Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Vegan Brunch : Chocolate Beer Waffles

This is my eleventh and final VeganMoFo post for 2014. For more information on this month's theme, see my Cook from Books description here.

If you are vegan and do any cooking at all, chances are you probably have at least one of Isa Chandra Moskowitz's cookbooks on your shelf (and if you don't, you should!) 

When I first became vegan, I was angry at everything I read about that caused the endless and needless suffering of animals: factory farming, cosmetic testing, the fur industry, etc. Everything I read was written by a similarly angry (but infinitely more eloquent) person than me, so I was always surrounded by this tone.

But cooking quieted that noise, and the kitchen became a place I went to to create things instead of reading about things I felt I had little control over. 

What turned this escape into a passion was Isa Chandra Moskowitz's first cookbook, Vegan with a Vengeance. It was different that other vegan-authored books because Isa's tone was different: she was funny, had a whatthehell attitude in the kitchen and made cooking approachable and cool. After I cooked my way through VwaV I wanted more. Since then, Isa has written seven more cookbooks, has contributed to countless others. 

Isa's fourth title, Vegan Brunch, was released in 2009 and, like all of her previous titles, was placed on preorder as soon as I heard about it. And when I received my copy, I did what I do with most cookbooks: I sit down and read my way through it like a novel. Vegan Brunch is funny, delicious, creative and inspiring.

It offers countless brunch staples like waffles, scrambles, pancakes and scones, made with completely accessible and affordable ingredients, showing that there's more to vegan brunch than cold fruit and dry bagels.

What I chose for this recipe are Isa's Chocolate Beer Waffles. They have dark beer in them. They have chocolate in them. They are smothered in a duo of chocolate drizzle and sweet cashew cream. They are delicious. 

The beer injects the batter with little pockets of air that mingles with the baking powder to create an impossibly poofy waffle that's fun to drag through the rich cashew cream and dark and sweet chocolate sauce. Is this for everyday? No, but why should vegan mean no indulgence or fun? Go grab your copy of Vegan Brunch from your shelf or on amazon and make these easy, fun and delicious waffles!

Next up to try: Isa's Puttanesca Scramble, Swiss Chard Frittata, Matzoh Brie, Cornbread Waffles with Pantry Mole Rojo and Seitan, Lemon Cashew-Stuffed Crepes with Whole Berry Sauce, Creamy Avocado Potato Salad and East Coast Coffee Cake.

So that's it for VeganMofo this year! It's been fun to take a closer look at my favorite cookbooks and bring some of the recipes to life in my kitchen and onto the blog. 

I'll also admit it's been fun to cook from someone else's cookbook as opposed to coming up with ideas and recipes on my own this month. I've enjoyed immersing myself in another's culinary point of view and style. In a way, it's kind of been like meeting the author!

To read more about VeganMofo, visit the kind folks who run it or go to randomofo. If you've been following along this month, thanks for stopping by! I hope something here has inspired you to open that unused cookbook on your shelf or try that recipe you were thinking about but never attempted. Or maybe even buy one (or two) of them!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Vegan Finger Foods : Kimchi-Stuffed Sausages

This is my tenth VeganMoFo post for 2014. For more information on this month's theme, see my Cook from Books description here.

This month, I've written about cookbooks that I love, and why I love them. Some have a fantastic point of view, others have great writing and there's typically gorgeous photography included or a mix of all three. Vegan Finger Foods by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes has all three of these things and more.

What sets Celine and Tami's books apart for me are their cooking instructions/directions. If they use a technique I've never heard of or tried before, the way they write/instruct makes me feel like they are standing right next to me in the kitchen, giving me just the right level of guidance. And if a recipe is simple or I'm already familiar with it, I don't feel like they overexplain it.

Their unique style of guidance is what keeps me going back to Tami and Celine's books, whether it's in Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! or Whole Grain Vegan Baking, and why I'm already looking forward to their newest title, The Great Vegan Protein Book (to be released in February 2015).

What you see here are VFF's Kimchi-Stuffed Sausages. Although I never liked sausages, even when I ate meat—I love vegan sausage. The taste and texture is very similar to one of my favorite vegan packaged products— Field Roast's spicy chipotle sausages—because it offers the right level of faux-meatiness and perfect spiciness. But my pre-packed indulgence was quickly replaced once I made and tasted these kimchi sausages.

The kimchi (blended into the mix and stuffed into the center) provides the right amount of funk, heat and crunch while the faux-sausage portion is perfectly spiced and textured. Tami and Celine hit the mark here on texture and taste, and this recipe makes a ton. They freeze and thaw perfectly, making the almost 2-hour prep and cook process more than well worth it.

Next up to try in Vegan Finger Foods: Corn Fritters with Tomato-Thyme Gravy; Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Onions; Baked Buffalo Tofu Bites; Pad Thai Summer Rolls; Caramelized Bananas with Chocolate Chipotle Sauce; and Chocolate Stout Truffles and Goji Berry Cacao Bites.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Conscious Cook : Tempura Beet Rollatini with Balsamic Gastrique

This is my ninth VeganMoFo post for 2014. For more information on this month's theme, see my Cook from Books description here.

Good food always makes me happy, but good food that's also pretty makes my heart skip a beat. Tal Ronnen's The Conscious Cook made my heart flutter the first time I cracked it open, and continues to delight and inspire each time I use it. 

By applying traditional French cooking techniques to vegan cuisine, Chef Tal has created something spectacular in his first cookbook: he's brought fat (mainly via cashew-based creams) into vibrantly fresh vegetable and plant-based dishes, rounding them out with gorgeous acidic components and insanely precise knife cuts. 

The Conscious Cook was the first place I read about cashew cream. Although it's just soaked cashews blended with water, discovering this ingredient completely changed the way I cook. I now use it in homemade ravioli, cream-based soups, risotto, caramel corn and sauces. I add agave to it for sweet dishes and coconut vinegar for savory applications. It's an indispensable and amazing ingredient.

In this recipe, Chef Tal uses cashew cream and other complimentary components that paper-thin slices of beets are wrapped around before it's dunked in tempura batter and given a quick fry. 

Served with a balsamic gastrique, biting into these rollatini provides the perfect crunch, followed by the earthy tones of fresh beets and a gorgeously rich cashew cream inside. The gastrique balances everything out with a sharp acidity and mellow sweetness, and dragging these rollatini through the sauce is kind of fun. Small and decadent, this is a fantastic appetizer that tastes as beautiful as it looks.

Next up to try: Chef Tal's Heirloom Tomato Salad with Crisped Capers, Bibb Lettuce, Shaved Fennel, and Grapefruit Salad with Pickled Onion; Lemongrass Consommé with Pea Shoot and Mushroom Dumplings; Peppercorn-Encrusted Portobello Fillets with Yellow Tomato Béarnaise and Mashed Potatoes; Grilled Shiitake Mushrooms with Polenta, Roasted Japanese Eggplant, and Smoked-Paprika Crème; Asian Tacos with Kinpira and Spinach-Sesame Salad; Artichoke Ricotta Tortellini with Saffron Cream Sauce and Oven-Roasted Banana Rum Cheesecake with Spiced Pecan Crust and Maple Rum Sauce.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Vedge : Salt-Roasted Golden Beets with Dill, Avocado, Capers and Red Onion

This is my eighth VeganMoFo post for 2014. For more information on this month's theme, see my Cook from Books description here.

Do you remember, that one time on Chopped, when Rich Landau—chef and owner of Vedge restaurant in Philadelphia—won the entire competition? After making a horta roll and morel stock appetizer with dandelion greens and chia seeds for the first round, steak spice tempeh with golden beets for the main course and edamame turnovers with cranberry sauce for the final round, he beat out his competition using completely vegan ingredients, with the exception of honey added as a curveball basket ingredient in the final round. 

Quietly confident, technically precise and endlessly creative, Chef Landau has redefined the way vegetables are treated in the mainstream culinary world. Instead of putting them off to the side, he brings them into the center of the plate, prepping and treating them in unique ways that celebrate and elevate them.

Using non- or minimally-processed, whole food ingredients, his style of cooking is adventurous yet approachable, and his recipes in Vedge are prepped in ways that coax out bold flavors and create beautiful textures and aromas in the process. What you see here are golden beets that have been simply salt roasted, then thinly sliced on a mandoline before being paired with a creamy sauce with salty capers and red onion. 

I love how this Vedge recipe transforms this rock hard and knobby root vegetable into something silky and soft, with gorgeous shades of vibrant orange and yellow with deep ruby marbling throughout. After Jeff shot this dish, we sat down to take a bite, with the intention of saving the rest for dinner. That didn't happen because we couldn't stop dragging the beets through the sauce and capers right on the chopping block* until it was gone. Even though this recipe requires a couple hours for roasting and marinating, it's worth it—the rest of the prep is simple and can be put together in about 10 minutes.

Next up to try from the Vedge: Chef Landau's celery root fritters and rémoulade, baby scarlet turnips and their greens with garlic jus, watermelon radish carpaccio with fava beans and tarragon and roasted cauliflower with black vinegar and kimchi cream.

*Many thanks to the kind folks over at Pacific Merchants for sending me some pieces from their Acacia Wood collection. Displayed here is their tapered chop board, which looks gorgeous, is a snap to clean and is easy on knives. View some of their other lines here.