Desperate times call for desperate measures. Our house is still in shambles a week after our move. With 3 days off work, I thought we’d be near completely unpacked but it is anything but. The kitchen appliances are working but my pantry is still dissembled, packed in quite a few boxes. I am thinking of sharing some of my simple meals, but until then, I’d like to talk about a new cookbook, Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking.
This cookbook is about mastering the classic meals, vegan-style, while also attempting to teach you how to save money in the kitchen. Borne of a time when Annie and Dan Shannon were dealing with infertility and mounting costs, they have put together their favourite recipes while trying to keep their budget low. [Of note, nothing like buying a house to make you feel poor!]
The recipes are both creative yet classic. Instead of plain waffles, they share a recipe for banana churro waffles. Instead of classic tabbouli, there is a lemon-tahini fattoush inspired salad which mixes Middle Eastern flavours together. The Korean Kimchi BBQ burgers (see below) are also fusion cuisine in its finest.
I made the red lentil soup, which was homage to every red lentil soup they have eaten and tinkered with their slow cooker jambalaya to make it in the pressure cooker. They were very good, if not subdued in their spices. The red lentil soup reminded me of my Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Sizzling Mint, with a swap for fresh mint which changes the flavours.
I have chosen to share their vegan blueberry blintzes with you, instead.
Classic crepes are not vegan, with reliance on eggs for their supple texture. I have shared a few non-traditional crepe-like recipes before (raw chocolate banana crepes and raw grasshopper crepes). This is my family’s traditional recipe and while that one was with Nutella and kiwis, it was not uncommon for my family to fill them with cottage cheese, cream of wheat and eggs and top it with a blueberry compote and serve them as blintzes. We would eat them for dinner as they were mostly savoury despite the fruit.
Instead of cottage cheese and eggs, this recipe is more dessert-style. Or breakfast/brunch-style. The filling is sweeter with a base of vegan cream cheese and tofu and topped with fresh blueberries and a sprinkling of sugar.
It would have been nice to see a recipe that didn’t include vegan faux cheese, especially if one of the cookbook’s aims was to offer cheaper recipes. However, I can appreciate the shortcuts to help make delicious foods faster. The cookbook has plenty of recipes with pantry staples but a sizeable minority call for specialty ingredients. As an example, the Korean Kimchi BBQ Burger recipe calls for 2 cups of Lightlife Gimme Lean Burger or Match Vegan Meats Burger and store-bought kimchi. The cost was $2.68/burger and I wonder how much cheaper it would be to use plain (and uber cheap) TVP instead. Of note, that same recipe has a recipe for homemade Asian-style BBQ sauce which looks great.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the US or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me how you like to save money in the kitchen. The winner will be selected at random on July 9, 2015. Good luck!
Other recipes from Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking spotted elsewhere:
PS. I am sharing this with Meat Free Mondays.
Fresh Blueberry Blintzes
Reprinted, with permission, from Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking
Author’s note: Blintzes are a New York institution, like the Empire State Building and Yellow Cabs. A blintz is basically a crepe filled with slightly sweet and lemony ricotta filling (in our case, vegan cream cheese and tofu in place of ricotta) and often topped with a fruit compote. We decided to use fresh blueberries to make it a little healthier.
1/2 (8-ounce) package vegan cream cheese
1/2 (16-ounce) package extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
1.5 cups white flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups soy milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegan margarine, plus more for cooking
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons applesauce
Olive oil cooking spray
1/4 cup vegan margarine, melted
1.5 to 2 cups fresh blueberries
Powdered sugar, for dusting
1. Make the filling: In a food processor, combine the vegan cream cheese, tofu, powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest and blend until creamy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Make the crêpes: In a large bowl, combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and soy milk and beat together with an electric handheld mixer. Once the batter is completely blended, add 2 tablespoons of the vegan margarine, the vanilla, and the applesauce. Blend for 2 to 3 minutes with the bowl tilted so the batter gets light and creamy.
3. Heat your deepest cast-iron skillet over medium heat and lightly coat it with vegan margarine. (You’ll have to coat the skillet between each crêpe, so keep the margarine out.) Once the margarine begins to bubble, you’re ready to make crêpes.
4. Using a ladle, pour 1/3 cup of the crêpe batter into the skillet. Immediately rotate the skillet by rolling your wrist while holding the handle until a thin layer of batter covers the bottom. If your skillet is heavy, use a potholder to hold the other side of the skillet and use both hands to rotate the skillet.
5. Cook until the edges of the crêpe begin to turn light brown. Run a wide spatula along the edge to loosen the crêpe, then flip it and cook the other side until light brown. Transfer the crêpe to a plate, top with a piece of waxed paper, and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Repeat until you have used all the crêpe batter.
6. Assemble the blintzes: Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Coat a baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.
7. Place one crêpe on a flat surface and spoon 3 tablespoons of the filling into the center in a straight line. Fold one edge of the crêpe over the filling and gently press it into the filling, then fold the other sides over and tuck them underneath. Place the blintz on a plate with the seam side up. Repeat until you have filled all the crêpes.
8. Brush the same skillet in which you cooked the crêpes with some of the melted vegan margarine and set it over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, place the blintzes in the skillet, seam-side down, and brush with more melted margarine. You may need to work in batches.
9. Cook the blintzes for about 30 seconds to seal them. Using a spatula, gently roll the blintzes in the skillet and cook them evenly until they are a golden brown and have lightly crispy edges. Try not to brown the blintzes for more than 2 minutes.
10. Transfer the browned blintzes to the prepared baking dish. Bake the blintzes for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the dish for 5 minutes.
Serve warm, topped with some blueberries and a pinch or two of powdered sugar.
Serves 6-8 ($1.54 per serving)
Adapted from the book Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking by Annie and Dan Shannon. © 2015 by Annie and Dan Shannon. All photos by Annie Shannon. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.