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. ;)
Onwards with the 30 vegetable challenge. Instead of using an abundance of vegetables in a single dish, I am focusing on possibly the most popular vegetable. A vegetable that I rarely eat at that: the humble white potato.
White potato has its critics. A high glycemic starchy vegetable that is typically consumed deep-fried or slathered in oil. I actually don’t like the taste of white potatoes, either, preferring its colourful cousin, the sweet potato. In any case, not all white potatoes are created equal and it was most apparent while we travelled in Colombia and enjoyed their local favourite: papas criollas. A small, creamy potato, perfect to eat after a simple boil, although it was also common spotted after a toss in an oiled skillet. Other small potatoes can be reasonable substitutes. I spotted these at our favourite (Mexican-flavoured) farmer’s market and brought them home to make a vegan twist on devilled eggs.
No eggs, no problem. The creamy potatoes are a fun twist for the cooked egg white base and a creamy mustard-hummus filling with a touch of black salt is very reminiscent of the real deal. Sprinkled with a touch of smoke paprika and you have an easy, pretty appetizer. If you have some mad piping skills, you could make this even more fancy.
This recipe is from the latest in the Happy Herbivore cookbook series, Happy Herbivore Light & Lean. For some reason, I have never really warmed up to Lindsay’s earlier cookbooks but this one was different. First of all the photos are gorgeous. Secondly, the recipes appeal to me more.
Her recipes, even if from previous cookbooks, have been lightened up and spruced up with bolder flavours. She has a bigger emphasis on vegetables and less reliance on ketchup and mayonnaise. More complete meals, instead of sides. All her recipes are oil-free and low-fat which I don’t necessarily advocate but did not mind trying out temporarily. Her recipes prove you do not need oil to make food flavourful but I like a bit more fat for satiety. Even if for no other reason, yes, you need some fat to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
The third part of the book includes an introduction to basic strength exercises. She includes good photographs and descriptions of each move with modifications for beginners and those who want a challenge. I like that she included another aspect of healthy lifestyles, beyond nutritious food.
First and foremost, I enjoy sharing delicious food and this cookbook delivers. These deviled eggs are only one recipe but I also recommend the garden vegetable chili, cheater pad thai noodle bowl, breakfast tacos and scrambled tofu.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe (with one of the gorgeous food photos by Jackie Sobon from Vegan Yack Attack, too) AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me what you think about no-oil meals. The winner will be selected at random on April 7, 2014. Good luck!
Recipes from Happy Herbivore Light & Lean elsewhere:
Thai Crunch Salad
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Blueberry Yogurt Muffins
Lentil Joes (with a video)
Spinach Love Wrap
Soba Peanut Noodles
Microwave Peach Cobbler
PS. This is my submission to this month’s Anyone Can Cook Fabulous Vegetarian Food.
If my weakness is beans and greens, Rob’s weakness is beer.
I may hoard and admire my (completely edible) bean collection. Likewise, Rob drinks through his beer collection. I will admit that I know very little about beer, other than I have yet to meet a beer I like. Rob has given up on getting me to sample his beers. I am pretty confident that whatever makes a beer a beer (hops?) is what I don’t like, which cannot be masked by hints of chocolate or lime or whatnot.
When we travelled to Quebec last summer, we made sure we stopped off at a beer store to stock up on beers that are not easily available in Toronto. We found a beer haven closeby, Veux-Tu Une Biere?, that had over 250 different microbrewed beers. Rob picked out beers that tasted like chocolate and raspberry, chocolate and espresso, espresso solo, coriander and orange, lime, pumpkin, juniper berries and orange peel, rye, scotch (yes, scotch beer), cognac (yes, cognac beer) and who knows what else. Without having to worry about customs, we returned with enough beer to last until our move to Houston.
Rob let me pick him one to try. He has non-mainstream tastes. His favourite beer last year was a Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout. Let’s just say my father and brother didn’t appreciate it as much as him. So while at the beer store, I tried to get Rob to buy spruce beer. Turns out you can find that one in Toronto and one of our friends thought it tasted like a forest. A no go. I ended up picking one with a demon on the front. I have classy tastes. (It also said it won a beer award). Turns out my choice was a winner (except I can’t remember what it was). Too bad Rob only bought one. He bought two of the other beers. However, not all beers were as fabulous. Which is lucky for me, because normally Rob says his beers are too good for me to use in the kitchen. They say you shouldn’t cook with a wine you won’t drink, but this is what you do with beer you don’t like. Any beer will do because you cannot taste it.
I cook with wine but don’t cook with beer because I am afraid of that “beer” taste lingering. I bookmarked this highly-praised recipe for beer-soaked fries but it wasn’t until Ellen tried it and reassured me: a) the fries were fantastic “Not sure what the beer does for the outside of the fries, but there is some marvelous alchemy going on…”, and b) you could not taste the beer, did we venture to try our hands at beer-soaked fries. Rob picked out one of his not-so-fabulous beers (a lime pale lager) and whipped up these fabulous fries.
I am not joking. These were resto-quality, crispy (baked) fries. We used a mix of white and sweet potato but I was partial to the sweet potato fries. All you do is marinade the fries for 15 minutes in the beer, then toss with garlic, oil, salt and pepper, and wait a painful 30-45 minutes as they bake. Next time, I may throw other spices on it like I have done before.
Apparently you can reheat the leftovers. I will admit, there was nothing left over. Demolished. All of it. Now to find more yucky beers.
Do you cook or bake with beer? Or just drink it?
Savoury beer uses, here and elsewhere:
Beer-Baked White Beans at The Bitten Word
Beer-Stewed Pinto Beans (Frijoles Borrachos) by Nava Atlas
Beer Hummus at Sprint 2 the Table
Smoky Chipotle Vegetarian (Beer) Chili with Parmesan-Black Pepper Beer Bread at Joanne Eats Well With Others
Seitan Goulash with Kraut over Parsleyed Noodles from American Vegan Kitchen
Tempeh Sauerkraut Brew Stew from Vegan Appetite
Vegan Chocolate Guinness Cake from Keep It Simple Foods
I have been reading other VeganMoFoers posts this month and I am thoroughly impressed. Lots of people have themes, or an outline for specific days of the week… 31 days of unique spices. A month devoted to orange food! Or 1 food, done 5 ways x5 (cashews and kale so far!). Recipes with ingredients following the alphabet. Me, I just want to be able to post every day.
Then I thought.. 1 week in, a bit late on the theme-front, why not showcase my love of beans. So I will share with you bean dishes for the rest of the month. Get ready for your daily dose of bean! :)
Lately, I have been on a white bean kick. Baby lima beans, giant lima beans, flageolet beans, bring them on! Ashley thought it was amusing that my bean collection had so many of the same white beans in different containers.
Look closely, and while they are all white beans, they are definitely not the same!
While I also don’t mix different batches of beans, since they may cook at different lengths of time, all my white beans are different. In fact, I don’t have any more lima beans left and only a handful of dried flageolet beans. What I have left are Great Northern beans, white kidney beans, navy beans, Macedonian tetrovac beans and Turkish dermason beans. I am so curious as to how the latter two taste but still fall into the simplicity of the familiar!
I feel so naked now that I am out of lima beans. I used the last of the baby lima beans in this delicious quinoa corn chowder from Viva Vegan. The small, plump yet creamy baby lima beans melded well into this perfect end of summer stew-like corn chowder. Light, yet creamy with a dash of soy milk, a bit of zip from chili flakes, sweetness from the fresh corn and hearty with both the quinoa and lima beans.
It wasn’t even 6 months ago that I likely would have shunned lima beans based on my childhood disdain, but I am so glad that I made the leap to try something new. If you haven’t yet tried cooking up your own lima beans, definitely give it a go. You may never look back!
I hope my white kidney beans don’t get shunned too long… they are just so unsexy compared to its other white bean counterparts. I wonder if the dermason beans will be just as good as the lima beans? ;)
Thankfully, because if not, my pantry-substitute, Better Bulk, has baby lima beans, so the next time I have a hankering, they are right around the corner. :)
The fourth curry this week… I am almost getting curried out!
I have never seen Rob so excited about trying a new recipe. I was browsing through my newest favourite cookbook, For The Love of Food, and I spotted a recipe that seemingly used up a lot of the odds and ends in our fridge.
Massaman curry, have you heard of this, Rob? Would I like it?
Turns out it was his favourite curry while travelling in Thailand.
However, as we made the curry together, Rob quickly realized this wasn’t the same Massaman curry he had eaten overseas. The sauce had coconut milk, lemongrass, cardamom, cinnamon and ginger, but no peanuts. No fish sauce nor tamarind.
After slaving and salivating in the kitchen for a while, Rob felt let down when he taste-tested it the first time. The vegetables were good, but the depth of flavour was lacking. He ended up adding all of the spice mixture, as the recipe only called for a couple tablespoons of the mixture. After which, when I tasted it the second time, I told him I wouldn’t be able to eat it for dinner- it was now too spicy! Those peppercorns were likely the culprit but thankfully, it didn’t have that ominous “curry” flavour.
Since I had adored Cotter’s previous recipes, we still trucked on with making the cucumber and coriander salsa. Rob finally sat down to eat it, served with the salsa and rice, with a drizzle of freshly squeezed lime juice. The more he ate it, and accepted it as a non-Massaman curry, he grew to enjoy it.
I then decided to give it a go with the salsa and lime.
While Cotter may have misled us by calling this a Massaman curry, he also said this curry was best with the cooling salsa, and there he wasn’t lying. It definitely made the dish go from something I refused to eat, to something that was genuinely spectacular. Another Janet-sanctioned curry, this time hailing from Thailand.
I am definitely realizing that more complex dishes, where each component is outstanding on its own, can be brought to high levels when combined. The only problem is that it makes for a kitchen filled with lots of dirty dishes. Gah!
An authentic Massaman curry is still on our to-do list, though. But whatever its name, this curry is the bomb, just don’t forget the salsa!
This is my submission to this month’s Veggie/Fruit a Month, featuring cauliflower, to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Cathy, to this month’s My Kitchen, My World destination Thailand and to Ricki’s Wellness Weekends.
Despite being of Central and Eastern European descent, I actually don’t cook many German or Ukrainian dishes (mainly special treats, though). However, Rob’s parents are very keen on traditional Polish food, and when they came to visit last weekend to help with the burgeoning garden, I wanted to create a meal that everyone would enjoy.
I knew the raw kale salad with beets was a hit over Easter, so I figured I would pick a dish that had similar familiar ingredients: beets, potatoes and dill. That may sound so boring and bland, but I knew I hit jackpot when I spotted the Six Shades of Red Soup in Color Me Vegan (original recipe posted here). It was a virtually fat-free soup filled with red lentils, red potatoes, beets, (red) onion, dill and the perfect twist: red miso. The sixth shade of red was from vegetable juice, which I omitted. I also increased the dill and pureed half the soup for a creamier consistency.
As you can see, this was a beautiful soup. It deepened in colour overnight and the flavours melded wonderfully. It was creamy, yet chunky, with sweetness from the beets but structure from the potatoes with a hint of dill and a depthness brought from the red miso.
I am happy to report that it met the approval of the traditional Polish folk. Not your traditional borscht, different, but in a good way, is how they put it and invited me to make it again anytime. Me, redo a recipe? By request from special people only!
This made a ton of soup, with generous servings, so I was able to enjoy the leftovers. The soup doubled as a perfect meal while cycling last weekend. With the long distances, I prefer to eat more liquid-based foods (ie, soup! homemade sports drink! smoothies!) and this hit the spot. It was light on my stomach and jammed full of vegetables and miso providing sodium and potassium, which is important to replenish when exercising.
This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Served with Love and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, founded by Ruth’s Kitchen Experiments and hosted by Jacqueline.
My cooking escapades have brought me to the emergency department twice. Both times for cutting myself deep enough such that it wouldn’t stop bleeding. If your cut doesn’t stop bleeding with pressure after 15 minutes, you need to get yourself some help.
The first time I cut myself, three years ago, was when I made a similar potato-kale soup. I was chopping my potatoes, sliced and then stacked, when the top one slipped out from underneath and I ended up chopping my finger instead. Sharp knives don’t cut you, dull knives do! And sadly my dull blade made me use a bit too much force. I was in the middle of making a soup, so I put on a makeshift pressure bandage and finished cooking. Thankfully the soup was so easy to make, I could do it single-handed. I was still bleeding nearly an hour later, so begrudgingly, I hiked over to the urgent care center where I got a few stitches.
I thought I learned my lesson about dull blades, so when my parents visited next, I used their sharpener to get some smoking sharp steel.
However, last year, I ended up in emergency yet again. Secondary to dull blades chopping rhubarb for a strawberry-rhubarb pie. Rhubarb can be tough sometimes! I kept bleeding after 15 minutes, and this time I didn’t bother to finish making my pie before trekking over to the emergency department. I popped my pie dough and filling into the fridge and sat patiently for 4 hours for some glue to heal my cut.
When I returned, I discovered the secret to crispy pie crusts: chilling that dough. This was the same tried-and-true “Never Fail” pie crust recipe from the back of a Crisco container my mom uses, but she even conceded how much better the crust was this time. So light and flaky.
Three strikes and you’re out, right? Two times, no more!
I knew what my problem was. I love my knives dearly, but since I use them so often I need to keep them sharp.
I figured I would splurge and buy myself a good knife sharpener, the one recommended by America’s Test Kitchens. It may cost $150, but if it saves me another trip to the emergency department, it would be worth it.
I am pleased to report that since then, I have been cut-free. I even tackled this potato kale soup without incident.
But back to this soup: it is a healthy, hearty soup adapted from Viva Vegan. Caldo verdo literally translates to green soup and kale is a center star in this soup. The potato mashes down into a creamy base and there is a subtlety of flavour from the thyme and oregano. This soup is Portuguese in nature, and Portugese cuisine is very prominent in Brazil as well. It would be a nice, simple soup without the chorizo, but it is downright tasty with the chorizo. And yes, this soup is still vegan! I used homemade chorizo sausages for a definite flavour boost (recipe here).