Review: I Can Cook Vegan by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

15th August 2007. That’s when I bought my first vegan cookbook. It was the weird British edition of Vegan With A Vengeance, the first book of her’s that I ever bought. Over the years I’ve bought all the others and I Can Cook Vegan arrived on my door the day of release. In a way I wish it had been my first vegan cookbook. It’s geared for beginners with simple recipes that teach you how to handle yourself in the kitchen. What I was looking to get out of it was some simple, foolproof recipes. Here’s how it turned out.

udon

Curry and udon are two of my favourite things to pair together so I made this Curry Udon with Broccoli and Avocado on the first chance I got. Coconut milk in the broth isn’t something I’d usually go for but it adds a great deal of texture and taste. It was simple to pull together with a lot of flavour.

chickpeaalfredo

I’ll be honest I had low expectations of the Chickpea Alfredo. A lot of vegan alfredo recipes tend to be weak creamy sauces. This was the exact opposite it was a flavour bomb. Creamy with a hit of umami reminiscent of mature cheese. It’s also ridiculously quick to make.  It took me 3 minuted to boil up the fettuccine (if you follow me on Instagram you may have caught some of my adventures in home made pasta) and in that time I’d blended the sauce to a perfect consistency. The chickpeas were already cooked so I just had to toss everything together and warm through. This is for me the star recipe of the book. Worth the whole price just for this.

autumnsald

Not allowing supper time to have all the fun I made us some Autumn Seitan Salad Sandwiches for lunch. With seitan chunks (I used chickwheat) and cranberries it’s basically like all those Christmas Dinner sandwiches that are sold in the supermarkets at this time of year. And thus it is delicious.

lentilroast

I wanted to try a recipe that was a little more labour intensive so I went for the Sunday Night Lentil Roast. There’s a little more time involved but the steps are super simple, the instructions clear and the ingredients list has nothing out of the ordinary. It’s probably not the roast I’d make for Christmas Dinner, I prefer to go high stakes on the holidays but it is perfect for Sunday dinner.

fishless

As Kate is a little obsessed with fish(less) fingers I thought I’d make the Tofu Fish Sticks. There’s also a recipe for tartar sauce but Kate isn’t a fan so I skipped that. The taste is spot on, with sea vegetables adding the perfect fishy taste, and to my mind the best way to eat anything is breaded in panko. I cut mine a little wider for a more Captain Birdseye approved look.

walnut brownies

And couldn’t I finish this review without trying some of the sweet stuff. These are the beautiful Walnut Brownies. It hasn’t pushed my favourite brownie recipe off the top spot. That will always be the brownies in Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar. But I appreciate that apple sauce stands in for egg here making the recipe way more accessible if your supermarket doesn’t stock silken tofu for some reason.

After cooking though some of the recipes I come back to the same thought. I wish this was my first vegan cookbook. My shelves are full of basic vegan recipes at this point. Although I would, without hesitation, recommend this book to anyone new to vegan cooking, what about those of us who are old hands? Well I think it’s still worth it. The recipes in here are simple and streamlined. Perfect for those days when you just want something plain, simple, and still satisfying. Perfect when you want a recipe that you know is going to turn out first time.

Reveiw: An Opinionated Guide to Vegan London

We go to London a couple of times a year and we’ve never been short of places to eat when we get there. I’ve been know to make detailed maps showing the best routes between eateries, shops and our other appointments. And by ‘known too’ I mean each time, even if our visit is four hours long. Point is that I’ve never felt the need for a guide book before. But two things sold this book to me, sight unseen: the first is its title and the second is the author. It’s written by Sara Kiyo Popowa who wrote the brilliant Bento Power.

I was really excited when it came. Hoxton Mini Press wrapped it in the cutest paper and sent a little thank you card for ordering them straight from them. I recommend it. It’s a stunning little book filled with 53 restaurant recommendations, each one with at least one stunning photo. It’s almost pornographic.

As for the recommendations: well, I’m looking forward to trying a bunch of them on our upcoming trip. Some of them I’ve had on my radar for a while – I’m still bitter that La Fauxmagerie opened two days after our last visit – and some completely new to me. I couldn’t resist a little sneaky visit to one place though. I had an hour and a half’s wait between two trains coming back from Paris and I took the opportunity to jump on the underground and pick up some Crosstown Doughnuts.

I recommend both the doughnuts and the book. You can order Vegan London directly from Hoxton Mini Press.

Vegan Mofo 2019: Spring Salad / Review: Show Up For Salad by Terry Hope Romero

I’m actually really bad at salads. I’m not great at improvising. That’s not true. Actually I’m great at improvising. Only I need clear guidelines and a structure to work with. Very clear, detailed guidelines, recipes almost. Only recipes aren’t great for salads are they? Because you want to use the freshest stuff, not just what’s on a list. I know, I’m going in circles right?

Show Up For Salad is the perfect middle ground. In fact it’s split pretty evenly down the middle between general advice guidance and mix and match recipes to help you put together your own salad combos, and more traditional salad recipes. For this review I thought I’d try one of each: a recipe, and throwing my own thing together.

spring

The Bright And Spicy Spring Asparagus salad was the first one to try. You have the choice of five salad dressings to make this one with and I went for the Tahini French Dressing. I also substituted the mix of greens suggested for the organic salad bag I’d got that week in my Riverford box because it was there and it was fresh. I enjoyed the salad although I did wish I’d made a dressing with more heat.

sidesalad

Tonight I made myself a side salad. For the leafy bit I mixed some bitter leaves with cos lettuce. I dressed it with Sunflower Ranch Dressing which is creamy and perfect and topped with Root Bacon. Yeah. Root Bacon. Bacon made from a bunch of carrots. It’s lush. And then I popped some seeds on top for crunch.

I can’t wait to explore more salads. I’ve got a row of beetroot in the garden destined for beet prosciutto. I’d honestly advise anyone to go out and buy a copy of Show Up For Salad.

Vegan Mofo 2019: Cake / Veganising The Nordic Baking Book

I’ve only explored a couple of the recipes from the cake chapters. I’m still a little bit confused by the whole concept of coating the baking pan with breadcrumbs. But I put my fears behind me for a couple of simple bakes.

Kardemummakaka – Cardamon Cake

Veganised by replacing the butter with Naturli block, removing the egg and replacing the sour cream with Alpro yogurt (the extra liquid that the yogurt contains works to replace the egg as well as the sour cream).

cardamon

Who can resist cardamon cake? Soft beautiful sponge with the beautiful fresh taste of cardamon and sprinkled with pearl sugar.

Mannagrynskaka – Semolina Sponge Cake

Veganised by swapping out the yogurt with Alpro and the butter with Naturli block.

rasberry

Just looking at this picture makes me smile. It’s a beautiful summer cake with a brilliant texture from the semolina and the bright burst of raspberries. I think this one is going to go into my regular rotation.

That’s all from cakes, for now. Tomorrow is pastry!

Vegan Mofo 2019: Biscuits / Veganising The Nordic Baking Book

I first saw The Nordic Baking book in real life in Portree in a shop called ÒR. I couldn’t actually afford it at the time because I was busy buying about five other books (and the rest of the stock — everything in there is gorgeous!) but the Nordic Baking Book played on my mind. I ended up buying it full price in Waterstones in town as soon as I got paid — I couldn’t wait for our next trip to the Hebrides.

The Nordic Baking Book is a collection of baking recipes from around the Nordic Region. Obviously. It’s a documentary book so all the recipes are in their traditional form. You know, not vegan. But I can work with that. I’m trying to veganise one recipe a week out of there. Both this week of Mofo theme and my experiments started with biscuits.

Blondkakor – Peasant Shortbread Cookies

Veganised by replacing the butter with 1/3 vegetable fat (Trex) and 2/3 margarine (Vitalite)

Buttery shortbread studded with whole almonds. Leaving the skin on is something I wouldn’t think of doing for a cookie but it really brings the almond flavour. The only issue is they don’t keep. Turns out that isn’t a problem though.

Chokladsnittar – Chocolate Cuts

Veganised by replacing the butter with Naturli Block

choccuts

Chocolate shortbread studded with pearl sugar. These babies didn’t last very long either. So delicious. They aren’t strongly chocolatey, just light and sweet and perfect with a hot drink.

Mandelskopor – Almond Rusks

Veganised by using Naturli block instead of butter, and eggs replaced with 4 teaspoons of flax, 6 tablespoons of oat milk and an extra 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder.

almond rusks

I needed another almond hit. The idea leaving the skin on the almonds is something I haven’t come across in my usual Anglo-American baking. It’s the best thing ever though. I worried if the skins would add a funny texture but you don’t notice it. All you notice is the incredible almond taste. So I had to try these Almond Rusks, and they did not disappoint.

I’m afraid that’s all of my biscuit experiments for now but I’m having so much fun here that I doubt they’ll be the last.

Review: Mississippi Vegan

I was intrigued by Mississippi vegan as basically I have no idea what it is people eat in Mississippi. As ubiquitous as American film, television, music, and just about everything else is you don’t get much regional variance. Much in the same way, I imagine, that I keep having to explain to people what black pudding, treacle toffee, muffins and black peas are. There is also an emphasis on regional produce, seasonal food and foraged food that really speaks to me. The whole book is written in a gentle autobiographic style explaining why these recipes are important to the author, introducing the people, places and produce that inspired them.

everythingbagels

First up was a batch of Everything Bagels with all the fixings. I love making bagels, it seems so transgressive to sneak the dough into a pot of boiling water before putting them in the oven. The seasoning was perfect but the bagel itself was a little denser than my preferred recipe. All sins, however, are redeemed by cream cheese.

garlic bread

The Garlic and Herb Bread has been a big hit around here. Garlic and herb butter spread on a split roll and baked. It simple, satisfying and comes in some great, creative variations. This one was the basil and chives. I skimped a little on the fine chopping (must follow instructions in future!) but the taste was spot on.

poboy

Of course I couldn’t resist making a po’ boy, I’m favourite po’ boy is the portobello variation in Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day but I’m not supposed to eat mushrooms so this fried popcorn tofu version is perfect. You’ll have to forgive the inauthentic bread but everything else was spot on. I even ordered some imported Old Bay seasoning for the occasion. The result was perfectly spiced, crisp and succulent tofu popcorn. Fully dressed for a perfect sandwich.

gumbo

And, of course, I couldn’t end this review without trying the Classic Gumbo. I had to make a fairly major adjustment. I’m allergic to celery so my holy trinity was missing a member. This gumbo though was fabulous. Rich, creamy, flavourful. Everything it’s supposed to be.

I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of this book and I’m looking forward to exploring it a bit more. In the meantime I totally recommend you picking up a copy. It’s thoughtful, inspiring and the food is amazing.

Review: Black Girl Baking

Black Girl Baking isn’t an entirely vegan cookbook (although quite a few of the recipes are either vegan or have vegan variations), but I was tempted by the pictures I’d seen on Instagram so into my Amazon basket it went. And I wasn’t disappointed. Breaking away from traditional baking the recipes use a variety of flours, sweeteners, and even aquafaba to create a fantastic collection of baked treats.

cake

I started with a chocolate cake. (Not an) Easy Bake Cake With Raspberry Glaze. It’s really easy to throw together the sponge. It’s made with whole wheat flour which makes me feel good about myself and it’s egg-free as-is and dairy-free with a simple substitution. The real star of the show is the glaze though. Made with real raspberries, it packs a very flavourful punch. I always say pink food tastes the best and it’s especially true when flavoured with real fruit.

crackers

For a savoury treat I made the Everything Chickpea Turmeric Crackers, which have the flour profile of a pakora mixed with an everything bagel. I like both of those things but even after eating a full batch of those crackers I couldn’t tell you if they work together. I kept thinking I’d made my mind up but then I’d take another bite.

minibudnt

These little guys are Kate’s favourite: Sticky Maple Mini Cakes. They’re made with with all the fanciest ingredients; dates, maple syrup, coconut milk, coconut oil. Basically it’s all the most expensive things in my cupboard. The texture is a little grainy but not in a bad way. The flavour though is incredible. Rich, caramely, and nutty. All of Kate’s favourite flavours.

tomato

That might be Kate’s favourite but the recipe that’s been added to our regular rotation is a little less sweet. Blistered Tomato Sheet Pizza is super simple. Just a good pizza crust and some beautiful blistered baby tomatoes. It transforms the meh cherry tomatoes of winter into a rich caramelised sauce and is now our favourite thing to do when we have cherry tomatoes hanging about.

I recommend you give this one a look. It might not be for you but between the pizza and the chocolate cake the price is justified for me.