would photograph and share with you.
Creamy and sweet frozen bananas complement the bitter green tea matcha, but the best part was the ginger twist. Kathy suggested using a dash of ginger powder, but sharp flavour from fresh ginger is unbeatable in this smoothie. A high speed blender would have no problems whipping this into a delicious drink.
I was not sure whether a smoothie cookbook would be worthwhile, but I have had fun trying out different drinks. With 365 different recipes, you are bound to be inspired by a few new combinations: walnut-carrot cake, jazzy ginger grape, lemon-beet clarifying cooler, maple spice buckwheat shake, mango-cado kale kiss, a-peel-ing chai shake. Her crazy concoctions span smoothies with vegetables, fruit and nuts or non-dairy milk. Occasionally yogurt or fruit juice slips in, too. Thin and frosty, or thick and decadent. All vegan. I also appreciate that nutritional facts are included (all recipes serve 2 but the nutritional contents are for the entire recipe).
Beyond the recipes, Kathy is also a fabulous photographer. I find it hard to photograph drinks, but her cookbook is peppered with gorgeous photography. Bright, colourful and tantalizing, signatures of her blog, Happy Healthy Life. It is refreshing to see wholesome ingredients highlighted at their finest. Kathy also takes the time at the beginning to ground you in smoothie creation, with troubleshooting and myths debunked. She also highlights being creative and flexible in the kitchen. I don’t like ice in my smoothies (Kathy is a big fan) but just adjust as you see fit.
I really want to share this cookbook with you and thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite recipe by Kathy. If you haven’t made anything by Kathy yet, have a look through the table of contents of 365 Vegan Smoothies on google books (or my list above or below) or pick something from her blog and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on December 11, 2013. Good luck!
PS. Kathy’s recipes from 365 Vegan Smoothies shared elsewhere:
PPS. There is still time to enter my giveaway for The Simply Raw Kitchen.
Note: I was given a copy of the cookbook from the publisher. I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.
We had our first visitors last week. My parents made the brave trek down to Houston.
I say brave because just before they arrived, we were hovering around 2-5 C in the morning in Houston. It was cold. I had to break out my pants.
Thank goodness Houston redeemed its hot, humid self, so my parents could relish instead in highs of 28C, feels like 38C weather! Rob and I have become accustomed to Houston’s weather, positively smitten by the nice weather. Instead, my parents melted under their jeans. I understand. I was there. Except in July, it was 38C, feels like 48C!
We had a hard time recommending tourist things in Houston, so instead, we treated them to a typical week in the life of Houston-bound Rob-and-Janet.
On the weekend, we started it off by buying cheap produce at our favourite fruit and vegetable wholesaler. I usually beeline it to the stands with the cheaper produce, but I think my Dad had fun haggling his way to a $7 case of 24 Ataulfo mangoes (they couldn’t go any lower right now, they explained, since it isn’t high season).
Next up, was the Mexican bakery across the street where we picked up the highly coveted tres leches cakes*, fresh tortillas, and other Mexican baked goods. My friend has been on a quest to find the best tres leches cake in Houston and this is his pick. My parents never knew Mexican sweets were so awesome.
*Note: While this tres leches cake is definitely not vegan, we have found a nice vegan tres leches cake, too.
Our subsequent stop was at my favourite Trader Joe’s, where we sampled all 3 cookie butters before deciding which one to bring home. My Dad picked the smooth version. Who knew grocery shopping could be so much fun. An employee snuck in a souvenir Houston-themed Trader Joe’s bag into my Mom’s arms, congratulating her on visiting the store with us.
And lastly, since we had too much fun shopping and became hungry, we decided to have an early lunch for some quick dosas.
Sunday was our standard biking morning, when my Dad joined us cycling for cronuts while my Mom relaxed at home. We went out for a Mexican fusion vegan brunch but Rob treated us to his specialty later: chilla, Indian chickpea pancakes.
During our kimchi phase, Rob quickly figured out that kimchi worked really well in chilla. Basically it is pre-seasoned cabbage which makes it easier to add to the batter. Rob also likes to add other random vegetables, like tomatoes and spinach, but this version was just with kimchi. Easy, peasy. A dollop of mayonnaise and more kimchi as a nod to our favourite sweet potato and kimchi poutine but I ate it without it and it was still delicious.
Weather prevented us from hiking Brazos Bend together on the weekend, but my parents made their own trip there together while Rob and I worked during the week. They also toured Galveston and the Johnson Space Center (NASA), the most touristy thing they experienced.
And just like that, my parents are back in Canada. We had a few more ideas up our sleeves, but time was too short. A quick visit but we showed them exactly why we like Houston so much. Here’s to seeing them again in the summer as they want to return before we leave. Any favourite spots we still need to check out and share with them? :)
This is my submission to this month’s Credit Crunch Munch.
To all those celebrating, Happy Diwali!
While Rob remains away (he came and left again), I was whisked away by friends into a wonderfully chaotic Diwali celebration over the weekend. A huge crowd came to the Houston BAPS in Sugarland to enjoy the music, light and firework display for the Indian festival of lights. A place named Sugarland, a suburb of Houston, seems like a fitting place for a Diwali celebration which includes a lot of dancing, fun, and food including Indian sweets.
While I don’t know the difference between a laddoo, burfi, and mysore pak, I can tell you all about how make dhokla, a steamed chickpea flour bread, and baked (not fried!) pakoras. Obviously, I am all over the savoury Indian meals. While I adore Indian curries, I like mixing Indian spices with other dishes as well.
Enter this simple bok choy skillet with soy knots. I got the idea from Iyer’s newest cookbook, Indian Cooking Unfolded. Iyer, the author of one of our favourite Indian cookbooks 660 Curries, has written a new cookbook that is, in essence, a cooking class in book form. Based on his own cooking curriculum, he takes you through different cooking techniques in each chapter, highlighting ingredients, methods and tips for each recipe. What it lacks in number of recipes, he makes up for it in sharing his cooking knowledge.
So, I took his idea for a quick-and-easy ginger raisin bok choy side dish and turned it into a heartier ginger date bok choy skillet with soy knots. I swapped dates for the raisins and added in these interesting soy knots. To be honest, I prefer the texture of the yuba skins (aka tofu intestines) as they were very dense. The recipe, though, is a keeper. A colourful keeper perfect for any celebration. A bit more spicy than I am used to (darn, green chiles in the tomatoes) but it mellowed as leftovers and worked well with the sweetness of the dates.
If you celebrated Diwali, how did you enjoy it?
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, and elsewhere:
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
Dragon Noodle Salad
Pesto Risotto with Roasted Zucchini
Chili Pumpkin Cranberry Risotto with Spicy Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Red Lentil Thai Chili
Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Penne with Broccoli
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. :)
Rob and I have been trading stories. He has been back in Canada for the last two weeks. He is hitting up all our old haunts, new joints (I knew he wouldn’t be able to resist the vegan boston creme donuts and other treats at Through Being Cool; he’s already tried the Toronto’s crookie (cookie-croissant hybrid) and scouting out Toronto’s cronut, too) and getting ready to spend time with his family for Thanksgiving. I am willing to bet most of my readers know Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving almost a month before the Americans, but if not, let there be no confusion. Canada’s Thanksgiving is on Monday. :)
This is a dish Rob made before he left. He is much better at tackling his recipe hit-list than I am. Possibly because it is shorter. While in Bend, Oregon, we discovered a restaurant with delicious food. For me, I adored their tempeh reuben salad (recreating it is still on my hitlist!) and Rob was adamant about recreating the sloppy joe sandwich.
While I have made Sloppy Joes with TVP, which I served overtop roasted sweet potatoes, I shared Isa’s recipe with Rob. With the extra spices, I knew he would really like it. Rob really liked their sandwich because it was served with a brioche bun. He looked around a bit but wasn’t able to find something in Houston. That did not deter him.
I no longer remember what protein this resto used for their sloppy joe, but Isa’s called for seitan which we didn’t have. Instead, Rob experimented with another Portland find: soy curls. Soy curls totally deserve their high praise. Similar to TVP in that they are a dry soy product, they not as highly processed. Soy curls are made by cooking, then drying soybeans, whereas TVP has been processed to become defatted. Their fun shapes are akin to pulled meat. I bought a bunch in bulk while in Portland and wish there was a local supplier because I know we will use them up quickly.
In any case, Isa’s recipe did not disappoint. She called it jerk-spiced sloppy joes, but the flavours were more muted. When I think of jerk, I think of bold flavours. Instead, this was tame. Nicely flavoured and palatable for the masses. The Caribbean flavours of allspice, cinnamon, and paprika were present and made for a lovely tomato sauce. Rob amped the sweet sauciness by adding red pepper paste. Lime juice balanced it nicely.
The second component to the dish was coconut creamed spinach and kale. Spiced with star anise, the Caribbean flair persisted. Instead of the brioche bun, Rob used a paratha to eat this. Mainly because that’s what we had in the freezer. This is a fusion household. Indian-Caribbean-American in one wrap. Use whatever vehicle you’d like. :)
While this recipe seems almost as elaborate as Rob’s epic Jackfruit & Kimchi and Sweet Potato Poutine with Tofu, this one didn’t take nearly as long to cook. Start to end was around an hour, which is a good thing since Rob has proclaimed this as a Rob’s Repeater Recipe.
Have you ever tried soy curls? What did you think?